AN: Hey guys, I took a fortnight off because I went on holiday for a week and then my perfectionism wouldn't let me post last week. But I'm here now.
Soooo, last chapter was nice, right? Laura and Bucky getting along, and all that. Well, I hope nobody had bets on it lasting. Recovery is a tricky thing, it's like taking two steps forward and one step back.
Chapter 15: Not Just Anything
The eerie silence was only disturbed by the careful chatter of its handler and the other unfamiliar men but the Asset wasn't affected by their comradery. Usually their laughter would be the precursor to pain, it meant that it had done something wrong and that it would receive punishment. But in this room, it meant something different.
The Asset had been in this room before. It didn't know when or why but it knew that this was a room for fighting and combat. Clear observation windows stood at the farthest end. Thick, dark, metal bars sectioned off the area and provided a safe retreat for HYDRA personal. The glaring overhead lights would clink on their chains occasionally, and the hard-concrete floor made the entire room feel 10 times colder than it already was.
The Asset could already feel it's blood pumping faster through its veins as it prepared for whatever order would be thrown at it. Snapping to attention, it watched as one of the barred doors opened, Agent Kaprov and two other men walked in. The Asset vaguely registered how the contented smirk fell from Kaprov's face once his back was turned to the other men and that it's handler was walking towards it.
But it's mind was already assessing its opponent that had been escorted in by the other two men. It wasn't used to having opponents this small, estimating that the child in front of it was between the age of 7-9 years old. She only came up to his mid-torso in height and it bet it could wrap a hand around her neck easily. But she was far more than a child. Her cold stoic green eyes told him as much, as they stared straight ahead framed by strands of long black hair.
The Asset's eyes remained locked on the child as Agent Kaprov gave him his orders. "Поднимите ее и убедитесь, что она остается там. Понял, Солдат? (Get her down and make sure she stays there. Understood, Soldier?)" His tone was low, his back turned toward the others in the room, making it clear that he wanted to keep this conversation between them.
"Да сэр (Yes, sir)" It's handler's behaviour was to be expected and definitely not questioned, for many reasons but also because the secretive actions were being mirrored on the other side of the room. One hand held the girl's shoulder, keeping her rooted to the spot while another carefully cupped her ear as orders were whispered into it.
The Asset quickly found those small green eyes trained on it, sparks of something running through the green orbs like electricity. As if she was a machine being booted up. Only now, did the Asset recognise the slightly Asian aspects to her features. Its handler moved away from it, moving back towards the door the group had come from and the other two men soon followed.
But the soldier paid no attention to them. it had its orders, take the girl down. He'd been given no specific, meaning it could use as much force as it needed. It had its target, the child in front of him didn't seem like much of a threat but it knew better than to underestimate any opponent. To be any match for the Asset she'd have to be fast, agile and deadly. The soldier would have to take that into account. The barred door slammed shut, leaving the two weapons in waiting for the command to begin.
The Asset never took its eyes off the child, watching as she coiled into a fighting stance and mirrored her. "Fight" It wasn't even aware which of the handlers had given the order, too busy gauging its opponent's reaction as The Asset sidestepped to start circling her. But it was quickly pushed into defence as the child instead raced forward and started to attack.
With a grunt, she threw punch after punch, many were feints but some did connect. She was stronger than she looked, it noted feeling the bruising impacts of her small fists.
It lashed out with his arm but the child was faster, ducking under it and sending a high kick into its chin. The Asset grimaced at the taste of blood, confirming that it had bitten its tongue.
The damage was trivial and barely effected its performance, as it's arm lashed out just in time to grab onto her retreating leg. She practically weighed nothing as it hurled her small form across the room.
She slammed into the re-enforced windows, the sound echoing loudly throughout the room. The reverberations seemed vaguely familiar to the Soldier but it paid the thought very little attention as it staked towards the girl's prone form.
She was sluggish in getting up it noticed as it's boot collided with her ribcage. She rolled onto her back and Asset did the one thing it should never do.
It hesitated. Something about the look in her eyes made it pause.
It didn't even know why, he couldn't even place what that emotion was. It wasn't fear like he had come to expect in his victim's eyes. It was something more…determined.
These thoughts didn't last long, being quickly erased from its head as twin blades came within inches of his neck.
The Asset evaded the attack just in time, stepping back to re-evaluate, now fully aware that it's opponent was armed.
