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The Russian Sleep Experiment

Chapter Text

The small Russian farming village was quiet and carts pulled by horses rumbled down the street along with military vehicles. Children played in the dirt, women hung their laundry, and men carried home their lunch boxes from the local factory; all unaware of the dangers that were to come.

As night fell, the soldier formerly known as James Buchanan Barnes lurked in the shadows. He was now called the Winter Soldier and was brainwashed to do the bidding of HYDRA, an organization much worse than the USSR’s secret police that lurked the streets. He sat in the same spot that he had been sitting for the last two months, across from a small dilapidated shack where the Chesnokov’s had called their home. He wasn’t interested in their father, Vasly, who routinely came home from work shit faced and beat his wife, Katinka. No, he wasn’t interested in either of them; but he was interested in their daughter, Irina.

Yes, she was beautiful, but finding the beauty in a young woman was not his task; tonight, it was kidnapping her for the HYDRA experiment. It wasn’t his job to ask questions, only to follow them. So, quickly he moved silently through their home stepping over broken bottles from Vasly’s nightly drunken fit. He knew this was perhaps going to be the easiest kidnapping had done yet; quickly he saturated a dirty rag with chloroform and placed it on the girl’s sleeping form for good measure to make sure she didn’t wake up.

-

When Irina’s eyes fluttered open she jumped at the sight before her, it wasn’t her home, no, it was a medical facility. She tugged at her arms and found they were strapped down with thick leather straps. The sound of the anachronistic heart monitor beeped faster and faster as she tugged harder and harder at her straps, whimpering in pain as the cut into her flesh.

“Now, now, Liebling.” A thick Swiss accent rang behind her.

She strained her neck to look behind and found a short old man with glasses and a bow tie standing behind her along with a long-haired man wearing a face mask and dull blue eyes that bore right through her “What do you want from me? Who are you?” She croaked; her throat was parched, she didn’t know how long she had been here for.

“Dr. Arnim Zola,” He greeted “You, my sweet girl, are here to be the control in my experiment.”

“Who sent you to my home? The Stasi?” she asked frantically, she knew her father was in some deep shit, but kidnapping and being subjected to experimentation? This was low even for him “I promise if my Papa owes you money we can arrange something.” She felt like her throat was constricting from panic.

“No one sent us, and I assure you this has nothing to do with your father.” He was cleaning a part of her arm with an iodine swab and an unnamed nurse was preparing a needle filled with an unknown liquid.

Irina swallowed thickly, “What do you need me to do?” She asked eyeing the needle.

Dr. Zola flicked the needle and squeezed out all of the air and a little spurt of liquid before he paused and looked down at the girl “It’s simple, really, all you need to do is stay awake for 30 days and you will be guaranteed your freedom.”

The girl blinked, that was it? It seemed much simpler than she had thought it would be “That’s it?” She asked, just to make sure, still eyeing the needle she asked, “What is that?”

“Penicillin,” Zola said as he inserted the needle into her forearm for the disinfectant. The worst was yet to come. Several more nurses came and began to clean her arms off as 6 needles were wheeled out on a crisp metal tray “This is what will keep you awake.” He said as he administered the 6 shots all at once in her arms.

The feeling that flowed through Irina’s veins was unlike any other she had experienced. It felt like her blood vessels were dilating, her muscles, and bones were growing all at once. Her pupils blew to the size of saucers and her back arched in pain as she screamed feeling like her body was on fire as her muscles and bones broke, ripped, and rebuilt themselves. Zola shouted orders in German and several of the nurses and the long-haired man came and pinned her down as she viciously tried to fight her way out of the binds. The long-haired man came held her face down forcibly with a gas mask and her eyes felt droopy as they rolled in the back of her head and shut.  

Day 1:

When she woke up she was lying in a closed room with 4 other people, men, and women of mixed ages. There was one large mirror on the wall at the far end and there were several more porthole windows throughout the steel room along with several microphones and cameras throughout the facility. In the opposite corner there was a toilet and near the mirrored wall there was a heavy steel door that had a metal slot for sliding food in and out.

A voice crackled over the PA system “Now that all of you are awake, we will be administering gas to help lower your need for sleep. There are books, running water, a toilet, and enough dried food to last all 5 of you for two months, use your rations wisely as you are not getting any more.

The other subjects sat around on their cots, there was no bedding on them and they were stiff as a board. Irina shifted uncomfortably as the other subjects made small talk.

There as an American named, Avery Crawford. He was 37 years old and a well built handsome military man that just so happened to be caught on the wrong side of the border after the war ended a few years back.

Then there was a woman, Malinka Crespo. She was 19, from Lithuania and was a sex worker.

The next was another man Rurik Lakatos. He was young just barely 18 years old from Moscow. Irina could tell he was terrified.

The final man was maybe slightly older than Avery; his name was Dragos Arneja, his hair was peppered with grey hair and despite his Romanian pride, he was a Stasi officer.

Days 2-5

Irina was unable to tell what was day and what was night but frequently occupied herself by reading books or talking with Malinka who was only a few years younger than herself. As minutes turned into hours and hours into days their quaint small talk took a much darker twist. She and Malinka sat down on a sheet-less cot and Malinka looked up at Irina with darkly bagged eyes “I grew up very poor in Lithuanian.” Growing up poor seemed to be a frequent theme in this small room. “My mother sold me into prostitution when I was 10, the woman who took me away said I would go for a high price because I was so young.” Her eyes seemed empty when she was remembering her experiences. “Two years later, I became pregnant. My madam said the belly was unappealing to customers so she sent me to a man who took the baby out of me.” Irina knew Malinka had no more tears to cry about her past life. It seemed like whatever they were injected with, or possibly what they were breathing in caused them to no longer feel.

Rurik, the terrified young boy confided in Irina that at 14 he had watched his parents drown his little brother in order to save money. It was one less mouth to feed.

Avery’s American heritage had already made Irina put off, but hearing him talk with Dragos about how he stood by and watched as members of the American military even killed their own allies because they were foreign and did nothing about it, it made her feel sick to her stomach no matter how many drugs these people pumped into her.

Dragos talked of the innocent men, women, and children he had made disappear while working as a Stasi.

Irina shifted under the 4 heavy stares. They seemed to be weighing down on her shoulders as if the earth were closing in on her. They wanted her to share her story. “I- I watched my father beat my little sister to death for spilling his drink.” She said, vividly remembering how he had hit the poor girl over the head with the glass bottle until the bottle broke and her sister no longer cried, “And now every night he comes home and beats my mother and I do nothing about it because I don’t want to end up next.” Her admitted. Saying it out loud made her feel dirty and guilty.

-

The Winter Soldier sat in the observation room and looked in through the mirrored glass, he listened to their stories, hearing the deepest secrets of their lives that no one but HYDRA knew. That’s why they were chosen by Zola, they had known true pain or had caused pain so they would have been able to handle it. The Stasi was trained to withstand torture, the prostitute had nothing to live for, the American had enough arrogance to make him survive anything the world threw at him, the boy had an impressionable mind as his frontal lobe was still developing, but Irina, she had the need to survive ingrained into her mind at a young age.

Zola had chosen these 5 to see if they would survive 30 days without sleep on a stimulant. Whoever survived would join him in being called the Winter Soldier and would become a part of HYDRA’s elite forces. He shifted, focusing his gaze on the pretty Russian woman. He had been watching her for two months before he had captured her, she was the only one that needed to be kidnapped. He would have been lying if he said he hadn’t developed an attachment to the woman. He stood by and made sure she was safe an unharmed until he was able to take her to the HYDRA base.

-

Day 6

Whatever they had pumped into the subject’s systems had been making them increasingly more paranoid. The Winter Soldier sat in the observation room and listened to their pleas of release and listened to them insisting that it had been over 30 days by now when it hadn’t even been a week. The researchers and Zola ignored their cries for release which made them start to spit out information on where their enemies were. Mainly from the Stasi officer and the American.

Irina sat in a corner with her knees pulled up to her chest, her hair stringy from sweat and lack of a proper shower. The voices of the other subjects were driving her insane.

Day 9

Irina had no idea how long she had been in the room with her fellow research subjects. The already weakening sparkle in her eyes had completely disappeared and now they were grey and void of emotions. She sat and stared at books, but no longer read them, her eyes seemed to look 1000 yards through whatever she focused on.

She was shaken from her piercing stare when Rurik began to pace the room and run his hands vigorously through is hair. His eyes darted back and forth right before he began to scream, it wasn’t a normal scream, no, it sounded like he was having his skin slowly shaved off while he was still alive. No one reacted for three hours until his vocal chords ripped. He still tried but was the only sound that leapt from his throat was hoarse squeaks.

Malinka, Dragos, and Avery continued whispering into the microphones begging for release and giving up information on their comrades until Malinka was the next one to break. She screamed and screamed; when Irina caught her gaze, it seemed as though someone else was trying to break through and regain control of the poor young girl. She ran over to the library near the large glass mirror and banged her hands on it. The glass didn’t budge from Malinka’s actions.

Irina flipped the page in her book and continued to stare as though she was absorbing the words through osmosis. Dragos and Avery stalked over with a wild look in their eyes. Avery grabbed the screaming young girl and held her down as Dragos beat her face in with the closest book he could find; afterward taking the pages smeared with Malinka’s body matter and pasting them over the windows and cameras.

-

Day 13

After this incident, all talking stopped.

The researchers were baffled at the amount of silence in the room despite four living people in it. In fact, the amount of oxygen they were consuming was that of 5 people being alive and partaking in strenuous activity.

“Soldat,” Zola ordered “You will go in tomorrow morning and escort two researchers to check the microphones. Shoot anyone who steps out of line.”

His orders were straight and to the point.

The following morning Zola’s voice rang over the microphones “We are opening the chambers to test the microphones; step away from the door and lie flat on the floor or you will be shot. Compliance will earn one of you your immediate freedom.”

The Winter Soldier suited up in full field gear, ready to kill anyone that dared step out of line until a voice rang back on the microphone, it was the Stasi “We no longer want to be freed.”

Zola’s face flushed as he and the remaining researchers debated on what to do next. Flustered that he couldn’t get a response he agreed to open it on midnight on the 15th day.

It came sooner than the Winter Soldier had thought, 6 days of not seeing the pretty Russian woman made him feel nervous like he needed to be protecting her from the three remaining men in the room like he had with her father for those two months. He listened as the chamber was flooded with fresh oxygen and flushed of the stimulant gas. When the chamber was opened the researchers screamed at the sight before them, however, the Soldier walked in, expressionless, his only job was to escort and protect if needed.

