Embroidery

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To Bucky's surprise, it was still light out when he returned to the apartment that evening

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To Bucky's surprise, it was still light out when he returned to the apartment that evening. With no windows in the basement gym, it was easy to lose track of time, and he hadn't climbed off the treadmill until his legs shook so violently he had to wobble over to a bench and sit down. He cursed when he saw the time on his phone and showered off as quickly as he could before taking the elevator back up to the fourteenth floor.

"Hey, roomie. Where ya been all day?" You didn't move from where you were reclined on the couch, wrapped in an oversized sweater with a book in your hands. The light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows illuminated your page, rendering the lamp on the table next to you unnecessary. Bucky's eyes caught on the scenery outside, far too visible for nine o'clock at night.

Bucky pushed the apartment door shut, the biometric lock clicking behind him. "Uh. Gym," he managed to get out, still staring out the window. The light was too eerie. Something about it was wrong— his memories came back patchwork, more of a feeling than a conscious thought. The faded sunlight of summers spent in the tundra, the temperatures rising enough to make him sweat in his tactical suit. He shivered with a chill not entirely caused by the cool air in the apartment, his hands clenching at his sides.

"All day? Seriously?" You turned to look at him with your eyebrows raised playfully, only to find Bucky staring unseeingly at the windows, every muscle in his body tense. "Solstice," you murmured. "Isn't it nice, all the extra light?" You cocked your head to the side, your worried eyes asking questions that you chose not to verbalize. Bucky took a deep, shuddering breath. "I'm guessing the gym doesn't have windows?" you asked gently. Bucky shook his head, his shoulders softening, eyes coming back into focus. Solstice. That was all. "That's dedication, man. All day down there in the dark—"

"I mean, what else am I supposed to do?" he interrupted, a bit sharper than he intended. His therapist always recommended working out when he felt unmoored, as if she didn't know that he regularly spent an hour or two lifting and sparring with his friends on a good day. She called it a 'healthy coping mechanism," and it turned out she was right— he usually did feel better after spending a couple hours in the gym. He wasn't entirely sure it was healthy, though. Even with his enhanced healing, he was working through bandages at an alarming rate. It had become a regular occurrence for his knuckles to tear open, for the skin on his palm to blister and pop, and for his feet to bleed through his socks in his shoes.

You laughed. "Okay, maybe you are certifiable after all." Bucky knew you meant it jokingly but he still winced when the comment hit a little too close to home. You didn't seem to notice as you dog-eared your page and sat up, tugging your sweater up around your shoulders. "An hour or two, sure, I get it. But all day? I can think of a million better things to do than spend all day in the gym. Look at me, Barnes. Literally a million." He focused his unimpressed gaze on you, and you shivered and wrapped your sweater tighter.

"Yeah? Like what? Let's hear 'em," he said sardonically, his eyes narrowed. Who were you to judge how he spent his days?

"Well," you began dramatically. "Read a book." You shook the book in your hand for emphasis. It was a nondescript paperback with a blue bicycle on the cover, the pages worn as if it had been read before.

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