Bucky ran for his life. His breathing heavy and his eyes wild. SHIELD had found him, after months of hiding and laying low, they found him.
And to make matters worse, they knew about (Name).
The beautiful baby girl whom he clutched onto tightly as they burst through the streets and the throngs of people, her face as confused and frightened as his.
They had found out by accident. (Name) had sneezed, and suddenly began floating around the apartment that morning. And the psykinetic energy set off the agency’s trigger. Which in turn caused them to investigate. All he knew was that one second SHIELD agents were at his door, asking about a psychic child, and the next they’d drawn guns and were ready to take down both him and his daughter.
‘I knew I’d stayed in one place for too long.’ He thought to himself as he turned sharply, discreetly breaking away from the crowd of people and into an alley, but one that lead through dozens of backstreets and eventually to tunnels. If he could just reach them, then he could lose the agents and both him and (Name) would be safe again. That was all he really wanted, after all. To keep his daughter (whether he addressed her as such or not), safe and sound. She was all he had left, regardless of her being a super powered, abandoned baby.
All too soon he heard footsteps echoing after him and he grimaced, swiveling from the agents tailing him. The baby girl gurgled in his hold and he glanced at her, noticing her now amused expression.
“(Name), so help me if we get out of here you’re never allowed to sneeze again.” He growled, ducking under debris and old construction things left in the backstreets long ago. He’d learned quickly that (Name)’s powers activated whenever she sneezed or got very upset.
But mostly she was a very content and happy child, who apparently liked to sneeze every hour or so to see what would happen. She must have been allergic to everything, because never in his life had Bucky seen a baby that sneezed near as much as she did.
“Mr. Barnes, please stop running! We only want to help you!” An agent called out yards away from where he was currently running, but too close for him to be comfortable. He didn’t respond, instead twisted through three more shoddy street blocks before seeing what he was searching for; the tunnels.
A sigh of relief escaped him and je shifted the mischievous baby girl in his arms before slipping into the shadows of the buildings near the tunnels, ready get out of there with his daughter in tow. It was only a few feet more, and he would be in the tunnels.
They would escape, him and (Name), and they would finally be safe again. Just a little clos-
He froze. He knew that voice all too well. (Name) had stopped babbling and stared past her father towards the man who had spoken, (e/c) eyes twinkling.
Slowly, he turned around, facing him. The man who’d he’d saved almost eight months ago. An old friend. Steve Rogers.
“Don’t stop me.” He warned, holding (Name) tighter to his chest. Steve didn’t move, only stared at the girl he held, confusion on his face. Bucky didn’t like it, and he wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Neither of them had noticed the growing number of SHIELD agents gathering behind Steve.
“You uh…You been a little busy, Buck?” Steve finally managed, the forever sarcastic Captain earning a death glare from Bucky. His protective grip tightened on the little girl, who babbled curiously at the man in the patriotic suit.
“Take your SHIELD monkeys and leave us alone.” He said lowly, wary of the loaded guns being aimed at them from behind Steve. Said man frowned, a look of sorrow on his face at the sight of his friend. His best friend.
“Bucky, you know I can’t do that. You’re a…wanted criminal. And I’ve been searching for you for months, and now you’re finally here. It’s time for you to come in. With me.” Steve responded softly, staring at his friend with a sincerity that almost made Bucky trust him.
Then he remembered the situation he was currently in. And it wasn’t a cozy one, either.
“And by ‘I’ you mean ‘we’, right? SHIELD’s been dying to catch me for years. And the only reason they let you join the hunt was so they could catch me off guard and shoot me down as soon as they got the opening. Which is why all their guns are pointed at me and a helpless kid whose barely seven months old.” He snapped, beginning to turn back towards his escape route. His whole body was screaming at him to run, to get out of there while (Name) was still with him, before SHIELD did something they’d regret.
“We’re here to offer you a chance, Bucky.” Steve called out, making the man pause again. He gave a short, bitter laugh, tilting his head towards Steve. He was so close…
“The last time SHIELD offered a ‘chance’ to a criminal I’m pretty sure the entire agency got corrupted by HYDRA.” He replied, taking a daring step towards the tunnels. He was too focused on getting to where he needed to he didn’t notice (Name)’s breath hitch.
