a weak and tortured bucky making sure steve gets to safety first
It’s because Bucky has a habit of letting Steve go first.
1) Always let Steve go first up the stairs, so that you can keep an eye on him. It’s easier to count Steve’s breaths and notice when Steve’s heart does that thing that makes him stop and shake. Much easier to stop and pretend to tie your shoes while you wait, worried, than to realize 2 flights too late that Steve’s no longer with you.
Later: Your limbs are sore and numb from being strapped to a table for 2 days and you’re pretty sure you haven’t eaten and the entire base might be exploding, but when Steve says “let’s go up,” you tell him to go first.
2) Steve’s walk was mostly normal, though he swung his hips in a certain way to compensate for his scoliosis, and that put a special cadence to his stride that you unconsciously match. Even without Steve around you would twist your hip back before swinging your leg forward. Twist, swing, twist, swing.
Later: Steve is leading the way through the forest, and you’re finally used to his height and broad shoulders and that dumb shield, but something still feels wrong. Somehow your pace doesn’t quite match, and you can’t figure out why.
3) Colors don’t work the same with Steve, so always describe unfamiliar objects by their shape and relative location, like that square window past the third door on the left, or the man wearing that unseasonably long coat standing in the corner by the garbage can.
Later: The boys are singing in the other room and you’re at the bar with Steve, trying very hard to get drunk because of course you’ll follow Steve into whatever but that doesn’t mean you have to do it sober. “Steve,” you whisper, “Check out that lady by the door, next to that short thin guy who has his shirt open.” Steve looks over. “The one in the red dress? That’s Miss Carter.” You decide you need another drink.
4) When walking down a narrow dark alleyway always stay on the right, because Steve’s bad ear makes the right side feel blind to him (though damn if Steve’d ever admit that). On broad open streets, switch to Steve’s left side, so that Steve could hear you better through the noise.
Later: Dum-Dum gives you a weird look as you line up to charge into a Hydra base. “Why won’t you take the left flank for a change?” You start explaining Steve’s bad ear before you remember that he’s not that Steve any more, and that Captain America doesn’t have a bad ear.
5) Stuff in your left pockets are for Steve: the asthma cigarettes that Steve could never afford, a dime for that popcorn that Steve likes, tickets for whatever shindig you’re trying to drag Steve along to. Sometimes you put things there for Steve and totally forget about it, like extra paper and a spare pencil in case Steve wants to doodle. The left side always belongs to Steve.
Later: Steve is awfully quiet by the campfire. You sit down by his good ear and reach into your left pocket. “Hey,” you say, pulling out a news clipping about the war front that featured a lovely photo of Miss Carter. “You read this yet? They think Morita’s a Japanese defector, but the section on Dernier is priceless.”
Report on the Winter Soldier reset procedures
After the latest test run, only the following anomalies remain:
A) The asset tends to hug the right walls and not the left, and hesitates for 30 microseconds before climbing stairs. However, he does not hesitate when scaling walls or ladders.
B) When walking unopposed the asset has a characteristic and identifiable stride, which is dropped when he is making a covered approach.
C) The asset communicates via relative locations, often omitting crucial color information. However, he can be commanded to describe the colors of any object in impressive detail.
D) When dressing himself, the asset keeps his knives exclusively on his right side, and his left pockets are underutilized. This may be an effect of continued unfamiliarity with the new left arm.
After extensive field testing, we have determined that these anomalies do not impede the asset from completing his missions, and declare the reset process complete.
[basically the textual partner to the colorblindness comic]
This is perfect, and the thing I’ve been trying to think of how to write but so much better