"Fuck me."

There wasn't much else Grace could say to the scene in front of her. If the day hadn't already been overwhelming with the job offer. Actually being in Stark Tower and being separated by 4 inches of glass from the Winter Soldier was a whole new level of crazy.

"Yeah, it's weird isn't it?" Sam hadn't left her side since she stepped out of her now old office. It'd been a blur to Grace stepping onto the sleek jet which looked like something out of a sci-fi movie with nothing more than the overnight bag Hannah had given her and her phone. The rest of her apartment would be packed up, furniture put in storage and the personal belongings delivered the next day. She hadn't even gotten to her room yet, she was taken straight to where Barnes was being held.

The cell where he was being held was basic, but functional. The bed looked like it hadn't been touched. Either that or Barnes was really good at making his bed. A chair sat beside a small bookcase. Most of the books had been haphazardly thrown on the floor, but a few were still in their place. A TV sat behind inches thick bulletproof glass and according to the notes she'd read on the brief plane trip here, was voiced activated. Another door led to a bathroom, but was currently closed. In the middle of the room sat the Winter Soldier himself. The floor to roof length glass was one way and soundproof, but somehow Grace felt like he was staring right at her. The dead, cold gaze in his eyes made goosebumps go up her arms.

"He doesn't speak to anyone," Sam said, his own gaze fixed on the soldier in front of them. "Aside from the occasional tantrum like you saw earlier, he doesn't act out either. Most of the time he just sits there, staring at the glass. Occasionally he'll pick up a book but it gets put down pretty quickly."

Grace chewed on her lower lip, pondering her next move. Her brain was buzzing with a few hundred ideas of what to do next. She was wading into unknown territory. The information they had on Barnes and his time spent as an assassin with still sketchy. According to Sam, they were still digging through all the HYDRA files dumped on the internet to try and find somewhere to start with him. So far all the date on him was buried so deep under masses of encryptions, even Tony Stark was having problems getting any of it. Some of the newer notes was available to her, but nothing dating back beyond the last year. It was still an impressive file, the small amount they had though.

"Does he sleep? Eat?" Grace asked, fumbling to find a baseline. If it was anyone else, she'd been in the room doing an assessment right away. But her good day didn't need to be ruined by being strangled to death if Barnes had a brain snap.

"No." Sam shook his head. "Any food he's given is left untouched. He'll drink the water and nothing else. No one has seen him sleep yet."

"God he must be starving," Grace mused. Like everyone else on the planet, she'd been fascinated with Steve Rogers and the super soldier serum effects on the body. An enhanced metabolism was one draw back of the process. It'd been noted that Rogers needed three times the daily calorie intake as a normal person just to keep his body functioning, let alone fit. If Barnes had anything close to the same serum effects as Rogers, his body would be very unhappy right now with the lack of calories. Barnes looked leaner than he should under the basic but dirty sweatpants and shirt he was wearing.

"Steve even tried his old favourite food to try and entice him to eat," Sam shrugged. "Nothing. It just sat there going cold. Damn shame too, that was some good spaghetti and meatballs."

Grace didn't respond. She stood there, watching Barnes and tapping her index finger against her lip. If he was a normal person, they'd put a feeding tube in him to make sure he didn't starve to death. But that wasn't going to work in this case. An enhanced metabolism also came with the problems of burning through drugs at an exponential rate. Grace doubted they could keep him sedated long enough to even get the tube in. If they did, he'd probably rip it out within seconds. She mentally scratched that idea off her list.

There had to be something she could do though. If she couldn't get him to eat or sleep, her time here was going to be cut short pretty quickly. Lack of sleep was one good way to induce a pretty severe psychosis. Barnes was dangerous enough without losing his mind completely due to lack of sleep. There was something she could try, but it felt so simple that it couldn't possibly be the answer. She'd seen a psychiatrist do it when she was a lowly intern. Working with soldiers did have a certain mental mindset that could be worked to the doctor's advantage.

"Does this thing have a microphone to the room?" Grace asked, quickly deciding her plan was worth a try.

"No," Sam said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "We're in one of the most technological advanced buildings in the world and the holding cell doesn't have any way of commenting with the outside."

"You're such an asshole," Grace muttered, not feeling the least bit embarrassed. It'd already been a long, weird day and she was allowed to ask a stupid question or two. "What do I press?"

