Hi guys. Sorry for the long wait, school's been really hectic lately, but here's the next chapter. Thanks for the support on my story so far. You guys are so great!
I'm so sorry about the long wait for the update. School has been so hectic and my school had this celebration thing for my grade and I've been out since Friday and only got back at seven this morning, so I haven't really had any time to write this next chapter! But here it is!
Bucky climbed the ladder first. He peeked out over the lip of the trapdoor and searched the empty space, holding his hand over his gun in case any HYDRA agents were around. But, no one was up there and a glance to the right confirmed that they had all followed Rumlow's orders and were surrounding the obliterated house. Helicopters hovered overhead, cars were parked in a circle around the house, and agents, who were only black dots on the horizon, were swarming around the house. "Clear." Bucky called down to Sam and Sam released a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding.
He knew they had limited time to get out of that tunnel and get away from that house. It would only take a few minutes before the HYDRA agents realized something wasn't right when Rumlow didn't show up, and they would undoubtably begin searching the area again, looking for Steve and Sam and Bucky. They would definitely find Rumlow in the tunnel, bleeding out and unconscious on the floor, lying between a sea of dead HYDRA agents. So, they were close to safety, it was almost in their reach, but they weren't close enough, and Sam knew it. They had to go, they had to get out of there.
Sam's arms were wrapped securely around Steve's body, keeping the wounded and bleeding soldier on his feet. "Steve, you need to climb up that ladder. I know it hurts, but push. You can do this in your sleep, buddy." Sam said to Steve as he tried to draw the last of Steve's strength, hidden somewhere behind the fatigue and agony and semiconsciousness. Steve's arm was slung over Sam's shoulders and Steve was resting his head on Sam's shoulder as he gasped and wheezed for enough air to fill his damaged lungs. "Come on Steve, just a little further." Sam begged when Steve's eyes fluttered closed and Steve started swaying dangerously, even with Sam's vehement grip on his midsection.
Sam had been patient, he had been trying his hardest to get Steve through this alive, and his efforts had paid off. They were so close and he couldn't give up now. But that meant that time was of the essence, and every second spent trying to get Steve to keep moving was a second wasted, and as harsh as it was, Sam knew it. So, Sam had to get Steve to move faster, even if that meant he had to suffer a little bit more. He hated seeing Steve in pain, it tore him apart, but if he wanted to get Steve out of there, he needed Steve to move. If Steve didn't get out of there and Sam somehow did, he would never forgive himself. If they got captured and Steve had to suffer through even more, Sam wouldn't get over it, no matter how much time passed. So, he had to push Steve, push him to move, push him to carry on, push him to keep going, even if it hurt.
"Hurry!" Bucky called from outside, and Sam saw his head move from left to right as he surveyed their surroundings and held his gun at the ready, prepared to fight off any HYDRA agents. Bucky's voice was even and calm, comforting in the situation, but Sam detected the slightest, barely noticeable,ntrace of fear and panic in Bucky's voice, and that worried Sam more than he thought possible. Bucky was the Winter Soldier. Bucky was a killing machine... Or at least he had been, and hearing his worry just confirmed Sam's fears. They had limited time to escape, and their time was running out quick.
"Steve, move, now." Sam said, adopting a harsher but necessary tone. Sam's snap brought Steve out of his trance and he straightened ever so slightly and some of his weight was pulled off of Sam's shoulders. "Climb the ladder, quick." Sam said. Steve staggered towards the ladder, blood dripping from his multiple winds and onto the floor, his left arm hanging loosely by his side and his face twisted into a permanent grimace. With Sam's support, Steve manage to climb the ladder. Bucky wrapped his arms under Steve's shoulders and pulled him up. Steve cried out in pain and collapsed as he reached the top, his body lay sprawled on the mixture of sand and mud and grass as he panted and trembled with exertion. He was losing too much blood, and as he coughed, blood slipped from his lips. They needed to hurry the hell up.
Sam climbed the ladder in only a few seconds as he ignored the aches and pains of his own wounds, and his gaze rested in the house surrounded by HYDRA agents. "We need to hurry. Move." Bucky said as he stared into the distance, his back turned to the house. Sam turned to help Steve up and was surprised when he found Steve struggling to his knees and hands already, without help. Steve was trembling and gasping and swaying, but he was trying pretty damn hard, which was more than Sam could ask for. Sam looped a hand under Steve's arm and helped him up. Steve groaned as the movement aggravated his injuries, but he didn't hesitate before moving forward, stumbling alongside Sam, who kept his arm under Steve's arm.
