Characters/Pairing: Bucky Barnes, Natasha Romanoff, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark; Bucky/Natasha, Bucky/Steve
Word Count: 2145
Summary: In the dream, the Soldier knows this man; he's known him his whole life. He knows that he loves this man more than anyone else in the entire world. He also knows that this man is the one who kills him. ...The dream is the same every time. In the end, the Soldier falls, and he dies.
Warnings: Spoilers for The Avengers and Captain America: The First Avenger, and also if you somehow don't have a basic understanding of what's going to happen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, i.e., who the Winter Soldier is; maybe like three instances of R-rated language.
Disclaimer: Named characters and certain plot elements in this story are © Marvel Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures. All content is fictional and for entertainment purposes only, not for profit.
Notes: For the lovely sirona_gs because I always always want to give her presents, and she deserves them. Beta'd by the fabulous and invaluable regonym, whom I do not deserve; the story is vastly improved by her input.
This is what happens when you have Bucky Barnes on the brain and you listen to "Battle for the Sun" by Placebo too many times. That song is still my flawless Jason Todd anthem, but it also works pretty well for the Winter Soldier, as it turns out. The story is primarily movie-verse, cobbled together with comics canon and shit I just made up. I've taken some liberties with the dialogue in That Train Scene from Captain America.
Title is paraphrased from the highly appropriate quote from Elias Canetti, "All the things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams."
Posted to avengers_2k.
This story also available on AO3.
— — —
The Winter Soldier has a recurring dream.
He doesn't have it every night, but often enough. It's cold, bitterly cold; the world is a wash of white. A biting, gale-force wind cuts his skin but makes no noise; in the dream, everything is perfect silence. He clings to a twisted piece of metal, suspended over a vast, empty void.
There's a man in the dream, reaching for him, lips moving in a soundless shout. The man is blond, blue-eyed. He is unutterably beautiful. In the dream, the Soldier knows this man; he's known him his whole life. He knows that he loves this man more than anyone else in the entire world. He also knows that this man is the one who kills him.
The dream is the same every time. In the end, the Soldier falls, and he dies.
The Soldier has had this dream for as long as he can remember, which, granted, isn't very long. He's not sure he's supposed to have dreams. Even if he is, he's quite sure he's not supposed to talk about them, so he doesn't.
Natasha finds out, of course. They complete a mission and come back to the safe house bloody and exhausted, and after they fuck they fall asleep. He wakes up yelling, Natasha's hand on his chest pinning him down, her eyes boring into his. Natasha doesn't stand for bullshit. He tells her about the dream.
“Maybe it's not a dream,” she tells him. “Maybe it's a memory.”
The Soldier shakes his head. “I don't think so.”
“Why not?” she asks.
“I don't think I've ever had someone like that in my life,” he says.
“Someone you love?”
The idea makes the Soldier uncomfortable. “Love is for children,” he tells her.
She smiles. “So you always say.”
He speaks of it to no one else. When Natasha turns traitor and doesn't come back, he has no one else to tell.
~ ~ ~
The Winter Soldier is in Bulgaria. A Syrian weapons scientist defected, and anti-government forces smuggled him out of the country and into Europe. The man is a genius; Department X wants him. So do a lot of other people, but the Soldier finds him first.
He puts a gun to the man's skull. “You have a very valuable brain,” he tells him. “Come with me, do as you're told, and you won't be hurt. If you misbehave, I won't kill you, but I will hurt you. A lot.”
Before the scientist can decide whether he would like the Soldier to break one of his bones, someone kicks in the door of the dingy hotel room. “You have exactly one chance to drop the gun and back off, do it now,” commands Captain America.
What the fuck is Captain America doing in Sofia?
The Soldier pulls a second pistol from his thigh holster and puts a bullet in Captain America's face. Or, he tries to, but the Captain has reflexes like a cat and the bullet ricochets off that horrific stars-and-stripes shield, and the battle is on. Captain America is fast and strong and he knows his way around a fight, and a small part of the Soldier's brain enjoys the grace with which he moves. They trade punches and kicks; Captain America uses his shield like a weapon and the Winter Soldier uses his arm like a shield. The Syrian scientist hides in a corner and tries to stay out of the way.