"You don't," Sam explained. "JARVIS opens up the microphone anytime you address him. There's a half second delay, but you don't actually have to press anything."

"Good to know," Grace nodded, impressed with the ease of everything in the room so far. "Go get me something for him to eat. I have an idea."

"Sure." Sam didn't move, instead he turned his attention to the ceiling. "Hey JARVIS? Can you send up something to eat for Barnes? And some lunch for Grace and I."

"Of course," the disembodied British accented voice from the ceiling made Grace jump in surprise. "It will be there in 5 minutes."

Grace had been briefed on the AI that ran everything in the Tower. But to hear him was another thing entirely. She found herself staring up at the ceiling in surprise and amazement.

"Yeah it takes some getting used to," Sam said, the amusement clear all over his face. "So what's your plan of attack here?"

"Something that might sound really stupid." Grace scrunched her nose up. "But I've seen it work before. Anything is worth a shot right now."

In the short time Grace had been pondering what to do, Barnes had gotten off the floor and was pacing the room again. When he went past the glass he didn't bother to look in their direction. Back and forth he went so quickly, it made Grace dizzy to watch him. But she couldn't help but track his movement. Even in his lean state, Bucky Barnes was an incredible human specimen. His metal arm glinted dangerously under the artificial light as he flexed his hand. The dark stubble on his face didn't take away from the sharp cheekbones and strong jaw. If anything it enhanced the blue in his eyes. There was no denying that James Barnes was a handsome man. Even under all the scruff and terrifying cold expression.

"Captain Rogers is at the door requesting to be let in," JARVIS' voice made Grace jump, again, and pulled her thoughts back into what she was about to do. Not the assassin stalking around his room like a caged panther.

"Thanks JARVIS," Sam said, completely at ease. "He can come in."

Grace felt a flutter of nerves. She was about to meet Steve Rogers. The one and only Captain America. She wasn't a vain person, but right now she'd happily kill for a fresh coat of lipstick, a hairbrush and some breath mints. No one wanted to meet Captain America with coffee breath and frizzy hair. But Grace knew she didn't have that luxury, so she smiled instead and hoped she looked somewhat respectable. She was here for her expertise on PTSD, not to be a pretty face and impress Captain America.

The door opened and in came the 6'2, 220lbs of all American golden boy. Grace felt her mouth go dry at the sight of Steve Rogers. Photos did not do the man justice. He was gorgeous, all muscles, blond hair and blue eyes. Carrying a tray of food and dressed in casual cargo shorts and a t-shirt didn't quite match the picture of America's golden child. He looked like a very normal person right now, not the superhero Avenger the media made him out to be. Grace's nerves quickly disappeared and she put on a more genuine smile. She had to keep reminding herself that despite their super star status, the Avengers were still normal people.

As normal as a group of super soldiers, spies, billionaires and a god could be anyway.

"It's a pleasure Captain," Grace said, holding her hand out to shake. "Dr Grace Anderson."

"Steve is fine Ma'am." Steve balanced the tray onto one hand and took Grace's offered hand, shaking it firmly. "Thank you for coming on such short notice."

"You're welcome," Grace said with a smile. Unlike a lot of men, Steve didn't shake her hand limply. His grip was as firm as her own. "Please call me Grace."

"I hate to be rude," Steve said with an apologetic smile. He certainly didn't waste any time getting to the point. He looked tired and frustrated beyond his polite smile. "But we've tried to give him food. He doesn't touch any of it."

"He may not either, but I have an idea." Grace held her ground, keeping her voice firm despite her own reservation about the plan. "When I was an intern doing my psych rotation, there was a soldier who came in with severe psychosis after being held by an enemy force. The only way to get him to do anything was to give him an order."

Steve shot a look at Sam looking for his approval. Sam only shrugged in response.

"She's the doctor," Sam said pointedly. "Don't look at me, I have like 3 less degrees than her and a whole lot less experience."

"One less degree," Grace corrected Sam. "Besides, the worst he can do is throw the food away. It's somewhere to start."

Grace also wanted to see what Barnes would do as well. Sitting there staring at the wall wasn't helping her figure anything about him. During the conversation with Steve, Barnes had gone back to sitting on the floor. He'd done it so quickly, Grace had completely missed it.

