dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)
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All right, here we go (belatedly, with my apologies!):

A story featuring a countdown.

The prompt runs through Friday so that's 6... 5... 4....

Date: 2016-03-10 11:14 pm (UTC)
helahler: (Default)
From: [personal profile] helahler
Title: Counting down

Fandom: Captain America (Movies)

Characters: Sam Wilson/Bucky Barnes

Tags: Starvation, Psychic link, post CATWS

Warnings: Implied suicidal ideation

Sam stepped into the base’s control room, slow and careful, his gun drawn; even if the place seemed abandoned, he knew from vast experience that looks could be deceiving. His suspicions were confirmed: for all that the place seemed lifeless, the various control panels around the room were glowing with activity. Sam moved in closer, and stopped.

Barnes was slumped against the wall in the far corner, his head bowed, thick dark hair masking his face from view, longer than Sam had ever seen it. He’d hoped, after their last meeting, that Barnes would be doing better - he’d seen a flash of that hope reflected in Barnes’ eyes, too, before they’d parted ways - but even from across the room he could see that that’s not the case, and he was beginning to feel it, too: the faint feeling of sickness in his gut intensifying the closer he got to Barnes, pain sharpening in his left shoulder, his spine throbbing with a dull ache.

Sam holstered the gun, stepped quietly forward, and crouched down.

“Barnes?” he said softly.

Unlike the other times he’d seen Barnes rouse from consciousness, this time the man didn’t snap awake instantly. Instead his eyes blinked open slowly, wincing at the sharp knife-like pain in the back of his head, worse than before, that Sam felt zinging through the thread that still inexplicably linked them together. Barnes raised a shaky hand and brushed the hair from his eyes to reveal his face, sickeningly gaunt and bruised with an exhaustion Sam could feel in his bones. For a few long seconds his eyes were glassy and dull, before he seemed to shake himself out of whatever reverie he’d been in, his gaze feeling on Sam.

It looked like it took him a few seconds to register what he was seeing, and Sam felt the moment the realisation hit Barnes, and then, inexplicably, the slow dawning horror thrumming through their connection.

“No,” Barnes said, voice barely more than a low rasp, hoarse with disuse. “No, you can’t-- you need to--” His voice cut off with a ragged cough, before he settled into a slow rattling wheeze.

Sam glanced around, looking for water, for supplies, anything to ease Barnes’ parched throat, but came up empty; the room was bare save for the various flashing control panels, and Barnes himself. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any supplies at all, and from the layer of dust on the floor surrounding Barnes he hadn’t moved in a while.

“How long have you been here?” Sam asked, like Barnes’ condition hadn’t already told him all he needed to know, like he couldn’t already feel the answer filtering through their connection.

Barnes blinked slowly, nodding his head towards one of the nearby control panels. Sam looked closer, and saw what Barnes was gesturing towards: a series of lines, scraped into the desk’s metal surface, and then a number - 57 - circled. He counted the lines: forty one uneven scrapes. It was a tally; Barnes was counting down.

Sam turned back to look at Barnes, slumped against the wall, body cannibalizing itself to keep going, every line of his body communicating defeat. Sam knew exactly what Barnes was counting down towards. But what he didn’t understand was why.

Something about that question must have echoed across the thread that connected them, because after a moment Barnes took a long wheezing inhale and spoke.

“I can’t-- they won’t let me-- I need to.” He raised a shaky hand and rubbed a knuckle fiercely against this temple, the gesture and the intensifying throb of pain in his head both familiar to Sam, who now knew it to mean that whatever Barnes was struggling to say, it was causing him pain, and from the ‘they’, it was probably some left-over HYDRA programming that was preventing him from speaking.

“Hey, hey, easy, s’okay,” Sam soothed, trying to radiate calm through their connection when Barnes dug his nails into his head hard enough to draw blood. “Barnes, look at me,” he said, and Barnes did.

“We can help you,” Sam continued.

Barnes shook his head sharply from side to side, blinking away the thin stream of blood trickling into his eye. “I -- this. It’s the only way I can-- if they, if.” He made a harsh choking noise, and tried to make himself go on. “This is the only way. You -- you have to let me.”

“You know I can’t do that, Barnes,” Sam said.

Faint surprise filtered through their connection, quickly subsumed by desperation. Barnes’ expression turned pleading, and he opened his mouth to argue - it was becoming very clear that he and Steve shared the same stubborn streak - when he stopped, head cocking to the side.

“Who else is here?” he said suddenly.

“Steve and Natasha,” Sam replied, “on the other side of the base.”

From Barnes’ expression, that hadn’t been the answer he’d been looking for. “Someone else is coming. There’s a chopper heading towards the base.” His brow furrowed. “Two choppers.”

“Shit,” Sam said, rising to his feet. “Someone must’ve followed us here.” His hand went to the comms in his ear, but they were worryingly silent. “Comms are down; someone must be jamming the signal.”

A second later one of the control panels began to beep. Sam glanced it, confirming Barnes’ assessment: two bogies heading directly for the base.

“We gotta get out of here,” he said, reaching for Barnes’ arm to pull him to his feet, but Barnes shrugged him off, hand brushing Sam’s side. In an instant, he had Sam’s gun in hand.

For a moment they just looked at each other, shock and desperation flooding between them, and then Barnes was moving forward, guiding the gun into Sam’s hand and lifting it to press against his own forehead.

“I can’t do it myself, Wilson,” he said quietly. “Sam. Please.”

“It might not be HYDRA,” Sam argued.

Barnes made a choked noise. “Doesn’t matter. Either way -- it. They can’t.” He lifted his eyes to Sam’s once more, his dark gaze filled with determination.

Sam never had to know what he might have done next, because suddenly the moment was shattered by a distant boom. Barnes’ eyes widened, his haggard body belying the strength he still had left as he pulled Sam back down to the ground and, with a sharp shove from the metal arm, pushed him bodily across the room to rest under one of the solid metal desks, Sam just managing to get his arms up in time to prevent his head from cracking against the wall.

He pushed himself to his knees, just in time to catch a glimpse of Barnes, metal arm outstretched from across the room and with a look of grim satisfaction on his face, before the building came down around them.

So I’ve been plotting out a post-CATWS SamBucky (with some civil war-ish themes) fic for like, a year now? But since it’s my first proper attempt at writing long-fic, and since I knew I wouldn’t have it done in time for Civil War, I figured I’d wait until that came out to start writing it properly, since whatever happens in that film might make me change some stuff around. Currently I have four parts roughly planned out - this snippet is from the third (although that is subject to change). Tumblr url is the same as here if you want to bug me there about it!


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