The first time he encounters the Winter Soldier, Peter Quinn doesn’t even know who he is: unaware that he’s a fable, a ghost story, most especially that he ought to be terrified of him. Quinn’s still pretty much jailbait, Dar Adal’s pretty protégé snatched up from a foster home and recruited with the promise he could someday be a spy—ostensibly, if he plays it right and learns enough—but at the point where he meets the Soldier, Peter’s nothing more than a honey trap.
They think the guy he’s supposed to contact is an unidentified agent, or maybe a freelance assassin, because he’s not on their radar at all, and their radar is pretty good. Certainly someone took out the Egyptian attaché and it wasn’t the CIA this time. The subject’s face shows up in a few facial recognition software photos from different customs control points dotted around the world, but they’re widely spaced and no one has a guess as to where he comes from: he shows up one year, disappears, shows up again a few years later.
When they clocked him this time, they sent in a female honeypot, a long-legged redhead who seemed exotic and unique even for Berlin. But the subject had barely responded to her in the bar despite an A-game showing; she’d griped in her debriefing about his cold reception, told Dar that more than a few times he’d cast a glance at the young blond man on the opposite end of the bar. Her disdain had been palpable, but Dar’s shark-tooth smile had been huge.
Quinn’s not supposed to do much, just grab a print if possible, maybe enough conversation on tape they can figure out who this guy is. But when a member of the Iranian diplomatic party turns up dead in his nearby hotel room, they push the brief, and that night he spots the guy in the bar of a different hotel. Who knows what Middle Eastern official is gonna turn up dead tonight.
He starts the way he’s been trained: three seats over, play up his American helplessness with a foreign culture, have trouble with the language—which gets stymied a little when the bartender turns out to be Australian. The subject never even looks at Quinn; he hides his eyes under a fringe of longer-than-usual hair, hunched in on himself, drinking quietly. When he orders another round in completely unaccented English, Quinn catches a glimpse of his eyes—the blue of a cloudy sky, ringed by dark lashes, brows. His mouth is the kind you dream of having wrapped around your dick.
“Oh, hey, you’re American?” Quinn says, like he’s some kid backpacking through Europe on a gap-year tour. The guy stares at him with the saddest face he’s ever seen, and considering he’s spent much of his life in the foster system, Quinn’s seen some pretty fucking sad faces, many of them staring back at him from the fucking mirror.
The subject’s head drops back down as Quinn slides over into the seat next to him, strikes up a conversation, all the points he’s been given that will leave an opening for the mark to tell their story. It’s weird that in a season this hot in a city where there isn’t much in the way of AC, he’s wearing a jacket and gloves. As Quinn makes his play, prattling on about his trip so far, where he comes from, the subject sighs with resignation, pulls the sleeve of his jacket up his arm and it’s...silver, with lines etched into it. Then he slips it back down, takes the glove off his left hand, and unfurls his fingers to show Quinn his...goddamn metal hand, and then closes it in a fist.
Quinn’s heart is in his throat. What the fuck did Dar send me into? What kind of creepy Terminator cyborg bullshit is this? He snaps himself out of his nearly pants-shitting paralysis and glances up into the subject’s eyes. Jesus fuck, is all Quinn can think, he’s unbelievably hot. But he’s also kind of terrifying; there’s a stillness and quiet menace in him that normal humans don’t have. “You don’t belong here,” is all the guy says, in a low, soft-scratchy voice. Quinn can’t help but agree, and he stammers out an apology and leaves.
Later when he debriefs, everyone snickers when he mentions the metal hand, except Dar Adal, who remains silent—but even Quinn can tell he’s rattled.
