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 Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine

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VampireCat92
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PostSubject: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:27 pm

Angelina was rightly skeptical about going to the mall, but James just kept his ball-cap and sunglasses on for the hot June day and kept to the shadows. He missed wearing his hoodie, but that had been during the gloomy beginning of June when it was still cool enough especially in the mornings and evenings. As it is, he kept his jacket on and one glove to hide is arm. It was hell outside, but in the cool air conditioned building he was fine.

They were in a store that had caught her interest with the colors and it carried men's clothing too, so he did a little shopping as well, always staying in her line of sight so they could see each other.

The store was fascinating, the clothes were interesting but she wasn't certain if she was going to be wearing these. She liked the colors most they were really different than the clothes that she was picked or the clothes that were handed to her. However, it was...well...crowded. Not the store itself, but the mall. It was noisy outside the store, and inside they had a radio going, which was nice if it didn't keep interrupting itself with random sales events that were happening. Sale associates, though they were helpful, made her wince because they were just doing their job, they really didn't /want/ to help her. They just wanted her to say no so they could continue on, or they prayed that she said yes and hoped it was complex so that they could spend fifteen minutes in the "stock room" not doing anything. She just wanted to be left alone, and people didn't want to leave her alone even though they wanted to leave her alone anyway....in other words...it was a mess.

The second mess of this was the prices. Holy /fuck/ the prices. She wasn't sure of the budget, her dad didn't give her one, he just told her find clothes that she liked and have fun. Whatever fun looked like. They were expensive as hell. Thirty for a single pair of jeans? Forty for two shirts? Shoes were probably even worse and she wasn't daring to go over on that department and every time she looked over at her father, he was just nodding at her encouragingly for some reason and she was praying that her telepathic abilities would just randomly kick in so he could hear her panic alarm telling him that she wanted out of hell and somewhere different.

"Not finding anything, baby girl?" James didn't want to use her Romanian nickname in a place like this, "Shall we go somewhere else? Old Navy and GAP have bigger areas if the racks are too close together here."

Angelina nodded and they walked out of the store, only for her to be attacked by endless, and endless amount of thoughts. Everyone was high-speed thinking, about the shops, about their kids, about their husbands, wives, co-workers, how that sale associated were treated by the manager, how that sale-associate treated them, how the manager treated them, what to get to eat....Angelina grabbed her dad's sleeve. She could nearly taste blood in the back of her throat, but her nose wasn't bleeding yet.

"Angel...focus on me, baby," James murmured, his hand laying over hers and guiding her through the halls. It wasn't long before they stepped into a fairly quiet shop. A tea shop called Teavana. "How about something to calm you down a bit?"

Angelina perked when she could smell some of the different teas that were brewing and these sale associates weren't the types that wanted to just run away. They /knew/ tea. She let go of her father's sleeve and headed towards one of the cold tea samples. There were mostly hot, but the two cold ones were near the entrance of the door. She tried them both, and had to agree that the fruity ones held up better in the cold, rather than the nutty flavored ones. There was a hot oolong that had chocolate and raspberries in it, which tasted amazing. There was a black tea with gunpowder and licorice that she didn't find appealing, but what she really loved looking at was the tea sets. There were plenty from Japan, but there was some that was just a regular tea pot with matching mugs that were really pretty.

It made her wonder about the new mission. The nonlethal mission. Her dad said that they weren't going back to Hydra, which meant that they couldn't return to the snakes. She knew about the money being stolen, and she knew that they were supposed to do things the /right/ way. She was supposed to protect Uncle Steve...She looked over at her father who was nearby trying one of the teas. He would tell her that Uncle Steve was a good person. Strong. Brave. He wouldn't be upset at the mall. She took a breath, let it out slowly. He would be able to pick clothes out. "Can we come back?" She asked him carefully as she approached his side and tugged his sleeve. "When we move."

"Hmm? Of course we can," James gave her a pleased and proud smile. He wasn't able to give the big smiles yet, still trying to figure out the small ones first, but this was good, "Are you ready to try again with a different store or shall we get out of the mall? There are actual clothing stores that will be less crowded. I was hoping today was a good day, but that's okay."

Angelina pursed her lips together. She knew her limits and she knew all to well that this was a test. It had to be. She had to be able to go out into crowds. She needed to at least try to get to a store. She tugged his arm and they walked out of Teavanna. The thoughts bombed again, endless static nose, and the blood taste was coming back, but she barreled on towards a directory. Gap or Navy and they were bigger stores...less crowded. She found it on the map and started heading that way, determined...till she couldn't be determined anymore. The blood started to taste stronger and people were starting to drive her a little crazy. Couldn't they keep their thoughts to themselves? At all?! She felt something wet drip onto her lip and she let out a sharp keen as she cupped her nose quickly with her hand. Now she was a biohazard....that was nice. So much for trying...but she nearly made it. That...had to at least count for something.

James cursed low and put his gloved hand at the back of her head, the other also keeping close to her face, "Tip your head back, I'll guide you to the nearest bathroom," he said soothingly. It took some maneuvering, but people who knew what a nosebleed was got out of the way while others gawked in horror, some in disgust, others getting out their phones. Those ones he moved her faster and made sharp weaves to duck behind over people before they could unlock and snap photos. He felt bad and apologized under is breath, but they made it to the bathrooms and he was so, so glad for the family room where he could go in with her and she was able to drain her face over the sink while he washed his hand and also grabbed hand towels. "Okay. We were able to get to one store at least and I got a new pair of pants from it. We can go back to the hotel when the bleeding stops, Angel. Try again tomorrow."

"Oh dear," a soft voice said to the door and Angelina just wanted to curl up and die. She felt so ashamed and embarrassed. "Here, let me grab you a towel sweetheart." She saw an arm move to the end of the sink and she saw a tiny socked foot on a woman’s hip. She pulled the hand towel away and walked over to Angelina. "Here sweetie, press that against your nose and sit down. I know it's not the cleanest spot you'll sit, but...it's better than standing."

She was a gorgeous woman. With long dark hair pulled back in a low ponytail and shimmering brown eyes. She had a diaper bag on one shoulder and a happy baby with messy hair. He was chewing on a Black Widow pacifier and he was looking at Bucky with high interest. Mostly because he wasn't used to seeing males all that often. "Thanks..." Angelina said softly, taking the towel and pressing it against her nose.

"Who are you? You must've seen us bolt through the crowd..." James wasn't being exactly subtle about it. It would be shit to be caught so early. Damn it.

Johanna blinked and she shook her head, "No. This little one decided that messy diaper was the way to go so I was going to come change him before he made it messier and then get fussy over it." She looked over at Angelina and shook her head, "Though I do admit when I saw the nosebleed, mother instincts came first. I'm so bad at that. I didn't realize she was already being taken care of." She blinked, "Oh damn I'm sorry. I'm Johanna. This is my little lion Leo. What's your names?"

"Angelina." Angelina answered, but her voice was stuffed and nasally, she probably was saying it in a weird foreign tongue.

"Just...James..." it was the first time he'd had to introduce himself. Should he use both last and first? Would she recognize the last? He shrugged, moving closer to Angelina and rubbing her back, keeping his arm out of sight, "We were on our way to shop for new clothes for her when this happened."

"The weather and the pollution undoubtedly," Johanna frowned and she looked at Angelina. "I suppose that you'll have to cancel that unless you can manage to get out of the mall without gushing a lot..." She walked over to the baby changing table and carefully laid him down on it and started looking through her diaper bag to find the changing blanket she uses so she could lay him down more comfortably. Angelina picked her head up, a little surprised at how easily Johanna's thoughts could jump from her son to her and back again. "You know, she's so tiny...a small would probably fit her well. You could go with sweat pants or basketball shorts till you could go jean shopping, but I think a three would be her go to. Get different sizes for that. Maybe a sports bra would help."

"Are...you giving me shopping advice?" Did she expect him to leave his daughter here while she was suffering?! He felt highly upset about that and bristled.

"I like her." Angelina piped up from her position on the floor. "I can't go anywhere."

Johanna laughed as she laid out the changing blanket and started getting to work, not even wrinkling her nose at the smell. "James, like she said, she can't go anywhere. And you're not leaving her to die. It's a nosebleed." She looked at him as she folded up the dirty diaper and unwrapped the new. She put the dirty one in the wrapper and tossed it in the trashcan. "I'm not saying you're leaving her with me. I'm not even suggesting that. What I /am/ suggesting is a faster way of shopping."
James stared at her, then at Angelina. He went back and forth about five times before his jaw ticked and he settled on his daughter, "Were there any colors you liked in the first store?" He wouldn't grab a whole lot, just enough to switch out through the week until they could try again.

"I liked the bright ones." Angelina said after a moment of thought. "The dark bright ones...like...a hot pink or a bright purple. Bright blue."

"Purrrr." Leo had spat out his pacifier and was happy to finally be back in bottoms that fit and no longer exposed to the world. He grinned with a few teeth that were starting to come in as Johanna picked him up. "Blagh."

"Alright, then." James nodded and reluctantly got up. He gave Johanna a warning glance over his sunglasses before turning on his heel and practically storming out. He didn't like this, but Angelina didn't mind her. He gathered brightly colored neon tops in smalls, some with sayings, some with designs. Price didn't matter to him, even though he did check the fabric. If was something he would wear on his own skin she wouldn't mind it, right? Soft, a few silky. He grabbed skirts and leggings for the hot summer weather, but mindful if they were long enough to cover her scars. Light blue jeans, regular blue jeans, and a really fashionable pair of dark blue jeans.

