april, you are the most awesome person i have ever known in my entire life. i vow to protect you. from danger. and i don’t care if i have to fight an ultimate fighter, or a bear, or him. you’re mom. i would take them down. i’m getting mad right now even telling you. i wanna spend the rest of my life, every minute with you, and i am the luckiest man in the galaxy.
I dunno if anyone’s done this before but whatever. Specifically, I want to talk about Bucky’s brain in relation to the cannibalized MRI thing they strapped on his noggin in CA:TWS. Like what the hell is that thing, how old is it, what are you trying to do HYDRA, is this one of those weird dryer things you stick your whole head in at the hairdresser’s? They have had 70 years to perfect this technology and it looks like a high schooler’s science fair project. There aren’t even any electrodes. Seriously there should be electrodes not only because they’re kind of necessary for this sort of thing but also because who would object to Bucky Barnes looking totally punk rock with a partially-shaved head? No one, that’s who.
But I guess let’s just assume the plate things themselves are in contact with his head and transmitting the charge themselves. Okay. That’s a big area they cover and approximately zero opportunity for finesse, so they can’t localize the damage at all. And there’s still all that hair in the way. But whatever, I’ll shut up about the hair.
So the plate things are basically concentrated on the prefrontal cortex, which is at the very front of the brain, behind the forehead where the plates are located. I mean there looks like there are plates going around around the back of the head but if it only goes as deep as the cerebrum they don’t want to damage anything back there because it’s all motor skills and balance and sensory perception and language centers, all of which were vital in the Winter Soldier’s functioning.
So yeah, the prefrontal cortex seems to be what they’re targeting, and the prefrontal cortex is for short term memory and decision making. However, it would be indescribably stupid to damage short term memory retention, so I don’t think they’d just fry the entire prefrontal cortex. Especially if it could compromise his ability to make quick, logical decisions in the field because the prefrontal cortex is important for logic and impulse control. So I would assume that they’re targeting the connections between the short term and long term memory storage systems rather than taking away his short term memory altogether.
Basically, recalling a memory that’s stored in long-term is just the brain returning it to the short-term memory center, or the working memory, concentrated in the prefrontal cortex. From there your brain literally refires all the neurons that fired during that experience, without compromising awareness of current circumstances. So severing those connections between long and short term memory would not only stop him retaining new memories, it would stop him recalling old ones.
They could be messing with his long term memory, except there are no intracranial bits and bobs that could actually penetrate deeper than the cerebrum without frying everything in between, and the hippocampus and amygdala where long term memory is stored are in there deep.
This picture doesn’t do justice to how deep in the brain the hippocampus and amygdala are, but it works well enough as a visual aid. You don’t want to damage the amygdala in a super soldier at any rate because that’s where the survival instincts are kicking around. Also, damaging the hippocampus on both sides of the brain would turn him into a potato, unable to retain any information at all, not even how to discharge his weapon, so you’d basically have to retrain him anew for every mission. And this contraption has clearly no finesse at all, as stated above, so I really don’t think they’d be able to destroy anything only partially or make any localized alterations.
And sure, maybe they actually opened up his head at some point in the past to get at long term memory storage, and the cryofreeze might stop that from healing, but I think the understanding of the brain was so ridiculously limited at that time that they didn’t really even know how to avoid excessive damage, and I don’t think they would have risked rendering one of their best assets brain dead. Honestly, I think the most likely thing they did was supplement the physical stuff with more traditional brainwashing and conditioning techniques.
So really, all Bucky needs to do is repair the connections between his long term and short term memory. Even with all this damage, the brain is adaptable even in normal humans. When certain parts are damaged, other parts can take over functioning in their stead. Although in this case, if the connections between long and short term memory were cut every time he went into the cryogenic chamber, he never would have stored any of the information gleaned as the Winter Soldier past the short term unless he managed to catch enough sleep to transfer those memories into long term storage before he got zapped or frozen again. So he would potentially remember everything about being Bucky Barnes fairly quickly, assuming his super soldier healing could repair those pathways or create new ones to compensate, and he would never remember most of his time as the Winter Soldier except what they wanted him to remember and let him encode before they took out those connections again. So basically, his combat training, his obedience training, and all that hydra indoctrination crap.
