- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Dark Themes
- Discussion - Murder
- Discussion - Torture
- Explicit Sex
- No Beta
- Permanent Injury
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Time Travel
Cardiff was just as dank, damp and dreary as advertised. Though the rare day when the sun shone brightly brought out a unique beauty. James ‘Bucky’ Barnes hunched his shoulders into the leather jacket he’d liberated from a Hydra operative in London – it wasn’t like the man needed it anymore – and descended the steps into the oval shaped Roald Dahl Plass. He crossed the flat barely illuminated space, his footsteps echoing through the night until he reached the water tower that dominated the area. He circled it and peered intently at the steel plates beneath the cascading water. He couldn’t find a single crack to even hint at a concealed entrance.
“Where the fuck is Torchwood?” he muttered. He stopped, staring across the Plass toward the Wales Millennium Center. Hydra had nothing. Only that Harkness and his branch of Torchwood – considered a thorn in Hydra’s side for decades – was based in Cardiff. Asking around the city had only netted him a lot of pitying looks, comments about ‘Bloody Torchwood’ and the local residents, even the local cops, all saying to look down at the Bay. Well, he was in the Bay and the Plass for the third time in as many days and he couldn’t find a damned thing which looked like it might house a top secret organization.
A soft, barely audible click came from behind him. The cold barrel of a gun pressed against the base of his skull. One of the few places on his body guaranteed to kill him. Bucky froze. He fought against every painfully trained into him instinct which screamed for him to whip around and take the gun from the person holding it on him. Instead, he focused on keeping his breathing as even as possible though one particularly deep breath told him exactly who was holding him at gunpoint. “Captain Harkness.”
“And just why is the Winter Soldier in Cardiff?”
“The Winter Soldier is…” Bucky trailed off for a moment. He struggled for a few seconds to find a decent way to explain what was going on with him. Finally, he settled on the same terms used by the technicians who’d maintained him for the last seventy years. “Malfunctioning. Sergeant Barnes is hoping that his old friend might have a few ideas to fix the situation. Or…” Bucky swallowed hard. Thanks to a failsafe put into his mind during his initial breaking by Hydra he didn’t even have the option of killing himself. “Ending the Winter Soldier, if that’s the only option left.”
A long silence followed his words. Deep enough he could hear the faint lapping of the waves on the nearby wharf. Bucky forced himself to remain still even as movement from the corner of his eye registered. He flicked his gaze to the side and watched as a young man – mid-twenties, well-dressed in a bespoke suit, moving with a warrior’s grace – crossed the Plass to join him and Captain Harkness. Finally, a soft sigh escaped the man behind him. The faint click echoed again as the hammer was eased down on Harkness’ preferred sidearm.
“Welcome to Cardiff, Sergeant Barnes.” Bucky slowly turned around to watch Harkness and the young man who’d come to a stop beside the other man. “Ianto, this is an old friend. He’s got trouble.”
“James Barnes.” He offered the young man his right hand. He frowned as he watched him. There was something vaguely familiar about him. Bucky filed the incongruity away for further reflection when he was alone. “I knew the Captain during the War. Cardiff is one of the few places I don’t have fragmented memories of.”
“Ianto Jones.” A single eyebrow rose in response to his explanation of how he knew Harkness. Still, a hand was offered, shook, and then removed to wave toward the nearby water. “Let’s get you downstairs before you two start reminiscing.”
“So, Torchwood really is in the Bay?”
Ianto just tilted his head and smiled. It was an interesting smile as it hinted that this young man knew something Bucky didn’t. The three of them fell in step as they crossed the Plass toward the stairs down to a lower level which Bucky had dismissed as of no real interest on his earlier recognizance of the area. He allowed himself to slow a bit so that he was following the other two while remaining close enough to hear any remarks aimed his direction. He scanned the lower level, frowning, but aside from a couple of small park benches looking out toward the Bay, the only thing down there was a small tourist office tucked up beneath an overhang from the Mermaid Wharf built above it. It was only as Ianto pulled the door open that Bucky realized exactly where they were going.
“The one place I didn’t look.”
“Sometimes hiding in plain sight is the best solution.” Harkness reached back and grabbed Bucky’s human arm. He pulled him into the small cubbyhole of an office. “I think only Americans think this is an actual tourist office.”
“I certainly did. I also thought it was too small to contain much of anyone or anything.” Bucky chuckled as he scanned the small space covered in the typical kitschy things offered to tourists the world over. His gaze settled on a sidewall where a single long vertical crack just captured his attention. He stared intently at it even as he addressed his old friend. “So where’s the access switch?”
Harkness laughed. His gaze wasn’t on Bucky but on their younger companion. Bucky followed the Captain’s gaze and tilted his head in silent question. Ianto, in turn, gave Harkness an intent look before he reached a hand down behind the counter where he was standing. A thud echoed through the room; a lock settled into place. Then, a distinct click followed by a soft grinding brought Bucky’s attention back to the incongruous crack. He watched as one panel of the wall swung back to reveal a stone hallway just as damp as the rest of Cardiff.
