After the events in D.C, Steve found himself exhausted, but hugely busy. Reading Bucky’s file had made him cry on several occasions. It didn’t even refer to him by name, just the asset. Desperately, Steve wanted to find his friend, to try and protect him from Hydra. However, after months of searching, he was starting to realise that he may never find the winter soldier. Bucky Barnes had disappeared off the face of the earth after dragging him out the river. Steve could only hope that he was safe.
It was a wrench, to be dragged away from his never-ending search on avenger business. However, his newfound friend Sam Wilson promised to continue without him. Sam had even pointed out that it might do Steve some good to have a break from it all. With Sam’s assurance that Steve would be contacted if any trail looked promising, he left for the new mission with mixed emotions.
It wasn’t until Steve saw Tony again that he remembered the incident with Zola, and what he’d implied about Howard Stark. Steve didn’t even know if it was true, or whether he should tell Tony. The man seemed happy, or as happy as he could possibly be about breaking into a Hydra base to find Loki’s sceptre.
With a sigh, Steve decided that he would hint, and then leave it to Tony to decide whether he wanted to hear it. It wasn’t Steve’s decision to make, because it wasn’t his parents that were affected.
After a long chat with Natasha, Steve approached Tony with some trepidation, holding onto a file. It was slim, as much of the information they had on Hydra was encrypted, but it was enough to confirm what Zola had hinted at.
“Hey Tony,” he said, voice betraying the seriousness of the situation. “Can I have a word?”
Stark’s eyebrows rose, but he nodded.
“What’s up Cap?” he asked. “You’re looking more serious than usual.”
Steve’s lips turned up slightly, but he didn’t react too much to Tony’s quip.
“Did you hear about what went down with S.H.I.E.L.D in DC?” Steve asked, deciding to get straight to the point.
“You mean, when Widow dumped all those encrypted files onto the internet and you took three helicarriers out of the sky?” Tony asked. “I don’t think anyone didn’t hear about it.”
“Well, I think I learned something…about your parents’ deaths,” Steve said slowly. Suddenly, Tony wasn’t looking like his usual cocky self. “I’m not sure whether I should share it or not, and I thought that you were the only one to make that decision.”
Carefully, Steve handed over the file Natasha had put together. It didn’t do anything more than confirm what Zola had hinted at. Slowly, Tony took hold of the file, looking at the blank cover.
“I’ll leave you to it,” Steve said, coughing awkwardly. He wasn’t keeping secrets any longer.
“Hey Cap,” Tony said, finally glancing up from the file. “Thanks.”
Steve smiled and nodded, walking away to meet with the other avengers. They still had a mission to plan.
After the footage of the Starks’ assassination ended, the three men were so quiet that a mouse’s footprints would be audible. Tony was the first one to react. He took a step towards the winter soldier, his parents’ murderer.
“Tony,” Steve warned, putting a restraining hand on the man’s shoulder, shaking his head.
“Did you know?” Tony asked him, his voice full of pain and suppressed rage.
“Everything I knew was in that file,” Steve tried to say, his voice in a rush. Had Stark read it? He’d never asked.
“Don’t bullcrap me Rogers, did you know?” Tony asked again, and Steve knew what he was asking. Did he know that it was Bucky?
“Not for certain,” Steve answered, heart pounding in his mouth. Certainly not certain enough to say something. “Tony…wait. I know you must be hurting right now, but please think. Hydra were the ones responsible.”
Tony’s face remained stony, and cold.
“Buck, put the gun down,” Steve told him, noticing that his old friend had a weapon pointed at Stark. He’d raised it in defence, but he’d not lowered it. Bucky looked as if Steve had asked him to cut off his own limb at the suggestion. Slowly, he lowered the weapon, but his stance remained defensive.
“Tony,” Steve said quietly, turning back to his other friend, heart pounding wildly in his chest. “You don’t want to kill him. Remember who’s truly responsible. Targeting the wrong guy won’t make the hurt go away.”
After taking several deep breaths, Tony relaxed his stance, though he refused to look at either super soldier directly in the face.
“We’re talking about this later,” he said, giving Barnes the evil eye.
Wisely, Bucky said nothing, and just nodded.
The three turned back to Zemo, who looked suitably ticked off that his plan had failed…then, he smiled.
“All this planning,” he told them. “And you think I didn’t come prepared with a plan B?”
“Тоска. Ржавый. Семнадцать.”
“No,” Bucky murmured, knowing what was coming. Haunted blue eyes looked around the room desperately for a way out, away from the voice.
“What’s going on?” Tony asked, confused why Russian words would change anything.
It took Steve a moment to work out what was happening, before he remembered something Bucky had said about ‘Goddamned words.’
“Trigger words; it’s how they controlled him.”
Bucky had already started yelling, his hands over his ears. Perhaps that would stop him being put under someone else’s control, but the words seemed to pierce his skull.
“Дневной перерыв. Печь. Девять. Доброкачественная.”
The voice was over the intercom system, echoing around the base.
“Bucky, look at me,” Steve said, crouching by his friend. “He doesn’t control you. You’re in control.”
Tony watched, weapons primed.
Возвращение домой. Один. Грузовой автомобиль.”
Bucky’s yells stopped, and his hands came away from his ears. His face was blank and hostile.
Wisely, Steve backed off a few paces.
“Bucky?” he asked, looking for any sign of life in his friend.
“Soldat,” Zemo said, watching through the window in hope that his plan would work.
“готовы соблюдать,” Bucky replied.
“Kill the Iron Man,” Zemo ordered, grinning as his plan came together.