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The Things We All Forgot

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Bucky was dead. He had to be dead. There was no way he could be alive. He couldn’t feel his body. All he could feel were the flecks of snow melting on his face. He tried to get up so he could find his team. But he couldn’t move. At this, he began to panic. How did he get here? Where even was he? He hadn’t the slightest clue where to even begin finding answers.

He attempted to lift his body up into a sitting position to better see the world around him and begin to grasp what was happening. As soon as he tried to move his left arm to prop himself up, however, he was blindsided by searing pain. He looked over to his arm to find nothing but a bloody stump. His stomach churned at the pain he now felt. The snow around him was covered in blood, turning it a deep crimson color. He closed his eyes and laid his head back into the freezing snow, attempting to breathe.

In.

Hold.

Out.

Repeat.

He repeated this to himself too many times to count as he willed himself back into his own brain. He needed to remember what had happened, and how he got here. He also needed to figure out how he was going to get out. Get home. Get back to Steve. Steve.

Behind closed eyes, Bucky saw flashes of metal. He heard gunshots firing. He felt panic in his chest as he ran out of ammunition. Then he saw Steve. He saw him toss a handgun full of ammo at him, as they killed the shooter. He saw Steve as he grasped onto that damn train for his life. He saw Steve’s terror-stricken face fade as he fell into oblivion. He saw his hand, held out to save him, just an inch out of reach as he slipped and fell amongst the snowflakes.

He had to get back to the base. He needed to know that Steve was okay. He needed to know that he had taken Zola and finished the mission. He needed Steve to know that he was alive. With this filling his frail, broken body with hope, Bucky tried pushing himself off the ground once again, this time with his right arm. He screamed out in pain as he used every ounce of his power to get himself off the snowy ground, failing and falling back into the snow, consciousness fading.

“Steve,” he said quietly, trying to shout. He needed someone to hear him. He needed them to come here. But he knew no help would come.

As his vision blurred, teetering at the edge of consciousness, Bucky prayed to anybody who might be listening. He prayed Steve would save him, just as he had before back in that lab.

And with that, his vision went dark, sending him back into the almost blissful unconsciousness he had just awoken from.


 

“Over here! I see him!”

Bucky heard voices. Voices of men hopefully come to rescue him from this frigid hell. He craned his head up, attempting to put a figure to the voices he was hearing.

“Help,” he ground out, putting every ounce of effort into making the word audible. His windpipe was aching and cold. His throat felt as if he hadn’t had anything to drink in a long time. His body was freezing. He felt as though he was dying. But Steve was coming, he knew. The voices he heard didn’t sound like Steve, but he knew Steve was somewhere out there, looking for him.

Then he began to hear words he couldn’t understand. These were foreign sounding, a language he had never really heard before now. It was harsh sounding, akin to German, but not exactly that. Maybe this wasn’t Steve. Maybe this was a threat.

He felt someone grab him by his right wrist, pulling it above his head, and pulling. He looked above him, opening his eyes only briefly in the blinding sun to see two men in unfamiliar uniform jackets and fur hats. The men were not familiar. Bucky needed to get out of here, he knew, but his body wouldn’t listen. Every time he tried to yank his wrist free from the voice-like grip the man had on him, it got lost in translation, and he found himself being dragged along the snow.

In his hazy panic, he glanced down the length of his body, seeing a trail of blood extending from his stump of an arm, bright red against the pale snow surrounding them. He remembered seeing the stump from before, but he had been hoping it was all a hallucination. Maybe from dehydration. Maybe this was all just a hallucination, and this really was Steve, come to rescue him. Or maybe it wasn’t.

Bucky began to feel the pain in his arm once again, as well as the rest of his body, sending him spiraling into another panic attack. The man dragging him along the snow didn’t seem to care. Bucky kicked and did everything in his power, digging his heels into the snow, not sure how to put an end to this nightmare. He did not know who these men were, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to just give up and go with them.

The man holding his wrist turned to his friend, who in turn sighed in frustration. The last thing Bucky felt was a blunt object come into contact with his temple before he blacked out again.


 

When he came to, Bucky felt the unrelenting, hard metal beneath him. He opened his eyes, and the place was dark. His arm was restrained against the wall of some sort of metal structure. A bunker, maybe? He heard muffled voices coming from in front of him, above his head. He strained his neck to look toward the voices.

He was in some sort of jet, judging by the large window that led into a world of blackness outside. Some time must have passed between when he had been found and now. It was nighttime, and he was in some sort of plane, probably being flown to some Russian or German military base. That was the last place he wanted to go.

He needed to get out of the plane. He needed to find Steve. He needed to get back to base. He needed to tell people he was alive. And he needed to escape. If this was anything like what he had been through before at the Hydra base before Steve saved him, he would rather die. And he most likely was going to be killed, especially if he resisted. The only way out of this one, Bucky thought, was to escape silently, without anybody noticing.

Looking around, he spotted a rack with black parachutes lining it. That was his ticket out of here. He couldn’t go to another enemy base. He had already been captured once, and he damn well wasn’t going to let it happen again.

Trying to be as quiet as possible, he gripped the chain restraining his right arm and pulled as hard as he could, being careful not to make an excessive amount of noise. With the reduced strength in his neglected and broken body, there was no hope of breaking the chain, and somewhere inside his mind, Bucky knew that. But that sure as hell didn’t stop him from trying.

A voice coming from behind him in the darkness of the jet caught him off guard. It was the same language from before that he didn’t recognize. Most likely Russian. But that didn’t matter. What mattered is that he had been caught, and he was sure this was going to end up just about as well as the last time he had been caught with his eyes open.

“Hello there, Солдат. I see you have awakened,” came a low, gristly voice with an accent almost too thick to understand from the darkness of the back of the jet. “There is no point in trying to escape. You are too weak.”

Bucky gritted his teeth and maneuvered his body to kick at the chains, only to be rewarded with searing pain in every part of his body. “Well I’m not just going to let you take me alive,” he laughed half-heartedly as the throbbing pain began to subside.

“But you already have, Солдат. You have already lost. You are a bigger idiot than I took you for.”

Bucky kicked at the chains again, trying to ignore the throbbing pain coming from not only his pathetic excuse for an arm, but his two (likely broken) legs as well. “Yeah? Because I don’t think I have lost until you find a way to kill me. I haven’t lost if I’m still breathin’.”

The gruff voice let out a chuckle as Bucky heard him stand. “You’re more feisty than I gave you credit for, American.” The man stepped in front of where Bucky’s face was pressed into the cold metal and grabbed the short hair on the back of his head, pulling his face up to meet his. Bucky grimaced as his still-bleeding arm scraped the floor, trying to remain threatening. He could feel this brave persona he had put on cracking. He just wanted to see his best friend’s stupid face again. But now was not the time to give into emotions. He promptly spat in the man’s face before putting on a threatening smile as his captor shouted an expletive in his native language.

“Well, buddy, I’ve been told that’s the American way,” he growled slowly, watching in amusement as the man holding his head wiped the spit from his eyelid. Bucky had always had good aim, and it did not fail him now.

“As much as I hate you, I think you will be perfect. I am sure Dr. Zola cannot wait to get his hands on you again. You’re one hell of a fighter. I can see why he chose you.”

At the name, Bucky’s confident façade failed, cracking and tumbling away, leaving only exposed terror on his features. Zola? These fuckers were with Hydra? Oh no, he couldn’t go back with Zola. Flashbacks of days filled with endless torture and human experimentation filled his brain, making him unable to think, nonetheless speak. He remembered everything, every needle, every beating, and every goddamn wave of electricity that Zola shot through him. It made him want to run, made him want to escape. The thought of going back scared Bucky so much that he thought he would rather die.

“Ah, so you remember then? Zola did amazing work with you, Солдат. It really is no wonder that he wanted you back so badly,” The man said, slamming Bucky’s throbbing skull back against the hard floor, not seeming to notice the pained noise that escaped his mouth when his head slammed against the ground. His vision began to tunnel as his clearly concussed brain was once again bashed against his skull. “You really are the perfect man to be the new fist of Hydra.”

With resistance in his mind, Bucky’s vision went black as he passed out once again against the floor of the jet.

Chapter Text

“Солдат. Wake up.”

Bucky felt a boot in his side, making his entire torso light up in pain. He groaned and opened his eyes, his head still throbbing. He could feel his pulse in his head, almost making tears well up in his eyes. The nerves in what remained of his left arm were alive and stinging with pain. He was astonished that he was still alive, given the amount of blood he had likely lost due to his injuries. There were multiple men standing above him, all in the same uniforms that the two who had found him in the forest had been wearing. With their stupid fur hats. They had to be Russian.

“What the fuck do you want with me?” he said, closing his eyes briefly.

There was a moment of silence before one of the men, the one in a red coat said something short and indistinguishable in Russian to the other men. He was tall with short dark hair and cold, unfeeling eyes. His face showed no emotion in exception of a slight scowl when he looked down at Bucky. This must have been the man who had talked with him earlier. What had he said again? Bucky was having a hard time remembering. His concussion must have been worse than he originally thought.

“Yes Commander!” The rest of the men said almost in unison. Ah, so this man was some sort of commander. Made sense. He had that sort of look about him. Stern and trying to prove himself to everybody. He was shorter than Bucky, by about a few inches at least and had brown hair. Bucky didn’t recognize him, but what else was new? He knew none of these men, and he didn’t particularly want to get to know these men. It wasn’t worth it on his part.

The men surrounding him began to move in unison, two of them kneeling down on either side of Bucky’s body. They each grabbed one of his arms, causing pain to shoot through his torso, and pulled him off the floor, causing more pain than was imaginable. Bucky could feel his stump of an arm pulsing with the contact, could feel the obviously beyond broken bones in his legs grind against each other as he was forced to stand. He cried out in pain involuntarily, the pain almost causing him to black out again. But he wasn’t going to let that happen from simply standing up. He was stronger than that. He had to be if he was going to survive this second round of hell.

The two men on either side of him began guiding him forward, and he felt something cold and hard on his back. The other men were holding guns to him. How welcoming. Bucky tried to take a step, prodded by the barrel of a gun, and ended up slumping forward, the uncomfortable grinding in his legs making his vision blur. He wanted to fall forward, just let gravity have its way with him, but the soldiers on either side of him wouldn’t have it. They pulled him forward, and Bucky fought back, pulling against their grip on him. He was able to tear out of their arms. He tried to support himself on his broken legs, but only fell forward, hearing and feeling them bend in unnatural ways. He groaned as he fell face-first into the floor once again, nearly fading into blackness as he strained his neck, desperately trying not to worsen his concussion.

“Wow, still fighting us huh? You have no chance Солдат. You are broken. And there is nobody to put you back together but us. You either work with us, or we let you die here. It’s simple. Stop fighting us, Солдат,” the commander said, standing possessively over Bucky’s broken form. “If Arnim didn’t care so much about his goddamn experiment, I would have let you die in that ravine.” He kicked Bucky’s leg lightly, causing black to cover his vision, pain seeping through his existence. He could feel the bones moving. It was making him lightheaded, and the weak part of his mind wanted him to give up, to pass out.

He tried to fight the inevitable, but when the commander kicked him in the side, ordering the two to pull Bucky off the ground again, it was too much. The pain of his broken ribs was too much for him to handle and he allowed himself to chase the sweet bliss of unconsciousness.


Bucky woke up, his head throbbing. Hell, his whole body was throbbing. His pathetic excuse for a left limb was what had awoken him. Somebody was touching the ripped flesh, and it hurt. This hurt more than most things Bucky had experienced, even more so than some of the experiments that Zola had forced him to endure. He groaned slightly as he opened his eyes.

Two bright lights shined down at his face, almost blinding him. He was in some sort of operating room, it looked like. There were people standing all around him, some with long blue garments, and others in what looked like stark black tactical gear holding some of the biggest guns Bucky had ever seen. There was one person closest to him, and his fight or flight response hit him like a truck when they dug into the broken flesh once again.

He screamed in pain and thrashed against the metal table, but was unable to fight. He heard the heavy clank of chains on the crude metal operating table as he attempted to lift his chest from the table. The memories from the Hydra base were flooding his brain, causing panic and desperation to rise up in his chest. He needed to get out of here, he couldn’t stay here. He couldn’t let Zola get his dirty hands on him one more time. He didn’t have the strength.

“Fuck!” Bucky screamed as he felt the devil touch his arm again. He tried to move away from the touch, but he couldn’t move. Every body part he could move was strapped to the rusty metal beneath his body. He craned his neck to look down at where the pain was unbearable. There was a tall man wearing small rounded glasses standing close to the table. He had a scalpel in his hand and was working away at the shredded flesh that remained from where his arm had been torn from his body. There was blood pooling around his arm and onto the floor. The man went for his arm with that cursed blade again, and Bucky had no choice but to close his eyes and take it.

The pain was searing as he felt not only the constant sting of the wound, but the man poking, prodding, and just cutting away at what little remained. He groaned involuntarily, letting lose a pathetic and desperate sounding noise. He should have been embarrassed, but he wasn’t. He was in too much pain to care about his ego.

The torture went on for what felt like forever. The bastards didn’t even have the decency to knock him out. The people surrounding him just stood stoic and stared, guns at the ready. They didn’t care enough to help. If he had been in his right mind, Bucky would have known that no person alive could actually enjoy the tortured sounds he was making, but at the time, it seemed as though there were all standing around him, a symphony of sadistic grins. The sick fuckers were actually enjoying this, and he couldn’t believe it.

The man standing next to him set the scalpel down on the table next to Bucky’s restrained body, the metal making a hard sound when it met. Bucky watched as he turned to the commander and nodded his head at him, clearly some sort of signal. The secrecy made his stomach churn.

One of the other people in blue, a short woman with a kind looking face came over and took the place of the man. She met Bucky’s eyes briefly, just by chance, and he couldn’t believe she had the audacity to do such a thing. Never had he been so angry in his entire life. She had simply stood by and watched him writhe in agony as they destroyed his arm. He glared at her before setting his head down on the table.

“What are you people accomplishing with this?” he asked, his voice strained from overuse. “What are you getting out of having a captured American soldier? Just like having someone to torture? Am I your bitch, is that what I am? Tell me, you sick sadistic fuck,” Bucky spat, staring daggers at the commander, challenging him.

The commander kept his face composed, unreadable as he concocted a response. Not once did he break eye contact with the soldier on the operating table as he stepped quietly forward. Bucky could feel the numbing pain of his arm as the lady next to him picked it up and began to wrap it in gauze, bandaging it. He kept his eyes trained on the commander, still wearing an expression of angered challenge on his face. It was a mask, but Bucky figured if he could make himself believe it, he could make the commander believe it too.

“You are Zola’s experiment. You are his property. Since he injected you with the serum, you have belonged to him. That is why we have brought you here.” Bucky’s heart sank at the mention of Zola. He hated that man. The things he did to him still swam in his head at night, even after having been rescued by Steve.

“Zola was captured. Don’t try to lie to me, I know he was. Captain America was sent after him.” Calling Steve Captain America still felt foreign and a little strange to him. He had only ever known Steve as that sickly little brat from Brooklyn. It was still strange to Bucky to refer to him by this new title. “He has a pretty good record. Doesn’t usually fail.”

The commander nodded, breaking eye contact for the first time as he looked over to the lady bandaging his arm. Bucky followed his gaze just in time to feel the lady drop his arm back onto the table as she nodded to that commander. “Well, Солдат, it’s all part of the plan. Zola will return to us in time, but for now, we will wait for him to finish his good work.”

Bucky couldn’t believe it. He was going to be Zola’s fucking pincushion again. He wasn’t sure if he could handle that again. He had almost forgotten who he was the last time Zola had gotten his hands on him, and he wasn’t mentally prepared to deal with that again. He had not only just fallen from a train and broken nearly every bone in his body, but he had lost an arm in the process. He was not ready to fight off Zola again. He just laid on the table, still managing to glare daggers at the bastard.

“Set his legs, then put him on ice. We need him in prime shape for when Zola returns,” the commander said, turning around and walking towards the door. He stopped just shy of the door, turning once more to look over the soldier. “Goodbye Солдат. I will see you when Arnim returns.”

“Yeah? I doubt that. I will get out of here before that bastard gets his hands on me, you hear?” Bucky threatened, not fully believing his own words. The commander smiled briefly before leaving the room and closing the door behind him with a solid thud.

For the next hour, Bucky screamed in agony until his lungs gave out. He fought against the restraints as the people in the blue gowns pulled at his badly broken limbs, trying to set them in place. He wasn’t sure how many times he passed out, but every time, he woke up to a scream ripping its way out of his chest. He tried to keep track of what exactly they were doing, but it was difficult with him fading in and out of torturous consciousness. Both legs had been set and were now secured with crude metal braces strapped to his ankles and hips. His remaining arm was now throbbing in a makeshift cast, and there were multiple lacerations on his sides, most likely due to them setting his badly broken ribs.

As they were closing one of the wounds created to fix some internal bleeding, Bucky felt himself slip into blackness once again. He couldn’t feel the pain. He didn’t even remember where he was. He could see the shitty little apartment in Brooklyn he had learned to love over the years. The walls were stained with who knows what, and the draft coming in from around the windows was cold, but it was home.

He was in bed, and it was nice. The mattress was not as comfy as he remembered, but oh well. None of that mattered. He could feel a small, warm body pressed up against his under the blanket. Bucky smiled down into the blonde mess of hair right under his chin, kissing his boyfriend on the top of the head. He was sick, but what else was new. Steve clearly had a fever, but that was okay. He always pulled through. He was too stubborn to let a cold do him in.

Steve didn’t wake up when Bucky moved, but that wasn’t out of the ordinary. Steve was a heavy sleeper, and he needed his rest to heal up. Bucky knew he should get up to get him some food or something, but he stayed where he was. The hard mattress beneath him was causing his body to ache, but he wasn’t worried about that. His legs hurt more and more with each moment he laid there, the rest of his body chiming in, but Bucky couldn’t care less. He was back where he belonged, back in bed with Steve.

For a moment, it felt as though all was right with the world. The draft… the war… none of it had existed. In this moment, it was just him and his Stevie. The only thing in his world that mattered was lying warmly beside him, breathing in those shallow, uneven breaths that only Steve Rogers the ninety-pound asthmatic could. He wanted to bury himself in this moment, to never leave. This was where he felt at home.

But all good things must come to an end.

The scene faded away like smoke into the air when Bucky’s back was forced against something hard. He was standing on the braces holding his broken legs inside some sort of chamber. There was only a small window he could see out of. He tried to thrash forward, to break the glass, and escape, but he was strapped against the back of the chamber. He looked forward and saw the same people in blue gowns as before as he heard the hissing of pneumatics all around him.

White fog began to rise up from the bottom of the chamber, freezing all the way up his legs. Everything was so cold. He couldn’t feel from the waist down. But it wasn’t all bad. He couldn’t feel the pain anymore. As the frigid air moved upward, he began to have trouble breathing. It felt like he was in water, trying to breathe in air that was too heavy for his lungs to handle. He wondered if this was how Steve felt. He smiled a little at the thought of his boyfriend as the cold air reached his face, causing him to slowly lose consciousness again, this time not at his own will. He couldn’t breathe the cold air, and he couldn’t feel his body. Maybe he would die. That would be better. That way, he could be sure he would see Steve again.

