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Thin Ice

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The first breach in protocol happened the night Soldat shot Fury. He had been watching through the window into Roger’s apartment, making mathematical calculations to wind and distance and location of bodies. He could hear their conversation crystal clear. He had no interest in the ‘wife’ story. It was unimportant and also untrue. He was supposed to kill Fury and also kill Captain America.

Yet every time he heard the Captain’s voice, something deep in his chest ached and his gut twisted. He became confused. That voice was familiar. ‘Why, though? I don’t know him. His voice shouldn’t affect me. I’m going to compromise the mission.’

The conversation continued on and he focused. If he took a shot right now, he would hit the Captain’s head.

‘Why am I hesitating to pull the trigger?

Resituating his sniper rifle, Soldat kept trying. It was like he was frozen, listening to the way the Captain’s voice reverberated with that soft rumble-growl of unhappiness. He was broken from the spell when he heard the squeak of the chair as Fury stood. He took a shot through the wall once, the next two times in rapid succession through the cloud of plaster and dust that puffed up.

He paused again. ‘Don’t stop. Position’s compromised. I have to move.’ He put his sniper rifle back in it’s duffel bag and tucked it away to retrieve later. He still listened to Fury tell the Captain not to trust anyone. ‘That is pretty sound advice.’ Wait, why was he complementing the enemy? He returned to the edge of the rooftop he was on, but just as soon furrowed his brows. ‘Why am I checking on the Captain? He is my mission. I am going to get shit for not trying to shoot him.’ Not the chair, no, but they were certainly going to be upset. He might be able to get away with it by saying he couldn’t get him in sight. Lying. He wasn’t supposed to do that, either, but he had done it a few times before.

Soldat cursed as he heard the radio static asking if they knew his location. Bolting, he had a head-start when he heard the sound of glass shattering twice as the Captain jumped buildings. He didn’t have to look down to know he was being followed on the floor below his feet.

‘What in the hell is he doing?’ Was his main thought. This guy had no respect for property, it seemed. One-track mind. Catch him. Did he have much of a plan besides that? Probably not.

Reaching the end of the roof he was on, thumping and ringing vibrating the soles of his shoes, he easily vaulted to the next roof and was almost, so close to the end of it when he heard the Captain break through glass a third time, grunt and then there was a shwing through the air. ‘I’ve been watching him. The shield cuts through the air… ’ he did the quick calculation and then whipped around..

He caught the shield-mid air with his left hand, metal thrumming against metal. He bore his eyes at Rogers, the mechanics in his arm whirred, and he reeled his arm back to return it to sender. In Roger’s distraction he ran, jumping off of the rooftop and didn’t run forward, instead darting back through an alleyway. Making his way back to the duffle-bag, Rogers unawares, he retrieved it and returned to base. As he predicted, they were unhappy that he did not kill Rogers, but they were happy he killed Fury. So. No punishment, just back to confinement. He could live with that. .

He didn’t let them know the mission target had went from Captain America to Rogers and his voice was familiar. He recognized his face, but it was blurry. They didn’t need to know. He certainly did not want to be wiped again. He didn’t want the punishment that would entail.


The mission updated to two targets, but one he didn’t already know about. This guy was the one behind the schedule. Oh well. He discovered he had a lighter touch to his step than he usually did, a slight bounce, even. He was pleased. This was a feeling he knew, usually surfacing at the end of a well done mission.

Zola. Dead. Well, he had been dead for some time, but even his remnants were gone. That made him. Giddy. Zola had put a bad taste in his mouth. He always hated hearing it’s AI voice in his head. Now he didn’t have to encounter that ever again.

Who did he have to thank? Rogers, the man whom he was going to have to kill. It would be a good kill, a swift one, for his appreciation.


The fight on the bridge. Not much of one, considering he hit a whole lot of nothing except for scrap metal cars. It was a good fight, though. He didn’t speak much, but his voice had rumbled orders in Romanian while he continued to exhaust his weapon supply. A grenade launcher was always enjoyable.

He really wasn’t having a whole lot of luck with Rogers. He was making things increasingly and frustratingly difficult. It didn’t have to be. Honestly. He wanted to make this quick and easy and Rogers and the redheaded woman weren’t having any of it.

Then the redhead…Natalia his brain hissed at him...shot his goggles.

Natalia shot his goggles.