The telltale sign that she was about to sneeze.
“Look, Bucky. We know you need help. I know you need help. You can’t keep living like this, running from us like you are. Especially now that you have a…a-a baby with you. We’re prepared to have you come with us and train to be a SHIELD agent. It’ll be completely safe and secure, for both of you.” Steve explained, adding, “I’ve even arranged for you to get a pardon from the government for everything that happened.”
“Everything that happened? You mean everything I did?” Bucky barked, giving his attention back to the man. That was ridiculous. Pardoning him for the thousands he killed as the Winter Soldier? Crimes that were unforgivable even on his own standards? Steve only nodded, making him scoff.
“I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I’ve earned over 88 life sentences. I don’t think I’m the proper candidate to be ‘pardoned’ by the government, Steve.”
“But those weren’t your fault, Bucky! That was all the Winter Soldier. That was Russia. That was HYDRA. That wasn’t you and you know it!” Steve protested, making Bucky look away. He was right, but…still.
“That might be true, but those people aren’t coming back, Steve. They’re dead. And it was by my hands.”
“It was HYDRA, Buck. Not you.”
“But I was the one who carried it ou--”
Bucky’s eyes widened in horror when he realized (Name) had teleported out of his hands somewhere else. But when he swiveled around to see where she’d gone, his heart stopped.
She’d landed in the arms of Captain America.
What happened next was all a blur. Bucky had roared something at the man and charged, ready to rip Steve to shreds to get his little girl back. He didn’t care about the loaded guns being aimed at him, or that Steve was yelling something about dropping guns. The next thing he knew was being restrained by several different agents, all the while he was screaming for his daughter, who’d begun to cry and reach out for him when she realized she wasn’t being held by him.
He’d almost broken loose when something pierced his neck. Then everything faded to black.
“…That was quite a show you put on back there.” The voice of the Director entered the metal room, Bucky currently being cuffed to the metal desk and feeling absolutely awful. Like he’d just come off a hangover after drinking way too much vodka. Not the best feeling in the world, to be honest.
“I want my kid back.” He muttered, though the order coming off more like a selfish kid than anything else. The Director didn’t respond, only sat down in front of the man. Bucky didn’t bother looking up.
“Mr. Barnes, we’re trying to help you.”
“Where is she?”
“Captain Rogers insisted that we try and bring you in, and help you get your memories back. Get your life back.”
“Where is (Name)?”
“He’s completely convinced that he can turn you around, Mr. Barnes. That he can bring you back. And the only reason why I agree is because I know for a fact that that man is never wrong.”
“Give me back. My. Kid.”
The Director sighed, noting Bucky’s impatience building every time he attempted to speak.
“Mr. Barnes, you need to listen. Because right now, you’re decision is the only thing that will decide whether or not both you and your daughter live.” He stated, effectively silencing the ex-Soldier. Not that he’d want to admit it, of course. (Name) was his weak spot. One that was continuously festering and getting worse.
“…What do I have to do?”
“Join SHIELD. Let us take care of you, and train you to be an agent.”
“I’ve killed so many of your agents, though. Why do you want me to join you?”
“We don’t. Captain Rogers does. And he thinks it’ll be for the best, for everybody. ‘(Name)’ included.” The Director finished, the mention of his baby girl making him look up.
And into the face of Phil Coulson.
“Well you’re not wrong. But thanks to alien technology and more surgeries on one person that’s considered healthy, I’m back. And now, I’m trying to convince an assassin to join the ranks of SHIELD and protect the people he tried to kill.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time for you guys.”
“…Will you take the deal or not?” Coulson asked him, and Bucky sighed, looking towards the one-sided glass on the left of him. It was definitely not something he’d want to do, not ever. Didn’t matter if he got his best friend back, it meant that he’d be in the middle of a huge political excursion, and it wouldn’t end well for him, and definitely not for (Name). Speaking of…
“What happens to (Name) if I accept? The reason I was caught in the first place was because your agents tracked her powers. What do you plan on doing with her if we both stay here?” He pointed out, having a few ideas of the potential answer.
