Steve miscalculated. He let his drive to get into that base overrule basic precaution. He got cocky. This was his fault, all of it, and the anger at himself churned acrid in his stomach.
They only meant to scan the area and gather intel, with Sam scouting from above while Steve infiltrated to plant bugs. Since the fall of SHIELD any mission Captain America and his team carried was on their own, under private operations with Stark Industries keeping a watchful eye over their missions to take down what was left of Hydra or, from the intelligence they had been gathering, the new heads that were growing in its wake.
With Natasha still off the grid, he tasked Bucky to be lookout. Natasha wasn't completely MIA, but she had been silent for almost a year now. While they could use her help Steve respected her choice to lay low and find her new identity. He missed her, but that was that. If they needed her they knew where to call, she had told them as much.
When Steve went on these missions he had Sam, and he couldn't leave Bucky behind in Washington just because he was afraid he might relapse. Bucky would have kicked him in the groin if he found out he did.
Bucky was... on the fence between the Winter Soldier and the man he once was. Steve could see shadows of Bucky in him, in the way he walked or the jokes he would crack when he wasn't burning holes in the room with his thousand-yard stare. He was quieter than Bucky had been, though, much more calculated and deliberate in his movements where Bucky had been lax and carefree.
Still very much a realist, if not downright pessimistic, he was possessive, bull-headed, and resourceful, just as he had always been. But the Soldier still came out more often than Steve cared for, cold and callous like a child that hadn't been taught any better yet. Distrustful one moment and agonizingly dependent the next. He couldn't get rid of that part of him, though, there was no way to erase seventy years of conditioning. Bucky had suffered enough erasure for one lifetime.
Besides, Steve loved Bucky no matter what form he came in. He always would, and he had grown fond of this new man, pieces of his best friend blended together with something new he had to learn one day at a time. It was difficult, impossible some days, but Steve dealt with it because it meant Bucky was healing.
He also knew enough to see Bucky wasn't ready to go into the fray just yet. He kept him on lighter work, information gathering from a hotel room or on a rooftop where he would be safe and, hopefully, not have a flashback or go AWOL. It worked, even if the frustration making Bucky jumpy was becoming too obvious to ignore.
This latest mission was apparently the last straw. The moment Steve finished assigning their roles Bucky had scoffed to himself, a sharp puff of breath while he loaded his sniper rifle with all the stiffness of a robot. Steve had learned to read the silence where there used to be uninhibited words.
“Something wrong?” Steve prompted, not unkindly, just hopeful he would answer.
Bucky kept quiet at first, and then, mostly under his breath—not used to speaking out loud anymore—said, “Don't you think it'd make a bit more sense if I did reconnaissance?”
Steve frowned and furrowed his brow, “I don't see how.”
Bucky sighed, “I'm the one with experience. And no offense, but the spangly suit, no matter how covert-op the navy blue makes it, isn't exactly what you call discreet.”
“I've done recon before, Buck,” Steve said, “This isn't new.”
“Not when you don't want them knowing Captain America broke in. The shield is a bit of a red light, Steve!”
They argued. For close to an hour. It was something Steve would never get used to, how defensive Bucky became now.
“You're better suited for surveillance,” Steve reasoned, “you know the equipment—”
“I've spent half a century as a ghost, I do this work like it's breathing. If anyone is qualified for this—”
“You're still recovering, Buck.”
Bucky scoffed, “Yeah, and I'd feel a hell of a lot better putting a bullet between one of those bastards' eyes. It'd be down-right therapeutic.”
Steve's frustration started to build. "If you don't like it then you don't have to follow my orders. You can head back to Washington.”
“Oh, you'd like that,” Bucky sneered, and Steve flinched.
“What are you talking about?”
“You act like I'm a damn mine about to go off!" Bucky said, frustration clear in his tight voice, "I'm not gonna crack at the first sign of stress. I'm a soldier, not a doll, and I can decide for once what I can or can't do. I deserve that much.”
Steve shut up, tail between his legs. Of course Bucky knew what he had been doing, he wasn't stupid. Steve was just...he was terrified of losing him again. He knew Bucky wouldn't take that as an answer of an excuse for his actions, either. After a solid chunk of awkward silence, Sam proposed that they just do the damn patrol together. They agreed.
Steve was still kicking himself in the teeth for letting Bucky into the line of fire. Bucky was still recovering, he still had flashbacks, he still woke up drenched in sweat gasping in Russian that he couldn't do this anymore. Bucky wasn't fragile, Steve never thought he was, but he still needed time out of the field.
Bucky wouldn't hear any of it. Even the old Bucky hadn't. That's how he ended up on his team in the War and on his team now. The moment he knew enough about himself to remember his name was the moment he wanted justice on the people that took it away. That's how he reasoned with what had been done to him, back then, and even now.
It was revenge, Steve knew it plain as day. Justice, sure, but not without that underlying current of eye for an eye. Steve never said he didn't have the same motivation, though. He never said he was perfect.
He should have thought of how much that need for revenge had clouded his judgment before entering that base, before finding out that the seemingly abandoned warehouse ran tunnels underground, machines upon machines of processing information towering over them the moment he and Bucky dropped into their respective locations. There were soldiers marching, and weapons lined across the walls.
Bucky's voiced crackled into his earpiece, “Steve, shit, this is—”
His comm cut out. Steve was too cocky, he had miscalculated the security of the base since he thought it was only going to be a run of the mill information center, another abandoned dead-end.
He was out cold from a crack to the head the moment he realized they had discovered a hub of what was left of Hydra.
When Steve came to, the magnetic cuffs Hydra had tried to pin him with before now shackled him to a plated wall of reinforced steel that didn't even groan when he pulled on them with all his strength. His feet were pinned in a similar fashion. He was trapped.
Worry ran ice in the back of his mind, blood racing with the concern of where Bucky was, where Sam was, where had they taken them. Bucky's comm had cut out but Sam hadn't responded; he hoped he had gotten away. But Bucky didn't. If something happened to either of them, their blood was on his hands. He wanted this mission carried out, his attempts to find justice for Bucky and himself for their sacrifice seventy years ago, and now they were in their enemies' hands.