He was furious. The fight got really interesting after that. Rogers could fucking wait.

Oooh, she was tricky. He loved that about her. The way they could be witty with each other on the battlefield helped him remember her in quick succession. It was easier to remember those he dealt with on a regular basis when he was off the ice.

Natalia did that thing with her thighs where she used him like a set of child’s play-bars and spun around and tried to choke him with wire. Then she used an EMP shock on his arm. The little shit. He hated having to kill her as his actual target this time. Before in any other situation she’d only been in the way so he tried to avoid her. He got a shot off on her, hit her shoulder and she ducked but didn’t end it.

‘Really. None of this is even necessary. I could have killed you and been done with it by now.’ Soldat grumbled mentally as he continued on his warpath.

As he snuck up on her, and tried to finish it, Rogers came barreling from nowhere and they immediately engaged.  If anyone wondered what two super soldiers fighting would be like, this was it. Their minds were fast, their bodies durable. It was mostly their choice of fighting styles that was vastly different. Lots of gunfire. What the hell was with that spinning tornado-kick? Soldat was rather pleased to do hand to hand combat for once, shield or no shield.

Seriously though. That spin-kick. ‘I swear, Rogers. Is that your second signature move besides tossing that Frisbee around?’

Any and all thought was briefly paused as Rogers got a solid kick to his chest and sent him flying into a car. ‘Goddamn it, you sure hit like a ton of bricks, pal…’ Wait. Pal? That term rang deep and he was so stuck on it, that when he pulled Rogers close...close enough blue bore into blue, he…

He tossed him away from him. He could’ve ended it right there. ‘Why can’t I kill him?’ he heaved, feeling his gut twist. His jugular was right under his metal fingers…all he had to do was squeeze a little harder...

More hand to hand combat and more knife-use, he was so caught up in his own head. He was confused.

Everything in his mind went berserk when the shield made an indent in his arm. White-hot pain shot through the fight continued while his mind blanked out in order for his body and training to kick in.

Then his mask got ripped off. Even as his identity was compromised, he turned to stare at Rogers anyway, jaw set, eyes dark and glaring. They just...stared at each other for a good portion of a minute.

“Bucky?” That all-too familiar voice was breathless, just as shocked as he was.

He didn’t talk much besides to give orders. He most certainly hardly ever spoke English. Yet here he was, his whole world going topsy-turvy and the only thing he could do was say what kept repeating in his head. .

“Who the hell is Bucky?”

He produced another gun from his tactical gear and took a step forward, only for the flying black man from before to kick him right in the side of the face.

Jumping to his feet again, no time for anything else, he could feel his breathing increase and his eyes darted everywhere but Rogers. He pulled his gun back up and took aim. Had to kill him. Had to be now.

Just as his brain reared at that, there was the distinct thromp of the grenade launcher. Coming from behind Rogers was the ball and he ducked.


The memories. Zola. Falling from the train, Rogers, though his face was still hazy his voice was clear. Shouting the name. Bucky. Who was Bucky? It couldn’t be him. He was the Winter Soldier. Soldat was his name. A machine built and made by his handlers to take care of their dirty work.

So why? Why were there the images of the cliff-face and trees and shrubs flying by his memory. His body catching on a rock which tore apart his arm since he had fallen so hard and fast. Blood in the snow. Zola’s voice. Sounds of medical equipment, pain in his arm because Hydra didn’t believe in anesthetic. Waking up to a new metal arm. Choking the doctor to death.

“Put him on ice.”

His own face staring back at him as he put his hand to the metal door.

He hated the chair. There would be punishment for lashing out, for disobedience. They didn’t like what he had to say. The slap. He felt like any ol’ bitch getting slapped around by their man. That’s what he was. Hydra had made him their slave and he hated it. He remembered / if only just a little .

No .

Not the mouth-guard. Not the flashing blue lights and the electricity.

Stay compliant .

Let them wipe him...he didn’t want to forget, but he had to. He had to force Rogers from his mind as he screamed…


Rocket launcher were just as fun as grenade launcher, maybe more so. ‘Have I done this recently?’ his thoughts were sluggish, but they were there. He had not been given a mask or goggles. Had they been ruined previously? He felt odd without them. Exposed. ‘Cameras could identify me. Is this a suicide mission? Are they hoping to be rid of me for good?’