As his mind went fuzzy, and his vision went black, he tried to think of nothing other than Steve. Bucky slid into a frozen coma with the image of the tiny blonde punk, head tossed back in a hearty laugh calming his panic-stricken thoughts.

Chapter Text

The lights stung against his eyes as Bucky’s body began to come back to him. His limbs ached, and he was weak. He couldn’t stand on his own. He felt people on either side of him, holding him up, dragging him forward. He couldn’t move, once again. He was beginning to get sick of this immobility. His brain felt foggy. He didn’t remember where he was. He couldn’t remember much, and that made panic rise in his chest.

He decided to calm himself as he was being dragged forward by stating the things he did remember. His name was Bucky Barnes. He was born on May 10th, 1917. That made him… 26. Maybe 27, depending on what month it was. He had lived in Brooklyn until the draft. He had served in the 107th with the Howling Commandos. And then there was Steve. His best friend’s name was Steve Rogers. Bucky thought he remembered being more than just friends, a barrage of heated breaths and roaming hands. But in his current state, Bucky couldn’t be sure if it had actually happened, or if these were memories from nights spent alone with just him, his left hand, and his imagination.

His left hand. He vaguely remembered the pain, waking up in that goddamn forest missing his arm. He hoped his mind was making that up, but he figured he couldn’t make something that traumatizing up. How had he lost his arm?

God. The train. The fall. Steve.

He groaned as he remembered grabbing at the side of the cliff, trying to stop the fall. He remembered grabbing that one outcropping, hoping it would catch him. But the velocity was too much. His shoulder had been ripped from the socket as his arm got caught in the crook between two rocks. But it didn’t stop there.

The individuals on either side of him sat him down on a hard surface, pushing his body back and lifting his legs onto the bed so he was laying flat. He heard them speaking in that language he didn’t understand again. It frustrated him. He wanted to know what they were saying. He wanted to do so many things, run, fight, scream, anything. But he physically couldn’t move.

The rustle of movement and the low rumble of voices around him faded in and out as he began to come back into his body. He began to feel the heat all around him, making his skin burn. A needle dug its way into the crook of his right elbow. The pain was good. It reminded him that he could still feel.

Something warm in comparison to his frozen skin was pressed against his face, covering his mouth and nose. He took a deep breath through his nose, reveling in the oxygen flowing through his body. He became desperate, gasping into the mask, not realizing how deprived he was. His head felt fuzzy, but was beginning to clear, bringing him back into his body slowly but surely.

“Hello Sargent Barnes,” a familiar voice came drifting out of the surrounding chaos, the only English he had heard since he woke up. “It is refreshing to see you alive.”

Zola was standing on his left. He knew the voice and resented the man more than he resented all the men who had ever beaten Steve in a dark alleyway. Zola had hurt him, and caused him to forget a majority of his life before Steve had saved his ass. He would rather be absolutely anywhere other than here.

“Now, mister Barnes. It is time to finish the procedure. I have come home to Hydra, and I will finish what I started.”

Bucky put everything he had into pushing out a few words. “I… will…. Never…. Let you.” His eyes were still glued closed and heavy, but he could imagine the look on Zola’s face.

“The procedure is already started. You will be the new fist of Hydra. Now, let us finish the operation. Make you into the beautiful weapon I designed you to be.”

Bucky heard the whir of mechanics as he was finally able to open his eyes. He gazed down wearily to find the source of the noise as he felt searing pain in his arm. He saw a small saw being forced into his arm, flicking blood all over the room. He groaned loudly as a drop of blood hit him right under the left eye. He glanced up to the right and saw an IV filled with blood attached to his arm. Well, at least he wasn’t going to bleed out… yet.

The hours went by, or at least what felt like hours as they removed what was left of his arm from his body. Tears blurred his vision as the minutes went by. Occasionally, he would recognize the high Swiss drawl of Zola, asking for a tool, or instructing a nurse to help him with something. After a few minutes the pain began to subside, but it never disappeared completely. There was a constant throbbing in his left shoulder and an occasional sharp, piercing pain. Nothing was as bad as the sounds though. The sounds of his flesh being ripped apart and thrown away, along with sawing on bones. It was horrible, but not as bad as it had been before.

His mind began to accept the pain, he assumed. Or maybe they had pumped him full of pain meds. Bucky couldn’t be sure. Whichever it was, he was thankful for it. The operation went on for torturous hours, the pain never stopping, a steady roar in the back of his mind. Sharp twinges of nerves would cause him to screw his eyes shut. At one point, he forgot to open them again. He sat with his eyes closed for the remainder of the procedure, feeling nothing but the prodding of metal at the nerves and bones of his shoulder. He was sure there were noises escaping his mouth at every stabbing sensation that flowed through his body, but he didn’t have enough energy to care.

With his eyes closed, he tried to conjure up images of the only thing that made him feel better. He thought about Steve. He tried to daydream about Steve coming to save him, bursting in and destroying all the assholes who were hurting him. He would kick their asses, and not leave one standing. But he would leave them alive, because that was who Steve was. He would capture them, and make them beg for mercy, but not too harshly. Just enough to make sure Bucky was safe, just like Bucky would do for him back in Brooklyn. Boy, how he missed that skinny little punk. The war had changed him, but he was still Steve. He would always be that little punk ass kid from Brooklyn to Bucky.

What seemed like days later, the pain began to subside, and the voices faded. His mind felt like it was covered with fog, and he couldn’t think straight, but he managed to open his eyes to take in his surroundings. He was still on the operating table, the IV now only dripping a clear fluid into his body. A glimmer of silver caught his eye as he gazed down the length of his blue-gowned figure. He looked at where his left arm was once only a bleeding stump, and now saw a bright silver appendage attached to the raw skin of his shoulder. The prosthetic was made of small metal plates, all meshed together into a cohesive looking arm.

He picked up the arm, looking at it. It moved like it was a part of him, like he’d had it all along. It felt stiff, and a little strange. He couldn’t feel it really, but he could control it. He flexed his new hand, turning it over and admiring the way the light glinted off the metal. When the light caught his eyes, it made his brain throb inside his skull. He sighed involuntarily, shaking off the slight pain with ease. A man standing next to him turned, holding his clipboard close to his body. He leaned down to brush his fingers over the point where the metal and flesh now met, still slick with blood.

Bucky’s fight or flight kicked into full gear, sending him into a blind rage. He grabbed at the man’s throat, dragging his face closer so he could have better leverage. With his other arm, he broke free from the heavy straps confining him against the table. He figured that with this new arm, he could escape pretty easily now.

The man in his palm gasped and sputtered, trying to get a breath in. But he couldn’t. The new arm was strong and surprisingly easy to control. He grasped tighter and felt the man go limp in his hand. Bucky let him fall to the ground, seeing Zola’s small round glasses and blood-splattered face behind where he was standing. He was smiling, grinning like a fool. Bucky was going to wipe that goddamn grin off his ugly face.

He lunged at the scientist, faintly feeling the sting of a needle pierce the skin of his thigh. His aim was off and he missed the doctor completely, falling back onto the table, his eyes crossing.

The last thing Bucky experienced before he passed out was Zola smiling over him, and saying something indistinct to the men across the table from him.

“Put him on ice.”

Chapter Text

Cryo was different that Bucky would have thought. It wasn’t so much like sleeping, it was more like floating. Time, space, everything was backwards and upside down. The panic never went away, and although his mind was fuzzy, he could still feel the panic, the fear, and the longing he had been feeling before he was put on ice. Nothing was right, and his body felt wrong. It was too far away and too close all at the same time. He had felt things like this before, during his bouts of sleep-paralysis during the war, but this was slightly different.

Everything was black, and he couldn’t move, see, or feel anything but dark and cold. He could barely feel his body, which made Bucky’s mind grasp at anything that could make him feel normal. He couldn’t move, which wasn’t exactly new, but it was still causing him to feel claustrophobic in his own skin. It took him a few months of this dreadful nothingness to realize that he could still hear, if only slightly, through the fog of cryo and the metal and glass of the chamber surrounding him.

He heard passing conversations of German and Russian scientists, speaking in their native tongues. He understood very little of it, but the things he did understand were mostly about him. But what he didn’t understand outweighed the small bit of the languages that he did, and he was left mostly to wonder at what they were speaking about.

After what Bucky was sure were multiple years, given the number of conversations he had heard, and the counted long silences of night in the lab, Bucky became desperate. He was bored, even though his brain assisted him by blacking out for what felt like long periods of time. After he had given up trying to escape this damned prison, he began to let his mind wander through the past, remembering every little thing he could from his time before the draft.

“Goddamn it Steve,” Bucky called to the bedroom as he walked into the bathroom and saw small droplets of dried blood in the sink. “I thought I told you to stop picking fights you can’t win.”

He heard a small sigh from the bedroom, and followed the soft noise, hoping not to find his tiny boyfriend dying on the hardwood floor. Bucky eyed the cracked door, and decided to push it open, stepping inside and finding Steve lying on the bed. He was shirtless, and Bucky noted that the garment was now being used to absorb the blood that had been coming from a cut on his face. When Steve saw Bucky enter the room, he groaned a little and rolled over so his back was facing his boyfriend, knowing he was in for it.

“I had to Buck, they were beating up this dame, and I couldn’t just turn away. I would rather get beat up than let them kill her. Plus, I had them on the ropes anyway, I could have taken them. I let them win so they would feel good about themselves.”

Bucky sighed, walking over to the bed. He knew Steve was lying, and he couldn’t believe he had gotten into another fight. But he just couldn’t find it in himself to be mad at the sickly looking man on the bed. He just couldn’t.

“Hey,” he said gently, sitting on the bed and turning Steve so he could look at him properly. “I’m sure you did a great job, buddy. You just need to be more careful from now on. I don’t know what I would do if you got killed in an alley somewhere, Steve.”

Steve smiled lightly, the gash on his temple still bleeding. “I don’t know what you would do without me either, Buck. You’d probably do somethin’ stupid like get fired or something, and then you would have nobody to come home and complain to,” he said through a small smirk.

Bucky laughed a little and shook his head, leaning down so he was face to face with his boyfriend. “You’re a punk, you know that?” Their noses were nearly touching, and Bucky could feel Steve’s warm breath on his lips.

“I’ve been told, jerk,” Steve said before lifting off the mattress just a smidge to press his lips against Bucky’s. The kiss was short, chaste even, but Bucky appreciated it nonetheless. When Steve pulled away, Bucky was left with a sideways smile on his face, and a little blood from the soaked tee-shirt on his cheek.

“C’mon Stevie, lets go get you fixed up.”

The memory was sweet. Their life together had been sweet. He had loved Steve more than he even knew, and would have done anything to care for the man. The memory made the panic and terror in his brain subside a little bit. He began to calm down, feeling less out of control now that he had control over his own thoughts once again.

He decided that bringing memories up from the past and living through them again was helping him deal with the torturous reality of cryo, so he shook off the previous memory and tried again, going back to the week after they had moved into that tiny apartment together in Brooklyn.

“You don’t think people will assume things? I mean, its not really all that common for best friends to move in together Buck. What if they find out?” Steve was so cute when he was worried. His cheeks were a little flushed from the embarrassment that always seemed to surface when he talked about them, and he was worrying his palm with the thumb of his right hand.

“Don’t worry Steve, apartments here are expensive, and folks know that your ma passed away. People aren’t gonna say a thing, don’t you worry,” Bucky replied, reaching up to put a cup into the empty cabinet of their small kitchen.

Steve had been helping unpack until he started to wheeze and Bucky made him sit down on the small couch in their new (well, not new, but new to them) one-bedroom apartment. He had been instructed to take slow deep breaths as Bucky continued to methodically unpack the boxes in the kitchen. Bucky knew it probably was not going to turn into an asthma attack, but he was not willing to take any risks.

“Are you sure? I just don’t want anybody to ruin this for us.”

Bucky looked over to his boyfriend sitting on the couch, slouching a little with his elbows resting on his thighs. He put the stack of plates he was unpacking down on the counter and walked the few steps over to the living room window, taking a quick look outside before pulling the shutters closed.

He turned to Steve who was starting to worry his bottom lip with his teeth. “Don’t worry baby,” he said, the pet name still feeling a little foreign when referring to Steve. “Nobody’s gonna ruin this for us. I will make sure of it, okay?” He sat down next to Steve, running his hand down the length of his torso, wrapping him into a sideways hug.

Steve laid his head on Bucky’s shoulder, relaxing into the side of his boyfriend’s body. “Things are just so good right now, Buck. I don’t want anything to change that.”

Bucky let out a small laugh, turning to kiss the mop of blonde hair on his shoulder. “Don’t worry Steve. Things will be good for us for as long as I can keep it that way.”

He felt Steve turn his head slightly, pressing his lips lightly against Bucky’s neck. A little noise escaped Bucky’s mouth as his boyfriend started biting and sucking at his pulse, leaving behind little red marks and faint bruises.

Steve pulled away and grabbed Bucky’s shoulders, pulling him face to face with him. Steve stared into his eyes for a moment, before pulling him into a soft kiss, whispering “You better,” against his slightly parted lips.

That day had been one of the best he could remember. Bucky had indeed kept his promise to Steve, and nobody had ever questioned them. They had been happy together in that tiny apartment until Bucky had been drafted into the 107th. Hell, even after that they had been happy, although Steve was a little jealous. Bucky briefly remembered a night where he had berated Steve for trying to enlist.

“Steve, you can’t do this! If they find out you’re lying on the enlistment forms, the best possible outcome is probably jail. I can’t go overseas if I know that you’re in jail Stevie, you know I can’t do that,” Bucky said, leaning against the counter watching Steve make dinner. He had tried to join the army again today, for the third time since the beginning of the war.

“What choice do I have Buck?” Steve sounded resigned and tired. “I am not going to let this many men die over there without fighting with them. Especially not you,” he said, letting his head dip a little between his arms resting on the counter. He was standing with his back facing Bucky, not wanting to meet his eyes.

“I want us to stay together as much as you do Steve, but I would rather you be safe than with me on the front lines. And you need to stop, or you’ll end up in jail. You wouldn’t last too long there either, and you know I can’t leave you in jail,” Bucky said, cringing at the image of Steve behind bars.

“Well, it doesn’t look like you have much of a choice, now does it?” Steve turned around and pointed to the small stack of papers on the counter next to where Bucky was standing. “You’re going. And I am going to find a way to join you Bucky, I’m not letting you die alone.”

Bucky felt rage boiling in his stomach at Steve’s blatant stubbornness. He advanced on his boyfriend, pressing his fragile form against the counter, their faces only inches away. “You will let me die alone if I fucking say you will. Stop trying Steve, you’ll die.”

“No,” Steve said, sending a challenging glare into Bucky’s eyes. “I want to help Buck. Nothing you can do will stop me.”

Bucky shook his head. He knew that already. He couldn’t do anything but love this little punk until the day when he did something stupid and it was the last stupid thing he could ever do. It was his job to take care of Steve as well as he could. And Steve was a stubborn little punk who could not be reasoned with.

Bucky shook his head and pushed away from Steve, heading toward the bathroom.

“Where are you going?” Steve asked, still in the kitchen.

“Shower,” Bucky said simply. He needed some alone time.

That had been one of the last interactions the two had before Bucky shipped off, other than the World Fair. That night had been one of stony silence, but the pair had forgiven each other by morning. And then just like that, Bucky was shipped off to the front lines, leaving Steve to make bad decisions on his own. But things hadn’t been too horrible between when Steve had saved him from the Hydra base and when he had been captured again after falling off the train. There had been long nights on watch where there had not been as much watching as there should have been, and Bucky reveled in the sweet memory.

“Steve, what if they come sneaking up behind us and we don’t notice because you’re too damn busy riding my cock?” Bucky said into Steve’s ear, panting lightly.

“Nobody’s coming tonight except for you and me Buck. They have no idea where we are,” Steve said lightly as he sank down once again, his bare ass touching Bucky’s thighs. “They… fuck. They don’t even know we’re here.”

The serum had changed a lot about Steve, including his sex drive. Before, Steve would only feel well enough to fuck about twice a month if they were lucky. Obviously, this was slightly a hinderance for Bucky, but he wasn’t in love with Steve just for sex. He would always make love to Steve when he felt up to it in the past, but since the serum, Bucky had to tell him no sometimes. Steve’s stamina was more built up than his own, and it became difficult for Bucky to perform as often as Steve needed. But now that Steve was seemingly healthy, it didn’t seem to hurt Bucky as much to tell him no.

Bucky sighed in defeat and a little bit of something else as Steve pulled off him, just to slam back down into his lap, his back cradled against Bucky’s chest. A high moan escaped Steve’s throat as the man behind him licked a stripe up the side of his neck, biting at his earlobe. “Well, if you want to do this tonight, you’re gonna have to be a little quieter than that.”

Steve continued to ride him, reveling in the feeling of being filled and pleasuring the man behind him. Bucky’s hand snapped up to his mouth, covering Steve’s mouth and muffling the lovely little sounds that were escaping as he adjusted his angle. “Stevie, someone’s gonna hear,” he huffed quietly while snapping his hips up into Steve’s prostate. “I know you’re enjoyin’ yourself, doll, but you gotta be a little more quiet.”

Steve nodded frantically against his hand, not really hearing what he was being told, lost in his own pleasure. Bucky smiled to himself before sucking a small bruise into the soft skin of Steve’s neck. Bucky wrapped his other arm around the strong torso pressing up against him and wrapped his fingers around his erection, causing Steve to tense around him. Bucky couldn’t stifle the moan that escaped him as he felt himself release, filling Steve up. After a few more stuttering flicks of his wrist, Steve came hard, biting the palm of Bucky’s hand, trying not to make a sound.

“I missed this, Stevie. I’m glad you’re so goddamn eager for me,” Bucky whispered as he eased out.

“Me too, Buck. Thank you,” Steve replied, turning his head and pulling Bucky in for a deep kiss.

They had often done that, sneaking off into dark corners and finding just the smallest moments of alone time together. Bucky lived for these moments. They reminded him of what their life had been like before the war, before the draft. They hadn’t come about very often, but when they had, Bucky was grateful.

As he reveled in the memory of one of the last positive interactions he had with the man before the fall from the train. He missed Steve more than he could even say, but he was grateful that he had the memories of their time together.

Bucky heard the mechanical whirs of pneumatics as heat surrounded him, sending steam and water vapor into the air as the cryogenic chamber re-calibrated him to normal temperature.

“We are starting today, sir. We want to get the first session in the books and see how he responds. Then I will report to the commander. Prep him.”

Chapter Text

It had become difficult to know people by faces or by names, because the people around him kept changing. He knew they most likely had transferred in and out over the four or so years he had been trapped in cryo. People got fired, people got hired, and Bucky assumed the turnover rate of a secret Hydra research base was pretty high, as opposed to what you would think.

“Hello Soldier,” the scientist standing in front of him slurred while looking at his clipboard. “The higher ups are beginning to think it’s finally time to train you. They think you might be of use sooner rather than later.” He just barely rolled his eyes, obviously thinking he knew better.

“What the hell do you mean train me? What do you think I am, some sort of dog?” Bucky snarled back in perfected Russian, sitting forward in the chair, straining against the restraints.

