Tonight he’s back on his first time with Rumlow.
By then he had been living on the island for twenty-eight long days, and he had already been raped by Pierce’s guests on two separate occasions. The first one had been overexcited, keeping the whole thing mercifully brief. The second one had been squeamish, forcing himself, pushing Bucky away after a quick hand job. Rumlow, though, grinned seeing him like a man about to enjoy an expensive cigar.
There was a hook in the ceiling; he was the first one to notice it, let alone use it—he cuffed Bucky on a chain short enough to have him standing on his very tiptoes. Through the haze of drugs that kept him pliant on those first weeks, Bucky was still hoping for something quick. But then Rumlow pulled out an anal hook from his own suitcase, with a long rope attached, and Bucky’s stomach dropped when he understood this man had come prepared for the game. Had been told ahead, and planned out the encounter.
“Oh, yeah,” Rumlow crooned, seeing his eyes widen. He pushed his fingers through Bucky’s hair, still short enough by then. “You’ll see, I’ve got it all planned out. Just gonna work on your posture a little.”
Bucky was strictly gagged and could only groan when Rumlow spread his cheeks and pushed the hook against his hole without anything like lube. The fat rounded end was as slick and shiny as metal could be, but it still felt so rough it might as well have been wrapped in sandpaper. Bucky gritted his teeth and focused on letting it in. Resisting made it worse; this he’d already figured out. Rumlow shoved even harder and the thing finally popped in. When he let go, it weighed inside Bucky—enough to make him feel awful, but not enough to slip back out.
Rumlow then took the rope attached to the hook and tucked it into Bucky’s leather collar at the back of his neck, folding it over. All he had left to do was wind the slack around his hand and pull. At first, of course, it tugged the hook farther up Bucky’s ass. But then it was as far up as it could go, and Rumlow was still pulling, meaning he was now pulling back at Bucky’s collar, strangling him. All Bucky could do to alleviate it was arch his back, which was goddamn fucking hard since he was already on the very tip of his toes. Panic reached through his drug-fueled daze as his lungs began to twist in earnest. Rumlow kept the rope taut, listened to him choke through the gag, watched him arch his back more and more, until Bucky felt he was about to break his spine.
“Proper posture,” Rumlow repeated. “Is that as far as you can go? C’mon, bitch.” He let the rope go for a few inches, just enough for Bucky to inhale raggedly through his nose, as much as he could; then he gave it a vicious pull again.
This time it felt like it went on for hours. Bucky’s thoughts went wild and aural with hypoxia. Is he going to kill me? Did Pierce give him the green light to kill me? It wasn’t fair. He hadn’t given up yet, hadn’t surrendered. He tried arching his back some more and felt he would just break his spine; the ache was almost worse than the choking, radiating into his whole back. He couldn’t beg. He was strung up all the way, driven to the extreme limits of his physical capacity, stuck.
He went away, and came back to himself lying on the floor with the hook still up his ass, the rope bound taut to his collar. He wasn’t gagged anymore; his hands had been re-cuffed in his back. His own coughing fit had stirred him.
“See, now he’s much calmer. I always say, you gotta take ‘em at the throat.”
Rumlow was talking, Bucky dimly realized, to the cameras in the ceiling. He was putting on a real good show.
“Now he’s going to suck me off. Aren’t you, Jamesy? They say warm come’s good for a sore throat.”
Bucky did not react fast enough, so Rumlow grabbed the rope linking the hook and collar, pulled him up by the throat indeed. “What do you say, bitch? I can string you up again for another round.”
Struggling and coughing, Bucky managed at least to get his knees under him so he wouldn’t start choking again. He hurt too much, he was too dizzy. Now that the agony in his spine had receded to a throbbing pain, he realized how much his ass ached from the unyielding steel. But he didn’t even have the luxury of cataloguing his hurts; Rumlow slapped him hard enough to jerk his head to the side.
“I’m not gonna ask again. Are you going to suck me off?”
“Yessir,” Bucky rasped on automatic. He couldn’t focus his gaze. His cheeks were warm and wet. He didn’t remember crying.
Rumlow’s erection was tenting his pants, already close to Bucky’s face. He unzipped himself one-handed then blessedly let go of the rope and seized Bucky’s jaw instead, gripping hard to open his mouth. “Good. Now say ahh.”
Bucky hardly had any time to catch his breath before he was stuffed full. He would like to think that back then he entertained the thought of biting off Rumlow’s cock; but he just sucked him off as well as he knew how, hoping only to finish it before he could be hurt again.
Rumlow got off the island a much richer man that time, promising to be back.
Now Bucky opens his eyes.
He is soaked to the bone in the memories. He lets them wash off him like slime and focuses on a different memory: stabbing the motherfucker.
Already his heart is pounding down to a slower pace. He’s broken free of his paralysis. He got his thoughts back on track. He takes a deep breath. I killed him, he’s dead. Whoever said vengeance was futile didn’t know shit.
