-Flashback- Bucky’s POV
I was supposed to be guarding a scientist but I failed and he was killed by another experiment. HYDRA support would arrive the next day and I should check the prisoners to make sure they didn’t escape. The temperature had dropped inside the facility not that it was a problem with my increased metabolism. I meticulously re-locked and secured each of the cells, some of the prisoners glared or shouted at the Winter Soldier/me and others looked scared, pleaded or stared with blank eyes. I reached the last cell, this one neglected to have a window but I still should have been able to hear the person inside. This one was silent, I carefully slid the door open to see a still girl on the floor, her lips were tinged blue from the cold and she looked nearly dead. I felt something inside me, worry? Compassion? Desperation? I was unaccustomed to these feelings but my logic also told me that if I didn’t act soon, she would die. The humanity inside screamed protest at that. Do not let her die, Barnes! I knelt beside her and felt the temperature of her skin, she was icy and not even shivering. I hesitated before unbuttoning my jacket and lying down next to her and re-buttoning up the jacket with the both of us inside, my body curled around her. She slowly began to heat up and started shivering again, she burrowed into me, seeking the heat. I opened my arms and she curled further in, her tiny scaled wings hanging loose. I repositioned them on the girl’s back only for them to flop open again. They would get frostbitten at this rate so I wrapped my arms around her, holding them in place. A few hours passed and she opened her eyes, “I’ve seen you before” she said quietly “They called you a weapon. But that’s not your name. What’s your name?”
“I don’t have one.”
She paused and thought for a moment “Then I have to give you one. They call you the Winter Soldier, I’ll call you Winter.” She wrapped her arms around him.
“Why do you trust me?”
“Because you saved my life.”
We fell silent for a moment. “So what’s your name?”
“Susanna Rea. But no-one here calls me that”
“Then you need a name.”
“But I don’t have a title like yours that you can change”
“Then something new” he looked at her bright hazel eyes. No. They weren’t hazel. They were dark green with a burning gold ring around each pupil. “Your eyes have tiny suns in them” he said
“Yes. So bright I’ll have to call you Solntse”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s Russian for sun”
“You know Russian? I wish I could speak another language.”
“You could if you tried. Russian is simple. I is Ya, you is Vy and us is Nas”
“Ya, Vy, Nas” She giggled, I was stunned, I had never heard someone laugh at HYDRA. “Ya, Vy, Nas!”
“I could show you more.”
He spent the next few hours teaching her bits of Russian, she picked it up pretty quickly but they had to stop when she yawned and they stopped the lesson. They hadn’t moved position and he didn’t feel any urge to leave this small girl. She somehow was now precious to him, he cared for her. The Winter Soldier wanted to protect her and so did James Barnes. “Go to sleep, Solntse.” He murmured, stroking her hair softly as she drifted into dreams in his arms.
Morning came too quickly, and with it HYDRA reinforcements. Winter woke and heard HYDRA entering the base. He quickly undid his jacket from around the girl and roused her. “Winter?”
“Wake up! HYDRA is here.” He whispered moments before the guards entered the cell to find their Winter Soldier with his arm round the shoulders of a small experiment. They gathered and stared “Soldier! Mission over, you may leave for headquarters”
He didn’t move, Solntse gripped his metal arm fearfully. “Soldier! Now!”
Winter still didn’t move a millimetre until the soldiers moved to take Solntse and he positioned himself between them and her and shifted into a half crouch. “What are you doing?!” the handler was angry.
“Do not touch her!” his voice was low and hard
“She is ours. Now leave!”
The soldiers passed Winter and grabbed her arm and yanked her toward the exit, she struggled. “Winter!” she screamed trying desperately to escape “Zima!” she cried in Russian. He lunged forward, moving automatically to break the soldier’s wrists and deflect the stray bullet that came their way. He pushed her behind him and turned to face the furious handler and the rest of the soldiers.
“Oh. The commander will want to know about this.” The handler’s voice was calm and gently humorous. “Fine. Keep her for now. But let’s go.” He gestured mockingly toward the door. Winter lifted Solntse into his arms and exited. They left the HYDRA base and hiked to the helicopter where the agents escorted them to HQ. Solntse huddled in Winter’s arms, eyes fearfully watching the agents.