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 Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED

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VampireCat92
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PostSubject: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Wed May 04, 2016 10:22 pm

The moon was the only source of light in the clear May sky, and the leaves and grass were still wet from the rain earlier in the day. The man in all black was sitting on a log, arms crossed as he and his Companion looked down the hill at the base in the valley. She was fiddling with the contraption she'd built from parts and pieces from a junkyard and he arched a brow at her, "Do we need to move again? I thought you had a signal."

“I did.” She huffed out a sigh as she stared at her invention as she fiddled with the dial, being careful not to get overly impatient and ruin her device or even getting on to a radio frequency that didn’t work. “I thought I did.” Her teeth raked at her bottom lip, green eyes flicking to the base and into the contraption in her hands. “Oh!” She turned the dial when she heard the crackling of a radio and a Russian voice, “Poor little ants, thinking that they knew how to fool me with a false jam.” She grinned. “But why are they worried? It’s not like they know we’re up here.”

"Oruzheynik skazal idti tuda!" Gunslinger said to go over there! came a female hiss on the radio. Bucky stiffened at the voice, paying more attention to the contraption.

"YA na nem uzhe!" I am on it already! was the response, this voice a bit higher but also whispered. Her Russian was obviously a second language as it didn't flow as well as the first.

“Oh, demon language.” J.J pouted. “They don’t sound like the enemy. Are they?” She looked up at Bucky.

"No...That sounded like Black Widow, the first one. Oruzheynik is Russian for Gunslinger, which is a Code Name for someone I do not recognize. The second female I don't know, either," Bucky explained to her, his voice deepening and reverberating as he said the Russian word, sounding just as fluid as he spoke English, "The Avengers are here. See if you can tune in on anybody else, we should get closer. A fight's going to happen. I wonder if they're here for the intelligence you heard about? This wasn't a waste of our time after all."

J.J tossed her black hair from her shoulder, only to have it land back again since it wasn’t long enough to stay in place. She started fiddling more with the dials as she stood up and started walking with Bucky, trying to find another voice or something that had to do with Avengers. It was starting to become that someone had blocked, jammed the radio signals from the base, but were using their own frequencies for communications. This time she caught a male voice and she paused, wondering if she either caught the next Avenger, or if she managed to get a local radio station (again).

“-xie in position.”

"Pixie?" Bucky snorted, "That's Captain's voice." He discerned.

"Good. Are ya'll ready to start goin' in for teh kill?" Gunslinger asked, his Southern Accent thick.

"Well, now we know why he has that nickname," Bucky grunted as he slid down a steeper path, looking up to make sure his Companion would be alright.

J.J froze, holding the box carefully in her hands, staring down at it like it just gave her an answer that she never heard before. That voice….more like that accent. She closed her her eyes and breathed deeply before she looked over at Bucky. “If we’re going closer and going in, I’m turning this off before we get caught.” She said as she started going down the steeper hill, tripping over a rock, but holding onto her contraption and her balance the best she could so she wouldn’t fall.

Bucky steadied her once she was by his side again, his metal hand on her shoulder, "We can always retrieve it later, put it in your backpack and put it somewhere out here where it won't be found. You'll need to be light on your feet with these guys around."

J.J nodded and she shrugged off her backpack and placed her thing inside the bag, after turning it off. She looked around the area, trying to think of a place to hide it. She scampered off, careful not to cause too much attention, but zigzagging in her run in case a rain of bullets came her way. She found a hill, and she placed it down. She opened the bag again and took out a bowie knife and a tactical pen as well as a small canister of mace. Once she deemed herself geared for the attack she zipped up her bag and patted it twice, like she was saying farewell. It was a nice bag. Light, never once caused her any anguish. She bunny-ran all the way back to Bucky, skidding to a halt before she could fall.

“So don’t attack the humans right?” She asked. “Just the monsters? I’ll follow your lead like always Solider. You’re safe with me.”

"As you're safe with me," Bucky smiled fondly, "Just the monsters. Basically, anything colorful don't attack. Black Widow's outfit doesn't count, but her hair does." He explained and they started moving further through the brush, making their way closer to the base down the valley hills. Everything was quiet so far, but he knew that would change.

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Thu May 05, 2016 12:40 am

The team had split apart. Hawkeye was managing to climb through the hide-out through the air vents and watching the Black Widow’s back while she quickly and stealthily went through, knocking out the guards who tried to get in her way, to the sound booth. Pixie was also inside, doing her best to follow her mentor’s footsteps as she walked through the hideout. Only two other people where left. Gunslinger was back at their own little hideout, Steve was patrolling the outdoors, as well as keeping an ear out for any sign of trouble and improvisation for their plan.

There were a couple of shadows that caught Steve’s eye and he readied his shield when he saw them. A big man, and a….small figure who was practically skipping. It was a little…disorienting to see that and he wasn’t certain on what he was looking at. Civilians taking a stroll thinking that this area was abandoned? Or was he looking at some hostile figures? “I have eyes on possible civies outside the-” He had only looked away, just for a moment, but when he tuned back…the shadow figures were gone. His eyes scanned the area, he couldn’t leave his post, it would be too dangerous. “-they just disappeared.”

"There ain't a city for miles 'n' no houses around either, so they can't possibly be civilians," Gunslinger replied through the com, settled on a balcony in position eyeballing Natasha's destination through his sniper rifle scope.

“That sounds like a real issue, cap.” Hawkeye’s voice came through. “Are you seeing things out there?”

“I’m pretty sure of what I saw was a couple of people. Though if it’s possible Hydra then they know I’m out here and they know that you guys are inside. Hurry up, Widow, Pixie, and get out of there.” Steve snapped through the comm.

"We're close to the intel, Cap'n'," Pixie replied, her regular voice sure but soft, only except when she said his name, "Widow's almost up there, there isn't another Hydra in sight. Hawk's got our back as well as 'Slinger. If those people were Hydra, the alarms would be blazing."

"Logical, just like you, 'Merica," Gunslinger said, his voice amused.

“You and Tony,” Steve sighed just as something went…wrong.

Inside the hideout, J.J was looking and searching for anyone who wasn’t colorful. The rules of the game were simple. Don’t tag the ones with colorful clothing or the one with red hair. The one with red hair was putting a sleeper hold on one of the monsters. It made her mouth twitch in distaste. Apparently their rules were different and that’s why they had to do this the right way. Her eyes immediately caught movement in her peripheral vision and her head snapped towards a woman with dark clothing, hair tied up so it wouldn’t get grabbed.

She looked between the redhead and the woman who was walking up the stairs and made a moment’s decision to quickly climb up. She tapped the girl on the shoulder, making her turn around. “I found you!” She sang as she threw a heel-palm strike towards her face.

"MMPH!" Kerica barely managed to move her head enough so she wouldn't get a broken nose, but the strike did hit her chin instead and clacked her teeth together, making her stumble backwards. In reflexive retaliation and using her momentum she did a spin kick, knocking the black haired girl into the wall next to them. "She's not Hydra!" she called on the com after taking in her outfit. So that was why Steve thought they were civilians. She had on a denim jacket, white shirt, and jeans with tennis shoes. The most basic outfit in the world.

“Wha-?” J.J had stood there in shock after getting tossed into the wall before she spun away from her and held her hands up. It wasn’t in any normal fighting stance, but her hands were showing her palms like she was trying to calm down a fight.  Before Kerica could say anything, J.J tried to run up the stairs, her elbows in front of her face, one side blocking her ear and jaw line a lot better than the other side, her hand covering the back of her neck and the other gripping her wrist as she tried to ram her elbows into Kerica’s body. Her foot caught the stair, so she stumbled, but she kept her position pretty well. Her momentum went to shit, however.

“Pixie’s getting attacked by this civilian.” Widow snapped through the comm. “I’m going to go in and see if I can’t stop it.”

“What the hell?” Steve breathed, his eyes widened. What were two civilians going in to the hideout for? Who /were/ they? “Gunslinger you got eyes on what’s going on? Hawkeye?”

“Yeah Cap. I got this.” Hawkeye nodded. “Looks like some girl with short black hair. She’s wearing a basic outfit, jean jacket and sneakers. If she’s trying to do a covert mission, she’s not doing a hot job of it…and she certainly can’t fight on stairs. This is painful to watch, Cap.”

"She's not an enemy, so just subdue her!" Slate's voice went from a Chill Southern to a Commanding voice like Steve's, "Widow, focus on our goal. Quick!"

"Whoa, 'Slinger? Do you recognize her?" Clint asked, confused, "I can fire a trank arrow...or yeah..." he trailed off as he saw a silver flash and sighed. Gunslinger's voice didn't get that way unless he was very serious about something.

Kerica managed to slip away from the black haired girl just as the blue and silver streak managed to pick up the girl and they both disappeared to another corner of the complex nearby. Suddenly a guff shout filled the air.

"Are you /SERIOUS/? I should throw some paint on you, damn it, you're too dark!"

Kerica looked around, really confused as she didn't see anyone that the voice could belong to, but there was a faint whisper on the com that was in disbelief, "Cap'n'?"

“We have the Winter Solider on our side…Bucky. Fuck…” Steve said breathlessly. “That’s his voice I’d recognize it anywhere.” It buzzed his head with questions, but decided that now wasn’t the time. “Pixie, update him on what’s going on. Tell him that we don’t mean his friend harm as well.” If the girl was with him that is.

“Are you sure you can trust that, Captain?” Natasha asked, working away at hacking the system, sticking a usb flash drive into the hardware.

“He’s not hurting anyone.” Steve said firmly. “He wouldn’t hurt anyone on our team.”

"Nat, u vas yest' dopolnitel'nyy dinamik?" Nat, do you have an extra earpiece? Kerica whispered to her comrade, and caught what was thrown to her, jumping over the railing towards the darkness and the one who had shouted stepped from the shadows, "Soldier?" she asked cautiously.

"Yes," was the short response, "I see why you are 'Pixie'." Indeed, she was quite short, only five foot, give or take an inch.

Her cheeks tinted pink and she handed him the earpiece, "Why did you yell at me?" she asked as he put it on, "We are here for Hydra intelligence. What are /you/ doing here? Who is that girl you're with?"

"She's a woman, at least your age. She was mistreated so her growth was stunted," Bucky said in defense, "Call her Companion, that is my Codename for her. We are here for the same thing. I yelled at you because Companion has a hard time discerning friend from foe. I told her anyone colorful is a friend. You, are not colorful. You're wearing Widow's suit and you have dark brown hair." He flipped the switch for the earpiece, "Captain," he said in a sort of greeting as well as getting his attention, "Who just took my Companion? I don't see them."

“Quicksilver.” Steve said quickly. “He’s keeping her out of the fire-fight. Especially since she’s not an enemy and she attacked Pixie. Trust me, if things go south and you need her, Quicksilver can get her to you in a moment’s time. But it’s probably safer not to do that. We’re gathering intel, it’s a stealth mission. I think the fight on the stairwell might bring some unwelcome company so stay alert.”

“I’m almost done, Captain.” Natasha said quickly. “Just downloading.”

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Thu May 05, 2016 2:18 am

"Vhat are yu doin' here, lil' lady?" Pietro's mic was tuned so that he could hear conversation but they couldn't hear him. He was supposed to be dead, after all. Slate had said his name in a way that was covert, and he just had to hope no one listened to their com frequency for Captain's. He had her in a rather confined area, and didn't need to hold her to keep her from escaping back to cause more ruckus, but he was anyway.

She wasn’t sure what freaked her out more, the speed that he was able to run or the fact that when she tried to read his mind all she got was static with a bit of silence here there. Like a radio that wasn’t turned off all the way and going out. She struggled a little in his hold, but he was blue and silver. Meaning that he was a friend. “You’re like…crazy fast.” She knew that wasn’t what he wanted, but…shit. “That’s really cool and I admire that, but I gotta go now. How do you /get out of here/?”

"Yu don't unless I vant yu to," Pietro chuckled, "I hear my friends talking about yu. Companion? Yu are vith ze Winter Soldier?" He didn't even have that much of a grip on her, "Yer shaking, but I don't zink yer afraid."

J.J watched him, her mind going seventy-miles per an hour. She was shaking, but she wasn’t afraid and he was right. She took a deep breath in and out. Good. Good. He wasn’t a colorful enemy or someone pretending. He was the real deal. Whatever that was. “Glad to know I’m gonna be in your arms for the rest of my life.” She said, her sarcasm a bit dry. “The Solider and I are tag-teaming. We were supposed to be making sure the monsters don’t get you or your friends. I guess I’m still high on adrenaline, your run can give anyone a spike of energy. I also think I accidentally tried to murder a friend without knowing. She broke the rules though, not me. She was supposed to colorful. How else was I supposed to know the difference.” She protested.

"Do you mean Pixie?" he arched a brow. He let her go, watching her turn around, "Yu have pretty eyes," he said absently as she looked up at him. "Yu could be a pixie, too, but yer more like a fairy. Yu vere really light and easy to carry."

J.J felt like the world just flipped her into an alternate universe because she was kind of certain that he was flirting with her. The radio static was getting stronger and the silences weren’t getting too long, so that meant he was thinking, or she was just getting used to how fast his mind was going. Or maybe not, the moment that she thought that, the static went silent and she nearly pouted. Fucking tease. “Well you have a nice face,” She offered before wincing. “Oh god that was awful. I meant like…your pleasing to look at? I…don’t know. I wouldn’t exactly call faeries light and easy to carry. They’re more like these small creatures, and they’re meaner than the pixies. Pixies are mischievous. Faeries, they’ll riddle you and then they’ll kill you. Or just riddle you. Or make you do things. I didn’t catch your…oh…right no names…covert mission.” She groaned. “I’m going to drive myself absolutely bonkers in here. I can’t /read/ you either which doesn’t help.”

Pietro's grin was wide, making his cheeks pop as they also got darker with a blush, "Vas /handsome/ maybe ze vord yu vere looking for?" he offered, "I have been called a 'pretty boy' zough..." he shrugged, "No one can hear me...Quicksilver. I'll give yu my real name once ve're out and safe, hmm?"

“Quicksilver.” J.J repeated, her smile gentle. “Handsome’s a good word to describe you. I don’t think I like the term “pretty boy” much. You’re too rugged for it.”

Just as things were going well, Pietro jumped a bit as the entire base suddenly got really loud, buzzing with a siren and shouts as Hydra soldiers poured from rooms all around. He heard groaning on his com from several people and then the code to bring the Companion back to them. Picking her up in his arms again he smiled, "Are you ready this time?"

She wrapped her arms around his neck and grinned. “Let’s race!”

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Thu May 05, 2016 2:34 am

"Things were going so well!" Hawkeye grunted as he shot another arrow, hitting one soldier that tripped another when he fell.

"The computers must've been triggered to go off. I hope the USB isn't infected or wiped," Slate grunted, still in Commander mode, looking down the sights and picked one off that was going after Natasha from behind while she kicked one away from her. Soldier and Kerica were easily taking on a few of their own. It was obvious to him that Bucky was used to fighting with a small, agile comrade with how he flowed with her, keeping track of Kerica even when some of them lost track.

“Widow status report.” Steve snapped at the comm as he held up his shield to block a solider’s attempt to use the gun as a weapon on his face. He shoved him backwards before using the edge of it and bringing it down hard on the man’s head. He turned quickly and blocked a few bullets before tossing it and hitting the man in the gut, sending him flying to the wall. He had to run to get it back.

“I got the info.” Natasha replied. “I’m pretty certain it’s not corrupted, but we’ll check.” She climbed up a solider who was about to hit her from behind and before he could think, her thighs were wrapped around his neck and she was shocking him with her widow’s bite. She tumbled off of him and went to her next opponent with fluid grace.

“Then we get out and we get out now. Start moving and start retreating.” Steve replied as he grabbed his shield in time for a bullet to graze his side.

"Captain, there is a clearing back up the valley. Companion and I were there earlier. We can run out, disappear into the forest, and circle around, if you're alright with letting me lead," Bucky called on the com, taking a weapon from a downed enemy and using it on another, giving Kerica and Natasha cover fire as they both ducked behind him and they disappeared down a hallway. Since the others had done a good job taking out soldiers before, there wasn't /that/ much interference as they made their escape.

"Is it wise for him to do that, 'Merica?" Slate called in reference to Bucky's plan.

"Yeah." Steve said after a moment. "A circle back sounds good as well as cover. We'll follow Solider's lead for now."

"Then no more talking. Let's split." Natasha said quickly and that's what they did. Luckily, them running into the forest made them look like idiots, therefore only those who /really/ wanted to die or thought they could catch them, were just as idiotic and wouldn't be as many. As well as, the Solider staked around dark areas before, it was comfortable camouflage for him.

It took several minutes, as Clint and Slate both had to take extra time to get from their hiding places, but Quicksilver was able to assist them with meeting with the others, Once Soldier got everyone together, and J.J. was beside him once more, he led them all to where he promised.

Captain was calling for a flight and once close enough his Companion ran off to grab her backpack. Finally, they were all safe and sound at the clearing, waiting for their ride. Bucky looked at Steve in the moonlight, and felt a pang in his chest. His friend would always been the light to his darkness, he knew. It didn't stop it from hurting. It was this moment he wished J.J. hadn't helped him with his memories.

Kerica was panting a bit still from their run and hike up the valley hill, and was leaning against a tree. It was from this angle she noticed Steve's uniform was ripped. "Cap'n', are you hurt?" she called to him and moved from her position to get closer for a better look. There was definitely blood staining the white. 'Damn it, and I can never tell if it's adrenaline or his own stubbornness that makes him act like it's not even there'

Steve looked down at the bullet wound that had hit him. “Oh, I didn’t even notice that I got hit. I’ll be okay.” It scared her. Shit.

J.J flopped down on the ground and rolled on her back eagle spread and looking up at the night sky, her backpack firmly by her side. She took in a deep breath and let out in a huff. She could hear Natasha worrying about Kerica because of asthma and someone by the name- “Are you okay, Slate?”

Slate…

Gunslinger with a Texan drawl.

It made her cold. It made her freeze. She sat up and started searching through her backpack, hoping that she brought it with her. It was small, it wasn’t too warm, but it was fuzzy and it was nice to hold and since she knew that she was safe, the Solider wouldn’t just let anyone huddle around a circle, she could grab it. A dark purple airplane blanket. She wasn’t sure why that made her uncomfortable….just that it did.

"It must not be that bad, then?" Bucky asked as he also came over, "It no doubt looks worse than it is."

"Just a rag to clean it off, then," Kerica pulled a small white packet from a pocket on her tactical belt and once she ripped it off she unfurled what was inside, a cleaning wipe, dabbing at it. 'I'm glad he's okay...' she gave a soft sigh of relief.

A thump was heard beside J.J and when she looked over a bright grin was aimed at her, blond locks messy from the run and carrying three people, "Pietro," he told her easily, holding his hand out. "Zat's a cute blanket. It looks old, zough. Yu must take good care of it if it's not falling apart at ze seams."

"Ya don't think yer hurt, do ya? Yer suit ain't damaged," Slate was looking Natasha over, "Since Steve got hit I'm just making sure everyone else is okay." Of course, he was and wasn't lying.

Radio static and silence, it was kind of nice to hear than the ongoing thoughts of concern and stubbornness. J.J looked at the blanket before looking at his hand that he held out to her. “J.J.” She said as she took his hand in a firm grasp. Shook like Bucky taught her and then with drew. His hand was a bit rough, but…his hold was gentle. Like he didn’t know how to do violence. “It’s pretty old.” She said after a moment. “It’s seen a lot of action. It’s my favorite blanket since I don’t have a lot of my own belongings. Just whatever’s in my backpack and this.” She gestured to the blanket before letting it go. “And this.” She held out her locket. “I had this much longer.” She stuffed it back underneath her shirt. “Everyone’s mind are like buzzing bees. I don’t know if it’s comforting or annoying.”

“I’m fine, Buck. Kerica.” Steve sighed, but allowed Kerica to work on his wound. It was already stitching up thanks to his high healing rate. The graze wouldn’t take him down for long at all. J.J could hear that thought way over the radio static and she made a sour face.

That sort of stubbornness is what Bucky calls “stupid”.

“I’m fine,” Natasha assured Slate. “Not even much of a scratch on me.” Her eyes went over to Kerica. “Though I saw that palm strike that Companion did to you there, Kerica. That looked nasty.”

