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The Red Star

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Steve looked back at Bucky, shield at the ready. “You’re sure this is the place?” He asked quietly, looking at what appeared to be a shack, nearly in ruins. The entire thing was falling apart and looked like it would crumble to dust the second a gust of wind hit it. It didn’t exactly scream HYDRA base, but Steve trusted that Bucky knew what he was talking about.

Bucky nodded, adjusting his gun as he stared at the shack. “This is it.” He stated gruffly, emotions clearly lying right below the surface. Steve couldn’t even begin to guess what his friend was thinking and it worried him. Bucky, Steve, and Sam had spent the past several months locating remaining HYDRA bases and snuffing them out. Steve and Sam made an attempt to apprehend all of the agents they could and bring them in, but Bucky usually had different plans. He didn’t kill them all, at Steve and Sam’s insistence, but he took down the leaders no matter how hard they tried to stop him. Steve hated it, but Sam said that they should help him work through it, so Steve tended to go along with it.

He slowly pushed the door open and stepped inside, eyes scanning the mold-covered walls and nose wrinkling up at the putrid smell of mildew. The floor was made of cracked wood and there was only the one room. He spun in a small circle, searching for something suspicious. “There’s nothing here.” He frowned.

“That’s what you think.” Bucky walked over to one of the decaying walls and pushed on a particularly thick patch of mold. The ground rumbled a moment before the floor opened up, revealing a long flight of stairs leading to an impenetrable darkness.

Steve peered down, slightly embarrassed at not thinking to look for a hidden switch or button. “Right. Of course.” He mumbled, glancing at Bucky in time to see his eye roll and slight smirk. Steve stepped back. “After you.” He gestured for Bucky to take the lead, which he did with an understanding nod.

Bucky took a few steps down the stairs eyes jumping from one area to the next, on the lookout for any sign of trouble. Steve followed closely behind, his eyes adjusting to the darkness quickly. They reached the bottom of the landing with no sign of movement that Steve could detect. The stench of mildew was still strong even at this lower level and Steve wrinkled his nose in mild disgust.

“It looks like there’s nobody here.” Steve thought aloud, glancing at the corners of the room.

“You’re not looking close enough.” Bucky said, suddenly looking much more alert than before, his gun held immediately at the ready and his eyes searching for something. Steve held his shield higher and tried to find what Bucky was sensing. He spotted it, the faint outline of a figure that was unmoving in the shadows, barely visible. Steve made a move towards it, but Bucky held out his flesh arm, stopping him in his tracks. Steve glanced at him from the corner of his eye and Bucky made a subtle shake of his head. “Stand back.” He mouthed to him before taking a step forward. He cleared his throat. “Soldier?” He stared at the figure, standing up straight. The figure didn’t move, but Steve had the unsettling feeling that it was watching them closely. Steve’s gaze immediately returned to his friend, hoping that he knew what he was doing. “Солдат?” He switched to Russian.

That was apparently the correct thing to do, as the figure shifted just slightly, a barely-there motion that the average person probably wouldn’t be able to detect. Bucky sighed in relief, but didn’t relax his position for even a second.

“Солдат, сделай шаг ближе.” Bucky’s voice was clear, cutting through the empty sounds of the room. There was a pregnant pause before the figure slowly stepped into the dim light, revealing someone who couldn’t be more than a child. Dark hair falling into their eyes and wearing a hoodie that seemed to hang off of their frame. Steve exhaled sharply.

“Bucky, why is there a child-” Steve began, but Bucky rose his metal arm, signaling to be silent. The blond immediately snapped his mouth shut and watched the pair in front of him nervously, nervously calculating his next move.

Bucky’s attention was firmly on the child. “What’s your name?” His tone was gentle, caring. Steve realized that Bucky was familiar with this child, that this child was affiliated with HYDRA. The thought made him feel suddenly nauseous.  When the child didn’t respond, Bucky sighed. “Солдат, сообщите. Как вас зовут?”

“Солдат два-четыре-шесть-ноль-семь.” The child spoke clearly, voice completely monotone as they stared unblinkingly at Bucky.

 

Bucky exhaled sharply. “Okay. Okay, we can work with this.” He seemed to be speaking mostly to himself. “Солдат, встретим нас снаружи.” He told the child, who nodded and walked up the steps, exiting the room. Bucky took a breath before turning to Steve. “He’s coming with us.”