Chapter 18-Fake Smile

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"Hey, we don't know that. Maybe that's what the slutty girls did back then!", she giggled.

I don't even know why I got them pierced. It was completely spontaneous. I was getting my right tattoo sleeve finished one night and was almost out the door of the shop when the piercer's expected appointment ditched him. I told him I would pay him extra if he pierced me right then. He refused an extra tip, I put it in his back pocket anyway after he put his gloves on so he didn't have a choice but to leave it there unless he threw away a perfectly good pair of gloves, besides when I slipped a tip in his back pocket, I think it made him feel like I was hitting on him so he didn't argue.

I looked at myself. Tattoos and piercings and shoulder length hair, dyed bright red. It wasn't the old me. The me I thought was me back then, but after Bucky left and everything happened, I felt like I had to be someone else, be someone different so I could at least act as if I were confident and okay. I wasn't okay, like a wrecked car that a scammer would sell to a naive couple, I just had new paint to make everyone believe I was totally intact. On the inside, I was slowly falling apart.

Landry was straightening her hair and curling the ends. Her style tonight was more that of a high-society girl. A neckline practically up to her chin, cute little polka dots and perfect pink lipstick. She looked like a doll. She was smiling and nearly exploding with excitement.

"Can you believe they are getting married?! Oh my god I cannot even believe it! I mean I feel like they just met or something, or I just met them actually and now we are going to their engagement party! It's so weird how fast time flies, you know?!", she said with childlike excitement.

"Yeah I know. It is weird.", I said to her partly agreeing and partly feeling like slapping her because time didn't fly by for me. It crawled through at quicksand pace. Everyday without Bucky was more grueling than the last.

"Oh Gabe...I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything."

She said in reply to the expression on my face. She looked as if she just told me someone died. I could feel my face turning from one of satisfaction to how good I looked in the dress to pure disappointment of being reminded of how I just lived over a year without seeing or even hearing from Bucky. I didn't know where he was, how we was, if he was okay or not okay. No one would tell me anything. I used to ask Steve all the time. He would always tell me he was okay but that he couldn't tell me much more, begging for my understanding. I even went to Tony unexpectedly one time about 9 months after Bucky left and asked him. I was desperate. I was on the verge on a breakdown. I begged him to tell me something. All he told me was that he was safe. I even hit on him, thinking if I got him to sleep with me, maybe he would give me information in exchange. He rejected me and told me it was okay, I felt ashamed everyday for going to those lengths.

It wasn't enough, but I knew I couldn't get anyone to tell me anything else. I just stopped asking, although I didn't stop wondering. Every night for around a year I would lay down at night and wonder if he was laying in bed too, thinking about me. If he was seeing the same stars as I did, wondering if I was okay. I had a feeling he knew a lot more info about me than I knew about him, but it was okay. I knew he was alive and safe and that gave me some comfort, but for some reason I still questioned it.

Was he really safe and no one wanted to be honest to spare my feelings? Did he move to another country, another state? Was he in the same city and I just didn't know it? Watching me, following me, seeing me and I didn't see him? I had no idea and while most days I could push those thoughts aside, some days the thoughts ate me up inside to the point of near insanity.

I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety after the events. Landry basically forced me to see a doctor, she kept telling me she would tell Steve if I didn't go and I knew if she did, he would physically pick me up and drag to me one and then ask me on a daily basis if I took meds or saw my therapist or felt okay or sad or whatever.

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