"Hmm?" Kerica glanced up and at the mention she touched her jaw, testing to see if it hurt, "I might have a bruise tomorrow, but I'm good. I /could've/ had a broken nose, but your teachings helped me out," she winked at her mentor and stood straight once she gave the graze one last swipe, "Tony's gunna be irritated he has to stitch up your suit again," she teased Steve.

"He's going to crack up when he hears that you got attacked because you're not colorful enough," Clint pointed out.

"Well, you guys are like a rainbow so that's the first thing that came to mind when I told my Companion who was friendly," Bucky sneered.

"I'm sorry for thinking you were a monster!" J.J called from her position on the ground.

"Monster?" Slate glanced over at the girl and Pietro. He recognized that blanket, and her eyes. He swallowed thickly. He didn't want to believe. "Is your name Jayden?" he asked slowly.
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Thu May 05, 2016 9:45 am

A chill went up and down her spine. She hadn't heard that name since she rediscovered it not to long ago. She eyed him wearily. He wasn't a monster, Bucky didn't have to tell her that nor did anyone else. But he had a lot of blood on his hands, so much so that the guilt was devastating. She placed her blanket to the side, and patted Pietro's arm twice before standing up gracefully and made her way towards Slate.

Everyone's busy thoughts came to a halt as they started to straighten and prepare themselves. She was a stranger to them moving in on someone that they cared about. She could even see the Solider straightening up, ready to step in if J.J thought she was being threatened, or decided that the game of "human" and "monster" no longer applied since they were out of the hideout. "I'm called that, every now and again," J.J said slowly. His thoughts were...silent. Masked. She'd accuse him of doing it deliberately, but...if he could do it then everyone else could do it and no one knew that she was a telepath. "Who are you? Slate. Gunslinger. But you know my name, how? Why?"
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Fri May 06, 2016 12:34 am

"I'm Slate Tucker," the man responded slowly, carefully. His hair was just as black as hers, though less greasy and more soft even if it was rugged like he'd just taken off a cowboy hat. "Your locket...I saw it when you showed it to Quicksilver. If you can tell me what it says etched on the inside, I'll answer your question." How would he know there was something on the inside? He just hoped he wouldn't throw it back at him and make him tell her. That would defeat the purpose.

J.J frowned. Still blank. Tucker though, Slate Tucker. It sounded…wrong. Not right. Something about this conversation wasn’t right. To bizarre in many different ways. J.J was used to weird, used to bizarre. But she wasn’t used to this. Her eyes flicked away from Slate towards her surroundings. She was surrounded by trees and people and the Solider who was watching. Still on alert too. She felt bad. If the game was over, this was the time to relax.

Yet no one was relaxing, all of them were getting ready to do…something. Slate on the other hand wasn’t acting like she was about to hurt him, or getting ready to attack. She wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Was it because he didn’t know what she was capable of? But he had to, he knew something about her…and that just disturbed her. “You make things difficult.” She sighed after a moment. “Going ‘round in circles like that. Alright, I’ll play your game.” She sat down, cross legged and looked up at him. “It says “Laugh in the face of Pain”. How do you know something was etched in my locket?”

Hawkeye was the one who spoke instead of Slate, "That's.../really/ creepy. Hell, I even asked if Slate recognized her when he switched from Southern Cowboy to our Commanding Handler."

"Do tell why that line is creepy, Clint," Slate coaxed, looking really...sad.

It was hard to describe Slates expression besides 'sad'. Exhausted? Clint wasn't sure. "You get this really disturbing laugh when you're hurt. If Cap was all 'meh' in regards to that bullet graze, you would've been chuckling at it."

"My Companion is the same way," Bucky added carefully, "She can have a broken rub and she'll be giggling the whole time. Punched in the face? A shriek of laughter like she was being tickled."

"That's..." Steve looked a little disturbed at that. Slate was one thing. But J.J? He looked over at the girl who was frowning at them like she couldn't understand what she was hearing. It made Steve wonder.

“How else do you survive?” J.J asked, her eyebrows furrowed. “If you feel pain you want to cry right? You want to scream? But that makes monsters hurt you more. They like that. The more you cry and scream the terrible the pain becomes. Soon you’ll get used to it and they have to come up with another method right? That’s how it goes. But if you laugh…they stop. Sometimes you laugh to make yourself stop hurting.”

Now that was probably just as creepy. Natasha could see it working. She could see how people would back off, not wanting to deal with someone insane. Slate did his for defense, but J.J...from what the Solider just said...pain to her was probably /fun/ now going with her logic on how pain and how the cycle worked. She looked over at Slate, whose expression was devastated in her eyes.

Slate reached for his vest pocket and knelt down in front of J.J. He heard the jet getting closer overhead, though it was probably closer than he believed since it was supposed to be a stealth ship and there wasn't the screaming of say normal fighter jets. He pulled a picture out and handed it to her, "This is you." His expression was tender, but pained, "Jayden Marie Tucker."

The picture that he had was the same picture that was in her locket, only larger. Their father was holding onto a little girl with dark black hair with pigtails and a pink dress with cowboy boots on. The father had on a cowboy hat and a cigarette unlit hanging from his mouth, he had a sharp jaw and charm. The little boy on the mom’s lap had cowboy boots on as well, jeans that were torn at the knee, and a dirty shirt that he clearly had been playing in. he was pulling his hat down over his face in a mischievous manner. Their mother wearing a sun-dress with her hair free and dancing in the wind.

J.J pursed her lips together before she noticed that Pietro spoke. “It’s the only thing of “home” I know of. I don’t know much about it anymore. I don’t know the people. But I know comfort and the word.”

"Yer my lil' sister...but I won' make ya believe me if ya don' want ta. I wouldn' be surprised, really..." Slate gave her a lopsided smile, "Still...would you and Soldier come with us? As friends?" He pulled back away, putting his picture in his packet and held his hand out to her to help her stand.

“I believe you, I just don’t know how to…take it I guess.” J.J frowned at the hand that was offered and took it. “But what you’re offering is up to Bucky.” She looked over at the Solider. “The game’s set and match. The plane should be here any minute. What’s your plan now?”

"Our plan is to go home and rest. Stark is going to handle the information we came here for," Slate shrugged and looked over the treeline at the big black jet and they watched it land.

"I'm not welcomed with your people, Steve..." Bucky said softly, eyeballing the plane warily, "i'm a criminal, after all."

“Bullshit.” Steve said, looking at Bucky incredulously. “You were a prisoner of war and you were brainwashed. I’m not holding that against you. No one’s going to toss you into prison, no one’s going to call you a criminal and if they have a problem with it, well, they can take it up with me.” He set his jaw tightly, almost like a pout but firm in determination. He wasn’t going to let Bucky get away from him. It was his turn to do what was right and watch his back. It was fair.

“I was wondering when the sense of patriotism was going to come out,” Natasha teased.

"If I sense something's not right, then I'm out," Bucky squared back against him, "There are those who feel differently than you. I tore S.H.I.E.L.D apart, destroyed a lot of people's jobs and lives. Brainwashed or not, people will want me dead or locked up."

J.J frowned deeply and she practically rushed over towards Bucky. “No.” She said firmly. “If this is too much of a risk then no. We should go away. We played our part of the game. Why do we have to stay?! It’s not like /we/ did anything for them or them for us! And what about me? If you’re gone, then that leaves me alone and I don’t /like/ that.” She stomped her foot. “You told me that doing something reckless was called “stupid” unless you don’t got a choice. Where’s our choice being taken away huh?!"

"Steve will stand by you," Kerica said, though she was soft-spoken, unsure if she should even interject. The plane's back lowered but no one moved to go inside.

"That's what I'm afraid of, little Pixie," Bucky sighed and shook his head. He reached out and ruffled J.J.'s hair, "If you let yourself, you don't have to be alone anymore. These are good people, J.J. This is reckless, yes...but /trust/ can make you do stupid things," he stared at Steve, "I /trust/ you. Therefore, I am going to be stupid and go with you. My /condition/ is that no one lays a single hand on her without her consent. I'll break fingers..." he snorted, "...or /she/ will, either or."

“Hey, I swear Buck. No one’s going to hurt J.J.” Steve assured gently, instantly reminded of how Bucky was with Becca. It sent a pang of regret and guilt into his heart. Becca always was a spitfire and she had Bucky’s laid back attitude and Steve’s sassy comebacks. He missed her. He missed that Bucky probably didn’t remember her. “You’re both underneath the Avengers care. We work on a different level.” He looked over at J.J. “Okay?”

J.J pursed her lips together and looked away. “Okay.” She said, sounding a little dejected. “But if Bucky goes, I leave too.”

“I understand.” Steve stood up. “Come on, let’s break camp and get a move on.”

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Fri May 06, 2016 12:36 am

The Avenger's Tower was fairly quiet and empty when the lot arrived, but the plane kept running instead of turning off. Bucky tensed a bit, looking for Steve's calming blue eyes, "I take it the rest of the group is going to the new base instead? I'm just confirming. I understand why."

Pietro was undoing his belt, however, while Nat and Clint stayed seated. Kerica was already out of her seat and had put the USB in an empty slot on her belt. The brunette looked at the blond man in confusion, "Where are /you/ going? Wanda's going to wonder why you didn't come back."

"My sister vil be fine. I want to stay with them," Pietro said simply, "No other reason."

Kerica looked at Natasha, "My ass."

J.J was already getting off of the plane with her backpack shouldered and her purple blanket tucked underneath her arm. She got off of the landing pad and instead of just running in or doing anything, she just stood there, staring.

“Yea the rest of us are going to head to base. You worried about danger, so…this is the least dangerous you’re going to get.” Steve said gently. “A lot of us go back and forth between the two so, it’s not like I’m missing anything. I will say that you should ignore Tony, we’re on ends with each other at the moment and he’s being a sourpuss. He might like J.J so…we might have an advantage on calming him down before anything happens.”

"If you think so," Buck grunted as he managed to get the belt undone and he hopped off the plane next to J.J, "Are you aright? It's pretty open, but will you be too confined?" he whispered to her.

"Give Wanda my love," Pietro waved to Clint as he joined the other two in a blur.

“I’ll be okay.” J.J said after a moment of thought. “It is…big. Real big and there’s a lot of room in there. I don’t know how I’m going to feel after a while, but right now I think I’m going to be okay. I’m with you. When have you ever lead me wrong?” She asked, looking at him innocently. “Besides, maybe if we play nice we can get  a warm bath instead of going in a river.” Her eyes brightened at that though, “Warm water, Buck!”

"Warm water indeed," Bucky relaxed just a small bit, imagining the spray hitting his shoulders like a massage, "Unlimited, too. You could stay in there for hours and it won't go cold."

"Let's go listen to Tony grump about fixing your suit," Kerica giggled at Steve as she joined the others, "At least you won't have to listen to Teresa fuss about your scratch!"

"Because you fussed so little," Bucky drawled, "Teresa your base doctor?"

“Yeah, she’s a good agent too, but she prefers to be in her office rather than in on the field.” Steve agreed. “She comes up here sometimes when she wants a break from the bad lighting and cafeteria food. She’s a real nice lady, Buck. Someone you’d probably charm back in the day.”

"Don't play matchmaker for me, now," Buck rolled his eyes, "You don't even know what I remember and what I don't." He watched the Jet take off, disappearing into the sky that was going from dark blue night to the pinks and purples of dawn. They continued into the Tower and Kerica more or less led the way, "You were quick to try and brush off your injury so she wouldn't be worried, if we're going to talk about romance."

"What do you think of Slate?" Pietro asked J.J. for a topic conversation of his own, feeling bored.

Steve’s cheeks turned pink and he looked away. “It was only a scratch.” He defended. “It wasn’t like I was shot clear through and through. And it was healing.” He paused. “It’s easy in a battle to be scared when someone’s bleeding though.”

“I don’t know what to think of him,” J.J admitted as she did a minor skip since she was bored as well, but also to hide her nervous energy. They were about to walk in to a /huge/ tower building and she was curious to know what was inside, and what type of person this “Tony” was going to be. “He knows my name, he has the photo. And yet, I feel…wrong. Tucker. That name I don’t like. I don’t know /why/ I don’t like it either. It just…I’m used to Jones. I always thought that was my last name. Maybe that’s why I’m having issues with it? He’s a nice guy. Clearly been through a lot. I’m just sorry that I can’t be the sister he probably wants, or needs. I’m a little too fucked up for a family. Though I was looking for one for a while. For him specifically. Nightmares.”

"Have even /dated/ since you got unfrozen?" Bucky arched a brow at him. They were heading for some stares now that they were inside, "Too busy? Too paranoid?" he could understand if Steve was just afraid. The Avenger were a hot target. "She seems to be able to handle herself really well. /Black Widow's/ student? I never thought that would happen."

"I don't think Slate expects anything from yu," Pietro shook his head, "It's sad, but...I think he thought yu were dead. I didn't even know he had a sister."

J.J blinked looking at Pietro with a bit of surprise before looking away. She wondered how she was supposed to go along with this. “I think tonight’s been weird.” She said after a moment. “I don’t expect anything from him either. I wasn’t sure if he was someone I made up, or someone that didn’t exist. I don’t know, Hummingbird. People talk an awful lot and don’t do anything.”

“Me neither, but Natasha’s one hell of a teacher and she learns fast.” Steve smiled. “As for dating, Nat’s done nothing but set me up on date after date. Kind of like how you used to. Only instead of you making way with two girls on your arm rather than one, I just…bow out. Not paranoid, not busy. I just…” He paused wondering how to word this. “I was expecting something to happen. I was expecting to put a lot of my life on hold. I was really about to scour the world, looking for you and making sure Hydra didn’t get a hold of you. But not only are you okay, you have someone with you who…has a funny way of keeping you grounded.” Steve didn’t mean that in a mean or a bad way either. “How did you manage to come across her?"

"Hummingbird? Fun nickname," Pietro grinned, "Tonight has been weird, yeah. Ve can talk about somezing else if yu'd like?" he offered, "Vould yu like me to show yu around later?"

"She almost tripped into a train," Bucky answered in a deadpan voice, and it was a feat not to smirk at Steve's face, "I'm dead serious."

“Wha…” Steve just couldn’t comprehend that. She almost /tripped/ in front of a train? “Are you sure it wasn’t…you know….on purpose or anything like that? Like…” He shuddered. “Fucking hell, that’s scary.” Just seeing his own friend fall off of a train was enough to bring him shivers. If he had to see J.J nearly fall into one well…it’d hit too close to home. “And she just decided to follow you after that?”

“If I don’t knock myself out after the bath I’m daydreaming of, I’d love a tour.” J.J grinned. “Hey, hey. Your accent is kinda like the demon language, but it sounds a lot prettier. Where are you from?”

"My language is Romanian," he beamed at her, "My sister and I grew up there. If yu want to talk to anyone about siblings or family, yu can talk to us anytime! Wanda will like yu," he nodded firmly.

"It wasn't on purpose, Steve, chill. She's just either the most graceful person or the most clutsy. The best at tripping over nothing," Bucky gave a soft laugh, patting the Captain's back. They finally reached their destination where Kerica opened the door into a lab filled with gadgets and gismos and computers of all sorts.

"Tony!" Kerica chirped as she skipped over, reaching for her belt, "We have what you asked for!" She waiting for him to finish placing whatever he was on the stand he had and handed it to him when he swiveled his chair towards her, "You'll /never/ guess what happened."
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Fri May 06, 2016 3:37 pm

"You should know I don't like being handed things," Tony said as he took the USB away from her and smirked. "But I'm glad that you got it. Shame I couldn't be there, but it was a "stealth" mission." He rolled his eyes and looked at Kerica. "Well, I can observe that you brought in the Soviet Death Wish, Capsicle and-" A loud happy chirpping sound. "DUMM-E..." He turned to see what the bot was getting into now when he noticed a girl look positively thrilled at the sight and Pietro following her. "Is she a spy? Why is wonderboy with us?"

"She's Bucky's Companion." Steve said, glaring a little at the "Soviet" part. "I thought it was unsafe for them to be at base. Pietro offered to stay behind."

"So she's the next Communist Assassin? What the fuck kind of name "Companion" is anyway? I'd think that's a little discouraging. No flare or taste. Just 'Companion'." Tony frowned as he watched J.J and DUMM-E explore the lab, J.J talking though he couldn't hear what she was saying to the robot. The robot was chirpping back and J.J responding like she knew what the robot was saying. He turned back to Kerica. "But I'm guessing that the two Red Stars over here aren't the "Never guess what happened"."


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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Fri May 06, 2016 8:51 pm

"It involves J.J., if it makes you feel better to call  her that," Kerica rolled her eyes playfully, "I got attacked because I wasn't 'colorful' enough. Buck there yelled at me saying he should throw paint on me." She felt like Steve would be happy if she called his friend by his name.

"Do you like technology?" Pietro asked Jayden curiously as he followed her around like a puppy at her heels.
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Sat May 07, 2016 12:01 am

J.J blinked looking over at Pietro. She was kind of surprised that he had followed her. She had thought that she had left him by the door, but then again maybe not. It didn’t seem like the Captain and Bucky were talking about anything that involved her. “I build things. I couldn’t build something like this, but I can build a radio codebreaker.” She took off her backpack and placed the blanket between her knees as she pulled out her radio frequency box. It was weirdly shaped and a lot of wires were poking through. It looked beaten, like someone took a baseball bat to the metal. “Junkyards have a lot of valuable things. I sometimes use whatever I can find to build.” She smiled proudly. “It took me nine tries to get this to work as good as it does.”

Tony burst out laughing. “You got attacked because you weren’t “colorful” enough? Maybe we should’ve painted the rainbow on you. Something neon. Damn, someone might’ve mistaken this mission for a rave than a stealth. We could call you the Karma Chameleon.”

"No!" Kerica made a horrified face and Bucky erupted into a fit of snickers, covering his mouth as he looked away, "I like being Pixie! You're the one who gave me the name, after all!"

"Only because yu hit him vhen he called yu short," Pietro commented absently as he looked J.J's contraption over from all sides, "Yu could ask Mr. Stark for advice. I'm no good vith tech, but I'm fascinated that yu made zis."

Kerica pouted a bit, "Anyway, Tony, Steve got grazed with a bullet and his uniform needs stitching."

“Yeah yeah, if you need me to stitch it now, you’re gonna have to strip and you should put on a good show. Maybe to the song of America the Beautiful.” Tony said looking at Steve whose cheeks turned a bright red.

“I can give the uniform tomorrow morning or when I’m done with a shower.” Steve replied. “Because I know you’d just poke me with the needle.”

“Ye of so little faith, hey kid whatcha got in your hands.” Tony asked as he turned his attention to Petiro and J.J. “That box looks like someone didn’t know odds and ends of a screwdriver.”

“Hey! I made that!” J.J snapped, folding her arms.

“No wonder then.” Tony replied. “What does it do?”

“Interrupts and breaks into radio frequencies.” J.J replied automatically.

“I could do that in my sleep.” Tony rolled his eyes. “You don’t need a box to do that kind of dirty work. Now what would be interesting, is if you could do more than just break into frequencies. Give me a day with this thing and I could have it upgraded to something a lot more top-notch than a firestarter waiting to happen.”

J.J pursed her lips together. “And if I don’t like the upgrades?”

“Then there’s something seriously wrong with you.”

“There’s something seriously wrong with everyone, but that doesn’t mean anything.” J.J quipped back. “There’s insanity and then there’s insanity. What category would you place me?”

“Insane. I’m surrounded by people who doubt my abilities this evening, what gives?” Tony held his hand out and wiggled his fingers. “Give me the goodies, Sparky.”

“Sparky, really?”

“Companion sounds more like what you’d call a dog.”

“And Sparky sounds like a rat.” J.J replied as she walked over and set the device down by his desk. “I like your tiny robot friend.”

“I think you’re the only one that does.”

Steve couldn’t keep up with these lines of conversation, “So. Can they stay on a guest floor Tony?”

“What? Sure. Just make sure Rocket Missile over there doesn’t try to kill anyone in his sleep.”

“I stay with him.” J.J frowned. “He won’t hurt anyone. He’s not a monster. He’s a human.”

"/Please/ no rainbow! I'm supposed to be Natasha's student, not a clown!" Kerica threw her hands up. She reached for the zipper and once out, she tossed it over a chair, since he /didn't like being handed things/. Underneath she had on a grey and black hatch-stripe yoga pants and a black paint-splattered tank-top. Slipping her shoes back on, she turned around for the door, "I hope that was the show you were looking for, Techy Tony. Sorry I didn't sing, though. See you," she twiddled her fingers in a backwards wave, and she headed back up the stairs.