They were out of the tunnel, they were out of HYDRA's way for now, but they weren't safe. Not yet, perhaps never. They had to get out of there, they had to get as far away from that house as possible, and moving by foot simply wasn't an option, but it was the only option they had. So, they began walking. Bucky walked in front, limping slightly as he held his gun at the ready. His hair was wet from sweat and it hung over his face, hiding whatever little emotion his facial expression gave away, his chest was exposed through the tear in his shirt, and it was red and bleeding slightly from where the stun gun and clung onto his skin. His leg was bleeding, but it was slow and it was of no immediate concern, as long as it wasn't bad enough to hinder his movements.
Steve held his arm over his stomach and swayed as he walked beside Sam. Blood oozed from the multiple wounds on his face and from his broken nose, blood poured from his shoulder and his stomach, staining the bandages red and smearing over his skin. His chest was bruised already, and badly misshapen, almost disgustingly so. Sam knew Steve had something more than just broken ribs, probably a broken sternum, and his left shoulder looked practically useless, severely damaged. He was limping too, something Sam hadn't noticed while Steve had been leaning on him, but now that Steve was walking mostly on his own, it was prominent and noticeable. But, Steve kept pushing, and apart from the occasional grunts of pain and whimpers, he stayed silent. Sam was dumbfounded that Steve could keep moving, and he found himself growing prouder and prouder of Steve.
Sam's stomach wound had stopped bleeding, mostly, as well as his arm wound, but his leg was still bleeding steadily and slowly. But, the adrenalin and panic clouded his pain and he barely noticed it as he hurried to keep up with Bucky's fast and determined strides."We need to get out of here, and not by foot. We need a car or something." Sam commented as he glanced back at the house. It had been at least ten minutes and he knew that sooner or later, HYDRA would catch up to them, but for now, they were still surrounding the house. The road a few feet away from them stretched for miles, disappearing over the horizon, and it was empty. Totally, completely void of any cars, of any means of escape.
"You don't think I know that?" Bucky snapped and Sam had to restrain himself from commenting back. Fighting would do nothing to help them get Steve out, so Sam bit his tongue and rolled his eyes silently instead. They kept walking for what felt like hours, but was only a few minutes in reality, until Bucky turned back and looked past Steve and Sam at the house in the distance. His blue eyes widened in horror and Sam turned back quickly to look at what had worried Bucky so much. Sam cursed under his breath as he saw the cars roar to life and start driving away from the house as other agents piled into the helicopters. The HYDRA agents had figured out that something was wrong, and they were starting to search for Rumlow and Steve and Sam and Bucky. "Run!" Bucky ordered.
Steve and Sam and Bucky ran as fast as they could. Their breathing was harsh and loud in the silence, but soon the sound of helicopter rotors filled the air and Sam looked over his shoulder. The helicopters had started hovering. Sam's heart was pounding, his mind was racing and his breathing was ragged as he struggled to keep up with Bucky. HYDRA was coming and they were practically out in the open, practically begging to be spotted. They needed to get out. They needed to move, and fast.
Then, as if Sam's prayers were answered, a car appeared just over the horizon, driving towards them. Escape was so close, Sam could almost taste it. Bucky seemed to have had the same idea as Sam and he ran into the road, holding up his metal arm as he prepared to put the car to a stop forcefully. The car kept moving, but screeched to a stop a few feet away from Bucky, and the owner of the car opened her car door angrily. She was about to start screaming at Bucky, but her gaze fell on his metal arm and her jaw hung open as she stared at it in awe. Then, her gaze travelled to Sam who was bent over, gasping for air as he tried to catch his breath. Her gaze stopped on him for a moment and a glint of recognition shone in her brown eyes.
Her gaze slowly moved to Steve, where he stood on shaky legs, hunched over and panting, gasping desperately for air and whimpering quietly as his right arm wrapped around his torso. The driver gasped and she pushed her long, curly brown hair behind her ears and shook her head in disbelief. "No way." She muttered over and over again as a broad smile spread across her fair features, showing her white and perfectly aligned teeth. "Is that Captain America?" She squealed as she walked out from behind the door of her silver BMW. Sam didn't know how she had recognized Steve through the blood and bruising and sweat and pallor, but she did and it was a miracle.
"We need you to take us somewhere." Bucky said, taking advantage of the fact that she was very obviously a fan. The young woman's gaze returned to Bucky and she nodded slowly, still unsure of Bucky. Sam noticed her uncertainty and took a step forward, carefully returning his grasp on Steve's arm.
"Please, we need your help. Please." Sam begged. He wasn't usually the type to beg, but he would do anything to get Steve help and to get the hell out of there. In the distance, the SUVs were getting nearer, Sam could almost hear their tires screeching on the damaged tar of the road, but the SUVs were still too far away to spot the silver BMW stopped in the middle of the road. "Please." Sam repeated, just as Steve started coughing, blood spraying from his lips. Sam's panic was heightening as he watched Steve struggle to breathe before his knees collapsed beneath him. Sam lunged forward and caught Steve by his shoulders before Steve fell to the ground. Steve screamed raggedly as his eyes squeezed shut in pain. "Please!" Sam repeated, almost shouting as he struggled to maintain his grip on the trembling super soldier in his arms.