Three of the five subjects were still alive, the young boy had been torn apart and used to block the drain in the middle of the floor causing a mixture of blood and water to accumulate on the floor. The American, the Stasi, and the Pretty Russian girl’s fingertips were raw and bone was starting to become exposed from scratching at their skin and the walls desperate for their escape. Upon further inspection of the room, they had also noticed that none of the food rations had been taken, yet none of the bodies showed signs of having been eaten.

When the Soldier observed the pretty Russian girl, her eyes were dark and hollow along with her cheeks from not eating, and her once vibrant hair seemed black and stringy from being caked with blood and filth. She had scratches along her face and her legs and she still continued to scratch despite the bones on her fingertips starting to poke through the raw flesh that padded them.

Zola called in several more soldiers to help escort the remaining three subjects for medical evaluation. Avery, Dragos, and Irina all put up a furious fight. The man grabbed at Irina’s wrists and she blocked them with her hands and kicked him hard in the chest a loud crack echoed through the cold cement walls of the compound as the man fell back into the red liquid that had accumulated below.

The two men put up a furious fight as well. Avery, however, was the first to be taken down by four soldiers and injected with a sedative that he continued to fight for the next 45 minutes.

Dragos grabbed the two guards that came at him by the throat and crushed them in his hands feeling the last of their air escape their bodies as they crumbled to the floor like marionettes.

The second time Irina was restrained the Soldier pinned her arms to her side and wrapped his metal arm rightly around her body causing some of her bones to fracture. She growled and shouted in protest as she was immediately put into restraints.

Something inside the Soldier itched to come to the surface as he forcibly held the girl down in order to be tied down by thick leather straps. But the feeling quickly went away after he put a bullet into Dragos’ head.

The Soldier quickly followed the researchers to the medical examination room per Zola’s request should Irina get too out of control. The EKG monitor and blood oxygen reader that Irina had been attached too showed remarkable readings for a girl of her size, she was a curvier girl, but had lost a significant amount of weight due to the lack of food for 15 days and was also pumping the same amount of blood and taking in the same amount of oxygen as a man three times her size who had been an Olympic athlete.

They placed an oxygen mask on the girl’s face to put her under for surgery to graph skin to her fingers and she protested “Don’t, I can keep going.” She insisted. Her voice was raspy from lack of use and dehydration.

Zola lit the room with a smile on his face “Take her to the washroom.” He ordered the doctors.

The Soldier knew that they weren’t going to give her a nice bath, but simple wash her brain from any memories and give her a few keywords to turn her into a killing machine.

-

Upon being taken back to the so-called ‘Wash Room’ Irina was strapped to more equipment, this time it was with metal rings around her arms, legs, and waist to make sure she didn’t break free. Blinding lights flashed before her along with images that blinked so rapidly her brain wasn’t able to register and a deafening noise blared in the background. She shifted her head to one side and tried to cover her eyes but had her head held in place by two cold metal plates and her eyes held open by a doctor wearing dark colored circular goggles. She stayed there for what seemed like hours until the words were seared into her brain

Longing

Bottle

Five

Daybreak

Furnace[]

Three

Benign

Hearth

One

Solitaire

Then her mouth was forced open and she closed it around a rubbery material before she screamed feeling a jolt of electricity shooting through the two metal plates on her head into her brain.

Then darkness.  

Chapter Text

When she woke up the words left her mouth on her own accord “Ready to comply.” She said in a monotone voice.

She felt like she was trying to scratch through the icy glass of a window but it was just out of reach. She held her hands against her head and swayed violently as several guards surrounded her. She screamed out when she reached over and instantly broke one of their necks, she was not in control of her movements and was trying to fight whatever was.

One of the men charged at her with a knife which she easily removed from his grasp and plunged into his neck. She collapsed on her knees onto the ground and broke out into sobs “What did you do you me!” She screamed at Zola who was intently watching her as she was re-strapped into the chair.

This process happened again for 23 more days until HYDRA was fully in control of her brain.

Irina stood up from her seat in the chair and looked over at the Soldier and Zola “Ready to comply” She said, her eyes were blank

Zola’s lips curled up into a smile as he handed her a file “This man is an enemy to HYDRA you and the Soldat are to kill him immediately. Leave no witnesses.” He handed her a knife and a gun and sent her on her way.

This was his indirect way of telling the Soldier to train the girl. She was still wild and needed to be tamed, learn how to properly fight, and how to properly kill. What Irina didn’t know was that the enemy against HYDRA was Avery, he had yet to be killed from the experiment that had occurred 23 days earlier.

She didn’t need to know his name or background, just the image. She entered the holding cell with the Winter Soldier and watched the man with dark circles under his blood shot eyes “Irina! Oh my god, you made it.” He exclaimed.

She blinked her eyes rapidly, Irina? Who was Irina? She felt something clawing at her consciousness that seemed to come from the very depths of her scarred brain. “You are my enemy.” She stated, more to herself than to Avery.

“Irina, we were locked in a room for 15 days together,” He said coming closer trying to plead with his former cellmate “You told me about your little sister and how your father beat her to death with a bottle.” Something inside her ticked and she felt her begin to race and the veins throughout her body dilate to adapt to the sudden surge of blood rushing through her “I thought they killed you like Dragos, But, we are the last ones!” He had no idea the effect of his words on her.

Her hands were clenching and unclenching, who was this little girl that was murdered? She shook her head as the screams of her forgotten sister ran through her mind “Shut up!” She said and threw her fist at the American Soldier who quickly blocked it.

The effects of the serum were still coursing through Avery’s blood. He quickly blocked her punches and pushed her back against the wall hard. Pieces crumbled off as her head clocked against the cement behind her “What the fuck did they do to you?” He asked hoping to jar something in her mind.

She felt like her brain had rattled around her head as bits and pieces of her memory began to come out of the cloudy fog that surrounded her. She remembered when she first woke up screaming at Dr. Zola as she fought and killed off three guards, completely out of control of her actions. When her memory cleared she was face to face with Avery, her arms clamped like a vice grip around his throat and him gasping for air against her hands. She let go immediately and put her hand over her mouth, her knees felt weak and her eyes fluttered as she fought the urge to faint from shock.

Bruises began to develop in the shape of her delicate hands along Avery’s throat as he gasped desperately for oxygen “Rina…” He rasped, his throat was raw from the shear force she had exerted, “Don’t lose who you are.” He said before the Winter Soldier hit him in the face with the butt of his gun.

Irina struggled against two large men pinning her arms to her side and the Soldier shoving a black canvas bag over her head before she was taken to the Wash Room once again “Who was that man?” She asked, her forehead was slick with sweat and her hair was sticking to her face “He knew me, he said my name.” She continued rambling off questions before a rubber mouth guard was placed in her mouth and her jaw was held shut by the Soldier and two large metal plates closed around her head.

“It’s best you don’t ask questions.” Zola said and pressed the button turning on the electricity. Her body arched up in pain as she clenched her fists so hard veins popped out of her arms. She let out an animalistic scream and her chest heaved as she felt like her brain was being ripped apart. The longer the electricity coursed through her body the less she was able to scream until her teeth clenched through the rubber mouth guard in pain. It felt like her brain was telling her muscles to tense, relax, and move all at once as the electricity coursed through her body causing her arched form to violently jerk against the ties that held her down.

When she woke up, her whole face felt tingly and the sides of her head were raw and the dead skin was beginning to flake away and bits of her hair were singed. She blinked multiple times as she stood, being released from her restraints “Ready to comply.”    

She ignored the stiffness in her bones and reached for the file that Zola had handed out to her “This is an enemy to HYDRA you must kill him, the Soldat will accompany you.” And again, it repeated.

Avery recognized the girl and noticed the burns on the side of her forehead, he wasn’t stupid the military had told him about HYDRA and how they brain washed its members. He knew that they were just going to keep sending Irina to kill him until she was no longer affected by the words that he said unless they triggered her to kill.  

He sat bloodied and bruised from her beatings “Irina, you need to hold strong.” He coughed up blood and it splattered on the floor with a sickening splash “They’re going to keep frying your brain until you are like him” He said weakly nodding towards the Soldat who watched.

Irina’s nostrils flared “Shut up!” she shouted before kicking Avery in the stomach; his words jarred something inside her. The smell of her hair burning, her screams during electrocution, the feeling of her muscles rippling and contracting as she lost control of her brain she looked down on the floor and Avery was discreetly sliding her a piece of paper. She didn’t know why, but she grabbed it and placed it in her shirt between her breasts without the Soldat noticing.

The American grabbed her by her shirt and pulled her in close “Now kill me, or you’ll get sent back.” He said softly.

Irina’s eyes darted back and forth as she struggled internally on what to do.  

For the first time the Winter Soldier spoke; “Longing, Bottle, Five, Daybreak, Furnace, Three, Benign, Hearth, One, Solitaire” with every word recited by his raspy voice Irina felt her heart begin to beat faster and faster and her breath began to become more sporadic. She gripped Avery hard on his shoulders and slammed him back against the wall with each of her trigger words. The first hit knocked him out, the third hit killed him, and the rest were just because she couldn’t stop.

Her fingers hurt from hitting the wall behind him as she let the man go he slumped to his side now lifeless; she stood up and turned towards the Soldier with her hair hanging in her face and waited patiently for her next orders.

Zola entered the room quietly and looked at the mess in front of him and waved at it silently telling the guards to clean it up as the Winter Soldier and Irina quietly followed them. Their steps were impossibly silent as they followed down the dimly light corridor to a vast room “Come now, in you go.” Zola said opening the door to a cryogenic freezing pod.

Irina looked at the pod confused. She stepped in and the door with a small window where she could look out shut in front of her and she reached up to touch the glass before she felt a flash of bitter cold and blackness.

When she woke up her bones felt stiff and the inside of her body felt freezing. She frowned and looked down at her fingers and arms and found that they were discolored from frostbite. She frowned and looked up at a different man, who wasn’t Zola “Who are you?” She asked stepping out of the pod her heavy combat boots clomping on the floor. She looked around the room confused, this was not the place she last remembered.

“Alexander Pierce.” He said with a curt nod.

She looked past the man’s shoulders and saw the Soldat from earlier, but before she could greet him two armed military men grabbed her arms and pulled her into a newer version of the Wash Room. She looked around and everything seemed brighter, the lights more vibrant and the metal shinier “What year is this?” She asked while being pushed into a chair and strapped in. Irina’s eyes began to panic, she knew what was happening “Where am I?” she asked and kicking one of the guards that was strapping her into the chair in the face.

He gripped his nose as blood began to gush out “You bitch!” He hissed and swung his fist at her.

Irina’s mind moved at a mile a minute as she dodged his sloppy movements that were fueled by rage. She grabbed his fist and bent it behind him dislocating his shoulder and swept his legs out from under him while grabbing his gun as he fell. She cocked it and pointed it at Pierce who calmly stood before her “What year is it and where am I?” She asked, her hands were unshaking as she held the loaded gun pointed towards him.

