Pre-Edit Count – 1,406 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: Hold Me Now by Red
He gasps for air from the memory of the fall as he startles awake. The pain of his severed arm causing him to go into shock as he tries to figure out what happened while trying not to move any more than necessary to try to stop the pain.
Flashes of moments where he was battling a hydra soldier, a blue something comes to him, and he blocked it with Steve’s shield, then he was hanging from a train as Steve tried to save him. The next flash is the fall that he was sure was to his death and the landing. The landing, that he remembers, the tear of his arm then the numbness of nothing.
As he struggles to figure out what is happening, a glowing figure comes upon him, kneeling in front of him as it reaches a hand out, cupping his face. “Oh, my poor man. My poor James. What pain you have suffered, are suffering from and will continue to suffer. Pain will be something that will be in your future for a long time, I’m afraid.” A tear, shining like the sun itself falls down the face.
Bucky stares, then asks, “Who are you?” He tries to see more details, even just to tell him whether the figure is male or female.
The head lifts enough that if he could see the eyes, they would be looking into his own. “Someone who has hoped that what has come past wouldn’t for you. However, I am here to offer you hope. If you are brave enough to take it.”
Swallowing against the pain making him nauseous, he gasps, “Hope?” Why would he need hope? What is coming that he needs hope?
The figure nods. “If I could tell you that all your suffering in the past and in the future will cause the other half of you to come about so that the two of you will be able to save the universe itself, would you be willing to do so?”
Blinking quickly, Bucky tries to understand more.
Shaking their head, the figure informs him, “At three critical times in your future, I will come to you. I will tell you what will happen, and you have the privilege of choosing. To test your resolve, I will take you back to one time, and give you a choice. The decision you make will happen either way, but you will see what I am giving you the options of doing.”
The figure stands, and waving a hand, all pain is gone for a moment, and they reach that hand down to him, “Ready?”
With a quick thought of possibilities, Bucky decides to take the hand and see what it is the being in front of him is offering. With a flash of light, they disappear from the place of in-between where they had been talking.
Suddenly they are walking through a hospital. They are passing rooms which are full of others reacting to whatever they are infected with, each in their own way. They stop and enter a room that is holding a young man shivering on a cot. There are signs that there were two others with him at one point, but their beds are now empty.
The being walks to the cot while telling Bucky softly. “We can only travel in your lifetime, luckily, you were born a year prior.” They indicate the boy in front of them. “This is your choice; this young man will later become a supernatural creature that is only hinted at in mythology. Many years from now he will encounter the person who is your other half. He will hurt them, leave them comatose. He will cause scars not only on her skin but on her heart and mind. He will be responsible for most of the pain that you will have to fight to have your other half.” They look at him, sad for what all their chosen will have to go through, but then, they will truly understand the pain of others. But how they wish this were not to be their future. There was so much pain…
Turning their head to the boy, they continue to explain to Bucky, “Your choice is to have him die here and now before the Doctor comes in. His family is all gone, and the doctor will take him to his home and change him to the being that I described. Choosing for him to die now will save countless lives, since this child will go on to kill, being judge, jury, and executioner.” They give a hard look at the boy, but they do admit some are just not suited for eternal life. This child in front of them is a perfect example. Deciding to judge all by his moral code, and damning anyone that wants to become as he is. He keeps his Victorian upbringing to the point he is very mentally ill by the time he comes across the Shield.
Swallowing, thinking of how he might be judged for fighting in the war, Bucky asks, “And the other side of the coin?” He couldn’t decide on just what the young man’s actions do, without knowing what the boy dying will change in the future. He needs the whole picture.
Unseen by him, the being smiles, still facing the young boy on the cot as they answer him. “Without the child doing everything I said, your other half will never survive to be at your side in the future. She will not have the chance since he kills another who tries to kill her. He, also by leaving the scars behind, will cause her to transform to be able to stand at your side as an equal in the end.” The last is said, but with a sad look on her face. She tries to console herself that both will gain from all of this, but she still feels like this trial by fire they will both have to suffer through is more than needed.
However, they are not the one that can change that without the two key players making those decisions. Free will is stronger than any can ever imagine, it is one of the strongest and most powerful things in the universe. It can change the fate of planets no matter what has been written in the stars to happen. This is why they are offering these choices to Bucky. Hoping that he understands, and he will take decisions more gravely from now on.
Sighing, Bucky rubs his remaining hand over his face, after flinching from the loss of his arm. “Is this what you are asking of me? To make a choice that may save people, especially someone that I may care deeply for in the future, pain? But on the other hand, I lose out?” He looks at them, torn. He may want this future woman, but to make so many suffer for that feels so wrong. He cannot make that choice. That is not the man he is.