The only thing keeping him from showing his panic was the guilt that he had gotten them into this mess in the first place, that he would have to atone for this as soon as he was free. Which was ultimately beneficial; he could see dark-coated glass high on the wall that signaled a viewing room, with speakers mounted into the wall. Someone was watching him, and wanted to make sure he stayed put.
The room itself was confining, claustrophobic, with only the reinforced metal walls, a chair hooked to machines, and a table with several weapons. There were blades on the table, but a distinct feeling of dread seeped down his spine when he recognized the baton Rumlow had used to electrocute him all those months ago. A phantom twitch of pain raced through his gut at the memory.
The door screeched open, and Steve almost felt something like relief when someone shoved Bucky inside, stumbling down to his knees with a hiss. His hands were cuffed behind his back, his face black and blue, but he was alive.
“Bucky,” Steve breathed, not relief, not in this situation, but wanting confirmation that he was still with him. He had seen Bucky fall apart too many times in the past few months, and had to bring him back.
He didn't respond, and kept his eyes down even though he breathed sharply through his nose, shoulders up and tensed. Steve's stomach dropped.
Then, speak of the devil, Rumlow himself sauntered in. He kicked the door shut behind him, the metal slam echoing in the small room. Rumlow crossed his arms—reddened and scarred where his forearms were exposed, with thick, black gloves ending at his wrists—while he looked down at Bucky with a grin on his twisted lips.
Rumlow was a mess. Steve knew he had been burned in that explosion, but he hadn't known the extent of the damage. Skin grafts disguised most of the scars on his face, but Steve could still see where the hair had thinned on one side, his lips twisted in an unnatural sneer. His arms remained scorched. He still retained the memory of a handsome face, overshadowed by those mars. Steve couldn't find it in himself to feel pity.
“You've seen better days,” Steve said.
Rumlow chuckled, tongue in cheek for a moment but didn't reply. Instead, he lifted his boot and kicked Bucky in the back hard enough to shoot him forward, sprawling him out on the ground face down. Rumlow pressed his boot over his wrists, and ground down with his weight until Steve heard the bones crunch and Bucky cursed, brows screwing up in pain.
Steve's blood simmered, his glare turning to venom on Rumlow. He clenched his teeth to keep from reacting with spite. That's what the man wanted, he knew that.
Rumlow looked up at Steve and arched a brow. “Done with the snark, Cap?”
Steve said nothing, his stomach twisting in knots keeping quiet.
“Good.” Rumlow leaned down and grabbed Bucky by the hair, dragged him back up on his knees.
Bucky's features were contorted in pain, but also in feral rage, like a cornered animal that was so not Bucky Steve could feel his heart clench.
“Get off, you piece of shit,” Bucky spat. His metal arm whirred when he tugged at the binds, but whatever held him was strong enough to keep Bucky pinned.
Rumlow looked down at him, “You don't remember me, do you?”
Bucky sneered up at him, a savage snarl baring teeth. “Sorry, I don't remember small fry thugs.”
That much sounded like the old Bucky. Rumlow was unperturbed; actually, he appeared amused. He twisted Bucky's hair tighter until he grimaced.
“You will,” he smirked, and then leaned down to whisper something in Bucky's ear.
His brow creased in confusion, eyes shifting as whatever Rumlow said processed through his head. Less than two seconds later his body suddenly went slack. The anger in his eyes fogged over into glassy emptiness. The contorted pain on his face slipped away, lips parted, eyes hooded and unfocused. His shoulders slumped. Steve hadn't seen his expression this empty since he pulled Bucky's mask off in Washington. Steve felt the color drain from his face.
“What the hell did you do?” Steve said, unable to hold his tongue any longer. He gritted it out, letting anger mask the fear lingering under the surface. Bucky was looking right through the wall, like he wasn't even in the room.
Rumlow shrugged and ran his fingers through Bucky's hair, petting the strands. “Oh, don't worry about your boyfriend here. He's just on autopilot."
Steve's stomach flipped at the sight of someone touching his friend that way, without so much as a reaction. He grabbed Bucky by the neck and hauled him to his feet, having to grip tight to keep him on balance with his arms still behind his back. He didn't struggle at all, only followed the movement like a puppet on strings.
Steve took in a slow, calming breath as his brow creased. What the hell did Rumlow mean?
Rumlow cast a quick glance to Steve, watching him incredulously, and cracked another smile.
“You didn't think Hydra would condition the greatest weapon ever known and not give it an off switch?” The tone he spoke in was almost admiring, and Steve would give anything to have his shield in his hand right about now. “He's still in there, I promise. Just not all there at the moment. Watch this.”
Rumlow leaned in and whispered something else in Bucky's ear. Bucky nodded once while Rumlow reached behind him to release the cuffs over his wrists, magnetic like the ones pinning Steve. Bucky walked over to the table, picked up a knife, and turned to Steve. His eyes narrowed before settling into a stance like he was going to lunge.
Steve's heart leapt into his throat. Everything they had recovering the last few months, the warmth in his eyes and quirk in his lips was stripped away, left only with the Soldier Steve had met in that street.
“Bucky. Buck, stop, you can fight this—”
Bucky rushed forward, the blade raised towards his jugular and Steve couldn't help flinching back, even as his eyes stayed opened because he wasn't going to let Bucky face this alone—
Rumlow said something else, barked in Russian and like flicking a switch, Bucky crumpled. The knife dropped to the floor and his mouth fell slack again, eyes forward, shoulders slumped.
Steve couldn't speak. The months they had spent searching for information on the Winter Soldier, the trigger words and training he had undergone, releasing him of those bonds and somehow, they had missed this. It had to be word-of-mouth, this switch, too important a secret to write down on paper. God, he thought they freed him of this. The months they spent making Bucky human again, undone by a phrase.
“Back on your knees,” Rumlow ordered, and Bucky obeyed without hesitation.
His vision tinged red again and Steve pulled hard at the metal binds. “What the hell do you want, Rumlow? If this is some sick game—”
“Patience, big guy.” Rumlow stepped behind Bucky, and ran his hand over his friend's face, through his hair. He seemed pleased with his work, the look in his eyes as he watched Bucky on his knees a little too heated for Steve's liking. “We've got all the time in the world here.”
