xiv. escape

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"I can't help but love you, even though I try not to." -- Ruelle, War of Hearts

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"Don't you dare get killed," Sam told Dugan.

He winked, tipping his hat toward her. "I promise you, freshie, I ain't dying today."

She grinned.

"The tree line is northwest, 80 yards past the gate," Steve glanced around. "Get out fast and give 'em hell. I'll meet you guys in the clearing with anybody else I find."

He beckoned for her to follow and started away, slinging his shield around his shoulders. Shooting her friends a quick nod, Sam started after him.

"Wait!" Gabe shouted. "You know what you're doin'?"

"Sure," Steve grinned sideways at her. "I've knocked out Adolf Hitler over two hundred times."

She didn't know how to react to that, blinking at him. Dugan muttered something under his breath and Sam shook her head, following him toward the door. She had a lot of questions for later.

Like what happened to the tiny man she knew.

And why he thought red white and blue was a good fashion choice. 

They raced down the hallway, twisting and turning toward the isolation ward. Bit and pieces fit in as Sam followed at his heels, but she couldn't remember much of being dragged toward the experimentation room. Only waking up.

Only that pain that followed.

"Sam, get down!"

She threw herself to the ground only seconds before a blue light exploded over her head. Shoving herself back up, Sam tackled the Hydra soldier to the ground, punching him hard enough to send him into unconsciousness.

Her knuckles cracked. Grimacing, she pushed herself up.

Steve looked from her, to the soldier, then back. He nodded, looking both surprised and proud. She smirked.

"I've learned quite a bit since we last saw each other."

"So I can see."

She turned the corner, only to duck back around as another set of gunshots rang off the walls. Shooting him a grin, she tilted a brow.

"We'll have to exchange stories once we're out of this."

His eyes danced. "Sounds fair."

He pushed himself out first, shots ricocheting off his shield. Swiping up the gun from the fallen guard, Sam ducked behind him, peering over the top of his shield and letting the bullets fly. The closest man went down. Steve shot down the next.

They raced down the next hall and Sam's steps started to slow. She recognized this one. The flickering of the lights. The cold air.

She started to race past one of the many open doors, only to freeze.

She took a slow step back.

It was the same room she'd been experimented on; but it was empty. Bucky wasn't here but the second she laid eyes on the table in the middle, she swayed. 

"Sam?" Steve hurried to her side, grabbing her arms, but she stumbled and flickered straight through his hands.

Her knees cracked against the stone floor. He stared.

"Did you-- are you--"

Her throat constricting and heart pounding, Sam gazed into the room. Zola had kept her there for three long days. Three days of enduring his experiments.

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