Relentless Chapter one


The last thing Anna remembered was Clint tackling her to the ground before the tree behind them exploded and rained what looked like syringes down on the both of them. Then the world went black. She woke screaming out James' name only to find the forest had disappeared. Four cold metal walls surrounded her as she laid on a small twin bed. It was the only piece of furniture in the room. Moving to stand, Anna fell back on the bed cradling her head in her hands. Her mind was foggy and heavy, as though she'd been drugged. Giving it a moment, allowing herself to get her bearings, Anna rose to her feet again, slower that time. Crossing the room to the door, she jiggled the handle to find it locked. Not that it was surprising. Obviously Hydra had gotten to her and they wouldn't let her go roaming about. Didn't work out so well for them last time.

Anna spent the next few minutes banging her fist against the door, in hopes that someone might let her out to pee at the very least. When no one came, she pressed her back against the door, sliding down to the floor. What was the point of kidnapping her if they were just going to lock her in a box? And where were James and the others? They should have traced the signal to the base by now. Unless something happened to them. That thought had her heart clenching in fear as she returned to her previous position of banging against the door.

"We got her," Rollins reported to Rumlow once they had returned to the compound. "We lost quite a few men. I hope she's worth it."

"Where is she now?" Rumlow demanded, ignoring Rollins' last statement. He didn't care what his agents said, he was in charge and they shouldn't be questioning his motives. Hydra needed Anna as much as he wanted her.

"She's still out from the tranquilizer. We put her in holding room D." As soon as Rollins' had given her location, Rumlow flipped through the security channels until the feed in Anna's room flickered up on the security monitor. Seeing her unconscious on the bed reassured him. After weeks, they had finally succeeded. And that time, he'd make sure she didn't escape again.

"What about the asset?" Rumlow inquired, turning his head away from the monitor for the first time. They had lost the signal from the asset's tracker several days ago. Rumlow wasn't dumb enough to think the recruit they'd sent after the asset had actually succeeded. More than likely he'd been tortured for information and had told the asset about the tracker. At least Rumlow could be assured that the recruit was dead. The asset wouldn't let him survive an interrogation. They hadn't trained him to.

"He was there. With Cap, Stark and their team. It was an ambush. They all survived. We barely made it out with the girl." Rumlow wasn't exactly thrilled the asset was still alive. His orders had been clear, other than getting Anna he wanted assurance that the asset wouldn't be a problem anymore.

"Were you followed?" Rumlow demanded, knowing the asset wasn't one to give up. The plan wouldn't go accordingly if he found them too soon. Anna was still attached to him. He needed to strip her of that before the asset came for her. Because there was no doubt the asset would come for her.

"No sir. We can't trace the asset's movements anymore, but we scanned the girl with electromagnetic pulses in route. It should have scrambled any tracing technology Stark might have placed on her." Seeing as how they had made it to the compound without any altercations, and the asset wasn't busting down the front door, Rollins was inclined to think their methods had worked.

"Make sure everyone understands she's not to be harmed." Rollins rolled his eyes at that remark, able to get away with it since Rumlow had turned his attention back to the monitor.

"It'd help if I could tell them why she's getting the special treatment," Rollins grunted, remembering how the little bitch had shot him in the kneecap. He'd only just recovered from that injury and he wouldn't mind turning his eye if any of the other agents roughed her up a bit. However, if given a good enough reason, Rollins would personally protect her for the sake of Hydra.

"She's going to help solve a little problem we've been having with experimental weapons," Rumlow answered cryptically, eyes still glued to Anna's sleeping form on the monitors.

"Aren't weapons more her brother's thing?" Rollins inquired, wondering if perhaps they'd kidnapped the wrong Stark. If they were dealing with weapons, Tony was the one they wanted. Before he'd turned super hero he was the leading supplier of weapons to the US Army, among other Nations.

"Not when the weapons are people." Rumlow answered, finally switching the monitor to a different channel to illustrate his point.

"Where did they take her?!" James exploded, lunging at the Hydra agent who was smirking at him, tired of letting Steve do this his way. He wasn't getting results. Unfortunately, Steve pulled him back before he got his hands on the agent. It only had the agent's smirk widening.

"Bucky, we talked about this," Steve reminded, only releasing his grip on Bucky's shoulders when he felt confident he wouldn't try to rip the hostage's throat out.

"He won't talk unless you give him incentive to," James growled, glaring at the agent. He knew what it took to get people to abandon their loyalties. Bringing them to the brink of death usually worked most of the time. It didn't hurt that James wanted to murder every Hydra agent he could get his hands on for taking Anya from him.