The visions come every night. Bucky doesn’t have the luxury of calling them nightmares. They are wholesale memories, without surprise, mechanically unrolling from beginning to end. It started very soon after he was freed, maybe two or three days later at most, after the exhaustion let up enough that he was actually falling asleep instead of simply passing out. He’s tried a few things to distract himself, to change the track, but his brain is obsessively running the film of these past three years and it’s all Bucky can do to watch. At least he’s getting some sleep, is what he said to his therapist, who did not laugh. Probably didn’t realize Bucky was trying for a joke, because nobody expects him to joke.
Sometimes it feels like the nights are what’s real, and he’s dreaming his humble freedom by day. But even if that were true, well. If that’s the escape he gets, he’ll take it.
He was so convinced that he would never escape in any way. Everything happening to him feels wrong and disconnected somehow. Why am I still here? He can’t fathom what to do with himself now. Like a farmer given a plot of scorched earth. He goes through the motions of planting seeds and watering them but he knows nothing can grow.
Sharing these feelings in mandatory therapy was probably what got him on suicide watch. Bucky gets it. Everybody expects him to be too broken to function. He probably is. So for now he’s here, in this massively expensive military hospital. They can’t just let him die even though it’d be simpler for everybody, and it’s not like he can be sent back to his family, either. The psych ward is playing it safe, and he doesn’t even mind. Really, he doesn’t. For the past three years, he put all his energy into keeping himself alive. It’s kind of nice getting help with that now.
He does wish it were less lonely. Nobody visits his small room. Of course he gets a lot of human interaction, what with two therapy sessions a week, plus medical, plus a few tactful orientation sessions for legal procedures. Also, he’s being retired from the Army and he doesn’t really have a say in it. That one stings the most, because he was going to leave. Resign after his last mission. They couldn’t even give him that.
But he’s not being tortured. He’s got a window, even; he can see the hospital courtyard and a bit of sky. And they gave him a tablet to play solitaire and Candy Crush. So why should he complain?
He doesn’t talk a lot in therapy. He doesn’t have anything to say. And it’s not like he needs to be told what happened to him was wrong. He knows it was. He knows why it happened to him, too. Why he was taken, why he was tortured. There’s nothing he needs help processing, nothing he needs to come to terms with. He can even force himself to sleep in an actual bed, even though he grits his teeth and tosses and turns a lot. He can tell nobody knows what to do with him. That’s fair; he doesn’t know, either.
His therapist very much wants him to discuss Steve Rogers. Bucky very much does not want to do that.
Because if he did, what he would say is: He said he’d stand by me. So where is he now? And he just knows they’d draw all sorts of unhealthy conclusions from it. Because apparently everyone knows what Rogers did to him during those three fateful days. So in the end he says nothing, just stares at his besocked, slippered feet until the half-hour is over. Twice a week until he can go back to his room.
The siren is surprising at first; then Bucky remembers it’s a military hospital.
It doesn’t sound like a fire alarm, but he pokes his head out of his room just to make sure. The nurse rushing past just tells him to stay in your room, it’s being dealt with. It’s not a real proper way to address PTSD-ridden veterans, so it must mean the alert is real.
For a wild second Bucky thinks they’ve come back for me—but even with anxiety beating against his ribs, this stupid fear can’t take hold. He’s not important; he was just a toy. If Pierce really had the means to strike back, it would be at SHIELD or at the military or by threatening to leak state secrets, or something. Not by coming back for damaged goods, for a sex slave he was planning to kill soon.
And Pierce cannot strike back. Pierce is under military custody and undergoing extended interrogation in a Special Forces facility somewhere.
The fireproof doors have automatically unlatched and closed in slow, heavy arcs. They’re still wobbling a little at the end of the hallway, which is now completely empty. Bucky hesitates. Leaving his room unsupervised would mean losing privileges. But he doesn’t have many of those anyway.
He takes a step out of his room, and that’s when the fireproof doors slam open.
Well—no. It feels like they should be slamming open, the way the shock travels through Bucky’s body. But what truly happens is that a man in jeans and a leather jacket guiltily slips in and helps the door close again behind him. Then he looks up and sees Bucky and freezes.
And it’s Steve Rogers.
Bucky has known the guy three days, and not in the best circumstances. He hasn’t let himself ask any questions about him. Somehow, though, at this moment, there’s still one thing he knows.
“The siren’s you, right?”
Rogers has gathered himself some. He nods. “Afraid so, yeah.”
His voice is strong and deep and makes Bucky’s stomach twist. He grips the doorknob to his room a little tighter.
“Buddy of mine said the alarmed sign was fake, nurses used the door all the time for their smoke breaks. Guess he had it wrong,” Rogers goes on. “He did know where to find you, though.”
He’s come to see Bucky.
He broke in to see Bucky.
Bucky hates knowing that his voice would tremble if he asked What took you so long. Instead he asks, “Visiting hours not good enough for you?”
“I’m not on your green list. I know that,” Rogers says quickly. He takes a breath. “But—I just had to come. To make sure. I didn’t want you to think I forgot or never even meant to—”
He trails off when he sees the look on Bucky’s face.
“I have a green list?” Bucky says, more or less steadily.
Rogers seems very relieved for a second. “You didn’t know? You didn’t want me to stay away?”
“Why don’t I know I have a green list?” Now his voice is shaking, damn it.
