The story is now uploaded to ao3. :)
Now on with it! ^_^
Sometimes finding something you lost isn't always physical. Sometimes it is something else.
'for a muse of fire'
"Buck, do you remember me?"
He looked up following the voice, the man standing there, wary, hesitant, as he approached him. The set of his wide shoulders, hunched, steps soft. There was a fear in him, but there was no physical threat, at least not from him, trapped as he was. That face was in dreams and nightmares as he remembered bits and pieces.
"Your Mom's name was Sarah." His voice rough and quiet. As he also remembered another name, Becky, sister. His mind worked as he dragged up another memory. One that might ease the line of tension in the man, remove the wariness. This man he knew would help him.
"You used to wear newspapers in your shoes."
A small, wry smile and the man's features soften. Body relaxing an almost unnoticeable degree, but he noticed. The man nodded to the other man in the room, communication unspoken. He remembered the other had wings before.
"I'll be just outside," the other said. To watch over in vigilance. Something inside faltered, his breath quicken then slowed. As if this was something he lost too, and he wanted it back.
The man now turned his full attention to him. "You're a wanted man." The tone wasn't a threat more a warning.
"I don't do that anymore." He shook his head, hair falling more into his eyes. He didn't, but the others never stop hunting so he kept moving. It happened before, but he wasn't going back. He was done.
"Some people think different and they are coming." He stepped closer, but kept his hands open in a peaceful gesture. As if to say--'I mean you no harm.'
His throat was gravel. He was so thirsty, dust dry, and his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He licked at his lips.
"Were you my friend?" The question lingered. The word swirled around in his mind--friend. This man was his friend. But what did that mean?
The memories of bloody fist-fights and roller coasters swapped like flash cards, one after another. His hands smaller, but he was beating on this man...boy... No. But someone else. The crunch of cartilage under his fist familiar, the drool of blood, mixed with salty tears, his clenched fist raising again, no mercy--were his hands always made of violence? His peripheral vision spotted a crumpled body, injured, not dead--small, blond, white shirt spattered with crimson. And--
The man crouched down close, balancing on the balls of his feet.
"Yeah, you were my friend--still are."
"Why?" His voice a rasp of sandpaper. He watched the other through the fall of his hair.
"Don't know. You just are--always were since we met, not sure why you picked me but you did."
"Stevie. Is your name, Stevie?" And he was rewarded with another quiet smile.
"Yeah. And yours is Bucky."
The name bounced around his brain--pulling at memories--frayed, the razor blade sharp, shards broken, tearing painfully. Broken glass, cutting, and he had to close his eyes, swallowing thick.
"Bucky..." His lips formed the unfamiliar yet familiar word and he opened his eyes. The name he read in the Smithsonian, the name he heard from this man's lips that started the unending free fall in his mind two years ago.
"Yeah," the man, no, Stevie said, nodding. His smile soft and mellow, eyes misting, and bluer because of it.
He reached up his weaker right hand, thumb a whisper from this man's cheekbone, soot marred it, and he wanted to wipe it away. But his hand fell back away and his trapped hand's fingers flexed telegraphing his internal unbalance . His heart rate was steady, but a pressing ache to his chest continued.
The man came closer--so close his breath puffed on his skin, foreheads almost touching, his sooty brow to his sweaty one, to mix--
"You used to be smaller."
He wanted to lean closer, instead his left fingers twitched. His elbow bending at an unnatural angle, but the arm still was functional, just stuck.
"I'll get you out of this."
It sounded like a vow. And he remembered kneeling, in a small box with a bench asking for forgiveness for his sins. He wasn't sure if anyone would hear him now. The memory shifted to another, eating hot dogs slathered in mustard and throwing darts at balloons. The stuffed bear was bigger than Steve.
"Coney Island... the Cyclone--the front seat."
"And I threw up, you bastard." But the word wasn't a curse, the tone making it a word of fondness.
"Steve." And this time his hand found the other man's and covered it, touching not in violence, but just to touch to see if this man was real. The flesh was warm, solid. His own breath caught in his throat.
"I want to remember." His voice lowering to a hoarse whisper. He wanted more memories not colored in red or fueled in savage brutality.
"I want that too." The man nodded and smiled. His lips so close that he almost felt them. The smile moving on his skin, an impression not unlike a brush of a glove on finger tips.
He dropped his gaze to their touching hands.
"You draw." A statement, not a question. It was a flash, a glimpse. Bony large hands, fingers smeared black, gripping a tiny stub of charcoal, making hasty slashes and swirls in a large journal. He wanted to see what it was that he was drawing with so much intensity.
"I used to."
"Why did you stop?"
"I lost the inspiration." The man, Steve, leaned back, lips pressing together in a line, the warmth receding. And a single thought entered his mind, protect. I must protect this. This is what I do.
"You'll get it back." The words formed slow but felt right.
"I think I already did." And the other man laced his fingers into his, long and strong, but it wasn't a hurtful grip just firm and steady--skin to skin. No violence, no pain.
"That's good, Stevie." He nodded, his mouth pulling back in what he thought might be a smile. A smile he saw his face do in the old news-reels.
The mist in the other man's eyes wavered, filling with unshed tears, a small smile played on his lips once again.
He knew they both found something they lost and now they both had to fight to keep it.