It didn’t seem to matter. His mission was the Captain. He was not to fail this time. So somehow, some way, with lots of gunfire and everything exploding, he made his way to the helicarrier and promptly bull-rushed Captain America off of it.

Wilson, Sam. He had been briefed on this target and he had been added to the list. Wilson tried to dive after the Captain but he thwarted him. They had a good short fight, he even did a spin to avoid bullets and darted behind cover. That threw him for a loop. It wasn’t part of his usual movements. He was a solid mass, sure and firm. While he was agile, and as a sniper he had to be light on his feet, he wasn’t some ballerina. ‘Yet I can sometimes learn by seeing...so when did I learn how to do a spin like that?’

It didn’t matter. Nothing really mattered anymore, it seemed, except for the Captain and the Mission. It didn’t take too much longer before he ripped off a wing of Wilson and sent him tumbling with a well-placed kick to the chest that sent a faint memory of something similar occurring to himself through his upper torso.

Ignoring it, it was now time to protect the helicarrier from being taken control of.


 

‘Will you stop talking?!’ Soldat wanted to scream. Talk, talk, talk, with that soft rumble of a voice that was so soothing. Yet, Rogers sounded so sad. Why did Roger’s Bucky make Rogers sad? ‘When did he go from Captain to Rogers?’ He remembered having that particular thought before. He just kept staring him down while his mind whirled. He must have been wiped recently in order for so many things to be so familiar, for everything to come back so rapidly.

Then Rogers made the first move, time too dire for him to keep standing around having an inner war with himself. He still had his own mission. Protect the helicarrier and kill Rogers.

That shield was annoying. He shot around it, but only grazed Rogers. He was knocked back a lot, but he kept surging back at him. This particular game of cat and mouse wasn’t entertaining. He remembered wanting to end it for him quickly out of mercy, and being happy he got rid of Zola. Now he was fighting sluggishly. He didn’t really want to hurt Rogers.

The Mission was failing. All because he couldn’t actually get a solid hit on Rogers. Failure of the mission, if they found him or he made it back alive, resulted in serious punishment. Punishment was the chair, the mouth-guard, and the flashing blue lights of electricity. The chair. ‘I don’t want to go back to the chair!’

With a bellow he tackled Rogers right over the railing, the chip sliding away. Finally with the shield having been lost in the fall, he could actually punch Rogers. They continued like this, back and forth, and he was successful in knocking the chip away, but he was unable to gain purchase when Rogers flew him away. Using the shield against Rogers was kind of gratifying. Too busy shooting at him again, however, to revel in him successfully going down.

Soldat was glad for his metal arm whirring to stab Rogers in the shoulder, but pain made Rogers more angry, and the resulting headbashing made him dizzy and he tossed him away.

The chip! He snatched it up but then...

Choking was not on his list of things that pleased him. Rogers was furious . He gasped when he was slammed down on the glass and was pinned, Rogers locked his body and tried to get the chip back from him. He tried to punch back, tried to reach him, and ignored the orders he gave to drop the chip.

Screaming echoed around them as his shoulder was dislocated and pain was the only thing he could register, but he still held onto the chip. He was being choked harder now, his vision was blurry, but he couldn’t let the mission fail. He tried pulling Roger’s hand away from him but that was no use.

The black ink of darkness crept further in his vision. ‘No, this..not...meant to...kill. Rogers...would never...kill…’

As soon as he woke up he was pissed, and terrified. If he came back from this… ‘They’re going to...torture me and enjoy...every moment of it...’ Whipping his gun out he shot at Rogers. Missed his hand. This guy was a fucking monkey. Soldat’s shoulder hurt beyond description. H was delirious and wobbled, but fired again..

Successful hit to the gut, but he was solemn. It didn’t matter anymore. Why did Rogers have to be so goddamn difficult? ‘Why can’t you just stay down ?’ It was more of a whine than anything.

Everything froze for a moment as he heard Rogers tell them to fire. With both of them still on the helicarrier. He was going to attack again, only to scream as he was unable to dodge the falling piece of debris. He was pinned on his already injured arm, but wasn’t that just how it worked? He couldn’t even shove it off because of it.

He was...he was definitely terrified right now. He kept struggling, trying to wiggle his way free but that had no effect. This really had been a suicide mission. ‘I am supposed to die here.’