The second time Quinn encounters the Winter Soldier, he still doesn’t know who he is. Now Quinn’s a full-fledged employee of the Company, but he’s still green as fuck, on his first escort job in the Red Zone in Baghdad with a bunch of private security forces assholes. They’re bringing in one of the Coalition-friendly leaders for a sit-down with some not-so-friendlies—and thank god he’s not on that detail—heading for the nice little bubble of the Green Zone, when the heads of three of their guys are suddenly spattered over the seats and windows of the Hummer, their Iraqi buddy finishing up the four-pack. Quinn’s waiting for the bullet with his name on it—his body’s rigid, trembling, and even though he has his weapon out he can’t see shit for all the human material covering everything. When he finally pulls himself together he hurls himself out onto the ground, the dust and blood and sweat stinging his eyes. It’s eerily, unusually quiet, he’s never heard it so quiet, there are no bystanders screaming or running around. Only the sound of his heart hammering inside his chest.
He rolls under the car, crawling to the other side, and just when he’s getting ready to sprint for the low wall about ten meters away, Quinn looks up. He sees a guy dressed in black striding—no, loping, like it’s just a casual day shopping at the fucking mall—toward the car, completely ignoring the situation, not even bothering to hide the rifle he’s slapping a new magazine into. He gets to within fifty yards of the car and Quinn jolts: there’s a glint of silver on the wrist, silver on the tips of fingers and under the knuckles of a shooting glove. A ballcap’s pulled low on his head, but Quinn’s pretty sure he sees dark hair curling out from under it in the back, and then the guy turns to two other operators and says something in—Russian, he’s pretty sure. One of them lowers the grenade launcher he’s holding, and they both head in the opposite direction.
The guy with the metal hand tips two fingers to his forehead and gives Quinn a little mock salute.
Quinn’s next encounter with him isn’t in person—but it’s when he finally hears the title Winter Soldier for the first time. It’s been a while since Baghdad, and the guy has been invisible for months, but Quinn’s security clearance has been upgraded. Dar wants him to check out a dossier and tell him if that’s the guy; when Quinn IDs him, Dar gets the weirdest look on his grizzled old face. Quinn’s never seen anyone take the kneecaps out of the dirty old bastard, but here we fucking are and his hands tremble juuust enough when he says: “Don’t tell anyone about this. Especially no one from Secretary Pierce’s office or SHIELD if they contact you.”
He takes Quinn out for a drink, tells him about this old Soviet assassin who’s been operational for over fifty years, two dozen assassinations at least; no one seems to believe he exists, except maybe Dar and his old buddy Saul Berenson, but they’re old school, and they love those ancient spook fables. David Estes would laugh in their faces, Quinn’s pretty sure.
He’s long since given up trying to play Dar’s game, Quinn’s got his own life now, Julia and the kid, and he’s basically his own fucking operator. But like any spook he has a curious streak, so he starts digging around when he’s back in D.C. Sightings of the Soldier show up over and over again in reports for the past forty or fifty years, but they’re always spaced pretty widely apart, and that length of time would have to mean it’s a bunch of guys filling in one code name—unusual, sure, but the Soviets were weird. Bombings, shootings, close-quarters work—there’s no clear pattern but what is clear is that at least one of the Winter Soldiers was an expert-level shooter, an unparalleled marksman, and Quinn remembers those heads exploding precisely all around him in Baghdad. That’s the kind of shooting expertise Quinn’s been aiming for since he became an operator, he can’t help but admire it.
He decides to shrug it off as the fairy tale it no doubt is, except he can’t quite scrub the comment about not talking to the secretary’s people or SHIELD from his brain, and that leads him into some old Operation Paperclip data dumps where he lands on two photos. The first one is grainy black and white from a distance: a marksman in position, his face obscured by long hair, maybe some kind of mask, and a very obvious metal arm with those curving lines and an old Soviet star on his shoulder. The second one is from a moving image he can’t find an original to, looks like it was taken in the early ’60s, featuring a close-up of the metal shoulder, some kind of leather tac vest. A sniper’s rifle is slung over the shoulder, glinting along with the red Soviet star.
That’s as far as it ever goes, but Quinn keeps thinking about that name: Winter Soldier. It fits the guy sitting at the end of that bar, his soft-scratchy voice and his gorgeous, haunted eyes, like he lived someplace dark and cold and unbearably lonely.