Alexander Pierce seemed unfazed by her actions “You are in New York, it’s 2014.” He said as his eyes followed the Winter Soldier who was moving towards Irina.

“What? America?” She asked in disbelief “When I went in there it was 1950 and we were in Siberia” she said shaking her head.

The man before her shook his head “You were frozen and brought back out dozens of times before you really don’t remember?” He asked narrowing his eyes.

Irina shook her head “You’re lying.” She said, her hair was pasted to her forehead with sweat from adrenaline, “They locked me in that room and I didn’t sleep for 15 days and then I had that mission.” Her hands never moved from their spot as she talked.

Pierce let out a laugh “It’s amazing what we can erase, isn’t it?” He asked looking at one of his colleagues who was watching nervously.

The Winter Soldier reached his hand forward and took the gun away from her and shoved her back into the chair as the remaining soldiers strapped her in. She felt the cool metal touch the sides of her head and she felt her heart race begin to beat faster and faster, she knew what was coming, her chest began to heave as they shoved the rubber mouth guard into her mouth. Her eyes darted around the room as scientists surrounded her, some with clip boards to write down observations and she locked eyes with the Soldat who looked at her with sympathy. The machines hummed to life and she let out a sob that jerked her chest as she felt the electricity shoot through her mind. She clenched every muscle in her body and screamed as they rippled in pain. Her mind sent mixed signals to her body telling her muscles to clench, relax, and move all at once. Her fist balled tightly as she felt her nails dig into her skin.

Then it all stopped. She huffed trying to regain her breath as her muscles relaxed, Pierce waved his hand “Again.” He said as Irina shook her head silently pleading for it not to happen again.

This time Pierce began to say her trigger words in crude Russian “Longing, Bottle, Five, Daybreak, Furnace, Three, Benign, Hearth, One, Solitaire.” Despite her agonizing screams the words were drilled into her mind. Her muscles began to flex against the electricity coursing through her and she tugged at her metal braces against her body.

She tugged and tugged until the metal bit into her wrists and light trickles of blood began to seep out of her wrists until she broke one arm free. She reached over and ripped the other one off and with both hands pried the metal surrounding her head off and spat her mouth guard out. “Ready to comply.” She said standing up from her chair.  Her voice was raw from screaming and dryness from decades of not using it.

Pierce grinned and showed her a file. It was a black man with an eye patch and no hair on his head. He looked mean and his eyes showed a life time of agony. “Kill him and anyone that tries to help him.” He said.

Irina wordlessly nodded her head and followed the Soldat to the weapon room, she filled every pocket and buckle with a surplus of weaponry and grabbed a mask and goggles. She drew dark circles under her eyes to help the glare from her eyes being sensitive to light then followed the Soldat out the compound, she was met with the overwhelming city of New York. It was loud, too loud for her. She winced and covered her ears, “Come on.” The Soldat said and loaded into a HYDRA van that had the words S.H.I.E.L.D plastered on the side of it.

Together they loaded into the back until they stopped outside of an apartment and quickly climbed the stairs of a parking structure located next to the building. They wordlessly began to set up their sniper rifles. Irina looked at her scope and began to tell the Soldat the location of his target “South west 47 degrees.” She said and noticed someone outside the window. She held her hand up “Hold fire.” She said and got behind her rifle and watched. It was a large blonde man, something about his face looked timeless and vintage. She watched him and the black man interact before the Soldat got a clear shot and fired at him shooting him clear through the back. The man collapsed onto the floor while the blonde looked through the window and jumped out of it onto the roof and began to run after them.

Irina watched as he wound up his shield with a big white star on it, it was Captain America. She cocked her head confused, he was supposed to be dead, but then again so was she. Quickly she jumped down while the Soldat stopped his shield with his metal hand and threw it back before running off with Irina.

They met at the rendezvous point and silently got into the back of the van Irina swallowed thickly as she looked at the Soldat “Have I really been awake before now?” She asked quietly.

The Soldat looked at her and nodded his head “We killed Howard Stark and his wife.” He said gruffly.

Irina chewed on her lip and nodded her head. She wanted to know his name, but then again, she didn’t even know her own name.  

Chapter Text

The next morning, she and the Soldat were dropped off in the middle of the highway. Neither was expecting to literally be kicked out of the back of the van at that time, but they were quite literally kicked out of the back door. Irina rolled onto her feet and the Soldat caught himself and skid leaving the air lightly dusted with the scent of burnt rubber from the soles of his shoes as she used his metal hand to steady himself. He ran towards the black car that held the target in it and threw him from his seat and onto incoming traffic while Irina stood in front of the car barreling towards her with the Soldat still standing on the top of it shooting blindly into the car hoping to hit one of the three people inside it.

The driver slammed on the breaks and he flew from the top of the car and steadied himself with the screech of metal screaming from his fingertips as they drug across the ground. Together they stood, faces covered as cars veered around them trying to avoid the stopped car and two people standing in the middle lane.

A HYDRA truck hit the car from behind and the Soldat took his opportunity to jump on the top of the car and Irina through the front windshield. She reached over and ripped the steering wheel from the driver and threw it out the window “Shit!” He yelled as the car veered off and the woman in the back seat reached for a gun and began shooting at the roof.

Before Irina could register what was happening the Soldat has grabbed and pulled her through the window and onto the top of the HYDRA truck as the target car began to flip. Irina and the Soldat stepped of the HYDRA truck and were each handed a gun, the Soldat a grenade launcher, and Irina a sniper rifle. The Soldat immediately fired in their general direction while Irina ran off to find higher ground and try to pick them off from a distance. Glass shattered around her as one of their targets ran after her, the Soldat didn’t care about collateral damage, he just cared about eliminating the targets.

One of their targets, a red-headed woman was running “Shoot her,” She heard a voice in her earpiece command. Immediately Irina stopped in her tracks and steadied herself on the hood of a car and lined her shot up. She watched the woman shoot off the Soldat’s glasses, he jumped back and took the cracked lenses off his face and discarded them on the ground before he sent a flurry of bullets raining down on her.

Before Irina could register; she had the wind knocked out of her as she was tackled by a tall black man. As they continued to struggle she found her mask and protective glasses ripped off her face. She shielded her face from the blinding light that the glasses kept out of her face and the sudden rush of cool air that filled her lungs and headbutted the man, stunning him, and kicked his chest sending him flying off her onto the ground. As she ran and jumped off the freeway overpass and landed on a car crushing and shattering it underneath her super soldier strength. Irina followed closely behind the Soldat helping to eliminate any sort of incoming police or military cars.

Off to the corner Irina could hear muffled talking, she looked over and locked eyes with the Soldat’s icy blue orbs and nodded her head as he slowly walked towards the voice while Irina covered his back and sides. He carefully slid a grenade under the car and used the car in front of him to shield the two from any of the blast and rubble that rained down on them.

Nothing. No one was behind the car. Irina and the Soldat looked at each other visibly confused before the red-headed woman came and wrapped her legs around the Soldat and placed a cord around his neck before he threw her onto the hood of a car.

She turned, quickly recovering, and threw a small electrical device on his arm and he jumped as it spasmed through him and malfunctioned his arm. Irina frowned and let out a puff off the air before she pulled her scope up to her eyes and lined her shot up and pulled the trigger. She heard the woman yell and fall as the Soldat ripped the electrical device from his arm and they continued towards the woman to make sure she was dead.

Seeing as she was still alive, the Soldat lined up his last shot for her but was stopped by a large blond man. His metallic fist contacted the dirtied shield and a loud clang rang through the already loud and panicked streets of New York before the Soldat kicked his chest.

Irina looked over her shoulder and saw the black man running towards her. She blocked his fist and moved to hit him with the butt of her gun, but it was ripped from her hands and thrown to the side. Quickly she reached for the blade on the side of her leg, but she wasn’t quick enough. The man grabbed her arm and pulled it over his shoulder, dislocating her arm in the process while also throwing her over him. She hissed in pain, but let out no cry as she was taught not to as her back hit the hard cement rubble that was beneath her. She looked next to her and watched at the Soldat’s mask was ripped off his face and he stood with a terrified look in his eyes at the blond man spoke “Bucky?” He sounded helpless.

The Soldat’s face contorted and he shook his head “Who the hell is Bucky?” He asked while walking towards Irina, the man fighting her stunned in silence as Steve stood there. Irina composed herself and took advantage of the distraction to walk towards the Soldat before a grenade was launched towards them. Quickly the Soldat grabbed her good arm and pulled her off running to cover so that they wouldn’t get caught by the swarm of police cars.

The Soldat dropped her arm and Irina held her dislocated arm close to her side as she and the Soldat ran back to the HYDRA truck for an escape. They stopped and she leaned against the brick wall with her forehead covered in sweat from the pain, “Come here,” He said and motioned for her to come closer.

She ground down hard on her teeth and looked at him terrified, was he going to kill her because of her injury? She thought briefly, but there was something different in his eyes. Almost like something was trying to claw through to the surface. She reluctantly nodded her head and moved closer as he put her good arm off to the side of her body and watched as the dislocated one painfully dangled freely at her side.

He wrapped his arms around her and without warning gave her a painful squeeze forcing her arm back into her socket. She screamed out of pain feeling it suck back into place “Thank you,” She choked out while rubbing her arm and trying told back the tears that were forming.

“We need to get out of here.” He said and waited for her to compose herself before they continued running towards their rendezvous point.

-

Once back at the compound they were both taken to the Wash Room, Irina’s shoulder was looked at and doctored up a bit more and her scrapes and cuts were cleaned up while the Soldat sat on the chair and stared at the wall in front of him. It looked as though he was having some internal battle with himself. A medical staff member came and tried to push him back into the chair but the Soldat struggled against him and fought against their grip. It wasn’t until the military men pointed several guns at him that he calmed down.

Irina watched, fascinated, she had never seen the Soldat like this before. He was so calm and collected and followed orders like a good soldier. She watched him sit unmoving in the seat, she couldn’t help but notice the angry red scarring that surrounded his arm, or the way his chest heaved up and down as he tried to calm himself or get shot by the armed guards.

Alexander Pierce entered the room “Mission report.” He demanded from the Soldat, the Soldat remained unmoving “Mission report.” He demanded again more sternly, again the Soldat remained silent.

A crisp smack rang through the air as Pierce’s hand slapped the Soldat across the face.  

The Soldat looked up, his face was pale and he looked confused, “That man on the bridge, who was he?” He asked looking at Pierce.

Pierce licked his lips, you could see the gears turning in his mind “You met him earlier this week on another assignment.”

The Soldat’s eyes narrowed and followed Pierce’s movements as he sat down in a chair “I knew him.” He said matter-of-factly.