“Interesting.” He just barely smiled as he edged past the Captain to peer into the hallway beyond the panel. A close look at the wall told him that the average person or even the average agent wouldn’t have noticed the oddity. “Not easily noticed. Well done.”
Another laugh escaped Harkness. The man wrapped a large hand around his right arm and tugged him closer to the far wall in the hallway. They stood there, waiting, until Ianto finished securing the small office they’d come in through and joined them. The wall panel swung closed with just as little noise as it had opened. Ianto led the way down the corridor to a brightly lit concrete staircase descending beneath the Quay. They descended in silence until Ianto halted before a heavy cogwheel-shaped door. Bucky’s two companions shared another long silent look before Ianto reached over and turned a key set into the wall. The door rolled open as alarms shattered the silence from the other side.
Bucky followed Ianto into the revealed space. It had… character… and definitely wasn’t the gleaming white spaces he’d expected from reports on Torchwood. Nor was it the makeshift or industrial spaces Hydra preferred for their working spaces. No, this looked like something out of one of the pulps of his teen years than the headquarters of a secret organization supposedly focused on aliens. He had to admit that he liked it. Just grungy enough to be grungy yet crowded with enough modern and futuristic equipment to appeal to his vague memories of yearning to be more than a mere clerk at the docks. Connie certainly would have enjoyed the place considering her reaction to Stark’s expo so long ago. Idly, he wondered what happened to Connie after the war ended since he’d likely been classified as ‘missing, presumed dead’ decades ago.
“Not what I expected.”
“I know.” Harkness smiled at him. It was an interesting smile. Hard edged beneath the apparent friendliness. He wondered what Jones had been saying to him in all those silent conversations the two had been having in front of him. “Martha! I need you.”
Bucky turned again. He hated having his back exposed to whoever was above him in the shadows but that couldn’t be helped if he wanted to keep a watch on whoever the Captain was calling for. A young black woman strode around the corner from the entrance; her heels clicked against the floor while she shoved something into a pocket of the white lab coat she wore over a black pantsuit. Bucky let his gaze drift over her from the tips of her shoes to the top of her upswept hair – curves in all the right places but not heavy – yeah, back in the day that was a dame he’d definitely take a second look at; then, he saw her face. Bits and pieces of memory slotted into place as he stared intently at her.
“Martha Jones…” He murmured the words into a suddenly silent space. “Medical student from London. Doctor with UNIT, specialty in alien lifeforms. Considered incorruptible. On the elimination list.”
“You want to unpack that, Bucky?”
“What?” He tore his gaze from the doctor to focus on the Captain again. The long coat the other man still wore was shoved back. His hand once again resting on the Webley now holstered on his belt. “Jack?”
“You said something about killing Martha.”
The words, in a very harsh Welsh accent, came from Bucky’s left. He clenched his left hand in his jacket pocket even as he shifted slightly to keep both the Captain and this other person, a woman he identified after a moment as Gwen Cooper-Williams, in his sightlines. Especially since she at least was actually holding her sidearm on him.
“No, Agent Cooper-Williams.” Bucky shook his head at her. He shifted his weight and dropped his chin slightly unable to truly fight the deeply and painfully trained instincts. It was second nature now to assess her threat level and only the knowledge that Jack Harkness wouldn’t choose trigger happy people which kept him standing between Ianto and Jack by the entrance and not going to take the pistol from the woman. “That was Doctor Jones’s Hydra file which I… well, the Winter Soldier, was expected to memorize. Would you please put the gun away before I do something to piss the Captain off?”
“Yeah, stand down. Jack, shoot him if he moves.”
From the direction of the voice and the accent, that was Doctor Jones. Bucky watched Gwen, not taking his gaze from her as she was the greater threat to his person at the moment, even as the click of heels on concrete told of Martha’s approach. A flicker of light brought his attention fully to the Doctor.
“Oh boy.” She adjusted a thin metallic rod in her hand as she ran the light it was emitting over his body. “You, sir, are in trouble.”
“I knew that, ma’am.” Bucky flashed her a brief smile before sobering again. His body ached. His arm throbbed with phantom echoes of pain. His shoulder screamed at him in agony from the weight of the arm attached to him. He was used to that pain though. It had been his constant companion for decades. What worried him the most was the decay of his mind and any triggers Hydra had embedded in him which he didn’t consciously know about. “Which bit are you referring to specifically? The mess they made of my mind and memories or the metal they used to supplement and replace most of the bones on my upper left side when they grafted the arm onto me?”
“Both. Fortunately, it won’t be so difficult to do some repairs.” She turned on her heel and strode off the way she’d come. Brisk orders flowed from her. “Jack, take him to medical. Ianto, scrub up, you’re playing nurse. Gwen, you’re in charge. Keep an eye on John.”
The cry from above told him exactly where that watching threat was located. He filed the information and location away in his mind even as he fell in step with Jack. They followed Martha around to a sunken circular space. The two of them slowly descending the stairs to find Martha pulling out items and Ianto busy at a nearby sink. A stern and pointed look at his clothes caused Bucky to duck his head slightly even as he shrugged out of the leather jacket and the hoodie he wore underneath. A point of her finger at a gurney in the center of the room told him where she wanted him.
