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Black and Blue

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They find a nondescript motel to stay at for a bit, and Bucky starts researching. He discovers that Steve did a lot more than destroy the helicarriers. All of SHIELD and Hydra's data has been dumped on the internet. He scours articles, mission debriefs, and research files for information. Although V has mostly focused on healing his pleasant memories, the longer they spend healing the more often they stumble on memories from Hydra. Bucky wakes in a cold sweat more than once through the week, as V's efforts drag up memories of torture and brainwashing. V apologizes every time, but Bucky has noticed they've gotten quieter. They'll go hours or days without exchanging a word or feeling, and Bucky begins to worry.

 

V? Are you there?

Always. Always with host.

Okay, how are you feeling?

Hungry.

No, I mean what are you thinking? How are you emotionally? You aren't chatting too much.

Hungry. Tired. Keep scaring host. Scaring Bucky. Don't mean to.

Oh, that's fine. That's understandable. You're fixing my brain, Venom. That's more than I ever hoped for.

Miss Steve. Bucky misses Steve. Thinks of him a lot. Venom sees. Venom is sad for Bucky.

Oh, Venom. It's not safe to find Steve yet. He's… um. He's still in the hospital. We have to wait.

Forgot Steve. We forgot Steve. Never supposed to forget Steve.

I don't know how you could have stopped Hydra, V. We were both kinda incapacitated.

Still forgot. Still bad.

Bucky feels Venom withdraw. The strange feeling of silence feels his head, and he rapidly becomes nervous.

V? Venom, where did you go?

Venom's presence fills Bucky's awareness slowly.

Still here. Tired.

Bucky slows his breathing and calms his heart rate as Venom wanders through his head. They give comforting touches to Bucky's amygdala and quell his fear response. After reassuring Bucky that they're not leaving permanently, Venom withdraws again. Bucky is still nervous about V's silence, but he decides to let V rest instead of dragging them out again.

 


 

Even though V has stopped talking much, Bucky feels them rebuild their body and brain. Eventually, Bucky figures out that splinters of Hydra still remain. His research drags up memories of facilities not mentioned in the data dump. Most of them are without resources or much support, but they’re still a threat. Bucky's research becomes less of a way to situate memories and more of a way to plan attacks. He checks on Steve through the tabloids and less official news sources to hide his tracks. Steve stays in the Americas for a while, and Bucky decides to take matters into his own hands. Hydra cells are still active in Europe, so Bucky smuggles himself across the Atlantic.

 

Although Bucky occasionally has to postpone a raid when panic attacks or nightmares leave him exhausted for days, he makes good progress. No bases left are strong enough to survive the Asset. He always works quickly and efficiently, leaving only confused innocents behind. V still offers him super strength and rapid healing, but they are stubbornly quiet most days. They never offer the black arm, but Bucky is still dangerous without it. Whenever Bucky becomes nervous about V's silence, they'll fill his head with the simple reassurance of their presence. Bucky decides he can figure out what's bothering V after Hydra is truly dead and gone.

 

As Bucky works to end Hydra in Europe, he finds that Steve is making his way through the Americas. He's not exactly being subtle about it either. Bucky hears about explosions in rural Kansas and the arrest of elite businessmen in Venezuela. Although he keeps tabs on Steve, Bucky is reluctant to contact him until his work in Europe is done. He tells himself he just needs to stay focused, but he also knows he's nervous about seeing Steve again. Venom's healing had given him almost all of his memories with Steve, but sometimes the memories feel as if they belong to someone else. Memories with Steve in Brooklyn are filled with a sheen of joy that Bucky's now melancholic attitude can't understand. Of course, he remembers Steve fondly, but he doesn't feel capable of such simple happiness anymore.

 

As Bucky wraps up his destruction of European Hydra, he debates returning to the U.S. Steve seems to be making good progress without him, and he decides to keep his distance for a little while longer. After all, he'll be coming to Steve with more than just himself.