A smiled ghosted Pierce’s face “You two,” He said pointing back to Irina who was watching intensely “have been a gift to mankind and have shaped the century.” He said praising their skills “I need you two to do it one more time; society is at a tipping point between order and chaos and tomorrow morning we are going to give it a push. But if you two don’t do your parts, I can’t do mine and HYDRA can’t give the world the freedom it deserves” Pierce finished speaking and pursed his lips, silently urging the Soldat to speak more.

The Soldat licked his lips and inhaled sharply “But I knew him.” He pressed watching Pierce get up and walk towards the medical staff.

“Prep them,” Pierce ordered.

The doctor looked concerned “They have been out of cryo for far too long.” He said hesitantly.

Pierce shrugged his shoulders “Them wipe them and start over.” He said and turned on his heels leaving the room.

Irina was pushed back into her chair and looked around confused, why was this happening? She didn’t need to be recleaned. She looked over to see the Soldat’s chest heaving as he was held down and cuffed in exactly how she was. They both knew what was coming and there was nothing either could do to stop it.

She felt the electricity course through her brain as the trigger words were blasted into her mind once more. Her eyes clenched hard against the pain while she felt her muscles rippling beneath her as her neurons fired rapid and confusing signals to each other. She gasped and her chest heaved once it stopped. She began to sit up only to be pushed back down once more and have her mind wiped once again. She screamed biting down hard on her plastic mouth guard as her body convulsed for a second time. After the third time, Pierce ordered the doctors to stop the cleaning process.

Pierce pointed at her “Send her back to the pods.” He said and looked at the Soldat “You are continuing this on your own.”

Irina struggled against the tight grip of the guards “No,” She protested thrashing against them. She used their arms as leverage and reached one leg over kicking one of the guards causing him to loosen his grip as the other guard struggled to restrain her. She kneed him in the gut and sent him onto the ground “I’m not going back in there.” She protested.

Pierce looked her up and down admiring her courage while the guards and medical staff watched her silently stunned at her disobedience “No you’re right.” He said, “You are coming with me.” He said and motioned for her to follow him for her next assignment.

-

She was to watch over him and make sure he didn’t get killed in the process of them trying to take over SHIELD. She was given a blouse and pencil skirt and a nice shower and a woman sat down with Irina and fixed her hair into a nice bun and gave her a light face of makeup, “Mr. Pierce says you need to blend in better for this.” She said softly watching the girl wince way as a brush came in contact with her face.

Irina sat still and frowned as she looked at herself in the mirror. She didn’t recognize herself not in her tactical gear and with the grime scrubbed off of her face. She followed quietly behind Pierce and his men as they walked through the SHIELD agency. Irina wasn’t there to socialize, she was there to protect Pierce at all costs.

While Pierce was busy talking to the visitors Irina stood behind them silently watching and taking in every little detail she could about the area when a voice projected itself over the loudspeakers. Pierce looked over at her and gave her a small head nod signaling her to take care of the situation at hand.

Irina quickly left and was met with HYDRA agents standing outside the door, she slipped off the shoes she was wearing for comfort and grabbed a gun from them and ran out to the airstrip where the Soldat was already taking care of things at hand. She fired at whoever fired at her not caring which side they were on as she ran towards one of the empty planes. She was quickly stopped by a man who bravely grabbed the barrel of her gun she pushed it to the side while ripping it from her hands.

She looked at him confused as he paused and stared at her “Irina?” He asked.

Suddenly a wave hit her, it felt like a brick wall that she slammed into face first. “What?” She asked staring him down.

His face hadn’t aged in the slightest as she searched it trying to recognize him “Jesus, what the hell has HYDRA done to you?” He asked his face contorting in sadness, “You still don’t recognize me?” He asked.

Irina frowned and shoved him hard on the freight that was behind him and his body came in contact with a loud slam “Irina, you have to recognize me, we were in there together.” He said grabbing her arms as they came in contact with his neck and began to squeeze. He pried her arms off him and pulled her forward kneeing her in the chin.

Her teeth clanked together as she bit her lip on impact and spat out the blood that began to fill her mouth “Shut up.” She hissed and shook her head trying to clear the daze that had overcome her upon getting her head hit.

“No, you need to listen.” He said pushing her down and kneeling over her straddling her as he held her shoulders down onto the cement. Irina struggled as the man stared into her eyes and suddenly her mind was met with a searing pain while bits and pieces of memories pieced themselves together.

She yelled in pain and struggled against him “Stop it!” She said trying to push him off of her.

“Irina, listen to me.” He shook her hard causing her to hit the back of her head hard on the cement, “We were locked in that room together, we couldn’t sleep. Do you remember?”

Irina’s face scrunched up in pain as she tried to fight back the tears that overcame her and the memories that held so much pain. “No, stop it.” She shook her head and closed her eyes hoping it would block out the flood of emotions and memories that she had wiped from her mind for so long.

“You told me about your little sister,” His voice softened along with his grip “Back in Russia and how your Father, Vasly, killed her.”

Irina’s eyes shot open and they flooded with tears while her hands shot up and covered her face. She remembered her little sister, Raisa, “Stop it.” She sobbed as the memory played back in her mind as clear as day. The look of terror on Raisa’s face as the clank of glass shattering on their wooden floor, the sound of her father yelling, the sound of her mother screaming and pleading for him to stop, Raisa’s screams of agony, and the chilling silence that followed her beating. Irina’s chest heaved as she shot up and pushed the man off of her, her sudden and quick motions catching him off guard, “Avery.” She softly choking back a sob as she ran off. Avery, the man she thought she had killed during her brainwashing was in fact still very much alive.

She didn’t know where she was running but she ran and ran until her legs hurt and her bare feet bled from the rubble digging into them. She sat on the edge of the river that surrounded SHIELD and watched as the building was destroyed. Irina ran a hand through her hair that had fallen out in her struggle with Avery before she noticed movement from the corner of her eye. She looked to see the Soldat dragging a man out of the water and dropping him on the ground before locking eyes with Irina. His eyes held the same pain as hers did, he looked away quickly and walked off into the wooded area that surrounded it and she ran after him stepping over the man that was on the ground “Wait,” She said and grabbed the Soldat’s shoulder. He jerked away from her touch and turned to look at her, his eyes were red from emotion and smoke irritation, “Did you know him?” She asked quietly.

The way the Soldat’s face contorted with pain gave her the answer she knew to already be correct. He did. They continued walking until they were deep within the wooded area before they both stopped from shear exhaustion from fighting, emotion, and walking. Together they plopped down onto the ground and Irina looked over at him “So was that your name?” She asked.

The Soldat looked at her “What?” He said, his voice was raw and hoarse.

“Bucky, what he called you, is that your name?” His name rang against his eardrums like an explosion.

He sighed and stretched his legs out “Yeah.” He said simply. “I know yours already.” He looked away shameful to say that he was the one that brought her here in the first place.

“How?” She asked.

“Your name is Irina and you used to live in a little farming village in Russia.” He said softly “You had a mother and a father who was an alcoholic.”

Irina listened intently to his words and chewed on her lip, she got most of this from when she encountered Avery only moments earlier. “What happened to them after I was taken?” She asked dreading the answer.

Bucky shifted uncomfortably and avoided eye contact with her. “I took you,” He said and cleared his throat “A few months after your mother shot your father and then shot herself.” He said and looked up finally allowing himself to look at her. He hadn’t noticed it, perhaps because the only time they saw each other was when they were brainwashed and trying to carry out their mission and always in their tactical gear, but he couldn’t help himself, looking at the subtle curves of her lips or the way her hair hung messily around her shoulders.

She wasn’t even upset at what Bucky had told her; she saw it coming from a mile away; however, they had bigger issues to deal with right now “I don’t want to go back to them.” She said softly.

Bucky continued staring at her “We don’t have to.” He said and cleared his throat uncomfortably “The only one that’s left is Rumlow.” Upon hearing his comment, Irina’s shoulders visibly relaxed. The idea of not going back to HYDRA was something that had never crossed either of their minds until now.

“Yeah, I would like that.” She said softly. The idea of leaving was scary, but thrilling as neither of the two had a dime to their name. Irina pursed her lips and swallowed thickly “I know someone who can help.” She said looking at Bucky for reassurance.

He nodded his head “Let’s lay low a few days and then leave.” He suggested.

Irina nodded her head and stood up and brushed the dirt off of her sullied clothes before she began walking back towards the direction of the City. “Come on, I blend in.” She said looking down at her pencil skirt and blouse “We need to find you clothes.”

The idea of taking clothing off of a dead body was unappealing but neither had much of a choice as they reentered the smoking building that was formerly known as SHIELD. Thankfully they found a locker room and did not need to grave rob some poor innocent soul. Bucky stood before her in a button down and slacks as he loaded his tactical gear in a backpack and carried it on his back while they walked out of the building quietly going unnoticed by the rest of the commotion that surrounded them.

Chapter Text

Within weeks Irina had been able to contact Avery who had graciously set them up in a small apartment in Romania. If you would have asked Irina what she saw herself doing in 60 years, she would have responded with dead. Not trying to lay low as she was wanted as an international security threat along with her partner, formerly known as the Winter Soldier and now known as James Buchanan Barnes.

The first night in Romania was spent deciding who would sleep in the single bed just underneath the window “I’ll sleep on the couch. It’s fine.” Bucky protested.

He was much too tall for the couch and the cushions were worn down and flattened with age “I stayed up for 15 days straight. I’ll be fine without a bed.” Irina said back and moved the cushions around on the couch.

Bucky rolled his eyes “Did that work out well for you?” He snapped.

No, it didn’t work out well for her, she wasn’t supposed to be 24 years old and still alive. She was supposed to be well into her 80s and laying on her deathbed surrounded with by her friends and family. Not in some shitty small apartment in Romania while trying to hide from any sort of police officer or military officer that dare look her direction. But Irina bit her tongue to stop any more arguing, she paused thinking of what to say, “I think this is a pull-out.” She said frowning still irritated at the soldier’s comment.  

The soldier shrugged his shoulder and set his duffel bag on the mattress “Fine, then you get a bed too. Everyone’s happy.” Happy was a relative term to them at this point. “We need to set this place up just in case we get caught we can escape.”

She crossed her leg over her knee and looked over at him; he was right, they really needed to prep this palace for a proper getaway when the time came. There really was no if in this situation; someone was going to find them. She opened her bag to reveal sever wads of cash banded together nestled amongst an assortment of guns and ammunition. “Where did you get that?” He asked.

Irina shrugged her shoulders began to lay everything out on the coffee table in front of her “I stole it from SHIELD and HYDRA.” She simply said.