“By the way, what’s your name?”
“James Buchanan Barnes.” He hopped up onto the table and watched her from beneath his lashes. He wasn’t the least bit surprised when Gwen came to lean casually, but still openly armed, in the arched opening leading into the small space. “Bucky. I was a sergeant with the 107th.”
“Well, that’s a mouthful. Bucky, then.” Martha came around to stand in front of him. “Look at the pretty lights, Bucky.”
“You asked.” Bucky tensed. He forced himself to breathe normally. The fluctuating light was similar to the one he barely remembered Zola using on him at Azzano. He regulated his breathing, keeping it even; however, he also clenched his hands tightly by his sides. “I don’t like this. I really, really don’t like this.”
“Relax.” She pressed something on the object she held. An almost hypnotic tone began to come from the device. “Just let go, Bucky.”
“Couldn’t you use a different color?” Bucky refused to consider the fact that he was whining. They were – as he’d asked the Captain to – trying to help. He couldn’t help it that Hydra had screwed him up so badly that he saw their helping him as a threat to his life. He found himself almost absently humming along to the sound of the device before changing his own humming to harmonize with it. “Jack… Captain… small of my back. And the Gerber on my hip. Take them. I’ve got a knife on my right forearm too.”
He felt more than saw Jack move closer. Could feel his weapons being removed and handed off even the ones he hadn’t directly mentioned. A door closed nearby; an electronic lock whined. He knew the weapons were secure. Not that it mattered really; Hydra had turned him and his body into a weapon as well.
“What do you need me to do?”
Before Martha, who Jack’s question was likely directed at could answer, Bucky breathed out carefully and made another request of his own. “Don’t let me go for her, Jack.”
“Jack, stay back but don’t miss a thing, okay? He’s a bit more resistant than I thought.” Martha moved a few steps closer in front of him. Bucky kept his focus on her actions. “Ianto, go around, put your hands around his neck and tilt his head back slightly. Don’t let go.”
He felt more than saw the others moving around the small space. He saw Jack settling just within reach to his left while cool hands settled on either side of his throat. It took everything he had to stay put and not lash out at Ianto Jones. To let him manipulate his body the way the doctor requested. Bucky focused on the almost song the device was making and his breathing. That, at least, was something he could control.
“The back of his head is getting very hot.”
The longer Martha worked on him; the more his head ached. A soft whine escaped him. He clenched his jaw. Dragging in breaths between his teeth. He refused to scream. Refused to give them that satisfaction. His thoughts fragmented beneath the pain confusing his present with his past. Their help with Hydra’s tortures. He clenched his hands tighter; the plates in his left arm whined as they reacted to his tension. The light brightened. The sound went higher in pitch. The pain in his skull peaked. A scream forced itself from him.
“Dammit, he’s failing.” Martha’s voice held a surprising note of panic. “Jack!”
Bucky felt Ianto’s fingers stroke along his jaw but it was Jack’s near kiss which caused him to frown even as the captain forced a breath into his lungs. He felt something – something bright, warm, and wonderfully encompassing – flow through his body. He frowned into the kiss. This was not how he’d ever imagined kissing the captain. Another almost whine escaped Bucky as Jack moved back from him again.
“How much longer, Martha?”
“A while, I’m afraid.” Bucky was surprised to hear first regret and then anger as she continued to speak. “What they did to this guy is Master-level horrible, Jack.”
The words registered but Bucky didn’t really bother to focus on them. Instead, he frowned. His mind was chasing a scrap of memory. Of sound and happiness; of warmth beneath icy cold; the feeling of love and joy and hope beneath the echoes of pain. It was a part of his memories yet not; something else… something important that Hydra had forced him to forget just prior to his recent move from Europe to America. A song… a companion… that shared the sometimes vague dreams he’d had during stasis. He started humming along as that music began to swell in his head again. As he hummed, the warmth returned and the pain echoing through him seemed to ease off a bit. “Do you have to use that sound?”
“What would you like me to use?”
“He’s humming ‘In the Mood’.” There was laughter in Jack’s voice as he answered Martha’s question.
“It doesn’t hurt as much with that.” He heard his old accent slipping out. The threads of another life drifting together in his mind. “And she can help ya some.”
“She?” Confusion laced Martha’s voice. He could hear her working on the device as he spoke. “Who?”
“My pretty baby.” Bucky smiled as a few more bits of memory came together in the broken pieces of his mind. “She shared the stasis dreams with me. I just remember the song and teaching her to dance.”
“All right, Bucky.” He blinked and managed to focus on the room around him long enough to see her eyebrows rise. He had a feeling that information would be looked at again eventually. “Jack, you know it?”
“He should.” Bucky smirked in the direction he suspected Jack was standing. “He danced with Stevie’s girl to it.”