His old memories as Bucky would remain relatively pristine, because the more we view a memory the more current circumstances during the recollection alter it, and what you remember becomes less and less similar to what you actually experienced at the time. So instead of memories slowly changing and evolving as the person themself changes, which is what normally happens as we revisit memories and subtly alter them over time through new perception, Bucky would have this huge, disorienting, sickening divide between the well-preserved, untouched old memories of how he used to be and any new ones he managed to create as the Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier memories will be less fleshed out, have more holes, be generally more ghost-like because of how they fucked with his brain and memories, so it would be easy for him to dissociate with them and to ignore them, but in order to ignore them Bucky would also have to ignore their consequences. He would be denying a part of himself. And he wouldn’t be able to deal well with their fallout, with the ways those experiences changed him, because he wouldn’t let himself examine them.
Honestly this is horrifying in its own way. All the fic I’ve read talks about how horrible it must be for the Winter Soldier to forget Bucky Barnes, but very little touches on how horrible it would be for Bucky to be all there and have a stranger in his head that he has few, dissociated memories of, but still retains a lot of that conditioning and finds himself acting like someone he doesn’t even remember being. He would feel betrayed by his own body and his own mind, doing things without knowing why he was doing them. I feel like not being the same Bucky as the one who went off to war would be so frustrating to him. Fics paint it as Steve being frustrated by the fact that Bucky’s no longer the same person, but I think Bucky himself would be far more frustrated by that fact than Steve. I think the fact that he’s not the same would bother him more than Steve’s longing for him to be the same, because he would understand that longing, share it even. I think he would dissociate from the foreign Winter Soldier part of himself, would try to bury it or force it out instead of facing it, would hate whatever memories he did retain from that time, because the Winter Soldier terrifies everyone but I think he would terrify Bucky most of all. And it would make sense, too. After all, the winter soldier was always supposed to be a ghost, the unseen threat, the silent killer, and I think, rather than inhabiting Bucky, the Soldier would haunt him, something he can’t prepare for or fight unless he’s willing to look through the dark to find it and confront it.
If he’s honest with himself, he doesn’t think the whole love thing is really for him. He’s not the type of person you associate with ‘happily ever afters’ and shared glances and lingering touches and that feeling of warmth he hears so many people gushing about and everything else that comes with being in love. And yet—
Theirs isn’t a whirlwind romance like the ones she reads about in those trashy novels she keeps tucked away in dark corners at the guild, naively thinking nobody knows about her guilty pleasure. It’s different.
He wishes he could say when it happened. Wishes he could pluck out a moment in time to point to and resolutely say ‘yes, that was the moment I fell for her’, but he can’t.
He can’t pinpoint the moment - the moment he falls and falls hard - but he thinksthere are plenty of moments where it could have happened.
He remembers being in the guild watching her work her magic during that mess with Laxus and he thinks it might have happened then. He remembers the feeling of admiration that washed over him as he watched her scan the aged books in front of her, mumbling under her breath as she worked overtime to free them from the runes.
He remembers the S-Class trials and thinks maybe it happened then. He remembers her face, the way her eyes light up, the way her lips stretch into a stunned smile when Makarov calls her name. Remembers stalking across the guild and offering his help, not because he thinks she needs it - never that, he’s seen first hand what she can do, knows just how capable she is - but because he wants to watch. Wants to watch her take Fairy Tail by storm and show the world just how formidable he knows she is.
He remembers during the trials. Maybe it happens then. He remembers her sly little laugh when she rewrites the runes and leaves the rest of their guildmates stranded on the boat. Remembers the way it makes him laugh to know she has this side to her. He remembers the bad too. Remembers the sinking feeling in his stomach when he hears her scream. Maybe it does happen then.
