A/N: So thanks to the awesome Lady_Clow of Archive of Our Own, I've gone back and fixed the Russian translations in the earlier chapters. Thank you so much again for your help!
Also of note: I have a couple of Winter Soldier stories on my Archive of Our Own account (linked in my profile) that don't appear on this site because I worried they might violate Fan Fiction's content guidelines. I'm working on a sequel to one of those stories now (hence my disappearance for a few days), so I thought I'd let everyone know in case you wanted to check them out.
"You're sure?" the Soldier asks.
They are in the kitchen. His hair is damp because they have just left the bathroom, wherein he had been introduced to the concepts of showers and shaving. Sam had looked cautious when they gave the Soldier the razor, and he cannot determine why. His precision with blades is instinctual and he knows how to run them over skin without cutting. It is an occasionally useful intimidation practice, and now it is a practical skill.
Holding the razor reminded him of his lack of weapons. He is able to defend himself by hand, but the absence of guns and blades is disquieting now that he is aware of it. Perhaps he should take one of the knives from this room. It may become necessary.
"That's the first time anyone's ever asked me if I'm sure about grilled cheese," Stark says, placing a skillet on the stove top. "Yes, I'm sure. Everybody loves these things. Except the lactose intolerant, maybe. You're not lactose intolerant, are you?"
"What means lactose?"
"He's not," Steve says. He is sitting at the far end of the counter top. Steve had been the one to teach the Soldier to wash his hair, and he had left when the razor came out. The Soldier thinks that wise; he does not want to hurt Steve now, but his programming can make him want. And it is hard enough to ignore his mission when he is not armed.
"Well then. And I'm guessing you're not vegan or celiac either. Which, even if you were, it's gluten free bread." Stark drops a sandwich into the skillet and is carrying on before the Soldier can ask the definition of any of those words. "So trust me, Steadfast Tin Soldier, you're gonna like it."
"It seems an unnecessary risk." Soup is liquid. He can consume that without issue and from what he understands of human nutrition, there is nothing preventing him from surviving on entirely liquids. The act of chewing and swallowing is not something he can remember attempting.
"It's cheese and bread. That's about as dangerous as newborn kittens."
There is a spark of memory. "This is…" he hesitates, mind stumbling before it recalls the word. "This is fondue?"
"No, this is a sandwich. But hey, if you wanna catch up on missing the sixties, I can always get a melting pot."
The Soldier shakes his head, brows coming together. "But fondue is cheese and bread. You said when you took us to Lucerne."
Stark gives an expression he can't read and is beginning to say something when Steve speaks. "You remember Lucerne?"
"No." He watches as Steve's face—is "falls" the correct term? "But I know we went. And fondue is cheese and bread, yes?"
"Yes, but not all cheese and bread is fondue." Stark sets the spatula down on the counter top. "It's like how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares, you know? Only not, because fondue doesn't even have to involve cheese or bread. There's always chocolate and strawberries."
"What is chocolate?"
YOU MAY KNOW IT AS ШОКОЛАД, SERGEANT BARNES.
"Oh, you poor deprived child. JARVIS, call Pepper. Tell her we're gonna need a box of Godiva. No, make that a crate."
"You do not want to overdose him on caffeine and sugar," Steve says. "He tried espresso once in Italy and I honestly thought we were going to cause an international incident. I mean, he hadn't slept for days before that, but his reaction was still—"
"I remember шоколад." The Soldier recalls the taste, thick and sweet. "They gave it to me. I think after a mission once."
He thinks from the way that Steve goes tense and silent that he has said the wrong thing.
"I thought they didn't let you eat?" Sam asks. The Soldier is not sure when he came in.
"I didn't. I…held it in my mouth until it became liquid?" He didn't question HYDRA's gifts. If they wanted to reward him with objects, he would take them unless someone else of a higher rank protested. If they wanted to put rewards in his mouth, he would not struggle. "They had things. Sometimes. After missions. I had vodka." He remembered the awful burn of it, the bottle with the red star that they held to his lips. "The last one would—" The Soldier can't remember the word, and strokes a hand through his hair to demonstrate the motion. "That, after I terminated targets. I think."
"Pierce?" Steve asks. His voice is low and flat.
The Soldier shakes his head. Pierce would talk at him when he had made the man happy. He didn't touch if it wasn't a punishment. "The one who led missions. Rumlow?"
Steve's fist stops a centimeter before it can connect with the granite counter top. "Excuse me," he says, voice very still and quiet. It is the sort of voice the Soldier connects to incoming blows, and he waits to be struck. But Steve stands instead, leaves the room at a fast but controlled pace.
"I was bad," the Soldier says. He has upset Steve somehow. He looks at the others in the room, wondering which of them will inflict punishment for his misbehavior.
"No, Bucky, you weren't." Sam takes a seat beside him.
"I made him angry."
"HYDRA made him angry. You haven't done anything wrong, all right? You never had a choice in the things they made you do. And it's not wrong to talk about what you've been through. Granted, we might want to come up with a more specific time and place to talk just about that, but you're remembering. It's a good thing."
What benefit is there in remembering his time as HYDRA's asset? It does not teach him how to be human, and it isn't the sort of memory that makes Steve smile. At best, it demonstrates that he is capable of regaining memories, but he was already aware of that. The word for this sensation is frustrated, probably.
Sam sighs. "There any tea in this place? I feel like we could all go for a cup of tea."
Stark indicates one of the cabinets. "I'm pretty sure Bruce stockpiles it there."
"I'll make it." The Soldier stands up. The distraction is welcome.
"You drink tea?" Sam asks.
"Нет." The answer is automatic and so it slips out in Russian. Maybe Barnes drank tea. The Soldier did not. "But I know how to make it." He isn't sure why anyone from HYDRA would bother to teach him that, but he doubts it is a recollection from before he was an asset. If he could remember making tea as James Buchanan Barnes, why wouldn't he remember food and how to consume it?
"The fondue is burning," he adds, eyes falling on the smoking skillet as he retrieves a box of tea from the cabinet.
Stark swears and forbids them to mention this to Pepper. The second sandwich does not burn. Between the tea and the grilled cheese, once the Soldier has worked out the process of chewing, he thinks he prefers the sandwich. It has more textures and flavors and it begins to occur to the Soldier that there is more to consuming food than simply keeping the body running. He thinks he enjoys the process of consumption. He also thinks it would be better if Steve were still in the room, and that in the future, he should keep silent about the memories from HYDRA.
Though, the more he remembers of HYDRA, the more he thinks Steve was with him there.
A/N: After watching and analyzing Iron Man 3 way too many times, I have a headcanon that Pepper or someone else close to Tony may have celiac disease, due to the scene in which Tony can't remember what he had for breakfast and JARVIS says gluten free waffles. Which would suggest Tony's gluten free for medical reasons or health concerns, but later on in the movie he specifically asks Harley for a sandwich when it's unlikely that Harley would have gluten free bread around. So I imagine if anyone other than Tony is gluten free, it's probably Pepper.
The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a Hans Christian Andersen story about a one-legged toy soldier which ends with soul-crushing sadness just like everything Hans Christian Andersen wrote.
The vodka in a bottle with a red star that Winter remembers is Medoyeff Vodka.
I imagine somebody got bored on a mission at some point and taught the asset how to make tea so that they could be lazy. And also because getting the world's most powerful, dangerous assassin to steep beverages for you is some kind of power trip.
Translations for the Russian in this chapter are as follows:
шоколад = chocolate
Нет = No