Rumlow had changed. Not just in appearance, but... in everything. It didn't matter that he had been lying since the beginning, he knew a changed man when he saw it. Steve had once trusted Rumlow with his life. Now he itched to knock him out. Despite the heavy knot that thought made in his stomach, Steve swallowed hard and kept his gaze steady.
“What do you want?” Steve asked again.
Rumlow snorted, patting Bucky's cheek twice before letting his hand drop. “Honestly? My bosses are busy at the moment. They told me to entertain you, and let you know what happens when our toys malfunction.”
The word “toy” made a shiver run down Steve's spine.
“He's not yours,” Steve said through gritted teeth.
“You're right. He's your bitch now, isn't he?” Rumlow stepped away from Bucky, walked to the table to pick up the baton.
Steve refused to take that bait. “He's not anyone's. He's not your weapon.”
Rumlow looked over his shoulder to study Steve for a minute, then shook his head with a pitying laugh. “Christ. You have no idea, do you?”
He turned and made his way over to Steve at an unhurried pace, tapping the baton absently against the palm of his gloved hand. Steve jutted his chin up, defiant to show any reaction to that weapon even as his muscles tensed in memory of that shock.
Once Rumlow was close enough he grabbed Steve by his chin, digging the digits deep enough to grind bone to make Steve wince.
“Barnes has done things on his knees that would make your skin crawl.” Rumlow sighed sharply, shook him by his jaw once so that his skull hit the metal with a bang. He flinched and Rumlow kept talking, a flick of his thumb making the screeching hum of energy fill the air. “He's nothing but programming, Cap. He's not human anymore.”
Steve ignored the hum and snapped back, “You shut up—”
Flaring pain punched through his torso where Rumlow shoved the end of the baton into his gut. Steve gritted his teeth against a howl of pain, air squeezed out of his lungs as the electricity sparked through his stomach, chest, and through his limbs from the metal he was pressed against. The steel only struck the current back into him when it left, burning white hot through every nerve.
When Rumlow pulled the baton away, an agonizing seven seconds later, Steve's heart hammered out of time and he couldn't catch his breath. Remnants of shock pulsed through him, making his muscles twitch spasmodically as he swallowed past the static charge skittering across his teeth. Rumlow forced his face forward to look him in the eye. Though he leaned his weight into the wall for support, Steve met his gaze head on, contempt clear in a scowl. It only made Rumlow smile.
“You know, Steve. I think they sent me in here special.” Rumlow tilted his head towards the window, casting a momentary glance to it. Rumlow lowered his voice then, so only Steve could hear, though he was sure the bastard had a comm attached to him somewhere. “'Cause they know. Our history? God, what would the world do if they knew what we've done.”
Steve swallowed hard, ignoring the heat that flared in his stomach at the sheer familiarity of his hushed voice. “You sure do like hearing yourself talk.”
Rumlow's eyes narrowed, and that baton slammed into his gut again, and this time, he didn't pull back for fifteen. Steve's mouth stretched open in a silent scream, nails digging bloody crescents into his palms. The shock scorched through his nerves, down his legs to his toes. He felt it in his tongue. When the fire stopped Steve sagged against the cuffs, head bowing while he panted, the ragged gasps reminiscent of the days he had poor lungs. Steve might've laughed at the irony if he didn't ache like he'd been hit by a truck. Rumlow switched the baton off before using the end of it to shove his chin up.
“What'd I say about the snark?”
Steve glared down his nose at him, struggling for air, and jerked away from the metal rod. He regretted that immediately when Rumlow clicked his tongue, and decided the rod was better put to use between his legs. The moment the middle touched him through his suit Steve's breath hitched sharply through his nose. When Rumlow ran the length of the baton up and down his groin, he seized up in surprise and, well, a little bit of panic.
Rumlow laughed and massaged the baton against him, grinding the length of it none too gently along his dick. Steve backed his hips against the wall but he had nowhere to go. He squeezed his eyes shut, his stomach twisting. His cock gave a traitorous little twitch and Steve shuddered.
“What's wrong? Nothing new for you, big guy.” Rumlow smacked Steve's cheek, prompting him back to attention, and held his gaze while he stroked that thing over his groin. Steve bit his tongue to steel his breath. Rumlow shifted gears then, and pressed the length of his body against Steve's side while he rubbed his palm over his cock in tight little circles. Oh god, too familiar, too close, too much. Steve fought to keep his breathing even but his cock started to thicken in his pants, and his cheeks burned in embarrassment.
The grin on Rumlow's face was nearly maniacal. "There you go.” Rumlow leaned in to laugh the words against his jaw, “Just like old times.”
“You're sick,” Steve said, some of the bite in his voice lost in fighting a shudder. Sheer obstinance made him hold Rumlow's gaze despite doing nothing to help the situation. The panic and fear of Rumlow flipping that switch was too profound to get any more aroused by this, as much as his body remembered what he felt like. It remembered his hands, and Steve wished he had never been so stupid as to trust this man.
He refused to give Rumlow the pleasure of seeing his shame, schooled himself with slow breaths to keep from reacting past that initial blush. Other than a few twitches, and heat curling low in his stomach around the bitterness, he gave no further physical response to his touch.
“Oh Rogers, don't be like that,” Rumlow laughed lightly. Steve set his eyes forward, teeth clenched hard to keep still.
Rumlow sucked his teeth, pulling his hand and the baton away from his cock, finally losing interest in that. Steve wasn't prepared for him to have more plans for that weapon.
Rumlow's lip quirked before curling his fingers back into Steve's chin to pry his jaw open. Steve tasted blood from his teeth cutting his cheek before Rumlow managed to wrench his jaw wide, and then he was shoving that baton into his mouth until it hit the back of his throat. His eyes widened a fraction, struggling when he pushed Steve's chin up and he tried to fight it, but Rumlow fed it down by force, scraping his throat raw until Steve choked around it. He swallowed convulsively, heaving with a muffled gag from the scraping pain and stretch of metal.