But what about—
He remembers the Games. Remembers hearing her cry out for him, begging him to be okay. Remembers the way it makes him feel to know there’s someone cheering for him. So, then maybe?
He remembers Belno dying. Remembers the familiar and calming presence by his side. But then Tartaros happens and he remembers a shining light. Remembers the way her hands cup his cheeks, the way her lips feel against his, remembers how she saves his life. Maybe then?
Or maybe not.
He remembers Metalicana dying and the guild disbanding and the feeling of loneliness threatening to engulf him once again. And he remembers her. Remembers her voice, gentle and soothing and patient. Remembers the way she cards her hands through his hair and listens to him vent, listens to him cry. Is it love by then?
They join the Council together and he wonders if it happens then. If it happens during the late nights spent in the library, flicking through mission reports until the early hours of the morning. If it happens during long carriage journeys with his head on her lap, hands carding through his hair.
He remembers all of that and all the moments in between. All the missions, all the laughter, all the lazy evenings spent sprawled across one of the tables in the guild, surrounded by their friends and thinks maybe it happened then.
So maybe it’s not one moment. Maybe it’s all of them.
He thinks when it comes to them, that falling in love is the incorrect phrase.
He doesn’t fall, because falling implies something immediate, something urgent, and their love is nothing like that.
Their love is slow and gradual and months upon months of learning each other and turning their unlikely friendship into something so much more, until he can’t help but realise just what the woman fighting beside him means to him.
He doesn’t expect to fall in love. And he doesn’t.
i want hindu goddesses in the modern context, but like in the best and worst ways possible - i want them reflecting the beauty and the horrors of everything happening today.
saraswati with thick framed glasses reading on her kindle, being excited that she can carry millions of books with her in this tiny device, being told she’s “not really a fan” because she doesn’t have the physical books with her. i want her to listen to dubstep and jazz and the blues, attending poetry slams and leaving the audience breathless with every word from her mouth.
parvati in advertisements for bleaching products, with pictures of “before” in her glorious splendorous skin glowing dark and beautiful, and pictures of “after” where she’s photoshopped beyond belief to be four shades lighter, sighing and grumbling but still showing up for a new shoot everyday - because, hey, even goddesses need paychecks to feed themselves.
kali coming to protests regarding violence against women, complete with handmade signs dripping with dark reddish liquid that’s drying into an eerie brown. i want her teaching girl’s self defense classes and wearing faux leather jackets and she has cats - cats with fangs that almost seem to glow in the dark, cats that are massive and their purr sounds like a growl, cats with tiger stripes and intelligence in their eyes.
lakshmi in a custom tailored armani pantsuit, being the CEO for a fortune 500 company, ignoring the criticisms about how her company is running sweatshops and poisoning rivers, because honestly? have you seen the recent turnover numbers for 2015? did you see the stock prices??
sita who shows up to a rape survivors anonymous meeting and shares her story with trembling lips and eyes full of tears, who is a single mother raising her twins, who barely has enough hours in the day to go to work and send her kids to school but continues supporting and uplifting other women who have gone through what she did.
mohini as a trans woman who is the spokesperson for an lgbtq+ organization, who pens thousands of letters and e-mails to the government to curb violence against homeless youth, who runs her own campaign to be elected - starting small, starting as the mayor, then the governor, working her way up the ladder, dealing with death threats and conservative propaganda daily.
prithvi to be a war survivor, to be a veteran who joined the resistance movement young, with medals that make her want to vomit when she thinks about the things she had to do to get them, with the scars to prove it - scars that she must always lay eyes on whenever she undresses and surveys the ruin war has left on her.
ganga who runs a homeless shelter, overcrowded with funding being cut daily, dealing with the most vulnerable populations - widows, orphaned children, the elderly who have been abandoned by their families. she runs the shelter out of the kindness of the heart of volunteers, people who bring in food and soap and shirts, people who help her clean and cook, people who provide their services as therapists and doctors, people with nothing to give still giving back.