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Title: Some Debts Cannot Be Paid
Fandom: Captain America
Series: To Rewrite History
Pairings: unrequited Steve/Bucky, Minor Bucky/OCs
Warnings: angst, torture, more angst, Hydra being evil, violence, evil science, murder, dubious consent, brainwashing, etc.
Word Count: 4238 (27,288 so far)
Disclaimer: If I owned it, the good guys would have lost.
Summary: Bucky doesn't think much of Captain America but he would die for Steve ten times over and consider the price fair paid.

Part I: To Fall
Part II: To Reap
Part III: To Gamble

Bucky steals a stranger's phone in Chechnya on his way to kill a general; it rings six times before Natalia picks up.

“Talk to me, Natashen'ka,” the sergeant orders in lieu of greeting. “I could use good news right now.”

“Sorry, Yasha. Fury won't send a strike team onto Russian soil. Not without more proof than you can offer. And not when you require utter secrecy. But he'll allow Barton and I to lead a pickup; it's minimal risk for the chance to have Captain America as a game piece on the board. I wish I could have done more but we'd need at least three strike teams to lead a real assault.”

“Probably more than that. But you've done enough, Natasha. Thank you. Rescuing Steve has always been my first priority and I’ll try to do as much damage as I can on my way out.”

“Sounds good. Kill a few for me.”

Bucky gives Natalia the general coordinates and she promises to be there within twenty-four hours, one of SHIELD’s stealth jets waiting on standby.

“It’ll be a slim window. But this mission includes intelligence so Grebenshchikov will want a briefing before sending me back to cryo. I should be able to take him out and get to Steve before they realize something’s wrong.”

“What’s the signal? We won’t be able to offer backup, but I want to be ready in case you come in hot.”

“Trust me, Natasha. That shouldn’t be a problem. While I’ll try to send an open broadcast, the explosions should be pretty obvious even if I can't.”

They iron out a few more details before Bucky signs off to complete his mission, the general interrogated and then executed once he can’t talk anymore. Afterward, the sniper sends one last text to Natalia before tossing his stolen phone in a trashcan and heading back to his safehouse to be extracted out.

Just as the sergeant had expected, Grebenshchikov wants to know every detail of his mission, dragging Bucky into the briefing room as soon as he wakes up. But the scientist’s impatience is the sniper’s gain this time.

He still has full use of his left arm since it's only deactivated right before he's sent to cryo and his handlers have left him most of his mission gear as well. They’ve gotten sloppy and complacent and while they weren’t stupid enough to let Bucky keep his weapons, he’ll be glad for the body armor once the shooting starts.

Once he's finished with his report, Bucky demands the chance to visit Steve before he's frozen, refusing to move until Grebenshchikov agrees. This is less risky than it sounds since the doctor has always preferred to take the path of least resistance; it reduces his expenses when Bucky follows willingly.

The scientist is used to obedience. The entire Red Room is used to Bucky doing exactly what he's told and he takes them by surprise when he attacks instead.

Bucky makes his move as soon as Grebenshchikov stops in front of the entrance to Steve's cryo-chamber. His first punch breaks the camera and he has all of Hydra’s soldiers on the floor less than sixty seconds later, their necks broken, crushed, and cracked from slamming headfirst into the wall.

“What are you doing?!” Grebenshchikov shrieks. The scientist is too angry to even think of running; instead he pulls a small device out of pocket and jams it into Bucky's metal hand. There's a click and then a crackle of electricity sends the sniper to his knees, his left arm falling limply to his side.

Bucky blinks away the aftershocks to see Grebenshchikov sneering down at him like the sergeant hasn't just killed his guards in seconds, like his attempt to fight is nothing but a tantrum doomed to fail. The doctor is smirking as though the sniper isn't dangerous without the weapon Hydra gave him and that's the mistake that Bucky has been waiting for.

The sergeant lunges forward, grabbing Grebenshchikov's wrist and twisting when the other man tries to zap him down again. He shoves the scientist off balance and they fall to the floor, Bucky's teeth buried in his former master's neck.

The gush of blood is hot and salty on his tongue and he spits out a chunk of flesh as he sits back up again. The other man is frozen, his eyes wide with utter disbelief. He barely moves as Bucky reboots his arm and then strikes the doctor in the chest to end this fight for good.

