Warning: Steve´s been tortured by Hydra while Bucky looks for him relentlessly.
A sudden splash of ice-cold water awoke him abruptly. He gasped startled and found himself hanging from a chain; his arms bounded over his head; the chain was stringed so tight he had to stand on tip toes. His shoes and shirt were missing; the only clothing item they had left were his trousers.
He pulled forcibly from the chain in an attempt to break it or at least loosen it but his efforts were in vain. Behind him he could heard someone snort at his feeble attempt.
“Don´t waste your time. Those chains were designed to keep your friend Barnes in place while we reeducated him; you won´t be able to break them.” A tall thin man emerged from the darkness; his name was Nicholas Shuralov. He was the base chief and also one of Hydra´s Russian specialists in Dr. Faustus methods. He was a cold hearted man descendant of former aristocrats; for him brainwashing was a form of art and nothing pleased him more than practicing it. “You know Captain Rogers; Steve … can I call you Steve? I think it´s more personal that way and soon we are going to be very well acquainted with each other.” He grinned in anticipation of what he had planned to do to him.
“What do you want from me?” Steve asked sternly turning his head to face the man.
“Only to show you the truth.” Shuralov offered with a smile. “You´ve been fighting for how long? Since War World II? Do you really think you´ve made the world a better place? Every day in the news there´s a new conflict; a new war. Don´t you think it´s time to consider you´ve been fighting in the wrong side. Hydra wants peace, is it not what you want too?”
Steve listened while scowling, it was clear what they wanted from him. “That´s a lie.” He spat angrily.
Shuvalov signed feigning disappointment. “I see. You are not ready for embracing the truth just yet …. but, you will be.” He ended in a menacing tone which made Steve´s heart race in apprehension. Turning to leave he volunteered candidly. “Don´t forget Steve, you are bringing this upon yourself; and you can end it at any time. You just have to … accept you are wrong.” Turning back with a nod he gave the order while he said out loud. “He´s all yours.”
The metallic creak of the chain being pulled up concealed the muffled painful moan that escaped Steve´s lips when he was hoisted above the ground. He was still struggling to overcome the pain the new position caused him when a swishing sound announced the first stroke.
Shuralov smirked with self-satisfaction as he closed the door of the cell hearing Steve groan in pain. They hadn´t expected to find Captain America when the container reached the base; but for him it had been a pleasant surprise. The ultimate challenge …
“Sir, we have a new report from the field. They searched everywhere but they couldn´t find the book.” A middle aged officer reported grimly.
Shuralov grunted displeased; the codes for activating the Winter Soldier were gone. The only ones that had knew them had perished. “It´s a shame comrade Alexandrov. Nevertheless, it will only delay our plans. “Unexpectedly that also gave him another opportunity to … practice his art and this time he would make sure to do it right. “We programmed him once, we can always do it again.”
“Certainly Sir.” Alexandrov agreed relieved, he stood still waiting for be dismissed.
“I have an assignment for you.” Shuralov volunteered suddenly. “According to our reports the Soldier is currently looking for the Captain. I want you to leak our position to him.”
“Sir?” Alexandrov questioned in disbelief. After the destruction of Karavayev´s base? He wanted to lead him to them?
“There´s no need to chase our asset back; not when we can just lure him back to us.” Shuralov acknowledged dryly. “We have the perfect bait. We´ll use the Captain to convince him to cooperate.”
“And if he doesn´t?” Alexandrov questioned with curiosity.
“It would be a shame but … the soldier is our priority. “ Shuralov admitted dryly; he had waited for a long time for the sort of challenge Steve represented, but he wasn´t the prize they were after. “You can leave now.”
“Understood Sir. I´ll see that it´s done.” Alexandrov saluted him as he left.
Steve was still shuddering in pain, drenched completely in sweat after the torture when the chain was swiftly loosened dropping him to the ground. Curling upon himself he nursed his aching arms against his chest; but the comfort of his new position didn´t lasted long as two pair of hands forcibly pulled him up. His wrists were still bound by the shackles which were bound together by a medium length chain; one of the men untangled it from the longer chain they had used to pull him up. He felt too exhausted to resist them and just allowed himself to be dragged around. His wrists already marked by angry red lines caused by the stress of supporting his entire weight. Blood stains tainted his only clothing; they hadn´t held back at all. All through his ordeal theh only thing that had kept him from begging for them to stop was his team mates; no … his friends and Bucky. He couldn´t allow them to break him. He kept seeing the same image in his mind over and over again. Bucky stabbing him; but now he pictured himself in his place. If they managed to break him they would inevitably turn him against his friends; he couldn´t allow it. He´d rather die than allow them to break him. If more pain was inexorably linked to his resolution, he had no other choice but to endure it.