In his time in cryo, Bucky had picked up a lot of things from the scientists bustling in and out of the room over the years. He had already known some words in German, and that helped him to pick up the rest of the language, or at least enough to communicate, while the German officers were at the base. As for Russian, that was more abundant than the infrequently spoken German, but Bucky had picked it up relatively quickly. Despite being a high school drop-out, he wasn’t unintelligent. He was actually quite gifted, especially in Germanic languages. Given his gift for them, it was not too difficult for him to pick up his first Slavonic language.

Converting from what he knew of English and what he had observed in terms of vocal inflections, Bucky had picked up the language. It had not been easy, especially through the cursed fog of the near-coma he had been forced into, but Bucky had found comfort in using his intelligence. It helped him escape from the nothingness that filled his mind, and eventually he had been able to understand everything the scientists and guards at the Hydra facility were talking about.

Needless to say, this had taught Bucky all too much about where he was being held, and what was going on in the outside world. The thing he heard about the most was all the goddamn snow, and how cold it was all the time. It was nothing but constant complaining and useless chatter at first, but Bucky soon picked up that he was being held in a far-removed Hydra research base in Siberia. He had also learned that the Nazis and Hydra had lost the war. There was only occasional talk of the loss, but it was still there, looming over their heads, only sometimes making it into their conversations in the lab. Bucky had assumed that it had been mostly Steve’s doing, which made him hopeful. It was most likely misplaced hope, that Steve would bust through that goddamn door and break the glass between him and the rest of the world. But that thought along with his memories kept him sane, and kept him going.

The frustrating thing was that he had not been able to get a good grasp on what year it was, or what the world looked like now that he was so far removed from it. He assumed that Steve was back in America, being celebrated for winning the war. Sometimes it crossed Bucky’s mind that Steve could have gotten married to some doe-eyed dame back in New York now that he thought his boyfriend was dead, but he tried as hard as he could to replace those thoughts with positive ones from their past together.

“You are to be nothing but a weapon. You are the Soldier, and that means you are to obey. You’ll learn soon enough,” the scientist mumbled, taking one last long look at his clipboard before nodding to a team of people sitting at desks filled with high-tech gadgets that Bucky could only imagine Howard Stark having a hand in designing. “I think we are ready now.”

A blonde haired lady, seemingly tall with piercing blue eyes grinned sadistically as she turned to a glowing screen in front of her and began typing frantically at the keyboard in front of her. “Ready for what? What are you all doing with me, gonna turn me into your walking-talking slave? Do you really think that’s going to happen?” He tried to flex his newly attached metal appendage, but found it to be powered down by some sort of electronic gadget now attached between the plates lining his forearm. “I’m not going to let that happen. I’m not exactly cooperative when it comes to dealing with Hydra fuckers like yourselves. Oh, and I have a name, you know. My name is Bucky.”

A smile ghosted over the head scientist’s face before he glanced down at his clipboard and scribbled something. “Interesting, Soldier. Let’s see if you still think that when we are done here, shall we?” He grinned over at Bucky before nodding to one of the men standing next to the chair Bucky was seated in. “Let’s get started.”

Bucky heard shuffling from his side as the man to his left grabbed something off the metal tray adorning the arm of the chair Bucky was strapped to. A hand from his left touched his forehead, pushing his head back into the chair. The man to his right proceeded to guide a strap over his forehead and secure it in place, almost too tight to be comfortable. But given the forceful hand guiding a black rubber mouth guard between his grit teeth, Bucky was beginning to think that his comfort level was not of upmost importance to them. He glared at the offending man after the mouthguard was in place before he disappeared from view along with the scientist to his left. The blonde scientist sitting along the wall watched them both before turning to her desk and typing something else into the keyboard. Bucky heard the grinding hum of electronics from behind his head. The unforgiving chill of metal caressed the skin on either side of his face, contouring over his left eye and along the right side of his face. There was a muffled panic in his chest, as he almost remembered this from before when Zola had experimented on him, but now wasn’t the time for vulnerability.

“Alright,” the man said, turning to a large camera that was almost out of Bucky’s limited view. “Hello, this is session one with the Soldier. The date is December seventeenth, nineteen fifty-eight. In this experiment we plan to use highly targeted electric shock…”

Nineteen fifty-eight? There was no way he had been in cryo for that long. Bucky’s mind raced at the revelation. How had he not noticed this before? Had nobody ever mentioned the year in their conversations in the lab? There was no way it was nineteen fifty-eight.

“…James Buchanan Barnes formerly of America.” Hearing his name mentioned shocked him out of his mind and back into reality. He listened with fury and shock in his chest as the scientist drawled on into the camera. “With all possible threats neutralized, and America’s greatest weapon, Captain America, dead, there should be no chance for error or interference today, so the session should be executed to completion.”

Bucky’s heart dropped. Dead? There was no way Steve was dead. Maybe he was talking about a different Captain America. “What?” he asked, his voice breaking. “Steve is dead?”

The scientist turned around at the sound of his voice, a question written on his face. “Why of course. He’s been dead since before the World War ended. Steve Rogers killed himself to defeat Hydra. Wouldn’t he be devastated to know he died for nothing,” the bastard smirked, turning back to the camera.

Bucky’s thoughts were coming and going too fast to be comprehended. His stomach was in knots, and he felt tears welling up in his eyes. Steve had sacrificed himself? Of course he had, that impulsive little son of a bitch. The reality was slowly creeping in that Bucky wasn’t going to see those foreboding stars and stripes break down any doors today. He wasn’t going to wake up from this to Steve’s worried face staring down at him, relieved he was alive. Nobody was coming to save him, because the only one who cared about him was dead.

“We will now begin phase one of the procedure.” Through his eyes blurred with threatening tears, Bucky saw the scientist nod to the blonde dame with a serious expression before turning his examining gaze back to Bucky.

He heard the sounds before he felt them tear from his chest. Electricity coursed through his brain, lighting up every neuron, breaking every connection, and sending an obscene amount of pain flaring through his body. The sound of electricity and the light blue color of sparks filled the room as Bucky felt his brain being torn apart bit by bit. He screamed out involuntarily, causing all heads in the room to turn to him with curiosity.

He tried to bring comforting images of him and… who was it? What was that man’s name? Why couldn’t he remember what his name? He remembered the love, the deep connection the two shared. He couldn’t bring a picture of the man’s face to his brain, and he began to panic.

As the electricity wracked through his brain, destroying everything in its path, Bucky began to repeat in his head what he felt was necessary. His survival instinct kicked into high gear, and he found himself mumbling his first and last name over and over to himself inside his brain. This had happened before, back when… back when. What had happened?

James Buchanan Barnes. Bucky. That was his name.

The adrenaline pumping through his body was going to absolutely kill him if he didn’t move, if he didn’t escape. He needed to run, to get out of this place. Where was he again? He couldn’t remember. There was cold, lots of cold. And it was a bad place. Wasn’t it?

James Buchanan Barnes. Buck… Bucky, right.

He tried to bring up the memories that had brought him through cryo without losing his mind. But there was nothing there. Before long, he couldn’t even bring to mind what had happened the past few years.

James Barnes… Barnes. James.

He couldn’t remember why he was screaming. Why was he here? Where was he? Why was everything so painful? Who were these people around him?

Barnes.

Who was Barnes? Why was he repeating this guy’s name? Did he know this guy? Who was he anyway? What was going on? He couldn’t remember his name. Panic struck him in the chest as he screamed through the bite guard in his mouth as he failed to remember any defining qualities about himself. Who the hell was he?

As his brain began to slip away from him, the pain subsided, and the now burning metal moved away from his face. He sighed and fell back into the chair, submitting to the restraints and letting his tired muscles go lax. His eyes threatened to roll back into his head as he began to sink further into the bliss of painlessness. A voice awoke him from this stupor as he made eye contact with the man standing in front of him.

“What is your name?” the man demanded, peering into his eyes.

The man in the chair knew he had a name. What was it though? He let his eyes shoot around the room, landing on different objects, different people, trying to get anything to remind him. Name. What was his goddamn name?

The man standing in front of him must have noticed his panic-stricken gaze around the room. He smiled and nodded, writing his observations on his clipboard before turning to the camera.

“It seems as though phase one has been a success. The Winter Soldier is now prepared for conditioning.”

He nodded to the man behind the large camera before turning back to face him.

“You will respond when we address you as Soldier, do you understand?”

Soldier tried to nod in compliance, but found his head still held back by the straps. He opened his mouth, trying to remember how to speak.

“Okay,” he ground out, his voice sounding deep and wrecked from screaming. His head hurt, his body hurt, and his brain hurt. It felt as though he had just been ripped apart piece by piece and put back together using glue and tape. His brain felt like liquid, and Soldier half expected it to be running out his ears. He felt a dribble of liquid pass his lips as he realized his nose was bleeding.

“You are the property of Hydra, and it will be your job to give the world the freedom it deserves,” the man said, turning to look at the people standing on either side of him. “Take him to his cell.”

Soldier, or at least that was what the man had told him he was to be called, was unstrapped from the metal chair and guided through a series of hallways before being thrown onto the cold concrete floor of his cell.

“Hope you like it, Soldier. It’s the shittiest room we’ve got. The commander wanted to toughen you up. Enjoy,” The guard spat at him before slamming the cell door behind him. Soldier wanted to get up, something in him told him he should escape, should run. But he didn’t know where to run to. He didn’t even know where he was running from.

Soldier let his head rest on the cool concrete before wracking his brain one more time for anything at all that he could remember, but nothing came up. The soldier let tears come to his eyes before crawling up into his little cot and passing out, hoping to find comfort or his past in dreams.

Chapter Text

There was a man hovering above him, smiling down at him with a thousand-dollar grin. Love and anticipation filled the soldier’s heart as he looked up into his baby blue eyes. The man’s name eluded the Soldier, but he knew that this man smiling down at his face meant the world to him, and he would do absolutely anything to protect him.

“How ya holdin’ up out there, Buck?” the man said, before lowering himself down onto his elbows so that he was laying lazily on the Soldier’s naked chest. “I know it hasn’t been easy, but you’re doing an amazing job.” The blonde beauty pressed his lips between the Soldier’s pecks, letting his tongue brush against the dark hair on his chest.

This dream, it was familiar. The Soldier had been in this dream before, and he could just barely recall it being one of his favorites. The man above him had called him Buck. Maybe that was who he was. His name was Buck in this dream, or maybe that was a nickname, but the Soldier, Buck, liked it either way. He sucked in a breath as the blue-eyed man scraped against his chest with his teeth. Buck let out a shameless moan and let his head fall back.

“Steve.”

He heard the word before he felt it come out of his mouth. It was a sort of breathless moan, one that he hadn’t really heard before. His voice was smaller, softer, more vulnerable than it had been the last time he heard it.

The man, Steve, looked up into Buck’s eyes, letting his tongue drag along his chest, up to his neck before peppering kisses around his chin and his lips. “Yes, Bucky? What is it?” He smirked a little before picking a spot on the man under him to suck on and worship.

Bucky! That was it! That was his name! That felt righter than anything ever had, in exception of the beautiful pink tongue swiping over his collarbone. But he was Bucky, and this was Steve. Steve was his boyfriend, his everything. It was all coming back to him now.

“Steve, I remember,” Bucky said breathlessly and triumphantly, letting his hand roam over the muscular expanse of Steve’s back. He couldn’t remember everything, he was sure, but he remembered Steve, and how much he loved and cared for this man, and in the current circumstance, that was all that mattered. He brushed his now all flesh fingers through the short blonde hair in front of him.

“Good, baby. I want you to remember this, okay Buck? Hell, I want to remember this forever. Look at you, so beautiful,” Steve said as he traced his fingers along Bucky’s flanks, stopping at his hips. Bucky then realized that the pair of them were naked, and his erection was laying heavy against his stomach. Steve eyed it like a starving man before taking it in his hand and sucking just the tip between his beautifully pink lips. Bucky shivered at the sensation before throwing his head back in a moan as Steve took even more of him into his mouth.

He was lost in a world of nothing but the slick, wet heat from Steve’s mouth working him up and down. He traced the veins with his tongue and when he pulled up, swirled his tongue around the tip, positively lapping at the precome.

“Goddamn Steve, you’re too good at this baby,” Bucky moaned, wrapping his fingers into Steve’s hair and instinctively pulling him down onto his dick. “Oh fuck!”

Steve looked up at Bucky, and he swears he could see the mirth gleaming in his eyes as he began to swallow around the head of Bucky’s cock, which was now lodged deeply in Steve’s throat. His lips were against the flesh and hair of Bucky’s pelvis as he continued to swallow around him, working his entire dick with his tongue, and his positively sinful throat.

Bucky felt the familiar heat begin to build in the pit of his stomach as his legs started to tingle. Every nerve in his body was alight with pleasure, and he wanted to live in this moment for the rest of eternity. He was so close, he couldn’t speak properly. All he could manage was a little wounded sound of deprivation before he felt Steve press a finger against his asshole.

That was all it took and Bucky was coming, hot and heavy into Steve’s throat. He thrust off the bed into the other man’s mouth and grasped at his hair, making him moan at the rough show of appreciation. Steve always did like to make Bucky feel good, no matter how much it pained him. Steve shook his head a little around Bucky, drawing his orgasm out a little longer before swallowing with a slight look of displeasure at the bitter taste. He eventually brought his head up and separated from the spent man on the bed, a little line of saliva still connecting his mouth to Bucky’s softening dick.

“Holy shit Steve, I needed that, thank you,” he panted, still feeling the last tingles of his fading orgasm in his legs. He locked eyes with the beautiful man, still perched between his legs, smiling at him. Steve’s eyes were bloodshot and tears were drying along his cheeks, lips pink and oh so swollen, but he was grinning like the cat that got the canary.

“Glad I could help there, Doll. I know what else you need too, Buck. Just let me take care of you, okay?” Steve pressed a little kiss into the sensitive skin of his inner thigh and Bucky nodded, gaze drifting to the slightly stained ceiling of the hotel they were holed up in.

It had been a while since the two had gotten any time to themselves. They never really seemed to get any real alone time when they were on a mission with the Commandos. Bucky was used to the lack of sex by now, given that Steve’s low sex drive in the past, but Steve could hardly ever contain himself. But now, they were in between missions, planning a base infiltration, and they finally had the luxury of sleeping in an old bed and breakfast in a little evacuated town about ten miles away from the Hydra base. It was a quiet place, but the rest of the crew had consumed a borderline unsafe amount of alcohol and were all peacefully sleeping down the hallway, where not much could be heard.

With this in mind, Bucky let out a small desperate noise when Steve’s tongue slid up his thigh to brush lightly against his balls, sending shooting signals of overstimulation through his body. Steve chuckled a little against the other man’s taint before dipping just a bit lower.

Bucky lifted his hips off the bed, just a little, to make it easier for Steve to get a good angle as his tongue began lapping at Bucky’s entrance. The sensation wasn’t exactly new, but Bucky had never engaged in this sort of act before. Bucky had tried it on his own a few times, in the privacy of his own home, curiosity piqued at what it would feel like to be filled from behind. But he had never been able to manage more than one finger without an amount of pain that turned him off immediately. With this thought in his head, the anticipation and embarrassment of being opened up like this was too much. He tried to gently push Steve back, closing his legs a bit in embarrassment.

“God Stevie, you don’t gotta…” he started before throwing his head back in a keening shout as Steve’s tongue breached him. The slight stretch was different, but not unpleasant. Bucky wouldn’t admit it to anybody but Steve, but he really did enjoy a little bit of stimulation down there. Steve had always wanted to try this, even when he was little, saying he wanted to make Bucky feel good, but Bucky had respectfully declined on more than one occasion. It had seemed so wrong at the time, but now, even with the bright red embarrassment staining his cheeks, Bucky reveled in the feeling of the intrusion.

Steve’s tongue was significantly larger than his finger, even after the serum, but the slick heat of it was nothing short of decadent. He began thrusting his tongue slowly in and out of him, opening his hole wider, stretching a little with each push. Bucky’s breathing began to quicken as he lost himself in the feeling of Steve absolutely worshiping that oh so private part of his body. This was like being more than naked, being spread out like this, and Bucky couldn’t help but squirm a little at the sensation of it. He covered his face with his arm, trying to hide from the situation, but secretly loving the feeling.

“Jesus fucking Christ Steve, what are you doing to me? I… oh ah, yes just like… ngh… that,” he ground out, voice thick with lust and pleasure.

Bucky felt Steve’s muscular tongue tense as the man between his legs gave one last steady push into his body, lips brushing against the soft skin of Bucky’s ass. He began to swirl his tongue just a little before he brushed against something that made Bucky see stars. He wanted Steve to stop, he wanted him to keep going, and he wasn’t quite sure what to do. This was a new feeling he had never felt before, and he wanted more.

“Oh! Steve, that… Yes Steve!” He couldn’t form coherent thoughts. He was just focused on Steve’s absolutely sinful tongue swiping wet and hot against his prostate. His cock was now standing fully erect again, bouncing against the blushing skin of his stomach as Steve moved his tongue inside of him, lightly moving his lips and humming happily, as if this was the only thing he had ever wanted out of life. Steve gave one last ministration across Bucky’s prostate before pulling his tongue out with the wet sound of saliva.

Bucky let out a wounded noise at the loss. He didn’t want Steve to stop, he was enjoying himself so much. He couldn’t make words come out of his mouth, his brain wracked with nothing but white-hot pleasure. With that pleasure now gone, Bucky felt cold and empty before something blunt and large brushed against his slicked-up hole.

“Is this okay with you Buck? It’ll make you feel so good baby, I promise I will make it good for you,” Steve said, grinding the tip lightly against the crease in Bucky’s ass before spitting into his palm and running it over his cock a few times, biting his lower lip.

The arm covering his eyes was moved aside, Steve leaving a short kiss on the palm before dropping it softly on the bed. Normally, Bucky would have put up a fight, would have asked if he could give Steve a blow job or fuck him instead, but with Steve staring down at him with lust-blown pupils and sex-swollen lips, he couldn’t find it in him to resist. He wanted it so bad, worse than he had ever wanted anything in his life. He wanted to feel Steve inside him, stretching him, fucking him. He just couldn’t say no to such a shameful offer, no matter how embarrassed or scared he was.

“Yeah Doll,” he said, voice still driven low and heavy. “Go ahead, make me feel good. I trust you.” And he did. He wouldn’t be laid out on the bed like this if he didn’t trust the man with all his heart, especially after what he had been through with Hydra.

Steve nodded, pressing in closer to Bucky before slowly pushing just the head of his cock against him, breaching the tight ring of muscle. A breathy moan escaped Bucky’s mouth before he could even register the sound, because the feeling was so different. So tight, so hot. He felt like Steve was going to break him. He carefully looked up at Steve with pleading eyes. He was nervous, but he knew Steve would take care of him.

Steve sensed his hesitation and leaned down, pressing their bodies together before meeting his lips, flicking his tongue out to lick at Bucky’s lower lip. He slid in a little further as Bucky’s mouth fell open in a moan stifled by the other man’s mouth.

It was like this for a while, slow and careful, like Steve was afraid of breaking Bucky before he was fully sheathed inside his boyfriend. Bucky’s head was thrown back in bliss and Steve was lapping at a sensitive spot on his neck. He jerked his hips back again and the pair of them gasped.

“Oh fuck Steve, just fuck me already,” Bucky said, in love with the strange feeling of being too full, too stretched, and too exposed. It was no wonder Steve loved it so much.