“You... how could you...?” Grebenshchikov chokes out as the light fades from his eyes. There are a thousand things that the sergeant wants to say to him, a thousand curses to lay upon his head, but he doesn't have a chance to speak before the Russian breathes his last. He dies too easy, without facing justice for even a fraction of the horrors that he did in Hydra's name.

However, Bucky doesn't have time to mourn his lost chance at vengeance. So the sniper just mutters, “Good riddance, asshole,” before dragging the scientist's corpse up off the ground.

Grebenshchikov is still warm and when the sergeant presses his hand against the door lock, the sensor finds no difference between that and living flesh. Instead it simply beeps acknowledgment and lets him enter the room where Steve is held. Once inside, Bucky drops the Russian on the floor and moves to the control panel, entering the code that he worked so hard to find. The computer flashes green and then begins the thawing process, the cryo-tube hissing softly as the glass defrosts.

Bucky knows he should be watching the door, but he can’t tear his eyes off Stevie. The sergeant has missed him for so long; he’s loved him for so long and he knows that he won’t be there when his best friend finally wakes.

So the sniper allows himself this moment. He steps forward when the cryo-tube slides open and pulls Steve into his arms. It’s like coming home, the world settling into place now that friend is here and breathing, still alive after everything that Grebenshchikov has done. Alive and heavy, and Bucky is forced to lay the blond down on the floor when his right arm starts to ache. Steve is still unconscious and he’s a bit much to carry as nothing but dead weight.

However, the sergeant has a solution to that problem. It won’t be pretty but no one is grading him on style; all that matters is getting Steve to Natalia before Hydra runs him down.

So Bucky walks over to the nearest shelf and grabs a tarp to lay out on the floor – two things the Red Room has no shortage of are tarps and plastic sheeting. He wraps Steve up like he’s transporting any other body and then pulls this package over to the door. The plastic coating lets the tarp slide easily across the concrete floor.

Once Steve is out of the way, the sergeant takes his metal arm to the control panels, doing his level best to ensure that the cryo-chamber can’t be used again. He reduces the equipment to scrap and jagged metal without even breathing hard, crushing the last few chunks of glass beneath his boots just before alarms start blaring from the walls.

“Shit,” Bucky curses. He thought he’d have a little more time before someone noticed he was missing, but maybe the Red Room was monitoring Grebenshchikov’s vital signs.

Speaking of the Russian, the sergeant strips the weapons from the guards still in the hallway – four pistols, two Tasers, a shotgun, and a jagged combat knife – and quickly hacks off the scientist’s right hand. It’s a gruesome business but he’s not sure how many locks in this place are biometric and he’d rather have the key if he needs it later on. Then he ties the doctor's hand to his belt and pulls out one of his borrowed pistols before wrapping metal fingers around his package and pulling Steve into the hall.

No one is there but Bucky keeps his guard up anyway as he breaks into a run. Although dragging his captain is a little awkward in the beginning, the extra weight throwing his stride off balance, the sniper finds his rhythm soon enough.

Bucky sprints full speed through the hallways, the few guards he encounters taken out with a bullet on the fly. A few of them get shots off but nothing he can’t handle; most bounce off his metal arm or slam into his combat vest. Sure it hurts like a bitch, but the sergeant's broken ribs heal quickly and most of the soldiers are too surprised by his refusal to die to shoot a second time.

Even with this incompetence working in his favor, Bucky needs to reach the main security control room as quickly as he can. Some of the Red Room’s assassins can nearly fight him to a standstill and while he doesn't know if any of those agents are in house, enough low level flunkies working together could still bring him down.

Surprise will only keep his enemies off balance for so long. Indeed, someone in this base clearly has a brain since Bucky rounds the last corner and has to drop to the ground to avoid a sudden spray of gunfire aimed directly at his head. The bullets are followed by a flashbang and the sergeant throws an arm over his face to keep from being blinded as he slides across the floor.

Once the light fades, Bucky sees a dozen soldiers guarding the control room. They’ve got riot shields and full body armor so that he can’t shoot them and at their head is asset Kosti, Perov’s favorite thug.