As a rag doll he was shoved into the metallic seat of a strange looking machine; snapping out of his thoughts he tried to resist being strapped down to it unsuccessfully as four men pinned him down bonding both his arms and legs to the seat. They didn´t even bothered taking the shackles off.
“You can´t resist us.” Shuralov told him sternly. “I thought you would´ve understood it by now Steve. Although … we might be able to do something about that.”
“I´ll never cooperate.” Steve spat stubbornly while attempting to loosen the bonds that held his arms in place.
“We’ll just have to see about that.” Shuralov admitted wryly as he picked up a rubber mouthpiece from a table behind him and approached Steve with it in his hand.
“My friends …. they will come for me.” Steve warned him while trying really hard to hide how scared he really felt. As Shruralov moved closer he turned his head away trying frantically to loosen the bonds that held his right hand in place. His heart pounding hard on his chest; there was no way out.
“I´m counting on that …Steve.” Shuralov informed him with an evil grin. “Now; open up. We wouldn’t want you to bite your tongue off, wouldn´t we?” He grabbed his chin strongly attempting to turn his head back to him. Steve struggled against him keeping his mouth clenched shut. He knew his resistance was futile; he was helpless but that didn´t meant he was going to make it easy for them.
“Have it your way.” Shuralov suddenly spat annoyed by his resistance. Making a gesture he moved away as another one if his men splashed Steve with ice cold water again. He gasped startled for a second before closing his mouth with determination, breathing hard as he shivered. “As a matter of fact … Steve.” Shuralov volunteered while he leaned over him. “I was hoping you would resist.” He told him leaning close enough for Steve to smell his fowl breath. Out of nowhere he pulled a small taser gun which he shoved into Steve´s unprotected side. He screamed in pain as the electricity jolted his body. Shuralov smiled devilishly before shoving the rubber mouthpiece into Steve’s´ mouth as he withdrew the taser gun to avoid being shocked himself. Without delay two pair of hands held the mouthpiece in place while they secured it with a gag.
Steve was panting hard; while clenching up his fists in anger he looked at him defiantly.
“Let´s see if you can hold on that attitude after you´ve been here for a couple of days.” Without any further warning he made another sign to someone behind them. The machine lit up. A strange sort of panels closed into his head; he struggled to get away from it watching the electrical discharges it produced. Instinctively he closed his eyes waiting for the unavoidable. His painful cries were muffled by the mouthpiece. He cried in despair; this time no one had his back. This time he was really alone.
Shuralov smirked; feeling the adrenaline coursing through his body. He made another sign and the machine was turned off. “I´m afraid we can´t allow you to close your eyes while we reeducate you… Steve.” Steve’s´ breath hitched, what else would they do to him? At this words another device was strapped to his head forcibly preventing him from closing his eyes.
The “re-education” technique was rather simple in its nature; random scenes were projected on the screen in front of Steve; and every time an image related to his own set of believes was projected he was zapped by the machine. Shuralov stood by his side for a couple of minutes until he grew bored and walked away just as Steve got zapped again. He laughed without even bothering to turn back pleased with himself leaving Steve to his ill-fate.
It had been almost 36 hours since Hydra had abducted Steve and Bucky kept growing restless by the minute. He coursed the fact that it had taken them longer than he had anticipated, but at last they had secured the location of a base where Steve was allegedly being held.
“Barnes …” Natasha told him somberly. “That was almost … too easy.”
“I know.” Bucky agreed with a grunt. “They lead us to him.” Their last lead hadn´t given the information easily, but he hadn´t put up much resistance either.
“So you know we are walking into a trap, right?” Clint interjected interested.
“Yes.” Bucky acknowledge dryly. Did it even matter at all?
“And why on God´s name are we doing that?” Tony asked bemused.
“Because Steve will be there.” Bucky told him angrily. “You can´t set up a trap without a bait.” It didn´t mattered … he had promised him.