Rumlow dragged his fingers down Steve's throat, distended around the baton forced inside. Steve's muscled twitched on instinct, only constricting his throat more. Tears leaked down his cheeks involuntarily.
“You really are something, aren't you?” Rumlow said, his tone soft with what sounded almost like reverence. He nudged the baton up and down with half-inch motions in the mockery of fellatio. Steve's eyes squeezed shut for a moment, focusing on keeping still and his heart rate down with that rod cutting off his oxygen. He swallowed to keep from gagging with the movement. Rumlow's thumb stroked along his fluttering pulse. “I could kill you like this. A flick of the switch. But nothing. Not even a shudder.”
Steve kept his eyes on Rumlow, blinking past his watering eyes and struggling for air, though betraying nothing else. Rumlow wrapped his hand around the end of the baton and twisted the metal until Steve felt his throat tear, blood welling up around the bar and slicking the twist of it. When Rumlow finally pulled the baton out, Steve gasped for breath and coughed hard, red spattering across his chin, shaking but otherwise silent. Iron flooded his mouth, leaking down his throat and past his lips when he coughed again. It burned.
Rumlow wiped the baton clean on his pant leg and then crossed his arms in thought, baton still in hand. He watched Steve until he brought his gaze back up to glare daggers into him. He darting his tongue out to lick up the blood sticking to the corner of his lip.
Rumlow grinned crookedly. “I'm impressed. You kinda look like you enjoyed it.” He tapped the rod against his cheek. “Wonder what Barnes thinks of that.”
Bucky still kneeled, compliant and unmoving behind Rumlow when he looked behind them. He hummed to himself. “There's gotta be a thousand thoughts racing in that head.”
Steve had almost, almost forgotten Bucky was there and now that his presence was brought forefront, he had to fight the urge to throw up. Instead he kept his eyes on Rumlow, and hoped his grimace would be taken as contempt rather than fighting the bile rising in his throat. If he looked at Bucky now, he might crack.
Rumlow's brow creased as he cocked his head. The way his eyes scanned over Steve's face reminded him of how he would analyze mission orders, memorizing each and every detail, finding the anomalies.
His brow relaxed with a small smile. Then he mused aloud, “Maybe your bitch wants a taste.”
Steve's face fell without his consent and Rumlow grinned.
“There we go.” Rumlow turned to head back to Bucky's side. Steve fought the cuffs again, bearing his weight down on them to hunt for some sort of give, some weakness, but nothing.
“Leave him out of this!” His voice was hoarse, wet and rough from the tearing that metal bar had done. He coughed hard from the sudden pain speaking ripped across his throat, hands twitching and curling in to fists to distract from the tearing.
Rumlow ignored his protests though, and ran a gloved hand across Bucky's jaw once he was next to him again. Bucky looked up, eyes still dead but following Rumlow, waiting for a command.
“Open your mouth,” Rumlow said, and Steve's anger roared back to life.
“Rumlow, stop it,” his voice grated against the tearing, making him wince but he continued, “You made your point!”
His words fell on deaf ears. It was like he was no longer in the room. Steve could only watch while Bucky's mouth fell open without hesitation, and took the end of the baton like it wasn't a weapon, like sliding his tongue across the length of it was a reward and not a deadly mistake. Rumlow stroked his thumb over Bucky's cheekbone, holding his jaw in the mockery of gentleness. He pushed the bar inside until Bucky flinched, the tip hitting the back of his throat yet he didn't shy away from it, only closed his lips around the metal and waited.
Bucky didn't even pause. Rumlow thrust the baton between his lips, wrist twisting the metal with each outward slide and Bucky obediently wrapped his lips around it and sucked until his cheeks hollowed around it, slow and careful with his eyes on the man towering over him the entire time. He leaned into Rumlow's hand when he brushed his hollowed cheek and Steve felt the sinking realization that this may not be the first time Bucky had done this.
“Look at him.” One gloved hand stroked through Bucky's hair, along his scalp and his eyes fluttered closed. Rumlow bit the corner of his lip. “I could shock the life out of him, and he's grateful.”
Bile churned and Steve wanted to look away, he wanted to stop this and tell Rumlow this was enough. But he couldn't give Rumlow the satisfaction of winning this perverted game.
With his hand still cupped around the back of Bucky's skull, Rumlow cast a sidelong look to Steve, “You trying to burn holes in me Rogers, or you wanna know what he feels like?”
“Shut up.” He wanted to be sick, he wanted out of these cuffs and he wanted to hit until Rumlow stopped talking. “I would never.”
“Why?” Rumlow pulled the baton out of Bucky's mouth, thank god, and tossed it onto the table without a second thought. He pushed his thumb between Buck's reddened lips, which he sucked eagerly, almost worshipful with his eyes still on Rumlow and Steve swallowed past the lump in his throat. “You never wanted to?”
Steve kept his mouth shut. He wouldn't give him the pleasure of knowing any more than he had said, that that never touched Bucky, never had and never would. He wouldn't risk their friendship over something like that.
He refused to let him know how true his words rang.
But Rumlow had always been able to read him like a book. That's why he got so close to Steve to begin with. He was such an idiot.
Rumlow's eyebrows arched in surprise of Steve's silence, and Steve closed his eyes, leaning his body against the wall.
“Oh, Cap, you're gonna make me cry," Rumlow all but cooed, "How long? Just this year? Since the forties?”
Steve refused to answer. Rumlow tilted Bucky's chin up, switched his thumb for two fingers and pushed them in until his knuckles brushed his lips. Bucky made a small sound around the digits that should not have made Steve's stomach roll the way it did.
“I'm telling you, you're missing out." Rumlow continued, a breathlessness to his tone that was likely exaggerated, but still grated Steve's nerves. "This one's got a mouth made of sin.”
Steve tried to ignore the implications of that, he really did. But instead of finding a comeback all Rumlow received was stunned silence, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth with anger.
For the first time, Rumlow waited for a response rather than filling the silence. Steve had to force himself to take in a slow, fortifying breath, his voice shaking slightly. “You're going to regret choosing Hydra. I promise you that.”
Rumlow watched Steve for a moment, his eyes tracking the dribble of blood down his chin, and then he shook his head. “Nah. My job has too many perks.”