There's a break in the fighting. The Winter Soldier and Captain America circle each other warily. “Who do you work for?” asks Captain America. “Whoever they are, I can guarantee you they're not paying you enough.”
The Soldier laughs. “You offering me a job?”
Something strange happens then. Before the Soldier finishes speaking, Captain America goes pale. His mouth drops open, his shield arm drops to his side, and he takes an unconscious step forward. “...Bucky?” he asks, his voice cracking around the name.
The Soldier steps forward, puts a spinning kick into the side of Captain America's head. He drops like a sack of potatoes.
There's no time. If Captain America is here, the rest of the Avengers can't be far behind. The Soldier can't take the scientist with him now. And if Department X can't have him, the Soldier will be damned if the Americans can. He puts a bullet in the man's head and disappears.
~ ~ ~
That night, the Soldier has the dream, but it's different this time. He realizes that the silence isn't silence at all, but the low, dull roaring of the wind in his ears. The beautiful, beloved man is reaching for him, anguish in his blue eyes. “Bucky!” he shouts.
The Soldier falls.
The Soldier dies.
~ ~ ~
The next time the Winter Soldier meets Captain America, he is flying over Norway. The target is an E.U. mutant combat training facility; the objective is to destroy the facility and everyone in it. The Soldier is working with a team this time, and they're moving swiftly on hovercraft based on Chitauri designs, scavenged after the invasion by one of their American operatives.
The Soldier is passing over the fjords when a red and gold missile knocks him from his hovercraft. A red and gold missile with arms, holding the Soldier tight in its grip. “How's it going, Fullmetal Alchemist?” says Iron Man.
The Soldier cracks a flash-bang in front of Iron Man's face, pops his right shoulder out of its socket, and wriggles free of Iron Man's grip, falling to earth. Evergreens break his fall. He hits the ground hard and rolls, and an engine roars above the trees: SHIELD Quinjet.
He pops his shoulder back in and groans, pushing himself slowly to his feet. Then he ducks, and a boot-clad heel slices the air just above his head, the wind of its passing tugging at his hair. The Soldier dives and rolls and comes up facing the Black Widow. Natasha. The traitor.
Natasha is already closing, knives in hand. The Soldier can't afford an extended bout with her. It's too risky; she knows his moves too well. He needs to end this quickly. He makes a sacrifice play, takes a knife in one arm so he can grab her with the prosthetic, delivers a jolt of electricity to the base of her skull. She collapses in a heap.
There's a pain in his side; he's bleeding from a nasty puncture wound. He never even felt the knife. The Soldier grins; Natasha always was fast. The wound is designed to be painful, not fatal. She was trying to take him alive.
“Natasha!” The Soldier dodges; Iron Man ought to learn not to broadcast his moves like that. He is fast, though, swinging punches that the Soldier is only just barely able to dodge or block. The Soldier ducks in close, pins one of Iron Man's arms with his prosthetic and squeezes at the elbow, like a nutcracker. The forearm of the suit crumples and Iron Man screams in pain. There is a flash of light and heat, a concussive force, and the Soldier slams against a tree fifteen meters away.
“No, don't hurt him!” shouts Captain America.
“Are you fucking kidding me, I think he broke my arm,” Iron Man shouts back, his voice a snarl of pain.
The Soldier blinks to clear his vision, struggling to his feet. Captain America is advancing on him cautiously, empty hands up in a peaceful gesture, his shield strapped to his back. “Bucky, please,” he says, “don't fight me. I don't want to hurt you!”
The Soldier can't take all of the Avengers at once. The longer he stays here, the greater his odds of capture. He turns and runs, weaving between the trunks of pine trees, leaping over logs, shoving through gaps in the underbrush.
“Bucky, wait!” Captain America is giving chase. The Soldier is bruised and beaten and bleeding, but he can't afford to feel the pain. Instead he fills himself up with anger. What the hell is this asshole's problem? Where does Captain America get off acting like he knows him, like he cares? The Soldier should have killed him when he had the chance.