Buck whistled once she was gone and glanced at Steve, "You have a type, don't you? Bold and quirky."

“At least I have a type. Your type of dames always changed at the drop of the hat. No one knew what kind of sweetheart you were looking for till you had them on your arm.” Steve retorted back. “Come on, I can show you what floor the guest area is, and then you two can get washed up.”

"Now I haven't heard her call yu zat. Vas zat from ze last time yu two drank together?" Pietro snorted and he looked at Tony, "I can't imagine vhat terrible zings yu two shared."

"/That's/ why she was totally chill with him," Bucky hummed, "Glad to know I liked 'sweethearts'. Yeah, lead the way. I'm dying for a shower. You might need a cool one," he punched Steve's shoulder slightly.

“All sorts of evil things, Quicky.” Tony smirked as he waved again. “All sorts of evil things. Also, I don’t think the Cap knows what a cold shoulder is. Too pure for that kind of thing. Don’t corrupt America’s Golden Boy.”

“Shut up Tony!” Steve called from over his shoulder.
~+~
The debriefing took a little longer than usual since the Captain wasn’t here to help make things look good. Already Fury and Maria were looking a little apprehensive at the fact that the Winter Solider was stationed at the Stark Tower, and that there was a civilian who managed to worm her way in. Slate had simply put that the civilian was his missing sister and walked out.

Natasha didn’t need to spend too much time debriefed as her part was already said and done. Tony was going to be the one to break through the USB and see what files were on there and what they could use against Hydra. She followed Slate out of the room. “I know that it was a shock to see her. You never mentioned to anyone, not even me, that you had a sister. No one would’ve blamed you for staying at the Tower if you wanted to. But you didn’t. What’s going on?”

"Deh only answer d'at comes ta mind, darlin', is that we both need time to wrap our heads around what happened," Slate shrugged, "Deh only one who knew was Fury, since 'e looks at all of our files anyway. It was presumed d'at she died a long time ago," he sighed and leaned over the balcony on the second floor, his head in his hands, fingers curling in his hair. His eyes, now that there was enough light to shine color into them, were what gave him his name. Blue slate grey eyes often looked black in the darkness.

Natasha also leaned against the railing of the balcony and watched him. Slate always was one of the few people who could open up and then close up within a matter of a few sentences. Clint was always open with sarcasm as his defense and Steve didn’t even know the word “closed’. “I wonder if she knew that after a while. That she was thought of as dead, or assumed to be dead. It’s probably why that picture only brings two words to mind rather than names and memories.” She paused. “I wouldn’t take too much time to wrap my head around this, if i were you Slate. Because J.J…I don’t want to call her fragile, but I can tell that she doesn’t trust. Bucky had to remind her what trust does, what it is, when he talked about following Steve. Leave her alone for too long…and she’s gonna think that you only said that to get the Solider on the plane.”

"I'll go ta the tower tomorrah. I know it's mornin' now, but just...a day ta ourselves, with me and my thoughts and 'er in 'her new environment. I don' want ta overwhelm her, either. I can ask Tony to give me his observations, or even call Pietro's cell. 'e seems ta be stuck ta 'er, it's kinda funny. Would it be good ta use 'im as my help-line? Or would d'at be relying on 'im too much and I should try ta get ta know 'er myself?" Slate moved his hands up and down like he was weighing the options literally, "I'm not sure."

“I think having a common thread will be nice.” Natasha said gently. “Just don’t abuse it and try to get to know her too. Pietro knows what it’s like to be the older brother. He knows that this is hard on you, and maybe he’s softening her up right now. Getting her in the same headspace I’m getting you into too. He might be able to tell you what type of triggers she has, or what she likes…things you can use to stand on so you’re not drowning.”

Slate nodded, "Yeah...yer right. I'm just...I didn't give up for a long time, I kept searching, and now d'at I found 'er I don' know what ta do. Especially since she doesn't remember or recognize me. She was fourteen when they took her to my eighteen as I'd just gone off to boot camp. I am not surprised d'at she still only looks fifteen or sixteen. They mistreated her...stunted her growth...I think I'd be able ta handle it better if she'd fought me when I told her she was my sister. There would be more devastation...but..." It would be what he deserved, was what he left unsaid.

Natasha shook her head from side to side. “I think this is why you and Steve get along so well. You beat yourselves up so much that when someone refuses to throw a punch you feel insulted.” She paused in that analogy. “The way I saw it, was that even if she did try to fight you about it…what was the point? You gave her two very solid facts of evidence that she can’t go up against even if she wanted to.” She smiled softly as she looked away. “But honestly Slate, I don’t think she needs your guilt, or your apologies. I don’t think she’d understand them. I think right now what she needs to see is your determination to set things right, and your perseverance to go through things to the bitter end.”

There was a long pause as he rattled around what she said in his head. "I'm surprised you aren't commentin' d'at you 'ear a buncha marbles rollin' around, darlin'," he gave her a soft slightly cheeky smile, ears a bit red, "I appreciate you talkin' ta me, helpin' me see reason."

Natasha smirked. “Solider’s don’t know reason from logic unless it’s under the heat of fire.” She pushed herself away from the balcony. “You should rest up and decide what you’re going to do for tomorrow’s day off. Because the moment you after eat breakfast is the moment I’m locking you out of the base.”
~+~
"Your brother decided to stay with a new friend he made," Clint told Wanda as soon as he was out of the briefing and she managed to find him, "It was adorable, really. Life a puppy dog with a new toy. Honestly, though, I'm not sure who was more fascinated by who."

Wanda blinked in surprise. A new friend? “You should start from beginning.” Her accent was a lot easier than Pietro’s, but her grammar was sometimes a little mixed up here and there, and she spoke in a nice formal manner since that was how English was mostly taught. “What do you mean new friend?”

"Kerica got attacked for not being colorful enough," Clint did as she asked and started from the beginning, but he grinned as that only seemed to make her more confused, "As much as that sounds like one of my jokes, I'm not. That is literally how it began."

“I confess, I do no understand.” Wanda frowned at Clint. “What does color have anything to do with being attacked, and why would Pietro suddenly call them his friend? Your mind is making fun of me.” She accused. “Though it is written on your face as well.” Her shoulders rolled back. “At least tell me what type of friend this person is.”

"A very quirky, albeit insane one," Clint shrugged, and he became serious long enough to tell her from start to finish what happened while they were on their mission. She seemed to understand a little better, but still had that expression of wonder on her face, "There you have it, that's all that happened from my point of view."

“That is…” Wanda wasn’t sure how to categorize any of this. This woman that Pietro had taken a liking to worried her like a sister should be worried but at the same time, what type of fascination did she manage to garner from her brother? Was it the insanity? Did Pietro worry that they couldn’t handle her and believed that he could be someone that could? Was it the quirkiness? Did Pietro find comfort in the fact that he could bounce around with someone that wasn’t her? “I do not know what to think of this. It worries me, but also strikes me fascinating. It is a shame you could not bring her here. I admit I see reason in bringing her to Stark. We would not be kind. She would hate us. Pietro would lose someone very quickly and if she is a friend you claim she is, well…Pietro needs more outside sources.”

"Hey," Clint put his hand on her shoulder, "He sacrificed himself for /me/, so don't beat yourself up, eh? What's in the past is passed, so relax," he winked at her, "I'm sure J.J. will run into Vision, too, so you could always ask him what he thinks of her. You trust him almost as much as you trust me or your brother."

Wanda smiled gently. “Too kind. But you’re not wrong.” She touched his hand gently. “I do not doubt you are tired and you want to rest. You had a long, yet very strange night. I will see you when you wake up. I will let you know if Tony makes Kerica a rainbow suit so that she does not get attacked by someone like J.J again.”
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Sun May 08, 2016 10:27 pm

"Tony!" Kerica whined from the changing wall Tony'd miraculously thrown up after saying she wouldn't be able to wear under-layers, "This is something I'd wear to a rave or something, not a mission! Or were you going for I could be the mascot?" she pouted as she came around to show the mad scientist. It wasn't /that/ bad. It could've been a lot worse. The torso was yellow at the top of her shoulders, to pink, a touch of purple, and a lot of sky blue at the bust, with a silver upside down arrow followed by a pink one, and white at the hips. The long sleeves matched the pants, blue, pink, yellowish green, blue and repeat down to her ankles. Her boots were white and on the back was a fairy wink print in white as well, "I like the wings, though. I hope to Odin that you won't make me wear this in front of Steve."

“I think Thor would take immense pleasure in knowing that you’re a loyal follower.” Tony rolled his eyes as he folded his arms with a slight smirk on his face. “You told me you were attacked because you weren’t colorful enough. This is colorful. If someone attacks you for not being colorful enough /now/, then we might have to discuss neon rather than pastel neon. The wings were an added touch…maybe I should have glittered it.”

"Metallic shine works for me just fine," Kerica sighed, "You must've had exactly what you wanted in your head if you whipped this up in less than eight hours." She hoped Steve was preoccupied with Bucky too much to come down here. "I'm going to get changed back into my normal clothes now. Are you happy, Techy Tony?"

“You ruin all of my fun.” Tony rolled his eyes as he tossed a garment over the changing wall. “That’s the real thing just to let you know. It can you keep you warm during the winers and cool during the summers. Also, it’s heat-rader masked, so you don’t have to worry about people seeing you. Also the material super flexible. I did of course make it reflective and added /some/ color. I think that if we program Russian’s Madness over there to think reflective is also friendly, we might get somewhere, though I doubt the Crazy Train will agree to that all that much. Speaking of,” he looked over at Vision who had been his sounding board for the sewing project. “have you met her yet, buddy?”

"I have seen her, sir, but I have yet to actually meet her. She and Pietro were wandering around the Tower last I recall," Vision hummed, smiling at Kerica's happy squeal and the shuffles as she all but ripped off the rainbow outfit, "They do seem quite close, I hadn't wished to interrupt them."

“I think you might like bouncing the ball against her. I still gotta look at her little gadget that she came up with. I have a thousand and one ideas for it. How flashy should I make it? I get the feeling of going patriotic, so an American Flag for a paint job is one thing. Our resident Patriot will shed a tear if he sees it out of happiness.” His gears switched again. “Where is our Man with a Plan at anyway, Pix? I would’ve thought he'd be with you.”

"Cap'n is with Buck," Kerica chirped back, sounding a lot more pleased than she had been, "I think he said they were going to work out. He wanted to get answers out of him." She finally came out and was tugging at her hood, grinning like an idiot. She'd let the zipper stop at her collarbone but it could go all the way to her eyes to pull the hood together.

"Mr. Stark recalled how you liked assassin hoods from your drunken talks," Vision commented, smiling. The dark forest green nearly black suit was indeed skin-tight, and it was obvious what she was or /wasn't/ wearing. She turned around and the emerald green tribal-like fae wings on the back glimmered with the metallic shine she spoke of, but didn't sparkle. It was the brightest part of her suit. Her boots were black, bringing the outfit together, "He has gloves that go with that as well, and a black eye-mask for the full under-cover aspect."

"This is beautiful, Tony! I feel like I'm wearing nothing. Take /that/ as you will," Kerica did a few kicks and punches, "I should still take it to the gym to break it in, it's a little stiff from being brand-new. Just a little."

“I would’ve been disappointed if you didn’t go for a test run. Let me know if there’s any changes I need to make to it.” Tony told her with a smirk. “Though I wouldn’t be anywhere surprised if you told me that it was perfect as is. Glad you like it. Go on now, shoo, shoo. I want a full report on that suit.” He gestured her out of his lab.

Kerica pranced over and gave him a one-arm hug before running out, the hood falling down and her hair in it's ponytail swishing behind her. Vision was highly amused and glanced at Tony, "This is going to test Steve's resolve in a different manner. We know he can withstand a lot in the battlefield, but you did that on purpose. It could have been a lot more like Natasha's and I know it."

"Please, I didn't do anything. I merely worked with what I had." Tony smirked, giving a good defense even though they both know that he was lying through his teeth. "Now go. Your sentimental antics is giving me hives. I can't have that. Pepper will kill me."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Mon May 09, 2016 1:49 am

They decided not to do sparring for two reasons. 1) It could trigger a PSTD moment for either one of them, and neither of them wanted to see the other in a puddle on the floor trying to breathe or not throw up. 2) It was a lot more fun trying to challenge on how many of what exercise they were currently doing and how many they could do in an allotted time period. It was a challenge within a challenge and they needed something to focus.

Right now they were trying to do pull ups on the bars, both of them evenly match and both were soaked with sweat. It was making their hands slip on the bar, but Bucky had a bit of an advantage through the metal arm. “You gotta tell me something about what’s been happening lately Buck,” he finally said after a moment of silence as they continued pulling their weight. “Hydra, trying to kill me, you’ve done a complete one-eighty.”

"I escaped," Bucky replied simply, huffing as he did another pull-up, chin above the bar like it was proper, "Everyone thought I was gone, so I worked odd-jobs, covered the symbol on my arm like you saw. I /did/ cut my hair, but as you see, it grew back out." He said all this between puffs and grunts, "I like red shirts and I wear a finger-less glove on my good hand and a full leather one on my metal one."

“Yeah I did notice that,” Steve replied with a grunt as he pulled himself up, trying to adjust his hand on the bar. “I’m happy you managed to get out, but…I’m talking about your adventures. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was ready to scour the world looking for you. I was trying to figure out how to tell Tony that I was taking a leave without getting an evil look my direction. I’d ask what you remember but…uh…Sam told me that I’d be rude and that I’d be expecting way to much outta ya.”
There was a quiet moment before Bucky sighed softly. He waited until Steve was on a downward motion so he wouldn't clank his chin on the bar, "Your mother's name was Sarah..."

He dropped to the ground instead, picking up the towel nearby to dry off his hands. It wasn't too surprising, that he'd remember his mom's name. "Yeah, Buck. Practically lived in our house like you were family. I did the same at yours. You respected her a lot, loved her fiercely. She used to say you were just like a son to her."

"You would wear newspapers in your shoes," that was a bit more private, and Buck lighted down with barely a sound, grabbing a towel of his own.

“Because all the shoes that were made back then couldn’t fit me, and holes in the socks made it hard to keep warm.” Steve looked over at Bucky with a sad smile on his face. “So you remember a lot. Why didn’t you try to find me? Or…talk to me? Too dangerous? Did you worry about….you know trying to kill me?” He knew his questions were blunt, and he knew Sam would be flying through the roof if he thought that these questions were along the lines of “potential triggers”, but Steve couldn’t help the gnawing curiosity and the need to know.

"Stevie, speak frankly with me, I'm not /that/ much of a glass doll. I can handle the tough questions," Bucky promised soothingly, "It would've been too dangerous, yes, but it wouldn't have been too hard to find you. I mean...last night? I knew where the Avengers were there would be a fight and who else would be leading them?" he smirked a bit, rubbing his face with the towel, "If I contacted you, you /would have/ dropped everything. I didn't want you to do that for me. You...can't seem to understand that while you're a great man, an idol, a roll model...I'm not. People want my head. I know I won't be able to stay here very long. I can't be cooped up. Jayden and I are travelers. I /hope/ I'll be able to leave her with you lot. I have done okay with her around so far, but there..." he trailed off, wincing, "...there have been some /near misses/ with her being near me."

Steve felt his heart sink. “We travel a lot too Buck, but this is your choice and I won’t ever make you feel trapped. If you think you can’t stay here, then that’s fine. Use this place as a base if you have to, or even if Tony and I do have a falling out, I’ll get an apartment big enough for you and Jay.” He said earnestly, and then paused. “What kind of near misses? Also, I’ve been dying to ask…why is she your Companion? How did she become that?”

Bucky sucked deeply through his lips, "Did a massacre ever appear up on your intel in England?"

“Yeah we heard about a few massacres.” Steve said slowly. “One of them in particular was based in England. Apparently it was…well….I’d say Hydra deserved it, but…it was…” Blood everywhere and people had claimed that some of the bodies looked like they were tortured before they were killed. Some people said otherwise. Whatever it was, whoever started the massacre clearly was in it for the bloodlust and no more. It was so violent that they had started to become weary on their intel, making sure to mark the next one…in case Hydra had enemies and S.H.I.E.L.D was next on the list.

"Yeah...that was what started the whole...friend vs monster codes and I'll be honest with you, I was very upset and panicked just a small bit when Kerica was being attacked. If she was any less skilled, she could have been very injured, besides that bruise on her chin," Bucky closed his eyes and sat down on a bench, "It was...any report couldn't cover what it was like to actually be there. J.J. and I have a few internal connections to Hydra, which is how we got to both places besides her radio contraption. One of the four were there and...he barely made it out. He has an emotional power, we call him Wave. That's the only reason he survived at all. He /stalled/ her, made her turn around to attack something else and crawled away. She notices me by my arm because of how shiny it is."

Bucky shook his head,  the red-soaked images in his mind causing a twist in his gut, "It started off innocently enough. If you didn't guess, she can hack, and she was going to get some information for me about...my torture, I guess, you could call it. My past. Wave was our backup and distraction. I easily stayed in the shadows, dressed in a uniform I'd beaten off of a soldier and keeping my head down. Few women soldiers in Hydra so J.J. had a different outfit all together, but she was quite conspicuous. Someone...saw her on the security cameras, raised the alarm before we knew what hit us. Gunfire, shouting, blood spraying on the walls...then she snapped. A person...attacked her in melee combat and that was a trigger. Before I could blink she'd taken her hunting Bowie knife and he was gutted against the wall, and she proceeded after a couple others. I threw off my jacket and hat for my disguise and let her see my arm, so she...killed around me. I can't even just say /killed/! Butchered. It was..." his Adam's Apple bobbed, "It was like a dog fight, the way she moved and /ripped them apart/. A few times she /did/ use her nails and hands to claw a guy off of her."

Steve’s face went from shocked to absolute pale. He couldn’t….that small little girl who was Slate’s little sister…was the entire reason why S.H.I.E.L.D raised an alarm? He knew better than to have assumed, he knew that she was insane but…oh god. Bucky and the Wave person just barely made it. That’s why Bucky was upset when his code didn’t work. That’s why he said that she couldn’t tell friend from foe. She couldn’t tell Bucky or Wave apart if she was in a frenzy.

It made him fear about her. A part of him wanted her to be locked up, or at least looked at. At the same time he knew too well that the Winter Solider was the /exact/ same thing. Butchery aside, the Winter Solider was an assassin of countless people and was a killer by trade. If they worried about the Winter Solider getting free and killing everyone…well…J.J wouldn't just  have words. She’d have a  knife and action against them. “Fuck, Bucky.” He looked away, feeling like he just ran into a wall or was having an asthma attack. “How…does she actually believe in that code? Does she realize that it’s a code? or does she think it’s a game?” He asked after a moment. “And…that’s not just a near-miss. Buck…if she can’t tell you apart from friend or foe, what makes you think she’s any safer here?”

"You asked me why or how she became my Companion," Bucky gave him a wry smile, "We had been travelling for at least two weeks together and she was attached at the hip to me.  Even in that massacre...She saved me while in her frenzy, Stevie..." he looked over at the wall, "It is a bit like a game. She /can/ recognize friend from foe, but it has to be something /very/ noticeable. Hence why I said 'the ones who are colorful are friends' and also, I did mention my arm. I was pinned in some rubble after one of the first explosions, and I just couldn't shake this guy off. He was like a smaller Hulk. She came up behind him and stabbed him in the back, looked at me when he fell over, and after staring at me with...these feral green eyes of hers, it was like she kind of snapped out of it. She spoke to me...I won't forget it - 'I saw monster attacking B.B...Is B.B. okay?' - and we took that moment to get out of there."

Steve let out a shaky breath. Everything that Bucky was saying was close to a horror movie. B.B. There was no doubt in Steve’s mind that the arm was no longer the entire reason why she’d recognize Bucky. Probably throughout the months of traveling together and fighting together, J.J saw him as something different. Something “friend” didn’t cover. A brother maybe, or someone who was very safe to her. “You have to admit Buck,” he said after a moment of thought. “Everything you’re saying is practically terrifying. That doesn’t explain why you think she’ll be safe with us…it sounds like to me you’re her touch stone. Clearly those two months meant a lot to her, Bucky. Way too much for you to think about just leaving. She was clear about that too, don’t forget. If you leave, she takes off with you.”