Bucky wasn’t going to argue with her, they hadn’t a cent to their names but thanks to Irina’s quick thinking they had just enough to last them for a while. Bucky stepped around the floorboards testing to see which ones were loose enough for him to pry out and stuff full of their getaway bags. He found a spot perfectly lined up with the window and allowed a smile to ghost his face at the convenience. He used his metal arm to carefully pry the board out and stuffed two soft backpacks in it. Each contained around $300 cash, two handguns, ammunition, a set of fake passports courtesy of Avery, and a change of clothes.

Irina walked over and watched him stuffing the bags within the floorboards and chewed on her lip nervously “If we need to leave,” She stopped trying to gather her thoughts, “Are we going to leave together?” She asked hesitantly.

Bucky looked up and caught her gaze. Together. He supposed that would make the most sense, wouldn’t it? They were partners after all. “Yeah,” He said softly “We can meet on the top of that roof.” He said pointing at the window directly behind him.

Irina nodded her head and walked back over to the couch and stood on it carefully trying to reach the air vent. She frowned and stepped on the arm with one leg and the back of the couch with her other and stretched reaching at the air vent, she grunted in frustration when the Soldier came up behind her and softly cleared his throat to make himself known “I don’t need your help.” She snapped reaching, her fingertips just barely brushing against the rusted metal.

The Soldier frowned deeply “I never said you did.” He poked her side sharply “I thought you would want a screwdriver to get it open.”

Irina looked down at his hand and saw a screwdriver in it; she sighed in defeat and moved out of his way “Go on, I can’t reach it anyway.” She said and moved to the opposite end feeling the cushions dip under the Super Soldier’s weight as he effortlessly reached up and removed the screws carefully and pried it off. Irina reached into the duffle bag on the coffee table and handed Bucky several wads of cash, fake passports, and ammunition and watched as he strategically stuffed the small hole full of their goodies.

“Do you speak Romanian?” He asked looking down at her irritated expression.

“What?” She asked caught off guard.

“Do you.” He stopped articulating his words sarcastically “Speak Romanian.” He finished.

Irina rolled her eyes “I speak thirty languages; of course, I can.” She snapped  

Bucky frowned and stepped down from the couch after he finished situating the grate “We need to get food, let’s go.” He said grabbing a hat and light jacket.

Irina felt her heart pounding in her chest and her breathing escalate “You mean leave?” She asked.

Bucky could hear her heart pounding in his ears, she was panicking, “Yes leave, we can leave we just need to be careful.” He said and threw her a black beanie to cover her hair and a scarf to wear and help shield her face. In the crisp Romanian air, they wouldn’t look out of place.

Reluctantly nodding her head, Irina grasped the beanie and scarf and put them on, briefly glancing in the mirror to make sure she was covered. Together they walked out locking the door behind them and looking around carefully before walking down the many flights of stairs they needed in order to get to the bottom floor. “Where do you want to go?” She asked.

Bucky looked behind him and noticed Irina struggling to keep up with his long strides, so he slowed and walked next to her matching her speed, “We can go to the open market.” He suggested. Irina nodded her head silently in agreement and followed him, surprised he knew the layout of the city so well.

The sky was grey and the crisp air nipped at their skin as they walked, thankfully it was crowded and no one paid too much attention to them as they weaved about the crowd through the different kiosks, “What do you want to eat?” She asked pausing momentarily to allow a group of people to push past her.

The Soldier looked down at his partner and licked his lips thinking of a place to eat. He hadn’t tasted real food in years; Hydra had only given them MREs and dehydrated food solely for the nutritional content. The smell of food cooking wafted through the air and filled his nostrils with delicious spices that overwhelmed him, “I don’t know, there had to be a street cart around somewhere.” He said moving towards a table with a kindly looking elderly woman selling fruit. He picked up a plum and squeezed it lightly. Fresh. He grabbed another plum for Irina and dug into his pocket and handed her a crumpled bill before he spoke in flawless Romanian, “Is there anywhere around here to eat?” He asked politely.

The old woman smiled at the tall man and the woman at his side before she gave them directions to a meat stand that also sold sandwiches that were just a few tables down from hers. They graciously thanked her before walking in the direction she pointed them. Irina bit into the plum and groaned as the sweet taste filled her mouth and juices dribbled down her chin. She quickly reached her hand up to wipe her chin and frowned at the sticky residue on her hands before she wiped it off on her pants.

Before she knew it, they had reached the meat stand and saw a little seating area and a person at a register along with a large menu behind the employee. Bucky fished around in his pockets once more and pulled out more crumpled notes “What do you want to eat?” He asked straightening out the money in his hands.

She shrugged her shoulders “I don’t know, just get me whatever that shawarma stuff is.” She scanned over the menu more “Oh, and some of those cabbage rolls.” Irina could have ordered one of everything off the menu. She felt the hollow pit in her stomach from the lack of real food she had endured for the last 60 years. She patiently waited behind Bucky as he ordered their food and looked around the market.

The swarms of people and loud noises overwhelmed her heightened senses and she gripped hard on the back of his jacket that he wore. He could hear her breathing increase as he grabbed the number for their order and grasped her hand pulling her off to the seated eating area “It’s fine,” He said softly. She looked down at her legs, one of which was bouncing up and down anxiously, as her hair hung in her face. “Hey,” He said and brushed her hair out of her face and tilted Irina’s face up to meet his, “We are going to be fine. No one will recognize us.”

Irina’s mouth hung slightly open as she breathed heavily feeling like everything was closing in around them. How could he be so calm and collected? One false move and they were getting shipped to New York where they were wanted war criminals. “Number five!” a voice rang through the air.

Bucky frowned seeing your fists tighten and watched you blinking rapidly “Fuck.” He hissed.

“Number five!” The cashier’s voice rang out again.

Bucky held Irina’s face steadily in his hands as she struggled with reality and the veil that HYDRA still held over them “Come on, Irina.” He said trying to catch her gaze and pull her back.

Irina felt her blood began to pump faster through her veins as one of her trigger words was called out. The overwhelming feeling of the market weakened her mentally and the simple word probed at the darkest parts of her brain. She heard her name “Irina.” Bucky called again. Suddenly the noises seemed too much as reality swallowed her up and spat her back out.

Her chest heaved and her forehead lightly glistened with sweat “We need to get out of here.” Bucky said grasping her hand and pulling her dazed body out from the chair and over to where their food waited. He quickly grabbed their food and mumbled a short thank you before they ran out of the open-air market.

Open- air was the exact opposite of how Irina felt. When they exited the crowd of people the sudden blast of cold air pulled her back and she gasped breathing it in as though she had been deprived of oxygen. Her hands shook as she took her hand out of Bucky’s and placed them on her knees. He chest heaved and she coughed from the cold air and tried to catch her breath “I’m sorry.” She said huffing and sitting up, composing herself as best she could.

The Soldier remained silent and offered her the bag of food she had ordered before they walked back to their apartment. Pausing at the door while unlocking It he looked over his shoulder at Irina, who hadn’t said a word since the market. “It’s okay,” He said softly and opened the door, setting his bag on the dining room table and pulled a chair out and watched as Irina followed.

She sighed and opened her food pulling out her shawarma sandwich and cabbage rolls thankful everything was still warm. Irina shook her head, it’s okay, it didn’t feel like that. Still having to worry about the control HYDRA had over her made her nervous, people could just say a few words and turn her into a ruthless killer again. The idea made her want to lose her appetite but the loud growling sound it made begged to differ. “I don’t want to leave the house,” Irina said softly poking at her cabbage rolls.

Bucky looked across the table at her and put his food down on the wrapper and cleared his throat “You can’t just hide in here forever.” He said. He really should have taken his own advice because all the Soldier wanted to do was stay hidden in this little shitty apartment until everyone had forgotten who they were and who HYDRA was.

Irina frowned and looked up at the Soldier but avoided his intense stare “Hear me out,” She protested “We should have some to stay behind and watch the house while the other is out.”

“No.” He said quickly cutting her off.

Irina’s eyes narrowed “Why not?” She pressed, irritation lingering in her voice.

Bucky nervously tapped his fingers on one of his legs before he answered, “You shouldn’t be here alone.”

“Why not, I can-“

She was cut off before she could finish the sentence “Because what if there is an ambush and I’m not here to help.” He said sternly. He didn’t know why but he felt a strong urge to keep Irina safe. He leaned back in his chair “We’re partners, we should leave together.” He said quieting his tone.

Irina nodded her head “Together, right.” She said softly. She liked how that sounded, together.

The night was quick to approach; it was late, around 2 am before Irina and Bucky decided to say goodnight to each other. She looked over and saw Buck rifling through a stack of old newspapers “What are you reading up on?” She asked before craning her head over and seeing an old grainy photo of a young man and Captain America “Oh, your boyfriend.” She teased.

Bucky jerked the newspaper away from Irina’s gaze and huffed “No,” He protested “I need to find out who he was.” He said and pointed at the smiling military man next to the Captain “And who I was.”

Irina sucked in a sharp breath “That’s you?” She asked curiously, the man in the photo was handsome, his hair was cropped short to his head and his sharp jawline was accentuated by the smile that was spread across his face and then again back up at the Soldier before her. She scanned his face and pushed some of his long brown locks out of his face and moved his head so she could see the side, “Yeah, I guess I see it.” She said and allowed a small smile to play on her lips as she teased him.

“We should get some sleep.” The Soldier said looking over at the little analog clock that hung on their kitchen wall.

“You’re right,” Irina said closing her book and stretching her stiff bones before she left to get ready for bed.

Sleep didn’t come easily to Irina. It was a probably a side effect of constantly being a state of cryogenically frozen and the sleep experiment she was forced to do. She laid in the flat mattress of the pull-out couch that the Soldier had helped her set up and frowned looking up at the dark ceiling watching a bug crawl across it and move into a crack in the ceiling that would leak whenever it rained.

She silently cursed to herself while standing up and walking to the bathroom. She didn’t need to go, she just needed to move. When she got into the bathroom she ran the faucet with cold water and splashed it on her face. She looked in the mirror and noticed the dark bags that were seemingly permanent on her face and the burn marks on her temples and patchy hair that tried to grow over them. She sighed and quickly shut the light off. She left walking past the Soldiers room and noticed muffled noises coming from it.

She lightly rapped her knuckles against it and pushed it open knowing that he would have heard her knocking. The soldier was lying flat on his back with his face contorted and twisted in pain as sweat dripped down his face and plastered his long brown hair to his forehead. It was obvious he was having a nightmare.

Irina cautiously approached his bed and sat on it watching as his sleeping form jerked away from the pressure that was now on the bed as he continued groaning and thrashing his head “Soldat?” She asked loudly hoping to wake him up.