Jack’s familiar laugh echoed through the room. He started humming. Jack’s light tenor was soon joined by a deeper baritone from behind Bucky as Ianto took up the threads of the song. A few minutes later, the device in Martha’s hand began to harmonize with the two men. Bucky felt the tension in his body ease; he too hummed along as his breathing slowed down now that he wasn’t fighting both Martha and the pain. He could feel himself beginning to smile as he relaxed.
“Uh, Martha…?” Ianto’s voice, strangely tentative, broke the music echoing through the room. “There’s something back here and it’s moving.”
“She’s helpin’ ya.” Bucky closed his eyes. With his eyes closed and his thoughts just drifting, he could see his ‘baby’ – a tiny dark-haired little girl with her hands on her hips and her eyes narrowed as she glared intently at something Bucky couldn’t see; she looked so like Steve before a fight – and knew without a word being said what was happening to him now. “Doesn’t like somethin’. It needs to go.”
“Turn him on his side.” Martha’s voice was crisp as she gave the order. Bucky felt Jack and Ianto shifting him down and over, though Ianto’s hold on his neck never really lessened as they moved him. “Bastards. Move away, Ianto.”
The sound became a high-pitched, almost nauseating in its intensity, and Bucky’s back arched as he saw her – his baby girl – shove both hands toward him. A word was spat from her. One that he knew he should take her to task for saying even if he had no real idea what she was saying. Everything peaked at once, focused on the hollow at the base of his skull, and then Bucky felt something slide slickly from beneath his skin to tumble onto the gurney he was laying on. A shudder went through him; he caught his breath in a sob as everything – everything he’d forgotten; everything he’d done – slammed back together in his head. The memories were harsh and scattered; fragments more than coherence, but they were there and all his again. Bucky wrapped his arms around himself and cried.
Jack’s fingers – familiar from the months during the war when the man had comforted him after nightmares of Azzano – threaded through Bucky’s hair. He shook and forced himself to not turn over and curl into the silently offered comfort. Instead, Bucky cried – silent and shaking – as his mind healed rapidly from the physical trauma as his baby girl – his Stefaniya – began to again sing to him.
“Martha, can you do without me for a while?” Ianto spoke even has his hands slipped from Bucky’s skin. “I think I’ll get us lunch. I think he’ll need quite a bit of protein for a while.”
“Why the hell don’t you just go to medical school?” The hands carefully bandaging the back of his head briefly paused in their work. A soft laugh was shared between the two Joneses. “Yes. Order stuff heavy on the meat and grease.”
“Pizza it is.”
“I haven’t had pizza in decades.” Bucky murmured the words as he listened to Ianto and then, from the way the sound drifted through the room, Gwen moved away from the medical area. “I don’t even know if I can eat it.”
“The moment you smell it, you’ll know.” Martha came around to crouch down at his eye level in front of him. “Bucky? Who the hell did this to you?”
“Armin Zola started it. Hydra finished it.” He rolled onto his back. He absently lifted both arms and stretched. A pain filled groan escaped him as his spinal vertebra shifted. Bucky flicked a glance at Jack. “Do you know a Donna Noble? Or of her?”
“Yes.” Jack glared down at him. The glare was echoed by Martha on Bucky’s other side. “Why?”
“She’s on the list.” Bucky frowned in thought. His mind was amazingly clear for the first time in decades. He could recall everything he’d done and everything he’d observed over the years he’d been in Hydra’s possession. “Her file doesn’t justify it, but she is.”
“Directly after you eat, I want a copy of this list.” Jack pointed a finger at him. Bucky found himself nodding automatically in response to the order. “We need to protect them. And believe me, she’s worthy of the attention.”
“With the Insight carriers down, it’s not a long list.” Bucky drew in a steadying breath. “Steve’s chasing after me. I was taking out the European Hydra bases when I found the file about you and Torchwood. Figured if anyone could help me, or kill me if needed, it’d be you. Especially since Hydra loathe you.”
“Seems you keep sending their agents back missing memories. When you bother to send’em back at all. And then you shut down London…” Bucky smirked up at Jack. “Boy, did that piss ’em off.”
“My pleasure. Martha, can he sit up?”
“Slowly.” Martha pointed a finger at Bucky. “Tell me if you’re dizzy, yeah?” Then she moved off to start cleaning up the medical area.
“You’re going to make me be honest with you, aincha?” Bucky accepted Jack’s help in sitting up. He rested his head in his hands, pressing his palms against his eyes, and breathed deeply for several minutes. It was so fucking odd to actually remember more than the last five months or so since Hydra and SHEILD had fallen to Steve’s anger. Martha’s stern look said more than words what she thought of the idea of him holding back information on his health. “That’ll be a new experience.”
“That’s Torchwood for you. Now…” Jack clapped his hands together. “I’m going to help you up the steps and to the sofa. Martha, stop whatever that is you’re doing and join us. You’re skipping lunch too much for my liking.”
“More like late night snack. It’s nearly midnight, Jack.” Bucky slipped off the end of the gurney and arched an eyebrow at Jack as the other man reached out toward him. “I can manage. It’s not like you’re bringing me out of cryo, wiping my mind, and throwing me out to assassinate someone before freezing me again.”