So much for not buying a lot. He had four bags from four different places and a box of sneakers nestled in the crook of his elbow that he'd checked to see if they were in multiple sizes for exchange if they didn't fit. A multi-pack of socks were in the box as well. Underwear and that bra was something he wouldn't do. A shady guy with a ballcap, jacket and sunglasses walking into Victoria's Secret? Fuck no.

Con-fucking-firm. He'd risked enough for one day.

While he was busy running around and getting clothes for her, Angelina and Johanna had a bit of a conversation. Mostly Angelina lying about where she came from, and Johanna telling her about Leo. Leo, the one year old, was happy to crawl around on the bathroom floor and had found himself a seat on Angelina's lap. When her nose stopped bleeding, he patted her cheeks a few times, cooing pleased sounds. His thoughts didn't make any sense, for children didn't really think. Johanna handed her a stuffed animal that was a favorite, and he happily shook it in his lap, sometimes pushing it in Angelina's face before taking it back and tossing it so he had a reason to crawl.

"I see you made a tiny friend," James drawled as he set the bags and box down, making Johanna jump from his stealthy entrance. "I'll take back anything you don't like."

"Okay." Angelina said softly and she looked over at Leo but he was looking at James in the same awe that he had stared at him the first time he walked in.

"Ba-ba!" He finally said, pointing at James.

"What? You need somebody to play with you while your friend takes a moment?" James sat down with crossed legs and picked up the toy that was laying on the ground nearby, his long arms doing him good.

"Ba-be." Leo said seriously as Angelina stood up and set him down. She started rummaging through the clothes and picked the shirts first. Johanna had to smile warmly as she went into the stall to start changing them. He stuck his tongue out and blew a perfect raspberry when James held the stuffed animal just a bit away from him. He crawled over to James and got on his lap. He looked a bit surprised that his lap was a little steeper and longer than Angelina's, but he didn't let it bother him for long. He ignored the stuffed animal in favor for the sunglasses. "is-is." He babbled.

"Oh Leo don't take them off of him," Johanna sighed exasperatedly. "They're on his face for a reason."

"Is-is." He repeated insistently. "No."

Query: Why would she defend him? He could just be a regular ol' dude who wore sunglasses inside to be a douche. He acted perfectly fine so not to be thought of as blind. Curious. Yet he kept his hand on his glasses so not to let the baby remove them, "Mama said no, little one." He said firmly.

Leo stopped going after the glasses, but he did pat James's cheeks. "No." He grinned like it was the funniest word he said. "No." He sat down on his lap and grabbed his stuffed lion. "Grrrr."

"Grrr," James answered back, not letting the lion go and making it bob in the air, "Rawr, rawr, grrr, grrr..." He felt...so silly doing this, but he felt some of the tension leaving his shoulders. Children weren't afraid of him. Like the girl from the train. He glanced up at the stall Angel went into, "Is everything okay?"

"I'm trying on last one," Angelina answered after a moment. "I like them all. They fit. They feel weird. Not used to wearing things like this." She explained the best that she could. "Feels good." She finally came out of the stall and smiled. "I'll try the pants on. Then the shoes. We can go after." She looked at Johanna and frowned. "Do you have to leave?"

"I'm fine being here." Johanna assured. "My son thinks that your dad is the bee's knees right now."

"He is." Angelina chirped happily putting the shirts back into one bag and started taking out the pants and going back into the stall to try them on.

"Maw." Leo frowned, watching Angelina go back into the stall. "Gil!"

"Bees knees? Do bees even have knees?" It took considerable effort to not use the word 'query' for those questions. It was just such a ridiculous phrase.

"Huh? Oh no, it's a metaphor." Johanna laughed a little. "My grandmother used to say it, and I was really attached to her so I started saying it."

"That's...odd. Okay." He really didn't know what else to say to this woman. Her child was cute, though. He continued to distract him with the animal and also had to keep him from taking his hat off when he got too close. Though he did take a glance at her supplies for the baby. "Black Widow is a good fighter. You like her?"

"You could say that." Johanna smiled warmly as she watched Leo play with James. She was kind of pleased to see that Leo was tiring out. A baby could only take so much excitement. "My mother wanted me to go with Captain America, but my friend beat her to the punch and bought me everything that was Black Widow. She didn't know I was having a boy at the time. Though when she found out, she basically screamed score so..."

"Scr-" James stopped himself. Asking about another phrase could be suspicious. This was getting increasingly more difficult and he just smiled instead. When Angel was done they would leave the mall and do something quiet and fun before going back to the hotel. Okay, that could be something useful to know. "Is there any good places for ice cream outside of the mall? Not DQ." Too crowded there, too, out of popularity.

"Actually if you walk down a few blocks east, there's a cute mom and pop's ice cream store you could go into. It's rarely crowded," Johanna smiled warmly. "Ice cream's really good especially for times like these."

"That's good. I know taste is muddled by the taste of blood, so any flavor suggestions?" Would chocolate ice cream with the taste of blood be weird?

"Hmm...." Johanna was thoughtful. "Chocolate actually would be a good idea. That or something with a strong after taste like mint. It will be weird the first few licks, but...after a while it should settle." She looked at James with a soft smile. "Another thing you could do, is make sure she gets rest. No running around doing things. A bath helps so much too. Not a super hot one, but a nice warm one. A good one."

"Oh!" James picked the baby up and crawled over himself to her on his knees, the baby laughing as he was swung around, but he was secure even if his clothing was thoroughly rumpled, "There was Bath and Body Works place," he whispered, "Any scents that would be soothing for her?" He had an odd time figuring out a pitch that would be too low for her to hear but loud enough for Johanna.

"I think it depends on her sense of smell, but...if I were go to with a scent, my favorite is the Japanese Cherry Blossoms. But I also use Lavender Vanilla. Now that's a very soothing scent I think." She murmured quietly. "Do you want me to stay here while you run off and do another round? I promise, I can keep Angelina entertained for a bit."

"Okay. Here's Leo," James put the baby on his mother's lap and patted his head before taking off quickly. Not a run, but a brisk walk. He was glad to help his daughter out anyway he could, really.

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:38 am

"I liked her," Angelina said as they walked down the road, towards the small ice cream place that Johanna had talked to them about. The small family was so pleased when Angelina liked all of the clothes and nothing had to be returned. Johanna got up and Leo had fallen asleep so they said their goodbyes and had left. Now, it was just back to her and her father again. "Her mind was nice. Soothing. She's a good mother."

"I'm glad you're better...I'm sure my mental pattern wasn't the best anchor." James furrowed his brows, "I'm very sorry, fetiță. I wasn't the best with her, either, but I was better by the end of it. I didn't know what to do or say."

Angelina frowned and she turned around walking backwards. "Cautious." She told him gently. "I was vulnerable. Mall has cameras. She could have outed us, if she wanted." She smiled at him. "Isn't it nice to talk to another parent?"

"Not...certain. Would require more input. I have a bit more clarity, however. Her own child was cute." James smiled softly, "Let's see how ice cream settles in your stomach now, hmm? Then we'll go rest and you can take a bath with your new bath wash."

Angelina beamed as she spun around easily and gracefully and fell back into step with him. "I like being out here." She said after a moment. "It's weird. No one to demand things. No mission report. It's nice. Scary though. But today is good."

"Frustrating, but good?" James smiled just a bit wider and ruffled her hair a little bit, "I'm glad. This is good. Let's keep up the good work."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:42 pm

Steve sat in the Stark Tower coffee shop with a sketchbook in hand. He tapped his pencil on the page, thinking about the file of photos that he had read over and over and over again. It’s been a good few days, but the nightmares were  terrifying. The images of the horrifying pictures of the mutilated bodies, of the fun photo the girl took with the head lingered in his dreams like a bad omen. He thought about Bucky and his cold stare as he shot down the people. He thought about all of the reasons as to why he would go back to England to save someone like that, but he couldn’t think of anything besides that Bucky…probably saw something in her. Probably saw a reason to free her.

“Hey there Capiscle. Not the first time I see you in my coffee shop.” Tony took the chair and sat down next to him, pushing up his sunglasses despite being indoors. He wore a tailored suit in the most casual fashion Steve had to cringe upon. “Files of the Winter Solider?” He asked, taking a glance.

“And a female who did most of the leg work.” Steve said softly, “You wouldn’t want to see it, Stark.”

“No?” Tony demanded, grabbing the file and opening it. He frowned at the photos and at the statement that was written there. “Not much to go on, huh?”

“You can’t track down a ghost, you can only find it’s tracks.” Steve shrugged helplessly, “Fury thinks that the moment Bucky shows himself he could get him arrested.”

“Well, he did do bad things, Cap.” Tony said slowly, “Especially if he freed a mass murderer.”

“No one knows who she is, what she is, or why she’s around.” He took the file back, closing it up. “Did you see the picture of her holding the severed head?”

“No…was I supposed to?”

“I think that’s one of the few pictures I’ll stay away from if I were you.” He shook his head from side to side. “He did do bad things, but you know as well as I do it was Hydra’s fault.”

