A/N: Sebby Stan as Bucky Barnes officially put me in Marvel's camp and not DC's, so I couldn't resist exploring the character further. I hope you'll enjoy spending time in his head as much as I am. Steve will show up from time to time, but I'm not going to give Bucky a lady friend because I want him all to myself :) Chapter titles from "The Good Soldier" by Nine Inch Nails. I own nothing.
Gunfire in the street where we used to meet
The sound of destruction is deafening. The glass structure under his feet begins to move. His left arm, still useful, automatically grasps the steel frame that has been supporting him as he watches the domed assembly fall away, taking the man who was his mission with it. The muscles in his shoulder scream, his weight stressing the flesh connections to his prosthesis. He ignores the sensation, eyes fixed on the man swiftly disappearing into the debris-ridden waters of the Potomac. He hesitates a moment longer before his metallic fingers release and he, too, falls away from the doomed helicarrier.
Cold water closes over his head, his body momentarily senseless from the impact. Swimming is difficult without the use of his right arm, and the limited use of his left. He makes it to the surface nonetheless and gasps for air briefly before diving again. Something distantly similar to panic makes itself felt as he is forced to surface and dive three more times before finding what he sought. His steel fingers tighten on the fabric of the man's uniform, and he kicks them away from the still-raining debris.
The trip to shore is slow and exhausting. He cannot be sure, in the constant pain coursing through his body as he swims, but feels his right shoulder must be dislocated and several ribs are at least bruised, if not broken. Still, he kicks on, using his arms as best he can despite the pain to keep himself and the unconscious man near the surface. At last, his boots make contact with the riverbed, and he is able to walk onto the shore, dragging his cargo until both are free of the water. He stands above him, looking down intently. The man's mouth opens, releasing water, and he inhales without coughing. He turns away.
The voice, so strangely unfamiliar and familiar simultaneously, echoes through his head as leaves and underbrush crunch under his boots. He cradles his right arm to his chest using his left, and limps a little. Water still drips off of him and his feet are freezing in his waterlogged boots.
"Who the hell is Bucky?"
He can hear his own voice as though he were not the one speaking. The other man's face is crestfallen at his response, the image of him flashing before his eyes. In the momentary blindness, he stumbles. He reaches out, foolishly, with his usually good right arm. Though his hand catches onto a tree, he must release it quickly and allow himself to sink to the ground to avoid crying out.
The voice repeats, and he shakes his head violently. Dislodging it is unsuccessful. The memory is like most of his memories: disconnected. Had he seen that man before being sent to deal with him today? He doesn't know. He looked around himself, but the woods appear empty. They are still. He can dimly hear the river, where he left the man, some hundreds of yards away. There is not another sound. He failed his mission. The building of his enemies is destroyed, but so are the helicarriers of his … His thoughts circle, trying to define them. Allies? Masters? He does not know that, either. Do they still exist? Or were they brought down today because he failed? He discovers that he doesn't want to go back to the vault to be fixed by them. They may kill him for his failure. Has he failed before? Will he still be considered an asset if he has?
"James Buchanan Barnes."
The name leaps into his mind unbidden. Only one man has called him a name. Those whom he works with ask him to do his job, to shape the century, but do not address him. They often do not maintain eye contact for long. They do not behave like the man he was sent to kill. What does that mean? Disconnected visions pass through his mind, and he holds his head in both hands until they cease. He should return to his handlers. Surely they can make the visions stop and give him some peace. Perhaps he needs to be trained again so he does not get distracted on a mission by men who give him a name and look at him as though they are allies.
"But I knew him."
His own, adamant voice weaves through his thoughts. A searing pain follows the voice and he presses his hands harder against his skull, muffling a scream. He rocks back and forth, stilling his thoughts. He is sure that he cannot go back, not now. Not right away. Resolution calms his mind and he climbs unsteadily to his feet. This is not a safe place to stay, not in his state. He walks again, his limp decreasing as he moves, though his arm he still cradles to his chest.
His clothes are getting dry. The sun is still high overhead, though soon it will dip below the tree line. His boots are still cold and damp, though. He knows that is an issue he must address before he can sleep. He doesn't know where he is, or how thick these woods are. He is grateful that his mind has been untroubled for a few hours. His movements are slow and he cannot be sure that he has been going in the same direction for his entire trek. He is thirsty. He has several times reached for a canteen that he is not sure he has ever worn. He feels purposeless and unsure of himself, which he cannot recall feeling before. He stops walking. He listens. The voice of a stream reaches his ears and he moves in that direction.
After drinking his fill, his mind awakens again, strange visions tearing through his consciousness. He holds very still to keep from falling into the stream. The thoughts pass and he moves away from the water slowly, surveying his surroundings. A tree with particularly large branches leans over the tributary. He eyes it carefully, then runs toward it, jumping at the last moment. A guttural sound escapes him as he must use both hands to grip the branches. Gritting his teeth, he pulls himself onto a bough and leans against the tree, breathing hard. Before he has really caught his breath, the pain and exhaustion overwhelm him and he sleeps.
He leapt onto the roof of a car, using his momentum to plunge his left hand through the window and remove the traitor. He tossed him easily into the other lane, immediately being struck by another vehicle. He turned and again reached with his left hand, this time through the windshield. He grabbed the wheel and wrenched it free, tossing it to the side. Gunfire came toward him from inside and they slammed on the brakes. He leapt away as quickly as he came, landing on the hood of his men's vehicle, watching the car veer out of control. When the car containing his two targets flipped, he saw that his quarry had escaped the wreckage. The van stopped and he walked toward his targets. He fired at the man, who put up his shield and was flung from the overpass.
A bullet glanced off his eye protection, leaving cracks. He removed them, aiming his weapons at the threat. She had moved and shot at him again. She ran and he jumped down to follow, ordering his men to find the other target. He listened and could hear her voice faintly, and moved silently toward the source. He quietly rolled a grenade toward the sound. When it exploded, she appeared suddenly in the opposite direction and attacked him. It is not difficult to thwart her; she is well-trained but much smaller and weaker than he. Speed would be her only ally if he were not trained better than she. A large man came to her rescue. He could be more of a challenge.
The fight was fast and intense; he had to work hard to keep an upper hand, knives flying through the air. He found himself rolling away, having been thrown, and the mask protecting his face fell off in the process. He quickly got to his feet and stood ready for the impending attack, but none came. The man stared at him in disbelief. "Bucky?" he gasped.
"Who the hell is Bucky?" he replied. He was knocked down suddenly by someone else's kick. The third man from the vehicle. Standing, he stared at the other man intently, something niggling at the back of his mind. An RPG flies past him and he, knowing he has been outmatched, sought cover to regroup.
He awakens with a gasp, fingers digging into the bark of the tree to keep his balance as he remembered where he was. A cold sweat covers him, mingling with the little remaining river water. "I knew him," he whispers, wondering how he is able to recall that mission, and how long ago it had happened.
A/N Please read and review!