The sergeant’s momentum carries him toward the soldiers, bullets and concrete shrapnel leaving bloody lines across his face. But he dodges the worst of it and when the bundle containing Steve snaps around the corner after him, inspiration hits. If he can’t take out his enemies with bullets then he needs a battering ram and Captain America always was a fan of charging down the line.

So the sniper waits until Steve has reached the apex of his turn and then lets go, the other man hurtling toward Hydra’s soldiers at full speed.

“What the fuck?” one of them curses harshly as Bucky bowls a perfect strike, his makeshift missile smashing into their line dead center. The impact knocks his enemies off balance, the wall of riot shields fracturing into chaos, and the sniper quickly empties one of his guns into the fray.

He pulls out his shotgun as Kosti rushes toward him, the other man relying on speed and strength rather than strategy. His knife lodges in the sergeant’s side as he dodges the first blast of Bucky’s shotgun – the two men behind him aren’t so lucky – but he’s not expecting a Taser to the face. The bastard goes down twitching and Bucky dives over the body as another wave of bullets cuts through the air where he had been.

The motion turns the knife buried in his side into a line of agony and the sergeant’s blows are a little more vicious than required as he clears the hall. When the last man dies, Bucky pulls out Kosti’s dagger, pressing a hand to his wound before leaning down to slit the other asset’s throat.

The sniper gives himself thirty seconds to stop bleeding and then moves to pick up Steve. He digs the other man out of a pile of riot shields and corpses, adding a few more weapons to his arsenal along the way. Steve seems to be no worse for wear and while the tarp he's wrapped in is starting to look a little frayed around the edges, it still slides easily enough when Bucky drags the other man to the control room door.

This lock is also biometric so the sergeant leaves Steve off to one side and pulls Grebenshchikov’s hand free of his belt. It takes three tries for the Russian’s prints to register and then the door slides open with a quiet beep. The sound is barely audible above the alarms that are still blaring but it’s enough to warn the men inside and Bucky’s entrance is greeted by a solid wall of lead.

Of course, the sniper’s not an idiot so he wasn’t standing in the doorway. Instead he’s crouched on the floor with his pistol ready, a flashbang of his own ensuring that none of his enemies manage a second volley before his bullets find their mark.

One shot. One target. Six men dead in 30 thirty seconds and that includes the time it takes for the smoke to clear the room.

Bucky drags Steve inside, letting the door slide shut afterwards. He has no way to keep Hydra out – if that was possible, he never would have gotten the door open in the first place – so he just works efficiently. The sergeant moves from control panel to control panel, doing his best to wreak havoc on his enemies.

He begins with the radio, setting the system to broadcast out the compound's coordinates on every channel so that Natalia will know the time has come. While he waits for a reply, Bucky pulls up the Red Room's intercom. The sniper orders all assets to the western laboratory, claiming that the Winter Soldier has been marked for execution and is now hiding there. After so many decades listening to Grebenshchikov's fucking speeches, Bucky has the Russian's accent down to a science and Hydra's goons have always been obedient.

The sergeant can see them on the cameras, running through the hallways just like he wants them to. One or two might wonder about this sudden change in orders, but most would never dare to question a command and these men run willingly into the sniper's trap.

Although the Red Room isn't actually full of death machines like some supervillain's lair, Grebenshchikov built safety measures into everything he touched. A few simple commands and blast doors start slamming shut all throughout the Red Room, isolating Bucky's enemies and leaving his own escape route clear.

By now, Natalia has pinged back to say she's coming so the sergeant moves over to the weapon's console and starts setting missile timers. No one does paranoia quite like Hydra and there's an entire array of weapons at the ready in case some unlucky soul wanders into the wrong airspace. Bucky could probably shoot Natalia down in seconds despite SHIELD's countermeasures, but instead he locks all the missiles on their own coordinates. Although the console screams at him, the sniper just overrides it; ten minutes from now, this base is going boom.

Once the countdown begins, Bucky grabs Steve in a fireman's carry and starts sprinting toward the surface, speed more important than keeping his gun hand unoccupied. He reaches the garage with five minutes to spare, throwing his captain over the back of an ATV and then gunning it toward the door.