Tony tilted his head, “If you go with the brainwashing and the torture, yeah.” He said slowly. “But seventy years worth of it? No one’s going to take that as a POW case. They’re going to think that he defected from the war. You might get someone who’d listen to a sympathetic ear, but it depends on how loud those people are.”

“Not loud enough to change a sentencing.” Steve said sourly.

“What about the girl? Any idea what she might be in for?”

“Tony, we know nothing…” Steve said exasperatedly. “If we did, I’m sure Fury would come up with just as bad of a punishment.”

“I should get J.A.R.V.I.S in on this.” Tony mused, “It might be fun to sneak around and see whose Hydra’s killing machine. That being said though…” He looked at Steve. “You think the Winter Solider can be tamed?”

“Not tamed, but…I think he can learn to be himself again.” Steve looked at Tony, pleading. “I think that we keep looking at his crimes and not seeing the person behind it. I think that we need to start realizing that he was a POW and that it was all Hydra’s fault regardless of how America tries to spin it.”

“What about the girl? He goes all the way back to England to save her. He’s not just going to drop her at the drop of a dime either. You think she can be tamed?” Tony asked.

“I trust Bucky’d judgement.” He kept his eyes square on his friend. “I think that she’s probably going to be the one we’ll need to be the most careful of.”

“So we have a deadly assassin and a deadly mass murderer. All under one roof. That’s going to be interesting.”

“Tony…”

“I’ll tell you what, Steve. If you can find them before Fury does, and drag them into the Tower, we’ll pretend that they’re not here. Magically mysteriously disappeared. We’ll have no idea what they’re doing or who they are. When in fact, they’re right here. Safe from harm.”

“You sure Tony? We don’t know about the girl…” Steve said slowly.

“We don’t, but I’m going to see what I can’t dig up. Even if we can’t find anything, I’d rather have a mass murderer under my roof than somewhere I can’t find them.” Tony said slowly. “I’d also rather have them be loyal to your friend. Maybe hopefully that means they’ll be loyal to you, too.”

“God you’re weird,” Steve relaxed.

"I'm the best, you just don't say it loud enough," Tony answered, clapping Steve on the back and leaving him at the cafe.

()


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:03 pm

Was that is /liver/?

Oh god his head was spinning. Breathing increasing.

Everything faded back to black.

Pretty sure the only thing they never removed was his heart. Confirm. Thank the Lord, however feeble that praise was. A lot of time he felt like they might as well. Maybe one of the times they killed him he'd /stay/ dead before they pumped him full of electricity to jump-start his heart before his brain died.

His throat was scratchy and raw and when he coughed he tasted blood. Yet he couldn't scream anymore. They were cutting his feet. This was when he was caught the first time. What was with his feet? Didn't want him to run. Not that he could escape on his own. The bonds were so tight he swore he couldn't feel his fingers. Did he have frostbite? Probably.

Blackness was something he called friend for sweet relief and something he was afraid of because he as much as he prayed for it, he didn't /want/ to die. It still came for him, though.

He woke up again and was gasping. His mouth was dry. The water they splashed on him touched his tongue but it felt like he was drinking air. It didn't stick. The only thing that stuck was is own blood when they beat his face in.

That was worse.

The cell was cold and grimy. Rust everywhere. No such thing as sanitary.

Out. He wanted out. Brainwashed and didn't know who he was, where he was, who these people were until they gave him information. Hydra. Winter Soldier. Asset. Ghost story. He still wanted out. He defected a lot, whether or not he remembered what he needed to. They always brought him back. Punished him. Wiped away the want to get out. Gave him shorter missions. Didn't give him a chance to want to get out. Though they punished him sometimes for speaking out of turn because they wanted a reason.

Punishment. Chair. Electricity. Flashing blue lights. Flashing blue lights! No, no, keep it away! What did he do wrong this time?!

He left. He defected. They were coming for him. No! No! Go away! He didn't want to go back! Didn't want the bitter taste of the rubber bit, didn't want to feel the leather of the chair sticking to his sweaty skin. NO! NO!


Angelina woke up to the screams first. She had nearly jumped out of bed just an ambulance was going by, flashing red and blue the siren blazing loudly. She quickly got out of her bed and got on his bed. She knew this was a bad idea, but hell she'd rather be shot at than to have someone knock on the door and wonder what the fuck was wrong with them. She grabbed him by the shoulder and tugged, hard as she could while she carefully started working on getting some of the covers off of him. He'd get tangled, then he'd fall and hurt himself, and he might accidentally shoot himself, and it was just a no go. "You're not there." She said firmly. "You're not there. You're not /there/. You're here."

"Punishment! Defected. Want their property back." James blurted first when he jerked away, hearing only the end of her words. His bolted upright and his head snapped back and forth to look across the whole room, his eyes huge. How /messy/ had they been in a few days! Inefficient! Longer cleanup. Unacceptable! "Anzhelina! Can't. Can't stay. Gotta move. Gotta go. Clean up." He kicked the covers the rest of the way off and stumbled out of the bed, still groggy and wobbly, grasping half-blind in the darkness of the room with only the city lights to light the space.

Angelina paused in thought before she started talking. "Did you know that the body gets heavier when you die? It's really heavy. People think that it's because there's something called a soul that makes the body lighter. I never seen a soul yet. I don't think I'll be able to. But I heard that souls have colors too. I think your color would be a blue or a red. I think a blue. Do you remember passing people on the park? They were riding bikes, I thought that was really cool. I can't ride one, never learned. I think I'd fall on my face. The rollarblades looked pretty awesome too. But I'm more partial to the swing sets."

James had slipped for the fourth time and was finally packing things into his duffle bag while sitting on his ass when she started babbling. He stared at her with his still wide, unblinking eyes until the bike part and then it was slow. He was startled and confused by her words. Making sense yet constantly changing topics so by the time his brain realized she was talking about one thing she was talking about another. By the end of it, his hands weren't even idly moving and he was only really thinking 'why isn't she packing?' rather than the urgent /need/ to pack and /why/.

"We don't have to leave." Angelina explained, crawling over to his part of the bed and lying down on it. She looked at him seriously. "We're okay. See? No one's banging on the door. The ambulance is far away now."

"Ambulance?" It was slow and highly confused. What ambulance? "Blue flashes...not...punishment?" the query was hesitant rather than slow this time and it sounded small, as small as she was.

"No punishments exist here." Angelina replied firmly before her lips curved down. "Remember? No handler." She sat up and smiled at him softly. "You're safe with me."

"Safe." James chewed harshly on his lip, looked around the room again a lot more slowly, listened carefully, but the only sounds were that of is breathing and the City that Never Sleeps. Slowly, letting go of the knife he had in his hand, he slowly got back onto the bed and reached for her, making sure she was real before he drew her into a slow hug. It took several long moments before his shoulders started to drop their tension and he nosed her shoulder, a long exhale leaving him, "Safe...no punishment, no handler. Safe." It was firmer each time he said it, and he nodded, as if starting to believe it.

Angelina hugged him back, enjoying the closeness since it was rare for him to go for one. It was happening more often, but she didn't want to jinx it, and lose it. "Safe." She repeated, soft and held him close. "See tată? No one to hurt you. No one to hurt me. You're safe with me. We don't go back to the snakes."

"No...no we don't, fetiță." James shook his head and kissed her temple, but still held onto her as he grabbed the blankets and flopped them back onto the bed, giving her a tiny smile at the silliness of it. "Safe."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:53 am

It was a steady of sound of metal creaking and bars slamming like a prison, and the rhythm of someone marching to an unsaid beat. Their boots thumped in time with the creaking of the metal. The slam was always fading farther and farther away, but the creaking was coming closer and the steady of the foot falls were coming closer. Angelina couldn’t see anything but red outside of the cage. She could see the silhouette of the bars and she could see if someone was coming or going through the corridor, but she couldn’t see anything else but red. Nothing but red. She stared at it, determined not to flinch. It was a game handlers played sometimes, to see if she could handle being around the dark.

It was how little her managed not to be so afraid and learned that darkness was a comfort. But this was no comfort. She could hear the thumps, it was louder, like it was right next to her, but it was impossible to be next to her because she was alone. No one dared opened her cage just to try to make her jump. The last time they did that, the guys’ body was stabbed so many times and flung around till he was nothing but a pile of organs with some bone…but not enough to really show who it was.

The cage creaked, creaked and Angelina must have blinked because she saw a head staring at her. A head that had long sharp teeth, blood at the eyes and crying some sort of liquid that wasn’t blood nor tears. It smelled of acid. It was smiling at her and the eyes looked familiar. Crazed and wide. There wasn’t any skin on the head either. Just a ball of muscle…dripping blood all over the floor in a steady rhythm that matched the heavy footsteps.

“Sweet child what are you doing in here?”

What was she doing in here? She looked over at the organ mess that she had made. When did it appear? It would make the head go away, maybe. She decided to take the stomach. For some reason the stomach and the kidneys always made people cringe the most. She could do the heart, but they cringed when she had it in her hands, an she wanted to throw it. So, she threw the stomach at the head. The head splattered with blood and acid, a lot of it went through the bars.

Her aim sucked.

“That’s not a very nice thing to do.”

“Leave me alone.”