"You're the doctor." Steve still looked uncertain as he put the tray down near the window. A compartment appeared and the tray disappeared into Barnes's room. Grace looked at where the tray had just been in slight envy. Inventions like that would have made her life a lot easier at Walter Reed. Grace couldn't remember how many times she had food trays flung at her by angry patients during her earlier years.

Barnes made no effort to move towards the food. Grace noticed his eyes were staring at the tray though nothing else on his body had moved. It was a simple meal. Soup and sandwiches. The tomato soup had smelt amazing to Grace, her stomach was rumbling from it. Barnes with his enhanced senses would be getting that smell times a thousand. He had to be starving. Grace could tell by the way he was looking at the food, he really wanted it. But there was something holding him back.

"Asset," Grace spoke into the open mic. Her mouth went dry as Barnes' hard stare turned back to her. Using what HYDRA called him felt awkward and almost disrespectful in her mind. But she needed to do it to see if this would work. "You are to eat what I just gave you. If you want more, you're to ask for it. Do you understand your order?"


The three people in the room jumped in surprise at the gravelly voice. Barnes got up off the floor and in a few fluid strides pick up the tray. Returning to his spot on the floor, he sat down and started to devour the food like a starved person. Grace blew out a relieved sigh, that had been a very lucky guess. But that little tidbit was going to make her life easier.

"When you have finished eating, I want you to sleep for at least 8 hours." Grace added, wondering how far she could push his orders. "More if you feel your body needs it. I will be here when you wake up. Do you understand?"

"Yes Ma'am," Barnes said around a mouthful of sandwich. The angry and tight posture he held before relaxed as he inhaled the food in front of him. Grace felt herself breath a little better seeing the quiet ease he just accepted the orders. It had almost been too easy. She knew it wouldn't always be like that but a smooth first step was always a promising sign.

"I never would have thought to do that," Steve's voice shook Grace from her musing. She glanced over the Steve who was shaking his head, looking surprised at the scene behind the glass. "Giving him orders like he still works for HYDRA feels wrong."

"Wrong or right, there is a certain mindset with military types," Grace explained. "They thrive on orders and when their basic mentality breaks down. Falling back into that mindset can help establish some routine and also gives us the ability to treat their basic needs."

The look on Steve's face made Grace feel uneasy. After the initial surprise had worn off, he didn't look happy about what Grace had just done. But she was prepared to stand her ground and defend her choices. Right now Barnes was eating and that was more than she'd hoped for to begin with.

"You're the Doctor." Steve offered a smile that wasn't quite genuine. "When can I go in and talk to him?"

"That's a loaded question," Grace said, mentally trying to find the right way to put this. "Right now, all I can tell you is not right now."

Grace paused, watching Steve's jaw muscles tighten in frustration. She felt sorry for him. What he was going through wasn't easy. Getting his best friend back after so many years thinking he was dead but it not being the person he knew.

"But, this is a good sign," Grace added gently to soothe his ruffled feathers. "Once he gets some sleep, I can try and see what we're dealing with a bit more and go from there."

"So, in other words you have no idea," Steve said carefully. He was trying hard to be polite, but there was an edge to his voice.

"I have no idea," Grace confirmed, holding his gaze. If nothing else, she hoped Steve would appreciate her honestly. "I'm a little out of my depth here to be honest. Everything I'm trying is going to be a first. Its like trying to re-program a buggy computer you've never seen or used before. You know the basics of how it all should work. But there's always going to be something that stumps you and you find a way to work around it."

It felt like an eternity to Grace before Steve spoke again. She didn't miss the small slump his shoulders, even though his expression remained stoic.

"I appreciate you moving your entire life to help us Dr Anderson," Steve said with a smile that didn't reach his eyes. He put his hand out for Grace to shake. "I hope you enjoy your time here. If you'll excuse me."

"Of course," Grace said quickly, shaking Steve's hand again. She didn't bother to correct him on her name. Steve and Sam exchanged a murmured goodbye, and like that they were alone again. Grace waited until the door clicked shut before turning to Sam. She felt her own shoulders slump in relief that she hadn't been kicked out on her ass within the first half an hour. Pissing off Captain America on her first day could be a career ending move on her behalf.

"I don't think he liked that answer," Grace said dryly, pushing a strand of loose hair behind her ear.

