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"-and so there we are with no radio, no weapons, in the middle of nowhere in the Alps with the hail and snow coming down." Steve recounted, laughing. "So Bucky chooses that moment to turn to me and say 'see Steve, I told you we should have gone right!' "
It was two hours later and the small team was sitting around the table, listening to Bucky and Steve recount their exploits during the war.
"Oh I'm sure that went over great with Rogers" Fury commented.
"Well, it certainly was a test of self control," Bucky laughed, "so Steve turns to me and just stares. I swear he was thinking about the slowest and most painful way to kill me."
"Correction," Steve responded, " I was weighing the option of whether or not to leave you there to get eaten by bears,"
Bucky snorted, "Oh c'mon, Steve, you know you love me too much to leave me anywhere. You-" he froze and grimaced, clenching and unclenching his hand trying to relieve the sudden dull pain that radiated throughout his fingers.
"Hey, Buck. You okay?" Steve asked, moving to get up from the table.
"Yeah," Bucky answered, "I'm fine"
Not convinced, Steve stood up and walked over to Bucky, grabbing his friend's flesh hand and inspecting it. The beds of Bucky's nails were a purplish blue, a sure sign that he was developing frostbite.
"Natasha," Steve said, "I need you to get me a bowl of hot water, "We need to heat Bucky's hand up quickly."
"On it," Natasha responded, already filling a bowl with water and putting it in the microwave.
"Here," Agent Maria Hill said, kneeling next to Steve and handing him a pair of tweezers. "We need to see if he has any feeling left in his fingers."
"Bucky," Steve said, "I need you to look at Director Fury, don't look down at your hand, and tell me if you feel any pain in your fingers."
"Okay," Bucky said, flinching as he felt a sharp pain in his finger.
"You feel that?" Steve asked.
"No, Steve," Bucky said sarcastically, "I just flinched because I wanted to"
"Smartass," Steve grumbled, playfully.
After assessing how far the frostbite had spread, Steve let go of Bucky's hand and turned to look at his friend.
"I'm really sorry, Buck," Steve said, reaching into the first aid kid and pulling out a small black bit. "I'm not gonna lie to you, this is gonna hurt pretty substantially, but we need to stop the frostbite. I'm-"
"Steve," Bucky said, cutting off his best friend's apologies, "whatever you need to do is nothing compared to how much Hydra has hurt and tortured me."
"That's not exactly what we like to use as a test of brutality." Natasha said, placing the bowl of water on the table.
"The other difference is that I trust you, Steve. I trust that you and your friends will not hurt me."
"Thank you, Bucky," Steve said, placing a hand on Bucky's arm. "Now, if the pain gets to be too much and you need a break, just squeeze Natasha's hand, okay?"
"Got it," Bucky answered, "let's get this over with before I lose my nerve."
Steve just squeezed his friend's arm before handing Bucky the bit to put in his mouth.
"Ready?" Steve asked, taking Bucky's hand in his own. Bucky nodded and gave Steve a thumbs up with his metal hand.
At first the pain wasn't so bad, his hand tingled a bit but that was about it. Then, the pain began to build to a steady burn. Bucky's breath quickened and he squirmed, causing Steve to give him a questioning look. After about a minute, the pain built to the point that Bucky let out a low groan.
"I know, I know, Buck," Steve murmured, "you're doing awesome, bud. It'll be over soon."
At three minutes, the pain was so bad that Bucky let out a terrible scream that was only slightly muffled by the bit. He gripped Natasha's hand and stared at Steve, begging for a break from the pain.
"Okay, Buck," Steve said, "We'll take a break for a minute."
Bucky nodded gratefully, taking out the bit and laying his head against Steve's shoulder, sobbing quietly.
"I-I d-don't wanna do that a-again, i-it h-hurt s-so bad!" Bucky sobbed, hating that he was sounding so weak. Then again, he was with Steve, the only person who he felt safe in letting his defenses down around, so it was okay.
"I know, I know, bud," Steve soothed, running a hand through Bucky's long, tangled hair. "But we need to do this, if we don't, it could end pretty badly for your hand. Hey, what if we stayed like this, while we treat your hand? Would that make it easier?"
"I g-guess," Bucky answered.
"Okay then," Steve said, gently, then that's what we're gonna do."
Sensing that it might be better for the two men to have some privacy, especially with Bucky in this state, Natasha opted to get up and head to her room to get some sleep. As did Fury and Hill.
After a few more minutes, Steve turned and looked down at his best friend, Bucky's breathing had evened out again and he was looking up expectantly at Steve.
"What do you think?" Steve asked, gently, "you wanna try again? we only have five more minutes of the treatment left"
"Sure," Bucky said, "Let's get it over with, I'm exhausted."