When Bruce met Bucky he was…in shock, to say the least. He read about Steve’s reanimation and reintegration into the world, all because of ‘suspended animation’ in frozen ice to the back of his mind, because logically? That shouldn’t have been able to happen, because otherwise other creatures should have been able to come back to life as well. So the fact that it happened twice? Well, Bruce decided to do a bit more…research in the matter. He hadn’t really…known much about Bucky, if he was honest with himself. Well, he knew of him. When he was in school, a lot of kids enjoyed reading comics on the Howling Commandos. He just…wasn’t allowed to read them.
So when he ran into him at the mansion at 4am (nightmare), he was surprised to see him there, nursing a beer in the dimly lit kitchen. “Oh, ah…sorry. I can…I just..needed tea. I’ll be out of your hair soon, sorry.” He mumbled as he set the electric kettle to work.
Bucky only shrugged, “Not a problem, Doctor.” A silence descended on the two, only the sound of the water boiling actually being audible at the time, which was apparently too quiet for Bucky. “So…Doc…tea at 4am? Been busy in the lab?”
Bruce jumped slightly, having been lost in the remnants of his nightmare before shaking his head, shooting the other man a wry grin. “No…not really. More ah…nightmare related,” he said with a slight shrug. He didn’t have anything to hide save for maybe specific details.
Bucky shot him a similar grin back and nodded before taking another sip of his beer. “Same here.” Bruce’s eyebrows shot up in surprise with a soft exclamation of ‘oh.’ He didn’t…expect that. If there was one thing he mostly knew about military men, it was that they didn’t…admit to things like that. Things that could be considered weaknesses.
Bucky chuckled, almost humourless, though it was still there. “What’s wrong, Doc? You look shocked. I’m human too, you know…” he waved the metal arm a bit, “’cept for this.”
“I just…didn’t..expect that. Sorry. That was…really rude of me.” He turned back to his kettle and went through the motion of preparing tea. The silence more awkward and tense this time. After what felt like a milenia (or maybe it was 3 minutes) Bruce broke the silence.
“I…dream about the beginning. When this all changed. All it was in the beginning was gun shots, explosions, people screaming and running. It was chaos.” Bruce said softly. “Sometimes the dreams change. Sometimes the wrong people die.” He gave a slight shrug, even though their backs were to each other. “I dream of running away and my messes following me. Of…of death following me everywhere I go. It’s hard…when you feel like a monster, when your reputation as a monster supersedes your reputation as a person because no matter what people say to assure you…you can’t believe them because how do you change the way you think about yourself.” He heard the slight shift from behind him and was about to continue when the kettle clicked and snapped them out of the trance that they both fell in.
Pouring the water in the mug, Bruce shuffled away from the kitchen and back to his room, “Goodnight, Sergeant Barnes.”
“Goodnight Doctor Banner.” Called Bucky to Bruce’s retreating back. Wonder if that man knows just how much what he said hit home…
The following morning, Bruce saw him again, draped around Natasha, arguing (playfully) with Steve and nodded in greeting. Bucky returned it with a lazy salute and a grin. He looked…better than he did last night. Less haunted, he realised. And that was when Bruce felt that there was…some sort of mutual understanding. He didn’t know on what exactly, just that…maybe what he admitted at 4am, post-nightmares, resonated with Bucky too. That, despite not knowing Bucky’s history (and he wouldn’t pry, never pry,) maybe they both shared a common fear of their respective pasts. Maybe they both shared a fear over something happening out of their control (of them turning on those they cared about, because they felt, at their core, monster-like.)
Or maybe Bruce was reading too much into it and Bucky got some sleep. He could only extrapolate so much from what he said and what happened (or what is happening presently), and he was a scientist. Things are easier to conclude with actual evidence. Bruce shot him a slight smile and put his mug from last night in the sink before shuffling off to the lab, leaving the trio behind.
((…744words…also sorry it’s terrible aioejfo))