Rumlow looked back to Bucky, still sucking his gloved fingers, and pulled them out slowly. He swiped the slick digits over his lips and his mouth parted, ready for whatever else he wanted him to do next. Steve grounded his teeth so hard together he heard his jaw creak.
Rumlow tilted his head at the man on his knees, “Maybe a demonstration?”
He whispered something into Bucky's ear that made him perk up slightly. His eyes were blank, but shifting, processing the order he had been given. He nodded once, and rose to his feet. Then he walked to Steve, never meeting his eyes, instead focused on the belt of his suit. Steve's blood ran cold, and all the anger he felt drained away when Bucky dropped to his knees in front of him.
“Brock.” Steve's throat was still hoarse, still rough, but it wavered with something other than the injury. “Brock, no. Leave him out of this.”
He had enough of this game. It was over, he got it, he didn't care what Rumlow did to him, but not Bucky. Steve was so close to asking what it would take for him to stop, regardless of shame. He just wanted it to stop.
Rumlow did pause at that, caught off guard by the use of his first name. He arched his brow at the Captain, but ended up shrugging one shoulder. "Sorry Cap, I have my orders.”
Steve trembled involuntarily when Bucky reached up to unbuckle the belt of his uniform, slipped the tongue free before pushing the pants down to his thighs. His skin prickled when exposed to the air and heat flushed through his cheeks again. Then Bucky pulled down his underwear, freeing his flaccid cock.
Steve shook his head quickly, “No. Christ, no, you've made your point, you win, okay?”
His voice was strained, the "please" so close to coming out he could taste it on his tongue.
“You should count yourself lucky,” Rumlow crossed his arms, his tone nonchalant even as Bucky took him into his flesh and blood hand to suck the head into his mouth. Steve couldn't stop himself from gasping. “I was going to fuck him, but you looked so pathetic, pining over here.”
“Do what you—” Sreve's breath caught when the tip of his tongue pushed into the slit, the first sparks of sensation tingling up his spine like needles. “Y-you want to me but not him. Brock—”
“You don't get it,” Rumlow sighed, and rolled his neck before stepped forward to wrap his hand around Steve's throat. “This isn't about you. My job? I test the weaponry here. I make sure it's in top condition. If that weapon malfunctions...”
Steve arms strained against the binds again when Rumlow tightened his hold around his neck, not enough to suffocate but enough to grind the torn flesh together before he finished. Steve felt his lips against his ear when he growled out, “Then I recondition it.”
Guilt and anger alike burned in Steve's eyes, in his pulse, his chest. He should have been more careful. He should never have put them in this situation. He didn't even know where Sam was. This was all his fault.
Rumlow let go of his neck and Steve's cock, twitching with interest between Bucky's parted lips —no, this was his best friend, he couldn't, he couldn't—slid deeper into his mouth, Bucky taking him down without so much as a gag or a flinch. Heat unfurled in his gut, seeping unbidden through his limbs.
Rumlow pulled away from Steve to watch Bucky work, eyes hooding. “Sometimes, the conditioning works. Sometimes the weapon doesn't hold up, and, well. We start back to square one.”
Rumlow looked over at the chair in the room, wires and machinery encircling it like a cage and suddenly Steve realized just what that chair was. He'd heard Bucky scream about it enough in his nightmares.
Steve gulped. “You wouldn't dare—”
“Only if he doesn't hold up,” Rumlow interrupted, “So you best keep your mouth shut and let him do his job, or my orders?”
Rumlow tapped his ear where his comm was likely concealed, “Are to wipe him clean. Your choice.”
Steve squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, biting his cheek until he tasted more blood. Were those really his only two options? Everything in him would rather be in Bucky's place—maybe that was a bad choice of words—being forced to do this rather than his friend. He would take anything; Rumlow could beat him to death, and he would still take it over his best friend being forced to...
But if he didn't do this, then he would be wiped. Steve didn't know what he would do if he lost him again.
Steve gathered his breath before opening his eyes again, looking down at Bucky, bobbing his head around his cock and wanting to the wall behind him to swallow him up.
"Made the right call, Cap."
It didn't feel like that. Steve kept his eyes down, swallowing hard and chewing his lip and really, he didn't know why he was still watching at this point. Maybe he deserved to have to watch this. He wasn't going to make Bucky go through his alone, after all. As messed up as that was.
Rumlow leaned down and curled his hand over Bucky's neck. “Use your hands.”
Bucky obeyed. When he swirled his tongue around the head, along the sensitive ridge on the bottom of his hardening dick he raised his hands to slide up Steve's trembling thighs, warm skin and cold metal making Steve want to arch, but he kept his hips still, breath catching in his lungs again. Bucky's hands traveled up to his hips, pinning them back against the wall to steady himself before easing him down his throat, thumbs gliding once over the arch of his hipbones. Steve's mouth went slack around a choked back moan. His hands ran back down his thighs and Steve counted himself lucky he was bolted down, or he may have spread them apart.
Rumlow let go of Bucky's neck in favor of running his fingers through Steve's hair.
"Feel good?" He asked conversationally, and Steve grimaced before pulling away from that touch. That only made Rumlow scoff as he grabbed a fistful of Steve's hair and wrenched his head back against the wall with a hollow bang. A pathetic sound worked its way past Steve's lips, from the pain rocketing through his skull and also from the pleasure dragging down his spine, trembling through his legs when Bucky pulled back and massaged his tongue over the vein. His chest started to heave for breath.
“Come on, I can see it in your eyes.” Rumlow dragged his nails over Steve's scalp before twisting his fingers into his hair again. “You want this. Why not enjoy it while it lasts?”
Steve gritted his teeth and closed his eyes again. What was he supposed to say? That for years, decades, however long he had known him Steve ached for his best friend, so much it physically hurt to be close to him sometimes? God, how could he look Bucky in the eye again after this? He had failed to protect him. He had his friend on his knees and couldn't do a thing to stop it. No matter all his strength, he kept failing him.