"There's incentives other than not dying." Steve answered firmly, arms crossed as he stared down his best friend.

"These guys can go days without food and water. I know. They got the same training as me. Offering them pie won't get them to talk." James insisted, raking his hand through his hair in frustration. The longer it took for them to get answers, the further he felt Anya slipping away.

"I heard yelling. Do we need to put Tin Man in a time out?" Tony's voice sounded from the door of the dining room where Steve and James were conducting their interrogation. Sam and Clint got the parlor and Bruce and Tony had the library.

"Don't push his buttons right now, Tony. Unless you want a matching bruise on the other side of your face." Capsicle's warning only had Tony glaring at him, removing the glass of scotch from his right cheek to take a swig of it and revealing the dark purple bruise that covered his jawline. Turned out Tin Man had been serious when he'd said he'd blame Tony if anything happened to Anna Banana. And that blame came in the form of a swift punch to his jaw the first second he saw him.

"Give him all the sympathy why don't you. If you don't remember, Anna Banana is my sister. She was my responsibility and I lost her. If you think that isn't eating me up inside, you're wrong." Tony spat out before turning on his heel and heading back to the library. As much as he hated to admit it, Tin Man was right. It was all his fault. Tony deserved that punch for letting Anna slip away.

Steve turned towards Bucky once Tony had left, immediately noticing the increasing tenseness to his body. This was too much for him right now. Losing Anna had hit him hard and he hadn't recovered enough from that blow to stay in control. Control was crucial to getting the agent to talk. If they didn't seem in control of the situation, it would make the agent feel superior and unwilling to talk. Heck, the agent had already been wearing a smirk on his face before Bucky's little outburst.

"Bucky, I think it might be best if you got some air," Steve suggested, moving to take a seat across from the hostage. "You need to clear your head."

The last thing James wanted to do was just sit outside and wait on the others to get results. This was Anya they were fighting for. He wanted to do something useful. Like tearing Hydra agents apart limb by limb until they told him where she was. However, he also knew this was their only lead, their one shot at finding her location. And he could understand where Steve was coming from. If they rushed it, caused too much pain or injury, if he killed the agents, there would be no one left to tell them where Anya was. So, in the end, James took Steve's advice and left the room.

James ended up on the back deck, staring out over the lake where just last night he and Anya swam. It hurt. Knowing she wasn't there. Not knowing how, when, or even if they were going to get her back. Especially with memories of their last night together swirling around in his head. It had been so perfect. He should have known good things weren't meant to last. Not for him.


It was hours before anyone came for Anna. She had given up on pounding on the door and was waiting silently beside it, planning on running for it as soon as the door opened. Sooner or later they'd have to open the door. Of course, Hydra seemed to be anticipating her move. When they did come to the room, they opened the door just enough to slide in a tray of food before slamming it shut again. Too fast for Anna to do anything.

Snatching up the tray, Anna returned to the bed with it and set it before her. It wasn't much in the means of sustenance. Some brown looking meat and a potato. Not that Anna trusted any food she hadn't seen prepared. Hydra had no qualms of drugging her to get her to wherever the heck she was. They'd have no trouble sleeping at night if they drugged her food as well. Especially not if it would subdue her.

"It is not poisoned, Anna." A voice sounded out of nowhere, causing Anna to whip her head around. No one was in the room with her, which led her to conclude it had come from speakers somewhere in the walls. It also had her realizing they were watching her. There was no other way for them to know whether she was eating it or not if they didn't have cameras embedded somewhere. Which was incredibly creepy, to think of someone watching her at all times. Hydra obviously didn't care about personal space or privacy.

In a show of defiance, Anna moved the tray to the floor before pushing it away with her foot. Curling up on the bed, she ignored her hunger. The satisfaction of not doing what they wanted her to, even something as small as eating, was worth the pain. Hydra needed to know she wasn't going to cooperate. No matter what they did to her.

"You will have to eat at some point Anna," The voice sounded again. That time Anna recognized it as Rumlow's. The realization had Anna even less willing to cooperate. "You're only hurting yourself."

"What did you do with to the others? What did you do with my brother, Steve, James?" Anna demanded, speaking even though her stubbornness had wanted her to remain quiet. Knowing whether the others were safe was more important than her stubborn pride.

"Nothing. We've done nothing." Rumlow's answer had Anna sighing in relief. At least the others were safe. "Our future actions against them entirely depend on you." He added, causing Anna to grip the sides of the bed in anger.