The head shrunk itself and then popped back into shape, floating carelessly without a problem and headed her way. She was starting to get scared. Floating heads don’t exist. They don’t. She could hear a skittering of whispers, like people were talking behind her back. But she couldn’t tell what they were saying. She stood up slowly and the head’s teeth chattered, like it was trying to smile brightly. She noticed the teeth were serrated.

“You can’t leave.” The head said. “Cut off a head and two shall take it’s place.”

Just like that she watched in muted horror as the head split self into two separate things. She watched as the muscle contracted and pulled, bones breaking and mending in order to create the second head. The second head laughed loudly and she watched it come close to her. She closed her eyes, bracing herself and she felt something enclose around her leg and she felt a /snap/.

She panicked and she looked down to see that one of her legs was missing all of the sudden. It was bleeding heavily and she could feel her heart throb in her thigh. The blood gushed like a waterfall and she felt her stomach coil. Her head jerked back and the second head had it between it’s teeth. She tried to move after it, but she fell on her face. She screamed, loudly, maybe someone would come and get her. The head laughed and she felt something tear into her arm. She was too busy watching in horror as the second head was eating her leg.

She felt the head bite her by the elbow and was slowly pulling it away from her. She watched as skin tore and muscles showed only to also tear and reveal bone that was breaking…breaking…pulling…she was screaming. Screaming. She made a fist with her other hand and punched as hard as she could at the head.

“We’ll make you stay and be useless. But that’s okay. As long as we leave that alone, you could bring us more.”

So, instead of losing her arm like she foolishly lost her leg, she decided to do something. So she punched

She punched.

She screamed.

And screamed.

And punched.

And the red disappeared.

The creaking sound was loud.

But there was a voice, panicked stricken…

She couldn’t tell if she was wet from sweat or something else.

She couldn’t tell if she was safe or not. But the person’s voice was loud.

She flung her fist and she felt it catch on something.

But the first thing that she noticed was that she was hurting. She hurt. Something was /wrong/.


"Anzhelina! You're hurting yourself! Stop! Stop!" He couldn't read her mind. He didn't know what was going on. All he knew was she was punching her arm as if she was trying to get something off of her. She'd woken him up with her shouting and he felt his stomach twisting. After remembering the night before this morning, he had debating leaving for real, but she'd told him it was fine. This time, once morning came they would have to go. It was good they picked everything up just in case.

"What do you see? What are you dreaming? You're safe, fetiță, I promise. I swear. Come back to me, listen to my thoughts, please," James pleaded as he kept her arms by her sides but otherwise didn't restrain her. He was fine if she kicked him, just as long as she didn't hurt herself.

The room slowly came to focus now that she wasn't punching the thing anymore. She could see flashes of red every time she blinked, but the more she blinked the more she could figure out that she was somewhere else. A room, with a soft bed, no bars, and her tată holding her arms, rubbing them staring at her with fear and panic, concern. She made him scared. She made him so scared, but he was trying so hard. He was thinking good thoughts. He was calling her name, trying to remember good times. Not the ones in Hydra, every time those popped up he shoved them aside with a burning vengeance she could feel. But the mall. The park. The ice cream. "Tată?"

A heaving sigh of relief and he let her go immediately, "You're awake. Thank god. You're safe with me. I don't know where you went in your dreams, but you're safe with me. I won't let anything bad happen to you, fetiță."

She sat up slowly, taking in the environment. The air was cool, not too warm. The A/C was probably on. He looked so exhausted, and scared. She felt her eyes burn with tears, even though she tried to hold them back. Tears for some reason, Hydra couldn't seem to get rid of it with her. Maybe that's why they thought she was weak. "I don't know." She admitted, her voice shaky. "They took my arm. My leg." She looked at her arm and she could see already a dark red patch from where she had been hitting it. She touched her arm, wincing. She undoubtedly was going to get a bruise. "The head told me. They did it..."

"The...head?" Her dream. Okay. "The head is dumb and wrong. I don't know nor care what it said. You're alive with me. You're safe with me. You're good with me. Non-lethal and good. What you want matters. You matter. You're safe. They didn't take anything and they're not going to." He was ferocious in his words, believing every bit of it, "Do you understand me?"

Angelina frowned, and she looked back at her arm that she had been punching in her sleep. She held onto it and she bit her lip hard, trying to keep the tears at bay. "I'm...safe with you. Nothing was taken...and they won't take anything. You won't-" She burst into tears but she tried to keep steady. "l-let them and I mat-matter to y-you."

"That's right, baby. Can I hold you? C'mere," He offered with his arms out for her to come to him.

Angelina didn't hesitate. She crawled over to him and fell into his arms and buried her head into his shoulder, holding him tightly. "I'm so scared." She told him softly, like she was admitted a secret. "So scared. I don't want to go back there. I don't like that dream."

James wasted no time in using his huge super-soldier body and her tiny 18-year old body to his advantage to wrap her up like he was just a big living blanket. Holding her close and tight, he rubbed her arm soothingly to try and make it feel better, rocking her from side to side, "Remember the night before. Remember what you told me. You're not the one with a bad memory, Anzhelina. We're not there. They aren't coming for us. We're safe. We're not okay, obviously, but we have our good days. Two bad days is nothin'. It's going to be worse. It's going to be better. It's a stupid roller-coaster and one day I'll take you to the amusement park to experience what that's like and where that reference comes from. Wouldn't that be an experience?"

Angelina laughed, choking on her tears, but she nodded. It'd be nice to see what that meant. She listened to his heartbeat and she let herself be rocked from side to side, knowing that she was safe here. She was safe right in his arms. He was right, they weren't there. Wherever /there/ was in their heads. Hydra, a cell, they weren't there. They were here, in nice beds, without handlers breathing down their necks. With a nonlethal mission. "Yeah." She agreed after a moment, her tears subsiding and she just felt exhausted. "<te iubesc>." I love you. She murmured to him.

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:57 am

One thing he had to say about the libraries in New York is that they were all huge. Every. Single. One of them. He could wander the isles for days. Books for days. This was something both he and his daughter agreed was ten times better than sitting in the second hotel they'd moved to moping. This satisfied the need for quiet as well as the need to move and requirement to practice being around people. Said people gave Angelina weird looks when she went to the kid's section, but she promptly ignored them, even playing with some of the children quietly by reenacting scenes for them. Angelina was good at using her accent and using no accent to make an interesting combination of voices.

James had gotten them coffee from the 'Starbucks' next to the library as well. His was delicious, full of two pumps of hazelnut, two pumps of vanilla, a whole damn banana for protein with protein powder on top of it and the best part? The base was a vente double chocolate chip java. It'd taken him half an hour to come up with this combination sitting at a table listening to mixtures of plain and complicated custom-made orders.

None of the books were really calling out to him, and he realized he hadn't really caught up on recent news lately. So James wandered over to the computers, using the info on the paper attached to the monitor to log in. Yahoo seemed to be the first thing that came to mind, so he checked that. It went on from there, checking some other new places, the weather...before he finally got bored. He didn't want to make an e-mail yet. He didn't have anybody beside Angel. Though...that made him glance over at someone who was on the computer but using their phone. Perhaps that would be useful. A flip pre-paid throwaway phone for each of them. Cheep as dirt, too.

The children had really loved her reenactments for the stories, but the parents finally decided that once the last story was done and over with they had to go. She really enjoyed telling the stories, the plot lines weren't too hard nor complex and she liked how simple the characters were. There wasn't any hidden motives or destiny involved and she liked that. She really enjoyed the pictures most of all, and she wanted to bring some to take home with her, at the very least to read a thousand times. It made her wonder what she would have to do to get a library card, but decided that maybe that should be saved for another day. She placed the books back, vowing to return and read them to herself rather than play with the kids...though she wasn't sure if that'd hold up. She wandered down the aisles afterwards, humming to herself, and getting familiar with the area until she came to the computer room. She recognized her dad's back instantly and smiled. He was trying, but that meant she had to try too.

They did hotel hop, and she hadn't noticed anyone following them, but it was better to be safe than sorry. She walked over to one of the free computers and logged in, thanking the heavens that it was for free. She first decided to see what was up with S.H.I.E.L.D and started working through the sites, but she wasn't finding anything that was worth much besides the whole collapsing part. So, she decided that it might be best to go through and try to get through the Avengers. They were technically a part of S.H.I.E.L.D collapsed or not but at the same time they /weren't/. It was a very thin boundary, and one she needed to figure out more about.

"So just what would you do if I got you a laptop? Nothin' fancy, but enough to do research and other stuff like this?" James asked as she was between pages, looking at a big article on the alien invasion that happened.

Angelina blinked slowly and looked up at her dad who was over her shoulder suddenly and she smiled, "It'll be fine." She assured, "I worked with less. It might be better. I can't do the thing I want on a library computer. Too public and too easy. But this I can do." She looked back at the articles. "I don't think S.H.I.E.L.D's gone. Gone rouge maybe."

Why was there a sudden nagging feeling in the back of his mind? Ugh. Was his super-soldier enhanced mind capable of amazing mathematical equations, calculating flawlessly for sniper-rifle shots, and tactical decisions /forgetting something important/ again? More than fucking likely and it frustrated the hell out of him. "I'll get you something easy to carry around. I need to get you a bigger travel backpack anyway, with your extra clothes. There's those tiny one-hander laptops? Oh, and would you agree a toss phone would be practical for us if we get separated?"