Steve pulled out until only the leaking tip was still inserted. The pre-come eased the way a bit as Steve eased back into the pressure, causing Bucky to moan like a wanton whore. He continued at this torturously slow pace for all too long until Bucky was writhing below him in something akin to agony. He needed Steve to move, he needed Steve to destroy him, to fuck him like all the times he had refused combined into one.

“Goddamn it Steve, just give it to me!” Bucky half-shouted, thrusting his body against Steve’s hips before reaching around and grabbing his ass. Steve didn’t listen, eyes screwed shut in ecstasy, as he reached around and wrapped a warm hand around Bucky’s neglected cock. The feeling set off sparks behind his eyes as he felt Bucky’s ass give at the touch, and that was it.

Steve was snapping his hips forward mercilessly, drunk on the sound of slapping skin while matching his strokes down Bucky’s dick. Bucky was letting little sounds escape through his lips, trying to be as quiet as he could be, not wanting one of the Commandos to ruin this beautiful moment.

Steve pulled on Bucky’s hip, hoisting his body up on top of his thighs before resuming his pounding thrusts. Bucky’s head went fuzzy as Steve’s hard cock slammed into his prostate over and over again. He could no longer hold in the sounds wanting to escape as he closed his eyes.

“Fuck Steve, yes… ugh, right there. Ah! Fuck Stevie im so… close….”

Steve leaned down against him once more, pressing his torso against Bucky, reveling in the feeling of even more contact with this lover. “Then come for me Buck. Come on my cock for me, Doll.”

Bucky’s eyes shot open as he came painfully hard, ripping him from his sleep. His breathing was heavy as he felt nothing but the pleasure of orgasm flowing through his body. His legs went numb with the sensation of coming almost completely untouched, only the memory of Steve bringing him to completion. His dick spasmed once again against the hospital gown he was still wearing as he rode out his orgasm, palming against his crotch, trying to make the feeling last. Come from the first orgasm he had during his dream was already beginning to dry against his skin, making him feel uncomfortable. Bucky was astonished, and maybe even a little bit proud, that he had somehow managed to come twice in a short period of time, untouched.

When he came down from the high, the darkness of the room seeped into his vision, leaving nothing but unforgiving concrete walls and the little cot he was lounging on. His mind raced with excitement as he realized that even though it had been a dream, he still remembered.

Bucky remembered who he was, all thanks to a wet dream.

Chapter Text

He waited by the door to his cell, hiding just out of sight, waiting for the scientists to come. He knew they would. Zola needed him, needed to see how exactly it was that he worked. He needed to experiment further on him, to see if the brainwashing torture from yesterday took hold.

He waited there for hours, barely moving, just like he had learned to in the Army as a sniper. He knew that his whole plan could be foiled in a second if he moved at the wrong time. His mind tried to wander, tried to land on Steve, and how the scientist had said he was dead, but he refused. He couldn’t let his focus waver. He needed to strike the second they opened that damn door. So he stood there, as silent as he could be in his awkwardly-fitting hospital gown. He figured he didn’t really stand a chance fighting in this horrible piece of clothing, as the risk of it getting caught on something, or getting torn off completely were too high, so he needed to make this as stealthy as he could.

The second he heard the locking mechanism click out of place on the door, he held his breath, ready to attack. He balled his new left hand into a fist, hoping it was as strong as it had been when he had killed the scientists experimenting on him. The door creaked open slowly, and he heard the men coming into the room chattering in confusion. He wanted to attack, but he had to wait for just the right second if there was any chance in hell this was going to work out the way he planned.

The second he saw the back of the second fool’s head enter the room, he whipped around the door and slammed it behind him, trapping the two dumbstruck Hydra agents inside the cell. He nodded toward the window when the two agents began to bang on the window, smiling to himself. That was, until he saw one of the men pull a radio off his belt and start talking into it. He was surely alerting his fellow agents that Bucky had escaped.

He cursed himself as he turned and ran from the cell. He didn’t remember where he was, but he figured he could find his way out. How complicated could this place be anyway? He turned down a long hallway and started running at full speed down the corridor, guessing he had only a matter of seconds before every Hydra agent in this base was going to be hot on his tail.

When he reached the end of the hallway, he turned and looked around. There had to be some sort of exit in case of emergency. His eyes landed on a steady red light above a door. That seemed like a good enough guess, since it was the only door that had such a feature. He dashed toward it, catching his breath for a moment as he forced the door off its hinges accidentally with his left hand.

Astonished, he glanced down at the shiny new appendage, shining a stark silver against the light blue of the hospital gown and soft grey of the concrete floor. He had known it was strong enough to crush an esophagus, but at his best in the army, Bucky alone could have managed the same feat. But tearing a large metal door straight off the hinges with no issues? This escape was going to be easier than he had originally thought.

He was ripped from his thoughts as the lights in the bunker went dim, alarms blaring. He dared a quick look over his shoulder, saw nothing, and continued through the door under the red light, now doing more to light the passage than the overhead lights.

The concrete walls were bleeding cool air into the hallway, leading Bucky to believe he was getting close. He knew he was somewhere cold. Somewhere cold where people spoke Russian. But that didn’t matter now, he needed to escape the bunker first, then he could figure out where he was, and how to escape.

He followed the doors with the red lights, finding them all bolted shut, but finding little struggle in bending the metal enough to squeeze by. They led him through winding mazes of hallways and up many staircases, which Bucky struggled to catch his breath on. The gasp of his air-starved lungs echoed loud against the inside of the stairwells as he fought his exhaustion. He figured he wasn’t being very inconspicuous, but his little stealth mission had been botched from the moment that goon breathed a word into his walkie. He cursed himself once more for not just killing the two where they stood. Lesson learned, mercy did him no good in this situation. He didn’t want to kill anybody, but if they gave him no choice…

He turned once more, hearing muffled shouting coming from a corridor somewhere to his left. He didn’t let this distract him as he tore through yet another door, tossing it aside and jogging down the hallway. This was really no time to be slowing down, but his time in cryo had really inhibited his muscle tone.

As he reached the next door with the tale-tale red light above it, he heard a stampede of footsteps thundering down the hall behind him. Shouts of “There he is!” and “Detain the soldier!” echoed in his head, almost familiar and paralyzing as he reached for the door handle. He tore the door from the wall easily, throwing it towards the men piling into the walkway, feeling the lovely cold feeling of snow on the back of his legs.

The door bowled the men down, taking at least five down. Bucky thought for a moment that they were still all alive until he saw the telltale pool of blood coming from underneath the metal. He tried to comfort himself, telling himself it was just collateral damage. He knew he would have nightmares about that seeping red liquid, but he was sure it was better than whatever Zola had in store for him.

He turned toward the blinding light of the outside world, turning away from the Hydra agents climbing over their colleagues’ dead bodies as well as the metal door to get to him. Bucky breathed in a frigid breath, feeling it crystalize in his nose. Panic rose up in his chest a little at the temperature, the memory of the train threatening to resurface, but he pushed it down, running barefoot into the snow.

He only made it a few meters before his eyes began to adjust to the blinding light. He frantically looked around for any sign of civilization, but there was nothing. Nothing but snow. There were no airport towers, no runways, no aircraft hangers, not even a helicopter pad. Bucky let out a shaky breath, seeing his breath rise into the empty air. His feet stung, but he forced himself forward just a few steps more, lost in the vision of the undisturbed Siberian wilderness.

Then it hit him.

They had brought him out into the middle of nowhere.

Of course they would bring him into the middle of a fucking snow-laden desert. Why would he even think that Hydra would put themselves in a position to lose him? Why would he even think there was a chance of escape? He shook his head, stepping forward again, sinking into the thigh-deep snow. He was going to keep fighting, no matter what. If he had to trudge barefoot across the tundra, then that’s what he had to do. He couldn’t stay here. He needed to get back to Steve.

That’s when a memory more painful than a bullet hit him square in the chest.

“With all possible threats neutralized, and America’s greatest weapon, Captain America, dead, there should be no chance for error or interference today, so the session should be executed to completion.”

The scientist’s voice boomed through his mind, echoing off his skull and sending a jolt of pain down through his heart. Steve was gone. He was running towards nobody. There was nobody who cared about him. He was alone in the world. The only man he had ever really cared about, and who ever really cared about him had sacrificed himself. And now he was dead.

The thoughts blurred past Bucky’s eyes faster than he could process the images, making him stumble and fall face-first through the snowbank. He didn’t get up, even though the Hydra agents were hot on his tail. He couldn’t move even though the snow was beginning to burn at his exposed skin under the hospital gown. He couldn’t move. There was no reason to anymore.

Soon enough, the agents caught up to him, pushing their boots into his shoulders and the barrels of their guns into the back of his skull, threatening to shoot and telling him to stand down. Bucky didn’t move, immobilized with grief and shock as he felt a sharp object pierce his neck. The world started to spin, turning over and over again until he blacked out completely against the snow numbing his face.

Chapter Text

He heard and felt before he opened his eyes. There were people standing all around him, he could feel them. Their eyes, and most likely guns, were trained on him. He tried to open his eyes, just to see how deep of a hole he had dug himself into, but when he tried, he found that his eyelids were taped shut. The chattering didn’t stop as he tried to turn his head, and once again found that he couldn’t. This was a deeper hole than he had originally thought.

He tried to open his mouth, to ask what the hell they had done to him, but his mouth and vocal cords had been frozen. He guessed it was some sort of muscle paralytic. It was just typical of them to paralyze him. He couldn’t breathe, but he felt the slight strangulation of a thick tube running down his throat, pumping air into his lungs, and then sucking it back out. Every instinct he had wanted to choke, to fight the tube, but his muscles couldn’t.

“I think we are prepared, what do you think, doctor?” Bucky hadn’t heard this voice before. This lady was standing somewhere to his left, speaking in an accent that was somewhat familiar, yet completely foreign to him.

“Yes, I think we are ready. From here on out, it is your responsibility to wipe him, and make sure that none of it comes back. We cannot afford him pulling another stunt like that again, do you understand me? We need a more permanent solution to this problem, and you seem to be the most qualified.” Zola’s voice slithered down Bucky’s spine, sending fear innately jolting into his brain. This was bad. He shouldn’t have tried to escape. Steve was dead anyway, so what did it matter if he got out? He mulled this thought over in his head. What would Steve had done?

“Certainly doctor. Would it ease your mind a bit if I walked you through the procedure? It is more experimental than I would like, but there is enough evidence to make me believe it will work,” the female scientist said, the sadistically excited grin evident in her tone of voice.

“I think that would be in your best interest, doctor. After all, your employment with Hydra depends on the success of this experiment. I doubt you would want us to send you back to Japan, where you can face the consequences of your human experimentation.”

Bucky was no stranger to human experimentation, after the first time in Germany when he was practically Zola’s guinea pig for months on end. It really didn’t surprise him that Hydra would hire a fugitive scientist from Japan who was on the run for her crimes against humanity. It was almost laughable, how typical this was.

“No sir, I have a feeling that would be very unpleasant for me. I do have confidence that this will effectively induce focal retrograde amnesia in the Asset.”

Bucky brought his mind back to thinking about what Steve would have done if Bucky had been the one to die. Then it hit him. Steve had thought that Bucky had died when he fell from the train. Steve had known that Bucky was dead, and what had he done? He had fought Hydra and beat them, sacrificing himself for the good of the masses. And what had Bucky done? He had given up when he was so close. He had been so close to escaping. He could have kept fighting Hydra, to avenge Steve. But instead here he was. How could he have been so stupid and given up so easily?

“Well, I figure we will target the medial temporal lobe, particularly the hippocampus. If we can induce controlled trauma to just that area of the brain, he should effectively lose all memory of the past, but still be able to form new long-term memories.”

“Will he retain any memories at all? Doctor, we would like to avoid teaching him how to walk, talk, and eat again if we can avoid it.”

Bucky knew he had to fight this. As much as he could, he had to keep fighting them. There was no going back now, he had already blown his chances of escaping the first time, but he couldn’t lose hope like he had he last time. Steve wouldn’t have, so he shouldn’t. He had to be strong, like Steve would have been.

“His procedural memory should stay intact, if I don’t accidentally hit his cerebellum or any area around there, which in all honesty is very unlikely. There are a few structures that I will be very careful around, like the basal ganglia, but for the most part, the damage should be isolated. I would say the highest risk would be damage to either his amygdala or ventromedial prefrontal cortex.”

“And what will that do? I am not a neurosurgeon, doctor,” Zola said impatiently.

Bucky was thrashing inside his brain, trying to break free from the medications holding him hostage. He could clearly think, hearing and taking in all the information the doctors were talking about. However, he had no idea what they were actually talking about. He had very basic field medical techniques taught to him in the Army, but beyond that, he knew very little about the human body. The words they were using were alien and the anxiety was eating at the inside of his head.

“The amygdala controls processing memory and fear reactions as well as social behavior in the brain for the most part, so damage to that will won’t be detrimental to the project. The highest risk with that I think would be the loss of his sense of smell, but I have a feeling he won’t be using that much. The medial prefrontal cortex plays into risk assessment the processing short term memories. So the slight damage I will do to that part of his brain should not cause any lasting damage either.”

His heart jolted with fear. They were going to mess with his brain? He didn’t like the idea of that. Maybe he was going to get lucky and she was going to try to manipulate his brain from the outside. His hope for this began to fade as she continued to talk.

“So, walk me through the procedure. What exactly will you do?”

“Well Zola, because we want to target specifically episodic long-term memory, I plan to do this procedure in two steps. First, I plan to enter through the front of the skull,” Bucky felt a gloved finger touch lightly at his forehead. “From there I should be able to access all the parts of his brain that I need to. I will then insert the blanketed electrotherapy device I showed you earlier to essentially delete the long-term memories stored in his neocortex. Then I will take the targeted device and insert it into the hippocampus, just to make sure it is all truly gone. He won’t remember anything about himself or anybody else.”

There was a pause. Bucky’s brain was spinning. He couldn’t think straight. They were going to take away everything? There was no way that was possible. He couldn’t forget everything, that just wasn’t possible. There had to be a way out of this. He couldn’t forget his family, his sister, his friends. His Steve. There was no way, he kept repeating in his mind.

“Is there any way those memories can come back? Because I thought that centralized trauma would do the trick, but with his advanced healing due to the serum, he seemingly remembered everything by morning,” Zola said, the skepticism evident in his voice.

“Right. Well, the hippocampus is the only part of the brain that can make completely new neurons, which means that it is possible that he will heal, and the memories will come back. However, there is a way to inhibit this. If his brain and body are kept under enough stress, his body will release glucocorticoids, which inhibit the growth of these new neurons. If you put him back in stasis after every mission, that should be enough to keep the growth at bay.”

“Well, that I can live with. Be careful with him, Doctor. He is my life’s work, I want him none the worse for wear when I see him again, do you hear me?” Zola was being much more assertive than he had been previously.

“Understood sir. Thank you.”

There was bustling around the room as this new doctor prepped the room for the procedure. Bucky began to panic. If she really could do what she said, and he remembered nothing, he would have no reason to leave, to escape. He wouldn’t remember that Hydra is evil, and they were the reason that Steve was dead. He would have no control over this.

“Prep the site, please.”

Bucky felt something cold and wet in the middle of his forehead. He tried to shake it off, but his muscles were lax. He was completely helpless, drugged and sitting trapped inside his fully conscious mind, while a mad surgeon prepared to play with his brain. There was no way this was really happening. This had to be some sort of sick nightmare.

A few minutes passed, making the panic and anticipation even worse. The moment the surgeon stepped up in front of the chair he was strapped to was almost a relief. Almost. He felt something cold and hard against the newly cleaned spot on his head. He tried to brace for the searing pain about to split his head in half, but he figured you likely couldn’t prepare for something like that.

The sound of a drill cut through the panic, and pretty soon there was nothing but pain and pressure against his skull. He would have screamed, he would have fought, hell, he would have even passed out if he could have. But he was trapped inside his own body, unable to move, unable to do anything to alleviate the all-encompassing pain from the drill burning through his flesh and bone between his eyes.

When the pressure stopped, the drill was reversed, and Bucky felt something warm and wet drip down into his eye. It made him want to crawl out of his own skin, feeling the slow trickle of blood coming from the open wound on his forehead. He tried to wrench his mind away from what was happening, remembering when Steve would come home with blood running from a cut on his forehead. He remembered how he would fix up his boyfriend, carefully washing the cut with alcohol and bandaging it up for him. The thought was comforting.

There was more pressure at the throbbing surgical site. The pain lasted, cutting through his comforting recollection like butter. There was a twinge of pain in the back of his neck as the surgeon pushed gently on his head, strapping it back with a heavy leather strap against the headrest.

“Set it to 750 volts. Let’s see how this goes.”

There was a sound like a dial clicking into place before Bucky’s brain lit up, sending shocking brightness behind his eyes. He could feel his hands shivering in the metal restraints, the chair and the drugs keeping him locked in place as the electricity surged through his body. He wanted to scream his throat raw. He wanted to run. There was pain. He needed to get out.

The stimulation stopped, the pain fading back to the constant throbbing from before as the ventilator pushed air into his lungs. It was too slow. He felt like he was suffocating.

“Let’s go again, one more time, and that should do it.”

The pain surged through his again, making his mouth go dry and his entire body tingle. He could barely hear the world around him for the ringing in his ears. The light behind his eyelids was blinding him, relentless and surging. The metallic taste in his mouth was overwhelming, reminding him of… something. Had they done this to him before? He couldn’t remember.

Eventually the pain stopped, and his body innately slumped against the restraints. Hopefully that was it. He couldn’t remember what he had done wrong to deserve this. Had he even done anything wrong? He couldn’t remember doing anything wrong. He couldn’t remember doing anything.

There was a deep pressure against the inside of his skull, almost like somebody was trying to tug at his brain. Soon the pain subsided, and he was left still struggling against the sedatives. He desperately sifted through his mind, trying to find something to hold onto. Something to comfort him. But he couldn’t find anything. He remembered just a minute ago, thinking about a man. About a man named Steve. That was good. He remembered Steve was good.

There was a sudden and sharp pain coursing through the front of his head then, piercing through him. The pain registered, but there was no longer any fear. He could remember that this was something to be feared, that he should feel fear, but he didn’t. He brought the picture of the skinny blonde man back into his mind, reveling in the comfort that spread over him.

“Turn it on now.”

With that, the picture was torn from his mind and replaced with pain. There was nothing but pain, and the man slipped into blissful unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

The confusion was there for a moment and then gone. He knew there were a lot of things missing. He felt like half the man he had been. Despite how much he told them this, they still pushed him along, not giving him any time to even form a self-identity. It felt strange, and his head felt empty, but they had told him there was no need for him to have anything in his head. They had told him that it would all come with time. But he couldn’t remember what was so wrong. Everything about him just felt unnatural and empty. But he obeyed.

There was training at first. Lots of training, for weeks on end they would tell him to fight people. They would tell him to kill people, and if he refused, they would beat him senseless. He had fought back once, something primal inside of him, too stubborn to just sit and take it as he had been instructed to do. He had woken up in a puddle of his own blood on his cell floor, a large gash on his head and no left arm. When he retaliated and misbehaved, they removed his arm, leaving him with nothing but his enhanced body and the nerves in his shoulder exposed to the open air.