"She can be saved," Bucky was pleading even if he didn't look at Steve, eyes shut tight and he held a pained expression. He stood up and started pacing, "You didn't know any of this until I told you. She was fine last night and you had no idea she could have torn your girlfriend to pieces. J.J. has changed a lot. We've been together the whole winter. That was only two /weeks/ since I saved her from the train. She'd been by herself, barely remembered her own name. Her hair when I met her? White, from the stress of the body and what they put her through. It's short and a bit choppy because she'd shaved it all off. She also doesn't identify with any particular gender. She may be physically female, and understands that's important for medical reasons, but out of the blue some days she'll be a boy."

It…broke Steve’s heart seeing his friend like this. He really saw J.J as someone who could be saved, isn’t this the same thing that he was going up against? He was firm in believing that Bucky could be saved, but millions of people wouldn’t think so. They weren’t going to give J.J any mercy either. Bucky was doing the same thing Steve was doing, pleading a case that sounded…awful. That sounded like no hope could come from it. The parallels were so mind-boggling that he was starting to see the other view point and he knew right then and ther what his choice was. “So can you.” Was his answer. “I know you think you can’t, but if you have enough hope in J.J then you have enough hope too.” He took a steady breath. “She was tortured and she was hurt just like you were. Just like last night, Buck, /no one/ lays a hand on her. /No one/ is going to get to her without getting through me. I’m going to stand beside her, like I’m standing beside you. You have my word on my ma’s grave.”

"Using your ma-ma like that is unfair," Bucky looked at him with shock but a small relieved smile, "I...our problem is that I have to believe I can be, which I don't. I'll leave it up to you to prove that I can," he shook his head, "J.J's problem is...she is oblivious. At least, she's never made any hint that she does know she needs help. She grows as a person instead of an animal by leaps and bounds. What helps her the most is fiddling with gadgets. If Tony provided her with the tools, anything better than what a junkyard could give her, she could blow our minds. Well, not Tony's but you get my drift." He shrugged, "It honestly...surprises me she is humoring Pietro. It was more he latched onto her, I think, and she's going with the flow, trying to gauge him."

“Normally that type of activity would annoy her?” Steve asked, mentally thinking of what he should and shouldn’t tell Slate. There was undoubtedly going to be an attempt to breech communication lines with J.J. Slate found his little sister, and if he knew his handler as well as he thought he did, he wasn’t just going to sit by satisfied with “I told her, it’s done”, he was going to do whatever he could to reconnect a broken line. “What scares her more, space or people? I have a friend who deals with trauma. Maybe not the kind that has anything to help with you or J.J, but he has enough that he can give a lot of baseline pointers and maybe he can be an advantage to you both.”

"I'll ask her later, but something about Pietro got her curious, but yes she'd otherwise just ignore him," Bucky agreed first, "People, I'd say. She is claustrophobic. Enclosed places freak her out. She'd hate being in a shack even when there was a blizzard outside. Yet she prefers being alone, so the forests we'd travel through were like a home to her. I...asked her, when we first arrived, if it would be too closed up here, but she assured me that there's plenty of space to move so she'll be okay." He couldn't tell Steve about her power, not yet. There wasn't a need to. Hopefully she wouldn't be upset he shared her gender-fluid nature, though Steve hadn't seemed to be too put off about it.

“Okay, so…we’ll figure out a way for her to be introduced to Sam and I’ll see if Sam would like to talk to her. And you just so I can prove to you that you can be saved. Oh and I know that I’m super late in saying this, but Keri’s not my girlfriend.” Steve pointed out just as the doors opened to the gym.


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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Mon May 09, 2016 2:08 am

Kerica heard Bucky mutter 'are you sure?' as she came through the glass doors and she eyeballed them, "I obviously missed a good conversation, because you two look so serious," she hopped over to the empty space and started warm-ups to stretch her muscles, that way she wouldn't hurt herself.

"That's a /fitting/ outfit for you, Pixie," Bucky had stood up and was behind Steve, and he nudged him so he'd notice his mouth was hanging open, "Stark did a very nice job. I like the wings, great touch."

"I came here to break it in, it's still just a tiny bit stiff from being brand new," Kerica beamed and listed it's features while she bent over to touch her toes.

"Heat-masking and insulated, hot damn," Bucky whistled for more than one reason. He had an evil, evil plan in mind. It'd be worth it if he got punched. If /Stevie/ hadn't claimed her, then he'd see if he could do what his memories told him he could do. First... "I see a bra-line, but no /pantie-line/," he purred in Steve's ear just before he sauntered over to the brunette, "There's no way J.J. could mistake you now. That slight green shine to your suit is awesome."

Kerica started doing side-stretches, her eyes meeting his, and she blushed just a small bit, looking away shyly, "Techy Tony really does deserve the credit for the looks of the uniform. So far it feels nice on my skin."

"I /bet it does/...It kind of matches your eyes, too. I didn't get a good look at them last night in the dark. Like...jade? Is that the right stone? Too pale to be emerald, but just as bright," Bucky cooed, his hand on his hip.

She put both hands on her hips and leaned back, curving her back just right so it would pop and she gasped a bit in relief, snapping back in place and then rotated her torso with her arms bent at her sides, "I've always been really vain about my eyes. I couldn't imagine them being another color." She paused, "Is there a /reason/ you're chatting me up?"

"Steve and I can't spar, too many bad memories, but I wouldn't mind sparing with /you/," Bucky gave her a wide grin. She was really quick, "Show me what Natasha's been teaching you."

Kerica brightened, really giddy, "I can do that!"

It was adorable how she bounced, and he wasn't sure if it was her bra or the suit that kept her pretty decently sized breasts in place. They /had/ to be...what...American size D? Large C? Kerica was extremely shapely, nice bubble butt that begged to be smacked and a smooth hourglass figure, generous - not too wide not too slim - hips. How was Steve /not/ eating her up?! Cryin' shame. Of course, her personality did remind him of back in the day...Peggy. Kerica was like a Peggy reincarnate. Maybe that was why? They looked the same but quite different at the same time.

Once she finished her stretches and warm-up punches and kicks, they moved to another part of the mat where they would have all the room they would need. Getting down low into his stance, he watched her gracefully slip into hers. Martial arts. What kind? They were at a standoff for a minute before he made the first move, eager for action.

She didn't block, but she easily danced around him. Dancing...she was very light on her feet, "Twinkle toe pixie for sure," he muttered. She would've made a beautiful dance partner for Steve. Still could, if he'd just take what was his. Just play along...he glanced towards the man with golden brown hair from the corner of his eye as he dodged a good punch from the little one.
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Mon May 09, 2016 6:48 am

Why did it both make him super jealous that Bucky was doing the chatting again at the same time overjoyed? He was super surprised about how lewd he was being in front of her. His mother would have smacked him over the head for thinking and talking to a woman like that. Then again, Steve had to admit he was so out of place in this century that the ways women were treated, let alone talked to, boggled his mind. Not that they were treated anymore better back in the days, but Bucky would be more of a gentlemen.

Then again, Peggy and Bucky would have such dirty conversations right in front of him as a contest to see how bright pink they could make his ears with what they were saying. Mostly, Peggy won those contests because of the things she'd say. Bucky, he lived with, therefore was used to. Maybe he saw Peggy in Kerica. It'd explain a bit there.

He watched them spar and fight, smiling to himself as they fought. Natasha taught Kerica well on how to move her body. Since she was more shapely than Nat, it meant that she had to learn how to use her shape to her advantage. The suit didn't look unflattering on her at all either, instead made her shape give more definition. It was a treat to watch her kick Bucky's ass, though he wondered if this was Bucky holding back or if he was also taking a peek.

Again, jealousy. Steve shoved it down quick and fast. Maybe he should try. Something easy. He had been out of the dating pool. At the same time, it made him feel uneasy. Who was Kerica actually dating if she accepted; Captain America or Steve Rogers? It was a question that...well...that no easy answer.
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Mon May 09, 2016 3:14 pm

Geez, was this man's resolve rock solid or what? If he knew Steve like he thought he did, though...hmm. Buck upped his speed but kept his punches at low power just in case he messed up and did hit her, he didn't want Steve to be mad for damaging his precious person. That wasn't what he was going for here, and he'd feel like even more of a monster.

Kerica's breath was changing, taking deeper ones and there were more sighs to her movements as she twirled to dodge then brought her arm down to try and hook his arm, only he twirled her once she had him in an arm lock and she managed to land on her feet when she was tossed.

"Like a kitty-cat," Buck smirked, "Maybe I should call you Keri-kitty?" he made a loud, surprised grunt when she made a connecting blow with his jaw and then she dropped to her feet, sending him on his ass while he was stunned and her elbow was at his throat when she knocked him back, his hair sprawled on the mat.

"That's Steve's nickname for me," she pouted at him.

Buck was easily able to grab her hip and hip-toss her to the side, rolling on top of her, pinning her hands above her head, "Well, I'll just have to stick with twinkle-toes, then, now won't I?" he grinned down at her.

"That sounds like a name coming from the Last Airbender," Steve suddenly spoke up. "And careful with her wrists." He knew better than to just say that. Shit, why did he say that? He knew Kerica was sensitive about her wrist and about people treating her like glass. Probably him wanting Bucky off of her as decently and as quickly as possible, because if Bucky thought he didn't miss how he grabbed and tossed her looked like something along the lines of....his ears were too bright of a pink and he scuffed his toe against the ground. "I'm going to leave and get something to snack on and a few bottles of water so we don't faint." Peggy would be laughing hysterically at him right about now.

Kerica scooted out from under Bucky as soon as he leaned back, hands in the air defensively. He cleared his throat, "Hey, it's cool, Steve. I'll go get the stuff, it shouldn't be too hard to find. If I get lost I'll just use one of Stark's many computers." He hooked his arms under Kerica's shoulders and heaved her to her feet as he stood up as well, plopping her down and patting her head, "I'll be more careful next time of your wrists. You breathe a minute. Asthma, yeah?"

Kerica's cheeks were red, "That's right. It's just my left one, so don't worry too much. The Avengers provided me with good reconstructive surgery, so it's only when it gets, like, twisted or if the weather's crappy."

"Gotcha," Buck nodded and he walked by Steve, pounding him sideways on the chest and winked to know it was all on purpose before walking out.

Steve could only watch Bucky leave. He doubted Kerica even knew what was going on, she could be so observant in some things, and really oblivious at others. Bucky was so much better at this than he was. He felt awkward, rubbing the back of his neck. "Did he wind you up some?"

"That was a great test of my suit," Kerica nodded, heading over to him. He looked nervous and...she smiled slyly, "You're /blushing/!" A statement, not a question, since she knew he would just deny it, "Am I that good to watch? Bucky's a good sparing partner, but I know he was holding back. Made me happy at least when he sped up the game."

Steve laughed, "You both fight real well and I can see what Nat's been teaching you." Fuck if he talked about the suit because he wasn't /an animal/ like someone's son was /raised/ apparently. "So, I was thinking about grabbing a coffee later on. Do you want to come with?"

"Are..." Kerica stopped. It'd been almost a year since she'd gotten with S.H.I.E.L.D. and though she'd tried to get his attention, she knew it was a lost cause. He was /Captain fucking America/ and had bigger fishes to fry. So...this was just coffee. Not a date. Just coffee... "Yeah, I'd love to. I tell ya, there's no such thing as a sleep schedule on your team," she giggled softly and looked down at herself, "I, uh...I should go change and tell Tony it was a success. Unless...you want to spar with me, too?"

Steve shook his head, "I think Bucky had all the fun, though next time I'd like that. The green really does bring out your eyes. You let Tony know, I'm sure he's practically burning Vision out with all sorts of ideas for the next suit in case you don't like that one."

His compliment had her face turning into a tomato, and she ducked her head shyly, "Thank you, Steve, I'm really glad you think so. You know where to find me when you're ready for that coffee," she smiled and headed out of the gym, leaving Steve alone.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Mon May 09, 2016 7:51 pm

"Ze base has many more rooms like ze cafeteria, but zis place is less like base and more like bachelor's pad," Pietro rambled on. He and Jayden had been walking around and had gotten to see the party room, the gym, the kitchen, the infirmary, a pool, and a few other places on the lower levels, but they were back at the top of the Tower and he opened the door to an indoor garden, "Zis is ze last place I can zink of...I zought yu vould like it."

The indoor garden was beautiful. It was really well cared for and whoever it was that tended to it, knew their plants. There were a few flowers, but a lot of it was plants that were easily tended to in indirect lighting. She smiled brightly. She could bet that if it rained, she could imagine being in the Rain Forest or a jungle of sorts. Right then and there she decided that this area was safe. A lot of other areas that they had seen was mostly for knowledge and for knowing the layout. Here though, she'd have to tell Bucky that if she felt confined there was an area that was safe. He'd appreciate it. The smell of wet earth, fresh oxygen...yeah even if she was indoors. "I like this place." She said as she walked through aisles of plants, trying to think of names for every one of them and knowing she'd have to look some up. Maybe she could add some to the collection. "This is safe place. I wasn't expecting to find that here. Anything but a safe place. B.B will feel a little more at ease I think, if he knows this is here."

The blond man was giddy, "I'm really happy yu zink zis place is safe. I don't vant yu to be uncomfortable here. Stark saved my life," he placed his hand on his chest, "Zese people are my friends...family. I vant yu to be safe vith zem. Wanda, she said she vas coming tomorrow to meet yu."

"You mentioned her before. What's she like?" J.J asked as she stood on her tippy-toes to look at a plant. The leaves were such a gorgeous green. Smiling, satisfied, she let herself down and went to another area of the room, humming softly. "If she's your sister, she has to be kind. You're kind. I wonder if I'll be able to read her...doubt it since I can't read you. That's alright."

"Read? Wanda can read minds, can yu?" Pietro easily connected the dots, flitting next to her from where he'd been standing, "She's very kind, but she can be strict like mother," he snickered, "If you cross Vision, he likes coming here, this is his area, don't tell him she's coming," he winked, "She asked me not to tell anyone, but it slipped."

"I don't like secrets. But since I like you, I'll keep my mouth shut." J.J agreed readily as she headed through another section of the garden. She knelt down and touched an orange flower petal before standing up. "I wonder if a telepath and a telepath can read each other. I think that'd require a strength of mind and will." She mused. "Oh, yeah I can read minds. Can't read yours. I can hear it. It's like radio static. White noise. Sometimes annoying, sometimes not there." She paused as another thought came to mind. "A mom..." She thought about Slate. Tucker. She still felt the chills and that last name felt heavy on her tongue. "I don't think I like family all that much. Or maybe I just don't know what it involves." She clasped her hands behind her back, her fingers dancing each other to keep her mind partially distracted. "But if Wanda's a good sister, then maybe I should take advice from her on how to be a good sister? Mmm but do I want to be Slate's sister or do I want to be B.B's? It's a hard decision."

"A surprise is different from a secret. Secrets can hurt, yes, but surprises are fun," Pietro explained, "Yu can have more than one sibling, too, yu don't have to choose. I am sorry my mind is annoying?" he said in a question-like manner, unsure how to respond to that. She was really pretty as she looked at the flowers and plants, the lighting of the room catching her in a lovely way. He wasn't a teenager, he knew he found her attractive, but she was quite different. He didn't think she'd really understand, but...he should wait and see. They had just met after all.

She would have to check with Bucky to see if that was true. She decided to trust Pietro's distinction. He hadn't lied to her yet, or lead her into something false. He was kind, gentle, and he was able to hold a decent conversation. A lot of people just got annoyed with how she talked, or didn't want her to talk at all, being the animal that she was. "No. Just weird. Unusual. I think it's because you think quick like you can run. Or maybe I'm just attuned to highly advanced humans like I thought I was. But that's not true, cuz he's an advanced human-ish and I can read his thoughts like clear rain." She gestured over to a man with a red face and extremities along with a cape that appeared to be gold color. Everything else was just black like the widow's suit. He looked to be checking in on some of the flowers that were in the garden. "Hello!" She waved at the man.

Vision started and glanced over to her, "Oh! Hello, I was just seeing if my flowers needed to be watered. Have I interrupted you two?"

Pietro smiled, "That's Vision, J.J. and he's a fun person to talk to," he waved at him, "No, yu didn't interrupt us." He knew he'd seen him earlier...was he trying to give them privacy? He smiled at the idea. Vision was so thoughtful. "I am going to be back, I'm thirsty. Do you want a water, J.J?"

“Please!” J.J grinned as she watched him speed out of the garden. Her smile gently faded and she looked at Vision with a hint of exasperation on her face. “I think he wants me to talk with you.” She scratched her cheek. “Though it appears someone else told you I’m a good person to talk to, too.”

"Hmm, well, I admit you have peeked several people's interests, not just Pietro's," Vision floated over to her and lighted down. She was so small... in a way that was different from Kerica. Kerica at least had plenty of lean muscle to fill her out. Jayden looked like she was drowning in her clothes. "You...are an anomaly. You speak in simple terms, often in a way it reminds me a little of a child. Yet by your contraption, your mind is an advanced thing that hasn't fully found it's potential."

"I like building things." J.J shrugged a little. "Can you read minds? Or are you just really observant? You're a bit interesting to me too. You think like a human, and act, but your mind is...well...vast. Like...you look like you're twenties or thirties, but you know more than someone whose a hundred."

"Would you believe me if I told you I used to be an AI named Jarvis and I was transformed into this body?" Vision asked her, smiling. So she could read minds? "Can you see images or just hear thoughts? I cannot read minds, though I can connect to technology instead. Telekinetic."

"I would 'cause your mind doesn't lie." J.J replied instantly. That explained why he was human-ish and why his knowledge was practically larger than a library. But then that brought a little worry to her mind. How did that categorize him to her? Not a Monster, not a Human. Friend was possible since he was clearly colorful, but what if the game changes? She was going to have to talk to Bucky about it. "Not images. But thoughts. I don't do images. I think it's 'cause I don't have that wave-length. I wouldn't understand them. Technopathy...we should have had you with us during the stealth mission than relying on the USB. Maybe the interface wouldn't have scrambled so badly."

"Mr. Stark needed me here with him, and we knew the others could handle it. It was a small base with little security. After all, Steve only got a small graze from a bullet and Kerica only got injured because of you. Why take more people when the lesser number can do just fine?" Vision asked, and shook his head, "I find no reason to lie, unless someone is in danger and lying would save their life. Say, sending someone the wrong direction." He coaxed her to follow him to a bench near the window and he sat down beside her, "I see there are things in the world which you do not yet understand, but you are trying to. I can see it on your face. I do not have to read minds to read body language. You do not know if I am friend or foe?"

"I don't know category of friend or foe you are." J.J supplied. "Like, you're not a monster, you're nice enough and your colorful too. But you're not a human either cuz you only have human-like features. I'd say you're a machine, but if I say then B.B gets insulted." She shook her head as she lifted her legs and brought them up on the bench, crossing them and tucking her feet underneath her. "I know there's no such thing as black and white either. A human can become a monster just as a monster can become human. A machine can become a human too. B.B proved that." She pursed her lips, thinking about how she could try to explain what she's coming from. "Friend and foe...I don't really understand it. Monsters I understand. Humans I understand too. I get friends are allies and foes are another type of monster. It's a little complicated. A little hard to understand. I let B.B decide friend and foe. He just has to tell me whose a friend and I'll deal with the monsters." She nodded. "Otherwise, I think I'd hurt a lot of people if I tried to make that decision for myself. I like Pietro. He's a safe person. I don't like Slate. He makes my skin cold. Does any of this make any sense?"

"I do believe I see where you're coming from. Perhaps what you feel towards Slate is a more complicated emotion than the baser ones such as happiness and sadness and anger. Guilt and fear are often described as making your 'blood run cold' as the saying goes," Vision tried to explain, "Yet you don't particularly fear him, do you? He is foreign to you because you do not know what is like to have a real family, but besides that, what else could there be? Friends, monsters, enemies and allies...the world is a lot more vast than these concepts. You obviously know how to use technology or work it to your advantage. Perhaps I could ask Tony for a small laptop to allow you to browse the internet? You know what is good, so it is not like you would be a blank slate and all the bad things you see tell you that's all there is to the world." Not like Ultron. Jayden knew how to comprehend things in a way he never would have been able to.