He’s in Central America, a blessed relief from the fucking Middle East, when Quinn encounters him for the fourth time. He’s settled in to his hotel across from the job site, figuring he’ll order room service while he checks his messages.
In the bathroom he finds most of the components for the rifle, under the counter and behind the toilet tank, and he sets to work putting it together as he eats lunch. He turns the music up, opens the window to the narrow width it allows, and positions the rifle, waiting for the target to arrive in the street below, bustling with people on this sunny afternoon. Quinn sweeps the rifle to his right, up and down, just to check security through the scope. Before he swings it back toward the target his heart leaps into this throat: a flash of light almost directly across from him at the ultra posh hotel the target and his retinue were heading to. He jerks his head up from the scope, catches another flash—of silver this time: a figure in the window, the long thin rifle barrel poking out a neatly cut hole in the glass. Shit, shit, shit.
It’s the fucking Winter Soldier, it must be. Are they—after the same target? It’s been forever since Quinn has heard anything about him; he’d seemingly vanished after the Baghdad event. Who the hell has he been working for all this time, then, if the Winter Soldier and the CIA are eliminating the same target?
Or maybe he’s here to eliminate the eliminator. Fucking fuck.
Quinn withdraws further back into the shadows of the room before he hears screams and shouts erupt from the street below. Curiosity gets the better of him—there’s a reason it kills the fucking cat, Peter, he reminds himself—and he draws the curtain back a hair. There’s that flash of silver and the fucking guy is already disassembling his rifle in the window, not a care in the fucking world, and he gives Quinn a little head nod before vanishing back into the darkness of his room.
Well, this’ll be a fucking delightful report to file.
Quinn’s in the hotel bar, trying to figure out what he’s going to say that won’t get him laughed into an outpost in Mongolia, reading the incredibly ridiculous story about a fucking alien attack on New York City being repelled by Tony Stark and a resurrected Captain fucking America, when a shadow passes over his corner table and he glances up.
Standing in front of him is the fucking Winter Soldier. He’s made no effort to go to ground after he eliminated the target; hell, maybe he checked in to the hotel and has been hanging around watching security and police running around like squirrels that have lost where they buried their acorns. He seems...amused, almost, though his face is utterly impassive; his hair is a little longer these days, he looks a little more beat-up, but he’s in fine, fine shape otherwise. A t-shirt and Henley, tidy jeans that hug his thighs and ass, brown jacket that doesn’t disguise the broad shoulders. He makes a quick gesture—may I sit down?— and at Quinn’s nod, he sits, or almost lounges, really. He’s got a neat glass of vodka or gin, but he doesn’t do much more than sip at it.
“We gotta stop meeting like this,” he says, and there’s absolutely no trace of a Russian accent at all, he sounds like he could have grown up in...whatever, Brooklyn or something.
“You remember me, then.”
His eyes dart away, there’s something...yearning, maybe, in them, and then he stares at the table for a bit. “I think so. As much as I can remember anyone. Sometimes certain things stay for a while longer.”
What the hell is that supposed to mean? “I guess I should be flattered. And thank you for not blowing my brains out in Iraq. My name’s Peter Quinn. I have no idea what to call you, but since we’re old pals now...”
There’s that weird almost smile again. “Yasha, I guess. That’ll work.”
“You don’t strike me as the least bit Russian, unless it’s the mafia from Brighton Beach. Who’ve you been working with since the collapse?”
He’s got a fucking maddening, smug face, but it’s hard to hold a grudge when you’re looking at those baby blues and that mouth. Quinn can feel his dick slowly standing at attention as he looks at that mouth, and the Win—Yasha—clearly knows it. “So you are the Winter Soldier—you started out with the Soviets.”
“The Winter Soldier is the name of a program. It’s history.” He pushes his drink around on the table, his jaw tight. If Quinn presses it, he’ll leave, and staring at that mouth, Quinn absolutely doesn’t want him to leave.
“Shouldn’t you be long gone by now? Or do you always hang around in bars seductively brooding after a job.”
