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What now? What now?

The question looped through Bucky's head for days, over and over until the words blended together into one nonsensical phrase. Whatnowwhatnowwhatnow.

The next morning, Steve wouldn't meet your eyes, or Bucky's. He warmed up slowly as you talked and joked together over breakfast, but the way he turned crimson when you all hugged goodbye made Bucky worry he was going to spontaneously combust.

With Steve gone, it was easier to avoid the topic. What was Bucky supposed to say to you, anyway? Hey, I know you liked listening to my best-friend-slash-ex jerk off while listening to us have sex. And surprise, surprise, I really liked it. Can't get it out of my head. Any chance you maybe wanna fuck him so I can watch? Or what if you touched both of us at the same time? What if I touched him, too?

No. Bucky didn't bring it up, and neither did you. He didn't have too much time to worry about it, anyway— he had to finish his interview.

"What happened after the fall?"

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"What happened after the fall?"

Bucky was doing better this time, he thought. He had been able to answer most of the reporter's questions so far, and had even managed to crack a couple halfhearted jokes. But at this question, his hands clenched into fists where they rested on the table.

His right palm was littered with red crescents where his nails had pressed too deep against his skin, but that was easy enough to ignore— what made him cringe was the whirring of his vibranium arm, the attention he knew it would draw. He tried to relax his shoulder, to release the tension from the metal, but it was of no use. The bionic buzzing was a dead giveaway, proof of how his anxiety and adrenaline surged at the mention of the fall.

He wished he had his gloves— they would at least mask the sound, the hum of his freakish physicality. Gloves would make it less noticeable, to both him and the reporter who sat across from him, holding his fate in her own unblemished hands.

But there was a reason he left his gloves in the apartment that day, and he was reminded of it as soon as your sweet hands wrapped around his.

Your skin was warm against him, but the sweat on his palm and the iciness of the metal didn't deter you. You focused your touch on his left hand, rubbing at the plates, massaging the creases between them. Unfolding his fingers one by one, kneading into what would be the flesh of his palm until those artificial nerves were mollified enough to unwind.

He took a deep breath.

"I don't remember much," he said as he glanced up at the reporter. "It was, uh... a long time ago."

Karen just smiled at that and gave a slight nod. Encouraging him. Reassuring him. "Just tell me what you can," she said. Bucky gulped; he didn't want to think about it, let alone talk about it. But your fingers traveled to the back of his hand, tracing along the seams firmly enough to ground him, and he sucked in a shallow breath.

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