|ʙᴜᴄᴋʏ ʙᴀʀɴᴇs | ɹǝıpןos ɹǝʇuıʍ (bucky) wrote,|
@ 2010-10-20 14:19:00
For as long as he could remember, he had been a weapon. The Winter Soldier was not a who, but a what. He was a soviet legend. A whisper on the lips of Russian agents without sufficient clearance to know more. A ghost story that the Americans told in the wake of particularly shocking or bloody assassinations. A thing that slipped under doorways and left no trace behind. A target of equal parts scorn, fear and reluctant admiration. But he was never a man. He was as much a machine as the silver arm that now hung limply at his side. He slept, he woke, he received orders, he killed, and he returned to do it again. A man couldn't live like that; but a weapon could. He knew exactly what he was.
The Winter Soldier carried blank dog tags. A name -- not an alias, but a name -- was a thing that belonged to a person, and this was something he had never been. Couldn't dream of being, because any part of him that might have dreamt had been cut out long ago, replaced with something cold, sharp and lethal. At birth, perhaps. If not earlier.
JAMES B. BARNES
32557038 T42 43 A
The soldier ran his thumb over the dog tags once again, feeling the deep impressions of the letters in the age-worn steel as he held them up to the warm lamp light. No next of kin meant that whoever James Barnes was, his parents were dead. No siblings. No grandparents. No family. Nobody that would have missed him if he disappeared, which was probably why no one had ever really gone looking. Well, perhaps that wasn't entirely true. The next of kin wasn't on their dog tags - just two lines of printed letters followed by a big empty space -- but it was written there on the lid of the tin, and scattered across the papers inside of it. Next of Kin: Steven G. Rogers. Address: 1404 Alameda Ave Brooklyn, NY 11362. Steve Rogers, whose dog tags were on the rusted ball chain tangled up in his own.
STEVEN G. ROGERS
54985870 T43 44 A
No next of kin. But he supposed it might have been a mutual agreement. No next of kin, so all they had was each other. This James Barnes and this Steven Rogers. Whoever they were, they must have meant something to each other. Maybe the only things that meant anything to each other.
There were news reels of Captain America and the Howling Commandos. People he'd never met before, as far as he knew, but whose faces looked familiar. And not from the dossiers that Pierce had given him in preparation for his assignment. None of them were men that the soldier had killed, and most of them were long dead, but they felt familiar, somehow. And among them were a handful of photos and news reels with -- well.
It was undeniably the same man - he even wore the coat that he was wearing when they removed him from the ice. The coat that he was wearing on his first assignment, notably minus one sleeve. It was… him. There was no one else it could have been. Standing next to Captain America with a smile on his face and a gun in his hand. At once deeply familiar and completely unimaginable.
There was a wallet, too. With photos of a woman and a man he'd never seen, didn't recognize. George and Winifred Barnes. James's parents, maybe. Deceased. He didn't remember them. They only felt as familiar as any old photograph did - everyone in old photographs looked the same. Like a vision of a world that never really existed, or only existed in photographs. But the one that he couldn't wrap his head around was a small sepia-toned photograph of two boys in front of a brownstone in Brooklyn. Bucky & Steve, 1937. Two boys in front of a brownstone in Brooklyn with grins on their faces. One was unmistakably James Barnes - tall and gangly, several years younger and clearly underfed, but somehow so much happier than he'd looked in the other photos. With one arm wrapped around a smaller boy -- skinny, a little bit sickly, messy blond hair, a crooked smile on his face -- who was unmistakably Steve Rogers. Captain America. The target.
He hadn't stopped looking at them since he found the box the day before. An identity that wasn't his. A past he didn't remember. It was... impossible. Unthinkable. Some artificial construct to make him feel something, to make him change his ways, to renounce his loyalties and submit to his fate. It couldn't be trusted any more than the memories he had of home. The memory implants he'd been given on missions to retain his cover identity.
But those had always faded, hadn't they? Slipping away like sand through an hourglass, his mind fading into a sort of confused and dreamy nothingness like a cracked canvas poorly painted over. This was different. The more he scratched at the surface of the memory, the more he felt something, something he couldn't makes sense of. But if he'd been forced to name it, he might have called it "belonging."
This man -- the man in the photos, the man he tried to kill -- he knew something. And whatever he had to do to get it out of him, the man was going to tell him what it was.