“It makes sense.” Loki agreed making Tony raise his eyebrows surprised; he and Bucky weren´t exactly getting along. Loki sighed disgruntled eeying Tony´s reaction. “I hate to admit it but he´s right. That´s exactly what I would´ve done … if I was working for Hydra.”
Bucky clenched his jaw irked at the mention of Hydra. They were still an hour away from the location of the enemy’s base. He felt restless; he just couldn´t stop picturing Steve being subjected to the same type of tortures he had experienced over the years.
Everyone went quiet; it wasn´t hard at all to read what was going through Bucky´s mind. Silently one by one drifted into their own thoughts as they played their darkest fears on a helpless Steve on their minds. Tony shuddered remembering his time in Afghanistan and suddenly broke the silence.
“So … Buck. Has Steve always been the walking self-hazard we all have learn to love?” Anything to keep the memories off his head …
Bucky couldn´t help to smirk at his question. “Yes.” He admitted fondly. “Even before the serum.”
“You got to be kidding me. That skinny guy that appears on his army profile? How much trouble he could get in? He looked as if a strong wind could blow him away.” Tony volunteered jokingly.
“That´s how we met.” Bucky confessed. “An even sickly looking ten-year-old kid with a split lip lying on the floor after standing up against some bullies that had tried to take his lunch money.” He looked at the distance lost in his own memories. “I´ve never felt the need to protect someone else that fiercely.” He frowned for a moment; still angered with the bullies that had hurted Steve back then. “Those eyes .. those baby blue eyes …” He sighed deeply while smiling fondly at his recollections. “All I wanted in that very instant was to hold that kid tight until nothing and nobody could hurt him ever again.”
Everyone looked at him warmly; even if they hadn’t been together long they had all noticed that every time Bucky talked about Steve something changed inside of him. It was as if all the love he felt for Steve shined through on those instants.
“And then I stabbed him.” He closed down again; grieved by the memory. It was as if a light had just been turned off.
“What made you remember him?” This time it was Loki who had spoken up for everyone´s surprise. He stared at him sternly while he waited for his answer in earnest.
Bucky down casted his gaze as a slight blush appeared on his cheeks; he smirked. “His eyes” He admitted with a silly grin on his face which soon disappeared as he continued. “At first I didn´t understood what was wrong. I just felt like … like I had lost something; but I didn´t knew what it was. I still don´t know why I didn´t returned to the base right then.” He sighed frustrated. “I … I just kept seeing the look on his face when I stabbed him the second time … that grief … and then it just came back. I knew those eyes. I´ve seen them that pained before … after his mother´s funeral.” He frowned. “I asked him to come and live with me … but, he refused. He said he could manage on his own. I told him he didn´t had to. I´m with you until the end of the line; that´s what I told him.” Swiftly he dried a fugitive tear that had escaped his eyes; he sniffed quickly upset. “I just hope he can forgive me.”
“Don´t be silly Buck.” Tony volunteered quickly. “He already did.” At that point he wondered how it was possible that Steve had been so blind back then to the obvious feelings Bucky had for him.
“You really think so?” Bucky asked almost afraid to hope.
Tony smiled nodding his head in disbelief. What a pair. “Of course I do. The man dragged himself out of the hospital the second he awoke because he just had to find you.” Looking straight at Loki he gave him a look that clearly spelled. “Can I fucking tell him?”
“No!” Was the unsaid response Loki gave him though a deep annoyed frown.
Tony snorted lightly, annoyed before adding. “He save you down there … from the trap I mean. I think that clearly means he has forgiven you.”
Bucky meditated on his words for a moment; then smiled at himself. Tony was right; he had already forgiven him. As he always did.
Meanwhile in the Hydra base one of Shuvalov´s minions roughly grabbed an unconscious Steve by this hair while checking him for any reactions. He had finally passed out during their last beating, worn out as much as from their tortures as from the sleep deprivation and the hunger.
“He´s out.” The brawny looking man told Shuralov´s.
“I can see that.” Shuvalov acknowledged angrily. They may have broken his physical resistance but they were not even close to actually breaking his mind.
Alexandrov walked in a hurry and swiftly saluted Shuralov´s before telling him. “Sir, our field agents reported that the soldier has procured the information about our location; and he´s currently on his way here.
“Good.” Shuralov answered with an evil smug on his face. “You know what to do.” He told to the bulky man eyeing him sternly. “Make sure that our Captain is properly prepared for the main event.”