Angelina frowned and reached up, patting his shoulder. "Yes to the phone and easy to carry around." She smiled. "Anything will work. A bigger travel bag?" She supposed that the small backpack wasn't going to cut it anymore so she nodded after a moment. "I guess that's true. I have more things, and about to get more things. We'll be getting a home soon. Then we'll be able to put things in places."

"Imagine that, putting things in places. I should've been looking at that. Now I gotta go log back in," James rubbed his face, "I'll leave you to whatever you're doing. I'll show you anything I find. I'm thinking we'll be here until close? Just so we can get our fill of the internet?" he smiled a bit.

"Sounds like fun," Angelina beamed. "I can always go back to the play room if I'm bored." She watched him go back to his computer and she looked at hers. Well, might as well make this last. The Avengers had Steve Rogers after all, surely they'd see it the same way as a mission to figure out more information.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Dec 13, 2016 9:43 pm

The night had been fairly restful after the last two giving them little to no sleep. It was a minor miracle and so when it happened it was when the sun was starting to peek it's head up around 5:30. The super-soldier and his half-super daughter were just starting to wake up, groggy from sleeping so deeply for once, and then suddenly...

James jerked violently in his bed, gripping the sides, eyes wide and a deep gasp filling the room, but oddly enough the only shouting was in his head. IT'S JULY. JULY FOURTH. BIRTHDAY. STEVE'S BIRTHDAY. PRESENTS. STEVE DOESN'T HAVE PRESENTS FOR HIS BIRTHDAY.

Angelina had been kind of happy that wasn't anything exciting going on, but the moment that the words: IT'S JULY echoed through her brain. She gripped it, in the same manner that her father was gripping his and she looked over at him with an expression that was horribly torn between concern and what the actual fuck was happening and Steve. Steve. Holy shit they forgot about Steve. They were the worst mission assists in the world. She started cracking up despite the yelling in her head that made her want to scream back.

"STEVE!" James finally bolted upright and looked at Angelina in absolute horror, "We forgot about Steve! is birthday. It's coming up." I HAVEN'T CHECKED TO SEE IF HE'S EVEN STILL ALIVE! rattled around in his mind, blaring like a neon sign. MISSION PROTECT. YOU'RE A FAILURE. WHAT KIND OF PROTECTOR ARE YOU? REALLY. CONFIRM. ASSHOLE.

Angelina sat up and she walked over to him and she grabbed him by the wrists. "Not a failure. Good protector." She watched him for a moment. "He's alive. News outlets would've said otherwise. National mourning would be happening right now. We have time to find things that he likes. Damage control. What can we do first?"

"I...I...don't know. I can't think. What time is it?" James looked for the watch on the nightstand. He hated wearing it in his sleep because it stabbed him and the ticking drove him nuts. "Five-forty...so early to go out right now but I need air."

"Let's run." Angelina grinned as she let him go and smiled. "You bought me things to run in. I know you have things to run in. Let's run. It'll be fun. I'll race you."

"Okay...yeah. A run. Let's do that. I'll get dressed in the bathroom." Throw some water on his face, wake up a little more and they'd go.

~*~

Run, run, Angelina huffed as they kept up a light paced jog. Well, to them it was a light paced jog. To others, they were probably marathon runners, or something like that. She was barely breaking a sweat, and neither was her dad. They didn't talk much, focused completely on their breathing, the road, and trying to get the nightmares and the panic attack off of their backs. She blinked when she noticed that there was a tall, blonde man heading their direction. He was a good far distance away, but it was enough for her to grab her dad's wrist and pull him ruining his momentum. "Go the way we came." She told him. "Okay? If I don't meet with you, it's target. If I do meet up with you, it's not him and I panicked for nothing okay? Go go. I got this." She shooed him and she bent down on her hands and knees, pretending to catch her breath.

Steve huffed as he ran the course, his mind still buzzing about the files that had been placed on his desk. The alien invasion had been a welcomed distraction, but once the action had calmed down he was back to square one with his worry. He needed to find a way to bring Bucky in, without him worrying about being tried. He had to get him to be apart of the Avengers ASAP before Nick Fury found them, and by God he was thankful they weren't caught yet. They stayed away from him, and that was good...and disheartening. He passed a girl who was hunched over and he carefully paused, jogging in place. "Hey, are you okay?" He asked, worriedly. She could be having an asthma attack, or maybe she pushed herself too hard. He didn't know. But when she looked up, he noticed that she was smiling. Smiling and not at all looking like she was suffering any oxygen deprivation.

"I'm okay." She said, letting her accent get heavy on the words. He blinked at her, so that was good. It meant one, he wasn't expecting a foreigner and two, it just made his guard go up. Which wasn't good. He was looking like he was about to run as far away as he could. "I tripped and got scared. Who are you?"

"I'm Steve Rogers," Steve looked like he was swallowing a lemon at the same time he was trying to be kind. He held his hand out to her and he was kind of shocked at the strength she put behind it. Her handshake was strong...not at all like how some women shook hands. "It's nice to meet you?"

"Anzhelina. Or I think the American version of my name is Angelina. I'm not sure. Your country is weird with names." Angelina said, wincing inwardly and mentally flinging apologies to her dad wherever he ran off to. "Steve. It's a good name. I like it. Are you from around here?"

"Uh...yeah I was born in Brooklyn though. Harlem is mostly my home base." Steve paused, "I say base but what I really mean is that it's my new home basically. I'm sorry I'm still getting used to being out of the military." He wondered if that was too much of a hint, but Angelina was nodding like she never heard of it before so..."Where are you from?"

"Rus-Romania. I'm a Russian-Romanian." Angelina needed to figure out where she was from because holy fuck this was bad. Shit. Undercover work was not for her in any sense of the means, and she decided to wing it. Her dad was probably either really furious, really concerned, or not at all certain what to feel at all. "I lived in both. I was Russian born though. But Romania is home."

"Sounds...really interesting." Steve blinked, the Romanian accent did give away her love for the country. He would never guess Russia though. "Do you mind running with me? I mean, I'll slow down my pace for you so that we can talk."

"Whatever pace is fine," Angelina beamed. "I like running." They started up a comfortable pace, though Steve wasn't sure if it was entirely comfortable for her. It was the same pace he was running at before, only just a few paces slower. "Do you like it here?"

"Well..." Steve frowned deeply, "What do you know about Captain America?" Just how much did she know about the man? And did she realize that him and the Captain were the same person?

"Not much." Angelina shrugged. Besides being a moral enemy of Hydra, her dad's best friend and her uncle, and knowing that baseball was the All-American sport, Angelina had to wince. She really, /really/ didn't know anything about him.

Steve nodded, though he didn't seem to be /too/ upset with her. He looked almost relieved. It made her wonder if he was glad that someone didn't read a textbook and assumed him to be a friend automatically. Sure, it was probably nice to get that trust right off the bat, but people's diligence sure went down a hell lot faster. "I'm Captain America." He sounded like he was confessing a death, mostly a murder of some sort. "I woke up a few years ago from a block of ice. So...a lot of things are new. I like the foods. I like that a lot of sicknesses that plagued our timeline, is finally contained here. I like that we advanced in technology, Bucky would have a blast here."

"Whose Bucky?" Angelina's eyebrows furrowed. She never once heard that name before.

"He was my Sargent back in the war." Steve's teeth bit his lower lip, "He fell off of a train in the Alps."

"Oh." So Bucky was her dad. Which meant that James....what was James? "That sucks."

He burst into laughter, not really expecting /that/. The usual sorries maybe, or even her begging for him to tell the story word for word. "Yeah, yeah it really does suck." He shook his head from side to side. "You know you're the first person to keep up with me on a run."

"That's because I'm good at my job," Angelina lifted her head a little and a bright smile came on her face. "I'll tell you if it becomes too much. "Do you know what a birthday is?"

Steve nearly tripped in his momentum, but he kept running, giving her a weird look. "Y...yes I do. It's the day that you were born on. I'm guessing you don't have one?"

"I don't remember. I haven't looked." Angelina shrugged, "So when's yours?"

"July the Fourth." Steve said slowly.

"Oh. No wonder your Captain America then." She hummed.

"Jeez that sounds just like what Bucky would say," Steve rolled his eyes. "Sam would be saying things that I should be showing off my patriotic pride or something. /Really/ show the good red white and blue."

"....You'd look terrible in white and red." Angelina admitted bluntly.

Steve had to stop in his run to laugh a little. Angelina paused, jogging in place for a moment before she too stopped. "Yeah, I don't think I'd look good in white either. I like blues and greens."

"Maybe," She frowned. "What do you do for your birthday?"

"Well, I don't know about what other people do. But I just usually sit around until Natasha drags me out or Sam," Steve answered. "You know, do other things besides worry about my age."

Angelina slowly blinked, "Other things are more important than age. That's not fun though. If I had a birthday I'd want to be filled with fun things. I wouldn't know what those fun things /were/, but...you know. Do something besides mope. Your Bucky wouldn't like that all too much if he found out."

Steve gave her a fond smile. "We just met and you're already worried about my birthday crisis huh?"

"I think you're too young to be acting like a dying man." She frowned. "What do you like to do?"