One of the doctors was always checking up on him, poking and prodding at him with needles and instruments. After a while, the person called the commander told the doctor to put a feeding port into his stomach, and a catheter in, so he never had to take breaks from training. This was uncomfortable, but necessary, he was told. At this point, he knew better than to object.

The men who were called his handlers addressed him as “The Asset.” They had all made it very clear that they were in charge, and he was to do whatever they told him to do. It didn’t take him very long to learn. They taught him many things, most of them having to do with stealth and combat. The Asset remembered how to fire a gun, and he was very good at it too, so they didn’t spend much time on that. However, his hand to hand combat skills improved tenfold during his time working with his trainers.

They placed an IV in his arm one day during a routine examination. They had changed out his catheter and hooked him up to all sorts of devices. The Asset didn’t quite know what to make of them, but he knew better than to ask. They had told him to stand still, and then there was nothing but cold. He was in the cold for a very long time, unable to move, almost unable to breathe. They had told him it was because they didn’t need him right now. They had assured him that when his expertise was required, they would release him from the cryo chamber. It took them many years to need him.

When they had removed him from cryo, the first thing they had done was strip him naked and spray him off. The water stung his cold, dry skin, but he knew better than to resist. Hydra needed him, and this was all part of the routine. The sad excuse for a shower was followed by a brief medical examination, and then he was dressed in head-to-toe black tactical gear, including a mask which covered the lower parts of his face and eyes, and sent to his mission briefing.

He was handed a thick packet detailing his target, with his full history, pictures, and the threat he posed listed. The Asset had taken the information, and they had shipped off in a helicopter, away from the Siberian wasteland The Asset called home. He felt the warmth of a new place called Texas. The place was loud and large, too many people packed into a small amount of space.

His handlers left him on top of a building, overlooking a crowd of people. They had said his target would be there, and he waited. He knew better than to move, as it could alert somebody to his position, so he trained his sights above the bustling crowd and waited silently for the man he had been shown in the briefings. While he waited, he went over the details he had committed to memory, knowing that if he hit the wrong target, there would be hell to pay.

He was a middle-aged man, likely in his thirties or forties. His hair was often swept to the side when he was in public. The right side. No, the left. The left. He had shining eyes and a million-dollar grin. Typical of a man of his profession.

‘Not a bad lookin’ fellow, if I do say so myself!’

The Asset whipped his head around, searching for the voice, but it was gone and there was nobody near him. Only then did he realize the voice was coming from inside his head, echoing off the empty walls. It startled him, having not had a thought that wasn’t strictly mission critical for… forever, as far as The Asset knew. He pushed the voice from his head, refocusing on the task at hand.

The Asset was surprised they had trusted him with this mission, but his handlers had told him that this man threatened the peace Hydra wanted to bring to the world, and it fell on The Asset to do what needed to be done. He had taken the mission gracefully, completely confident in his marksmanship skills, although unsure how he acquired them.

Reeling his thoughts back in, the Asset focused on the parade, endlessly searching for the man. He was not hard to find, standing in the back of a moving convertible. The Asset briefly looked into the scope of the new, specially made weapon in his hands. The crosshairs were trained between the man’s eyebrows, and The Asset fired.

As soon as he saw his target drop, he retreated from the edge of the roof, slinging the weapon over his black stealth suit and running toward the rendezvous point. His handlers were waiting there for him. They didn’t say a word to him, so he stayed silent as they called for extraction.

Before he knew it, the Asset was seated in a large chair in the center of a dimply lit room, men surrounding him with the barrels of multiple firearms in his direction. He didn’t dare move or speak as one of the medical officers came in and hooked him up to an IV drip. A well-dressed man walked into the room a moment later, nodding to the guards. He walked up to The Asset, stopping just out of his reach, looking down at the man in the chair.

“Mission report.” He demanded, unmoving and almost intimidating.

The Asset hesitated, unsure of what to say before speaking carefully. “The target went down. I did not stay to ensure the job was done.” He did not look the man in the eyes, as he had been taught.

A huff of irritated breath ran through The Asset’s hair, letting him know he said the wrong thing. “And why not? Was that not in the mission briefing?”

“It was, sir.” He was desperate to fix his mistake. He didn’t want them to hurt him. “There were too many witnesses. He was in the middle of a large crowd. I couldn’t risk getting caught. If this man is truly as important as you say he was, the consequences for the assassination would have been dire. It was too much to risk.”

If the irritated sound the man made was enough to go on, he knew that he had said the wrong thing. Or said too much. Either way, he was getting punished. He cursed himself for being too careful, too self-serving. He heard the man turn to his left, where the medical officer was still standing.

“Check his cortisol levels and prep him for storage. He’s done enough this time around. Make sure he’s in the chair for at least five minutes. More if you deem it necessary.” He turned to walk out the door. “And will somebody please check and make sure Kennedy is actually dead?”

As soon as the heavy thud of the door sounded through the room, the medical officer standing next to him ran his hand through The Asset’s hair, pulling a few strands out. He placed them in a vial and handed them to one of the guards. “Take this down to the lab and tell them to run cortisol levels on it. We want to make sure his stress levels are high enough to inhibit brain regrowth. Also, make sure his hair is untouched. That is the easiest way to check for stress, so unless he really needs it, don’t cut his hair. Make sure all the handlers get the message.”

“Yes sir,” the man said, leaving the room swiftly.

“Well. Maybe next time, you’ll follow the mission procedure. Hopefully this will teach you,” he said nonchalantly, fiddling with some of the controls on the side panel of the chair he was sitting in. Two of the guards surrounding him advanced on him, pushing his shoulders back into the chair. When The Asset resisted, failing to subdue his fight of flight, they secured his arms and legs to the structure with heavy leather straps. He thrashed against the things, desperate to escape, but it was really no use. He couldn’t escape. Even if he did, they would catch him, and then the punishment would be worse. He stilled, deciding to just take it.

The medical officer pressed something rubber and cold against his lips. “You’ll want this.” The Asset opened his mouth and the bite guard was slid into place. The Asset closed his eyes, knowing the pain was coming. It was almost better to not know when it was coming, then there was no anticipation. The pseudo-familiar feeling of the cold metal plates against his face caused him to flinch, knowing instinctively what was coming next. This was something he remembered.

The electricity wracked through his bones, shaking him to the core. Every nerve in his body was suddenly alight with pain, telling his brain to run, telling him to escape. He felt like he was dying. He felt like he was falling. He was terrified. It was cold.

The second before he slipped into blissful unconsciousness, his brain created a scene. He was falling into the snow. There was a train above him, glistening metal against the dark mountainside. There was a man reaching down desperately to grab him. The man was beautiful, all blonde hair and blue eyes. There was a large star on his outfit of white, blue, and red. His face was comforting to The Asset. The edges of the vision began to blur and darken as the man faded from view until he hit the ground, finding solace in the painless black that surrounded him.

Chapter Text

The next amount of time was spent in the sleepless limbo of the cryo chamber. His consciousness faded in and out, hearing different people every time his senses came back to him. It was becoming more and more difficult to manage and maintain his composure while in this process. It was cold, and dead, and terrifying. The Asset hated storage. It was always like this.

His commanders would take him out every so often, acclimate him, and send him out into the world. It was crucial that he follow their exact instructions, or he knew there would be hell to pay. He tried his hardest every single time, leaving no witnesses unless there were to be witnesses left alive. He lost track of how many missions he had been sent on that by the time his final mission came, it was both a shock and a relief.

“Can you clarify?” he said, not really understanding what he had been told.

“This is your final mission, as in after this, there will be no need for you anymore. Your technology has been far surpassed. By the time Insight is launched, there will be no need for a conventional assassin, even one possessing your skill level,” his commander had told him. The new commander’s name was Pierce. The Asset couldn’t remember what happened to the previous commander.

“What will happen to him?” The Asset heard one of the scientists say. He remained looking at Commander Pierce, awaiting his answer.

“You all know what happens to outdated tech.” There was a shocked silence and the room stood still. The air felt thick and heavy. The Asset was to be put to death. This was his last mission.

“I… Please,” he breathed, looking down. “I can be useful.”

There were so many conflicting thoughts in his head. He was scared. He didn’t want to die. What would happen then? He would have nobody to serve, nobody to give him orders, to feed him, to put him in storage. The prospect of death sent a sense of dread barreling through him, making the idea of vomiting much more appealing than it should have been. On the other hand, death meant that he wouldn’t have to worry about his commanders hurting him. It would be similar to… escape. That was the word.

The Asset shook his head, trying to physically shake the thought from his head. He would get punished for thinking things like that. His purpose was to serve Hydra. His mission was to make the world a better place. Escape would not help that. This was supposed to be a terrifying thought. However, The Asset couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the only way out. His last act to help save the world. He was going to make it count.

Hours later, he had been dropped off in a large city. His handlers had told him it was called Washington DC. The name wasn’t familiar to The Asset, but he didn’t mind. It was not his responsibility to know. All he knew was that he had a target to eliminate. Part of his mind thought and vaguely hoped that if he did well enough on this mission, Pierce wouldn’t kill him. Maybe he could be kept, trained to do other things.

Or maybe the best thing is for you to die.

The unwelcome thought startled him out of his thoughts. He was needed. A voice on his communication device said the target was incoming. Taking a breath, The Asset stepped carefully and silently into the street, waiting for the black SUV to turn the corner. He tried to keep his mind and body steady as he waited, feeling the weight of the new tech grasped in his left hand. The new tech. This was replacing him. A robot, an automated system. He shook his head, focusing on the large black SUV barreling towards him.

He trained the weapon at the street in front of the approaching vehicle and fired without another thought. He counted the seconds until the explosive would detonate. It worked flawlessly, sending the SUV flying through the air. He stepped carefully out of the way, letting the now incapacitated vehicle slide by him. He sent a meaningless and menacing look at the weapon in his hand, resenting the thing for working so well. He could do everything this damn piece of metal could do, and so much more. Maybe he just had to show Pierce.

The sound of a soft groan from the car’s broken window shocked The Asset out of his thoughts. The target was still alive. It was imperative the target did not survive. He would show Pierce. He would show him that he could do what the weapon was unable to do. He marched toward the car, desperate to show his superior that he could do more than any weapon could. He was more than a weapon. He was more.

Reaching the car, he promptly dug his hand into the metal of the door, ripping it clear from the car. He tossed it aside, eager to show his superiors that HE was the one who killed the target. He leaned his head into the new opening. Through his tactical goggles, he saw the smoke settle, leaving nothing but a gaping hole in the top of the car, all the way into the street below it. The target had escaped.

Panic filled his thoughts. He had failed. His last mission had been a failure. What would happen now? Would Hydra still not need him? Would Pierce keep him alive just long enough to torture him, show him what a bad job he had done? He would rather die than disappoint him this badly. He needed to find the man. He needed to find him and kill him, quickly.

Four hours later, The Asset was lying on his stomach on the rooftops of Washington DC, watching through the scope of his rifle as the target entered a building. He clearly didn’t know he was being watched. Strapping his rifle to the back of his uniform, The Asset swung down onto the side of the building. He dug into the brick with the metal of his fingertips, looking in one of the windows. He watched as the man entered a flat on the top level.

Nodding to himself as he heard the radio hum to life, The Asset turned toward the nearest building and hurled himself onto the nearest window ledge, hanging on with ease. He cringed as a few pieces of brick tumbled to the ground, making small noises as they went. He was able to pull himself to the rooftop easily enough. He set up his gun, watching through the scope and window, respectively, as the target rested in a chair near the window. Easy enough.

The music snaked through the air, quiet and enticing. There was something memorable about the tune that reached The Asset’s ears. He had heard the song somewhere before. It was too familiar to be a coincidence. He pictured a small head of blonde hair, and a smirking grin. It was comfortable. This was a good song. It would likely be the last chance he would have to hear music, he thought. Panic began to fight against the melody of the song, threatening to overtake him.

The Asset took a few steadying breaths, pushing the panicked thoughts about his upcoming death back into his brain. He had a mission, and he was in prime position to carry it out. His finger tightened around the trigger, ready to fire.

Just as he was about to pull the trigger, another man came around the side of the building. The Asset pulled the end of his gun over the building, hiding it from his sight. He had barely seen the man in time. The less witnesses, the better. He watched in awe as the man began scaling the side of the building, holding a large circular shield in his hand. This was no ordinary man, The Asset knew. He was a threat to the mission.

His suspicions were confirmed when the man reached the top floor window, shimmying it open and slipping silently and carefully inside. He could hear a quiet conversation taking place through the walls of the building. Anxiety crept up his spine, causing him to once again prep the rifle. He needed to shoot now. The longer he waited, the worse the punishment would be when he returned to his handlers.

Aiming the scope at the wall where the target was sure to be sat behind, he took another breath, squeezing the trigger. Bullets rained down on the wall, causing brick to crumble and fall into the alley between the buildings. He waited for a moment, staring through the new holes in the wall. He needed to know how many witnesses.

The man with the shield was still alive. The asset could see him with the target’s body. He trained the scope on the man’s head and stopped short, catching his breath. The blonde hair, the profile of his face. He had seen this man before. But where?

In his hesitation, he heard the door to the flat being kicked in, another agent joining the blonde haired man. He cursed himself for waiting too long. Now there were two witnesses he had to take care of. An even longer delay before he could go back to Pierce and show him how useful he could be.

The moment the blonde haired man met his eyes, he knew he was in trouble. He could not be captured or killed. He needed to escape. He had been seen. Running was his only option now. Strapping his rifle to his back, The Asset took off across the rooftop. It was mere seconds before he heard the man’s methodical footsteps following him across the gravel rooftop.

As he was approaching the side of the building, he leapt to the next building, hoping the man would give up. He didn’t want to kill him. He knew him. He knew him from somewhere. He wished he would stop chasing him.

He reached the edge of the building, hearing a glass window shatter behind him, followed by the telltale sound of the shield flying through the air. He turned, holding out his metal arm, ready to catch it before he was decapitated by it. The force of the projectile pushed him backward, sending gravel flying behind him.

As he saw the man’s face, the recognition incapacitated him again. The blonde hair, the blue eyes. He knew this man. And this man was not bad. He didn’t get the same feeling of dread that he got when he saw his handlers or his commander. This was different. He was different. There was a different feeling rising in his stomach, something he had not felt in a long time. Maybe never.

He tossed the shield carefully back to the man, sending him barreling backwards from the force, just enough so he could get a head start. He ducked into an alley beside the building, turning to glance at the man again.

He caught a glimpse of the stark blonde hair against the inky night sky as the feeling he couldn’t describe filled his stomach again. Marveling in it, he sunk to the ground, not minding the dampness of the alley dirt as he forgot all about his impending death.

As he closed his eyes, reaching for his earpiece to call for extraction, the word he had been looking for came to him.

He was feeling comfort.

Chapter Text

When he opened his eyes next, The Asset was being pulled to his feet by one of his handlers. The man was being rougher than usual. He was angry.

“What did we tell you about sleeping?” he snapped, grabbing The Asset by the hair and grabbing his mask off his face. He threw him onto the floor of a van, standing tall over him. The Asset just stared, unsure of what to respond. “You’ve been missing for an entire day because you were sleeping and wouldn’t give us your location. Do you know how badly we could have been compromised for that?” He looked down at The Asset, seeing him wide-eyed, still waking from his unexpected sleep. “Are you listening to me, you piece of shit?”

“He asked you a question,” one of the guards crouching in the back of the van said. “Fucking answer him.”

There was a moment of hesitation while the unfamiliar haze of sleep cleared The Asset’s brain. That second of hesitation was enough to give his handler enough time to kick him in the skull, sending shooting pain throughout his head and body.

“You…” he tried, groaning at the budding headache that was already surfacing. “You told me not to. It… could damage me. You said it could… damage the programming.”

“That’s right. So why did we just find you sleeping? In the open?!”

The Asset clamored backwards further into the van as the handler raised his stun baton. Those were relatively new tech, as far as he could remember. They were new, but very effective. He wanted nothing to do with that. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know why. I don’t even know how.” The Asset didn’t even really know how to sleep. He hadn’t slept properly in as long as he could remember. He was a weapon. Weapons didn’t sleep.

“You’re damn lucky, you know that? Rumlow called you in on another mission. If not, you would be bleeding for days, you hear me?” He waved the baton over The Asset’s leg, causing him to jump further back. “But since Pierce wants to meet with you, I suppose you should be able to at least walk when you meet with him.

The handler jumped into the van, closing the doors behind him. He lunged for The Asset’s leg, grabbing his tactical gear and pinning him to the floor of the van by his shoulders and thighs. “But I suppose we can’t have you running along without any form of punishment.” He wrenched The Asset’s head to the side, struggling against his thrashing.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I swear. I will be good,” he said from under the unrelenting grip of his handler. His words got very little response from any of the men in the van as one of them flicked on their stun baton.

The moment the metal hit his neck, The Asset’s body was alight with searing pain. A bright light went off behind his eyelids as he thrashed to get away from it. He could feel the surges running through his body, culminating in a phantom pain in his metal arm, and a numbing of the rest of his limbs. Screams and groans forced their way through his throat, making it ache and burn against the sound. His body was shaking. There was nothing but pain. He was scared. Death would be more humane.

When the men finally removed the baton, they continued to hold him down as the last of the tremors wrecked his body. His muscles were exhausted. He needed storage. He was not functioning at full capacity.

I need a goddamn nap.

For once in his life, The Asset agreed with the voice in his head, which he mostly ignored. It wasn’t as startling this time as it was sobering. He wasn’t supposed to sleep, but that was the only thing he really wanted to do. His eyelids began to hang heavy as the handlers released him. He was lying limp on the floor of the van, the only thing he wanted was sleep. But that was the thing he had just been punished for.

He stared at the ceiling of the van for a long time, passively listening to the handlers’ conversations. Most of them were talking about the new Insight project. The Asset’s replacement. It made him anxious. He figured a more appropriate response would be anger, but he didn’t have the passion for anger. Weapons didn’t get angry.

The Asset sighed, silently hoping from his position on the floor of the van that this was it. They had told him Rumlow had called him in. Maybe he was calling him in for his execution. He had completed the mission after all. Nick Fury was dead. He had been ordered to kill the man, and he had done so. There were witnesses, sure, but they didn’t matter. What mattered now was that he completed his final mission, and was ready for decommission.

An indeterminable amount of time later, the van stopped. The lack of movement jostled The Asset back into his head, as he was pushed up into a sitting position by his handlers. He looked over to the man who had held the stun baton to his neck.

“Pierce is inside. He would like to meet with you. Meet us at the rendezvous point when you’re done.” He pushed him forward, out of the van before driving away with the rest of his handlers. He was alone again. It was night now, and he turned toward the house on the property, seeing some lights on inside. He was to go inside, he was sure.

He crossed the lawn, smiling lightly at the feeling of the wet grass soaking lightly through his pants and boots. There were crickets singing in the night, making everything so much less quiet. The Asset enjoyed night missions. Not only was it easier to keep quiet and out of sight, it was peaceful. It gave him a nice feeling in his stomach that he did not often experience.

Within a few minutes, he was sat at the kitchen table, mostly hidden in the shadows. He could hear two sets of footsteps walking around the rest of the house. He saw commander Pierce enter the room, walking towards the fridge and grabbing a carton of milk. He turned and saw The Asset, slowing his movements carefully.