The eyebrows shoot up, he tips slightly forward in the chair. “Room 412.” And just like that, he gets up and leaves.
Quinn’s an experienced operator, he knows better than this. So of course he waits five minutes, then drops some money on the table and heads up to the fourth floor. His knuckles hit the door once before it’s opened, Yasha grabs him by the front of his t-shirt, hauls him inside, closing the door with his foot and kissing him fiercely. He’s inhumanly warm, like a fucking furnace made of solid muscle, and Quinn kisses back every bit as ferociously, nipping at those sweet curving lips, biting around the cleft of his chin.
Yasha pulls Quinn’s t-shirt over his head, yanks his own off, and even though Quinn knows about the metal prosthesis, he’s completely unprepared for what he sees: it goes all the way up past his shoulder into the collarbone and scapula around back, and there’s a horrorshow of brutal scarring—it enrages him, for some reason, even though he doesn’t know this guy, really, and doesn’t know why he should care about what’re obviously old scars. Yasha doesn’t let this stuttering halt bother him, he rolls his shoulders in a shrug and starts undoing the fly of Quinn’s pants. He seems to know exactly what he wants, and Quinn’s happy to give it to him: Yasha drags his fingers along his dick as he pulls Quinn’s pants down, slips a hand down to cup his balls, kneads his ass with his other—metal—hand. It’s like nothing Quinn’s ever felt before—those lines on the hand are plates that shift as he moves: it’s unearthly, erotic, amazing, and Yasha’s got his tongue back in Quinn’s mouth again, yay.
Quinn makes a grab for Yasha’s pants, too, and pulls them down, but Yasha seems to be intent on other things—he kneels down and scrapes his teeth along the tops of Quinn’s thighs, flicks his tongue out against his balls, and then fucking Christ he’s got that insane mouth around Quinn’s cock and it’s every bit as incredible as he’d hoped. He’s working it with the perfection of a grandmaster, like he’s made a study of the particular way Quinn likes to have his cock sucked, the motions and the rhythm and the flourishes with tongue and lips, and there’s also that fucking wild metal hand on his ass and the real flesh and blood hand on the root of his dick. Quinn goes almost deranged with pleasure: there’s something about being here with this guy who’s as fucking dangerous and conscience-bankrupt as he is, who’s sad and hot and mysterious and just might kill him when he’s done with him, and it tips him over the edge into a wave of beautiful orgasm maybe faster than he’d have liked, but Yasha sucks him dry with a practiced ease.
Did he start out seducing old queers for blackmail material, too? Quinn wonders as he slides down the wall, panting breathlessly. Yasha swipes the back of his hand across his mouth and goes over to the little desk, pours two glasses of vodka, and hands one to Quinn as he attempts getting to his feet in as dignified a fashion as he can. There’s a tiny balding, sprung sofa against the window wall and Yasha pulls cigarettes from a pack on the coffee table, leans back on the sofa and lights them both, then puts his metal arm up behind his head. Quinn throws himself down opposite Yasha, takes the offered cigarette, and they just lounge there, like Yasha’s not still half hard and they’re just two dudes hanging out. With a twist to his left, Quinn can just reach the radio so he turns it on, finds a station that isn’t frantic Latin music but one a little quieter. There’s something kind of...old fashioned and sweet about this, Quinn supposes; he can’t quite put his finger on it but Yasha almost acts like he’s someone else in here, like they’re old friends.
After a while, Quinn says, “So yeah, you do remember me.”
That makes Yasha smile again, or at least half smile, which is apparently all he’s got. “A honey trap in Berlin. Iraq. At least, that’s what I think is true. Or there could be more? I don’t always get to remember.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
He shrugs, lights another cig. Quinn gets the distinct impression that these are vices he doesn’t allow himself to indulge in—the smoke, the drink, the cocksucking—much at all. “In Berlin, you told me I didn’t belong there. I always wondered what that meant.”
For some time he’s quiet, considering something, his mind seems very far away, but then he says, “You weren’t an operator. Whoever sent you out didn’t know who they were dealing with.”
