Heat, he could handle. Nice, warm temperatures with the sun high in the sky, road hot under his feet. Cold though, cold he couldn’t handle. If it was below a certain temperature, his body would go rigid, rendering him immobile. Cold brought back memories, memories of days of the past where he lost things to the cold, important things.
One of those things was 70 years of his life, the other his best friend since forever. He had lost one during a train ride, the other during a plane crash.
Yeah, you could say Steve Rogers didn’t like the cold.
It was one of the coldest winters on record, and Steve was hiding in the warmest place he could find, sketchbook in hand as he started sketching. He didn’t have any plan in mind for what he wanted to draw, so he let his mind control his hand. As the drawing progressed, Steve’s heart constricted. His mind had immediately come to the conclusion it should make Steve draw Bucky.
Bucky was Steve’s best friend, the friend he lost on that train during the War. The drawing didn’t do justice to his cocky little grin or the way his eyes lit up when he had an idea that would probably get the duo in trouble. It did, however, do great justice to the contours of his face, the slope of his nose, the shape of his eyes. For unknown reasons, Steve’s heart sped up at the drawing. He didn’t understand why. Was it regret? Blame? He didn’t know.
Steve was still searching for Bucky; he’d been tracking the Winter Soldier for months now. The trail never ran cold, per say, but he lost leads every so often. Regardless, he kept trudging on with the hope he could help his best friend remember.
Winter melted into spring, flowers started to crop up in little patches. Steve still hadn’t found Bucky. At this point, he was almost ready to give up.
Of course, that changed when the Winter Soldier showed up at the new facility, hair matted and face bleeding. Without even a single thought, Steve had taken him inside to check out the blood on his face.
Tony had stayed as far from the assassin as possible. According to what Natasha released, the Winter Soldier had killed his parents. While he didn’t really care for Howard much, but Tony had had a fairly close relationship with Maria, his mother. Steve didn’t blame him at all for his uncomfortable, fearful behaviour. Steve was just too blinded by Bucky to worry about the Winter Soldier.
He knew it was stupid, Bucky probably didn’t remember him. Nonetheless, he treated the bleeding cuts on his face the way Bucky used to do for him after he was thrown about by bullies back in the 30s.
On the flip side of the coin, Bucky was full of confusion. Who was he? Was he the man the Mission had said he was? James Buchanan Barnes? He didn’t know. All he knew was that after he had escaped HYDRA, the first person he would track down the Mission, Steven Rogers. The man had seemed genuinely concerned for this ‘Bucky’ that the Soldier looked like. Maybe he could help him figure out who he was. His memories were jumbled into a ball-like mess, but vague memories of a scrawny blond boy with fight wounds all over him snuck out, playing like movies in his head. He felt… protective of the boy in his memories, like he needed to keep him safe and alive. It alarmed him, as he wasn’t meant to protect and save, only kill and destroy.
Steve finished tending to the wounds, now kneeling in front of Bucky with a concerned look.
“Do you know who you are?” he asked softly, his hand on Bucky’s knee.
“I don’t know…” Bucky said, voice hoarse and worried. He hadn’t been talking much as of late, so he vocal chords needed some exercise.
“Do you remember anything?” Steve asked, voice still soft and light.
“I.. I remember a boy. Skinny, looked like he could fall over if you blew on him.” Bucky began. He had no idea why he was telling the Mission this. There was just something about him though, something he wanted to open up to. “He was always sick, and when he wasn’t sick, he was in a fight. I used to help keep him well and alive.”
Steve’s eyes shone with hope, heart clenching. Bucky remembered him of all people. That scrawny little kid from Brooklyn who joined a dangerous military experiment to join his friend overseas.
“Anything else?” Steve tried, trying to hide the hopeful tone in his voice.