By some grace, Rumlow kept his mouth shut for a minute. Bucky's lips wrapped around him again while deceptively gentle fingertips traced down his neck and over his chest, light brushes that used to drive him crazy but were now all wrong. That gloved hand slipped under his uniform and ran up his chest, brushing his thumb over his nipple. Steve shook at the touch, but even unwanted, the nub perked up and Steve sucked his lip between his teeth. When Rumlow started rolling the hard flesh between his fingers Steve shivered again and tossed his head, smacking it against the metal wall.
Bucky released his cock with a slick pop from his lips and slid his tongue along the arch of his dick. When his tongue reached the swollen head, leaking pre-come he lapped at the wet slit and Steve bit his lip harder. Instinct and lust made him want to arch into his hands or roll his hips, but the guilt kept him frozen in place from the utter wrongness of it all. He squeezed his eyes shut again and couldn't stop a small whine.
“There you go...we don't want the Soldier to fail a mission, do we?”
Steve shook his head once and forced himself to look down at Bucky again, focusing on something other than Rumlow's taunting words and watched his friend take his cock back into the warm, wet vacuum of his mouth, nails scratching up and down his thighs and heaven help him if that didn't make him throb. It felt so good, the pleasure racing up and down his spine and settling low in his gut, coiling tighter with every lick and suck. He couldn't help it, it was wrong wrong wrong, he had wanted Bucky for as long as he could remember but not like this, never like this.
Steve bit back another incriminating sound when those fingertips traced his balls and he knocked his head into the wall again, gritted his teeth. He wanted to groan, to make sounds. He refused to give in to that; he refused to make this worse for his friend. But God, his tongue—
Rumlow chuckled, pinching his nipple between his fingertips hard enough to make Steve jump. The length of his muscled body was hot where Rumlow pressed against him, not much, only when he shifted but it was enough for Steve to feel the defined muscles under his shirt, and the hard line of his cock brushing against him through his uniform pants. Steve didn't know if that made the heat coil tighter, or made his stomach flip.
Rumlow spoke another command, "Faster."
Bucky bobbed his head quicker then, sucking harder and Steve gasped in surprise, hips jerking forward once on impulse. Bucky didn't so much as flinch, swallowing around the head bumping against the back of his throat with each bob and Steve grit his teeth on another moan.
“Take him deeper,” Rumlow said, voice pitched lower, rougher, close enough to feel the breath on his ear that made heat sear through Steve like a bullet.
He followed the order, relaxing his throat to take Steve down until his nose brushed the hairs at the base of his cock, swallowing several times that made the breath knock out of Steve's lungs. He cursed under his breath, a hiss that disguised his groan, hands clenching and unclenching in their binds. Heat rolled in his stomach not from anger, not from guilt but from the pleasure coiling through his muscles and when Bucky's hand squeezed his balls, Steve couldn't stop the moan that came out as a sob. His heart pounded wildly in his chest, it felt so good, so good, he could hardly keep his eyes open but he had to.
He focused his gaze on Bucky's head, trying to distract himself from Rumlow's hand, still torturing his nipples while he breathed encouragements into his ear that ghosted hot on his skin, so familiar Steve hated that he ever let himself know what he sounded like. Rumlow's teeth caught the lobe of his ear and Rumlow sucked, forcing another moan past Steve's lips, shaky and defeated as he arched into his hand. The heat twisted lower in his groin, tightening, coiling, he was going to—
“Don— don't make me—” Steve started, his voice cracking around the dryness, still burning from earlier, but now tight from the pounding heat in his blood, he was so close but, but he didn't want to, not in Bucky's—
“Don't you dare stop, Steve,” Rumlow growled in his ear, the gentle twists of his fingers suddenly changing to pain when he raked his nails hard down Steve's chest. Steve orgasm ripped out of him like a shock, his eyes rolling with pleasure as he came with a choked-back cry, his hips jerking once, twice forward to spill hot down Bucky's throat. His best friend swallowed it all without a sound. Steve's eyes burned.
While Steve came down from the aftershocks, the force of the magnets the only thing keeping him upright with his legs shaking so damn much, Rumlow cleaned them both up. He tucked Steve back into his suit, and he wiped Bucky's mouth clean, before he patted Bucky on the cheek. Steve noticed briefly that Bucky was hard, but didn't have the energy to process that beyond an instinctual response. He didn't even bother looking at Rumlow. He knew he was hard, had felt it against his thigh, and that meant they weren't done.
Rumlow sighed and rolled his shoulders, picking up the cuffs that had previously held Bucky.
“Guess we won't need the chair today, huh? But we do need to keep conditioning him, we lost so much time—”
Rumlow stopped mid-sentence, his brow creasing. His tilted his head, like he was listening to something. The comm, Steve remembered. He dragged his eyes up, watching him carefully.
Rumlow ended up frowning and set the cuffs back on the table.
He left the room, with a slam of the door behind him. Steve could only watch Bucky on the floor, empty and void of any indication he had just been forced to suck him off. Steve could only stare back, chest hollowed out of feeling anything other than helplessness. He wanted to scream. He didn't have the energy to. Another failure to add to his growing list. He could never save him, never could...
There was gunfire. Steve jerked to attention immediately, eyes locked on the door. He heard grunts, and more gunfire. The door screeched open and Steve braced for the worst. It wasn't like he could do anything in these cuffs—
Natasha. It was Natasha that ran in. Steve stared at her blankly, blinking hard a few times, and wondered when he had passed out to be dreaming this. She looked between Steve and Bucky, a cursory glance to the man on his knees before she crossed the room to Steve and pressed something circular to the magnetic cuffs.
“Hold still, Rogers, this'll sting.”
Electric charge shot through his wrists and Steve grunted sharply in pain. Not dreaming then.
The mechanism released, freeing his wrists. She did the same to his feet, and Steve stumbled forward, barely catching himself. He was still shaking, still hadn't quite caught his breath from the whole ordeal. He hadn't felt this cold in a long, long time.
“Natasha, what—” Steve cleared his throat, iron still coloring every word though his throat had started to slowly mend. He swallowed to regain some moisture. “What are you doing here?”
She was gathering the weapons in the room when she cast an incredulous look over her shoulder.
