xxii. i promise, always

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"All that I am, all that I ever was, is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see." -- Chasing Cars, Sleeping at Last

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Sam spent the next two weeks in medical, while they attempted to provide her body with the nourishment, rest, and proper care that it had been neglected for the past month. 

She hated being cooped up more than anything, but had promised Steve that she wouldn't leave until they let her. And she was determined to keep her word, despite missing the sunlight more than anything else in the world.

The only thing that made the time tolerable were her visitors.

Meg was the very first, and had hugged her so hard, she'd almost broken another rib. She'd cried for at least an hour, not leaving her side for that entire night. 

In addition to the Commandos, Steve, and Peggy, even Howard had come by. She'd lost his watch and felt terrible telling the inventor. But he hadn't seemed to care less. He swore to build her another one, that wouldn't go out unexpectedly this time.

Sam had only smiled, not knowing how to respond.

Bucky came in and out daily, bringing little gifts with him. Sometimes it was a book, other times a box of chocolates. But she found herself looking forward to his visits, one of the few bright spots of her day.

She didn't sleep very much.

She'd believed that the nightmares after her first capture were bad, but she couldn't even close her eyes anymore without reliving the horrors. Mostly, she'd remember Schmidt. Not because of his cruelty or sadism, but because of the things he'd said. From the changing of the world, to the things he believed were coming.

They found their way into her mind, even in the daytime. Especially in the silence, when there was nothing else to direct her thoughts.

"Smalls?" 

She jerked back to the real world, looking up. Bucky stood in the doorway, two milkshakes in hand. A grin claiming her face, she nodded him in.

"They're not from Brooklyn or Queens," he said sheepishly, setting hers on the side table. "But I figured London couldn't be that bad."

"I couldn't ask for more," she said, beaming. Picking it up, she took a deep sip, eyes almost rolling back in her head. It was strawberry-- just like one of the very first conversations they had. "You are too good to me, Barnes."

He smiled, eyes dancing. "Well, it's the least I could do, with you being cooped up and all. It's not the same without you in the trainings and meetings. It..." he pressed his lips together. "It never was."

 "Hey," Sam nudged his leg with her foot, grinning playfully. "Don't do that. I'm here now. We always survive, remember?"

"Whatever you say, Smalls," he said, chuckling. "Is what we're always going to be? Jumping back and forth between near-death experiences and somehow managing to survive?"

"I'll survive if you do," she shot back.

"Fair enough."

"Then it's a deal," she set her milkshake aside, holding out a hand. "You're not allowed to die and in return, I won't either. Okay?"

He raised his brows, but she gave him a solemn look, keeping her hand out. Shaking his head, he took it, nodding back. "You gotta deal, Smalls."

"Don't you dare go back on it, Barnes."

He grinned widely, looking at her happily. Sam smiled back; she couldn't help it. Her chest tightened warmly and she lowered her eyes, grabbing her milkshake and bringing it back to her lips. When she looked back up, he was still watching her. She swallowed.

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