It was an empty threat. She knew it. If they had intended on hurting the others, they would have taken them as well. Hydra couldn't touch the Avengers. As a group, the Avengers were too strong. They worked as a team and had each other's backs in a fight, which was what made them more resilient than Hydra. Taking down an army with no ties to one another was a lot easier than taking down a team.

The sun was setting when the arrow assassin came to sit beside James. He hadn't moved from his spot by the lake for a couple of hours now. The fresh air hadn't calmed him down any, and he knew he'd kill the first Hydra agent he saw. So he remained where he was.

"Have any of them said anything?" James asked without looking to the arrow wielding assassin. The man who lumped James together with Hydra.

"Nothing of importance, yet. They'll be more apt to talk in a few days." Clint responded, slipping off his shoes so he could dip his feet into the water. "Don't worry, we'll find her." He added, noticing the look on James' face and his tense body language as worry, albeit mixed with anger. Anna was very important to him.

"Why are you trying to reassure me?" James asked skeptically, sending the assassin a sideways glance. "I thought you didn't like me." Not only had the assassin shot arrows repeatedly at James' head, he'd verbally confirmed his dislike shortly after meeting him.

"I don't. Or I didn't, until Sam explained exactly what Hydra did to you," Clint shrugged. He'd never been good with the whole touchy-feely conversations. Though that's exactly why he came out there. He couldn't remember how it had come up in conversation, but once Sam had told Clint the truth of what James had went through, it left Clint feeling an obligation to the soldier. He had personal experience with mind control. It sucked. And he figured talking to a fellow brainwash victim might help James stabilize his thoughts and emotions. At the very least, so he could focus on a productive way to help Anna rather than going on a murderous rampage. That could wait till they found where Hydra was keeping her.

"It was still me pulling the trigger. I was the one who shot your friend." James insisted, knowing it was true. Hydra had taken his memories, but they hadn't physically controlled his every movement. He controlled the end result. And he'd always chosen to listen to them. Until Anya.

"That wasn't you. It was the person Hydra manipulated you into being," Clint was just as persistent. "Trust me, I know what it's like to have your mind taken apart. To do crazy shit you'd never do otherwise, because the one holding the strings to your mind tells you to. He tells you it is right and that it's for the greater good of mankind. You'd kill your best friend just because he says so. I know because I almost did." Loki had pulled apart his brain and reconstructed it with his own sense of truth. It had almost cost him Nat. He'd fought her, hurt her, with his own hands. All because Loki had told him to. It was the same with James and Hydra. The person James' became when Hydra wiped his memories wasn't him. It was the Winter Soldier. The persona created to kill.

"You have an interesting way of looking at it." James murmured. The assassin's words reminded James of Anya. How she had always claimed it wasn't his fault. Anya always did see the best in people. Especially when those people could only see the worst.

"That was basically my version of what Anna said to me. I was in a low place after what happened in New York. She helped me see that piece of truth." Clint smiled lightly at the memory of a stubborn Anna gripping him by the shoulders, looking him straight in the eye, and giving him the pep talk of how all the evil he had done was Loki, not him.

"You care about Anna. Why?" James asked, curious as to the relationship between Anya and he arrow assassin. Anya had never seemed the type of person to hang around assassins, even if they were on the 'good' side. She wasn't so keen on killing people.

"She helped me after my brainwashing incident. I had a bit of post-traumatic stress after it. She'd take blood samples and tests to help figure out how my body reacted to the magic and she helped create a cocktail of medications that would best help my particular source of PTSD." Anna was a godsend. Clint couldn't go to a hospital after what had happened to him. They wouldn't know what to do with the changes his cells had gone through. He needed someone who wouldn't call the government in and put him in an experimental facility. Anna had been exactly what he needed. Clint oftentimes felt he owed her for his sanity.

"Anya's good at healing wounds even you aren't aware you have." James murmured, thinking on all the ways she had helped him. Of course, she'd always healed his physical wounds, but she'd started work on the internal ones as well. The emotional wounds he carried had started lessening since he met her.

"I've seen what Hydra is capable of first hand. Seen what they do to their hostages. Experienced what they do to their assets. I don't want them to do that to Anya." Hydra tortured everyone, no matter what they had taken them for. The only thing that differed was their means of torturing.

"They went to a lot of trouble to get her. They need her for something. So she's safe." Clint reassured him. In his experience, if SHIELD needed something from a hostage that hostage had immunity until they got what they wanted from him.

"Just because Hydra needs you, doesn't mean they don't hurt you," James muttered darkly. Hydra had needed him, and that hadn't stopped them from withholding food, beating him, and wiping his memories when things didn't go according to their plan and timeline.