rarepairs that own my heart » Bucky Barnes/Helen Cho
Miracles can’t produce the results that science can, she likes
to say, trailing her fingers gently over the metal of her newest
invention, and it’s beautiful how much she loves her work. She gets this
sparkle in her eyes and says things in this soft voice like she’s
afraid to break the atmosphere of the moment, and she does that same
thing when she gets to work on his arm for the first time.
“Hey doc,” Bucky says, stripping off his shirt as the doors slide shut behind her.
His lip curls up a bit, as far as it ever makes toward a smile. It had taken a while for Helen to reconcile the man in Steve’s stories with the man who sits on her examination table every other week, quietly watching her as she charts his cognitive regeneration. He hasn’t been mean or cold, but he’s quiet and calculating in a way she wasn’t expecting at first, despite the briefing she received on both his medical and biographical history.
It’s unnerving in many ways. She’s used the mysteries of the body and the brain, but she’s not used to reading people, at least not people like Bucky. The rest of the Avengers suffer from a myriad of conditions, both mental and physical, but she’s very aware of the extensive and profound torture that Bucky has endured, which makes her angry and sorrowful in turn.
She doesn’t know him well, but she’s come to respect him. Truthfully, she’s come to like him despite his secretive disposition; in a tower full of overpowering personalities, she enjoys his peaceful nature, even if it hides a very troubled, turbulent mind.
She picks up her tablet, careful to keep in his eyeline. "Have your sleep patterns been improving?“ she asks, quickly scanning her previous report. His last PET scan had showed significant neural regeneration in the portions of his brain affected by the recalibration machine he had been subjected to over the years, and as expected, it has had a profound impact on his
He nods. "Better,” he says, then shocks her by adding, “I’m starting to remember my dreams again.” After four months, it’s one of the first time he’s elaborated on any of the questions she has asked him without provocation. In truth, the last few sessions with him have felt different, less like he’s suffering through an interrogation and more like she’s a colleague trying to help.
Helen smiles as she says, “That’s good progress,” even though she’s not sure if the dreams have anything to do with the neurological damage his body is repairing. But she’s willing to take wins where she can find them.
“Depends on the dreams,” he answers cryptically.
“Very true.” She puts the tablet down near his left thigh. "Can I touch your arm?“
She always makes sure to ask before she touches him, particularly areas she knows are sensitive to him. His shoulder and arm, but also his neck, right wrist, and ankles. (A consultation with a leading trauma specialist had him concluding that Bucky had likely been physically restrained for long periods while conscious, and that night, Helen had consumed an extra two glasses of wine before she had been able to fall asleep.)
Bucky nods again. "Of course. It’s why I’m here, ain’t it?”
“Always good to ask though, isn’t it?” Helen arches an eyebrow and reaches for her tablet. Shift in vernacular.
He hums in agreement as she steps closer to him. His eyes track down to the wound that her top doesn’t quite cover, the one that still aches a bit in the morning, like her skin is still protesting being cleaved apart. The worst part of the injury had been over her chest, the laser cutting deep, but the burn had spun out like a spiderweb across her shoulder all the way up her neck to the skin tucked behind her ear.
Helen doesn’t feel particularly sensitive about it, though some of the less tactful workers at the tower stared at at first when they thought she wasn’t looking. It isn’t terrible, barely noticeable unless you’re looking for it, but it’s hard to unsee once you do. The burn is unnatural, has a strange sheen to it that makes it almost glow.
His body shivers a bit under her hands when she presses carefully at the seam of metal and flesh, testing the muscle beneath it. She’s been working with Bruce on improving the integration of his metal prosthetic. Hydra had done a mediocre job of repairing the remaining tissue in the shoulder, which she knows causes Bucky a significant amount of discomfort that he refuses to admit to, but that is written across his face when she runs physical tests on the joint.
Helen leans over his shoulder, tilting her head to look at the scar tissue at the top of his left shoulder blade, which is looking decidedly better since she began treatment on it a few weeks ago.
Suddenly, she feels the light touch of a thumb over the scarred skin behind her ear, the slide of smooth skin over bumpy, burned scars. Helen yanks back so fast she nearly tips over onto her ass, Bucky’s metal hand whipping out to grab her elbow to steady her before sliding off of her just as fast.
Bucky’s eyes are wide and slightly horrified, like he’s as shocked as she is by his behaviour. "Sorry,“ he breathes out, his chest rising and falling erratically. "Sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Helen reaches up and cups her hand over the skin he touched, her heart pounding.
This is SO BEAUTIFUL. SO BEAUTIFUL.
You have no idea how excited I was to get this notification on my phone and I was smiling like an idiot on my bus ride home because of this. I love how quiet but tender it was, because that’s totally how I picture their relationship to be, and I love love love how you write Helen, how compassionate she is and how much she feels for Bucky even though she knows that they’re still not quite familiar with each other. Also, her asking to touch his arm first? LOVE.
Ugh, I love them so much. I’m so excited that other people like them together, too. You make me want to write them so much!
I feel like what I love best about the fandom byproduct being created around TWS is this idea of body-ownership and agency, and RESPECTING both. UGH WHEN DID THIS BECOME A KINK FOR ME BECAUSE IT REALLY IS.
I didn’t go into depth here, but I also feel like she would be deeply scarred emotionally by the co-opting of her agency in Ultron, so she would be particularly cognizant of respecting Bucky’s agency, especially regarding his body. There might be an urge to write Helen as primarily a scientist, but there was something so deeply human and empathetic about her. Her curiosity is expressed in such a warm way. I LOVE IT.
Basically: I fucking love Helen Cho and was really pissed about how she was used in Ultron. I also never thought Bucky/Helen would be a thing for me, but it IS. It’s real.
I’m glad you’re fighting the good fight for rarepairs 😀