That was...an interesting thing to say. She probably wasn't counting the seventy years that he was stuck in the ice. That was really sweet of her. So many people were hoping that they could see the nineteen forties old fashioned way of thoughts, the strong beliefs that would never hold up in today's morals. "I like do art. I like to explore and find places to hang out. Sometimes that means cafes, parks, gardens. Have you been to a garden before?"

"No." She shook her head from side to side.

"Well, there is one in New York I think you'd like. You should check it out while you're roaming around here." Steve smiled at her. "You should try it. What else do I like doing. I like saving the world from bad guys, being the advocate people need so that they can protest freely."

"Are you real?" Angelina raised an eyebrow at him and her expression was just filled with concern.

"Um...I get the feeling that you're not using that as a slang." Steve stared at her.

"It's a query." Angelina looked horrified. "You do that for /fun/?"

"Ummm...."

"You need to learn how to ride a bike." Angelina pursed her lips together and placed her hands on her hips.

"I have a motorcycle?" Steve offered, "I take it out sometimes...."

"You should race!" She clapped her hands excitedly. "I'd cheer you on."

"I am not racing on my bike."

"You need a secret life. You should speed." Angelina frowned. "Maybe ice skate. You could /rollar skate/. You could eat ice cream. I got to try chocolate ice cream for the first time a few days ago! That was fun. I liked it. It was sweeter than I'm used to though. You could draw on a rooftop too. Go somewhere really high!"

"Eating ice cream could be my new "secret life"?" Steve chuckled.

"Well you need /something/." She poked him on the chest. "Don't you ever put down the Captain and just be you?"

"..." Steve stared at her with his mouth slightly hanging open.

"Anzhelina, <come back, time to go.>" rumbled James' deep voice not too far behind them, pitifully tucked sideways against a lamp pole. He'd even made it extra gravelly on purpose so not to give himself away by voice alone. His head was down with his flesh hand on the bill of is hat, and his heart was pounding. Was patchy, still-growing beard enough? He was purposefully growing it out right now so now to draw too much attention, summer heat be damned. 'Please don't realize it's me. Can't make contact. Not now.'

"I have to go. Bye!" Angelina waved and before Steve could even think about stopping her or asking her anymore questions, she took off as fast as she could towards her dad. She spun around, waved again before hooking her arm into his.

Steve watched them leave, getting this /strange/ feeling of deja vu. He shrugged it off, and continued on his run and heading towards the small cafe that Sam was going to meet him at. He didn't feel up to running and had wanted a break, which was the entire reason he had been by himself to begin with, but he wondered if Sam was going to regret not going with him when he was told about this story.

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:16 pm

"Hey, man what's up with you? You look like you just got hit with the questions of the universe," Sam had a raised eyebrow as Steve approached the table they'd adopted as theirs.

"I ran into someone," Steve said as he sat down across from Sam. "Who didn't know anything about me. I mean, it didn't /seem/ like she knew anything about me and Captain America. We got to talking about it...I mean it's really weird talking about myself to someone who doesn't have a clue about me. She...uh....said things."

"You're being real vague, slugger. What kind of things? What did this girl look like? Was there any obvious reason someone doesn't know who the famous Cap is?" Sam nibbled on the danish he'd gotten while he had waited for Steve to get his ass there.

"Sorry my brain's still..." Steve made a loop with his finger and he paused. "Her name is Angelina. She had white hair and the...most interesting colored eyes I seen in a long time. Green mixed with blue, but...like an ombré almost." He paused in thought. "She's from both Russia and Romania...her accents real heavy so she's definitely not from here. She just...didn't know me. She didn't know what a birthday was either...asked me for mine...teased me a bit...but then asked me what I'd like to...do...or have."

"I wonder why she asked that?" Sam agreed that was weird, "Maybe to get you to think about it yourself. It's literally in two days. Stark throwing you some party? Or are you going to spend the day looking for a new apartment after that guy blew your old one up?"

"I have no idea what I'm going to do..." Steve said leaning back in his chair. "She said that I was too young to be thinking like a dead man or something when I told her my previous plan and then started going off that I should race my motorcycle or do something really reckless. I mean, I told her I had one as she listed other things for me to do."

"Yes, because telling Hill to fire on the Helicarrier while you're /still on it/ isn't reckless at all," Sam rolled his eyes, "Your job isn't what she was talking about I know. Maybe you should take your bike onto the open road at least if you don't want to race it. Get a little rush and adrenaline going that isn't fight or flight. You really are thinking like a dying 90 year old instead of a twenty-year old, dreading your birthday like it's the plague. Fireworks I'll give you, not the most fun thing in the world for a vet, but why can't you just thrive on everybody's excitement and cheer?"

"You know you can always drag him here," Steve looked up to see their waitress standing over them with a smile. She had a drink on her tray and her blonde hair was tied up in a high pony-tail. Her skirt was a dark black and her blouse a deep yellow that made her look like a Hufflepuff in a maid's costume. "Have a small celebration and free coffee. What's not to love about that?" She placed down an iced drink in front of him and he smiled at her. "Sorry, I saw you come in looking like the world shattered."

"The world didn't really shatter, but it was a close thing." Steve smiled at her. "I don't know why I avoid it. I guess when I crashed into the Arctic, I really thought it was the end, you know? But when I woke up, I felt like things were taken from me. Toss in the fact that my best friend's...kind of dead. I...never had a reason to celebrate. Not really."

"What am I? Chopped liver? What about that redhead, too? You got friends now, for real. Or is your Bucky the only one you care about?" Sam sniffed dramatically, sticking his nose in the air.

Steve laughed, "Okay, so you're my second best friend. So I'm guessing that means you're going to show me how to enjoy a birthday? That's a big task your undertaking."

"Oh boy Sam, that means you have to go up against Stark." Zan whistled.

"Or I could work together with him? You know I don't even really know that guy very well personally. Would making a birthday party with him really be that bad?" Sam blinked at Steve.

"You could," Steve agreed, "I wasn't the one who pitted you against Stark. She did."

"Oi, I was trying to be helpful!" Zan held her tray up threatening. "Don't tarnish my reputation."

"You sounded like you were dreading the prospect of a Stark party, is all," Sam laughed, "Okay, cool. I get to make a trip to the Stark Tower."

Zan grinned and knocked on the table twice before she left them to their devices, which Steve was grateful for. "I think I owe Stark this, so...you can knock yourself out. Let me finish the drink and we'll head up there, and I'll stay hiding while you two plan."

"Haha, fine, fine. You do what you do and I'll do what I do," Sam nodded happily, "Meeting this Angel girl was a good thing."

"You know what? I think so too. As strange as it was." Steve smiled. "Makes me wonder if I'll run into her again."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:36 pm

The moment that he woke up and realized what day it was, Steve felt a sicking feeling in his stomach he hadn’t felt since his USO days. Today was his birthday and he had given Tony and Sam free reign over it. He wasn’t too worried about Sam, he trusted his new friend and knew that he was going to keep Stark in check. That being said, he was concerned about all of the loopholes that Tony might have found while planning the said party and how many people were going to be there. He hoped that Sam convinced Tony for just the Avengers. Hell even just fifty people would be easy to handle if Stark went all out. Which he had a tendency to do sometimes.

He pushed the covers away and clicked on the bedside light, looking for his running gear and heading to the restroom to get himself freshened up. Once he felt more human, he put on his clothes and headed out. J.A.R.V.I.S didn’t even try to stop him, so he presumed that it was Sam again. He should have texted him to see if he wanted to run too, but…it was very possible that all of the planning had just worn him down.

He went to his favorite running spot, trying to get the party out of his mind. He wasn’t going to be attacked by anything, and people weren’t going to be there yet. It was early in the morning and no one celebrates early in the morning. Hell, not even Stark which thank his lucky stars. He just needed time to prepare for-

“Uncle Steve?”
What?

He skated to a halt and blinked when he saw Angelina standing at the bench that he had just passed. She wasn’t wearing running gear this time. Just a pair of jeans and a bright neon colored shirt that had the Nyan cat flying across it. She was staring at him curiously and he noticed all of the scars on her arms. But they didn’t look self-inflicted.

“You’re thinking again.”

“Sorry.” Steve’s attention snapped to her. “I wasn’t…I mean….”

Her smile softened. “Early morning. I know. Presents.” She handed him two, which made him blink. “You told me things you liked. So…there’s a thing you like and a thing you might like.” She explained. “Happy Birthday.” She grinned prettily.

It made his heart swell, to think that a stranger would take the time to bring him something like this. He was a little cautious, but…he couldn’t imagine her being any type of danger. “I…”

“It was just to say that. I need to go now. He’ll wonder.”

“Are you okay?”
Angelina blinked and looked at him. “Okay?”

“He’s not hurting you, is he?”

A flash of anger went across her face, before understanding and a sigh. “No. He doesn’t hurt me. He makes sure those who hurt me before can’t get me anymore.”

“Sounds rough…”

“It is. But it’s okay. I…I’m okay.” She smiled thinly. “I feel a little sad. But mostly happy. Happy Birthday, Uncle Steve. I have to go.”

“Wa-“ Steve frowned, that was the second time she called him that. The first time he didn’t even think. Huh. Weird. Maybe she was saying that because of the Uncle Sam jokes that go around for the military people. Hell, he was certain that a lot of the vets at the VA ribbed Sam for that.