He really thought that this was a good idea. She wasn't sure who this Ultron guy was, but he sounded like a type of monster that would make people's skin crawl. To only see the "bad" and not see any good. What kind of life was that? He probably tried to kill everyone. If J.J saw only the bad and never thought of the good, even held on for it, she would probably wouldn't be alive right about now. Also, his mind was clearly not judging her in fashion. He took her facts, calculated his response, and gave it back to her without trying to steer a course or put her in a box. She decided that she was being unfair to him. If there were more categories than the ones that she was familiar with...well...she probably should expand that box of knowledge. "A laptop is probably going to be really useful." She said after a moment. "If you think that I won't go nuts like this Ultron guy, I think that it could be useful. I don't know where I'd begin. But it's been a while since I used technology as a source of fun and my own resources than someone else's. I wonder if I'll be able to look up this Jayden Marie, and other things like the categories we're talking about...and emotions. I guess there's more emotions than just the ones I'm used to. I think I knew that, know that, I just no longer have the words for them."

"Ah, I didn't realize I projected that thought so strongly. He caused a lot of grief for my team and I, and this body was almost his," Vision shook his head, "I am used to Pietro's sister seeing my thoughts so I try to monitor them, I will have to do the same with you. Do you wish me to keep it a secret? The others should know, but if you would rather tell them then I will be quiet until you are ready to share." He paused, "As for where you could begin, I would suggest an e-mail. You need one to 'register' for a lot of sites you visit to see their content."

"That I'm a telepath?" J.J asked curiously. At his nod, she hummed softly. "I dunno. I don't like secrets all that much. At the same time, I'm kinda the ace in the hole. Not much of an ace if it goes around. I guess I can tell them myself. I gotta ask B.B if that's alright. If it's not, well...I guess if it slips from a third party, it'll be alright. I dunno. I'm not the sneaky type." She shrugged. "Okay. Email I can do. Is he done with upgrading my little radio box?" She asked curiously. "Cuz I can bother him about that an a laptop without dragging you with."

"He is almost done, he started working on it when I left a couple hours ago. He made Kerica's new uniform, that was more priority," Vision stood back up again and bowed to her slightly, "I will see you, then. Pietro, you can stop hiding now," he called and the blue-silver blur arrived beside J.J. taking his previous spot, "Farewell for the evening. I am glad you enjoy my garden," he smiled and turned away, disappearing after a moment around the bushes and trees.

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Lynx-Tiger



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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Wed May 11, 2016 1:45 am

They landed on the platform and Wanda took a big breath in and out. She enjoyed the fresh air after being trapped in a quintet. It wasn’t a long time, but just like Pietro she didn’t like flying all that much. Mostly because they both liked the idea of being tree and having a chance to travel their own ways. She smiled warmly at Slate who was trying to keep his composure, but his mind was running around nervously. Would she like the gift in his arms, would she yell at him, would she talk to him. There were also a few questions about Natasha’s intelligence. Was she wrong? Was she right? Should he have waited longer.

She placed a hand on his arm comforting. “You will spin your head off if you continue working yourself into a wall.” She told him gently. “Do not fret so much. She will enjoy the gift, I am certain. You thought of her.” Her eyes caught onto Vision who came through the doors and she smiled pleasantly. “I was wondering when I would see you again.”

"I knew the transport jet would have Slate on it, but I was not aware you would be joining him," Vision's smile was wide and bright, splitting his face in two. Floating over to he he let the tips of his fingers stroke away some flying hair in the wind off her forehead, "/Este bine sa te vad din nou/," *It is good to see you again* he purred in her native tongue.

“Mi-a fost dor de tine.” *I missed you*. Wanda responded as she gently brought him into a hug. They weren’t the lovey-dovey type of couple, but the tamed passion between the two of them was nice. Warm. “I have heard interesting things. Especially about Slate’s younger sister.” She said as they stepped back from each other. “Where is everyone? I’m eager to see Pietro and meet the two who helped in the mission.”

"Come, let us get inside," Vision noticed Slate was being rather quiet and his smile turned into a reassuring one. Once they were out of the wind and he didn't have to raise his voice anymore to be heard, he gave them his answer, "Kerica is at the pool, I'd advise not disturbing her. Steve promised her a coffee date yesterday and they had to postpone because Stark cracked the intel early. They are there now, and J.J. - as she likes to be called - has taken an interest in my garden so she spends time there. Pietro barely leaves her side. Barnes is in the library, interestingly enough."

"Steve asked Kerica on a coffee date and rainchecked?" Slate blinked at Vision.

"From my understanding, Kerica doesn't think it was a date, just coffee, but as Stark persists to point out, they have a 'thing' for each other and so I connected the dots," Vision gave a tiny shrug, something he picked up from Tony.

"Ouch. Nat will slap him upside the head," Slate snorted and looked at the colorful parcel in his hands, "I'm going to go to the garden, then. This is for J.J. You going with Vision to see Tony?" he looked at Wanda.

“Are you certain that it is not Natasha who will slap you over the head? You are just as oblivious.” Wanda frowned at Slate before turning to Vision. “And if you do not think I will be in the way, I would love to accompany you to the laboratory. I’m certain that I will be able to speak to my brother another time.”

"He really is nervous about J.J. isn't he?" Vision hummed, tilting his head at his retreating back, then he looked at Wanda and brought her close, stopping his floating so he could walk at her pace to the lab, "I wonder if Steve knows Kerica is upset. She played she was fine, but she has no...poker face, as it's called. Certainly, it is amusing and sad to see Slate and Natasha as well as Steve and Kerica dance around each other. I believe Pietro has realized he has become infatuated with J.J. but it is J.J. who is the oblivious one. Her situation is quite...unique, however."

“I am quite curious to know more.” Wanda confessed. “I have heard that she is and I quote “quirky albeit insane” according to Clint. It makes me both worried for Pietro, as I have not spoken nor met her yet, at the same time wonder what type of person that she is. I’m presuming, judging from the way you speak, you have met her, therefore know more.”

"Yes, actually. We had a deep conversation, and I feel like I should engage her more often. She likes me in a sense, I fascinate her like Mr. Stark is fascinated by his technology. She wants to know how I work, though she did not particularly say so," he nodded, "I was able to convince Mr. Stark to give her a laptop to browse the internet..." he started and then proceeded to explain their conversation, giving Wanda some insight, and also opening his mind so she could see for herself if he didn't explain it properly for her to understand.

The images of the young girl, and the conversation that Vision was describing as well as what she was seeing was…heartbreaking. The girl spoke very much like a way that told her that she was detached from life itself. Oh, she was very keen on learning how to get into it. But the ideas…they were so childlike and innocent at the same time dark and deep it was complicated. “Her situation is unique.” Wanda said after a moment. “My heart breaks for her, it’s clear she has suffered. She has suffered greatly. Pietro must sense it. He’s always been good at sensing when I am suffering. It will explain why he cannot leave her side…infatuation another.” She looked away. “I doubt Hydra were the ones who had her. They would have not let her mind regress so far back like that. She sees things that they would not want her to see.” She sighed and leaned against Vision. “I am certain Steven knows more. Though I highly doubt he will tell us about it. He has a better poker face than Kerica. Not to mention, if it is to spite Tony a little while longer for interrupting their date, well…he’s not above being a jerk.”

"I will tell you, but I agreed she could tell the others herself. She can read thoughts like you can, but no images," Vision told her. They were nearing the lab, "She is interested to see if you two can read each other."

Another telepath? Wanda was also curious to know if she could read her. It was interesting that she couldn’t see images, but at the same time understandable. It was unfortunate that the topic had to be cut short, since they walked through the lab doors. Tony was speaking quickly and Steve had his arms folded, listening. No, this type of conversation would have to wait. But Wanda was set on meeting her somehow someway.
~+~
The garden had a calming effect on many people, and the scent of flowers and soil made him reflexively take a breath. Hearing talking, he followed the voices to the window bench, and Pietro was talking animatedly about one of the missions he'd been on. Smiling, he moved closer, clutching the blue wrapped gift close to his chest with one arm, his other hand in his pants pocket.

"Zen /BOOM/!" Pietro threw his hands up, "Ze whole building started rumbling and we had to run out of zere, rocks flying everywhere. 'Slinger was so mad because he had a lot of paperwork to do afterward."

"D'at was one of teh first missions I did with ya'll," Slate hummed, "Fury just laughed at me when I complained."

Pietro jerked when he heard him and blinked, "Oh! Is it zat time already?! Is Wanda here?!"

"Yes, your sister is in the lab," Slate nodded.

J.J was grinning at the story and when Slate came in, her smile faded just a slight bit. He was looking for privacy and she knew it the moment that Pietro had asked about his sister. She patted Pietro’s arm twice. “You should tell me more of these stories when you come back. I don’t think I’m allowed in the labs when there’s a secret going on. You should go say hi to your sister, and tell her I said hi too.” She smiled at him brightly. “I’ll be alright by myself in here.”

"Yu von't be by yerself," Pietro murmured as he hugged her close for a quick second, "I'll talk to yu later, zen," he stood up and giving Slate a two-fingered salute he disappeared.

"I...I really am sorry, if I interrupted yer time with him," Slate shifted, "I'd rather walk, if yer okay with d'at?" Sitting would just get him anxious and he didn't want to affect her that way.

“Okay. I’m getting bored.” J.J agreed as she stood up. “We walked around the entire garden yesterday, and I know the area of the tower pretty well. But if we’re going outside, you’re outta luck. I don’t know the city all that well.” Once more, J.J noticed that Slate’s mind wasn’t radio static but silence. Once more she grew suspicious that he was deliberately shielding himself from her, or that he had a natural barrier. She didn’t know what. She wasn’t about to point it out either, just in case it was a test. “What’s up with the thing under your arm?” She decided to question as they walked through the garden. She didn't feel ice cold around him this time, but she still felt a chill. She pursed her lips together, uncertain.

"It's a gift for ya," Slate looked at it a second before he handed it to her, "I hope ya like it. Ya seem ta be settlin' in pretty well 'ere. Pietro makin' ya comfortable?" He smiled, "I know we can't go outside, but this place works just fine. I like ta garden, so I feel at home with teh plants. I work on it when I get teh chance, but just as Vision 'as this place 'ere, at teh actual base I 'ave my own."

J.J took the gift hesitantly. A gift, she knew was something that was given with generosity in mind. No paybacks were involved, though it was kind to think of something for them later on as a thank you. “Thanks.” She said as she held the gift close to her. The wrapping paper crinkled, and whatever was in there was pliable. She looked around at the garden, letting his words wash over her for a moment before looking at the gift in her hands. “I don’t understand.” She said after a moment. “Last time we met, you were really sad. Now you’re trying to act like you’re not sad, but that’s not true. Vision told me that the reason why I feel cold around you is because I feel guilty. I don’t know you, so I don’t know what I’m guilty of. But if I’m guilty of something, why are you trying to be nice to me? I don’t…understand.”

"It's okay," Slate soothed, his Southern Accent fading as he got more serious, "Yer not guilty of anything, Jaybird. I promise. Maybe the you from before you were kidnapped feels guilty, but yer not. Anyway..." he shook his head, "Just open it."

J.J wished that Slate would give an answer. Why would the her before feel guilty? She didn’t understand and it made her head hurt. She found where the tape was and started picking at it. She tried not to tear it too much since they were in the middle of the garden and there wasn’t really a place for her to go wild and tear as much as she wanted. What unfurled made her eyes widen. Inside was a fleece blanket that was so soft to the touch. She unraveled it, marveling at how it was primarily blue with a computer chip design. In the middle of it was a large red heart, with white computer chip background. It made her heart stop and she felt tears prick her eyes as she brought it close to her. “Thank you.” She said, feeling a lump in her throat. “Robbie gave me a blanket as a gift too. How did you know I like fleece?”

"It's bigger, so ya should be able ta wrap it around ya properly without worryin' 'bout tearin' it," Slate grinned, "I saw yer blanket back in teh forest an' on teh plane. So I went huntin' fer somethin' d'at didn' look so beat up an' would suit ya," he rubbed the back of his neck shyly, shifting from foot to foot, "Ya like it?"

"I like it." J.J said as she held onto it closely. "I don't have much. But I like soft." She carefully and gently began to fold it. They were silent, for a moment and she looked at Slate. "Everyone's been trying to get me to like you." She told him sincerely. "They keep saying that you're nice, that you're determined. Pietro was trying to give an example of what kind of guy you were, but we got sidetracked with stories of adventures." She pursed her lips together. "But I don't know what kind of man you are. You're the second person here I can't read."

"Can't...read?" Slate frowned a bit, "What do ya mean by d'at?" he was confused by the statement and he continued to walk, his hand absently touching the leaves at his side, "Whether or not ya like me is up to you only. Everyone else can give their opinions of me, but it's only you that can give teh final verdict."

“I’m a telepath.” J.J supposed that her other self was /not/ a telepath. So that meant that the only other reason as to why she couldn’t read Slate, was because they were of blood. Siblings who could reach each other minds had an unfair advantage. That’s why twins were so fucking deadly to go up against. She paused in her thoughts, petting the blanket and letting the softness calm her down. She glanced at him, before looking at the blanket. She continued to pet the blanket as she gathered her thoughts. "It makes it harder to know what it is you're looking for."
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Thu May 12, 2016 3:06 am

"I'm looking to get to know you," Slate gave her a lopsided smile, watching her with the blanket. She really did enjoy how soft it was and it made him happy she liked her gift, "I'm not trying to hide my thoughts from you, though I guess it's a good thing you can't read me. I could tell you about our past, but I want to know who you are /now/ instead of you trying to fit the image of my sister from when you were fourteen."

“I don’t think I’d like your sister way back then.” J.J agreed after a moment. “Okay, so then…hmm….” She tapped her finger to her chin. “That means you have to ask me questions. I don’t really have any for you, since I don’t know where to begin. You have a better base.”

"I don't want to ask the hard questions right now...so let's stick with mundane," Slate hummed, "I want to know...your favorite color, your favorite food...which season do you prefer? That sort off thing..."

“Blue.” J.J replied instantly. “….Pizza.” She said for the second one. “I didn’t have a favorite food for a very long time. When I got out…it was the first thing I ate. He was from New York, he missed home.” She explained after a moment. “I like cheese and pepperoni, but I also like Supreme. He liked pineapple and ham. Hawaiian I think it was called. I don’t know. Season…?” She looked at Slate confused. “I don’t have one. I like rainy weather. I like thunderstorms. I don’t have a season. Seasons don’t matter much.”

"Thunderstorms happen more in spring and autumn," Slate explained with a nod, "He...Robbie? You said his name before. Did he take care of you?" Blue...she'd liked purple growing up, so it wasn't /that/ much of a difference. Pizza, of course. That was an American staple along with burgers. "I like Meat Lovers pizza," he told her absently, "My favorite color is green."

“Yeah.” J.J smiled softly as she held the blanket closer. “He got me out. I remember you liked cowboy hats.” She looked at the bundle in her hands. “He was an officer of the law, working under cover.” She stopped and looked at one of the red flowers that Vision was growing in his garden. “What kind of music do you listen to? I listen to electronic. Do you like to travel? B.B and I travel to a lot of places. He thinks of leaving. He thinks that he won’t be welcomed. I think otherwise. I think B.B has a strong chance to be an Avenger.”

"I don't mind travelling, it just gets exhausting when I'm away for a long period of time or one mission right after the other," Slate explained softly, reaching out and bringing one of the flowers to his nose, "I was in the building when things went down back when Hydra tried to take over and it came crashing down. Myself and a few others barely made it out. I have a few rubble scars and bullet scars from it. So...yes, I know what the Soldier can do. I know why he's terrifying and why he believes he should be behind bars. I haven't laid a hand on him because you and Steve are close to him, but Fury, our Big Boss, isn't exactly pleased." He sighed softly, "I like old rock 'n' roll, mostly what's called Alternative music. You thought I'd say country, didn't you?"

“Nickel back.” J.J replied instantly. It sounded like something that he would listen to. “Sister Sin, I think you’d like that song if you haven’t heard it.” She kicked the ground a little. “He sounds like a smart guy. I think he’s going to figure out whose dangerous sooner or later.” She pursed her lips together. “I think so will you.”

"I love Nickelback," Slate beamed at her, bouncing a little in his step as they continued to walk the path, "I know Sister Sin. Haven't heard in a while though," he chuckled, "Dunno what you consider techno but you did like Iron for Hire," he hummed at her words, "What happens with Fury and any decisions will happen as they come. I'm going to live in the moment for right now, enjoy my time with you. I haven't seen you in so long...a lot has changed, but I'm rollin' with it. It's not so bad. I won't tell you what you used to like unless you ask me."

“I think it’d make me….sad.” J.J nodded her head with a smile. “Icon for Hire. That sounds familiar. I should look it up. Tony gave me a laptop.” She licked her lips in thought and decided to ask another question. “Do you have a favorite animal? Were you a dog person or a cat? I see you with a dog since you have the Gunslinger persona to live up to.  Also, Bucky’s trying to get Steve and Kerica laid.” It slipped out and she turned pink. “Uh…oops.”

"Ha!" Slate covered his mouth as he snorted and covered up a laugh, "Jaybird you have no idea. I think everyone but Steve and Kerica are aware of just how they are. Clint and Tony are the worst at just calling her his girlfriend, it gets him all flustered. It was innocent and really cute at first. She kept blushing when he was around while still trying to act normal, and Steve isn't one of those people to really show what he's thinking unless it's strong so I can see where she thinks he's not interested in her that way, but if you've watched the guy...he tends to just...not stare, but gaze. It's so soft and gentle. He started speaking to her differently after a while, and then when she spoke he started to pay special attention to her. Me? I can't spot her in a busy crowd like those damn parties Stark holds, but Steve will zero in on her. Or a crazy fight when you can't make out up from left or down from right, same thing."

He snickered again, "As for my favorite animal? You're right, I love dogs, but I prefer golden retrievers. They're so smart and I love their coats, especially the ones with more red in their fur."

“Do I help out, or should I sit out?” J.J questioned. “They’re not very smart when it comes to emotions and I can read minds. Then again, B.B might not appreciate me stepping on his project. Maybe he needs someone to mate with.” She hummed softly. “Or a different type of Companion. I’m not a very good cuddle. I have no cleavage to offer or skin for that matter. I’m all bones.”

Slate's face contorted, unsure if he should flow with it, do the brother thing of backing it up, or what... "Mate?" was all he ended up saying, "Isn't that...an animal term?" he winced, hoping he didn't step on a landmine.

J.J just blinked innocently at him. “Yep. Oh…” She tilted her head at him. “I forget. It’s not a term humans use is it? Is “partner” better? I’d ask you if you knew about the Fights…but….you don’t know anything about them. Otherwise, we would be having an entire different conversation.”

Slate sucked his lip in just a little bit and chewed on it, taking a deep breath. It was going to happen...he couldn't live in the dark about what happened to her forever... "The Fights? Dog Fights but with humans?" he took a wild guess, "Tell me."

She looked at him in a serious matter. Her expression that was playful had a sinister, crazy side that was edging through. She held the blanket under one of her arms as she gestured out, a graceful flourish. “You hit the nail on the head.”

It made him sick. His stomach twisted and he turned to the side, his hand running over his face. His complexion was pale, and he took deep breaths. They took his sister... it struck him, and he looked back at her with an expression of awe instead of illness, "They took you to be /dog food/, but you /laughed/. You laughed in their fucking face and rose through the ranks and /survived/, didn't you?" Dog food was a loose term, not literal, since it was with humans instead. Cannon fodder probably would've been better, but whatever.

J.J looked shocked, surprised that this was the reaction that she was getting. However pride was too easy to feel and she grinned brightly, puffing her chest up. “I did. Just like the necklace told me to. “Laugh in the face of Pain.” I was their most sought out. I was too good.They’d always say it’s a shame I couldn’t breed. I killed every mate they tried to put me with.” She let her arms down and hugged the blanket closely. “I fought to live. I had…a lot of hope. And a boy in a picture who I wanted to look for. Who I thought about looking for. I didn’t in the end. Didn’t know where to start and I didn’t have a name to go with it. So I gave up on that.”

"That's alright, I don't fault you for it," Slate soothed, putting his hand on her shoulder, making contact with her for the first time, "I tried to look for you for a very long time, even after out parents stopped, after the police stopped, but I did...after a while, because I didn't have anything more to go on. I guess I hoped I'd find you in the Avengers, and I did. We're together again, and I'm getting to know you again. I'm so glad you survived, that you made it and I am very glad that Soldier found you. We have a lot to work on, but we can do it, can't we?"