The girl took the opportunity to stand, a thin line of blood running down her chin, blades retracting into her fist.
Growling like an animal, the child pounced putting the soldier on the defence once more. Only this time she was more of a threat than before.
She brought her speed and strength like before but now came with the added advantage of razor sharp knives that appeared to pop into existence on command. A kick to the head would fall short and then there would suddenly be an extra foot of metal to avoid. She'd feint a punch to its thigh and there would suddenly be two deep cuts, leaking crimson blood.
The Asset found itself having to rely on instincts to avoid injury, blocking with its metal arm to avoid losing the other. She was more than deadly. She was trying to kill it.
After being steadily pushed back into the centre of the room, the Soldier struck out, knowing that it had to regain control. It aimed for her chest, expecting it to be a sure hit.
But it hit thin air as the child rolled through its legs. The Asset had very little to react as a thin blade lodge into its hip and it suddenly realised that the thing was climbing onto his back.
It propelled itself backward, hearing the growling child grunt as it slammed her into the metal bars.
Unfortunately, the little creature held tight as another thin blade plunged into just below its shoulder, narrowly scraping his lung.
The Asset looked toward the windows just in time to see her reeling her arm back, seconds away from sending two blades into the back of his neck.
The yell of feral anger died in her throat as the metal arm latched onto her upper arm and swiftly heaved her over its shoulder and into the hard, concrete floor. The Asset felt the blade being roughly ripped from between its ribs and recognised that the blood loss would eventually begin to slow it down.
It had to finish its mission if it was to receive repairs.
It didn't give the girl time to process her sudden change in position, keeping a tight hold on her arm, pinning her shoulder to the floor with its boot and violently jerking her arm back. There was a jarring pop as her shoulder dislocated followed by an audible snapping as her bone broken through the skin of her upper arm.
A shriek, a mixture of wild rage and agony, echoed around the room as she screamed into the cold unforgiving ground.
Bucky's eyes snapped open, panting wildly with searching eyes as the echoes of her scream mixed with the last of his and he was left in the silence of his room. Reacting to the daylight streaming through the windows, Buck shielded his eyes against the assault before settling. His eyes landing on the spot Steve usually sat but he found it empty which staggered him a bit. It wasn't that he wanted the man there, his friend just seemed to have a habit of hearing his nightmares and judging by the twisted mess of his sheets and the rough burn of his throat, it hadn't been pleasant.
As if sensing his puzzlement, Jarvis spoke up making him jump "Good morning, Sargent Barnes. Captain Rogers instructed me to inform you that the team was called out during his gym session with Miss Romanoff but he didn't wish to wake you. He hopes to return before lunch. Are you okay, sir?"
Bucky sat up fully, rolling the muscles in his back as he groaned "What time is it?" his gruff voice questioned as he purposely ignored the computers query.
"The time is 12:23 exactly" The AI answered dutifully, causing him to frown. He'd slept in which was rare but he reasoned that he had been tired from shopping.
The thought brought the images from his nightmare racing to the front. Memory, his mind corrected as his stomach attempted to turn on him.
That girl…was 'X', she had to be. No matter how much he wanted to deny it, his brain kept finding undeniable similarities.
Her claws sealed her identity in his mind. But she'd been so young and yet, already trained.
Already skilled enough to go up against the Winter Soldier. He may have gotten the upper hand in the end but she still did a fair amount of damage. His head flared with pain as he recalled the sickening snap of her arm and the cry that followed.
His eyes flew open at a dizzying speed, having no recollection of closing them, as he recalled a tense conversation from two days ago. Anger seethed into every muscle as he ripped his feet free from his sheets.
He grabbed his hoodie off the back of his desk chair as he grilled the AI "Is Laura up? Where is she?" he gritted his teeth in, what he was 99% sure was, righteous anger. Towards who? He wasn't certain but he'd know soon enough.
He pulled the hoodie on as he received the response. "Yes, sir. Miss Kinney is currently in the floor's kitchen area. Are you okay, sir? You seem distressed". Bucky barely even heard the computer's concern, already heading for the door. He yanked it open, not caring as it jerked violently against its hinges.
Laura had been having a peaceful morning. She had woken up later than she usually did, finding the floor in a blissful silence. She could faintly hear Barnes still sleeping in his room and judging from the waft of sweat that hit her upon entering the corridor, she could guess that the Captain was sticking to his morning routine and hitting the gym. "Good Morning, Miss Kinney" Jarvis greeted as she strolled into the kitchenette.