When the sniper looks back, the door has sealed shut behind him, leaving nothing but a small bunker to show that Hydra's base is there. Bucky has never seen the outside of the Red Room before this moment and he can't help thinking that the door to Hell should look much more impressive. The ground itself should have been stained scarlet from all the blood that place has spilled. But then again, Hydra's greatest strength has always been its ability to blend in with its surroundings; Bucky knows that well.

So the sergeant turns away and picks up the ATV's radio to send out a broadcast. “Natalia? Can you hear me? I've gotten out.”

“Loud and clear, Yasha. Congratulations,” is the reply. “We'll meet you in the forest to the west.”

Bucky follows her directions, redlining his engine the whole way. He's almost to the trees when the ground beneath his wheels suddenly shifts sideways, a wave of sound washing over him. The missiles that he armed are detonating and while the sergeant isn't stupid enough to think he's finished Hydra, he's struck a blow that they'll remember. His former masters will remember the day they lost the Winter Soldier and the loss of Captain America will be a worse injury yet.

The sniper ducks low over his handlebars when a bullet skims his shoulder; apparently some of Hydra's soldiers made it out alive. So Bucky revs the engine one more time, weaving around a tree and then skidding to a stop in front of Natalia. His daughter is waiting for him by a small stealth airplane, a man with a bow and arrow standing on the ramp.

“Agent Barton, I presume?” the sergeant asks as he gets off the ATV and slings Steve over his shoulder with a grunt. “Didn't anyone ever tell you that bows are out of date?”

“I don't know. Did anyone ever tell you that metal arms are tacky, Mr. Winter Soldier?” the other man retorts. “Or should I call you Bucky Barnes?”

“Call me whatever the fuck you want,” Bucky replies. “As long as you can fly that plane.”

Barton opens his mouth to say something, probably another snarky comment, but before he can, Natalia interrupts.

“Measure your dicks later, boys,” the redhead orders. “We've got incoming and the package is our first priority.”

She's right, of course. So Bucky passes Steve over to Barton without any further comments, hovering at the archer's elbow until he's certain that the other man won't fall. Barton does stagger slightly as he turns to enter the plane but he manages to keep his feet as he carries Steve inside. It hurts to let him go; truthfully the sight makes Bucky nauseous and he turns to his daughter to stop himself from reaching out.

“Steve should wake up in about three days and he'll be confused as Hell,” the sniper tells her. “But when you explain what happened, don't tell him about me. Say you rescued him on your own if you have to tell him anything. Promise me, Natasha. Promise me that you'll keep silent while protecting Steve from everyone who might want to harm him, no matter who they are. If you truly feel you owe me, then pay your debt like this.”

“I will,” she swears, one hand across her heart. “He won’t know the truth until you wish it and I’ll see that he survives. But you should come with us, Yasha. SHIELD can wipe your record clean.”

He lets himself imagine it for a second. He lets himself imagine being there when Steve wakes up. But there's too much blood on his hands; he's killed too many innocents to protect his best friend's life. Some things can never be forgiven and Bucky crossed the line of no return a long, long time ago.

“No, Natashen'ka, it's much too late for that. If you see me again, shoot first; I'll be there to kill you and I won't stop again. Now go. I'll cover your retreat.”

“Goodbye my friend,” Natalia says before running to the plane. The door slides shut behind her and the engines start up just as the first of Hydra’s soldiers appears amongst the trees.

“Stop them!” someone shouts, pointing at the plane. He hefts an RPG onto his shoulder and so Bucky shoots him first, the resulting explosion killing another three. The sniper shoots until his gun is empty, keeping the survivors of the Red Room too busy to think about Natalia’s plane until it’s disappeared.

When his second pistol clicks empty, the sergeant throws out his last flashbang to buy himself some time. He only has one clip remaining but he doesn’t try to run or get back on his ATV after he reloads; Bucky simply points his gun at his own head. He always knew that he wasn’t getting out of Russia and now that Steve is free, Hydra doesn't get to keep the Winter Soldier anymore. However, before the sniper pulls the trigger, his left arm clicks warningly.

“Shit!” Bucky curses as his arm suddenly shuts off. He drops his gun, twisting awkwardly to catch the weapon before it hits the ground.

