Twenty Eight

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"Eve," Natasha said as she ran up to Eve to hug her. Eve and Bucky walked into the common after they had just arrived at the complex.

Eve weakly hugged her back, shutting her eyes as a little stream of happiness flew through her. She missed the comforting atmosphere of Nat.

"Easy on her," Bucky warned Nat, causing Nat to look up at him.

"Back off, Barnes. You may have her heart, but I have her love," Nat teased as she squeezed the now laughing Eve tighter before letting Eve go.

"How are you feeling?" Wanda then asked as Eve sat in between her and Nat on the couch.

"Almost better," Eve answered with a smile. "A couple more plants and I'll be good to get back at it."

Bucky slipped out of the room as the girls continued talking. He walked down the familiar hallway to Steve's room to see Steve sitting in a chair while reading some book. Steve looked up at the presence of Bucky, a smile immediately rising on his face.

"Hey, Buck," Steve welcomed him warmly before setting his book down as Bucky walked over and sat on his bed. "How's she holding up?"

"She's still taking it all in," Bucky sighed. "I don't know what to do."

"What do you mean?"

"She–I–I–This is all my fault and I don't know how to fix it besides buying her every single plant in New York. None of this should have happened," Bucky vented. "She keeps saying it's not my fault and she understands, but how could she? I shot her seven times."

"To be fair, she's put you on the ground every chance she got," Steve lightly smiled. "She is right, it's not your fault. Has she mentioned looking for her mom?"

"No. I just gave her the files on the way over," Bucky looked down at his hands as he fiddled with them. "While she was fighting with Ciro, I read through the files as I grabbed them for her. Steve, those projects were started by Howard Stark. Eve and the others, they weren't the first ones."

Steve's jaw clenched as he also looked down in disbelief with a heavy sigh. He hated how it seemed everything came back to Stark or Shield.

"Does Tony know?" Steve asked him.

"By the way he acts with her, I don't think so. Then again, the way he wanted her to start on missions as soon as we met her says another thing." Bucky shook his head at the realization.

"Back on the jet, when we first took her here," Steve started.

"Yeah, she knows," Bucky agreed.

"I just don't want to lose her," Bucky finally said again after a pause.

The end of his comment caught Eve's ears as she began listening to the conversation from the couch.

"I'm so scared she's gonna get mad at me for what's happened. I don't want to have her turn on me. I can't remember a time when I've felt so, so... I don't even know. At peace? Relaxed? Like none of this Winter bullshit ever happened," Bucky spoke as he rubbed his temples. "All I wanted was to keep her safe and this happened."

"When did you realize you liked her?" Steve then questioned.

"When we chased her the first time and I threw a cuff on her wrist inside that school," Bucky answered.

"When did you realize you loved her?"

"When Alvaro came to the complex and electrocuted her I felt something there, but one night she snuck out to the city and I saw her in the lights. I was so scared she'd leave."

"I'm happy for you, Buck, but if you want to stay happy, you have to start letting what happened go," Steve comforted right before Nat yelled for Bucky.

He and Steve were out of the room in a split second and in the common room. The first saw Nat looking at them with concern evident in her face before leading them over in front of the couch.

"Eve," Bucky pleaded as soon as he saw her on the floor. He quickly stepped down in front of her, placing his hands on the sides of her face. Her eyes scrunched together in confusion as she slurred out words that didn't make any sense.

"She just fainted and said her head hurt," Wanda quickly told them.

"She's bleeding inside," Steve looked at Bucky before Bucky lifted her up in his arms. In moments, Bucky started running and jumped off of the balcony, gently landing on his feet so Eve didn't feel the impact. He and Steve then ran to the wooded area of the complex.

They stopped once they made it and Bucky sat while carefully setting Eve down to lean her against his chest. Her dazed eyes looked around, landing on Steve to receive a small sad smile from him.

"Eve, you have to heal yourself," Bucky told her in her ear. She didn't know what was going on, but she knew Bucky was always trustworthy.

The surrounding grass and trees slowly decayed as Eve regained some awareness. She turned her head to look up at Bucky, seeing his face completely straight with jaw clenched. He looked horribly mad at her.

They watched as the decay spread past them like last time. They then watched her previously flushed skin, start to liven back as her eyes brightened.

Steve smiled at the two as Bucky's heart lifted. Her eyes found their way to down as she leaned into him while shutting her eyes.

"I'm sorry," her voice croaked out before Bucky tightened his arms around her.

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