The siren is still blaring; Bucky had stopped hearing it for a second.
“Can I come closer,” Rogers asks.
Bucky nods, not trusting himself to speak anymore.
Rogers comes closer, and Bucky sees him take in the clothes he’s wearing—the shapeless sweater, the track pants without laces—and look into his room to find it furnished with soft-edged things. His lips press into a tight, unhappy line.
“You’re on suicide watch,” Rogers says. “Like I thought. They just locked you up again.”
Bucky feels light-headed. It is what they’ve been doing. He’s been telling himself it was for the best, he just had to submit, wait it out. Fragile patient, to be monitored with care. Apparently couldn’t be trusted to decide what visitors to allow. Might unbalance himself.
Rogers glances away from the room, back at Bucky. “Now, if you actually don’t want me here—”
“I don’t have a problem with you,” Bucky says, which is what he’s been burning to tell his therapist. “Why would I? You saved me.”
And you’re keeping your promise now. But this one he doesn’t want to say.
“It’s not all I did to you.” It’s subtle, but Rogers just squared his shoulders like he’s facing a court martial.
Bucky fleetingly hopes the guy’s got a therapist, too. Better than his own, preferably. “Are you trying to say sorry?”
Rogers’ shoulders square up another notch. “I wouldn’t dare to ask forgiveness.”
Bucky knows he’s not impressive at all, pale and drawn and wearing baggy clothes. He also knows he could still obliterate Rogers with a few choice words right now. It’s obvious in the tightness of his jaw, the line between his brows, the way he rigidly waits for his punishment.
Pierce was going to make Rogers his slave next. Bucky doesn’t want to imagine how that might have turned out.
“Pal,” he says softly. “You don’t qualify.”
“The first night,” Rogers begins.
“You didn’t know.”
“That’s my point.”
“If you didn’t know, then we were both being abused.”
Rogers looks at him for almost a full ten seconds. “All right.”
Bucky watches him close. “That easy?”
“It’s like you just said. You know better.” Bucky’s pretty sure Rogers is lying, but he seems determined to at least pretend he’s dropping it. For now.
“All right,” Bucky echoes.
Rogers nods. Then he says, like they’re not still standing right there in the hallway in the middle of a hospital-wide state of military alert, “So, you wanna get out of here?”
“I’m not saying leave town,” Rogers adds. “Just. I don’t know. Go for a walk around the block or something.” Amazingly, he blushes. “I don’t mean—I just mean, it’s not right for you to be cooped up in here. And I said I’d be by your side whatever happens. So. Whatever you feel like doing. I’ll help.”
“What if I want to kill myself?”
Rogers does stop at that. Then he just asks, “Do you?”
He heard Bucky beg for death back on the island. Bucky remembers meaning it, too. He had been waiting to let go for a long time.
He raises his chin. “No.”
And Rogers, again, says: “All right.”
Bucky exhales shakily, doesn’t question Rogers’ belief in him. The whole thing is just too fucking absurd. The siren is still blaring. “Right. Like you’re gonna bring me to Starbucks at the cost of your career.”
“Starbucks, huh? That’s easy. There’s one just four blocks over.” Rogers shrugs off his leather jacket. “Put this on, it’s chilly out. Don’t you have anything better than hospital slippers?”
Bucky’s already putting on the jacket on automatic. It’s warm from Rogers’ body, and it smells of Cologne. Everything feels like a dream.
“Okay, so let’s go,” Rogers says. “If my friend didn’t completely bullshit me, we can get out through the nurses’ break room. There’s a fire escape.”
And he just turns away. Bucky follows, keeping his eyes on Rogers’ ridiculously large shoulders stretching the fabric of his shirt. The hallways are empty, no matter how many fireproof doors they walk through.
“You didn’t answer me,” Bucky calls to Rogers’ back. “About your career.”
“This is my career.”
“Breaking out nutjobs?”
“Doing the right thing.” He actually just said that. He looks curiously at Bucky over his shoulder. “Why nutjob?”
Bucky wants to point out they’re in the psych ward. But Rogers’ question is so earnest it undoes him again. Why is he here? He doesn’t belong here. He doesn’t want to be here. Maybe the reason he can’t believe he’s free, even a month later, is because he isn’t.
“Did anybody call you crazy?” Now Rogers is frowning like he’s thinking this break-out thing is too tame. “Is that something you were told?”
“No, I—” The siren makes it hard to think; a few minutes more and he’ll get a headache. “Just—what’s expected. What’s assumed. I guess.”
They’re still walking, they’re through the nurses’ break room—Rogers’ got a card thingy to swipe, meaning his friend is a nurse or a doctor at this very hospital—and the room is completely empty, of course, since there’s an alarm on. The fire escape is right there behind the window. And beyond is the greatest goddamn thing Bucky’s ever seen: New York City.
It’s a sad, overcast November day, the skies so blurry they’re swallowing up the top of the skyscrapers. He could just fucking cry with joy.
He must have teared up or let out a breath or something, because Rogers’s face softens and he says, “Come on.” He opens the door, letting in distant honks and the taste of rain. “Let’s get you some fresh air.”