He hissed out in pain and gripped the sheets beneath him so tightly they began to rip in his hands “Bucky,” She pressed again moving to his side, no effect, the cogs in her brain turned as she found herself reaching up and cupping his face “James?” she said softly.

Bucky’s eyes shot open as he sat up abruptly and knocked heads with Irina. She recoiled back and held her forehead which had a red spot developing on it. He huffed heavily and swallowed the lump that had formed in his impossibly dry throat. His eyes were wide with panic as he blinked rapidly allowing his eyes to adjust to the darkness of his room. He looked at Irina who was rubbing her forehead “I’m sorry,” He said his voice hoarse from his nightmare.

Irina shook her head “It’s fine, it happens to me too.” She said looking at Bucky’s hunched over form in the darkness. She swallowed thickly as silence hung over them before she opened her mouth to speak again “Do…” She paused momentarily trying to gather her words “Do you want me to sleep in here with you?” She asked, “Just in case it happens again or if I have one?” her voice was soft and just barely a whisper.

Bucky found himself nodding his head before the words left his mouth “Yeah,” He said breathlessly before moving over in his bed making room for Irina.

She moved in swiftly thankful that the bed was just big enough to allow them a gap as they both laid on their sides back to back. They had slept in the same bed before on missions when Zola or the other HYDRA staff had allowed them to go on missions that spanned multiple days so they were accustomed to it. Irina let out a shaky breath and relaxed into the mattress, it wasn’t much better than the couch mattress but it felt better on her joints that seemed to be permanently stiff from the years of abuse. She looked at the glowing clock that was on the nightstand and frowned, she would only be getting a max of 3 hours of sleep until she and Bucky woke up for their run, but it was better than nothing.

Chapter Text

Sharing a bed had been something they grew accustomed to in the few weeks of living together. It helped keep some of the nightmares at bay and having two people in a room made it easier to defend against unwanted intruders. Their sleep schedules; however, were still just as unpredictable as their anxiety whenever they left the apartment. Sometimes Bucky wouldn’t sleep for days, whereas Irina couldn’t get enough sleep and could sleep for hours on end.

Irina reached over for the newspaper on the nightstand next to her. Since she typically slept through their morning runs Bucky would grab one and read it after his shower and then set it on her nightstand for her to read when she woke up in the late afternoon.

“Irina, it’s three in the afternoon are you getting up?” Bucky asked throwing one of the plush couch pillows at her from the doorway.

Irina groaned and stretched her limbs out like a sleepy cat and rubbed her eyes “Fuck off.” She said pulling the blanket over her head. After years of being subjected to sleep deprivation to mentally break her down; it seemed as though she could sleep forever.

“We have to go out and get more towels.” Bucky said moving towards the bed they shared and crossing his arms over his chest. “I can’t leave you here, you sleep like the fucking dead.” He tugged the blankets off revealing Irina only clad in a long tee shirt he frowned recognizing it as one of his shirts.

Irina rolled over facing her roommate “What the fuck happened to the towels we just bought?” She said sitting up, her hair messy and knotted from sleep, “Did you find another homeless dog again to give them to?” she asked referencing a moment from earlier that week.

Bucky narrowed his eyes “Hey, you know what it is like to be cold and alone too.” He hissed “We never went out and got them last week because you just sleep all damn day.”

Looking down at her bare feet, Irina chewed on her lip. She couldn’t argue with him there, she just felt permanently exhausted; as if those 15 sleepless days and the fact that the only ‘sleep’ she got was when she was put into cryo “Fine, let me get ready.” She said looking up at Buck and motioning for him to leave the room.

Soon enough they hailed down a shabby taxi which took them to the open-air market, Irina’s nemesis. They frequented this area quite often, unfortunately. They walked through the various sellers until they found one that sold sets of hand towels, people shouted at them from all sides Irina’s mind was swimming from it.

Hands stuffed items in her face as she shoved them away “Jewelry for the beautiful lady!” a man shouted standing in front of her.  

“No thank you.” She said and pushed her sunglasses up her nose and crossed her arms over her chest tightly.

“Only 75 euros for this genuine gold necklace.” He stepped closer to her.

Irina stepped backwards and bumped into the woman browsing behind her “Sorry.” She mumbled before trying to turn away from the man “No thank you.” Her breathing hitched in her throat when she felt his hand reach out and grip her wrist tightly.

“I try to be polite and complement you, sell you fine goods, and you act like this?” He said pulling her wrist closer to him.

Irina clenched her jaw and looked over her shoulder to see Bucky browsing the booths. “Get your hands off me.” She hissed in his face.

The merchant smirked and tightened his grip “What are you going to do about it?” He asked.

Irina reached for the gun she had holstered in her tactical pants that she couldn’t seem to keep off, despite being freed from HYDRA. She got closer, so her chest was pressing up against him “I told you to let go of my fucking arm.” She said and pressed the barrel of her gun deep into his side.

The man’s blood ran cold, and he immediately let go of her feeling the cool metal of the gun digging into his side and looking up locking eyes with Bucky stood behind her “Do you have an issue here, Irina?” He asked frowning.

Irina stepped away, holstering her gun in her pants once more “No, did you find your damn towels yet?” She asked, obviously irritated at having to leave the apartment.

Bucky’s brows furrowed “No, these are overpriced, I thought we could look at that other booth. The one that also sells that really good coffee.”

Irina looked at Bucky and felt her nerves calm “Yeah, I know the one. Let’s go.” She said and left the merchant behind her in and still in shock.

“Did you really have to pull the gun on him?” The soldier asked.

“Well it didn’t seem like you were going to be any help.” Irina muttered while looking through the various towels on the table before her while the woman behind the counter prepared the coffees for them. “What do you think of these?” She asked holding up a set of red flower pattern towels.

Bucky’s brows furrowed in thought “I don’t know, I don’t think the blue will match the colors we already have in the kitchen.” He said scratching at the stubble on his chin.

Irina sighed “You’re right,” She said and grabbed another set of towels, this time they were blue. “What about these?” she held them up.

Bucky grabbed them and flipped through the set of three towels. There was a flower patterned one, a striped one, and a polka dot one. He smiled softly, he liked the colors and the flowers reminded him of the warmth of summer. He opened his mouth to speak, but the shop keeper interrupted him “How long have you two been married?” She asked smiling.

“Five years.”

“We’re not.”

Bucky shot Irina a look before wrapping an arm around her; she was as stiff as a board, “We’ve been together so long, sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have her.” He smiled and joked with the shop keeper. Irina’s gaze shied away, and she smiled softly, she didn’t know why she said they were married; maybe it was to seem more normal. “We should get these ones, doll, you think?”

Irina looked up at Bucky, she felt a sudden shock shoot through her at the name he called her. “Yeah, sounds good, dear.” She said wrapped an arm around his waist. His movements seemed so natural, it was obvious he had previous experience with women, but before Irina could even fully experience being a woman she was taken and brainwashed causing her movements to look awkward.

The woman was quick to take their money for the coffee and towels they bought and Bucky insisted she keep the change as it was only a few cents. They walked away hand in hand until they were out of the woman’s sight, then they quickly let go of each other. “What the fuck was that?” Bucky asked pointing behind them and stopping.

“I panicked!” Irina said “What the hell was I supposed to say? Oh never, we have just trained and killed together for the last 75 years?” Bucky remained silent, she had a point “That’s what I thought. Now let’s get back, I need to make dinner; we are going to run out of money if we continue eating out.” She said continuing their walk.

-

While Irina prepared dinner, Bucky continued doing his research on the Howling Commandos and Captain America. Thankfully he was a well-documented person because of the experiment, the Winter Soldier project and HYDRA was another story. Since Bucky and Irina didn’t want to risk being tracked via the internet they got hard copies of all of anything they read.  

Irina turned to see Bucky nose deep in a stack of papers “Come on, it’s time to eat.” She said setting down a plate of spaghetti in front of the two chairs at their folding table.

“Can’t you make anything else?” Bucky asked poking the noodles soaked in sauce with a fork.

Irina narrowed her eyes “Do you want to try cooking? Because the last time it ended so well.” She said recalling how she needed to stand on the table praying it didn’t break underneath her, so she could fan the smoke out from the smoke alarm, so it would stop going off while Bucky scrambled to open the windows. They just ended up throwing the pan out while it was still smoldering. That was probably the one-time Bucky was thankful of his metallic arm, he could feel textures, just not temperature.

A silence loomed over them, Bucky was obviously irritated at being called out on his lack of cooking experience, and Irina was irritated because she was the only one that knew how to cook in the house and all Bucky did was complain. She cleared her throat “Buck, if you want to help me cook chicken tomorrow you can.” She stuffed a spoonful of spaghetti into her mouth.

Bucky nodded his head and stuffed his fork into his mouth, “Yeah, that sounds fine.” He said.

For the remainder of their eating time they sat together in a comfortable silence with the only sound that filled the air being the clank of their silverware against their plates.

After dinner Irina and Bucky sat silently reading; trying to catch up on the seventy years’ worth of history they missed out on. Unlike Bucky, Irina remembered the end of the war, she had been captured a few short years after the war had ended. While Bucky caught up with what happened in World War II, Irina was busy reading about the history of her country. She thought of how her mother went stark raving mad as soon as she realized her daughter was missing.

She swallowed thickly thinking about the night her mom killed her father and killed herself. Her father was a mean man, he always had been, and she never really knew why. He worked farming and every morning she would wake up and feed the chickens, cows, and goats while her mother made coffee and cooked breakfast for the family. She could remember going on tractor rides with her father and the sun beating on their faces. But something changed shortly afterwards that turned him bitter and mean. He began to drink heavily and would become violent.

“Irina.” Bucky called bringing her back from her thoughts, “You, uh, you kind of spaced out.” He said motioning to her holding her book on the Soviet Union.

Irina looked down, she hadn’t even realized that she wasn’t even looking at her book anymore. Amidst her thoughts, she moved her gaze to the wall in front of her. “Oh, yeah… Sorry.” She said and looked over at the clock “We should head to bed.” She said frowning.

Bucky nodded his head, he was exhausted, he hadn’t slept for more than two hours a night for the last few days.

After they finished getting ready for bed they laid back to back like they usually did and soon drifted to sleep. It wasn’t long before Bucky was woken up from the movement next to him. He rolled over and saw Irina thrashing and whimpering in her sleep. Her face was streaked with tears and she was mumbling in Russian. Bucky gripped her shoulder and gently shook her “Hey,” he said softly.

Irina gripped his wrist surprisingly hard and jerked it away as she continued to thrash “Hey, wake up” He said louder and now taking his metallic hand and began to pry her fingers off his wrist “Irina, wake up.” He called once his hand was freed and gripped both of her shoulders and shook her. Her head bobbled back and forth as her eyes fluttered open “Wake up” He said into her face.