“Some habits die hard." She picked up the baton and examined it, before sliding it onto a holster against her leg. The sick twisted in his stomach but Steve said nothing. “And you really think I'd let you wander across Europe without an eye on you?”
Steve stared at her, lost, and Natasha sighed before putting on a weak smile.
“Sam called me in," she clarified, "He's outside keeping your guards at bay, and he has your shield. Come on.”
Sam. Oh thank god, Sam was okay. Steve sucked in a breath that shook too much, but while Natasha definitely noticed she pretended not to. Instead she jutted her head toward the door. Steve shook his head. He looked over to Bucky, who was still kneeling like a statue.
“I know,” Natasha cut in. She took in a breath and held up her hand when Steve tried to interject. “I know, Steve. I know. He's not here right now. But now's not the time to bring him back to present, don't you agree?”
Steve felt the sick churn in his guts, and hoped desperately that Natasha didn't know what had happened in this room. The stoic look in her eyes wasn't a comfort. He nodded, anyway, and steeled his shoulders. They needed to get out, and now wasn't the time to dwell on his mistakes.
“We can't leave without Rumlow. We need to shut down this...switch, I don't—”
“We don't need him. I got it.” Natasha replied softly. She hesitated a moment at Steve's creased brow, long enough for Steve to believe she might explain. But she headed out of the room after saying something in Russian that made Bucky rise to his feet.
To Steve's silent questions, all Natasha supplied was, “He'll listen to Russian commands on default. He's only conditioned to listen to English from certain voices.”
Rather than ask her how the hell she knew all this, Steve followed. First, they needed to get out. He would have plenty of time to ask later. Or maybe not.
They escaped relatively unscathed, covered by Natasha and Sam. Steve had a bullet graze his side before getting out and Natasha sported a nasty knife wound to her shoulder. Sam was the worst, with a bullet shot clean through his leg. Bucky hadn't been hit, but then again, it was small consolation to what he had suffered through just before Natasha came.
Steve was less than merciful with any agents he came across on their run to get out. Collapsed chest cavities and ruptured organs from the blunt of his shield were the least of his worries on the mounting list of guilt. If anything, they were a salve on the open wound.
Natasha had the foresight to plant explosives in any of Hydra's vehicles she could find. No one would be following them anytime soon.
When they piled in to Natasha's car, a nondescript European model with a greater horsepower than it led him to believe, silence fell between them all. Adrenaline still coursed through them, but it was fading. While Natasha drove Steve quietly, efficiently dressed Sam's wound in his calf, wrapping it without so much as looking at him. He could hear his heartbeat in the quiet, still irregular, still painful with each heavy thud.
“Steve...” Sam started, once he was done bandaging him up. “You know, this isn't—”
“Don't.” Steve kept his eyes down. “Just don't.”
Sam and Natasha shared a look over the seat but said nothing. Every second Bucky still looked dead inside the tight knot in Steve's chest twisted more. Not yet. Natasha was right, he needed to be safe before unraveling what they had done.
It didn't make him feel any better.
Hours later, after a quick stop on the side of the road to bandage Natasha's shoulder at Sam's insistence, they were in a safe, ambiguous hotel the next country over. The moment they settled in Natasha left, with only a comment that she needed to head out to maintain her new identity, and a note with instructions to bring Bucky out of his stupor. When Steve asked her how the hell she knew this, Natasha gave him a wry smile, and told him to look her up online. Steve accepted that much without a further word, paper clutched in his fist.
Sam and Natasha both could read the tension in the air. Steve could see it in his own face in the mirror, frustration and guilt lining his face. This was all his fault. He had been brash, stupid, and in over his head. If he had given better orders, if he had just...
“I'm calling Tony,” Sam said, leaning against the door frame, “We're getting out of this hell hole.”
Steve nodded, eyes still on his reflection in the mirror, hunting for something he could hold on to. Rage, or hate, or, if he was lucky and delusional, even a plan of action to take out Hydra until every last one of them were dead. Or captured. His mind was fried though, too much running through his head to piece together something concrete, and Steve had never been one to hang on to hate for long. There was nothing. He felt so lost, so tired. He wished he could get drunk.
Sam waited a solid thirty seconds for him to talk, but when he knew he wasn't going to budge, he left, but not without gently squeezing Steve on the shoulder first. Steve bit the inside of his cheek; he didn't deserve gentle.
“You let me know if you need me, alright?” Sam asked, lingering for a moment, waiting patiently as he always did.
Steve nodded once. He couldn't bring himself to pull away and risk worrying Sam any more. So he waited in silence.
Sam sighed through his nose, and left the room with a quiet click of the door. Bucky waited by the bed, standing now, eyes still downcast. Once they were alone, Steve left the bathroom and spoke the words on the small bit of paper with a shuddering breath.
At first, nothing happened and Steve felt panic claw up his spine. But then Bucky blinked, clarity refocusing his eyes. Confusion settled in, and then realization. Then terror.
Steve fully expected him to scream, to punch, to yell at Steve and tell him to get him out of there, that he didn't want to see his face again. He expected a fight. He expected anger. Steve could have beared that.
But Steve could only watch while Bucky's face crumpled, eyes wide and unseeing as he slid to his knees, staring at the wall for so long Steve lost track of time. He said nothing, he did nothing. Steve ached to reach out and touch him, but he knew that was the last thing he would want.
So he sat down next to him. And he waited for him to talk. It was all he could do. Steve drew his knees up to rest his forearms over them, waiting patiently.
The silence dragged like a knife, enough time passing that Steve was certain Sam had turned in for the night a long time ago.
“How you holding up?” Steve finally said.
Bucky jerked a little, startled and tense. He clearly hadn't expected Steve to talk, and Steve had to bit his tongue hard for jumping the gun on him.
He relaxed a fraction, though, and scoffed. “About a hair trigger away from meltdown. So, the usual.”
Steve grimaced. It wasn't funny.
“This is my fault,” Steve bit out, and shook his head, “I swear, I'll take them out. We just need to get a strike team, I still have contacts—”
“Steve. Stop it.” Steve fell silent at Bucky's interruption, watching him from the corner of his eye.
