Aphrodisiac

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Bucky opened his eyes to black. At first he didn't know why he had woken; he'd been doing well with sleeping through the night, and he didn't feel any lingering anxiety from a nightmare. But then he heard it— that repetitive, strange, strangled noise that made the hair at the nape of his neck stand up.

A trembling hiccup, a desperately held back sob. He rolled over to find you curled up on the edge of the bed, your arms wrapped tightly around yourself as you cried.

"Baby?" His voice was groggy with sleep, and he cleared his throat as he rolled over to lay an arm across you. The weight of his touch was the final permission you needed to fall apart, and you sobbed openly into the pillow. He wrapped himself around you, holding you tight to his chest, but that didn't stop the tears or the way your shoulders shook; if anything, it made the tears flow more violently.

Bucky couldn't stop the panic that rose in his throat. You hardly ever cried, and this wasn't a happy cry; there was pain in your posture, fear in the way that you clutched at yourself. He pulled you tightly against his chest.

"Baby? Hey, sweetheart," he said as steadily as he could, although his uncertainty snuck into his tone. "What's wrong?" Continued sobs were your only response, and he soothed his hand along your arm. "Did you have a nightmare?"

You shook your head, tickling his face with your hair.

"Tell me what's wrong," he murmured, his voice breaking slightly because it killed him, seeing you like this. "Please, let me help." There was another long pause as you tried to get your breathing under control enough to speak.

You hiccupped, then gave an attempt. "I..." But your voice caught again, and you had to pause. "I don't want them to come back," you finally sobbed. "I'm scared."

The team was landing at the compound again tomorrow. Thanksgiving was a few days away, and the tour organizers had worked enough room into the schedule to give everyone a short break. Almost everybody planned to go their separate ways for the break, to spend time with their families, but there was some sort of catered dinner planned for the first evening back. But that was only one evening of intrusion; he still didn't understand your tears.

"Why are you scared?" Bucky murmured against your hair. "It's just a visit— it'll be okay." He pulled back slightly, surprised by the vehemence with which you shook your head.

"It's not okay," you whimpered. "They're going to take you. And they'll bring you back half dead again, or— or not at all—" You were cut off as the flow of tears started again.

"Baby, no," he said, his heart sinking. "I'm not going anywhere."

"They're going to take you," you repeated between sobs. Bucky hesitated— he couldn't promise that he wouldn't go on any more missions. That was his job. But you knew that; you had no problem with his occupation. This was... something else.

"I... they're not planning anything," Bucky said slowly. "I'm staying here. There's no mission." His words had no effect on you. "And when there is," he continued, "when I go on the next one, I'll be careful. I promise. I'm not gonna scare you like that again."

But you just cried harder and shook your head. "Everything's going to change," you cried.

Oh.

You rolled over to face him, your red, puffy eyes searching for his in the dark. "I just want to stay like this, with you."

You weren't only worried about this visit.

"I love you," Bucky said as he pulled you against his chest. The words still felt strange on his tongue. New and unfamiliar, but natural. Honest. "Nothing's gonna change. Nothing that matters."

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