“Bucky!” shouts Captain America, and it echoes in the Soldier's head, sets off flashes behind his retinas: white snow, dull metal, blue eyes. The Soldier snarls. Why won't the Captain just leave him alone?
The forest ends abruptly and the Soldier skids to a stop to avoid going over the edge of a cliff. Far below, the cold waters of the fjord pull hungrily at the rocks.
The Soldier doesn't give Captain America time to react; he whirls like a cornered beast and attacks, all teeth and claws and rage. There’s no time for the Captain to speak other than, “Stop!” and, “Bucky!” and, “Please!” The Soldier beats against him like a storm, and the Captain is barely able to keep him at bay.
Captain America is fast, but the Soldier sees an opportunity and takes it, slipping under the Captain's guard and around, aiming a blade at the Captain's spine. He doesn't connect; the Captain backhands him with the shield, hard, and the Soldier goes flying. He hits a tree, bounces, feels the earth vanish from beneath his feet as he goes over the cliff. One hand finds a rock and he arrests his fall, the shock of his full body weight nearly pulling his shoulder from its socket in the wrong direction, but then the rock gives way, soil crumbling beneath it and he's falling again—
Captain America grabs his hand. “I've got you, I've got you, Bucky, don't let go!” Captain America is sprawled at the edge of the cliff, using his body as an anchor; his voice is cracking, his face is pale. There are tears in his blue eyes. “It's me,” he says, and quickly rips back the cowl with his other hand, “it's me, just hold on, Bucky, just please hold on!”
The Soldier knows his face. It's the man from his dream, his beautiful, beloved stranger; his brother, killer, lover.
“Steve?” he tries.
The Captain's face blooms into joy, relief, hope. “Bucky!”
The Soldier lets go.
Captain America screams, a cry of anguish torn raw and bleeding from his throat.
The Soldier falls twenty meters before his trajectory meets that of a hovercraft piloted by a Department X agent. The pilot opens up the throttle and they leave the fjord and Captain America behind.
The Soldier doesn't look back.
~ ~ ~
The Winter Soldier and the agent ditch the hovercraft in Bergen and part ways, headed to separate safe houses. Protocol. They don't know if they've been tracked. The Soldier steps into the shower, turns the heat up until his skin goes pink. There are echoes in his head. He makes as much noise as he can to drown them out.
The Soldier binds his wounds and checks in. He reports the mission failure, the interference from the Avengers. He describes his battles with Iron Man, the Black Widow, and Captain America. He leaves out a few details.
“Did Captain America try to speak to you?”
“No,” he lies.
“Remain at the safe house. A retrieval team will be sent to your location. You will be brought home for medical evaluation.”
He frowns. “You're bringing me in? ...My injuries are negligible, I'm ready for my next mission.”
“Remain at the safe house.”
The Winter Soldier is not the only one who is lying. He hangs up the phone and goes to the closet, pulls out jackets and hats, puts them on in layers, stuffs a few extra into a duffel. He climbs out the bathroom window, lifts a wallet from a passing civilian, and drops it into a trash receptacle two blocks over. He doesn’t think about what he’s doing, doesn’t question. He pays cash for a ferry ticket and is halfway to Denmark before Department X knows he is gone.
The Soldier hitchhikes from Hirtshals. He steals more cash to pay for a hotel room in the Netherlands. After locating the three best exits from the room, he eats a convenience store sandwich and lies down on the bed, on top of the covers. He closes his eyes.
The Soldier goes to sleep.
~ ~ ~
It's cold, bitterly cold; the world is a wash of white. The wind cuts him like a knife, howls in his ears. Above him a loud, rumbling roar. The train.
He is suspended above a vast ravine, and his hands are slipping.
He looks up. A man is sidling his way along the outside of the train, desperately trying to reach him. A man in blue leather, with a white star on his chest. Captain America.
“Grab my hand! ...Bucky!”
Steve reaches for him.
~ ~ ~
With a strangled, gasping shout, Bucky Barnes wakes up.