“I’m going to go, Mr.Pierce,” A lady’s voice came drifting in from the other room. The Asset followed the sound with his gaze, but could not find the lady. “You need anything before I leave?”

“No… Uh, its fine, Renata, you can go home.” Pierce said, setting the carton of milk down on the counter, not once taking his eyes off The Asset.

“Okay, night night.”

“Goodnight.” There was the click of a door closing, and Pierce turned to the cabinet. “Want some milk?”

The Asset didn’t respond. He couldn’t. He didn’t want milk. He wanted to know why he was here. But he didn’t want to be rude. He figured the best thing he could do was to stay quiet. Pierce seemed to notice his lack of a response, and understood it as a no. The Commander grabbed a glass from the cabinet and proceeded to pour himself a glass of milk.

“The timetable has been moved.” He set the milk carton down. “Our window is limited.” He took a long drink from the glass before walking around the counter and towards where The Asset was sitting. “Two targets, level six.” He sat in the chair across from him, illuminated by the lights from outside the house. “They already cost me Zola.” The Asset shuddered involuntarily at the name. If Pierce noticed, he didn’t say anything.

“I want confirmed death in 10 hours.” His gaze was hard as steel.

“Sorry, Mr. Pierce, I…” The voice from before drifted into the kitchen from the doorway. A slim figure slid into view of The Asset. She stopped dead in her tracks when she laid eyes on The Asset. “I forgot my… phone.” She gestured gently to the counter, seemingly unsure of what was happening.

There was a moment of silence as Commander Pierce turned to the table, a pained look on his face. “Oh, Renata, I wish you would have knocked.”

Two shots were fired, and the lady was dead.

“It’s a shame. I liked her.” He placed the gun carefully on the table, reaching instead for the half-drained glass of milk. There was a moment of silence as Pierce took another swig of milk. He swallowed and looked back at The Asset pointedly.

“This is your second chance, Soldier. You do well now, I might just hire you as my new housekeeper.”

He knew it was a joke. There was very little chance that Pierce would keep him alive, especially after he found out about the sleeping incident. But he couldn’t help the sense of pure hope that rose up in his gut. He might not be retired anyway. There was a chance he could live. He knew it wasn’t true, but he allowed himself to hope. The feeling was nice.

“First off is Natasha Romanoff. You likely don’t remember her, but you’ve met her before on another assignment a while back. You shot her, I think. But she is in her early thirties and has red hair. She’s hard to miss.”

The Asset nodded, absorbing the information. Red hair was hard to miss. Shouldn’t be hard.

“The second is Steve Rogers, often called Captain America. He is tall, blonde, and well-built. He also always carries his shield around with him. Makes him easier to find as well. He isn’t exactly discrete.”

The Asset nodded again, afraid to speak. A shield? Was this the man who had made him feel so comfortable back at the apartment? The Asset hoped it was a different man, but had very little hope for that. But he needed to show Pierce. This was the only way he was going to survive.

“Understood sir. Confirmed death of Natasha Romanoff and Steve Rogers in ten hours.”

He stood and turned toward the door, eager to leave. Pierce’s gaze was making him uncomfortable, and he was eager to prove himself more useful than the new project Insight. He needed to move, needed to find the agents. He would do whatever it took. His life was on the line, and if all it took was another mission, he was willing to do it.

“Soldier.” Pierce’s icy voice chilled The Asset to the bone. He turned his head over his shoulder.

“Yes sir?” The Asset tried to keep the apprehension from seeping into his words.

“I know about the sleeping incident. You wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t need you on this. Don’t fail again. You know what will happen if you do.” His eyes were serious and his brows were furrowed.

The Asset swallowed hard and turned, fleeing the house and His Commander’s disappointed glare. If his life wasn’t in the balance already, it would be now. There was very little chance that he was going to survive this next week. Pierce had already made up his mind. Even if he did impress him, he was to be decommissioned. There was no escaping it, he knew.

Unless you run away.

He shook his head, willing the voice to go away. He didn’t want to listen to it right now. There was no rationality to the voice in his head, and he knew listening to it would only bring him more pain. He trudged through the wet lawn, no longer feeling the water soak through is clothes. There was no reason to. He had one mission, one purpose. His life was temporary, and was soon coming to an end. But he needed to do this right, needed to complete his mission.

But why? They’re just gonna kill you anyway.

The Asset clutched at the sides of his head, quickening his steps. He needed to get away, to get started. That would make the voice go away, he knew it. He needed to kill Romanoff and Rogers. It was his mission. Maybe… Maybe if he killed them, Pierce would keep him. He had never felt more of a desire to fight, to live, to prove himself. To prove the voice in his head wrong.

He broke into a run, heading for the rendezvous point, where he knew his handlers would be. He needed to get started. He needed the one-track-mind and tunnel vision associated with a mission. That was the only thing that could set his mind right, and he knew it. The emotions he was experiencing were unnecessary. Weapons did not need emotions.

As if in response to this thought, The Asset’s vision went dark and he collapsed against the wet lawn, feeling the mask slip from his face, and the damp blades of grass press against his cheek.

Chapter Text

The next thing he knew, The Asset was being dragged to his feet by one of his handlers. He looked up at his face, almost not recognizing him. The man was blonde, with a bushy beard and a kind smile. The face brought him that feeling again. The feeling of happiness. He shook his head, trying to bring back the memory of where he had seen this man before. As he did so, the face morphed into one of more recent memory. It was Rumlow.

“What the hell was that? Are you okay?”

The Asset squinted against the now blistering sunlight. He must have passed out. But how? Why? Where had he seen that man before? What was his name again?

Tim. His name was Timothy. Dum-Dum. He is a friend.

“Hey! Do you mind listening to me? What happened?” Rumlow demanded, pulling him forward by the tight grip he held on his arm and shoulder. He didn’t know how to answer. If he told him about the hallucination he had just had… They would see he was even more damaged than they already thought he was.

“I don’t know. A simple malfunction. Everything… Seems to be functioning normally now.” It was a lie.

He heard Rumlow grunt in frustration from behind him. “I don’t have time for this, you know that? Insight is launching in seventeen hours, and we have a lead on Rogers and Romanoff. We need to get moving.”

The next hour went by in a blur. The Asset was malfunctioning severely, but he couldn’t tell his handlers. They needed him. Between the strange faces he was seeing and the damn near constant voice in his head that something was wrong,The Asset couldn’t think. He tried to focus his thoughts as best he could, but he failed every time. He silently prayed that his muscle memory would be enough to complete the mission.

The next thing he knew, Rumlow was patting his back as he left him on top of a building overlooking a busy highway. He was describing a car to him, which The Asset barely heard over his own thoughts. He was to… what? Intercept the vehicle. Right.

You know this is wrong, right? You may not remember who you are, but you’re more than this.

He shook off the intrusive thought, gazing down at the highway, looking for the small sedan he was to disable. Success in this mission was critical, he reminded himself. If not, he knew what would happen. One of his handlers would likely put a bullet in his brain sooner rather than later. He was running out of time. Now was not the time for these thoughts.

You really don’t see that there’s something wrong here? Why are you the weapon, while everybody else gets to control you, and tell you what to do, huh? Why can they all remember, but they take that away from you? You can’t remember like they can, and it’s all their fault.

“Shut up,” he murmured to the voice. It wasn’t helping his focus. It didn’t matter if he remembered. He was a weapon, and weapons didn’t need memories.

But what if you’re not? You sure as hell don’t look like a weapon to me. You look like a goddamn human, is what I think.

The Asset caught a glint of the window of the black sedan Rumlow had described to him and leapt from the rooftop on pure instinct alone. He landed with a bone-shattering thud on the roof of the car, leaving a large dent in the metal. He forced his metal hand through the window, feeling the glass shatter under the pressure. The sensors in his arm felt something warm and pliable under his fingers. Hopefully one of his targets. He grabbed the person and pulled them from the car, sending them hurdling onto the highway, directly into traffic. It wasn’t either of his targets, but the less witnesses, the better.

He pulled out his gun and fired three rounds into the roof of the car, one directly over each seat. The car did not swerve. The driver had managed to dodge the bullet. He cursed under his breath, preparing to fire another round of bullets into the car, determined to put an end to his targets.

Just then the car slowed significantly, throwing The Asset off balance. He tumbled from the car, desperately trying to keep his balance as he dug his metal fingers into the asphalt. He heard the car skid to a stop in front of him. As he stood, he checked his body for any damage. He determined it was nothing but a few scratches and proceeded to analyze his target.

There was a dark skinned man sitting in the driver’s seat. He didn’t recognize him. Next to him was a woman with flaming red hair and bright eyes. Romanoff. But it was the man situated behind her that made The Asset lose focus.

Stevie?

For once in his life, The Asset was thankful for the mask and goggles covering his face. They made him look menacing and machine-like even while he was slowly slipping back into his brain, losing consciousness and letting his muscle memory take over. He had no choice, his brain wanted to go. And there was no stopping it as it slipped into the blissful unfamiliarity of memory.

He wore the same shocked and alert facial expression. There was blood and sweat dirtying his hair, and he looked exhausted. But here he was, Steve. And The Asset was there too, sitting on a cot in a tent. He was clutching his left arm. His left arm… there was something different.

“Are you okay? Morita said you took quite the tumble there.” The blonde man, Steve, walked toward him, sitting down on the cot opposite him.

“Yeah,” he heard himself say. “Nothing more than a few bruises. Nurses say nothin’s broken, so that’s somethin’.” He felt a wide smile cross his face, before Steve returned it.

The comforting feeling began to bubble up in his gut again. His arm was aching, but he wanted to stay in this moment forever. With Steve smiling at him like that, all was right with the world.

His brain was wrenched from the warm memory as cold metal touched his hands. He was being handed a… grenade launcher. He lifted it and fired it directly at his target. Rogers. He couldn’t let the voice in his head hinder him from completing his mission. It was crucial to his survival that nothing came between him and killing Steve Rogers.

The man flew over the side of the bridge from the blast. The asset waited and watched as his handlers fired round after round into the stopped vehicles in front of them. He saw a brief flash of the maroon hair and quickly fired in that direction. Romanoff jumped the median, dashing across the westbound highway. One last shot in her direction and she, too, went flying from the bridge.

His handler took the grenade launcher and handed him a semi-automatic. He walked to the edge of the bridge, watching and waiting. A stray bullet found its way toward his goggles, and he could feel his brain slipping again. He couldn’t get Steve’s goddamn face out of his head. He slid down the concrete barrier of the bridge, anticipating another flashback as he removed his damaged goggles. Willing his body to do the work, The Asset’s vision went blank again, sending him spiraling to a different reality.

“We’re gonna get caught one of these days, you know that Stevie?” he felt himself saying as the blonde swallowed around the head of his cock. His breath stuttered as he forced it from his lungs. It felt so good, The Asset had never felt something this intense and pleasurable before.

Steve pulled back, freeing his cock briefly and catching his breath. “You love it,” he said, looking up at The Asset with pure love and admiration painted on his features. The man was beautiful with his tousled hair and spit-slick lips. The Asset couldn’t help but let the comforting feeling take over the coldness in his gut.

He threw his head back against the wall he was leaning against as Steve licked from the base of his cock to the tip before closing his lips over it. The Asset felt his arm subconsciously tangle in his hair. The moment his hand touched the messy blonde strands, there was so much feeling, and he could barely take it.

He looked down to quell his confusion, but what he saw only made him more confused. Instead of the normal titanium alloy glistening back at him, there was only flesh. His left arm was still firmly attached to his body, and made of… flesh and bone.

The confusion clouding his brain was pushed aside as he felt Steve’s lips brush against his pubic hair. He could feel the tip of his cock sliding against the slick back of Steve’s throat, and it was entirely overwhelming. And when he began to move, letting his tongue lathe along the vein on the underside, he couldn’t take any more.

He could feel his breathing quicken as he lost control, his vision whiting out, and his body going rigid. It was almost as if he had been put back in the chair. It was completely overwhelming and all-encompassing. But this was so much different. His body refused to listen to his brain, like it often did when the electricity was flowing through his limbs, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that this was good.

He let out a breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding when Steve pulled off his wet cock with an obscene slick noise. He looked up at him, smiling proudly from where he was kneeling on the floor. The Asset allowed his eyes to slip shut. Yes, this was right.

His brain began to come back to him as he felt the rush of cold air hit his mouth and jaw. His body slammed against the hard pavement, but he instinctively rolled onto his feet, knees bent, ready to face the threat that had removed his mask. He turned to face the man, glaring at him. He had pulled him from his amazing train of thought.

He was not ready for what he saw. The blonde man from his flashback was standing about twenty feet away from him, staring at him with a slack jaw and confusion on his face. The Asset tried not to let his shock seep onto his features as he briefly saw the man on his knees in front of him, swallowing around his cock.

“Bucky?”

The name sent The Asset cascading through years of memory fragments. Tanks, guns, and colors flooded his vision, threatening to send him into another flashback. He needed to focus. He needed to know, and this man knew.

“Who the hell is Bucky?”

Sweat and panting and writhing bodies filled his brain as he felt his programming take over, aiming his pistol at the man’s head. He couldn’t forget, this man was his mission. Confirmed death in ten hours. He needed to prove himself, or he was going to be decommissioned. A pair of feet made contact with his body between his shoulder blades. He hurdled forward, wracking his head against the pavement. Pain bloomed from one spot. He was bleeding, and he likely had a concussion. But the frustration he felt when the man wouldn’t answer his question was almost too much.

He rolled to his feet and looked again at the man, pleading for answers. He felt with horror as his programming began to possess him once more. The sight of the gun was aimed directly at his head. But he couldn’t kill this man. He needed answers, and this man, Steve Rogers, seemed to be the key to unlocking his memories. He tried to stop his fingers from tightening around the trigger, but the impulse was too strong.

The Asset had never been more thankful to be hit by a grenade in his life than at that moment. A projectile flew through the air, knocking him backwards as he hit his head on the pavement once again. He crawled behind an overturned car as his vision began to tunnel. He heard the sirens of Hydra coming down the street to collect him and the prisoners. He let a brief smile cross his face, remembering the man’s face, and knowing he was still alive. He vowed to find him again as his eyes slipped shut and he slid into unconsciousness once again.

Chapter Text

He could feel his body responding properly. His mouth was moving, responding to his handlers, while The Asset stayed inside his mind. Time felt like it was moving too slow and his brain was malfunctioning. He could see Rumlow and the other handlers in the back of the van, and he knew he was interacting with them, but his subconscious couldn’t make sense of any of it.

The air was too thick, making it hard to breathe. His brain was racing, making it incredibly difficult to think, nonetheless appear as though nothing was wrong. He could feel his mask of calmness begin to slip as he stuttered and hesitated in answering questions.

“Soldier! Are you hurt? It’s not hard, just answer the damn question,” Rollins was shouting at him.

He nodded his head before slipping back into his head, reveling in the feeling of comfort he got whenever he brought Roger’s face into his mind. He could feel his handlers shaking him, trying to get him to respond, but he couldn’t find it in himself to do anything. He couldn’t move, and he didn’t want to. His mission had been to kill Rogers. That would be killing the only thing that made him feel like more than a weapon. It wasn’t worth it. If he was going to die, he wanted to die thinking about Steve.

He felt the van come to a stop. His eyelids were closed and he was lying on the cold metal floor of the van. He didn’t have the energy to open his eyes. He was thankful when he felt the van jostle as his handlers disembarked.

“Three holes, start digging.”

The Asset counted his targets once again. Romanoff… Rogers… and who else? They must have been apprehended. Or killed. His handlers knew he had failed. The third grave was for him, he was sure. He let a smile cross his lips as he imagined the bliss of nothingness. Soon he would be buried next to the only man who ever brought him peace. He reveled in the feeling as he slipped back into his head, almost missing the curses falling from Rumlow’s lips about escape.

Flashes of memories crossed his mind. He saw a school. A small blonde child sitting next to him, smiling at him. He saw a military base. There were men all around with uniforms. There was… a casket. He felt tears running down his cheeks. The emptiness he felt inside was all consuming, but he had never felt so alive.

More memories flooded in, the busy streets of a city. A small apartment. Drawings and artwork adorned the walls. Worry filled his chest as he heard a labored cough coming from a room down the hall. A much smaller Steve Rogers was lying in bed, looking close to death.

Then there was a trench. He was next to men he trusted, a gun in his hands. Lightning streamed across the battlefield. Then there was pain. Tests being run, his body being pushed to the limit. And Zola at the center of it all.

Somebody was touching his arm, sending streaks of pain up into his chest. He pulled away from the feeling by pure instinct alone.

Then there was Steve. Healthy and smiling down at him. A group of men, a family which he never had. Snow. A train. He was falling, Steve was reaching for him, yelling for him, but he was falling anyway. Russian soldiers dragging his broken body through the snow.

Somebody was holding him down. It made him feel claustrophobic. He pushed the man away, staring into the distance. He could feel his heart rate speeding beyond what was healthy, adrenaline making its way into his system.

Surgeons in white sterile coats. Lights shining down on him. His glistening metal arm. Saws, blood. He was terrified. Then there was nothing but cold. Freezing his blood, making his heart slow to a near stop. He couldn’t breathe. He was dying.

The man to his left tweaked something in his arm. He jerked away, sending the man flying. He hit the ground and The Asset was sent staring down the barrels of every weapon in the room. He stared at Rollins, daring him to shoot. Part of him wanted it. He wanted to be put out of his misery. These memories, the pain he felt, he didn’t want to feel it. He would rather die.

He drifted inside his head for a moment, daydreaming about what it would feel like to die. He would never have to feel pain again. Never have another mission. Maybe it would be better for the world to do away with him.

A stinging pain lit up the side of his face, sending his unprepared body rocking to the side. He focused his eyes, and saw Commander Pierce standing in front of him. He had been asked a question, and had failed to answer, he was sure.

But why don’t you ever get to ask questions?

The Asset took a moment to compose his thoughts, and decided to listen to the voice in his head. It was about time that somebody gave him some answers.

“The man on the bridge.” He paused, seeing Steve’s face. He willed himself not to sink back into the back of his mind. He needed answers. “Who was he?”

Pierce sighed, bending down to meet him at eye level. “You met him earlier this week on another assignment.”

That’s not what The Asset wanted to know. He knew that much. But he wanted to know why he was seeing faces. He wanted to know why he was seeing this man all the time. He needed to know why he felt so much comfort when he thought of his face.

The voice in his head confirmed his suspicions. The faces, the situations. They were memories from his past. Before Hydra.

“I knew him.”

Pierce sat in front of him, looking at him with coldness in his gaze. He began talking, but The Asset wasn’t listening. He knew what he was being told, he had heard it so many times before. It wasn’t valuable information. He knew that Pierce wanted him to kill Rogers. He knew he was going to have to. But he didn’t want to. He didn’t know if he could.

Pierce stopped talking. He knew what he had said, but he could only think one thing.

“But I knew him.”

His mind sank back into blackness. He wouldn’t kill him. It would be the last thing he ever did, he was sure, but he had decided. It didn’t matter if his handlers put a bullet in his brain, he would not kill Steve Rogers. He would not kill the only thing that gave him comfort in his life. He would rather die.

A hand on each of his shoulders pushed him back against the chair he was sitting in. The scientist to his left placed something against his lips. He opened his mouth. It wasn’t until the restraints closed around him that he realized what was happening.