Can’t argue with that. “They had nothing on you at the time—they thought you might be ex-Stasi, or the Mossad. A few thought FSB. Why the hell not just take advantage of my greenness, use me and then kill me before they could get anything on you?”
“You reminded me of someone.”
“Oh yeah? Who?”
A shake of the head. “I don’t...know.” Okay, that’s not weird.
He just smokes his cigarette and finishes the vodka, and he’s the saddest guy Quinn thinks he’s maybe ever seen. When he’s done being cryptic, Yasha says, “My extraction’s been delayed. I don’t usually have time for off-the-clock entertainment.”
“But when you do...might as well be with an old acquaintance, right? Or at least a reasonable facsimile.” Quinn drags his ankle over the top of Yasha’s thigh, lets his foot rest right next to his hardening cock. His body is incredible, outside the scarring—his skin is smooth, almost glows in the low light of the room, his thighs are strong and dusted sparsely with dark hair, he’s got the kind of hands that look more like they belong to an artist or a musician. What a fucking waste if they’re keeping him somewhere off the grid when he’s not on the clock; he’s a walking wet dream. “I’m not in the habit of not reciprocating a fantastic blowjob.”
“I’m sure there’s something we could come up with.” He stares at Quinn and it goes straight to his balls. “I want to fuck you.”
“Sounds good to me.” Quinn finishes the cigarette and puts the drink on the table, leaning over Yasha, kissing his mouth. All these chance encounters and he’s never been able to kiss it, he wants to make up for lost time. Yasha lets him for a while, languid and soft kisses, rough and frantic, then gets up to root around in a duffle, comes back with a small, banged-up tin of Vaseline. Quinn arches a brow. “It helps,” Yasha explains, motioning at the terrible seam where his skin is fused with metal. “Sometimes it gets...” He’s not enough of an asshole to force the guy to explain further.
For a minute Quinn hesitates, thinking; it doesn’t seem like Yasha fucks around much, but he can’t use this with condoms and anyway, there don’t seem to be any condoms in play here.
Yasha tilts his head, offers a weak “Oh. Yeah. Uhhh...I haven’t done this in...a long, long time. You don’t have to worry about me not being—” and has some kind of trouble finding the words he wants.
“Clean?” Do the people he works for test him? It sounds like they monitor his every move when he’s not on the clock.
“Yeah. I’m that.” And he gets that weird, sad, thousand-fucking-yard stare and Quinn knows that it’s the truth, that he probably hasn’t had any goddamn pleasure in his life for a long time and that maybe these ridiculous encounters every few years stick in his mind so well because they’re the closest thing to amusement he’s had. It makes him feel horribly tender toward Yasha, which seems to amp up the hot and horny feeling, and so— He makes for the bed and says, over his shoulder, “Show me how you like it.”
Yasha does, and he fucks Quinn face-to-face and kisses him with that gorgeous mouth for a long, good while. His cock is just as gorgeous as the rest of him, for fuck’s sake, and it fills Quinn up and makes his legs weak where they wrap around his hips. It’s not rough and it’s not gentle, either, and when Yasha comes he shakes from it, his face revelatory, and his hand that’s never stilled on Quinn’s cock wrings another orgasm out of Quinn again a few minutes later. Honestly? It’s worth the potential risk of barebacking with this guy, because fucking him is the most fun Quinn’s had since he joined the CIA.
They’re quiet on the bed afterward, lazing around getting their breath back and playing tongue hockey, until Yasha says, “I’ll need to leave for my extraction point by 0400.”
Quinn grins—apparently he has to do the smiling for both of them. “Well, fuck, that’s quite a few hours from now. You know as well as I do there’s worse ways to spend the time.” He tickles fingertips lightly over Yasha’s dick.
Yasha points at him, and maybe there’s a hint of fondness in his blue eyes, but this time he very nearly smiles. “I knew there was a reason I liked you.”
Frankly, that’s good enough for Quinn. He’s got a lot of thoughts on how to use that.