"Get in." The lady said, clearly shaken by seeing the one and only, the invincible and indestructible, Captain America collapse in front of her as he heaved and suffered in pain and shock. Bucky ran over and helped Sam get Steve to the car as the driver climbed back onto the driver seat, tears welling in her eyes as she stared at the empty road ahead of her. Bucky climbed into the back and pulled Steve onto the beige leather seats, smearing them with blood, and the woman cringed and sobbed as Steve cried out in pain. Once Steve was inside and his head was rested on Bucky's lap, Sam closed the door by Steve's feet and ran to the other side of the car.
He stared at Bucky for a moment, expecting Bucky to get up and sit in the front passenger seat instead, but Bucky didn't move. "I need to sit with Steve." Sam said, watching as Steve bit his lip and his right hand clung desperately onto Bucky's pants, squeezing them between his bloodied fingers. Bucky looked at Sam and mouthed the word, 'please'. Sam hesitated for a moment, realizing that Bucky was desperate to protect Steve just as much as Sam was, before clambering into the front passenger seat and turning to face Steve. Steve's breathing was harsh and uneven and Sam was trying to remain calm, but it was hard, especially when the SUVs appeared just above the horizon, making their way towards Steve and Sam and Bucky in the stranger's car.
"Turn around, quick." Sam said, and the lady pushed down on the accelerator ad turned sharply until the car was facing the opposite direction. "Drive, step on it." Sam said, and she did. She pushed down on the gas and kept pushing until the car was speeding faster than Sam had even thought it could go. He turned and watched Steve, wanting to be in the back comforting him instead of in the front watching helplessly. But, Bucky was doing a good job, much to Sam's surprise. Bucky's right arm was held protectively over Steve's side, holding him close to his body and offering some comfort to the wounded super soldier, while his other hand ran through Steve's hair. Bucky was whispering things in Steve's ear, and Sam caught a few words here and there. Stories, memories about their childhood.
Sam turned back around and faced the front and kept his eyes on the road. Bucky could do something for Steve that Sam couldn't, he could relate to Steve, relive old memories with him. Sam knew Steve, but he knew almost nothing of his past, but Bucky... well, Bucky was Steve's past. And as Bucky whispered soothingly in Steve's ear, Steve started to calm, eventually smiling whenever Bucky said something amusing or funny, nodding when he agreed with something Bucky said. That was something Sam couldn't have done, and he felt a pang of jealousy and uselessness as he watched the very man who had almost killed Steve only two months ago, keep Steve alive in the back of a stranger's car.
"What... What happened to him?" The lady asked shakily as she sped down the long stretch of otherwise deserted road. She was scared, Sam could tell. Her eyes were red and watery from tears, her cheeks were flushed, her breathing was fast and unsteady, and she was glancing from the road to Steve constantly. Sam felt terrible, the last thing he wanted was to involve an innocent civilian in his messed up world, much less a woman barely out of her teens and barely big enough to fit into adult clothing. It was their fault that she was scared and Sam hated that, but he needed to save Steve and if scaring her was part of the process of doing so, he would just have to get over it.
Sam didn't answer, nor did Bucky who was still calming a trembling Steve. How could they? What would they say? They couldn't tell her about HYDRA, they couldn't tell her about Rumlow, they sure as hell couldn't tell her that they had just killed fifty men in an underground tunnel built by the Winter Soldier himself. She couldn't know about any of that, and the longer she remained oblivious to the evils of the world, the better.
She turned to look at Steve for the hundredth time in the space of only five minutes and Sam did the same, looking over his shoulder. Blood was staining her seats and her flooring, and Steve's death grip on her seat was so tight that it was almost tearing the leather. But the driver didn't seem to notice or care. "He's bleeding everywhere." The lady sobbed as she turned back to the road ahead. Steve was paling more and more, and Sam knew that they needed help, but they couldn't go to a hospital. "I'm taking him to a hospital, right? I mean that's where you want me to take you... Right?"
"No." Came the reply from the back. For the first time in what felt like hours, Steve had spoken, and a broad smile spread across Sam's chapped lips. The lady kept driving along the straight road, and this time she almost swerved off the road as she turned to look at Steve. His blue eyes were open now, and they were looking at her pleadingly as unshed tears shone in them. "N-no... They... They'll find us." Steve gasped. He was curling in on himself and Sam reached back, grabbing Steve's right hand as it tightened on the seat. Steve's grip on Sam's hand tightened but Sam didn't care. Bucky wasn't whispering in Steve's ear anymore, but he still had his arm over him protectively. Steve looked small, so small and vulnerable and weak.