Then there’s Rogers, coming down and trying his best to move it even though he, too, had an injured shoulder, an injured thigh, and a gut wound. On top of the fact they were crashing into the S.H.I.E.L.D. building. Rogers was superior to him. The original. He no doubt would have never won in a fight with him, anyway.

All of a sudden he was free.

“You know me.” Rogers growled, heaving.

‘I can’t. Don’t make me remember. It hurts.’ It really did. Everything hurt, and trying to dig in the scatter memories long past was like driving a hot iron into his brain. He got to his feet and swung his metal arm, hitting Rogers square in the face, all the while screaming, “NO I DON’T !”

It was a lie .

The lie reverberated hard enough that Soldat remembered, if only pieces. He remembered the train, the familiar deep, rumbling voice screaming his Bucky’s name.

He denied it because he would be punished. He would go back to the chair. They didn’t like it that he had told them he knew him the other day. Had tried to reprogram him again, but throwing him back in the fray so soon after messed him up. He remembered the fight with Natalia, the minx. He remembered when he called Rogers ‘pal’ mentally.

They heaved at each other, and he didn’t know what sort of face he was making, just knew it was contorted in what must be emotional pain. He could feel his eyes sting and his lashes fluttered with wetness. ‘Don’t make me remember…’

“Bucky...You’ve known me your whole life...”

Soldat punched him again, but even he knew it was lackluster as Rogers continued to stand.

“Your name...is James Buchanan Barnes.” Rogers said this more firmly, as if knowing it, too.

“SHUT UP!” Soldat physically yelled, his headspace too loud with flashes of images he didn’t want. He swung his body, fist connecting with the gunshot wound on Roger’s stomach, sending him sprawling, helmet falling off.

He heaved, and discovered a name for the face he made when Rogers returned to his feet. Pleading.

‘Please stay down. Please don’t get back up. Please stop talking. Please stop making me remember .’

“I’m not gunna fight you.” The face Rogers was making was knowing, and he had most certainly made up his mind about whatever he was doing. The shield fell between the holes where the glass used to be.

‘You shouldn’t...have done that, pal.’

He should be relieved, but he didn’t know what to think anymore. Everything was too much . Perhaps if he killed the Captain then if they found him, they would be merciful with his punishment.

“You’re my friend.” Rogers said with so many emotions in his eyes and on his face that Soldat couldn’t make them all out.

That was the trigger, though. Barreling forward and tackled him to the steel, “ You’re my mission .” He growled at him before he hauled his arm back.

“YOU’RE-” Thunk .

“MY-” Crunch .

“MISSION!” Crack .

He reached his arm up, paused, then went a little higher.

Steve.

Why did he think of his first name? Why did he morph Rogers into Steve now ?

“Then finish it...” Steve grunted through a mouth full of blood.

Soldat stared at him. He repeatedly asked the question why, and it all came back to ‘Why can’t I kill him…?’

“…‘Cause I’m with ya...til the end of the line...”

‘I’m with ya ‘til the end of the line, punk.’

He was flooded then with more mental images, in no particular order. Pieces of the war. Pieces of the Howlies. A wall of fire between the two of them and him screaming ‘not without you!’ with desperation and pleading in his ragged, much younger voice. Of them as kids. Seeing Steve’s face above him on Zola’s operating table and whispering ‘Steve’ with such relief and happiness…

He remembered.

He had been trying to kill his best friend this whole time.

The horror crossed his face then just as he heard the steel above them snap with it’s own weight and he suddenly didn’t have Steve beneath him anymore, watching the unconscious man fall into the river below.

No.

No. No. No.

‘Steve!’

He could not allow this to happen. He let go of the metal bar and pistoned his body towards the water, breaking through with ease and he used his powerful legs to swim down...down…

‘Where are you, Steve?’

Down...his lungs hurt…his arm ached. The water was polluted and it was hard to see…

STEVE .

He reached for him, grasping him by his uniform and he swam up. Barely. He was barely able to get out of the water before his own lungs exploded. He could stay under for several minutes but this was ridiculous. Adrenaline makes you do strange, impossible things.

He found the shoreline, hauling Steve there and let him fall onto it unceremoniously. There were sirens in the distance already, a search and rescue party. He had to leave. Holding his injured arm close to his body, he didn’t look back. ‘I saved him . Steve would live, and so would he.

He wouldn’t go back to the snakes. He had more important things to do.

They didn’t control him anymore.