The figure turns around to face him, “No. I am asking you to make a choice for the sake of the universe. Your choices will affect others outside of this world. I am showing you an easy version of what you will be doing if you take me up on this opportunity.” And as they said, this is set in stone, this one choice. But they want him to really understand what is at stake. What better way than to give him this trial? Bucky can ask his questions, he can know whatever he wishes to ask of them, and all that needs to really hinge on what his choices can do.
An ironic laugh comes out of the brunette’s mouth. “Opportunity? What Opportunity? You condemn this young man because he will be judge, jury, and executioner. Is that not what you want me to do? You are telling me of what will happen if I allow him to die. Then you tell me of what personally will happen to someone I will care about if I allow him to live.” His heart is breaking, for how can he decide to hurt someone that will mean as much as this being is implying? He would rather have her happy, and never meet him. For he is not sure what is to come, not when they mentioned that there was nothing but pain in his future. What can he offer someone after he goes through what is to come?
When he can feel an answer coming from them, he waves his hand as he admits, “You are telling me more, but honestly, you are trying to make it personal. Tell me, besides what would happen to this person in the future that you say is coming, what makes his life that important to have this choice?” What isn’t the being telling him?
Shaking their head, the being answers, “His life is the one that will change the future to make it possible for much goodness to come.” It is the simple answer for what is to come. For without this young man, so much will never come to pass. Particularly for the events that lead to where they are now. Which is why there is no chance that the future will allow his fate to change.
Sighing, Bucky answers them, “And if he dies?” He is tired of the side remarks. He needs the truth about what all will happen if he allows this person to die to save the future person that will mean so much to him.
“That chance will not happen.” The words are simple, but the meaning is not so straightforward.
Bucky turns away and looks out the window to the city around the hospital, as he tries to make a choice on what is to happen. “This is the only way that chance can happen? You are affecting time to get this opportunity, can you not do the same to make what is supposed to occur in the future, happen?” ‘Do I have to make this choice to hurt people’ is the real question he is asking.
The being laughs lightly, not bothering to correct the falsehood that he has said. “No. I cannot affect anything in the future of you or of the person to come, directly like that. I cannot stop what is to come for you, nor can I do anything to make their future any different besides telling you the choices. Fate is fickle, and has laid down the law on what I can, or cannot do. In fact, only on this one time can I even enter the past with you. After this, I will come to you and tell you what your actions will cause and answer questions you have like I have done here. And you will choose from those facts then and there.” If he could actually see their eyes, he would see the sadness of knowing that the first choice will be particularly hard for him.
Closing his eyes, Bucky sighs. “Then what real choice do I have? If it were up to me, I would have him die here and now. But instead, for the sake of the ‘universe’,” this last is said bitterly, “I choose to let him live. And I hope that I can be forgiven for it.” He tries to send a prayer to have the woman waiting at the end of this, as well as himself, forgive him for this decision.
The relief the being feels is immense. This was a test, one that they are finally seeing how much their warrior is the one they have been waiting for, has passed. With this, there is actually hope for the small planet, as well as the universe as they know it, to survive.
They take the remaining hand of Bucky and take them both back to that time, that place in-between that Bucky is in for now. Leaving In their wake, a young man gasping as the door opens and a golden headed being comes in, his mind in chaos as he decides to follow through on the young Mason’s mother’s request. Hoping this would not be a mistake as it had been to help with a young scientist once upon a time.
With a flash of light, they appear back in the place. Keeping in mind what was to come, and how much their warrior may need help to pass the next while, the being steps away. “For making the right choice, I am able to grant a boon.” This may seem small in comparison of what is to come, but it might be able to save more of the young warrior in front of her.
Bucky looks over at them, his heart heavy for what he has just done, subjecting those countless lives to death because of his choice. What kind of boon can make up for all those lives?
Seeing the pain on his face, the figure steps closer. “The choices you make will be harder, often personal. But they will be your choice. I also will partition away part of you to be hidden from the mind games you will be subjected to shortly. Later on, this boon will help you. But as I have mentioned before, you will suffer more than any other before on your Earth. You will do things that will cause you to question yourself. Right now I tell you, that you will not be able to stop much from happening.” Their voice is sad as they tell their Warrior this information.
Taking a deep breath, Bucky nods. He will take anything to help him get through what was causing this being such grief as they tell him of the future he is going to have.
With a last caress of his face, the being creates a wall in his head, making it so his mind, the real part of him rests there, away from what is going to happen to him. He will find there are consequences for it, but it is the only way to have him save the core of himself from being torn from him. To have him able to fight in the future the brainwashing they are going to make him go through sooner than later.
He will need it.
Final count: 2,417