“I think Robbie would haunt me if I said we couldn’t.” J.J looked at his hand that was touching her shoulder. Careful, like she was about to scare away a butterfly, she reached up and touched his hand. Warm, calloused, violent. He knew how to fight and he knew how to destroy. “I think I’d like to be your little sister. I think I can do it.”
()
Tony had blown up two things. Statistics and floor plan for a building that looked like it was in the middle of Africa or perhaps even on the edge of the Amazon rain forest. The building was three floors, looked to be complicated and apparently was holding something. Tony was buzzing about different kinds of Hydra experiments, mentioning here and there that it’d take some time to figure out /what/ exactly those statistics were.

Steve just wanted him to get to the point so he could find Kerica, rearrange that date, and kick Tony’s ass because he was pretty certain that Tony did this on purpose.

“So basically, unless Winterfell knows anything about this, or even our lovely Bouncy, we got nothing.” Tony concluded. “A floor plan and statistics and we don’t know much on where it leads, let alone what it contains. I tried hacking the area. The only thing I got was a blue screen and “Nice try”. Apparently someone has an idea that we’re looking in. Could be a trap.”

“Do you think Natasha might know anything about the Stats?” Steve decided to ask, gesturing at the thing.

“She could.” Tony shrugged. “I emailed her a copy. Hasn’t responded to me back. I think she’s annoyed with me or she thinks I’ll figure it out. You know how she is.”



Pietro was next to Wanda and Vision while they looked at the map, "It looks really spacious..." he frowned as he stepped closer, tilting his head this way and that.

"What are you thinking, Pietro?" Vision coaxed.

"Hydra bases...Zey like zey're secret spaces. Remember vhere yu first found us? Hidden rooms and tunnels..." Pietro frowned, "Even the last place had cramped places to hide, "Zis place...is strange. Very big, very open. /De ce/?" *Why?*

"Something underground?" Kerica walked in, rubbing her hair dry absently, "I /had/ wondered if the USB was slightly corrupted, but maybe those computers we went after purposefully didn't have all of the information we needed."

“Could be a trap. Someone might’ve figured out that the USB was in the computer, lead us to something obvious, ambush us, kill us. Use an experimentation ruse to really get our blood pumping.” Tony offered as well. “If Hydra are exactly like snakes, then being out in the open is kinda like…a bad idea.”

“The question is, is it worth checking out.” Steve frowned. “I have half of the mind to turn this over to Fury, and let him figure it out.”

“Oh come on, let Gunslinger call the shots. You know he’s just as much power as Fury is.” Tony pointed out to Steve. “Let Romanov have a chance to get back to me too. Your friend and Sparks might have an idea too. This really should’ve been an All Avengers Plus Two meeting rather than the most important people in the room. Sorry about your date getting canceled by the way Pix. thought this was a little more important than a potential kiss.”

"/Really/ Tony?" Steve asked, glaring at the technician.

"It was just coffee," Kerica shrugged, "What I'm /more/ annoyed is you can't pick a nickname for our guests. None sticking to your tongue?" she teased.

"I have too many for Russian Warrior that's hiding in the library right now, and his little friend I don't know well enough to have a decent one." Tony pointed out.

Just coffee? Vision glanced down at Wanda, 'Either she is not aware he was /asking her out/ or wasn't that impressed. You can see into her head.'

/Not aware of a date/ Wanda responded to the thought, with a heavy sigh on her lips. /She thought it was a get together among comrades./

"Bucky isn't Russian," Kerica snorted, "I doubt he's hiding, he did lose a good chunk of his life, I'm sure he's just trying to catch up or, I don't know, relax for once?"

"He talks like a Russian." Tony muttered darkly. "Okay, but no words to defend Energizer Bunny's girlfriend?"

'It's getting past the point of sad,' Vision pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Hey! Kerica and Steve maybe, but I just met her!" Pietro waved his hands.

/I wonder if reinforcements are needed./ Wanda agreed shaking her head from side to side. /I cannot do anything. Perhaps his friend will be good for advice?/

"Yeah and for twenty four hours you have done nothing but stuck by her side." Tony pointed out. "Tell me I'm wrong."

"She is cute, yes, but I don't think she knows what /dating/ is," Pietro defended, not one bit abashed about calling her cute.

"Vision," Tony turned to the red-faced man. "Did you give her a laptop?"

"I did, and Pietro helped make her an e-mail and several other social media accounts. I caught her on...tumblr? at breakfast," Vision gave him one of his tiny shrugs.

"So she knows what dating is." Tony turned to Pietro. "There you go."

"Just because she is on a website called Tumblr does not mean she's acquainted with the idea of dating." Wanda blinked at Tony.

"No, because she's acquainted with Tumblr, she knows /exactly/ what dating is." Tony smirked.

"Zere's no arguing with him, sora, but I'm on your side," Pietro rolled his eyes.

"Well, at least you think she's cute?" Kerica offered, "Start there to make Tony happy, flirt with her," she shook her head with a chuckle, "I guess I came in too late to really be needed here. I should've just waited for someone to clue me in." She turned to walk away, "I'm going to go bug Bucky," she informed the room before the doors slid shut behind her.

"Is Bucky going to steal Kerica?" Pietro blinked at Steve innocently. Kerica would've hung around just to be near Steve before. Had she been bothered more than she let on? He was confused.

Steve could only give Pietro a look before he let his arms down and glared at Tony. “You figure out if we’re given a trap or if we’re needed there.” Without another word, he stormed out of the lab.

“That could have gone so much better.” Wanda said sarcastically. “It is a good thing Gunslinger is busy trying to reconnect with J.J.”

“Is it true that J.J is really Gunslinger’s missing sister?” Tony questioned. “Because every search that I did for this chick all came up dead. Jayden Marie Tucker was written off by all police reports and family. Has her own little grave. I mean, I’d be happy for the guy if that’s true, but it’s awfully convenient that the Solider managed to be tagging along a missing person.”

“If you are thinking that she is a product of Hydra, you will be wrong.” Wanda replied simply. She looked over at Pietro. “We should not bother Tony much longer. The Captain has given orders. We will only distract him from important matters.”

“Oy you make it sound like I can’t multitask.” Tony whined.

Vision chuckled softly, "Did you know you interrupted a date? After all, you are one of the people that keeps pushing them together." He felt as though had Tony known he wouldn't have bothered the Captain.

"Aw damn." Tony sighed. "Well, I don't think Pixie knew what it was."

Unfortunately, everyone had to agree with that.
~+~
He was deep within the fictional book he'd picked up, at least five chapters in, but he wasn't so far gone he wasn't aware of footsteps entering. Libraries were a sacred place where you could come and be guaranteed it would be quiet, or at the very least have a whispered conversation. The slightest sound broke him out of his reverie and even though he knew he was safe, he couldn't let these habits die. They'd saved his life too many times. Sitting up, he set the book aside just as Kerica came around the corner, "Twinkle toes, good afternoon. You're wet. You went swimming?" he blinked at her.

"Yeah, I just came from Tony's lab, though," she plopped down in a seat, "Oh! I've read that book! You like dragons?!" she grinned at him.

"I do," Buck nodded, "Is there...anything you can tell me about it, or is it hush hush?"

"Eh, it just looks like a giant building with nothing in it. Steve thinks it's a trap and Pietro was all confounded by it," Kerica shrugged.

The black haired man tilted his head and narrowed his eyes a bit, "Just a giant building? Hmm...I think that is pretty strange, alright."

"No ideas?" Kerica tilted her head.

"Maybe, but I'll give it some thought and get back to you," Bucky assured and he leaned forward, "So...you seem tense."

Kerica jerked straight, blinking at him, "What do you mean?"

"I'm trained to recognize body language...if someone's in fear, or angry...it give me the advantage to intimidate or aggravate them," Bucky said slowly. His eyes glanced towards the bookshelves a split second, but she had looked down so she didn't notice.

Kerica was fiddling with a red jasper ring on her left thumb, "I am, I guess. I thought I worked it out of my system, I didn't realize I was still upset."

"Just /what/ are you upset about?" Bucky coaxed gently.

"After you left to go get snacks and water, Steve asked me to grab coffee with him. He had to cancel because Tony cracked the code. The thing is, I wasn't surprised about Tony, I expected it and all. That wasn't even a challenge for the guy," she held her hands up in an exaggerated shrug, "I mean...what bothered me more was the disappointment I felt. I'm not angry at anyone but myself, because why the hell am I disappointed? It as just coffee, like, you can home brew that shit, it's nothing special."

Buck rubbed his good hand on his face. Oh boy. "It's that he stood you up, you know."

"It wasn't a date!" Kerica threw her hands up high this time.

"Are you sure?" Bucky gave her a sidelong glance.

A pause. Kerica had deeply furrowed brows and a pouting frown, "He didn't make it sound like a date? Just a casual get together. It's not like we don't do that often enough. Sparing sessions that can get a bit heated like with yours, down to the range at the base, eating in the cafeteria when he's not with his crew...that's mostly breakfast because everyone's lazy and he's an early bird."

"His crew?"

"Think of it like high school? A bunch of times it ends up being the girls table and the boy's table, unless Natasha's feeling friskey and wants to joke dirty with the boys," Kerica shrugged.

"Oh honey," Bucky patted her knee, "I feel bad for you."

"Why?" Kerica eyeballed him.

Who was more clueless? Now that was the million dollar question, now wasn't it? "I say...just take a shower to get the chlorine off ya, and relax. I've got your back, twinkle toes."

Kerica wanted to badger him, but she just shrugged, "Alright, fine. Just...don't tell Steve anything incriminating about me? I'd be so embarrassed. I know you're his friend..."

"That might have been in the past, when I would have shared every secret in the world, but I will only tell him what I think he needs to know," Bucky promised, his hand on his chest.

Kerica stood up, but hesitated, "You know, Bucky...I've been following Steve since I was young."

"What do you mean?" He was frozen, so that was confusing.

"Besides Halloween, Fourth of July is my favorite holiday...his birthday..." Kerica shifted with a blush, "I would go to his museum all the time when I as in high school. He was an inspiration. It helped me think...I'd study there and one time night security found me passed out by his armor - before of course he took it to fight a few years ago. I know he liked to sketch and I became a painter because of that...I even made a bracelet inspired by his shield."

"I don't know if that makes you a stalker or a fan," Bucky crossed his legs, "Are you following his icon? Or are you following him now?

Kerica shook her head, "I joined S.H.I.E.L.D. to follow alongside him, and at first I was in the fangirl stage. I could barely look at him without wanting to scream because I'd /made it/ and I was /with him/, but as I...started to learn who he was after being frozen for so long, after fighting and losing so much, making new friends and new enemies...I fell for him all over again, but for another reason. He's not just Captain America, he's not just Steve Rodgers...he's also a guy who's lost, trying to make the most of this world."


She paused, "I was trying to make a point, and then started rambling. I do that. What I was trying to say was...I don't know what it's like when you fight, what you think or how you act...but I do know is I've never seen Steve so damn happy when he saw you. You could have told him you wouldn't follow us unless he gave you the universe and he would've called Thor to make it happen, I'm sure of it. Then you told him you trusted him. I swear he wanted to cry, but he has such a poker face that he didn't."

"I didn't even see that..." Bucky murmured softly.

Kerica smiled tenderly, "This talk with you...has been enlightening, and I don't think you're just the Winter Soldier or just Bucky Barnes. You're honestly neither right now. You're lost, too, and you're fumbling for an anchor."

"It's terrifying how observant you are," Bucky hummed.

"In some ways, yes, but in others I'm not, obviously...because if that was a date? Why didn't he say so? Or was I supposed to jump for joy and go 'oh my Odin he finally asked me out'? Then what would've happened? I would've gotten all dressed up and then it would've really felt like I got stood up. Honestly, I'm happy I didn't think it was a date, but he needs to make it more obvious," Kerica grumbled.

"I see what you're saying," Bucky waved his hand, "Off with you, now, before you get bad knots in your hair."
~+~
Steve was in the living room, pencil and paper on his knee as he sketched furiously trying to get his emotions somewhere that wasn’t in a punching bag. He didn’t need to break three of them and have Tony laugh at him and his inability to have a conversation. He heard the elevator ding and he only glanced up once, just to see that it was J.J and went back to his drawing.

The cushions were gently pressed down and he glanced up again to see that she was unfolding her blanket and gently draping it around his shoulders before wrapping them around hers. He noticed tear tracks on her cheeks and his anger slowly diminished. He placed the sketch down. “Did something happen between you and Slate?”

“I think…I’m overwhelmed.” J.J replied, voice scratchy. “I wanted to go talk to B.B, but…he’s busy with Kerica.”

His heart lurched. Fuck. Was Pietro right in that he was going to lose his chance with Kerica? Fuck, it wouldn’t be the first time. Really, he should be a lot smoother, a lot faster, a lot of somethings. He felt his arm being patted twice and he looked back over at J.J who just looked highly upset.

“You try.” She said gently. “It’s her fault that she can’t see what’s in front of her.”

“I wouldn’t put all the blame on her. I’m not doing something right.” Steve looked away, towards the sketchpad. He was kind of surprised that J.J didn’t ask to see it. She probably didn’t have the heart. Both of them were just…tired and through with emotions right about now.

“…I got lost in an elevator once.” The random topic change made Steve look over at her. “B.B accidentally left me behind so I had to get on an elevator lift by myself. The only thing was, was that I couldn’t find the number 1. Just a lot of Ls and I didn’t know what to press. So I didn’t press any of them and the elevator roamed around up and down and up and down. I got really tired and sick so I sat down. A couple of men came in and saw me on the ground. They looked at the buttons, looked at me, and then back to the buttons. They were very cautious and weary of me. They thought I was…um…mentally challenged or something along those lines. My answers only furthered that suspicion, especially when I told them I lost my caretaker. I…didn’t realize that wasn’t a word I should’ve used.”

Steve let out a startled laugh, not expecting this kind of story. He could imagine poor Bucky debating about going up the elevators to try and find her or staying on the single floor and hoping that she managed to figure out how to get down. “Did you ever get to the ground level?”

“Yeah. They kept an eye on me until I found B.B.” J.J smiled sadly. “He was very worried. The men told them that I was good and walked off. I think he was a little bit…um…confused.” She shook her head from side to side. “…you should give her flowers.”

“…Who Kerica?” Once more the topic change took him by surprise. “I don’t know if she’d go for it.”

“I think she would. Do you want to go to a flower shop with me?” She wiped away her tears. “I don’t wanna be in the tower right now.”

Steve’s heart broke and he stood up. “Yeah…yeah we can go to a flower shop. I don’t think it’s a good idea to get flowers but…”

“You canceled on her. You owe her a sorry.” J.J pointed out. “Flowers makes things better.” She stood up, folding the blanket and carefully setting it on the couch. She sniffed and rubbed her eyes again. “I’m sorry for crying.”

“What? No don’t be sorry. Jesus.” Steve frowned deeply. “I’m sorry that you feel overwhelmed.”

“Nothing you can do.” J.J smiled gently patted Steve’s arm twice. She paused in mid pat and brought her hand away from him and looked at her hand.

“Something wrong?” Steve asked, wondering what it was that was making her look so sad and worried.

“I…don’t know.” J.J frowned deep. “This is the second time I patted you.”

“Yeah…” He was a little confused, but he also knew that he was talking to someone whose mind only made sense to her. They walked over to the elevator doors and Steve pressed a button.

“Pietro is safe. You are safe.” She said after a moment. “You are very safe.”

“I’m glad you think so,” Steve’s ears reddened just a tiny bit. “You’re safe too you know. Do you know much about flowers?”

“I can look things up about them. Roses are an idea.” The elevator doors opened and they both walked in. Steve pressed a button to the ground level and leaned back against the corner of the elevator. J.J taking the other corner.

“I don’t think Keri’s a rose girl.” Steve frowned. “Tulips?”

“Daisies?” J.J tried.

“Maybe lilies.” Steve tapped his foot against the elevator floor.

“Carnations are pretty.” She commented and Steve had to chuckle. “What?”

“Normally, I’d get a lot of people asking me if I’m dating Kerica, or some sort of lecture.” Steve shook his head. “Instead we’re bouncing off flower ideas.”

“You’re the smart one.” J.J replied. “B.B handles the lectures and he’ll give to the dumb one.”

“I wouldn’t call Keri dumb.” The elevator dinged and they got out of the box and headed towards the door.

“She’s being dumb right now.” J.J frowned. “So are you.”

“So do I get a lecture from Bucky?” Steve asked, a smile twitching at the corner of his lips.

“I think he’ll punch you instead. He seems to have a thing for that.” J.J shrugged.

“He had told me once I have a punchable face.” Steve agreed. “You know, when I first met Kerica, she treated me like how everyone else treated me. Like an icon. Some national symbol. As she continued to work with me, she started changing the way she acted. I was pleased when she started treating me like a real person, starting to see my flaws and that I’m no icon. At the same time…I can’t help but to think that my crush on her is just…you know…a by-product. I think she might not be all that into me and she doesn’t know how to say no.”

“Don’t be dumb.” J.J gave him a look. “I just told you that you were the smart one.”

“Well…”

“We’ll grab flowers. We’ll make it nice looking. You’ll give them to Keri, say you’re sorry, and explicitly say “Hey I wanna date you, maybe mate with you”.”

“….Um….”

“Shit,” J.J frowned deeply as her shoulders hunched up as they walked outside of the tower. The cars loudly passing them by and a crowd of people heading towards on direction. “I just told Slate that was an animal term. You all use partners for that.”

“Something along those lines.” Steve said, careful not to press on the “animal” part of the conversation. He watched her reaction and pressed close. “Are you going to be okay outside?”

“I hate cities, but flowers are important.” J.J replied. “Besides you’re safe with me and I’m safe with you.”

Steve couldn’t help but to file that away. For some reason, he really believed that it was important. “Can I ask you something about Bucky?” She glanced at him and he took it to mean yes. “You’re the reason why he’s getting his memories back, aren’t you?”

“Yes and no. He thinks of them and tells them to me or I see it in his mind. Sometimes he cannot help but to protect his thoughts loudly. I suppose it’s because when someone’s mouth is silent for so long, the mind is what talks instead. He’s very talkative in his head.” She tapped her own head. “That is why sometimes I will talk and talk and talk, responding to every thought he has. Used to annoy him, but he found it easier to communicate with. Sometimes…sometimes English and his surroundings just don’t agree. Therefore he falls in to himself, a safe haven.” She paused in her chatter. “Sometimes it is not memories that come back. Nightmares. Regrets. Questions. He has lots of questions, lots of regrets. He asks me about them. Sometimes I don’t think he likes my answers all that much. He has guilt like a Catholic.”

“We used to be.” Steve murmured.

“Then he needs to unlearn that. Your guilt trips are death traps and I don’t wanna die. I wanna live.” J.J frowned. “Bucky is opposite. He wishes to die. I believe that he wanted to die a long time ago. He just doesn’t want to do it a coward’s way. Dying for something, a nobel cause. Something that washes blood with blood, yeah. He thinks that. But at the same time, a part of him battles for something else. I call it hope. He doesn’t like that word all that much.”

“Maybe he needs to know what it means again.” Steve wondered what he could do to make it better. There had to be something.

“Maybe. I don’t think it’ll come from us. Hope is a dangerous thing to believe in. Love is too.”

Steve hummed his reply as they found the nearest flower store and walked in. J.J already abandoning at the door to start searching for the perfect bouquet. Maybe…Bucky and him needed to have another conversation. One filled with the present rather than the memories. J.J would undoubtedly agree with him.

He might have been smart with Kerica, but certainly was acting like a dumbass with Bucky. That was for sure. Shame flowers couldn’t fix that.
~+~
Bucky was wandering the halls after finishing his book and spotted Steve fidgeting in the main group room, putting his small but really lovely bouquet in a glass vase. Vision was just leaving the room as he exited, so he could only assume the red man had assisted him. "My question to you is, do you want me to tell you some secrets Kerica shared with me?" he asked as he slid onto a stool beside Steve.

“I think the same question can be shot back with J.J’s name rather than Kerica’s.” Steve looked over at Bucky with a glance before looking away. “But…I’ll admit if you think they’re secrets that’ll help…I’ll listen.”

