Tabula Rasa

Apr. 7th, 2014 11:21 pm
[personal profile] hat_writes_stuff
Title: Tabula Rasa
Author: Almighty Hat
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe (Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier)
Characters: The Winter Soldier, mentions of Steve Rogers, references to a slew of secondary characters.
Word Count: 1,174
Rating: G, but G with reservations
Pairing(s): None
Warnings: Damaged viewpoint character, passive voice, stylistic repetition, bleakness (look, the only actual character is the Winter Soldier, you know what you're in for) and pretty much all the CA2: The Winter Soldier SPOILERS.

Author's Notes: I have been emotionally compromised by Sebastian Stan's face. Also I may have taken some inadvertant liberties with museum layout.

Summary: I think the best way to avoid spoilers in the summary is to say that I will never understand why people leave Marvel Studios movies before the credits have finished rolling.



He knew me.

The man on the helicarrier had known him. Damaged his left arm, dislocated his right elbow; their objectives were at odds and the man had not stopped fighting until his own objective had been achieved.

But the man on the helicarrier had known him.

The man on the helicarrier had names for him (James Buchanan Barnes. Bucky. Buck). The man on the helicarrier, his objective achieved, had freed him. The man on the helicarrier, with his objective achieved, stopped fighting him.

The man on the helicarrier had known him.

And when the man on the helicarrier fell, the Winter Soldier dove after him.

He dragged the man to shore and to safety, and left him to keep breathing. He relocated his elbow, he stole clothes to cover his left arm, and he waited.

His elbow healed and no handlers came.

The world changed around him and no handlers came.

The man on the helicarrier had known him, and after three days of pretending to be a transient, he knew no handlers were coming. He was an asset; his leash was never long. (He thought it might have been longer, once. There were no memories-- he was not allowed to have memories that did not relate to his missions, anymore if he ever had-- but there were impressions. Testing. Honing. Creation and use of the weapon he was, refining the skills that made him useful, versatile, things that could not be wiped without diminishing his worth. His missions needed him to be clean-- not empty. He knew rather than remembered that if everyone around him spoke Russian, his leash would be longer. He knew that he was in America. He knew no one spoke Russian unless he spoke it first. He knew his handlers were Hydra and SHIELD. His leash was not long.) He knew his handlers were gone, or at least scattered.

He was an asset. He could be used to rebuild. He could be sold, and the capital used to rebuild.

He was no one, he was a weapon, he could not be compromised. His handlers’ devotion to order made no emotional impact on him, and he knew this was by design. He did not have ideals or politics of his own. (He might have, once. He’d been Russian, once.) He was a ghost, no connections, no ties-- no past, no history. He had been created in Russia; he had been sold to Hydra. He was an asset, nothing more.

He had nothing.

The man on the helicarrier had names for him. James Buchanan Barnes. Bucky. Buck.

He had those.

(He had names for himself; the Winter Soldier always and especially to superiors, Yakov only while he had been a Russian among Russians, Yasha rarely, too rarely to be sure when, but he knew it as a name for himself. He was not a nameless ghost.)

The man on the helicarrier had names of his own. Captain America. Steven Rogers. Steve.

He treated them like leads.

The museum was easy to infiltrate; everyone looked at the exhibits, not at him. He hid his face, but backwards; his eyes and mouth uncovered, his hair tucked under a hood. No one approached him.

The walls were informative. He looked at the uniforms for a long time before deciding they were unimportant; they were familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, but they were customized military uniforms. He could not know if the familiarity was significant or if it were only that ‘customized military’ made up everything he knew he was used to.

There were painted acrylic displays bearing the names and faces of soldiers who had fought with Captain America in the war that should have killed him, the names and faces of significant figures from the mythology that had sprung up around him. They rose from the floor like tombstones printed with obituaries instead of epitaphs, even the pictures like over-magnified newsprint. He noted the names.

Dugan.

Morita.

Falsworth.

Jones.

Dernier.

Stark.

Phillips.

Erskine.

Carter.

Barnes.

Sergeant James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was Captain Steven Grant Rogers’ best friend since childhood.

Sergeant James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes had fought bravely during World War Two as a member of the Howling Commandos.

Sergeant James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was a sniper.

Sergeant James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes had been a prisoner of war.

Sergeant James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes had fallen from a fast-moving train in the Austrian Alps and been declared dead in 1944, though no body was ever found.

Sergeant James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes had his face.

The man on the helicarrier (Steven Grant Rogers. Captain America. Steve) had known him.

And even standing in front of the sinuous, modern, probably disposable monument, curved and clear like the thick glass window of the cryo-chamber, he acknowledged that it might not be truth, or at least a useful truth. There were a hundred things it could mean. The truth (he was, he wasn’t, he had been once, he was a copy, he had been surgically altered) was not important.

He did not remember being James Buchanan Barnes. He did not know who Bucky was.

But he had Bucky’s face, or Bucky had his.

The man on the helicarrier had known him. The man on the helicarrier had names for him. The man on the helicarrier (his objective achieved) had freed (saved) him. The man on the helicarrier (his objective achieved) stopped fighting him. The man on the helicarrier, once his own objective was achieved, had been willing to let himself be killed, beaten to death, rather than keep on fighting him.

To the man on the helicarrier, to Steven Rogers, he was not a ghost, an asset, a weapon. He was someone.

If he had ever been someone before, it had since been wiped.

He left the museum, head down, mind working.

Steven Rogers knew him. He was known. His handlers were dead, scattered, captured. He was compromised. He didn’t know if there was anyone left who could wipe him clean again, restore his focus-- or even just return him to cold storage.

Wanting anything was alien to him. He had not been created to directly defend things. The urge he had to protect the information he now carried-- the memories, tactically useless, but Steven Rogers knew him and photographs of James “Bucky” Barnes supported his knowledge-- was as unfamiliar as anything possibly could have been. He had not been programmed to want. He had not been designed with protective impulses in mind.

But he had the information now. Steve Rogers had been willing to die to make sure he had that information.

The knowledge was his.

There was no one to stop him, help him, or control him. There was no one to report to, no one to submit to if they gave the right orders. There was no equipment waiting for him and a capable technician, no cold sleep to wait for the next mission.

He was compromised.

His time was his own.

Steve Rogers knew him.

The Winter Soldier was in the wind.
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