He looked down at the presents that he was given. Sure, his run was cut way to short, but…maybe he should take a break from it. He walked to the cafe that Zan worked at and was happy to see that he got there before the morning rush and was able to sit in Zan’s section without too much of a fuss. Of course, so was Sam.

“I ran into her again.” Steve said, placing the presents down on the table. “She’s so strange. Called me Uncle.”

"Those are some pretty nice gifts you got there. Just from a stranger? Think she'll be a regular? Be careful, you know things are still hectic. Just being cautious," Sam grinned at him, "Uncle, though? That's cute."

"I never noticed it before, but she has a bunch of scars on her arms, but they don't look inflicted by her." Steve leaned back and he looked at the presents and blinked when he saw one of them said /Angelina/ in pretty script, and the second one said /James/. James. Bucky?

"You said she was a foreigner. Probably a rough start. If she's here, though, she should be good." Sam nodded, then waved his hand to Zan when he saw her, "I'll get you that free coffee, Steve. Open them! What did you get?!"

He decided to save James' present till after he had his coffee and went to Angelina's. Her's was thin, long and flat. He carefully peeled the wrapping paper off of the present and blinked when he saw that she had given him water color pencils. Water color. He hadn't worked in paints for a while, but he did sketch a lot. Who...he eyed the present he was saving. Bucky must have told her that he used to paint...

But then...did that mean that Angelina was the one who helped in the England's massacre? Why would she approach him if that was the case? Uncle Steve was starting to have a heavier meaning, but he didn't want to jump to conclusions yet. Not yet.

"Jeez Steve can you be more complicated with your expressions?" Zan asked teasingly yet with a hint of concern as she placed the warm drink in front of him. The latte art was gorgeous, it was in a shape of a candle which was just brilliantly done and it made Steve smile warmly. "Happy Birthday, Steve! May you have the greatest day ever."

The present James had got him was a slightly used set of Winsor and Newton watercolor paints in a box on top of a pad of watercolor paper. The outside of card that had been tucked in a white envelope was rather hilarious to Sam. There was merchandiser of Steve everywhere right now, and this card wasn't anything overly fancy, just /covered/ in glitter and a bold shape of his shield. The red, blue, and white sparkles got all over the birthday boy which cracked Sam and Zan up. There was a white folded piece of thick watercolor paper but bold letters said 'not yet card first'.

Steve pursed his lips together, not really knowing what to think or what to say. He thought the shield thing was kind of funny. It /was/ something Bucky would find amusing when it was covered in glitter. He'd probably shake out some of the glitter from the envelope and dump it over his head. He took a breath, and picked up the card.

Steve.

I hope you are looking at this letter first before the folded paper.

I swear to a God I don't believe in, Steve. This is supposed to make you happy. You're supposed to be happy on your goddamn birthday, not moping around. I didn't even let a nightmare stop me from going to the library and moving around. Pick up your lady purse and get over yourself.

I don't know why that line made me smile when I wrote it but really.

We're both in our 90s on a damn technicality. Stop acting like you should be in a rocky chair on a porch yelling at kids to get off your lawn.

I've improved a lot since that day. I found what I was searching for. A person. Special to me in equal amount to you. I don't know if we'll ever be okay, but we have good days. Things still confuse me, us. I'm keeping a journal to write down things I remember. I'm alive. That's what counts. You're alive, too.

Now look at the adorable picture I made you and that she colored since you like art and I better see this masterpiece on display somewhere when I make contact with you.

James


"Oh my god." Steve burst into laughter and tears and he wasn't sure which one he was really feeling at the moment. He was happy and sad and it was a strange mix. Angelina. Angelina was his special person. It would explain, so....so /much/. "Bucky got me the card...and he has a friend. That's awesome. That's...better than I could ask for really."

When Steve was given permission to open the picture, it was of Bucky from the museum, Steve, and black haired girl between them in very child-like cartoony poses but looking happy. It was colored with watercolor paints from the box.

Steve grinned as he looked at the potrait and set it in the middle. He wondered about the black-haired girl who was in the middle of them, striking such a strange but hysterical pose. But at the same time, he had a feeling he knew that person. He had a feeling he knew exactly what Bucky was getting at. Whoever the black haired girl was, that was the someone who was important to him. Which meant, maybe it wasn't Angelina after all. Maybe Bucky just...asked her to do him a favor. Or something. "Well, I can say my day's been made."

()


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Dec 13, 2016 11:45 pm

Starbucks was great and all, but sometimes a simple coffee was all one wanted. After spending the last week /properly/ observing and doing his "mission protect" detail, James deduced that he really wanted to try the coffee shop Steve frequented after his and flying Sam's runs. Today he went in while the two were busy trying to best each other at doing the entire expanse of Central Park. Gave him time to observe the surroundings and find himself a nice quiet booth to claim as his own that was far enough from Roger's usual seat but close enough to listen. For now until they walked in, he faced the crowd.

As much as he wanted to just give people creepy stares through his sunglasses all day, he had gotten a pre-paid Track Phone and it was coming in handy as he searched for apartments. He was tempted to borrow Angelina's laptop, but she'd gotten hyper attached to it. Which is why he spent the extra money and got the smartphone that was only about a hundred dollars. He had his notepad to write down addresses and phone numbers while he browsed so he wouldn't have to go back and forth, too.

Zan noticed instantly where the guy was sitting at, and she felt a little suspicious, because she didn't usually let people sit close by where Steve and Sam would sit when they were due to be around. She valued her reputation of being the person who could keep things private and let people feel privacy, but...at the same time she didn't think it was right for her to just go up to him and say "get the fuck off of the chair". Something about him was...like Steve. Like Sam. A vet probably, who needed the same valued privacy. Sam or Steve might've suggested her. Taking a breath, she walked over to him and smiled. "Hey there. What can I get you started with?"

"Starbucks is too fancy for me today. Can you get me just good ol' fashion coffee with a bit of sugar?" James flashed her a charming smile.

Zan's lips quirked up, "One coffee with some sugar." She smiled as she reached down and knocked on the table twice before leaving. Well. She hadn't expected the smile...that made her heart race a little.

She was a cute little thing. Young, like his daughter. Maybe a bit older. He went back to his phone and more apartment searching, even made two phonecalls before she came back. He grumped a huff ass he crossed out the places. "I don't suppose a bright young woman like yourself would know of any good apartments? Or are you stuck in a dorm room?" She /did/ seem like she would be right for college.

Zan blinked as she placed the cup down along with a small caddy of sugar cubes so he could sweeten it to his preference. She kept the tray on her hip and cocked it a bit as she thought about it. "I am in college, but I live with my brother in an apartment building. You know, now that you mentioned it, our neighbors are moving out from the room just down the hall from us...you might be able to get a place there."

"Do you think you could get that information for me?" James asked, sounding properly exasperated. "I've been trying really hard to find a place for myself and my daughter. She might be a little younger than you...eighteen?"

"Cool I'm twenty two." Zan beamed before frowning. "Where are you guys staying right now? Please tell me you're not in the street."

"Uh...no?" Not /technically/? What was the correct answer to this query? "We're alright. Proper hygiene and the like. Plenty of water and food with the given weather." He handed her his phone to type in the search bar for the location of the apartment, "The sooner we can get this apartment, the better, however. While you do that, let me try this coffee." Yes. Divert attention. He picked the cup up, took the smallest sip of the pure black coffee, put only three cubes in, stirred, and tried again. "Could've only used two. This is really good coffee. Might be good with creamer next time..." he mumbled to himself.

"Next cup I'll bring you some. We have a bunch of different kinds." Zan said, but she wasn't so easily fooled. She knew that he said that he was struggling. "I'll tell you what. I'm calling my apartment lease manager the minute I get back to the kitchen. I'll ask them when they're kicking my neighbors out and I'll forward them to you, so you'll have to give me your cell number. You'll have me as a recommendation /and/ a reference. That'll count for a bunch of things. You cool with that?"

"I...are you sure?" James blinked up at her over his sunglasses and under his hat. Would she really be so kind? He knew Steve liked her. This was unexpected, however. "Thank...you...Thank you very much. Yes...here." He wrote on a separate note page what his number was and forced himself to put James Barnes for his name. It felt so odd, but he gave it to her.

"Pretty cool that you're named after Steve Roger's friend." Zan mentioned casually as she took the piece of paper. "I'll be right back." She knocked on the table as she left, humming as she casually messed with her tray and checked in on others who needed her before she dealt with the management.

Unfortunately, James saw the shadow of Steve and Sam talking and laughing before they came inside, getting up from his comfortable seat he'd warmed to move to the spot across from it which was cold. Ugh, he almost didn't pay attention. Well, at least now he could see how their normal coffee stop turned out.

"Oh, man! That was a hell of a go today. I think all those people are preparing for a donation run. I  really wished I had your speed today, Steve," Sam wiped his brow.

"I was wondering about that, it was crazy out there." Steve laughed as he walked over to the usual seat, he noticed that there was someone sitting in Zan's section, which was a bit strange, but he shrugged it off. Even if they valued their privacy, Zan was overly protective of all veterans. The guy probably was one and needed some Zan therapy. At least, that's what Sam called it. "It'd be nice. It was kind of a shame that Angelina wasn't there. I would've really liked to have introduced you. I hope she's feeling alright."