Panic flew through his veins as the machine whirred to life around him. They were going to erase his memory again. After all the progress he had made, and all the wonderful things he had remembered, they were going to take it all away.

The metal arms closed around his head, sending him spiraling into a panic attack. The electricity tore through him, making him feel raw and exposed. It was too much. He needed… He needed the man. The comfort.

He tried to bring a picture of the man on the bridge to his mind, but failed as he slipped back into the painful unconsciousness of overwhelming electricity stripping his memories and experiences and personality from him. They were turning him back into a weapon, reminding him what he was.

Weapons didn’t need memories. They didn’t need comfort. Weapons only needed the next mission, the next target, and eventually decommission.

A few hours later, The Asset was standing on one of the Insight helicarriers, staring into the flushed and exhausted face of none other than Steve Rogers. He had done his job and taken out the winged man. He was either grounded or dead. Now, all he had to do was finish the mission. It wouldn’t be hard, given the way Rogers was acting.

“People are gonna die, Buck,” he said, addressing him directly. Something at the back of his brain felt tight, almost like a faint instinct. Like he was supposed to feel something at hearing those words. “I can’t let that happen.”

The Asset took a few steadying breaths, willing the voice in his head to be quiet. He didn’t have time for this. The success of Hydra and Insight both relied on him finishing his mission. This one damn mission that had taken him far too long to complete. The only mission that really mattered. He had to prove himself to Pierce in order to avoid being decommissioned.

“Please don’t make me do this.” Rogers had a pained look on his face.

The Asset waited for the voice in his head to respond. Nothing happened. He lowered his head, not breaking eye contact with his target. It was time, and he could prove himself.

The shield came hurdling through the air at him and he deflected it, firing round after round at his target. Five bullets, and one grazed his side, staining the blue of his uniform with crimson. Rogers groaned, and The Asset felt his brain slipping. The sound he had made. He had heard that sound before… But where?

His body kept fighting as his mind battled with the information. The back of his mind felt like an itch desperately needing to be quelled. He needed to know, to remember. This was important, he knew. This could help him defeat Rogers.

Or save him.

The Asset quieted the voice in his head as he shouted and charged at the man, sending them both flying over the railing onto the structure below. His footing faltered for a moment, before he regained it and started fighting back in earnest. This was going to be the time, he was sure of it. He would prove himself this time.

He slid down the metal structure, knocking his target off his balance. He grabbed his wrist, shaking the strange device he was holding from it and knocking it out. It went tumbling onto the glass below. Rogers made another noise, quite similar to the one from before, and The Asset was sent tumbling back into his mind.

Darkness, speaking in hushed tones. Rogers was lying on his stomach underneath him. Each of The Asset’s legs were on either side of his hips. With the small amount of light streaming through the walls of the tent, he could barely make out the silhouette of Rogers’ ass. He was naked. And so was The Asset.

The noises Rogers was making were obscene.

The Asset was violently yanked from his flashback as Rogers’ elbow connected with his face. His foot hit him square in the chest and sent him reeling, failing to hang onto the platform. He fell onto the structure below, almost feeling the cold breeze of a snowstorm as he watched the platform diminish in size before he hit the ground with an unforgiving thud.

He immediately searched around for his pistol. Finding it, he steadied himself and shot 4 rounds at his shield before charging at him. He pulled a knife from his tactical belt. When Rogers deflected his attack, he realigned the plates in his arm and dug the knife deep into his shoulder. He made another one of those noises that made The Asset wish he would just shut his goddamn mouth.

The Asset threw him to the side and lunged forward, grabbing the device off the ground. The next thing he knew, Rogers’ hand was around his neck, restricting his flow of oxygen. His body was thrown into the glass below him as Rogers put one hand to his throat and forced the other behind his back. Rogers needed this tech, and The Asset was not going to let him have it.

“Drop it,” Rogers demanded. The Asset swung at him, realizing he was unable to reach him. “Drop it!”

He felt his arm being pushed to the limit until Rogers forced it from the socket, causing pain to cascade through his body. He cried out against his better judgement at the pain as he was forced to the ground by the other man. The arm around his neck was suffocating him. He tried to force Rogers away from him, but the way he was situated on top of him made his mind drift. His left arm was pinned underneath Rogers’ thigh as he blacked out.

Steve had him pinned. He was used to this. He wouldn’t struggle, wouldn’t try to escape, because he wanted Steve to feel strong, to feel powerful. His skinny arms were tight around his neck and stomach, but it wasn’t restrictive whatsoever.

“I’ve got you now! No way you can get out now, right?”

The Asset felt himself chuckle. “Sure thing, punk.”

Steve loosened his grip and flattened himself on the floor, wheezing under The Asset’s weight. He was smaller now than he normally was, but it felt right. He rolled off of the other man, turning to face him while taking in his surroundings.

There were papers strewn all across the walls, beautifully drawn pictures of city skylines and portraits of people. There was a small couch, and a kitchen across the room with a small table. They were both sprawled out across the floor, next to the small coffee table.

“You alright Stevie?” He asked as the smaller man next to him wheezed out another few breaths.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little tired. I did good though, I had you on the ropes” His breath was heaving, making all too much noise. He was just shy of an asthma attack, and The Asset knew it.

“Just take some steady breaths Stevie. I promised we would do this, but I don’t want you to have an attack, understand?”

Steve nodded, rolling over onto his side. He pursed his lips, and closed his eyes. The Asset heard his breathing slow to an acceptable pace. The wheezing stopped shortly after, and The Asset felt that feeling of calm wash over him once again. Steve opened his eyes and smiled brightly at him, prompting him to return it with a smile of his own.

“There you go Stevie. Good job doll,” he cooed, scooting closer to the other man.

Steve closed his eyes again, pressing his lips to The Asset’s. He felt his eyes flutter closed as he felt Steve’s tongue trace the line where his lips met. He parted his lips, moving back and taking a quick breath before he felt the other man’s tongue press against his. Steve’s hand wandered down his flank, settling on his ass and squeezing a little.

The Asset drew in a breath. The closeness, the proximity, the intimacy. It was all too much.

His brain forced his eyes open and out of the fantasy. His arm was still out of the socket, but it didn’t matter. He knew this man had played a part in his past. He remembered again. Pierce and Rumlow and Rollins all tried to make him forget, but they had failed. He had remembered.

His consciousness threatened to recede into his head, and it was almost too hard to stop from drifting. He felt his hand reach for his pistol as he stood up. He could feel himself aiming for Rogers as he climbed to the control console of the helicarrier. He held his arm close to him as his programming forced him to pull the trigger.

What the hell are you doing!? You’re going to kill him!

He didn’t want to kill him. He agreed with the voice. He needed Rogers alive, he needed him in order to feel comfortable. The positive feelings he had been having lately, and the only positive feelings he could remember having, stemmed from Steve Rogers.

He tried to force his arm down, fighting the programming that urged him to shoot. He failed miserably, firing two rounds directly into Rogers. He stumbled a bit, trying to knock himself off balance. Anything to escape the feeling of being a prisoner inside his own body. He couldn’t lower his arm, couldn’t help himself from pulling the trigger.

“Charlie lock.”

Steve continued yelling into his earpiece, telling somebody to fire. The Asset was thrown backward as the helicarrier was hit. His head was forced against the glass as his body was pinned under a fallen metal beam. He could feel his ribs breaking under the weight of the steel. He tried to calm himself, telling himself that this was for the best. Even with his programming, the steel beam crushing him would prevent him from killing Rogers.

His body began to panic as adrenaline ran hot through his veins. His mind was racing as he began to strain under the weight of the steel. Both arms were trapped under the fallen structure. He was like a trapped animal, his instincts running wild, telling him to try everything in his power to escape.

The Asset tried taking slow steady breaths, telling himself it was better this way. This way, he never had to face the men who stole his memories from him. Dying here, trapped under the wreckage of the project that was to replace him, was better than being put to death by Hydra. His body was still writhing, panicking, trying to get free, but his mind was completely at rest.

That was, until he saw the red, white, and blue of Captain America’s uniform land next to him in a half-successful crouch. He was clutching at his stomach, red seeping through the cracks in his fingers. The Asset made eye contact with him, hoping to see nothing but contempt and hatred. He couldn’t risk Rogers pulling his body from the wreckage.

What he saw scared him even more. He saw nothing but compassion. The Asset sent a pleading look his way, begging him to leave him. He looked on, helpless as Rogers forced the beam off his damaged body. He slipped out from underneath it, heaving in large breaths of sweet, unobstructed air. He coughed, feeling little flecks of blood dot the ground under him. He was damaged. Good. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to hurt the man.

“You know me.”

He looked on in horror from inside his own head as he shouted at the man, lunging forward to hit him. “No I don’t!” He shouted against his will.

“Bucky,” Rogers said calmly. “You’ve known me your whole life.”

He felt his body wind up, decking Rogers in the jaw with his metal fist. The man fell backwards as The Asset desperately tried to control his body. He knew this man. He didn’t remember him very well, but what he was saying was true, he was sure of it. But he couldn’t stop. The programming was too strong.

Stop it! You have to stop! Listen to him, goddammit! Everything he is saying is true!

“Your name is James Buchanan Barnes.”

Faded memories flooded The Asset’s head. Steve saying that name, other men saying that name, Zola saying that name. Barnes. Sargent Barnes. Sargent James Buchanan Barnes. His brain was overloaded with memories, and he felt his body keep swinging. There were words on his tongue. But he couldn’t hear them over the rush of his own name.

He stumbled a little, steadying his body and coming back to his senses. James. It didn’t sound exactly right, but it was close. Closer than he had ever been.

James watched as Rogers… Steve… regained his footing. “I’m not gonna fight you.” He dropped the shield he was holding, and it tumbled into the river below. “You’re my friend.”

A prisoner in his own body, James lunged forward, knocking Steve to the ground. He tried to fight with himself, stop the damn programming that was making him hurt Steve.

“You’re my mission,” he warned. He hoped Rogers could hear the regret in his voice. He wished he could stop. He tried everything in his power to make it all stop, but he couldn’t. “Youre… my… mission.” Tears were welling up in his eyes as he felt Steve’s blood paint his knuckles.

You need to stop now! He is going to die!

“Then finish it,” Steve strained from under his grip, mouth swelling and filled with blood. “Because I’m with you… to the end of the line.”

James was thrown back into his mind, back into the past, onto the porch outside Steve’s brownstone apartment. They were there, together. That was the day he had promised him… They would be together forever, and he knew it. And now, seventy years later, he still believed that. He still believed that James… That Bucky was the same person he used to know.

Bucky watched as Steve plummeted into the river below, passing out upon impact. His programming, The Asset’s programming had been broken, and Bucky could feel it. For the first time in seventy years, Bucky acted on his own accord, letting go of the metal beam, and diving into the river after Steve.

Chapter Text

It was the most liberating thing he had ever done. Killing people, yes, he could do that all day. He had done that all day. But saving someone was something he had never done before. His heart raced as he dove towards Rogers’ sinking body. He was doing something good. Not only had he beaten the programming and not succumbed to killing Rogers, but he was going to save him as well.

He reached out, grabbing Steve by the shoulder strap on his uniform, then started kicking toward the surface. He breached through the water, pulling Steve’s face into the fresh air. He struggled against the weight of his body, trying to keep his mouth out of the water.

“Steve? Hey, listen to me,” he rasped, tapping Steve’s unconscious face. “Hey.”

When he didn’t respond, The Asset… no, Bucky… started swimming to shore, doing his best with just the use of his legs. His right arm was tucked close to his body, his shoulder still dislocated. Pain blistered through his whole right side every time he moved it, but if it helped him get Steve to shore alive, it was worth it.

He caught his footing on the ragged rocks lining the bottom of the Potomac, dragging Steve’s limp body through the water behind him. Once he was sure Steve was clear of the water, Bucky dropped his shoulder, rolling him onto his back. He scanned the riverbank for his handlers, realizing with horror that his commander would kill him for this. He had nowhere to go. He was now a fugitive of Hydra.

He looked down, observing how the blood from the cuts on his face had been washed away by the water. His lips, his face, his hair… it was just like re-living one of those flashbacks. He was beautiful, and he was here, after what had to have been over seventy years. He watched as Steve began to move, coughing and sputtering water out of his lungs.

The noise snapped Bucky back to reality. He needed to leave. If he was found here, or found at all, for that matter, he would be as good as dead.

He turned away and began walking down the riverbank all while hugging his dislocated arm close to his body. There was significant damage to almost every part of him, and certainly some internal bleeding. It was nothing he couldn’t handle on his own, he was sure. It made him a little nervous, not being able to count on his handlers and the Hydra scientists to fix him, but he would manage.

The sound of a helicopter flying overhead startled him. He looked up to where it was hovering above the surface of the river. Hanging out the side was the bright red mop of hair from the highway. Romanoff. She had been with Rogers that day. They were looking for him, and they were not Hydra.

Bucky looked down at his left arm, and up to where the sun was beating down upon the wreckage. He might be able to get the pilot’s attention. He lifted his arm above his head, angling it toward the aircraft. Upon seeing the pilot’s head turn, he immediately dropped his arm and ducked into the bushes.

Within minutes, the dark-skinned man and Romanoff had Steve loaded in the helicopter and were making their way to the nearest hospital. Bucky watched as the vehicle flew out of view, taking note of which direction it went. He had no other plan of action but to follow, to make certain Rogers was alright. Now that he had deviated from his protocol, there was no point in going back to Hydra. Sure, if they found him, he would be killed, but he wasn’t worried about that now. He would be dying if he went back to them anyway. This way, he still had a chance. He still had his dignity.

Looking down at his sopping wet clothing, Bucky decided that the first thing he needed to do was obtain a change of clothes. His tactical gear was very well-made, very practical in many of his previous missions. But now, he needed to blend in.

He traced the river until he came to a winding highway that led in the same direction as the helicopter had traveled. To his delight, there was a small house about a mile down the road, nestled in the trees. Clothes hung on old-fashioned clotheslines, and all around the porch. He felt bad taking them, but it was necessary. Bucky chose something that didn’t stand out, a pair of denim jeans and a black pullover. Simple enough, and it would cover any evidence of his arm. He hid behind the house, out of sight of the highway and windows as he stripped down.

Bucky appraised his body, seeing only minor gashes here and there. He had some broken ribs, and of course his dislocated shoulder, but that was nothing he could fix now. They would heal in time, and he would have to get help with his shoulder. He cut some strips out of his uniform with one of his combat knifes and used them to apply constant pressure to the bleeding wounds on his flesh arm and torso. Once he was sure that most of the bleeding had slowed to an acceptable level, he dressed in his new clothes and stashed his now ruined tactical gear in a shrub. He only kept one knife, tucking it inside the waistband of his new pants as he continued down the side of the road.

After what must have only been thirty minutes, Bucky heard a car pull up behind him, stopping behind him in the dirt on the side of the road. He turned, stomach lurching when he saw the tell-tale red and blue lights of a police car. Bucky quickly shoved his hand into the pocket of his pullover as a tall, lean officer got out of the car, closing the door behind him.

“Hey there friend, is there anything I can do to help you?” He asked kindly, taking cautious steps toward Bucky.

Bucky had never, in all his time at Hydra, been asked if he needed help. He almost didn’t know how to respond. He took a moment, assessing the situation, and willing himself not to reach for the knife tucked away in his pants. Once he was sure the man posed no threat, and really was just a kind officer trying to help him, Bucky sighed.

“I’m trying to get to the hospital,” he murmured, looking at his feet in the dirt.

“Are you injured?” The officer sounded concerned.

“No, not too badly,” Bucky lied. “I just have a… a friend. He was taken there.”

He looked up at the officer, who had seemingly relaxed slightly. “Well, I’m heading in that direction. How about I give you a ride? It’ll be safer than walking on the side of the road,” he said, gesturing to the car parked behind him.

As reluctant as Bucky was to go with the man, he knew that if he kept walking, there was a better chance of Hydra finding him. It was probably a good idea to get where he was going as quick as possible. He nodded slightly, taking a step toward the officer and his car. “Thank you. I would like that very much.”

The officer smiled, holding out his hand to Bucky. As if instinctually, he grabbed the outstretched hand and shook it, giving the man a smile in return. He was led into the back of the car, and they were driving. It was strange, to be sitting in an actual car, not one of the Hydra transport vans. He gazed out the window, watching the trees blur by the car. He felt a genuine smile come to his face as the reality came to him. He was free.

After about five minutes of traveling in silence, the officer turned in his seat briefly to look at him. “So, you got a name?”

“Bucky. My name’s Bucky,” he replied, joy filling his chest. That was so right. So incredibly right. He was Bucky, there was no denying that.

“Nice to meet you Bucky. I’m officer Collins.” Bucky nodded, taking in the information, still not taking his eyes off the greenery outside the window. A few moments passed. “So, this friend of yours… What happened to him?”

Bucky thought for a moment, not sure what to say. He couldn’t tell him that most of the damage done was by him. He didn’t have time to go into the story. What could he tell this man that wouldn’t make him suspicious? Panic began to rise up in Bucky’s chest like bile.

“He was in the crash. In the Potomac?” He said simply. Officer Collins nodded his head.

“Pretty nasty, I’ve heard. It’s a mess down there. I was called to the scene, but I was reassigned to do some interviews with victims at the hospital. That’s where all the blood on you came from then, I’m guessing,” he said pleasantly with a small grimace at the end of his words.

“Yeah,” Bucky replied simply, convincingly.

There was another moment of silence between them. “Have you been friends with this guy long?”

“I’ve only known him a few hours… maybe a few days,” Bucky replies absently, as if it is the most normal thing in the world. “But we are close.”

The officer nodded quietly. “Sounds complicated.”

“More than you know.”

More silence.

“Tell me a bit about yourself, Bucky. Got a wife? Husband maybe? Family?”

Bucky tensed. He didn’t want to talk about himself. Did he have a wife? Maybe in a past life. A husband? Sure, he would like to have a husband, but that wasn’t… that wasn’t right. Maybe that’s what Steve was to him, a husband. But he wasn’t sure, he had no idea. So he just shook his head. He couldn’t remember anything definitive enough to answer the man’s question.

Taking note of the forlorn look plastered across Bucky’s face, the officer took the hint. “Tough times, I get it. I’ve been there myself, pal.”

The rest of the ride was in one of respectful silence. Bucky pondered the vast emptiness inside his head, wanting nothing more than to fill the gaps. He wanted… no, he needed to find out more about who he was. And there was only one man he trusted to give him that information. Steve Rogers.

They reached the hospital in what seemed like forever. The officer and him parted ways and Bucky took a seat in one of the waiting areas. He waited for hours, until he noticed Natasha Romanoff step out of one of the rooms. Once he knew where Rogers was, Bucky waited until nightfall, and until both Romanoff and the dark-skinned man, whom had been called Sam, left the hospital. Only then did he move from the waiting room, moving with caution into Steve’s room.

Bucky stood beside Steve’s bed for hours, watching the gentile rise and fall of his chest. The slight movement of his hair from the air vent. He wished Steve would open his eyes, so he could see those beautiful baby blues from his flashbacks. His body was bulky and strong, unlike some of the visions he had seen him in, but he didn’t mind. He really was beautiful, even with the wounds and bruises dotting his pale skin. The heart monitor beeped steadily and strong, reassuring Bucky that even though he was not awake, he was very much alive.