“What the hell?” Martha whipped around to face him. She looked him over and frowned. He knew he was now in trouble with the doctor. He started to speak but she again pointed that finger at him. “No, first we all eat. Then you explain that.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Bucky didn’t bother to resist the urge to flick a salute in her direction before slipping around her to the stairs. He took them slowly, well aware of Jack following closely behind him, and headed up to the entrance he’d come into the underground base from. From there it was a quick scan to find the previously mentioned sofa, a bit worn and well-loved, but it looked very, very welcoming right now as the exhaustion he’d been ignoring for months finally made itself known.
Bucky slowly crossed the cavernous space toward the sofa. He scanned the room and added details to his mental file on Jack’s Torchwood. As he passed a particular desk, dominated by several computer monitors which appeared to be compiling data on something, a framed picture caught his eye. He stopped and stared at it. He stopped so abruptly that Jack nearly walked right into him. He reached out, frowning as he realized that his human hand was shaking, and lifted the framed image from the desk. Bucky tilted his head, his frown deepening, and realized that he knew the woman in the image though the man was unfamiliar to him. A partial memory flashed across his mind…
“Yeah, but I say it’ll work better if the Asset at least wants whoever we throw at him. It’s not like we can order him to function with a woman.”
“We can. There’s drugs to insure it.” The second scientist frowned as he shifted files on the table. A photo slid out. “Not like any of the women will protest.”
Both men laughed. The laughter cut off abruptly as the Asset reached over one of the men’s shoulders to lift a partially exposed picture from the table. He hummed and smiled at the image before tossing it back down. Both men smirked as the Asset walked away in response to a demand from his current handler.
“Who is she?” Bucky blinked away the memory. He twisted enough to look over his shoulder at Jack. “Jack, please, who is she?”
“That’s Toshiko Sato.” Agent Cooper’s voice was laced with sadness as she crossed the room to join them by the desk. “She was my best friend and one of the most brilliant agents in Torchwood.”
“She was killed recently.”
“Oh.” Bucky flicked his gaze up at Gwen before returning it to the couple in the photograph. At least in this picture, the woman looked happy. As opposed to the blank stare of the picture he’d previously seen of her. “I see.”
“Something we should know?”
“I don’t know.” Bucky closed his eyes and searched his still chaotic memories. He swallowed as some of the scientists plans – half-remembered as they were – drifted across his mind. He looked back up at Jack only the decades spent as the Asset kept him from quailing back beneath Jack’s intense stare. “Probably.”
“Sit down before you fall down.” Martha wrapped an arm around his shoulders and guided him around to the sofa. She pushed him down to sit. He watched as she pushed a few piles of stuff out of her ways and perched on the coffee table in front of him. “Now tell.”
He stared at Martha. Then let his gaze drop to the photograph he still held before flicking a glance up at Jack. The Captain had crossed his arms over his chest, a stern hard look on his face. Bucky decided that talking to Martha rather than Jack was likely safer for the next few minutes.
“Hydra…” he paused in order to sort out his words better. “Once they realized recreating the super-serum in a way that kept program participants sane was impossible, Hydra developed a side-project involving me. They were always trying to create more ruthless assets, ones that didn’t need to be mind-wiped or brainwashed with those attendant problems; however, most of the programs failed in one form or another. They’d finally decided on a breeding program…”
“Don’t you tell me…?” Martha snarled. She whipped about to glare at the others in the room. “Jack, I’m a peaceful person. Really, I am, but let’s go kill all of them.”
“Well, I’m not bloody peaceful.” Gwen echoed Martha’s snarl. “I’m right behind you.”
“The scientists in charge had a set of photographs and files.” Bucky continued the explanation. He felt it best for them to know as much as he did at the moment. “One of her fell out of one of them. They’d been talking about how it would be best if the Asset, meaning me, was at least interested in the woman they threw at me. I’d noticed her picture, picked it up, but was called away by my handler.”
“So, you never actually met her?”
“No. I did the mission, came back, got wiped, and shoved back into cryofreeze again.” Bucky handed the picture to Martha. He shifted his attention to Jack who seemed a bit more relaxed after his denial. Only a fraction, but still Bucky would take it. He shoved a hand through his hair. “But they did have access to DNA samples.”
“Jack….” Martha rose to her feet. She handed the picture off to Gwen while pulling a cellphone from the pocket of her lab coat. “I’m calling the Doctor.”
”He’s on the list.”
“He would be.” Jack nodded to Martha. A frown appeared on the Captain’s face. Martha patted his arm as she walked past him out of earshot. “I definitely need a copy of this list you’ve mentioned.”
“Of course.” Bucky slowly, carefully, rose from the sofa. He moved around Gwen and Jack toward one of the columns on the far side of the desk close to the base of the Water Tower where it seemed to form the center of the space. It felt better there, close to that column, and Steffie’s singing was louder, loud enough to calm some of the chaos in his mind. Bucky frowned. He tilted his head and listened to the space for a moment. Then, he whipped around and snatched Gwen’s sidearm from her hip. He raised and cocked the M1911 pistol in a single smooth movement. He aimed up at where he’d heard the faintest sound of footsteps above him. “I really don’t like being watched with such intent.”