"Good morning" Laura replied pleasantly, still not overly comfortable with the AI's presence. She flicked on the coffee machine before hopping up onto the counter next to it. It appeared she had some time to herself for a bit, at least until Bucky woke up. So, she sat, basking in the quiet as the aroma of fresh coffee filled the air.
She guessed Bucky deserved a good lie in, he did do well yesterday. The experience had been surprisingly nice but god, it had been tiring! Being overwhelmed like that had put her on edge and that was before their lift.
Having received no reply to his text, Stark took that as their confirmation, apparently. Laura was pretty sure he would have sent a car even if they had replied saying no. Luckily for her it wasn't boobytrapped with sharp needles or filled with hideous dresses.
Unfortunately, it was carrying an irritating billionaire with an ego the size of Manhattan. To say the short ride back to the tower was exhausting and uncomfortable was an understatement. But she dismissed those thoughts for now. She had a walk-in wardrobe successfully filled, 8 hours of sleep under her belt, a hot pot of coffee waiting to be poured and silence. It was turning out to be a great morning.
Laura had just taken the first sip of her drink when the Soldier's door was hurled open. She mentally redacted her previous thought, quickly setting her cup aside and bracing herself as Barnes came barrelling into the main living area connected to the kitchen. Eyes of contained rage zeroed in on her and Laura felt whatever she was going to say get stuck in her throat.
He was pissed, she noted and underline the observation as he made a beeline for her. "You didn't tell me. Why?" Bucky demanded, stopping short of reaching her, instead halting next to the island, giving her plenty of space. He wanted an answer but he didn't want to box her in and make her feel threated. Not after that nightmare.
Laura noticed his hesitation and breathed a silent sigh of relief before forcing her eyes to roll at his question. "You're gonna have to be more specific than that" She replied already moving to pass her old friend and heading towards the elevator. He was upset. Sweat clung to him, eyes tired, voice rough. All the signs pointed to a nightmare and Laura knew better than most that Bucky needed to cool down before he did anything else.
She didn't get very far as Bucky's fist slammed against the fridge unit, blocking her path. "You told me that we sparred, that I broke your arm…" The slightly shake to his words, made Laura's blood run cold because she could guess what he'd remember and knew exactly what this was about. "But you didn't tell me…" His voice caught in his throat. He should have cooled down first. The wound was too raw, too painful and it left him too open. It made talking about it so much more agonising. His eyes softened considerably, making her blood spark back to life and fill her with anger. She knew exactly what he was going to say. "You were just a kid".
And that was it, Bucky watched the shutters descend, watched as she closed herself off from him. But still her eyes burned. "I wasn't just anything, Barnes." She fumed, glaring holes into his skull with green fire.
Somewhere deep in his gut he knew he had crossed a line. He'd rushed in like a bull in a china shop and smashed through whatever good will that had been formed between them. "If you walked into that fight believing that then maybe that's why you performed so poorly". Bucky watched her eyes flicker with conflicting unknown emotions. He struggled to name them but the look quickly vanished from his prying gaze seconds before the enraged emerald eyes suddenly weren't there anymore.
Bucky blinked as Laura ducked under his arm and speedily stormed out of the kitchenette, past the couches and towards the elevator, her rage barely contained. "Where are you going?" Fear ran through him like lightening. Had he pushed her too far? Was she going to leave? He may have been a bit harsh but how was he meant to act when he remembers something like that.
Laura's pace didn't falter as she hit the elevator button a little harder than need be. A sigh of pure frustration rushed passed her lips before the doors dinged open. "Upstairs" She replied shortly, knowing that if she turned around to face him they'd both end up regretting it.
Bucky couldn't describe the relief that melted over him at her answer, mostly because it drained away so quickly as he watched her disappear into the elevator. His gut twisted with guilt and anxiety. Buck knew this was the worst way to leave the conversation but if he pushed her anymore then he hated to think what she'd do. He glanced behind him briefly, his nose only now catching the bitter aroma of fresh coffee. His gut twisted again, his eyes landing on her still steaming cup, his body's way of telling him that he'd messed up big time. All he'd achieved was to make her mad, ruin whatever fragile friendship they had and make himself feel like the bad guy.
AN: So what do you think? Bucky seemed pretty shook up by his dream/nightmare/memory. What do you think of Laura's reaction? Review! For the love of god!
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