Static on the Lines

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You greeted Bucky with your normal enthusiasm in the evening, but he couldn't match your warmth

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You greeted Bucky with your normal enthusiasm in the evening, but he couldn't match your warmth. He had slept through the previous night, which, in theory, sounded like a good thing— but it very much wasn't. He tried the normal fix, had spent hours in the gym. He cracked the skin of his knuckles open, dripped blood onto the rubber mats and even needed to wrap his hand because the tissue was too pulverized to mend quickly. But despite his effort he still felt like he was going to implode, still felt the itch under his skin, inside his bones.

The scenes from last night's nightmare hurtled to the front of his mind every chance they got. Of course they appeared when he dared to close his eyes. But they also came when he let his mind wander too far, when the silence in the gym was nearly deafening and there was nothing he could focus on to distract himself. And the elevator ride, when he was confined and utterly alone for fifteen grueling floors, had been brutal. He stumbled out, gasping for air when the doors finally opened.

In the dream, Bucky's hand was silver, and it attacked without his input— actually, it attacked despite his input. Because Bucky was screaming. He was begging it to stop. He needed to stop it, to turn it on himself, to rip it from his body, anything to keep it from doing what it had set out to do—

But inevitably the hand wrapped around Steve's throat. Crunch. Then Natasha's, then Sam's— he squeezed until he felt the give, the collapse. It took no more effort than crumpling up a piece of paper, and that feeling of bones and ligaments snapping under his touch stayed with him, traveled up his arm and lodged into his spine where he felt it over and over and over again. The images of his friends' faces as he betrayed them haunted him. It was just a dream but it could've been a flashback, it almost came true just a few short years ago—

When Bucky jolted awake at dawn, his sheets were ruined. They were tangled around him and soaked through with sweat, but the worst part was the blood. Blood from the holes he chewed through his lips and tongue, blood from the gashes he dug around his scars when he tried to claw his left arm off at the shoulder. The injuries themselves were nearly gone by the time he woke up but the blood on his sheets remained. Evidence. Bucky immediately stripped the sheets off his bed and carried them down the hall to the washing machine, stuffed them in and set the water to run on cold.

He deserved to be cold, too. He silently made his way to the bathroom, shivered in the icy water while he watched his blood run down the shower drain.

No, he would've much preferred a sleepless night. He felt like shit, and you noticed.

"Why so gloomy, roomie?"

It wasn't like it was the first nightmare he'd ever had. Hell, it wasn't even the first time he'd had that particular nightmare. He was used to getting up in the morning, pretending like he wasn't about to vibrate out of his skin until he made it to the relief of the gym. Except today, the gym hadn't worked. He tried everything: cardio, weights, boxing, any and all of the multitude of machines that were down there. But nothing had quieted his brain or cleared his static in the slightest. He didn't know how to explain to you that what used to work now didn't, and now he had no way to shake the anxiety, the paranoia, the pain that took hold of him in the aftershocks. And that scared him more than any nightmare did.

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