“Well…” A man stepped out of the shadows. He vaulted the railing in front of him to land in a crouch behind, directly behind, Bucky. “Guess I’ll watch from here then.”
“What the hell?” Bucky whirled around to survey the man who’d joined them on the main floor of Torchwood’s headquarters. He shifted the pistol he held, lowering it slightly, as he surveyed the newcomer. Unlike Jack, who could give the Devil a run for his money in the looks department, and Ianto, who was a close second to Jack with regard to handsomeness, this man possessed a ruggedness to his looks which drew Bucky’s eye in a way few men ever had – sandy blonde curls, dark gray-blue eyes, and a mouth made for sin – Bucky sucked his lower lip between his teeth and dropped his chin slightly as he watched the man. The soft happy squeal which echoed across his mind certainly didn’t help matters. “I say again, what the hell?”
“You called?” The smile Bucky received from the unnamed man – who hadn’t been in any of Hydra’s files on Torchwood – certainly didn’t help matters any.
“Who the fuck are you?” Bucky let the pistol fall to his side. He poked the man in the chest with the index finger of his metal hand. “And why is my baby girl suddenly calling you ‘Papa’?”
“Bucky?” Jack’s voice had softened. He’d taken on those careful indulgent tones Bucky had previously heard him use with the extremely paranoid men they’d occasionally rescued from Hydra’s clutches during the war. Men so unstable from the torture they’d lost all touch with reality. “Where’s your baby girl?”
“I know that tone of yours, Jack. You used it on and around me before. I’m not crazy.” Bucky couldn’t take his gaze from the man in front of him even if he tried. “Stefaniya’s at the old Alps base. It’s mostly decommissioned. Used for storing long-term projects that don’t need daily monitoring. I need to get to her. She’s….” Bucky paused and tried to figure out the best way to explain what little he knew about the spirit which connected to his mind. “Well, I suppose you could say she’s sleeping. She’s louder now that I’m standing next to this.” He waved a hand at the column beside him.
“Jack….” The newcomer flicked a gaze toward the Captain then returned his stare to Bucky. “I think he should talk to your Lady.”
Before an explanation could be given to the reference, the door alarms blared. Bucky split his attention between the nameless man he was still mostly holding at gunpoint and the door as the cogwheel rolled back. Ianto stepped inside, his arms full of pizza boxes, and surveyed the room. The young man’s eyebrow rose in an eerily familiar fashion as he crossed the room to set the pizzas on the coffee table by the sofa. The pistol – luckily Bucky had flipped the safety back on – dropped from Bucky’s hand to clatter on the metal grating in the floor beneath his feet. He swayed a bit where he stood as some of his earliest memories – of his childhood in Brooklyn – suddenly became amazingly clear.
Bucky reached out and grabbed the shoulder of the man in front of him to keep from falling to his knees. Strong arms wrapped around his waist. Bucky automatically took a step forward and let his head drop down to rest on the man’s shoulder.
“Let’s get you sitting down again, yeah?”
Bucky hummed and nodded. He then frowned. His sudden yearning to be close to this man unnerved him even as the physical closeness combined with the faint singing from his Stefaniya eased the pain occasionally flaring through his mind as his memories resettled properly. A tired sigh escaped him. “I just realized why he looked vaguely familiar.”
“You mean Ianto?”
Jack’s voice rolled over Bucky. He managed a nod and a hand wave. He let the man holding him manhandle him to the sofa. As they settled there, he found himself rubbing his cheek against the man’s t-shirt clad chest like a cat scent marking his human. “He’s got Rebecca’s eyes.”
“Rebecca was my grandmother’s name.” Ianto’s soft, barely detectable Welsh accent deepened as he spoke.
“My younger sister was Rebecca… Rebecca Barnes.” Bucky lifted his head from his companion’s chest. “You have her eyes.”
“That was my maternal grandmother’s name. Rebecca Barnes.” Ianto rolled a chair over and settled carefully into it. “She was a Yank. Worked for some general. Married my mam’s Dad after the war instead of going back home.”
As Bucky frowned in thought, Martha stalked over to stand beside Ianto. She ran her device over Ianto – a soft shimmering light scanned the young man – then over Bucky himself. A happy-sounding beep came from it. “Well, congratulations guys, you’re related.”
Bucky shifted on the sofa. Martha had been right. Now that he could smell the pizza, he stomach was demanding food. He could feel things – memories, thoughts – shifting around in his head. He nuzzled his companion again before sitting up and reaching lazily for one of the stacked up boxes. “It’d help a lot if things in my head would fuckin’ settle down some so I can chase one thought at a time!”
“That’s going to take some time, I’m afraid.” Martha tilted her head and scanned the labels on the pizza boxes. She pulled one from the stack with a wide smile. “I’ll need to speak to the Lady, Jack. She might have some pointers for Bucky’s long-term treatment.”