Irina gasped and woke up, she shot up and looked around her confused of her surroundings “Where-” She said and looked at Bucky wide eyed.

“It’s okay.” He said grasping her face with his two hands “We are in Romania now.”

Irina jerked her face away, but he only tightened his grip steadying her face in his hands and repeating his words “Romania?” Irina said with a dazed look in her eyes.

“Irina we are in Romania now.” He said and use his thumb to wipe away the tears streaking her face.

She reached up and grasped his hand and looked into his eyes finally coming back to reality. She looked down at her blanket covered legs and sighed “Sometimes I still think about when they washed me.” She clenched her eyes shut “Whenever I sleep, I feel the electricity moving through me.” Her voice wavered “I can feel how my muscles rippled and how my teeth clenched.” She hiccupped trying to hold back the tears she felt welling up in her eyes. “It plays over and over in my head.” She broke, placing her head in her hands and leaning her head onto Bucky’s shoulder as her body shook with sobs. “I can’t even walk through the market without thinking someone is after us.” Bucky wrapped his arms around her and held her close to his chest “I can’t go back, Rumlow is still out there.” Her voice was muffled in Bucky’s hair. Everything she did reminded her of HYDRA, she hated showers because whenever the warm water ran out and the icy cold water hit her skin she felt like she was being shut in one of the cryo tubes again. She would wake up at the sounds of doors closing because they sounded like gunshots to her sleepy mind. “I can’t do it Buck.”

Bucky didn’t know what to say, he avoided sleep because when he closed his eyes he thought of all the innocent people he killed. When he read the books on the history he missed he noticed the little shadows in the corner that he knew was him under the control of HYDRA. The only reason he left the apartment was because staying inside would make him more paranoid than he already was. “I’m not going to tell you everything will be okay.” He said softly “Because we both know that is bullshit.” He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat “But I’ll tell you that we are going through this together.” He pulled away and leaned his forehead against hers and let out a deep sigh “We aren’t going back to Rumlow.” Bucky clenched his jaw out of frustration. He didn’t want to think of what Rumlow would do to them if they were caught.

Chapter Text

The cloudy summer soon turned into winter. The small studio apartment they shared was brisk due to the old windows. They had a mountain of blankets on their bed and huddled together to keep warm. Irina and Bucky didn’t want to turn the heat up too high because it cost money and they were lacking on that right now. Bucky laid awake while Irina was curled into a little ball next to him. He looked over at her, she had gained weight since being out of HYDRA, she looked significantly healthier than she did while they were locked away.

He couldn’t sleep, it was yet another restless night. Bucky slowly pulled the blankets back and crawled out of bed; he didn’t know why he was moving so carefully. Irina could sleep through anything. He pulled on a set of boots, a hat, and his jacket before he stepped outside.

The crisp winter air nipped at his face and his cheeks immediately got rosy from the cold air. He looked up and small little white snowflakes began to fall on his face. He stuffed his hands in his coat pockets and began to walk. The only sound he could hear was the crunching of the snow under his heavy boots. He made his way around the block that was dimly lit by flickering street lamps before he finally made it up to the apartment building.

Bucky stuck his hands into his pockets and frowned, he couldn’t feel his keys. He grabbed the door handle and pushed it, it didn’t budge. He put his head on the door and sighed deeply, he looked up and saw a window in their apartment a few floors up, too far for him to jump, so looked around scoping out his surroundings, a fire escape looped around their house.

He chewed on his lip and blew warm air into his hands and rubbed them together. The coldness of his metal hand was nipping at his flesh hand. Bucky reached up and effortlessly pulled himself up and began his long walk up the steps. He slipped despite his careful footing and caught himself with his hands, hissing at the coldness that nipped at his fingers.

Bucky began to rapidly blink his eyes and had bits of memory flashing in his mind. The cold metal of the freight car as he plummeted to what should have been his death, the icy metal door of his cryotube, and the lingering frostbite on his fingertips. He scrambled up the steps slipping more and more, getting his hands covered with more snow.

He squeezed his eyes shut and leaned against the cool brick wall next to the window that looked into their living room, his chest began to heave when he looked down at his snow-covered hands his flesh pink from the coldness on the metal fire escape and his jeans had dark spots from the wetness of the snow. He bit his lip and rapped on the window and tugged on it, locked, “Fuck.” He hissed shaking his head trying to get the images of the hundreds of times his cryo-tube closed on him and the second of blinding cold that shot through him as he froze or how the metal nipped at his fingers as he hung for dear life hoping Steve would grab him and them plummeting to his death once it broke.

“You are going to be the new fist of HYDRA” Zola’s voice rang in his mind.

Bucky ran his hands through his hair and tugged shaking his head “No, no no…” He mumbled. He knocked on the window once again, no use. “God damn it Irina!” He hissed and punched the thin glass.

It shattered around him and tore the newspaper they had covering the windows. He crawled through the window and stumbled in the dark. His super serum senses, over whelmed by the cold sensation that seemed to reach his bones.

Irina walked out of the bedroom holding a handgun in front of her to find a broken window and a large black lump crouched in the corner made by the wall and couch “Who are you?” She asked loudly walking closer.

Bucky looked up, his blue eyes showing through the darkness, they seemed almost feral. He was shivering, and his coat had chunks of snow falling off of him “Bucky!” She said and dropped the hand gun and kneeling down in front of him.

He looked at her dazed and flinched away from her touch while she brushed the snow off of his body. Irina ran over to the oven and turned it on opening up the door and ran into the bedroom, coming back with a large quilt “Come on, let’s get you warmed up. You’ll get sick.” She draped the blanket over him and tugged on him, but his large frame didn’t move. Irina huffed and hooked her arms under his shoulders and tugged him up; despite her altered strength he was still heavy.

Bucky slumped down on the floor next to the open over door and his mouth hung ajar and his eyes were glazed over. Irina frowned and wrapped the blanket tighter around him and took his flesh hand in her own, they felt like ice and he jumped at the sudden warmth that lit his flesh on fire. Irina rubbed it in her own hands trying to get them warm.

Bucky swallowed thickly “I’m so cold.” He said shakily.

“I know, you are soaked,” she said shaking her head and standing up “Let me grab you a change of clothes.” She came back with tee-shirt and gray sweatpants in hand and set them on the ground next to him “Come on.” She said and tugged his jacket off his shoulders and then tugged his shirt up “Come on, Buck, you need to work with me.” She said frowning and tugging the new shirt over his head as he lazily poked his arms through. Irina stepped back and looked down at him with a small smile “I’m not going to put your pants on, so you’ll have to get up.”

Bucky looked up, his eyes were red rimmed, and his bags seemed to deepen, “I’ll meet you in the bedroom.” He said in a hushed voice.

Irina piled the blankets on top of her and his dry shirt. He tossed his clothes in the corner and climbed in the bed and underneath the sea of blankets they used.

She could feel the cold radiating off his body as he moved closer than they usually slept. Irina slid back against Bucky and hissed at the bitter cold of his body while he and got comfortable before she saw the door open up and Bucky came walking in, only clad in boxers jumped from the heat that seemed to burn into his skin. They settled, enjoying each other’s juxtaposing body temperature as Bucky wrapped his metallic arm around her waist pulled Irina close to him. Jesus it had been so long since he had been this close to anyone let alone a woman.

Bucky sighed comfortably as he felt Irina’s calloused fingers tracing the ridges in his arm. The same arm that was stained red from the years of brainwashed murder, but he didn’t think about that, right now he thought about how soft and warm Irina’s skin was against the biting cold of his metallic arm. She seemed to welcome the cold nipping at the exposed skin on her stomach. Irina found that she overheated easily when she slept and would wake up drenched.

“What are we going to do about the window?” She asked, still tracing the grooves in his arm.

Bucky cleared his throat before he spoke in his voice that was hoarse from cold “We have to go to the market and buy a replacement. It’ll be cheaper than telling the landlord.” A small smile spread across Bucky’s face when he heard Irina’s soft snores signaling she had fallen asleep, he soon followed.

The following morning Bucky woke up and scrunched his nose at how cold their house was. He quickly dressed and left, noticing the garbage bag that was tapped over their broken window. He frowned remembering the events of the night before. “Morning.” Irina’s voice rang. He looked at her and flashed a small smile before sitting at the table “Here I made coffee.” She said and handed him a large mug full of black coffee, just how he liked it. “When should we go to the market?”

Bucky tilted his head and cracked his neck, his body was always stiff from the mattress, and shrugged “Probably sooner than later.” He said gulping down his coffee not even being bothered by the burn against his throat and tongue.

Before noon the two had headed to the market bundled up in their winter clothing. While Bucky was busy looking at replacement windows, Irina was looking at a table filled with technology. It was something she found fascinating, because while working for HYDRA she wasn’t allowed to use things such as televisions or computer systems. They never pertained to her missions, she was always given a name and image then sent off to kill them in the most inconspicuous way. She brushed her fingers over the keyboards and pressed the buttons of them admiring the soft clicking sounds they made.

Something bright caught the corner of her eye, Irina glanced over and found a small pink radio with black dials on it. She walked over and reached out to it, it reminded her of a simpler time when using a plastic card to buy things and color television wasn’t popular. She smiled softly “How much?” She asked.

The vendor looked down at the radio “Hm? That? It’s broken, you can pay half price.” He said.

Irina grinned and handed him his money and gripped the radio tight to her chest before returning to the Soldat’s side. “What’s that?” Bucky asked poking the radio.

Irina shrugged her shoulders “It’s a radio. We don’t have anything to really connect us with the outside world, I figured this would be nice.” She shifted her weight “I got it half price, I tried to think of it as an early Christmas present.”

Christmas. That was a concept essentially foreign to Bucky and Irina. Nearly 60 years of being brainwashed into being an assassin for a secret organization didn’t typically warrant a Christmas bonus let alone a Christmas ham. Bucky nodded his head “It’s nice I like it.” He said while effortlessly carrying the window out of the market.

The walk was quick, but brisk ask the cold Romanian air nipped at their faces and caused their cheeks to turn a nice rosy pink color. The neighbors that passed them in the hall as they walked up the stairs to the flat they shared. While Bucky handled replacing the window, Irina tinkered around with the pink radio.

She took a screw driver and unscrewed the speaker and frowned seeing the dusty inside of the radio. Irina bit her lip and she shook her head, feeling overwhelmed by the hardware inside. Despite it being from the late 40s, she knew nothing about how to repair a radio. Seeing as she saw nothing abnormal on the inside the replaced the speaker and looked at the cord. It was mangled, and frayed wires poked out of it. She grabbed a wheel of black tape and wrapped it around the cord hopefully closing off any of the electrical dangers that lingered.