By now Hydra's soldiers have recovered from the flashbang so Bucky shoots the closest man for good measure before pointing his pistol back at his own head. But then he's tackled from behind, the impact knocking the sniper off his feet.

Bucky loses his gun in the ensuing struggle as Hydra’s men jump on him and while he puts several out of commission, it’s a losing fight. The sniper is off balance without his metal arm, off balance and still bleeding, and his enemies eventually overwhelm him with sheer numbers as his strength starts to fade. They shove his face down in the dirt and cuff his wrists together, three men sitting on his shoulders in order to keep him down.

“You’ve caused quite a mess with your little tantrum,” someone says. A pair of boots stops by Bucky’s head and when the sniper looks up, he sees Alexei Perov standing there. “They tell me you killed Grebenshchikov and many of our soldiers, but the Red Room won’t fall that easily. Because you didn’t kill me, did you? I was at a meeting with our leaders and I’ve only now returned.”

“You always were a lucky bastard,” Bucky says, giving the other man a bloody smile. “But I’m done cooperating. Next time I’ll kill you first.”

“No, Soldier, you will not,” Perov corrects, staring at the sniper with cold eyes. “Grebenshchikov preferred assets who could think but Grebenshchikov is gone now. You will be broken to obedience like the worthless dog you are. In fact, I believe you will be the perfect test subject for the machine I’ve been designing, something to replace all those stubborn morals with Hydra’s memories.”

Bucky jerks against his bonds, trying to make the bastard kill him now. But the sergeant's efforts are completely futile and he's quickly knocked unconscious when Perov signals to his men.

The sergeant wakes up in a chair. Not just a chair, something out of a mad doctor’s nightmare. The straps around his arms and legs are cutting off his circulation and he can barely breathe beneath the band across his chest.

“Good. You’re awake,” someone says and then the world explodes.

Every muscle spasms as lightning arcs through Bucky’s body and turns his thoughts to ash. Because the agony doesn’t end, it just grows stronger, lines of fire burning through his mind. Perov is shouting orders, shouting to be heard above the screaming that the sergeant can’t hold back. He struggles until his bonds are bleeding but he can’t escape the words or the pain that guides them. Perov carves him into pieces, ripping out everything that makes him Bucky inch by inch.

There’s no relief until the sniper finally shatters, defiance drowning underneath the weight of agony. Perov scours his mind clean and when his master beckons, it’s the Winter Soldier who drops down to his knees.


The mission is everything; the mission is his life. The Winter Soldier is a weapon and a weapon never questions. A weapon does as ordered and he is the very best of Hydra's arsenal. So he wakes and he tracks and he always kills his targets before returning to the pit from whence he came.

He returns to the ice, to the chair, and to the chamber that makes his muscles tremble with a bone deep terror. But even as his instincts scream with panic, the Winter Soldier never fights his handlers. Their orders give him purpose and a weapon is nothing without purpose. The Winter Soldier is nothing until the man on the bridge calls him by someone else's name.

He knows this man. He knows this man and something deeper than his orders screams 'Protect'.

The Winter Soldier's handlers tell him that the man on the bridge is his mission and the words echo loudly in his mind. The man on the bridge must die survive. He has to kill protect the target his mission from being harmed.

But his orders are not right. His orders say that Captain America must die.

Captain Ameri...Ste-...Capt is the target. Track him and remove protect! Threats must be eliminated. Cold bullies soldiers handlers Hydra wants Stev his mission dead. The mission is protect. But the Winter Soldier is Hydra. The Winter Soldier is the threat.

He must be eliminated. But Steve the mission trusts SHIELD Hydra; he will not watch his back survive. ALL danger must destroyed. SHIELD is Hydra. Hydra is the threat. The Winter Soldier will protect.

“He is my mission.”

The handlers smile and then they bleed, his metal fist cracking bones and teeth. The weapon has a new old single purpose and they are an obstruction. He will not be stopped. He will burn SHIELD Hydra the world to ashes if he must. First the handlers. Then Hydra. Then the asset himself. He will kill the monsters in the dark.

Because the mission Steve is everything; the mission Stevie is his life.


I didn’t exactly mean to lie about the happy ending, but the events of Civil War made what I had planned out seem so much f**king worse. Even if I’d been thinking about continuing, I don’t think I could.