"You need a hospital." The lady replied after getting over the shock of hearing Captain America speak. She was still staring at Steve in disbelief and Sam had to guide her hands on the steering wheel so that they stayed on course. Behind them, the SUVs were nowhere to be seen, and Sam had a feeling they had returned to the second tunnel entrance, the one where they had escaped. They would probably search the tunnel, and once they found the dead HYDRA agents and the unconscious Rumlow, they would begin their search for Steve and Sam and Bucky. Hopefully, they would be long gone by the time that happened.
Steve somehow managed to draw enough strength to push himself to a sitting position as he grimaced in pain and pulled his hand out of Sam's grasp so he could use the front chair as leverage. The driver almost started crying in excitement when Steve's bloodied right hand reached out to grab her arm gently and Sam had to guide her hands on the wheel again. Steve was breathing heavily as he leaned closer, and his pants for breath were blowing the lady's hair off her neck slightly. She blushed as she looked back at the road and bit her lip nervously. "No hospitals. Please. Please." Steve begged breathlessly. Steve was in so much pain and Sam could do nothing to help him, and that was killing him.
This time, the lady nodded confidently and Steve collapsed back in relief. "Thank you. Thank you." Steve muttered, his voice pinched with agony. Bucky was looking over his shoulder at the road behind them, scanning for any SUVs. As Steve fell limply against him, Bucky locked gazes with Sam and for a moment they shared a brief second of unspoken agreement. They couldn't go to a hospital, but Steve needed help, hell, they all did. So, they needed to find someone to help them, someone who they knew and they could trust with Steve's life. And, they needed to get there fast. Before Steve bled out, before Steve succumbed to his injuries, and before HYDRA found them. Sam refused to put the driver in danger, but as long as they kept driving and didn't stop, he had a feeling that it would all be okay.
"Who do we go to?" Bucky asked, his voice returning to its cold and harsh tone. He was thinking of survival, and to think clearly, all emotions needed to be forgotten. Sam knew that, he had learnt it the hard way. Emotions cloud your thoughts and cloud your common sense, and they stop you from acting rationally and logically. Suddenly, Sam understood. He had always thought Bucky was harsh, he had always thought Bucky was emotionless, but now he understood. Bucky had been using the same tactic Sam had used in his Pararescue days. No emotion, no fear, no mistakes. And, although Bucky had allowed his emotions to slip for a moment, he had composed himself again.
No emotion, no fear, no mistakes.
Sam thought long and hard. His gaze drifted from Bucky to the tense and nervous driver then to Steve, who was fighting a losing battle and slipping into unconsciousness. It was painful just looking at Steve, painful just watching Steve suffer so much. Sam gulped back the emotions that threatened to spill as he looked away from Steve and stared at the sun setting just to his left. Had it been under different circumstances, the bright and warm reds and yellows and oranges that filled the sky would have been the most beautiful thing Sam had ever seen. But in that moment, at that time, it wasn't. Sam loved sunsets, they were peaceful and calm, but the red of the sunset at that moment just angered Sam.
He didn't understand why someone so great, so selfless, so innocent, had to go through so much. Steve didn't deserve the torture and suffering he was experiencing. Steve didn't deserve to be sitting in the back seat of a car, lying in his own blood and trembling with such ferocity that the trembles reverberated through Bucky. Steve deserved so much better. And Sam hated that the sunset was so beautiful on a day when something so horrible had happened. So, in that moment, in that time, the sunset was sickening.
Sam looked back at Bucky, searching for an answer. Who could they go to? He curled his hands into fists at his sides. He didn't understand how a day that had started out so normal, so relaxed, had turned into a desperate run for safety, a fight for life. He didn't understand how his world had turned upside down in the space of only a few hours. He was sitting in a car with a dying Captain America, a changed Bucky and an innocent and nervous driver. What had he done? What had he been thinking? Would the driver ever actually be safe again or would HYDRA find her, find out that she had helped them? Sam looked at the driver for a long time, watching as tears fell down her rosy cheeks, and he realized he didn't know her name. He realized that he could never repay her, no matter how hard he tried.
"Thank you." Sam whispered, but the driver heard and she took one hand off the wheel and gently squeezed Sam's fisted hand. It loosened slightly at her touch. She smiled and nodded before placing her hand back on the wheel and looking back at the road. Then, the answer suddenly came to Sam and he wondered why he hadn't thought of it sooner, why he hadn't thought of her first. Sam turned and locked gazes with Bucky. "Natasha. We go to Natasha." Sam replied.