Suddenly the crisp breeze ceased, and Bucky stood up wiping his dirty hands on his sweatpants “It fit?” Irina asked looking up from the cord.

Bucky licked his lips and nodded his head “Yeah, it worked perfectly. How is the radio coming? Are we going to have any background noise during dinner?” A small smile ghosted his lips.

Irina smiled and rolled her eyes “I just taped up the wire, hopefully that will get it working.” She let out a puff of air and blew her hair out of her face. Before she stood up and plugged it into the wall and played with the black knobs on it; soon it crackled to life and a wide grin spread across Irina’s face.  

During dinner Bucky’s face scrunched up “We didn’t listen to this kind of music when I was a kid.” He said and stuffed a fork full of food into his mouth while the music dully lulled on in the background.

Irina frowned “That was also more than 70 years ago.” Irina got up and played with the knobs on the radio and changed it to an oldies station, well, 1980s was about as old as it got.

Chapter Text

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and before Bucky and Irina knew it a year and a half had passed since they had escaped from HYDRA and been hiding under the radar in Romania. Life was simple, and they didn’t stray too far from their day to day schedule.  Bucky talked with the woman at the stand as Irina picked out plums, they smiled and joked with her. Her name was Oksana, she was a sweet old lady that they would go and get fresh produce from every week. Buck let her keep the change and continued back to their apartment.

Irina felt eyes staring a hole through her back and she turned around, nudging Bucky to look towards the man in the newsstand. He did a double take and watched as the man ran from the booth with a fear-stricken face.

In long strides, Bucky stalked over with Irina on his heels and he picked up the newspaper. “Son of a bitch.” He said throwing it down “We need to go back now.” He huffed.

Irina watched his brows knit in frustration and glanced over at the newspaper. His face was plastered all over the front of it. They quickly held their heads down and walked as inconspicuously as possible to their apartment.

They entered through the bathroom window, Bucky climbed through first and helped pull Irina up. Bucky hushed her as she dusted the old paint chips from her clothing and held his hand up. She stopped all movement and heard light rustling around along with the sound of someone speaking. As they quietly walked into their living room they saw a tall large man looking through their things. He turned around and Bucky swallowed thickly. “Do you know me?” He asked.

Bucky nodded his head “You’re Steve.” He said in a soft voice “I read about you at the museum.

A lump formed in Bucky’s throat as Steve took a small step forward “I know you’re nervous, you have every reason to be. But, you’re a liar.” He said sternly.

Steve was right, Bucky knew him, Irina knew him and all three of them knew that. “I wasn’t in Vienna, I don’t do that anymore.” He kept his voice low and Irina looked over at him nervously.

Steve seemed to noticeably tense up “Well, the people who think you did are coming for you right now; they’re not planning on taking you alive.”

Bucky looked at Irina and lightly nodded his head “That’s smart, a good strategy.” He said bitterly, he was so sick of fighting.

Irina knew by the little head nod they needed to go through with their escape plan. Something that they had planned through, but never hoped to use, unfortunately today was the day they would put their plan into effect.  They heard the shuffle of feet and clanking of their zippers and buckles as they stormed the building and urged civilians to stay inside their homes “This doesn’t have to end in a fight Buck.” Steve said, trying to comfort his friend and urge him to leave with him.

“It always ends in a fight.” Bucky said as looked down at his gloved hands. He opened and closed them and frowned as little clouds of memory peeked into his mind. Memories of getting his arm cut off by Zola, memories of kidnapping Irina from her family.

“You pulled me from the river, why?” Steve asked shifting anxiously as Sam counted down in his ear.

Irina watched the two men exchange their conversation as she felt the all too familiar rise of adrenaline rush through her body “I don’t know.” He said and clenched his jaw tightly.

Steve pursed his lips “Yes you do.” He urged.

Bucky stared deeply at Steve and continued to clench his jaw causing the hinges to ache and him to feel a little twinge in his head. The sound of glass shattering shook him from his thoughts as Steve hit the grenade out of the window. Another breeched through the second window and Irina kicked it towards Steve who covered it with his shield to protect them from the blast.

A flashbang grenade was thrown through their window and Bucky quickly pulled the mattress up and tugged Irina under his chest with his free arm, shielding them, while the soldiers continued to try and break down their front door. “Damn it.” He mumbled under his breath and swung his arm at the table flinging it down the short hallway and lodging in front of the door.

Two men crashed through their windows and glass rained down on them. Irina quickly pulled a pocket knife out and stabbed it into a couch cushion ripping it open and taking out two hands guns and stuffing her sweatshirt pockets with ammunition.

As one of the men charged at her from the back Bucky swung and knocked him out with one hit. As Irina ducked out of the way she pulled their runner and caused the second man to slip and tumble backwards sending several shots firing into the air. Steve opened their balcony door and was met by yet another soldier. He gripped the front of his gun and moved it out of the way as Bucky kicked him in the chest.

“Bucky, stop!” Steve hissed through clenched teeth as Bucky stood in front of him, Bucky grabbed his arm and maneuvered it over his shoulder “You’re going to kill someone.” He said with a panicked tone.

Ignoring Steve, Bucky flipped him and punched down grabbing the two backpacks that he and Irina had hid when they first moved in, “I’m not going to kill anyone.” He said, after he looked over and saw Irina standing on the top of their couch prying the grate off as she stood in an uncomfortable position “Irina!” He called getting her attention as soon as she looked, he tossed her backpack across the room and she reached and grabbed it and began to stuff all of their hidden belongings into the bag.

Bucky threw his out the window a hail of bullets rained down on him and Steve as he brought his arm up to block himself. Steve quickly covered them sending the bullets ricocheting off his shield into all directions. Bucky glanced over at Irina, who was trying her best to take cover behind their flipped over coffee table, he yelled something in Russian and Irina moved. A man rose up in the window behind her and he turned kicking Steve and sending him through the wall causing the man to topple over. Bucky raised his hand and blocked the bullets that flew towards him as he pulled Irina safely behind him and grabbed the man shooting at him and shoved him down into the shelf that was hanging on the wall next to him.

As another man came up Irina looked over and gripped the cinderblock next to her and swung it, throwing it into the soldier causing him to wall through the bathroom door behind him.

The hinges were blown off their front door and Bucky looked at Irina who nodded at him. He punched his fist through the door and kicked the rest off of the wall; causing the people behind it to either be startled and taken back, or to be knocked down in the path of the falling debris.

Bucky and Irina fought off the soldier outside, Irina turned and kicked one down the steps causing several others to fall behind him as he tumbled down. The glass ceiling above them shattered as another man came down on a rope and shot down at them. Bucky covered his head with his hand and Irina began to run down the stairs to avoid the line of fire, once he got to level with Bucky, he took the soldier and slammed him into the wall “Keep going, Irina, I’ll catch up!” He shouted after her.

Irina continued to run down the steps, not bothering to look behind her. She needed to get to the meeting place. She tugged on her backpack straps and looked down the stairwell. She still had so far left to go and more and more military men were running into the building, Irina would sooner or later catch up with them. Her stomach clenched as the thought of what would happen to her if she was caught by the Vienna military. She shook her head and pushed her intrusive thoughts aside as she thought of her best way to exit.

She looked at the windows and brushed her hair out of her face and grimaced at the moisture that caused it to become stringy and greasy. Irina continued to run down the stairs and shoved a few military men over the stairwell not even bothering to look and see if they landed safely before she finally reached the landing. She kicked the door down and threw her backpack over the edge of the balcony and backed up, so she could get a running start as she jumped over the ledge. She tucked and rolled, hitting her shoulder on the cement ledge of the building below her and yelped in pain as her shoulder became dislocated. She tried her best to ignore the pain as she put her backpack back on but winced at the pressure.

She ran behind the large metal central air conditioning unit to hide from the bullets and debris that fell from the building. Within a few minutes Irina heard Bucky groan as he landed on the hard cement roof; but what she didn’t expect was the sound of another person following him. She peeked around the corner and saw a large man in a black cat suit. She blinked her eyes trying to see if she was seeing things but saw that really was real. Bucky and Black Panther engaged in hand to hand combat, Irina was in no state to fight with her one arm uselessly dangling at her side. She ran and jumped over the ledge and landed on a windowsill that jutted out, and then jumped again, rolling and groaning in pain as she hit the ground and knocked her shoulder once again, Bucky soon followed her.

Together they jumped down into oncoming traffic and ran. With the adrenaline coursing through her veins, Irina didn’t even notice the aching coming from her dislocated shoulder. Steve drove past her and tugged her into the car seat next to him. She watched ahead as Steve impressively maneuvered them through traffic, he effortlessly drove and weaved back and forth from the cars. Steve followed closely behind Bucky and Sam along with the mystery man in the black suit “I’m gonna need you to jump, ready?” Steve asked looking at her and the ceiling that was beginning to crumble.

She looked at him “What?” Irina asked with a confused look on her face. Before she knew it Steve landed a kick square against her chest and she fell through the car passenger door; all of the wind had been knocked out of her. She wheezed as she rolled on the ground and heard the crashing and crunching of the metal from the car they had previously been in. She stumbled, grasping her chest, coughing, and trying to gain her footing as she stood while being surrounded by police, military, and now an Ironman in all black paint. Bucky came up to her “I’m going to fix your arm.” He said softly.

Irina nodded and wheezed in response, still trying to recuperate from the strong kick Steve had landed on her, “Stand down” The Ironman shouted at them while aiming his repulsers, armed and ready to fire, at them; Bucky defensively put his arms up in defeat as he was roughly shoved to the ground along with Irina and they were handcuffed. She hissed in pain as they roughly moved her arm around and bit her lip as her arms were handcuffed behind her.

Irina’s arm was roughly shoved back into place by the man that had strapped her into her little holding chamber. She didn’t realize the general public feared her so much for something she had no control over. She frowned and locked eyes with Bucky, who’s usually bright blue orbs now seemed dull and void of any emotions and they were placed side by side in the dark basement “Well, we better get comfortable.” Bucky said bitterly.

“Quiet, no talking.” The soldier that was guarding them said.

Irina smirked “Yeah time for the doctors to pick our brains.” She responded in Russian. She loved pissing the guards off, especially when they took such big precautions to keep themselves safe from the former Winter Soldiers.

The guard hit the thick glass with the butt of his gun “I said shut up.” He snapped.

Irina didn’t even wince, she rolled her eyes “Do you think, they’ll serve continental breakfast?” she looked over at Bucky, who had a small smile ghost across his face at her comment.

“Guess we’ll have to see.” Bucky responded sounding slightly amused.

The guard scowled at them but knew he could do nothing out of both fear, and the fact that he knew nothing would break them. Winter Soldiers were trained for this moment, they both knew how to talk to twist the words of the guard around and get more information from their captors than their captors would get out of them.