"No, I don't think so either," Sam chuckled. "But they asked for your expert opinion and you gave it. He doesn't have to like it. It just needs to work on Barnes."

"Yeah, no pressure at all." Grace couldn't help the sarcasm in her voice as she turned her attention back to Barnes. He was eating his soup slower than the sandwich, but it was still disappearing quickly. "The trick here is to see if he asks for more."

"Speaking of food, I'm going to go find our lunch," Sam said, giving Grace a small squeeze on her shoulder. "I'm guessing you'll want more coffee? I'll get some extra stuff sent down here in case Barnes want it."

"Stupid question," Grace said with a small laugh. "I always want coffee. Go, I'm sure I'll be fine here. I have my laptop and his notes to keep me occupied."

To prove her point, Grace settled down onto the overstuffed lounge in the viewing room, kicking off her shoes and tucking her legs underneath her. She looked up at Sam, quirking an eyebrow up at him.

"Fine, I'll be your little errand boy," Sam said playfully. "I'll take you up to your room after lunch."

"Sure." Grace turned her full attention back to Barnes. He'd finished his soup now and was drinking from his water bottle. He'd put everything back on the tray in the same order it'd been given to him. As soon as he finished the water, he did the same with the empty bottle. Grace watched curiously as he rose up off the floor in one fluid motion and walked towards the wall.

Barnes stared at the spot where the tray had come out. Almost gingerly, he touched the wall with his flesh hand. The hidden compartment popped out and he silently put the tray back where it'd come from, handling it like it was made of glass. He stood there watching intently at the tray disappeared before turning on his heel and marching straight for the bed. In a movement nearly too quick for Grace to follow, he flopped down on the bed face first. Grace felt a smile pull at her lips. He was looking very much like the young man he should be and not the Winter Soldier in the unorganised position of his body. Exactly 35 seconds later, he was fast asleep. The light automatically dimmed, leaving only enough for Grace to see the outline of his body. She let out a breath and sagged back into the couch. The relief she felt would no doubt no short lived, but her results for today were more than she hoped for.

While Barnes slept, Grace started to read his file instead of doing a skim read like she'd done on the trip here. Sam came and went with lunch, knowing that he wasn't going to get a conversation out of her while she had so much research to do. Despite being incomplete, the file for Barnes still took Grace hours to get through. She only got up for bathroom and coffee breaks, very grateful both were in the room with her. If nothing else, she was more comfortable here doing observation that she'd ever been anywhere else. Grace would have happily curled up on the couch and slept for a few hours if she didn't have so much reading to get through. It was late into the evening by the time he woke again. Grace hadn't noticed the change in him and fell off the couch in surprise at the sound of his gravelly voice.

"I require more food Ma'am," Barnes asked in a quiet voice as Grace picked herself up off the ground. There was a small hesitation before Barnes spoke again. "And use of the ablutions."

Grace was very grateful for the summary she'd read a few hours ago of his last few days here. Her first thought automatically went to him not using the bathroom at all. But he'd been using the toilet, just not the shower. Grace didn't need to see JARVIS' reports of Barnes' activity to know that. It was pretty clear to see how unkempt he was looking at the moment. Because of the good progress from earlier, Grace decided to try to see if she could push the boundaries a little more before the day was done.

"You can use the shower when you feel like you need it," Grace said carefully, settling back down onto the couch. "Food will be sent up as soon as you're done."

Grace knew straight away it was a bad idea to give him the choice. Barnes froze on the spot, like a deer caught in the headlights. Grace mentally smacked herself. One good moment didn't mean things would magically be fixed. She knew that and couldn't believe she'd just made such a rookie mistake.

"Correction," Grace said quickly. "Have a shower, 15 minutes maximum time allowed."

"Yes Ma'am."

The change in Barnes body posture was immediate. He didn't relax, but with the order he was given he had a purpose. He immediately got up off the bed and marched straight for the bathroom. Grace wasn't surprised that he didn't close the door behind him. Modesty, like she knew it, would be a foreign concept for him.

"JARVIS can I get some dinner sent here please?" Grace looked to the ceiling, feeling her eyes starting to burn. She checked her watch. It was 10.44pm. Barnes had slept for hours and Grace was fast running out of energy. She knew she couldn't sit here all night watching him. But she wasn't comfortable in leaving him either. After sleeping for so long, Barnes probably wouldn't be going back to sleep anytime soon. The couch was comfortable enough for her to nap on if she felt like she needed it.