Bucky tried wracking his brain to find something, anything else. His breath caught in his throat when he brought forth another memory. Well, I say memory, but it was more a stored fantasy. Luckily, he was trained to not blush at all, so he managed to keep a straight, pale face. The fantasy though… the Soldier didn’t think he was capable of such feelings, let alone feelings that strong. The fantasy was full of want, need, desire. Lust, even. And love. The amount of love in that one fantasy was enough to make him bite the inside of his cheek. There was no way he was sharing that with Steve, so he just shook his head. “Nothing.” he sighed.
Steve patted Bucky’s knee. “It’s alright. I can help you, and so can some of my friends.” he told him, standing up. He offered Bucky a hand to help him up, warning him to be careful, as he had a bruised rib or two. Bucky took the hand, slowly standing as he felt the pain in his ribs flare.
Steve led Bucky to a spare room, instructing him to sleep.
Bucky eagerly fell asleep. He wanted to see if sleep would bring forth more memories or fantasies.
He awoke very happy. More memories had started to flow through holes in the blocks HYDRA had placed, even if it was just little trickles. He had memories of the same scrawny boy, some tied with emotions he couldn’t understand anymore.
A rare situation occurred that morning: the Winter Soldier woke with a smile.
If he had ever gotten the chance to sleep, it wasn’t for very long, and he usually awoke with a scowl. Now, here in the facility, he had gotten a night of rest and new memories. It sent him for a loop after the happiness wore off. What was happening to him? Was he finally deprogramming? Was he slowly becoming himself again? Had it been the person he had been sent to kill who did this to him? It couldn’t have been; it was just a small boy, no older than twelve. If memory served, which it never did, his name was Franklin. He hadn’t been told about the target, he never was, besides his name and location. No indication of why he had to assassinate a twelve year old boy in cold blood.
Crawling out of bed, Bucky clutched his metal arm as he began looking around for the Mission. He really needed to stop referring to him as that; his name was Steve, he should be called Steve.
Luckily, Steve had been heading to check on Bucky. They met in the hallway outside the room, Bucky clutching his arm and Steve looking tired and unkempt.
“FRIDAY said you were awake.” Steve yawned. Bucky didn’t bother questioning who or what FRIDAY was. He probably wouldn’t understand.
“Yeah.” Bucky nodded, muffling his own yawn. “Morning.” he managed. He still didn’t know what to do around him. On one hand, the remains of the Winter Soldier wanted to fulfill his mission and kill him, while the new person emerging wanted to hold him close and never let go. It was weird, to say the least.
“Hey, why don’t we go have breakfast?” Steve suggested, motioning for Bucky to follow. The metal-armed man did, walking a few steps behind the blond to make sure he didn’t run into him.
Once they reached the kitchen, Bucky sat at the little bar counter as Steve fished around for cereal and milk. It was a pretty domestic breakfast, but Steve liked Frosted Flakes, so he figured he’d give some to Bucky.
Bucky accepted the bowl of sugar-coated cereal, sticking his spoon in and beginning to eat. He wanted to bring up the new memories to Steve, but Steve would make him elaborate, and Bucky wasn’t ready to do that.
Days passed. Bucky gained more and more memories. He was even comfortable enough to let people call him James, or in Steve’s exclusive case, Bucky. He was finally starting to remember his old life. Of course, with that came everything he knew about and felt towards Steve. There was affection, friendship, love. He didn’t know how to deal with love. He hadn’t felt love for nearly 80 years, and he wasn’t going to start any time soon he didn’t think.
About three weeks after Bucky had shown up at the facility, it seemed he had regained all of his memories. The Soldier’s memories still lingered at the back of his mind, but he tried to squish them away.
Finally, two months later, Bucky was ready to talk things out with Steve. They sat across from each other in the lounge area, just having a staring contest.
Steve went to open his mouth to say something, but before he could, Bucky had darted across the room to sit next to him. Steve, stunned into silence, didn’t automatically react when Bucky was suddenly kissing him. He did react after a few seconds, kissing back.
Up in a ventilation shaft, a dirty blond archer cursed to himself. “I owe Nat and Wanda fifty bucks.” he grumbled softly.