The Soldier has a suspicion.
It's been a long time since his last reset, longer than it’s ever been before. He wouldn't have known that if it hadn't been too long, already. But instead of wiping him and giving him a new mission, new parameters, a new target, they leave him in a cell.
He doesn't recognize any of the men giving him orders. That's not strange, of course, but he thinks these men must not have handled him before. They haven't reset him. They must want to use him for a similar mission, planning to save time by eliminating the need to feed him all the details again.
The door to his cell is incredibly flimsy, and yet they leave him there without restraint. He's not sure if it's because they don't know the Soldier, don't know his strength, the destruction he's capable of. He could leave the cell in a heartbeat. (Then again, maybe it's just an indication they know the Soldier perfectly. They know he won't leave, won't break that door, unless ordered.)
Whichever it is, it's been a long while since he's been reset. That time is time he uses to think, and somehow, to remember.
In that time, the Soldier starts to form a suspicion.
The Soldier thinks that at one time, he might have been human.
Well, he's clearly human. He has the same body. Mostly. That much is obvious. No, what the Soldier is beginning to suspect is that he was a person.
It makes sense. He's the Winter Soldier, the Fist… the Fist of- he has plenty of names. The Asset. The American. But he thinks that at one point, he had a name. Not a call sign, not a moniker, not a designation, a name.
He doesn't remember his beginning. He doesn't remember being a child. He doesn't remember having a flesh and blood left arm. Maybe he never had one. Maybe he was never a child.
Maybe he didn't have a beginning.
But that was- that couldn't be possible. No, the Soldier knew, everything had a beginning. He just didn't know his.
But he thinks he might have been a person. With a name.
Maybe it was a nice name.
Maybe the man he had been had had a life at one point, before he volunteered to become the Soldier. He doesn't remember volunteering, doesn't remember why he agreed to let them wipe him. He doesn't remember choice, really.
But before they first wiped him, he must have. He must have, right? He had to have been a person.
With a name. Ideas. Characteristics. A history. All things he would learn about a mark, on a mission.
A life. A family? Friends? People. Equals. A purpose, one he chose. Loyalties.
The Soldier is fascinated with this idea. He can barely imagine it. He tries to pretend, feel as if he's a person. It doesn't come. He is the Asset, not a person.
But he thinks he had been, at one point. And that? That is an interesting thought.
Soon enough, men start pouring into his cell. His handlers. The Soldier feels the grip of panic rush over him, a feeling that comes rarely. He doesn't want to lose this thought. This idea, this concept, that he might have been a person. It needs more examination, more time. He's not ready. He stays still, listens for the words “wipe him.”
They don't come. They begin to prep him instead, there's no mention of cryofreeze.
The Soldier is careful to keep his sigh of relief to himself. He'll have some time with this thought still.