Today is the day. There’s no going back once he does this.
The man combs out his hair to the best of his abilities, washes off most of the grime and sweat from his face and attempts to mask the lingering odor of sweat and motor oil with a can of deodorant but he just can’t seem to make himself presentable. In all honesty, he doesn’t think that it’s even an option by this point. The hunk of metal he has for an arm detracts from the whole image of a presentable young man, anyway.
After much deliberation and nervous pacing he finally leaves his apartment. He does not bother to lock the door; he has nothing worth stealing anymore.
His right hand holds a crumpled picture of Steve and Bucky. He turns it over to read over the address one last time although he doesn’t need to, he has it memorised by now. He places the ruined picture in his pocket and takes off down the street, head bent down.
He finds himself there in no time, he remembers the exact number of steps it takes to get to the building. He gingerly rings the doorbell, reminding himself to breathe. His right hand closes around the photo in his pocket so tightly that he feels his fingernails digging into his skin.
There is no response.
The man stands there, alone and waiting. Still nothing.
His nerves overtake him. He rings again with a shaking hand and with much more force.
This time he hears stomping. Someone makes their way down the stairs quickly and he steps backwards, moving down the steps until he stands at least a foot away from the door. He can’t breathe.
All too soon the door creaks open and Steve Rogers sticks his face out.
A tense moment passes and the man on the path is tempted to flee. This was too difficult, too soon. This was a bad idea. He shouldn’t have come. He should have just stayed alone and lived out his life like that, he should not have gone looking for the past.
Not a question, simply a statement. And just like that, he is disarmed.
His feet move before he is ready and suddenly he is moving back up the stairs. Steve meets him halfway and embraces him warmly, his arms wrapping tightly around the man’s frame and holding on for dear life. For a moment the man with the metal arm does not know what to do.
He ends up breathing a sigh of relief and buries his face in Steve’s neck, shaking. He promised himself he would not cry.
Steve pulls away after a few minutes and holds his friend by the shoulders. His eyes shining with unshed tears but a warm smile still makes its way to his face. The winter soldier swallows with some difficulty at the sigh.
“You can come inside if you want. We’ve got a lot to catch up on, Barnes.”
He is home.