He reached out his flesh hand, eager to touch, as if that might bring back a memory. He brushed a strand of hair off Steve’s forehead, hoping he wouldn’t wake. Bucky didn’t know what he was doing here, but he did know that this man could fix everything. He knew that Steve held the key to his memories, as he was in most of them. Steve could fix him.

He shook his head, not believing the coincidental nature of the entire situation. Bucky had been under Hydra’s control for… as long as he could remember. All he had was Hydra. And now this man comes into the picture and gives his life a whole new meaning. He had broken Hydra’s programming with only one sentence.

“I’m with you to the end of the line.”

His heart leapt in his chest, remembering Steve say that to him. Even bloodied and beaten as he was, Steve wasn’t going to fight back. Bucky obviously meant something to him, and those profound words only further proved his suspicions. They had been close; Bucky could feel it. But he would have to ask Steve himself one of these days. Soon, he hoped.

Unfortunately, now was not the time. Steve was sleeping soundly, recovering from his earlier beating, and he needed sleep more than Bucky needed answers. He could at least wait until Steve was well enough to return to his home.

After reassuring himself that Steve was, in fact, going to survive, Bucky returned to his chair and sat down, immediately falling asleep, right arm tucked close, and left arm deep within the pocket of his pullover. It was three days before Steve was discharged from the hospital. Bucky stayed the whole time, being sure to move around the hospital to reduce his risk of being asked to leave. He overheard a conversation between Steve and the man called Sam about Steve returning home. He was going back to his apartment. Bucky was going to follow.

Chapter Text

It felt like forever before Sam and Romanoff left Steve alone in his apartment. Tailing him had been simple, he was used to that particular task. But waiting to ask the only man he recognized from his past to tell him who he was… that was well beyond his training. But he waited, peering through one of the windows of the apartment, well out of sight of the people standing inside. He waited on the roof of the building next door, the position seeming almost familiar to him.

He went over what he was going to say over and over in his head. He was nervous, hoping his voice would hold out for him, and he wouldn’t freeze up upon seeing the man. His mind wasn’t in the right place, and he was on edge. The practice helped him get out of his head a little bit. He had spent almost all day peering over his shoulder, expecting to see his handlers approaching, stun batons drawn. Every glint of a car as it passed made his heart jump inside his chest and nerves rustle inside his stomach. But he tried to calm himself, repeating that it was worth it, and he would remember who he was soon.

The moment he saw Rogers usher them out the front door and onto the sidewalk, Bucky prepared himself. He was going to talk… to ask who the hell he was, and what happened before Hydra. He wasn’t sure that Steve would be alright with seeing him, or if he would even talk to him, but it was worth a try. Even if he went up to that door and got shot point-blank in the face, it would be better than crawling back to Hydra with his tail between his legs.

As soon as the two visitors were out of sight, Bucky swung over the side of the building, bracing himself on each windowsill as he descended to the alley between the buildings. It felt strange rounding the corner and entering the complex. The whole world could see him now, but he didn’t care. He climbed the stairs quietly, accidentally bumping into a blonde woman carrying a laundry basket. She eyed him warily as he ducked his head further under the hood of his jacket. He headed straight for the door at the end of the hallway.

He stood for a moment, just looking at the doorknob. The man with the key to his memories was behind this door. So many years of repressed memories, all separated from him by nothing more than a slab of wood. Now was the time. Here were his answers.

He raised his left hand and knocked gently three times.

He heard rustling from somewhere within the apartment as Steve got up to answer. Bucky felt panic bubble up in his chest as he heard footsteps getting louder and louder. His first instinct was to run, to get away before Steve saw him. What if he turned him away? What if he wouldn’t help him? Bucky shook the thoughts from his head and planted his feet where he stood, determined to at least ask Steve. He watched as the handle turned, and Steve’s face appeared. The man behind the door went white as soon as he made eye contact.

All of a sudden, the floor seemed preferable to looking into Steve’s wide eyes. Bucky studied the carpet carefully as he forced the practiced words from his lips. “I need your help. I ran away. I understand if you won’t help me. But I feel different when I look at you. I know you. And I know you can help me.”

Steve didn’t respond. He opened the door further, now standing in full view of the other man. Bucky raised his eyes briefly, observing him. There were bandages under the white shirt stretched tight across his chest. His hair was wet, and the smell of soap and deodorant was fresh and nice, wafting his way. He met Steve’s eyes, giving him a look that was somehow blank and pleading simultaneously.

“Bucky…” Steve lunched forward, grinning widely as he pulled him in for a tight hug. Bucky stood still for a moment, not sure what to do. He had never been touched like this, not that he could remember anyway. He eventually moved his right hand to pat gently against Steve’s flank. When he pulled away, the other man’s face was wet with tears. “Come on in,” he said, holding the door open for Bucky to walk through.

Steve closed the door once they were both safely inside. Bucky still couldn’t meet his eyes. He could feel the other man’s gaze on him, making his skin crawl. “You’re not being followed, are you?” his voice was low and quiet, almost a whisper.

Bucky took a deep breath before replying. “No. I haven’t seen them in days. I’m sure they are looking for me, but I don’t think they know where I am.” He looked up briefly to gauge Steve’s reaction. If he was going to be thrown out or shot, now would be the time.

Steve merely nodded to himself, taking in the information quietly. He eyed Bucky carefully. “Well, you can stay here as long as you need.” He smiled at Bucky, causing a cascade of warmth to wrack through his body. “Well, as long as you take a shower,” he laughed. “You kind of stink, Buck. How long has it been since you showered last?”

Bucky blushed, eyes still burning holes in the hardwood floor. He wasn’t sure. He didn’t want a shower though. Every time Hydra hosed him off, he would come out bruised and shivering from the freezing water pressure. But if Steve wanted it, he was sure he could do it one more time for him. “It’s been a while. Since they took me out of storage.”

Steve could obviously feel the pained apprehension radiating off of the other man’s body. “How about you go take a shower really quick, and I can make us some food,” he said, gently reaching forward to grab Bucky’s arm. “I will show you where the bathroom is. Is it okay if I take your hand?”

Bucky nodded, still keeping his head down. He was scared. Subconsciously he knew he could trust Steve, but he was still having a difficult time. It had been forever since he had talked with someone like this. He kept reminding himself that he was free of Hydra. Steve was helping him, and he could be trusted.

Steve's hand brushed his, wrapping around his and tugging gently toward the bathroom. He cringed, feeling his dislocated shoulder twinge. His hand jerked back instinctively upon the pain. Steve noticed, turning to face him. His eyes fell upon the length of his arm, traveling up to his dented shoulder, where the joint was clearly out of place. He smiled carefully.

"Hey, I can help with that if you want. Doesn't look too comfortable." He gestured to the arm hanging limply at Bucky's side. He nodded, following Steve into the living room. "Go ahead, take off your shirt and lay on the couch. Just relax and let me handle it, okay?"

"Okay Steve. I trust you," he said quietly as he pulled his shirt over his head. Sighing, he sat down and laid back on the couch. Steve kneeled next to his torso, gently touching his shoulder.

Bucky shivered a bit at the contact, but otherwise stayed still as Steve's fingers grazed the joint. "So, I don't know if you remember, but my mom used to be a nurse. She taught me everything I know. Taught you some things too, I think. We were all pretty close back then. You were practically part of the family. I still love thinking about it." Steve seemed like he was just talking to fill the silence and calm Bucky's mind. He wasn't about to lie and say it wasn't working. "Take a breath for me."

A resounding crack filled the room as pain flashed in his shoulder. He grunted as Steve began rubbing the spot soothingly. "Shh, it's okay, you're done. You did really well. It's over."

Bucky let out a huff of breath. The pain began to subside as he smiled at Steve. "Thank you. I appreciate it."

"Of course. Go ahead and take a shower, okay? The bathroom is down the hall to the left. I will start on dinner." He pulled Bucky up by the shoulders, sitting him up properly on the couch. He smiled and nodded, thanking Steve with a shy smile.

Forty-five minutes later, Bucky was standing at the threshold of the kitchen in the sweatpants and t-shirt Steve had given him. The softness of the material after the warmth and gentle pressure of the water in the shower made him feel safe. This had been much better than any of the showers he had been given with Hydra. He took a deep breath, trying to relax his tense shoulders. Steve looked up from the stove and smiled widely.

“Starting to look human again there, Bucky. How do you feel?” He turned back to the stove and continued to slowly stir something in a pot. The savory smell permeated the space, causing Bucky’s stomach to growl. He hadn’t had food… proper food… in forever. As long as he could remember, actually.

He nodded, staying put. “I feel nice. The shower was really warm.”

“The soup is done,” he said, flicking a knob on the stove and turning to Bucky. “Do you want some?” He was holding out a steaming bowl to Bucky, a hopeful look on his face. “It’s not gourmet, but it’s not too bad either.”

Bucky stepped forward, taking the bowl from Steve with his metal hand, noticing how Steve’s gaze lingered on the shining metal as he curved them around the side of the bowl. He eyed the liquid warily, remembering how he had tried to eat solid food at the hospital. Hydra had been feeding him through the port in his stomach for so long, his body didn’t know how to handle solid foods. Maybe this would be alright though. It was almost like the nutrient broth Hydra would pump into him while he was in storage. And he wasn’t about to reject what Steve had so kindly given him. “Thank you,” he said, standing in front of him.

“Of course. If you don’t like it, I can always make something else,” Steve said, turning and filling his own bowl. “Whatever you want, Buck.”

“This is perfect, Steve, I promise.” He was still standing awkwardly behind Steve. He felt extremely out of place, just waiting for Steve to tell him where he could and couldn’t go. He wanted to be a nice houseguest, since Steve was being so kind and letting him stay. He wasn’t used to this much freedom either.

He watched as Steve sat his bowl down on one side of the small table on the other side of the room. He pulled out a chair and gestured for Bucky to take a seat. Not wanting to keep Steve waiting, he rushed over to the table. He put his bowl down on the table across from Steve’s, being careful not to spill it as he sat down. Steve ran a gentle hand through his hair before sitting in the empty seat across the table.

Bucky took a cautious spoonful of soup, burning his tongue a bit, but loving the taste. He looked up and saw Steve smiling sadly. His body screamed for the nutrients, needing more of the lovely food in front of him. Bucky obliged his craving, and began to eat quicker.

“My God, what did they do to you?” Steve said, quickly letting heartbreak streak across his features as he watched the other man devour his food. “It’s not going anywhere Buck, you can slow down a bit.”

Bucky didn’t slow down until his bowl was empty. The warm soup felt heavy in his stomach. It was a nice feeling, although foreign. He took a breath, trying again to relax the burning tension in his shoulders. “Sorry. I was just really hungry,” he said, giving a little awkward half-smile to Steve, who was still slowly eating.

“That’s alright.” There was a moment of pregnant silence before Steve continued. “So, you said you needed my help. What can I help you with?”

Bucky stayed silent for a moment, not knowing what to say, how to put it into words. “I need you to help me remember. Hydra took my memories. I sometimes get little… I don’t know, flashbacks? Most of them are with you. But I can’t really remember much about you, or myself for that matter. But I know that when I look at you, I feel safe. Good even.”

He could see Steve attempting to keep his emotions in check, and failing miserably. Bucky saw little flashes of pain cross his features when his mask of indifference failed. “You don’t remember anything?”

Bucky shook his head solemnly, gaze falling to the table. “Just little bits. Flashes of images.”

Steve narrowed his eyes a little before placing his hand under Bucky’s chin and lifting his head to meet his eyes. “I think I know something that will help.” He stood from the table, grabbing Bucky’s firm metal hand and pulling him up out of his chair. “Come with me,” he said, starting towards the living room. Once they got there, Steve let go of Bucky’s hand, leaving him standing in the middle of the room while he walked toward a large cabinet across from them.

Bucky took a look around the room, eyeing the nice fireplace and couch. The room looked homey, something he wasn’t used to. Next to the fireplace was a chair, and then the cabinet that Steve was standing in front of and fiddling with. On the wall behind the chair were many hastily-patched bullet holes.

“What happened there?”

Steve didn’t even turn to look at him. “I was attacked one night. Nothing you need to worry about though. You seem to be better now.”

Bucky felt his stomach tighten uncomfortably at the thought of him doing something like that. “That was me?” He couldn’t make his voice come out as more than a faint whisper.

“No, it wasn’t. It was the Winter Soldier. You’re Bucky Barnes,” Steve said, turning to him. Music began drifting from behind him. When he peeked around Steve’s approaching form, he could see a record spinning gently on the cabinet. He smiled at the familiarity of the situation. A lovely slow tune flowed through the air, surrounding the pair. Bucky felt a soft smile gross his face as Steve’s hand snaked around his back, resting gently on his hip. He took his right hand and began to sway lightly in time with the music. This was familiar.

This was dancing. Steve was dancing with him.

“How about I start at the beginning, huh,” Steve said softly against the top of Bucky’s head. The warmth of the breath made him shiver, but he nodded his agreement gently. “Your name is James Buchanan Barnes. You never really liked that name though, so you had people call you Bucky. Your ma’ and pa’ died when you were young, so you’ve almost always been on your own. They didn’t want you goin’ into the system, so they asked the guys at the army base to take care of ya.” Steve’s slight Brooklyn accent was starting to come forward more prevalently, the more he spoke. Bucky loved it.

“We met when we were young. You were nice to me. Helped me out when some bully was tryin’ to take my train money. Even though you were older than me, you still said we could be friends. And we were best friends. Eventually, you moved in with me and my ma’, her name was Sarah. She hated knowin’ you were growin’ up on a military base. She always thought it didn’t suit you well, so you moved in with us after my pa’ died.”

Bucky nodded during the little pause. Steve had his arm tightly wound around him, grounding him. Bucky let his arm wrap around Steve’s huge body. It felt safe. Steve’s muscular build wrapped around him like this made him feel like nothing could ever hurt him again. Steve was here now, and nothing could tear them apart. Steve would protect him.

Bucky felt the slight inhale of the other man and tuned in to listen as his life story was told to him. “Things went on for a while like that, until times got tough. You felt bad that my ma’ had to feed you, so you moved out. There was a huge fight about the whole ordeal, but you got your way and left. You ended up dropping out of school, even though you were one of the smartest. Got a job doing some labor down at the docks, and got your own little place. You were really proud of it, loved the independence.” Steve paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. “Back in those days, you were quite the charmer. Beautiful man, most eligible bachelor in all of Brooklyn, some people would call ya.” He laughed lightly and Bucky felt what felt like Steve’s lips against his forehead. He closed his eyes and leaned against Steve’s chest.

“But I wasn’t, was I? I already had someone,” he replied softly into Steve’s shoulder, feeling a tear trace the lines of his face.

Steve nodded. “Right after my ma’ passed away, I moved in with you. Took me a while to accept the help, but I came to my senses eventually. We were happy. We were in love. I felt like the luckiest man on the planet, to have someone as beautiful and kind as you want to be with someone as small and irritating as me,” he chuckled.

Steve was under him, writhing and sweating. His fragile looking frame shuddered as Bucky kissed up and down his naked body.

Bucky gasped lightly at the intrusiveness of the memory. But it was right. It felt so right. “You used to be smaller,” he said slowly, grasping at the last little bits of fading memory.

“I sure did. Tiny little punk. You kept me out of some fights that surely would have ended me up in the hospital. Always cared so much about my pathetic skinny ass,” he laughed, pressing his lips into the front of Bucky’s freshly washed hair. “And then the war started. You got drafted and I wanted to help. Tried to enlist, but they would never take me. I was too sick, or whatever. You fought with me to just stay in Brooklyn, where things were safe. We had a really bad fight a few nights before you shipped off to Europe. Still hurts me to think about.”

Bucky nodded, the memory seeping into his fuzzy brain. He could hear his voice yelling at Steve. It felt like a rock sitting heavy in his stomach. But at least he was feeling something. And he was remembering.

“Anyway, you were shipped off to war, and I was found by the Strategic Science Reserve. It took a while, and a few stupid choices on my part, but they decided to do some fancy experiments on me. Turned me into this. Eventually I got sent over to the front lines. You had gotten captured and experimented on by Hydra.”

The doctor with the little round glasses was standing above where he was strapped against the harsh metal table. His whole body was on fire. Whatever they had injected him with was slowly burning him from the inside out. He was going to die here, he knew it.

Tears were flowing freely down his cheeks now, wetting Steve’s shirt as they continued to sway to the soft music. He nodded slightly, pushing his nose deeper into the safety of Steve’s neck. He didn’t even try to hold back the tears now. He was safe here with Steve.

“But I saved you, and most of your fellow soldiers from Hydra. We had a group called the Howling Commandos. Great group of guys, you liked all of them, I think. We had a lot of liberty over where we operated, and the other guys didn’t mind us… bein’ together. It was nice like that for a long time. Took out a whole bunch of Hydra bases…”

He paused for a moment. Bucky could tell he was remembering something sad. He sighed against the other man’s neck as he let him have his moment.

“Then, we were in the mountains.” Steve was barely holding it together. “There was a train, and you fell off.” He took a labored, shuddering breath before he continued. “I thought you died, Buck. That’s why I couldn’t believe what I was seein’ back on the bridge, when…” his voice trailed off into huffs of breath and tears.

Bucky patted his back gently and pressed his lips against the warmth of his neck. “It’s okay Stevie,” his instincts told him to say, “I’m here now. It’s all going to be okay.”

Steve nodded gently against Bucky’s forehead. “I know. I know it is, Buck, thanks. After that, I went off the walls, tried to completely takedown Hydra. Flew a plane into the arctic. And now here I am, completely thawed 70 some odd years later.”

This information made a little anger spark in Bucky’s chest. “You flew a plane into the artic? You punk, you could have died,” he responded, hiccupping lightly against the flow of tears.

“I know. I guess I just didn’t know what to do without my best man around to watch my ass.”

The pair stood, swaying and stepping gently to the music until the record stopped, skipping over a few times. They didn’t stop holding each other as they sank into a sitting position on the floor of the living room.

“What happened to you, Bucky?” Steve asked after a long silence.

He went over as much as he could remember from his recent mission. His handlers, his commander. The more he said, the more he realized he couldn’t remember. He didn’t remember what happened after he fell off the train. He didn’t remember why he couldn’t remember anything. He couldn’t even remember why and how he got this metal arm. He began to get frustrated, not being able to answer Steve’s questions. Steve noticed his exasperation.

“Hey, why don’t you get some sleep. You look exhausted. Maybe you’ll remember more after you get some rest, what do you think?”

“Maybe.” There was a pause. “I didn’t sleep when I was with Hydra. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember anything.”

Steve showed him to the bedroom, where he quickly climbed into bed, per Steve’s instructions. He pulled the soft sheet up over his body and turned to Steve, who was turning to walk out of the room. He was planning on sleeping on the couch.

“Stay with me? Please?” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them.

Steve turned to him, a smile dripping with love and admiration across his features. “Sure thing, Buck.”

For the first time since he could remember, Bucky Barnes fell asleep soundly with Steve Rogers pressed against his back. He felt safe. He remembered some things. And most importantly, he knew who he was. He had millions of questions still, but he was so much closer to understanding. He was safe here, and he had all the time in the world with the man holding him so tight. It made that feeling of love and comfort bubble up inside him. As he slept, he dreamed of his past. And Steve.

And for the first time that he could remember, Bucky was happy.