"Of course Dr Anderson," JARVIS answered instantly. "Do you have any requests?"

Grace's mind went straight to whatever would be the unhealthiest choice she could think of. Her mind always went that way after a long day at work.

"Screw it," Grace mumbled under her breath after only a few seconds. Today had been a weird day so she deserved something good. "Pizza, Meatlovers with extra sausage. A dozen Krispy Kreme as well."

Grace hesitated, looking into the now empty room. She knew should insist on something healthy for Barnes. But at the moment, any calories would be good for him. From the snippets of uncovered mission reports she had, HYDRA hadn't been fussy on a diet for him. He was simply given whatever his handler chose at the time. It was very strange reading those notes, especially from the last person to deal with him. The SHIELD agent turned HYDRA named Brock Rumlow had worse handwriting than Grace did. He didn't seem to have a problem with feeding HYDRA's number one assassin McDonalds when on a mission near civilization. Grace would have paid good money to see that happen.

"Better make it a double order for Barnes as well." Grace didn't take long to make up her mind. She had no idea what Barnes would eat, but she doubted he'd be fussy. If he was, she could just order him to eat it.

"Of course, the order has been placed and it will be here in 10 minutes," JARVIS' computer voice almost sounded amused by Grace's choice of food. "Do you require anything else for yourself or Sergeant Barnes?"

"No, thank you JARIVS." Grace felt awkward beyond belief to be talking to the computer. "I appreciate your help."

"You are most welcome Dr Anderson," JARVIS replied pleasantly. "Will you be staying the night in here, or shall I ask Mr Wilson to bring you to your room?"

"I'll stay here." Grace didn't hesitate on that question. She wanted to be there if Barnes needed anything at all. Grace didn't care if it was something as simple as asking for another bottle of water. Barnes needed to know he could rely on her to provide him with basic needs before any trust would be established. "If I fall asleep, can you wake me up if Barnes needs anything?"

Grace was sure some greasy pizza could keep her awake for a few more hours. But the 3am slump always hit her hard when on night shift.

"There are blankets and pillows in the storage cupboard to your left," JARVIS answered promptly. "Captain Rogers has been making use of the couch and made sure the cupboard was stocked well."

That wasn't a surprise to Grace. Despite having an AI to monitor Barnes constantly, Steve would want to be here for every second of it. She was mildly surprised that Steve hadn't come back to check on the progress though. She inwardly cringed at that train of thought hit her. She really hoped she hadn't offended him so much he didn't want to be around her.

"JARVIS, is Captain Rogers available to speak to?" Grace asked after a few seconds of contemplation on the matter. She wanted to smooth over any ruffled feathers before things got too out of hand. Although Barnes was her main concern, the entire team would also be seeing her once things were more settled. Grace didn't want to deal with a brick wall from Steve right away just because they got off on the wrong foot.

"The team, minus Mr Wilson has been called away on a mission as of 1535 this afternoon," JARVIS said smoothly. "I'm able to contact them in an emergency, but they are otherwise on radio silence."

Grace slumped in relief. That was one hurdle she didn't have to deal with right now. The selfish part of her was glad to avoid it for at least the rest of the night and be able to focus on the task at hand with Barnes. She turned her attention back to the glass window as a movement caught her attention. Barnes walked out of the bathroom, drying his hair with what looked to be a hand towel. He was completely naked save for another towel draped over his shoulder. There was still droplets of water clinging to his muscular body as Barnes walked to the bed.

Grace closed her eyes, sucking in a deep breath of surprise. That was more of an eyeful than she expected. As nice as a sight it was, Grace really didn't need to be seeing Barnes strut around naked.

"Underwear needs to stay on at all times when you're not in the bathroom," Grace fought to keep her voice even. She thought her days of being embarrassed over naked patients were long behind her. It turned out naked Super Soldiers could still bring a light blush to her cheeks. "Get dressed, food will be here in a few minutes."

"Yes Ma'am."

Authors Note

Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed the first chapter! I hope you enjoy this one as much even though it's a little shorter than I normally like my chapters.

I can't wait for the next chapter as we start getting all of the Avengers into the storyline. Thanks for being so patient with me between updates!