"Kerica is terrifyingly observant...except when it comes to love life," Bucky drawled, "You need to be blunt with this woman. I'm sure once you get to the point where you can say 'yes she is my girlfriend' you can start being subtle again, but get the point across first instead of beating around the bush. She is an old fashioned girl, I noticed, in a modern world. Oh, hey, does that sound familiar, Mr. Gentleman? Hell I adapted better than you, but I've always been the hot shot while you're the teddy bear," he smacked him on the back, "Breakfast in the cafeteria and taking her to the shooting range are not dates or flirting. I say play your cards like you would back then, a'right? She likes art," he slipped in, then reached for the petals of the pink carnations, "You're so smitten it's giving me whiplash, Stevie, but so is she. Everyone idols you for some sort of reason, yeah? Well...you were more than an idol to her. You were inspiration. Not everyone can join S.H.I.E.L.D. I imagine, and she's /Natasha's/ protege? Give her a bit more credit than a fangirl... what kind of fan would take the time to get to know their idol's best friend? She also noticed things about you I didn't..."

Bucky turned to face him fully, "Were you about to cry when I said I trusted you?"


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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Thu May 12, 2016 11:08 am

"J.J said something along those lines. Mostly about her obliviousness when it comes to my actions. Those weren't dates by the way, the coffee thing was really the first time I was trying to ask her out." Steve rubbed the back of his neck. "Hence the flower ideas. J.J was very...um...excited to go to the store. I'm a little worried about her, I'm thinking the Tower might be a little bit much. The city even worse." He looked at Bucky squarely, his face clouded over. "Yeah. Yeah I almost cried. You could've saw me an enemy, Buck. Could've thought that I was lying out my ass to turn you in. It was...so surprising when J.J spoke up and you were the one that taught her what it meant. It made me think there's a stepping stone."

He blinked and the clouded gaze was a little more misty, but he was still holding on a firm edge. "But I fucked that up, Buck. She told me she could see this in your mind...she told me about your PSTD moments, and your depression. How you're dancing on the edge of wanting to die and wanting to live. She said you had wanted to die for a very long time, but you won't do it yourself. Sometimes, you will just become a shell and everything you want to say would be in your head. She told me she used to annoy you by answering back."
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Fri May 13, 2016 12:09 am

Bucky's face turned into stone, and he looked down and away, "Kerica said we're both lost, but for different reasons. She's right. That's why I said it's terrifying how observant she is. Lost souls can recognize each other...I guess that's why J.J. and I latched onto one other. Pietro might be a bit lost in his own way, too, but he is more the type to help and find a way instead of wallow." He looked up towards the ceiling, "It will sound strange to you, but during the daytime I don't like talking about dark things. My...bad thoughts come out to play when it's dark, so just...drop it, /for now/," he stressed the words, "Tonight, if you really want me to talk to you...then we'll talk. For now, Kerica's another lost soul and I'm not sure who would be helping who out more in your situation. Stevie, she told me she fell asleep by your /armor/ back in her high school days when she'd go study at your museum. Of course this was before you came back from being frozen. Security found her. To me, that was very troubling."

“It doesn’t sound strange at all, I understand.” Steve took a breath and let it out slowly. “I don’t think there’s a person here in the Avengers that aren’t lost in some way. I wonder if that’s why we make such a rag-tag team. We’re all lost. In one way or another we were screwed or fucked somewhere. I’m brought back to life, Natasha turned against her own government to fight for ours, Bruce and his gamma rays, Tony and his torture. We all got something. I don’t know Keri’s story. But I’m sure it’s just as painful. Maybe more so.” He pursed his lips together and looked at Bucky. “I’ll find you at night. I promise. Meanwhile, I think the other person you wanna go find is J.J…she was looking for you before she saw you with Kerica.”

"Oh," Bucky frowned, "Okay, I'll go do that. Kerica should love the flowers," he winked and hopped off the stool, thumbs in is pockets and sauntering out of the room. Shit. Now he had to come up with a way to explain his dark fucked up mind to his bright super hero friend-from-the-past that he also tried to kill a couple years back. Steve wouldn't have taken 'no' for an answer if he'd told him to back off all together, though. Ugh. Whatever...he'd find Jayden and see what was up with her.

~*~

It took a little bit to find Kerica. She wasn't in her room, nor was she in the library still or the gym. The only other place that he could think of, was a quiet room that was mostly used for relaxation. It was a room that was designed with peace and zen in mind. Nice white walls, hard wooden floors, and a few bamboo shoots. Undoubtedly this space was primarly meant for Bruce, but since he wasn't here, it was open for everyone. Steve walked through the room, and headed towards the balcony. The nice cool breeze rushed through as he opened the sliding door. It still always took him by surprise about what "luxury" meant now a days. Fire stair cases were no longer the balconies that people used. Nor was it a small porch that barely had a railing and a place to sit. It could be it's own sunroom, with how much space there was. Plenty of tables and chairs that were placed in areas, clearly away from one another so that private conversations could take place. Kerica was lounging in one of them, her legs dangling on the arm rest. He walked over to her and presented the flowers. "I'm really sorry for canceling the date on you."

Kerica stared at the flowers, mouth agape, and then at him. Her heart jumped to her throat, and she moved from laying on her back staring at the overhang to sitting up. He looked really sheepish, the blush on his cheeks and ears really cute, and she reached for the flowers, "These are my favorites..." she murmured, stuffing her face in a hydrangea, "I feel like a girl from a movie or TV show..." she admitted, a blush of her own covering her face. The afternoon was starting to become evening with four o'clock skies, "So...that really was...?" she asked softly, using the flowers to half-hide her face.

“A stupid, feeble attempt. I didn’t specify what it was.” Steve rubbed the back of his neck. “J.J helped me with the flowers…and Bucky gave me this entire run down about how I need to use my mouth more and how subtle doesn’t really work on you. Especially when you don’t even know…” he trailed off. “I’m rambling. I’m sorry. Yeah. It really was a date offer. I didn’t mean to stand you up. It wasn’t even that important of a meeting. Tony just wanted to brag.”

Kerica's face pressed further into the flowers but her grin was so big the apples of her cheeks became prominent and she nearly became as red as the carnations, "If you didn't notice, I ramble, too, so a little payback is fine. I like your voice, so you can ramble anytime," she scooted on the couch so he'd have plenty of room to sit down beside her and she hugged the vase to her chest as she finally looked at him properly, eyes sparkling and she looked like the Cheshire Cat, "I'll...I'll be honest, Steve..." she cleared her throat a bit and her smile faded a little, "About the time I stopped acting like a fangirl is about the time I gave up on any chances I'd probably have with you..."

“I think that was around the time I started to get to really know you.” Steve admitted. “When you started seeing me for who I was, I started to appreciate that. I mean, it’s nice and all that you were a fan of me, but I wanted someone who saw…well…Steve Rogers more than Captain America. I don’t get that very often, let alone at all. But then I started wondering if I was advancing on you and you were feeling uncomfortable and didn’t know how to say no. I think we should’ve followed the golden rule of Communication but…uh…I don’t think either one of us is really good that.”

Kerica looked offended, frowning deeply compared to the big smile she'd had, "I never thought of you as just Captain bloody America," she told him firmly, "I'm not that shallow. Some people joked I was your stalker, about how obsessed I was over you. I didn't think of it that way. I learned what I could about you because I wanted to get to know /you/. I learned about Bucky, too, and while he did destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. I'm not afraid of him. I know he was your best friend, /brother/. I don't need to be told how you felt over what happened. I felt like I could connect to you two. You were..." her voice suddenly died and she took a breath, surprised and looked away, "Ah...shit, I do sound crazy..." she swallowed thickly.

Another breath, she said instead, "I gave up on even wanting to be with you because reality hit me. You have bigger fish to fry and what am I? Just a girl with no special powers or abilities. I have asthma and a fucked up arm - not so much anymore, but you know - and Nat picked me? You got a bunch of humans on your team including you but you're all like, super-humans."

“Besides Clint.” Steve offered. “And I know what it’s like to fight with asthma. I’m sure Bucky knows what it’s like to fight without a good arm.” He shrugged gently. “I think you’re failing to see what we see in you, especially Natasha if she picked you. And you don’t sound crazy. You’re possibly one of the few people that Bucky has an ally with that isn’t me.” His expression turned somber. “And you have no idea how grateful I am for that. Really.”

Kerica's voice was soft, "No one knows Bucky like you do...even me, because the reports and stories can only tell me so much. What I do know is he is a good person. You fell into the river back then...how'd you end up on the shore and not the bottom of it with the wreckage of the ship? Buck had to have pulled you out. The currents don't work that way, you would've been found miles away if you washed up naturally. What kind of enemies saves their rivals?"

Steve smiled and shook his head from side to side. “Sam would like that type of logic. He’d also dance around you until you thought you were crazy.” he sighed softly. “But it’s the same thought I had too. Clearly he still has a lot of battles to go up against. More internal than not. He told me to talk to him tonight about what’s going on inside his head. J.J…let some things slip. I hope he’s not too angry with her. I don’t think anything she said was supposed to be a secret but…I’m wondering if I should ask Sam to come in…mostly out Falcon needs rather than therapist. Or even Teresa even though this is way above her pay grade.”

"I think J.J. will need someone different than Sam or Teresa. Someone unique, but not a doctor or a soldier. I think Vision would be the best person as a therapist without being a therapist, does that make sense?" Kerica hummed at the thought, "Bucky might like Sam, though. Take Bucky on your morning run with you tomorrow, you know Sam'll be there. It'd be the best chance because who in the hell is awake at six in the damn morning? Besides crazy people like you two. Buck can wear a hoodie, too, if you're all concerned about being found out."

"Good idea." Steve smiled gently. "So...do you think it'll be alright if we scheduled coffee around noon this time and if something happens we can make it a evening cup? Or do you prefer tea?"
"I prefer tea..." Kerica's blush returned but it was softer, stroking the petals of one of the flowers. Smooth way of turning it back around to them, and here she was making it about Bucky, "What...kind of dates would you take me on if we were back in your time? Before...all of this?"

“Well, I can’t dance even if Bucky claims that I can.” Steve said shaking his head. “So dance halls would be out. I’d take you to the cinema. I do enjoy movies when I could afford it. Strolls. Maybe you’d pack a picnic and we’d hang out Prospect Park during the times where neither of our asthmas were in danger of acting up. Maybe have a day hanging out in our own place, me drawing, you reading if it was raining and it was awful outside and I wouldn’t let you walk out those doors because neither one of us should catch our death.”

"I like dancing..." Kerica murmured, founding herself a bit sad he immediately dismissed that part, "Movies are classic, but there aren't a lot of good movies these days. I guess you guys are plenty of action the world needs. A picnic..." her packing a picnic basket had her feeling super embarrassed as the image popped in her head, "I see you sketch a lot, and reading is nice, just enjoying each other's presence, no need to fill it with pointless chatter..." his last line sounded so protective of her and it gave her butterflies in her stomach, "I like the rain, but I can't understand people who go out and dance in it. I don't like being sick. You've seen me during the winter that just passed. Teresa was giving me a new bottle of nyquil like, once a month."

“Yeah.” Steve nodded his agreement. “I’m not all that fond of winter either. Snow is awful.” He shuddered a little. “The thunderstorms are just as bad. The rain is just…annoying I guess. Sometimes it can be white noise. It depends on what kind of mood I’m in and what my headspace is like.”

"I hate thunder, but I know you get flashbacks. My fear is more an irrational phobia. Rain is calming to me, and the smell of it is great," Kerica nodded and she bit her lip, "Will you...help me understand your PTSD? Or would I be better off asking Sam for advice for when you get like that?"

"I think Sam can give you a better run-down." Steve said after a moment. "Different things trigger, but touch is...um...if I'm not expecting it or if the thunder hits unexpectedly while I'm being touched, I could really, really hurt you. Nightmares sometimes just don't leave my head either. It...really depends on my head. On my mood. On what was going on with me before."

"I will do whatever you guys tell me to do, so not to get you more riled up," Kerica knew she'd want to help him, but he would feel terrible if he hurt her, so she would be obedient in regards to this. "Anyway...I would love to have coffee or tea with you. I loved the image you painted about what we'd do back then, so just do whatever is natural. You don't need to try to be 'modern' for me."

"I think Bucky took all the modern with him." Steve smiled gently. "I'll leave you to your book then and I'll hopefully see you at twelve for that tea." He gave her a lazy salute before leaving the balcony with a slight bounce in his step, practically unnoticeable unless someone was really, really looking.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Fri May 13, 2016 2:17 am

The talk with Jayden hadn't been /all/ that special. She rambled about Slate and how he acted strange when she told him about the Fights and the Cage, but she was ultimately happy he hadn't turned her away or acted like she was something broken. Through their whole talk he never one thought she was messed up, and Bucky found he was liking Slate a little more, knowing he was /proud/ of his little sister for surviving. He was sure the cowboy still felt like J.J. needed to be helped, but he wasn't forcing her to do jack shit. That in itself was amazing.

After that he'd told her his conversation and promise to Steve...

“Don’t make yourself think you owe him anything. If you think he should hear it, then he should hear it, but not at the cost of a broken heart. Not at the cost of turning into a shell. I like answering your thoughts and all, but sometimes I want affection and you don’t give it when you’re stoic.” J.J told him gently. “It’s a battle of how you want him to see you too. Is a living memory more important than the real person? It’d be a shitty life to live, trying to recreate a memory. Don’t you?”


If Bucky didn't know any better, she'd taken that advice from her time with Slate because he didn't push his memory of her on her at all. Still...Bucky let out a slow breath. Dinner had passed hours ago, it was about ten at night and everyone else was in bed. Him? He was at the bar in the party room of the Tower, sipping whiskey. Just because he couldn't get drunk didn't mean he didn't drink. He enjoyed the burn in his throat, how it bloomed in his stomach. It was a /real/ feeling. The party room wasn't dark, but it was dim with just the bar light in front of him on. He heard the doors behind him and took another shot, "I wondered when you'd find me. I figure any change you get to learn about me you'd come running."

"I doubted you wanted someone to be witness." Steve said as he walked over to him and sat down. Bucky passed him the bottle and he shrugged as he took a sip and past it back. He didn't mind the flavor. Just like Bucky, he liked to drink even if he couldn't get drunk. Trying to /get/ drunk was just plain awful and a horrible stomachache to follow. "J.J stopped me on my way up here. I think I ruined her elevator fun." He was pretty certain that the girl was so bored, she decided the elevator was a toy. "She...ah...told me that if I made you upset in any fashion, I have to beat her in a swimming contest or get socked in the face, my choice. She's...interesting for threats. I thought I'd get a blade to my throat judging from the horror story you provided me."

"Choose swimming," Bucky replied immediately, shaking his head, "The elevator is calming to her like a rocky chair to a baby. Anyway...you came for me, didn't you, not J.J.," he didn't like the reflective surface of the wall behind the alcohol so he turned in his bar stool and leaned his back to the table, shot glass in hand, "Give me something to start with. This is free rein time, I'll answer anything. Just...remember...you asked, if you don't like what you hear."

Steve sobered immediately and looked at Bucky. "I'm not expecting rainbows and butterflies Buck." He wondered where to even start with his questions. So many of them, and..."What do you do when you go into your...shell?" He said after a moment. "What will set you off?" Thank God Kerica had asked this question to him previously.

"I nearly got J.J. and I busted in a convenience store because some asshole was angry and slammed his fist on the counter. I ended up on the ground in an aisle fighting with reality and my mind, trying not to draw my gun but my hand was on my pocket. J.J. did her rambling thing and dragged me out of there," Bucky muttered, "Her rambling became a sort of focus for me. I can't hear what people say anyway, I get that ringing sound in my ears and everything's muffled, so when she talks really fast it makes me go 'what the fuck /is/ she saying?'. I crossed a normal civilian during an episode and he apparently recognized PTSD because he tried to be slow-speaking like 'calm...calm...' and that was just annoying and too /quiet/ in my loud head. God damn it I'm a /soldier/ not a bomb. J.J. is so small...well, /you/ thought she was a civi, so what do you think I do when I have an episode? I want to protect her from all the bad things and she knows that."

Steve nodded his head, hands clenched. Rambling. Something both J.J and Steve were apparently good at. J.J probably better since she could read minds. It clicked suddenly for Steve and he wanted to groan. He should have noticed that a long time ago. Instead of saying something about it, he decided to ask a different question. “What about where did you go?” He asked. “You left New York without a trace…and we couldn’t find an inch of you anywhere.”

"They did have me for a while...they tried to electroshock me for brainwashing again and all that shit, but once I got out for a 'mission' I knew how hide my tracks. Of course I was taught how to hide from the Avengers so I couldn't be traced back to Hydra, but Hydra didn't seem to understand that their training also applied to them. My memories were still blurry as fuck, but I couldn't get our fight out of my head no matter how hard they had tried. It bothered me so deep that you knew me but I didn't know who /you/ were. It pissed me off and just..." he growled and took another two shots, "I don't remember everything, you know, but I remember enough. I remember Peggy, and how you two /definitely/ had a thing for each other and how you outsmarted us for the flagpole and covered the fake grenade with your own body..."

Steve laughed, but it was choked. So Hydra really did get him again. “I’m almost certain you went after them, if you have a resistance team made up. Can you…can you tell me a little about them if you’re able?”

"There's four. I'm not comfortable sharing their real names at the moment, but I told you about Wave. He's actually with our flaming Rosebud, but not even Hydra can be mean to Rose because he is a master in the kitchen and you /know/ how moral is concerning food," Bucky gave him an amused sidelong glance, "Of course, there's Sunflower. I think you ran into him once on a smaller mission...his explosions are always a little bit more /colorful/ than normal ones, more 'bloom' into shapes. He's a Black Widow fanboy, if you can believe it. Then there's his opposite...Arctic. He's the quiet one. His English isn't very good. Hydra stripped him of his native tongue - Norwegian - so he has broken speech."

“I won’t ask too much about them.” Steve assured, smiling. It sounded like a very colorful group. It made Steve feel a little jealous, at the same time it made him painfully aware that the Tower was just another prison. To both him and J.J. They probably were biding their time until they thought it was time to say farewell. He gripped his hand, nails biting into the palm and he looked at his friend. “Do you think I expect too much out of you? That I’m trying to…make you fit in some type of mold or anything like that?”

There was a long pause, and Bucky knew his silence was an answer, but he decided to be clearer, "A little bit..." he sighed as he watched Steve's Adam's Apple bob, "You see a memory, of what I used to be. You refuse to believe I'm the bad guy. In a way, its comforting, but in another way it's pressure...pressure to remember, pressure to try to be the good person..." he shook his head slowly, "I...deep down...I.../want/ to be...for you. Yet...at the same time...who else believes in me? Kerica does through you, I know. She's an open book, really. I see how the others look at me, Steve. They expect me to tear down everything again.To whip a gun out and start shooting, something. I can't handle that. I refuse to be where everyone's twitchy around me like I /am/ a bomb...where I'm not welcome or wanted..." his voice cracked at the last word.

Steve nodded solemnly and looked away from his friend. It broke his heart. It made him angry and it made him sad. “Do you want to leave?” He would never blame his friend to want to go. He couldn’t. He forced them into this, and he knew it. “I know you think I see a memory, Bucky. But I don’t think you realize how fucking guilty I am. I should have jumped after you. Caught you. Stretched out a little further to grab you. I knew war was going to be hard. I knew any one of us could die. But it never hit me as hard as it did when you fell from the train and I knew it was my fault. Because I wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t fast enough.” He paused. “What Hydra did to you. What I did to you. If you told me you forgave me on the spot I wouldn’t believe you because I fucked you over, Bucky. I broke my promise. I didn’t bring you home. You followed me after Alazzo and I didn’t make you leave. If you think leaving is the best thing for you…for J.J….then I can’t stop you. I refuse to be a prison guard. I refuse to take away your choices.”

He didn't have a response to that. Not really. It stuck him deep down in his chest...his heart, he realized. It didn't hurt like this very often. Steve...he wore his heart on his sleeve and the world on his shoulders. Perhaps he was judging things wrongly? "You were just so happy to see me, so quick to defend me...even Kerica told me, and I quote, 'had I asked for the universe, you would've called Thor to make it happen' end quote and I just...I don't know, anymore...Steven..." he whispered ever so softly, and gave a broken, hallow laugh, "I really am lost, but no, I don't want to leave. Not yet. You're not a prison guard, Steve." He stood up, placed the whiskey on the counter and the shot glass and moved to stand in front of the golden brown haired man. After a moment, just watching each other, he saw him. Saw the broken man that Kerica saw. It was /his/ fault. All this time, and he blamed himself for his death. A sigh, and he reached out, pulling him to him with his hand at the back of his neck and he ever so gently pressed his forehead to Steve's, closing his eyes and just breathed steadily. He remembered the train, what happened and how it happened. So much fighting, the long fall, blackness, cold...he hated the cold.