Jack just nodded as he accepted a box of his own from Ianto. Bucky scanned the labels and pulled one box closer to him. He flipped it open and snagged a slice piled high with a variety of meats. He took a bite, groaned deeply, and blushed at the looks he’d received from everyone in the room. The man he leaned on shifted slightly beneath him. He looked up in time to receive the filthiest smile ever; it made even Jack’s dim by comparison. Bucky could feel his blush deepening as he dropped his gaze back to the pizza he held. He ate, silently, and watched the others as small talk developed – an unconscious putting off of anything else dealing with him and Hydra – as the pizza was devoured by all.
Bucky let his mind drift as it would but it always came back to Rebecca, Ianto and… A thought fell into place and Bucky abruptly sat up. He used his last pizza slice to point at Ianto. His words a statement, not a question. “You have a sister.”
“She’s married to a man named John Davies?” Bucky silently hoped his memory was wrong in this instance.
A long string of very base curses slipped from Bucky. He went through nearly every language he’d learned over the last seventy years – dockside Brooklyn slang, German, French, Russian, and even the smattering of Romany he’d picked up at one point – before he returned to English with an emphatic ‘fuck!’
“You kiss the boys with that mouth?”
“You kissed me, Jack.” The snapped retort was automatic. “You’ve got a niece and nephew. About seven and eleven?”
“Yes.” It was easy to read Ianto’s fear and worry in the face of Bucky’s demands. “Why?”
“Can you get’em here without Davies himself following?”
“Yes.” Ianto leaned forward. His expression hardened as he made a demand of his own. “Now tell me why.”
“The damned bastard’s Hydra.” Bucky drew in a deep breath. He dropped the half-eaten pizza slice he still held in favor of pressing against the side of the man beside him. He took several deep breaths to regain a bit of calm. “He was briefly one of my handlers. I only saw him twice. I’m pretty sure he was in training or consideration for the program at the time. During the mission that he was a part of, I overheard the head of the program talking about a long-term undercover assignment with a built in reward.”
“Ianto, take…” Jack straightened from where he’d been leaning against a desk.
“Me.” Martha interrupted Jack’s order. “Rhi and I do the odd lunch. No one will think it odd if I show up at her house at night with her brother.”
“We’ll go now.” Ianto rose. He accepted a gun from Gwen and exchanged a long look with Jack. “He’s away in London tonight. Business meeting supposedly.”
“Thanks. I’m sorry, kotchek.” The endearment at the end of the sentence was totally unconscious but Bucky wouldn’t withdraw it either. It felt right to refer to the man who was apparently his grandnephew as a kitten. It soothed something instinctual in the back of his mind. “There’s things we should probably talk about Jack.”
Jack nodded. Ianto and Martha grabbed their coats and departed through a side tunnel. Bucky suspected that went to a garage nearby. Gwen crouched by the coffee table. She quickly consolidated and closed up the mostly empty pizza boxes. She then tucked the one now containing the leftovers under an arm before rising again. She was moving toward the barely visible kitchen on the far side of this level even as she spoke. “Jack, I’m going to call in Andy and Rhys. We’re going to need the help.”
Bucky smiled at the efficiency of the team as they set to work. Jack settled into Ianto’s abandoned chair. An arm was slung across Bucky’s shoulder and pulled him against the still nameless man’s side beside him. An expectant silence settled around the three men. Bucky savored the quiet for a moment before drawing in a deep breath. “Can we find a way into the Alps base without tipping Hydra off?”
“Yes.” Jack nodded. He leaned back and propped his feet up on the coffee table. “We’ve been tracking Hydra for roughly the last three months. Ever since they popped up onto our radar by trading in alien artifacts. Good quality, high prices, and a discreet series of questions attached to any purchase. I assume they were likely looking for a way to find you.”
“Probably. I disabled the trackers I knew they had on me long ago. They have something there.” Bucky licked his lower lip as he considered his words. “Two different things actually. That we’re going to want to get back from them as soon as we physically can.”
“All right.” Jack rose. He moved toward the oddly located column. “My Lady, we’re going to need you.”
“You know…” Bucky twisted about to face the man he was all but cuddled against. “You never introduced yourself.”
“Bucky Barnes, but you likely heard that already.” He smiled slowly. “You’re driving me nuts.”
“Am I?” John’s free hand came up to brush back some of Bucky’s bangs. “I’m glad.”
“Yeah, you are.” Bucky hummed deep in his throat. The sound bordered on a purr. He dragged in a breath and let it out slowly. “I shouldn’t have threatened you. I’m on edge from, well, everything.”
“I’m familiar with that feeling.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Bucky minutely shook his head. He shifted around on the sofa so that he could rest comfortably against John. He again rubbed his cheek on the other man’s chest. “Still wondering why Stefanyia’s decided you’re her ‘papa’?”
“We’ll ask her when we find her.”
“You know…” Bucky waved a hand tiredly toward where Jack and Gwen now stood. He studiously ignored the amusement on the pair’s faces as they watched them. “Steffie feels a bit like her.”
“Well…” John looked over at Jack. A long look passed between the two men. “We’ll definitely have to ask her then.”
“I saw that look.”