(Name) had psykinetic abilities. They would probably experiment on her, force her to live in SHIELD facilities to learn more about her powers, how she got them, etc. And he’d rather get thrown off a train than let that happen.
“If you accept, then (Name) stays with you at all times, unless you say otherwise.” He replied. Bucky quirked an eyebrow.
“And that was your original plan? Before you realized that I was her guardian?”
“Initially, we were just going to ask her parents or guardians if we would be allowed to take her into SHIELD and train her to control her powers, hopefully allowing us to add another member to one of our defense projects. At the time we’d thrown that plan together we weren’t sure how old she was or how her caretakers would feel.”
“And then you met me.”
“And we realized that you weren’t about to give her up without a fight. One that hospitalized two of our agents.” Coulson said, making Bucky smirk. He leaned back in his seat, closing his eyes as he tried to think.
If (Name) stayed with him, then maybe it wouldn’t be as bad. And if they helped control her powers, then there’d be less chance for accidents or injuries for her or anyone else, which would be absolutely perfect. And besides all that, it meant he’d still get to protect her. The one person who never judged him or cared about who or what he’d done. Even if she was only a baby, he was still so important to him.
“…Fine then. I accept your deal.” He finally spoke, opening his eyes once he’d forced the bitter words out of his mouth. Coulson’s unwavering smile only grew, and he nodded, standing up from his seat and heading towards the door.
“Good. Then we’ll finish up preparations for you and have you in your own dorm in a matter of hours. Please wait here until we’re ready for you.”
“Wait a minute!” Bucky called from his seat, his fists clenched as he attempted to break out of the cuffs holding him down. Coulson glanced back at him.
“Where’s (Name)? I want her here with me, right now.” He glowered, making Coulson’s smile grow a little more.
“Of course. I’ll have her in here in a moment.” He promised, and shut the door back. Bucky relented and sank back into his chair, already regretting his decision. He’d learned a while back that SHIELD couldn’t be trusted. Yet here he was, making deals with people who couldn’t keep their promises.
He was released from his thoughts when an agent cautiously reopened the door, and entered the room.
And in their arms, was a beautiful baby girl.
“(Name)…” He whispered, and tried to come towards them, but standing proved difficult with his hands still cuffed to the desk.
“Hey! Is someone going to un-cuff me or what?” He shouted towards the glass pane, effectively waking up the once snoozing little girl. Her shining (e/c) eyes lit up when she saw her father, and instinctively reached out for him, a smile on her bubbly little face.
A few moments later the cuffs unsnapped, someone releasing him on the other side. Immediately he rushed towards the agent and practically snatched her out of the agent’s hands, his face filled with seriousness and a twinge of paternal anxiety.
“(Name). Thank God you’re alright.” He murmured, holding her close to his chest as he looked her over for a few injuries. The agent was out of that room in seconds, leaving the pair on their own. The girl giggled and lifted her chubby arms, tiny hands lazily dragging across his face as she laughed.
He cracked a small, small smile at her action, and lifted her up, gingerly resting her forehead against his.
“(Name), I swear I’m never letting something like that happen ever again. I promised to keep you safe, and I messed up a little bit this time. But now you’re safe again.” He mumbled to her, lowering her and pressing a chaste kiss to her forehead as he held her to his chest once again.
‘And I promise you that you’ll always stay safe now.’
His gaze softened as he watched her yawn, her eyes beginning to droop. He had kind of woken her up in the middle of a nap, so it was only natural she’d still be incredibly sleepy. Slowly she drifted off, cradled protectively in the arms of her defender.
‘As long as I live.’
“So you’re absolutely sure that this is a good idea?”
Steve looked over at Coulson, fleetingly, before returning to the sight of Bucky cradling his daughter. He looked so calm, and peaceful. Like he knew everything would be okay, just because that little girl was with him.
“…Yeah. Positive. This is going to work out for the best, for both of them.” Coulson just shook his head, clapping the man on the shoulder before heading for the exit. It was only natural he’d still feel a bit off about this idea.
“If you say so, Rogers.” He shook his head, closing the door. But not before Steve called out,
“Of course I do. I’m Captain America!”
It’s true. He is. Which means he’s always right.
Especially when it came to his best friend.
…Well, most of the time.