"Not once...did I ever blame or hate you..." he whispered.

Steve didn’t say anything. He hugged his friend tightly, bringing him closer and they just stood there. “You ask for anything and it’s yours freely given.” He said after a moment, his voice cracking with sadness and tears that threatened to pour. “I missed you so much, Buck. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

"No one else is here...and you know I'm not an enemy or a spy, so just...go ahead," Buck soothed and rubbed his back with his metal hand, the good hand not leaving his neck as he felt one tear soak through his shirt. Steve didn't make very many sounds besides broken 'I'm sorry's and his shoulders shook but Buck just held him there, secure, and he didn't feel like the Winter Soldier. He felt like he was actually Steve's friend, not that he would say that out loud. He didn't deserve the title. He'd told him what he had needed to hear for God knows how long, and not one ounce of it was fake. He really hadn't blamed him for a damn thing, ever. He didn't need to feel this way...but with how there was a huge wet-spot now, this had been weighing him down for too long.

Finally, after at least fifteen minutes, not that Bucky cared, Steve pulled away and Buck reached up, swiping away another tear, "Your nose is falling off your face. Sorry, not gunna wipe away snot." There we go, a smile broke the surface.

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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Fri May 13, 2016 5:50 pm

"I can see why Kerica offered this, there isn't anyone out here," Buck said as he and Steve rounded the corner together, seeing Sam in the distance that closed quickly, "Hey! On your right!" He called and parted from Steve's side to go around Sam, "This is nice...the air is cool but adrenaline and movement made me warm up."
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Sat May 14, 2016 12:09 am

“On your left,” Steve had said at the same time as Bucky said something about being on Sam’s right. He could hear Sam shouting something. “She’s always filled with good ideas. Sometimes bad, but mostly good.” He huffed out his breath as he pounded the sidewalk. “Sam’s going to come back with us at the Tower. Did you decide if you wanted to try that diner I was telling you about on our way here?”

"I don't see why not, as long as I keep my head down I guess," Bucky grinned.

"When you guys come back around....I'll make your lives miserable!" Sam's voice carried on the wind towards them.

"He sounds /so/ threatening," Bucky snickered, "Anyway, is that diner like the ones from back in the day? Classy, checkered floors, shakes and burgers?" he hummed at the thought. They'd seemed to have gotten closer since last night. It was refreshing.

“Basically. Nothing too old-school though. It is a bit modernized. I’d say around 70’s 60’s era give or take.” Steve said as smirked at Sam’s response. “The burgers are pretty good. Juicy and not processed. The shakes, I haven’t tried. I might have to this time around. They also have an old school jukebox. I don’t know about the music. Hopefully something to keep up the theme of the times.”

"Speaking of jukeboxes, Please tell me you're going to dance with Kerica sometime? She's got quick feet, and you are a smooth dancer, you know it," he nudged his shoulder into Steve's on their way around the bend.

"Bucky where you ever get these thoughts that I can dance I will never understand." Steve shook his head from side to side. "Did you forget? The last time I danced with a girl, I crashed her into a table. You were right there looking torn between panic that I hurt myself and laughter from humiliation." He gave him a glance. "I already told Kerica the different ideas for dates. Dancing may be out, but we got others."

"Oh come /on/! Have you even /tried/ since you became a beef stick? You have /way/ more reflexes and better fancy feet than you did back then and /still/ even if you /had/ met her before all of this I think she'd be a good enough dancer for the both of you," Bucky threw his hands up and fixed his hood when it fell back, huffing and puffing before he conceded, "/Fine/, you whiner. What else do you have in mind besides that coffee date you're so insistent about? You got shit tons more money these days so why not indulge? Art galleries litter this place, there's half a dozen parks, Chinatown, the cinema - I'm sure you two can find a comedy or something to watch that won't trigger you. You know, do you even know half of what she likes or doesn't like outside of work?"

“That’s what the coffee date is for, you big jerk.” Steve laughed. “Chinatown would be fun, there is a bunch of parks, I did say something about a picnic. We both agree that today’s movies aren’t all that good, but I’m sure there’s a theatre playing old time movies somewhere around. Man you were this much of a talker back when I was trying to get together with Pegs, and it was mostly “either you’re marrying her or I am”.”

"Peggy was a tough woman, she was fun to interact with. You /know/ she had eyes on you, though," Buck shrugged, "I don't want you to get all sad on the past, so it is what it is. I think it's interesting that Kerica /wants/ classic dates, really. She is a sincere girl. I can only imagine if you'd met her before you got really hardened by modern days and the war that's going on now with Loki and all of that, too. Would you be a blubbering mess? Would you try to act all tough like you did with Peggy? You did kind of let your change of appearance go to your head. /Tours/, man?"

"Shut up. It was either be locked in a lab or be a dancing monkey. Till you got captured, I didn't have much of a chance to prove myself otherwise." Steve's cheeks tinted as he spotted Sam's back. "Prepared to be miserable?" He asked cheekily.
"Oh, am I ever..." Buck smirked back and then shouted, "Hey! On your right!" he shifted away just as he kept going, "How many laps is this, three? Four? You're on your last mile! Come on!"

"Why you lil'...C'mere!" Sam growled and threw himself at Bucky, "I'll get you, you little shit!" he had successfully thrown Bucky off his running balance and they landed in the grass rolling in circles, their clothes getting wet from the morning dew.

"Steve, help! I'm being molested!" Bucky cried, voice muffled and arms flailing as Sam had his hood pulled down over his face.

Steve only laughed and stopped to stare at the spectacle that the two of them were creating. "I don't know Buck." He said with a smile. "You did say you were ready to be miserable."

"That's right, you asked for this!" Sam agreed and used the strings of the hoodie to tie the hood together and got off of him and he gave Steve a sidelong glance, "I'll come up for something for you later," he said, pointing at him ominously, "You lap me all the time, so that's nothin' new, but you guys turned it into a competition!" he threw his hands up.

Buck had sat up and he as trying to fumble with the knot, but his finger kept slipping, "Sam! Damn soldier boy, what kind of knot did you put this in?!"

"That's for me to know and for you to get yourself out of. Be lucky I didn't hog tie yor ass!" Sam griped.

Steve just howled with laughter, covering his face with his hands before bending over and just dying. He loved his best friend to death, but honestly it made his heart and his regard for Sam so high on the list to see him interact with Bucky like this, rather than the Winter Solider who kicked him off of a roof and snapped his wings. "Don't worry," He said trying to for a straight face and failing miserably. "It's not the first time Bucky's ever gotten himself into a bind. Hog-tying might've been your best bet."

"Don't encourage 'im, you beast," Sam sniffed, bottom lip over his top, head stuck up, hands on his hips. It took another moment, some more grumbling, before Bucky managed to pop his head loose, taking deep breaths and he met the glare equally, using his fingers and doing the "I'm watching you" motion and Buck just flipped him off, "Uh-huh, and when was the last time /you/ had a lay? Maybe you should fuck /your/self!"

"You know you've been hounding on me about Kerica. I wonder if I should get you to meet someone. Finally turn the tables on you for once for all those double dates you dragged me to." Steve said, his eyes lighting up like he had the best idea in the world. "I'm sure Natasha or Kerica would know of someone."

"Good luck with that," Buck grunted as he got to his feet, bouncing a bit and grinning wide.

"You know, I don't recognize you, man," Sam shook his head and that got them both to somber up, heads snapping to him in shock.

"Um...what do you mean?" Buck shifted, really confused.

"Back then, you barely said a damn word, had this weird mouth thing like you were Bane from Batman or some shit, and that stupid black eyeliner-"

"It's camo paint!" Bucky defended.

"You looked like a damn raccoon!" Sam snorted, "You were like a monster from the bedtime stories, a mission in mind and damn if anyone got in your way. It's like that was some entirely different being," he motioned with one hand up and down at Buck, "Look at you! You are laughing and fuckin' around with us like you've known us fer years!"

Steve had to admit, Sam had a point. Bucky came so far. He couldn't help but to beam proudly. Maybe this will be the thing Bucky was looking for. Another person to believe in him.

Bucky didn't know what to think. He'd only been with Steve for two days. "J.J. has a lot to do with my personality change, I think..." he said after a moment of thought, "We helped /each other/ humanize. She rambled, which gave me some semblance of human interaction, but then I took her places. Stores, a few movies...nothing big because that was dangerous for us both, but I took her where there were other humans and she was someone I could talk to."

"I really have to meet this J.J. since you seem to be really attached to her, so why don't we finish this last damn mile /together/," he stressed, "Huh? Maybe? And then the diner, and while Steve goes off to have his date with Kerica I can talk to J.J. and make my full report."

Buck rolled his eyes, "Wanna run with your friends for once?"

Sam smirked a little at the word that Buck didn't seem to notice he slipped, and glanced at Steve, "Yes, if it'd all be the same to you."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Sat May 14, 2016 2:08 am

The diner experience had been something fun. Besides having enough food on the table to make some of the guests as well as the servers look towards them with a weary eye, the sheer amount of money played at the jukebox and good, fun humor that was passed around was enough to lift even the depressed of spirits. Entering the tower and heading up towards the main room, they were ribbing each other on who ate the most and of course what other places they could try on the next run.

"Man, Steve, now that we're done with our run and stuffing ourselves," Buck peeled off his hoodie and let out a puff of relief, "Fuck! We need some showers! We stink! Shocked that we didn't run the diner out from our stench!"

"Speak for yourself!" Sam shoved Buck's metal shoulder, "I had to sit next to you big brutes!"

"Because you're any less toned than we are, sure," Buck sneered, "J.J. should be in the Tower Garden. She really likes it there."

"Sound like a plan to me. I'll catch you guys later. Hopefully the smell of flowers will mask my stink," he waved at them, heading for the elevator.

The elevator doors opened and a young girl with black hair practically falling in her face, a blue shirt with a smiley cloud on it stood before him. She looked startled. "You're a new face."

"Whoa!" Sam held his hands up, blinking in surprise as well, "Hey, so are you!" he tilted his head at her, "J.J. by chance?"

"Sometimes." J.J beamed with a bright smile. "You're the man B.B was telling me about last night. Sam. The Flying Man."

"I...ha! Nice rhyme," Sam grinned at her and stepped in the elevator, bopping the doors so they'd open up to give him room, "Did you have a destination? I'll go wherever you're goin'."

"No. Not really. Let's go to the quite place. It has a large balcony. I think you'd like the open sky more than flowers." J.J smiled,  "Bye-bye B.B don't wear out Stevie!" She called to them, standing on her tippy-toes to wave.

"Just punch Sam if he annoys you!" Bucky laughed as he waved back, "He's safe!" he said just as the doors shut on both of them.

"I also think open spaces are a good idea since I'm all gross from running with your boy," Sam arched a brow at her, "Safe?" 'Is that a code word they use or somethin'?' he wondered to himself. It had to be, to know who was okay to trust and who wasn't.

"Hit the nail on the head." J.J smiled as she looked ahead. "B.B  handles people. I handle spaces."

Sam blinked at her, face and head blank, "Ooookay? Well, if it something that works for you guys than that's cool. I'm glad he thinks I'm 'safe' after all, it's what I do. I help people like Steve and him. I have a whole group of people and we meet together to talk about things that happened to us." He folded his arms and looked at her straight, "No one's told me your story, so you go ahead."

“Hmmm….” J.J looked like she was debating about that. Her mouth was curved, not in a frown nor a smile. A thoughtful expression, like she was tasting something in her mouth for the first time and was uncertain on how to describe it. “I don’t have one.” At his incredulous look, she shook her head from side to side. “I lost a lot of time. So the “beginning” of the story is actually the “middle” and I don’t know if that’ll be confusing or not.” She looked at Sam with curious eyes. “Are you doing this for a mission or is this for your own gain?”

"I'm curious and that's the God-honest truth," Sam held his hand up, their elevator dinging on their floor, "/However/, I know Fury would demand to know what I think of you two and Steve, too. We have Teresa back at the base they use sometimes for evaluations - counseling is another name for it," he explained, "We do this to see if our comrades mental state is stable enough to take on missions. If any of us are too compromised from a mission, we're given down time to recover and breathe, even reprieve from missions until we think we're ready or if Teresa or I say it's okay."

“Oh.” J.J nodded her head after a moment and they got off the elevator. The rooms were nice, with plush chairs and wooden floor, clearly with the intent to comfort. Outside though was where the warm sun, cool breeze, and plenty of private talking space was allowed. She didn’t say anything until she flopped onto on of the chairs. “I don’t think I like this “Fury” character all that much. He hurts B.B and I don’t like that. He makes it hard for B.B to be welcomed. Steve does his best, he does, but…this “Fury” guy has more say. I don't like it."

"Fury is the head of our organization," Sam frowned, "He's technically, like Quick, supposed to be dead. He's like a cockroach, though," he shrugged, "I understand you and Buck are really close. You rely on each other." 'Almost to a crippling degree...' "Have you left his side since you met him at all? About ever other sentence of his involves you, about how you two have been through a lot. And only within less than six months or so? Through the winter?"

“Crippling?” J.J tilted her head to the side, her mouth curving further into a frown. “I hang around Pietro. He’s safe.” She let herself pout for a moment before shrugging her shoulders up and down. “Before I tell you a story. On instinct who is more dangerous. A solider or an animal?”

"Hang on there, that thought was in my head, are you readin' me?" Sam held his hand up to stop her, narrowing his eyes.

J.J blinked slowly. “Yeees?” She tried, wondering if that was the right answer, tensing a bit.

"That's not fair, girl. See, I dunno how to block myself from you or Wanda reading my head but I find it rude," Sam put his chin on his fist, "What I think now might change ten minutes from now or tomorrow. I don't do any sort of judging until I've heard the full story, a'right? You just answer me fair, and I'll do the same for you. You understand? An animal is more terrifying when cornered, by the way."
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PostSubject: Re: Avengers - Lost Souls 2.0 - ABANDONED   Sat May 14, 2016 4:01 am

“Oh.” J.J blinked. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” She nodded her head. “Okay so imagine living like a cornered animal every day. Every day a new animal shows up to take away your territory or your life and every day you have to decide if you give up or if you’re gonna fight. You got owners to please you have tag teams to get along with. You kill and kill and kill…” She trailed off. “Now imagine that you are a cornered animal with a chance of freedom. You take it, naturally. But it is freedom you don’t get. Humans are strangers, monsters are real, and there’s no such thing to you as the word “safe” it isn’t a vocabulary word for you. Friends and foes are meaningless right about now. All until you manage to trip in front of an oncoming train and get saved by a solider whose mind is full of holes, who treats himself like a machine and doesn’t see himself as human.” She frowned deeply. “And then you realize that you have a kinship. That you who is a animal and he who is a machine have a lot more in common than one would think. You lived to kill and you were treated as a method and entertainment in ways of doing it. It’s awful sure. It’s bad. He gets nightmares from it the more he finds his humanity. I try to do my best to limit them. Not much I can do. His shell moments I’m good at keeping him from lashing out. I talk too much. He even says so.”

Sam was quiet for a time as he processed all of this, watching her, taking in all of her words, how she said them, her expressions, her body language. It took a long time for him to master seeing the things he does, but he tried to keep it to himself and instead talked, "Bucky and Steve acted like a normal couple of pals would this morning. You wouldn't have guessed he was a machine, as you said. I even mentioned that to him and he said you were part of the reason he's changed so much. It sounds to me that you two have grown by leaps and bounds together. You are a team. You've seen each other at your worsts, but neither of you remembered what it was like to have a 'best'. I saw Buck at his best today. He referred to the three of us as friends, but I'm not so sure he realized he said it. I know he feels like he doesn't deserve it. A lot of people who hurt someone they care for don't."

He leaned forward, arms on his knees and he clasped his hands together, pointing at her with both index fingers, "You...you are being rebuilt from the ground up. You were a child when you were taken, brainwashed to think you were an animal, fought like one, survived like one, and now you're trying to learn what it is to be human. Bucky was an adult. He had a lot more memories to fall back on. A lot of memories he's recovered. Yet...hell, I don't remember much about when I was twelve or fourteen," he shrugged, "A lot of people don't. We remember pieces? But at that age you're easily molded. The people you hang with at school, your favorite teachers, everything shapes you into who you become as an adult. You didn't have that, and you're fumbling. What's right? What's wrong? As you said, friend and foe are mysteries and monsters are real."

J.J nodded, agreeing with everything he said. “So now you know my story. As short and tame as it was. So…what’s your thoughts? You’re telling me the progress…which is nice. B.B is not dangerous to you. But what do you think of me?” She looked at Sam curiously. “Are you scared of me?”
"No, I've seen scarier," Sam smirked a little bit, "You and Buck have a stable ground, but I feel like you shouldn't rely so heavily on each other. Eventually, in this war that we - The Avengers - are apart of, is going to separate you two. You are going to eventually have to stand on your own. Bucky can do that, but what if you were stranded for a week? A month? Bucky...as much as he /seems/ normal, has plenty of his own issues and he can't be the parent you were missing forever. Even animal cubs and offspring break away and hunt on their own after a while. They have to, or they can't grow and become their own."

“As long as I was stranded in a forest or a quiet place, I’d manage. I’d stay far away from cities and towns.” J.J replied instantly. “I try to make his problems easier. I think he feels like he failed with me. Fails.” She corrected herself after a moment. “I see it in his mind a lot. “What if”, it’s not a good statement to hear. He’s thought about leaving me here and going off on his own, but he knows I’d just follow. People aren’t safe with me around. People. Humans, monsters, machines, the nine yards.”

"Why? You seem to be doing just fine here," Sam tilted his head, "You obviously have a trigger, so what is it? Why do you feel like you would hurt people?"

“Because it’s instinct.” J.J said with a sad look in her eyes. “B.B said you’re safe, therefore you’re safe. Till when? There’s only two people I can say with some confidence I won’t kill if I meet them on the field. That doesn’t include B.B. Everyone else is fair game. I don’t understand trigger. B.B could tell you what it is, I don’t know what it is…I see that word around…still don’t get it.”
Sam licked his lips and bit his bottom one, looking down with a sigh. She really was a piece of work. Okay. Think... "Say you two do leave again...if you ended up with us again somehow, some way - because you know it's going to happen - would you be willing to try? You and Buck believe this is a one time thing, that you'll just disappear all over again. If it's not, would you try to talk to...I dunno, everybody? Socialize, get to know us. If you do, I think you'll understand what 'friendship' is. The Avengers, we're not just a team, we're all friends with one another. We'd give our lives for one another. Friendship is hard to understand unless you experience it because that's a big difference between civilization and the wild. In the wild it's every animal for themselves, yeah? Here? We look out for one another. If an animal is injured, they're eaten alive. We'll pick you up and help you get better."

J.J just blinked at him, a little lost and she thought about it. “…I did tell Slate I wanted to try to be his little sister.” Her shoulders slumped. “I like Vision. He’s nice. Pietro’s really safe. He makes me laugh. Hard too! Steve is…Steve is super safe. He’s so safe, I don’t think he’s safe to himself. That’s a sad thing. Real sad thing. B.B’s going to figure it out and smack Steve upside the head if he figures it out. I did make a good starting point. I guess I could go further. Try a little bit. Maybe talk to Wanda. Pietro wanted me to like her. I don’t wanna talk to the Fury though. He’s not nice and if he does sentence B.B to death or prison…he might as well take me too. Death is more preferred. Even if I hate it I don’t wanna be in a cell.”

"No...no one does," Sam assured soothingly, "If you want me to be honest, that is what I mean by 'crippling' earlier, Jay. You say they might as well sentence you to that, too? Yet...you don't think about those lives you've touched so far," he pointed out, "Bucky's crimes are his alone. They have nothing to do with you. Do you know how that'd make him feel, for you to be hurt because of his past? He'd feel awful, worse than he does now I'm sure. What of Pietro? He really likes you, from what I've heard from the others. He makes you happy, but I think you make him happy, too. He's going to be very sad when you go away with Bucky. If you were to die with Bucky? That would hurt him here," he put his hand on his chest, "Then that would reverberate to Wanda, and Wanda to Vision. It would also hurt Steve, because you are close to Bucky, and if he lot Bucky he'd be devastated, and then to lose you? He would feel like he failed." He winced as he thought it, knowing she heard him, so he said it out loud anyway, "It's not all about you."
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