“You were meant to.” John chuckled but nodded toward Jack. “You’ll likely see it often.”
“Will I?” Bucky sighed. He let the exhaustion take hold. The same instinct which had led him to refer to Ianto as ‘kitten’ told him he was safe with John Hart. He could trust the other man to guard him while he rested. He flicked his gaze up to meet Jack’s. “How angry will you get with me when I tell you what Hydra did with the samples they ‘borrowed’ from Torchwood London?”
“With you, not at all.” Jack again shared a look with John. “With them, very.”
“They liberated some tech and the samples going on six years ago now after that mess in London. I vaguely remember hearing them talk about it.” Bucky dragged in a breath and forcibly suppressed a yawn. “Since ‘that damned immortal bastard’ had managed to steal Toshiko Sato out from under them, they decided to use the samples to see if their plan would work with me.”
“Did they have any successes?” Jack’s voice was flat. His body was tense as he turned the chair around to straddle it. He crossed his arms on the back of the chair. Jack’s tension was echoed in the body of the man Bucky was half-lying on. “Bucky?”
“Yeah.” Bucky tilted his head to look up at John. He idly wondered if he’d learn why both men were so angry and tense as he talked about Hydra’s actions. “Way too many failures at first before they got a viable pair of embryos. They stuck the viable ones and the tech supporting them in the same room they often stored me in long term. They kept a lot of their more esoteric experiments there including my Steffie.”
“Steffie’s not an experiment?”
“She’s part of a different project. I only know about her because I saw the container and the dreams I shared with her.” He frowned in thought. It was difficult for him to explain what happened to him during those years he’d been kept frozen before being traded off to Pierce in the states. Bucky finally half-shrugged and continued talking. “One of the times they took me out of cryofreeze for maintenance, I saw her. Well, what I’m pretty sure is her. A softly glowing, swirling blue-gold ovoid contained in a metal frame. There’s three of them, but Stefaniya’s is the only one that sings. Nearby are the embryos in a similar style ovoid container. One of the techs working on me that time taunted me with ‘the twins you’ll never get to corrupt… perfect soldiers for Hydra’s new world but you won’t be a part of that world.’ So I knew I’d likely be given a dead-end mission soon.”
Both men swore. He shared a confused look as the two men managed to not repeat a word between them even if Bucky had no idea what half the languages they were using were; Gwen just gave him a very eloquent shrug in response to his questioning eyebrow.
“My Lady?” Jack called as he wound down from his cursing.
“I’m here.” A semi-transparent woman – older, dignified, with shoulder length dark hair and dark eyes looking older than her years, and dressed casually in jeans and a leather jacket – appeared just in front of the column Jack had previously addressed. She came to stand beside Jack. Her hand ghosted over Jack’s hair as she smiled at Bucky.
“Hello, doll.” Bucky returned the smile. She felt familiar to him. He decided to search his memory in detail later. “I’m just going to stay right here.”
“Hello, Bucky.” She tilted her head; her smile deepened as she considered him and John. “If he suits you.”
“He calms the noise some.” Bucky dropped his chin and stared up at her through his lashes. He had a feeling she knew far more than she was telling and knew exactly some of the thoughts going through his head. The simple fact that he – after everything done to him and being from the thirties – was calmly cuddled up to another man told a story all its own. “And my Stefaniya likes him.”
“So it would seem.” Her hand ghosted over Jack’s hair again. “His Stefaniya is an embryonic Tardis. The singing Bucky hears is the signal that it is ready to be moved to a neural dock.”
“She’s sung for me for years.” Bucky nuzzled John’s chest again. He wondered what exactly he found so fascinating about the other man. “The only constant in my life despite the wipes. She’s been there, lurking in the back of my mind, for years now.”
“That’s why they could never do a complete job.” The Lady inclined her head to him. “Their initial attempts were primitive and short-lived. The latter ones might have worked longer, erased your personality completely, if it wasn’t for her.”
“They shoved that tech in my head to supplement the triggers and the wipes.” Bucky waved his hand toward the medical bay. “It made the wipes hurt more. I’m certain some of the handlers over the years actually enjoyed my screaming when they worked on me.”
“So they did.” The Lady shrugged. “Some people are like that.”
“I know.” He shook his head. Bucky yawned, exhausted, yet he didn’t dare sleep until he knew his family – and just how strange was that to know he did have living family – was safe from Hydra. “I hate those damned bastards.”
“So do we.” John rested his cheek on the top of Bucky’s head. His arms tightened around him. “We’re going to do something about it. You should rest.”
“I can’t.” Bucky tilted his head back. “Not yet. I need to…”
“The alarm will wake you when they come in.” John stroked his hair back again. “The Lady, Gwen, Jack and I will start some planning while you rest.”
Bucky stared intently into John’s eyes. The man was right. He was completely exhausted and having difficulty concentrating on the conversation going on around him. Finally, Bucky released a breath on a deep lingering sigh. His voice was barely above a whisper when he spoke again. “You’ll keep the watch?”
“Of course.” A soft, barely there kiss was brushed against his temple. A second followed against the top of his hair. “Now rest.”