Bucky flexed the metal hand, studying the way light reflected off of it, and then slouched against the bed. He looked so tired that Steve's heart ached. He looked away.
“This isn't your fault,” Bucky said, after a long time.
Steve clenched his jaw tight. He wasn't going to turn this into an argument. “What they did to you...”
“Yeah,” Bucky laughed, but it lacked any mirth. “Still processing that.”
Steve was still shaking from the anger; if only he hadn't been so eager to get in there.
Bucky sucked in a slow, shuddering breath, and exhaled carefully. “Makes it easier when you're not that surprised, though.”
“Bucky.” Steve wanted to reach out to him, to touch him, hold him, but... not after all of this.
He shook his head anyway, “I'm not. I'm really not. Kinda figured there was a kill switch somewhere.” Bucky scrubbed his right hand over his face, shoulders hunched in, trying to make himself small.
The thought of a kill switch hadn't even crossed Steve's mind. They thought they had figured out the code words that triggered Bucky to go off; they spent months figuring out the words from Soviet and Hydra documents alike. He never thought there would be something like a reset button. Another failing to put on the list. Steve itched to make this right.
“How can you be...” Steve chewed his lip, “What he made you do...”
“I'd really rather not, if it's all the same to you.” It was the first time he words came out biting, and Steve immediately shut his mouth.
They lapsed back into silence. Silence ticked by, and it was Steve's turn to jump when Bucky broke the silence. What he said shocked him more than him speaking at all.
“Are you okay?” His voice was quiet, barely more than a whisper, and Steve's brow creased. What?
Steve shrugged. He huffed and leaned heavily against the bed. “Why does that matter, I should be—you should see a doctor.”
“Hey, so should you,” Bucky countered, his voice sharp, eyes still forward and not looking at Steve. Steve wasn't looking at him, either. “More than me.”
No, not more. Bucky needed the help, Steve would be fine without a doctor. He would heal. He already was healing, his wounds mending but for some reason, the aches wouldn't go away.
Bucky leaned back against the bed, arms folding over his chest. “Anyway, I'm asking.”
“I'm fine,” Steve muttered, and he didn't mean for it to taste so bitter on his tongue.
“Steve.” Bucky his voice was tense, but still quiet. "Steve, I was there."
His tone was soft, even if pressing. Steve worked his jaw, and cast a quick glance to his friend. Bucky's brow was drawn up, his lip caught between his teeth. It looked like pity and Steve felt bile burn his mouth. Bucy should be angry with him, not pitying him. Instead of yelling he was just talking, like, like Steve was the one hurt and not the other way around. He didn't get it, he didn't deserve the patience. Steve looked away and balled his hands into fists. When Bucky shifted next to him, only canting his body towards Steve, he flinched. Steve was such an idiot, he let this happen.
“Steve,” he repeated his name, more insistent, more worried.
Steve felt his blood pounding in his ears. He didn't want to talk about this. This wasn't about him, he had failed Bucky, he failed all of them, this wasn't. This wasn't.
“Steve, are you okay?”
He didn't have an answer for him. He didn't know what to say because what he felt didn't matter.
“Bucky, he hurt you,” he managed after another stifling pause.
Bucky offered a crooked smile, but it was weak. “He hurt both of us, kid.”
That burning was back in his eyes. He sounded so much like Bucky right now he wanted to throw up. After all of this, now was the time he—Steve failed him, he screwed up and he got them hurt, he got Sam and Natasha and Bucky hurt—
“God, Steve, it wasn't just me in there. Please. Please.”
He could still taste the blood from where that baton had torn his throat. It had healed, he always healed fast, but he could still feel it. He could still feel Rumlow's hands on him, that gnawing sickness in his stomach when Bucky was forced to his knees. The crack in his voice when he tried to get Brock to stop and—
Steve felt his lip tremble. He didn't deserve to feel this. The guilt and the shame, of course, he had screwed up and he needed to atone for what he'd done. It was his job to protect them and he didn't, he couldn't. He didn't deserve Bucky's pity, he didn't deserve any leeway for this. He didn't deserve his damn shield.
Bucky shifted again, body facing Steve now. “Christ, you're really blaming yourself for all this, aren't you?"
Steve's eyes started to burn. He dug his nails into his pant legs, eyes digging holes into the carpet in front of him. He couldn't save him, he never could—
“Oh for fuck's sake, come here, you stubborn ass.”
Bucky's metal arm slung around Steve's shoulders, and all the anger and hate drained out of him and Steve collapsed against the back of the bed, hiding his face in his hand as silent sobs wracked his body. He gritted his teeth against the sounds, his fingers scratching across his scalp, teeth bared in attempt to stifle the sounds lodged in his throat. Bucky nudged Steve towards himself and he let Bucky pull him against his chest, trembling quietly against him.
He couldn't stop him. He couldn't stop it, he had to watch and do nothing, all over again, he had to watch.
Steve grappled for the front of Bucky's shirt, twisting his fist in the fabric to reassure he was still there, that he wasn't going to slip through his fingers again, “I'm sorry—”
Bucky snarled. “Don't you dare apologize for this.”
“It's my fault,” he said as steady as he could, and the shame only burned brighter for letting himself cry over this.
“None of this is your fault. Don't you dare.”
“I couldn't save...” Steve bit his lip until he tasted blood, his shoulders shaking with another repressed sob.
“You're not perfect, Steve.” Bucky sighed.
“I should be the one—”
“Yeah, well. I used to be the one to pick you up once, too, wasn't I?”
“I'm so sorry,” The sob lodged in his throat cracked out, tight and strangled as he dug his forehead into Bucky's collarbone, still fighting back the tears.
“Nothing to be sorry for, punk.”
Bucky's hold tightened around his shoulders until it hurt, the metal compressing but it was grounding. The easy phrase rolled off of Bucky's tongue with a hint of his old cadence simultaneously made Steve's heart lighter and his heart ache. He didn't know who Bucky would be tomorrow, but right now, he was his best friend. No matter what form he came in, Bucky would always be there for him.
He didn't know how long it would take to wash this guilt from his hands.
“You gotta forgive yourself, for once Steve.”
But on his life, he would never fail Bucky again.