She's asleep now.

Moments of lucidity creep in like a thick autumn fog. But he needs these times. Craves them in a way that's foreign yet welcome.

It's not to be a part of the world again; no, but to know that his mind is still his own and that he is still safe from those who wish him harm.

And to see her.

Time doesn't make much sense in cryofreeze but he knew she'd been coming to see him for a while.

Her wild dark hair was longer and the shade of her lipstick is no longer shockingly pink, but was now a dark crimson.

He liked it.

The conduit was designed specifically for him, thanks to T'challa. He had requested a communication system, speakers and the like, so he could hear anyone who sat in front of his safe place. Those who had the passcode, anyway.

She didn't have it in the beginning but it wasn't long before he heard the low rumble of her voice. She spoke mostly nonsense, at least he thought at first. But the more he listened, the more he came to understand her words, the phrases, and even the inflection, all telling of her emotions and thoughts.

He knows how much she loves her friends, yet feels useless in their presence. Fragile and small compared to gods ands and geniuses. Still, she'll tell him stories in which these people who so intimidate her, make her laugh. Her eyes will water and the bubble of giggles often stalls her stories. He doesn't mind.

He loves when she laughs.

He knows her favorite songs, the ones that make her happy. Not often, but too much still, she'll play music that shows her pain.

He hates when she cries.

Two visits before, she came to him dressed in a terribly wonderful, low-cut, hip hugging, black silky dress. The kind of get up a man like him would go nuts for. Except there had been mascara streaked down her pale and pink face and her usual swagger-like confidence had vanished.

The woman he'd grown to see as a companion ranted angrily with fists slamming into palms. She paced in dangerous high-heels, marking the floor with her hurt.

Shitty date, ups and leaves after the bill shows.

She laughed when she had calmed down, but it was not warm and low like her other. It was small and wounded, harsh in its sound.

She said he was the only guy who didn't run from her.

Because he was frozen.

It was almost enough for him to deactivate the cryo-freeze. To quiet her doubt, maybe dance with her, all dressed up and looking like a dream.

But he was still dangerous. He might always be.

She's asleep now.

Curled up in the overly large, polka-dot blanket she loved to waltz around in. Someone had installed a massive reclining chair next to his tube.

Steve probably, during one of his rare visits.

His old friend hated seeing him like this, frozen; almost dead like.

Exhaustion claims his mind again and he uses all of his remaining energy to peak one last time before the freeze sleep takes him.

She's beautiful, as always. But something is off. There's a pinch in her brows. A worry that's new.

But the ice turns off his weary mind.

Cold sleep is dark and quiet, but in a way that is usually welcome.

It's sooner than normal when voices rouse him. Words, tones, sounds. A fog he fights through because one of those voices belongs to Steve.

It's only mumbles, but he hears it.


A hot puff of air from his nose tells his friend he hears him.

"Buck, listen. They took her."

They took…

Not her.

"She put up a fight."

Not his her.

The slow beat of his heart stopped.

Then it sped up, thundering a new tattoo. Anger, red and hot, burned the frost from his mind.

"Tony thinks it's a trap." Steve mutters darkly. "Bucky, I know she's been visiting you." There's an apology there, as if Steve thinks the ice wont melt.

But metal fingers buzzed to life, snapping away the tubes that breathed air into his nose.

Ice nor Iron could stop him.