STEVE. So caring about the girl he's only met twice! Why do you do this? He really wanted to just say 'she's fine' but that would ruin everything. Damn it, Steve.

"I have a strong feeling that if something was up she would know where to find you, dude," Sam shook his head fondly.

Thank you, Flying Sam, for apparently reading minds as well.

"Hey, so I called my apartment manager," Zan beamed as she walked past Sam and Steve for now to address James with a bright smile. "Turns out the neighbors get kicked out in a week. They're gonna give you a call probably sometime in the afternoon to talk to you. So, I hope it's not premature of me, but I'm pretty freaking certain you'll have an apartment soon for you and your kid. I also bring you a dish of all sorts of flavored creamer, just to prepare for that next cup."

Shit. Shit. Shit. If he talked now Steve would recognize his voice. He smiled thinly at Zan and nodded, taking a sip of his coffee. What was he supposed to do?

"Hey, Zan? Any specials today? I think we need something special with an extra kick after that swarm."

How can Flying Sam be mission assist without realizing it?

Zan grinned as she knocked on Bucky's table and walked over to Sam and Steve. "I could whip you up something that's special with a kick. You guys probably want something cold? Or are you going to continue to sweat it out with something hot?"

"Oooh, I dunno Steve. Feelin' dangerous with a hot drink on a hot day?" Sam asked his blond buddy.

"If you want to die from heat exhaustion, I'm not gonna stop you." Steve quipped back with a smile, looking at Zan. "Cold for me, because I'm sensible this time around."

"This time, he says." Zan muttered.

Sam could only laugh, and James nodded to himself, pleased that Steve actually had his head on his shoulders today. He decided to say 'screw it' and added one of the creamer packets to his current coffee, just to try it. He was okay being quiet...he did have his notebook, if he really wanted to say something to Zan. Hopefully everything would work out with this apartment.

"What about you?" Steve looked at Sam curiously, "Going to play dangerous and get something hot?"

"Nah, I'll follow your lead. I was just seeing if you'd take the bait." Sam grinned, "Surprise me with something you think I'll like, Zan. I did want something special."

"Two cold specials coming up," Zan grinned as she knocked on their table and whistled as she twirled her tray around.

Just /why/ did she do that? Something James would have to ask about when he was able to get the chance. He really did want to get to know this lovely girl better. Maybe Angelina would like her? He hoped so. They were going to be neighbors in the near future, after all. James watched her disappear, and the feeling he identified was fondness and maybe a bit of longing deija vu from a past long since destroyed. Waitresses from that time were hard working and kind, just like Zan. He didn't have to question that one.

"I'm still shocked that Tony hasn't snatched her up yet," Steve said as he looked back at Sam with a smile. "Then again, I think he's more afraid of her tray than he is of my shield and their nearly the same weapon."

"It's the person behind it." Sam smirked at Steve, "He has a weakness for women, you know that. Zan's vicious when she wants to be."

"True." Steve agreed. "But still, the press fears her just as much as they fear Natasha. I'm trying to get at least Nat to come down here, but she thinks that if all of the Avengers start coming, what little power Zan has will just..." He did something with fingers to demonstrate the magic ability of it going away. "Speaking of the Avengers and Tony...did you know J.A.R.V.I.S got hacked?"

"You're shitting me." Sam stared at Steve like he'd lost his head. "Not /hacked/ hacked, surely?"

"Not completely," Steve shook his head from side to side. "J.A.R.V.I.S is a little too smart for it, but...Tony wasn't pleased. Apparently someone was testing boundaries and security. He thinks that they're planning on a true hack. They poked in /real/ specific areas, according to him. But they don't know what the person was doing. If it was just a security test, it would be from Tony's IT and Tony would know about it."

"Well /yeah/, of course," Sam was horrified. "Damn. I'm sure Tony's working on it right now to prevent it, too. I bet he was sure no one would be dumb enough to try. That's terrifying, man."

There was one person James could think of that had an increased interest in Avengers personal things. Only one person smart enough and /trained/ to hack into J.A.R.V.I.S.

He was going to have a talking-to with his daughter when he got home.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:24 am

"Anzhelina Barnes."

Angelina had been looking something up on the laptop when she heard her tată say her full name. She froze, like a deer in headlights and her breathing increased. Very rarely did she ever get into trouble with her dad, but...it sounded like she was in deep boiling water for some reason. She looked over at him, and pursed her lips together. "What did I do?"

"Uncle Steve mentioned someone was trying to hack into building J.A.R.V.I.S." James came closer to her bed, setting down the bag with today's lunch and dinner in it, and he put his hands on his hips. Was this what being a father felt like? He didn't like reprimanding her. She just didn't know what she did. He stood firm, though. "Did you do that?"

Angelina frowned, "Yeah. It's part of the surveillance." She explained. "Avengers are apart of S.H.I.E.L.D but not apart of S.H.I.E.L.D. They don't share the same information, and aren't and are the same group. S.H.I.E.L.D went boom, but not really. I could've hacked S.H.I.E.L.D I guess...but I think the Avengers, more like the J.A.R.V.I.S interface I connected with for a brief time has more information about things. Especially about Uncle Steve and security detail."

"Building JARVIS /is/ security detail. Mission Protect is something J.A.R.V.I.S. does for all of them. He is mission assist." James pressed his lips together briefly, "Do you understand that if Stark wanted to, he could ask JARVIS where the hack came from, and our location would be compromised?"

Angelina blinked slowly. "So I could've just asked the interface for information? Is the interface that intelligent? Our location isn't compromised yet. I didn't use the Hotel WiFi and I.P address. I did used a proxy and I went through someone else's WIFI. Not clear on who though."

"So you put someone /else/ in danger?" James frowned even deeper, "Yes, you could have asked JARVIS for information outright. In fact, if you want it that badly, you are...technically free to go wherever you wish. You could /go/ to the Avenger Tower. You would only...have to go without me."

Angelina didn't understand any of this. Why was putting someone else at risk such a bad thing? She didn't kill them and she was pretty certain neither would the Avengers. They weren't killers. She supposed she could've asked the building for information. But that still meant using a computer. Going to the actual building? That wasn't the greatest idea in the world. Who knew what they knew and who might be waiting. As for going on without him. She bowed her head and she pursed her lips together. Expressing her thoughts on that, was harder than it looked.

"I don't get it." Angelina finally sighed after a moment, flopping backwards on the bed. "You're making my brain hurt."

James smiled faintly, "I know, fetiță. It's fine. Just...it's hard to do things the right way, when you don't know what the right way is or when other things prevent that. I was able to put in the application for an apartment, but we have to wait for the background check. I have many aliases to allow it to go through, but it still..." he didn't like it at all. He wanted to put his own name down, but there /wasn't/ anything for that name except someone who was supposed to be long since buried. "Please...I'll let it go, but don't hack anyone anymore or put others in danger. If you want information, seek it out another way."

Angelina frowned deeply and she stared up at the ceiling. She...found that it was hard to say /yes/ to that. Her father didn't want her to hack anymore, and she wondered about that. If she was taken out of prison not to fight, but be on a mission to protect, but protecting meant not being on the same page as the enemy, when what the hell was she up against? What exactly was the Solider's plan right now? What was she here for exactly? "Do I still keep my laptop?"

James was a bit startled by that. "Yes...you can still keep your laptop. I'm not going to take it from you after just giving it to you. You're still learning the ropes and things." He nodded to himself, "I brought lunch...so how about we eat?"

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:28 am

It happened quickly. She didn't even expect him. Only 0100. Most were asleep, yet she was glued to her laptop. Identified: disappointment. Wasn't she supposed to be better than this?

Yet who was she? She jumped when everything caught up with her and she felt his presence in the far corner staring at her. She must have realized his stare was blank. His mind was also blank. Pictures were bouncing around, flashing in front of his eyes. They were more prominent than words. Yet she couldn't read pictures.

Confirm. Ah. That clicked something into place. Mind reader. Young. Only 18 years of age. It was becoming clearer and clearer as more pictures were thrown at him from his choppy memory bank.

"Companion." He finally said and it was fascinating watching her face contort and shift.

"Solider," Angelina greeted, tilting her head a little. Now /this/ she was used to. Though it was a little frightening. Didn't her father tell her good guy nonlethal? But the Solider came out. "<What are you doing up? New mission?>"

"Uncertain. Negative." He answered in order. "Where are we? What is current mission?" It was /wrong/. Everything was...off. Location. Clothing. Companion looked so casual, even in spite of his stiffness.

"<We're in New York.>" Angelina explained, "<Near Harlem. Good guy, nonlethal perimeters. Protect: Steve Rogers also known as Captain America. Can't be seen by Hydra or by S.H.I.E.L.D. I was denied hacking into the Avenger's building. But I established contact with Steve Rogers. He doesn't know me. Though we did throw a big hint in his face. Oh and no handlers to report to.>"

Soldier stared at her long and hard. That was a long winded explanation. His brain slowly broke it down. No handlers. Nonlethal. Mission Protect. Steve Rogers.

CONFIRM. CONFIRM. CONFIRM.

The words blared in his face and made him stiffen up even further and back up hard into the wall behind him, his hand going to his head. Motherfucker.

PROTECT. MISSION. ROGERS. STEVE. CONFIRM.

Hell! Alright! Affirm for crying out loud!

It was still blaring after he acknowledged it, but it retreated to the background of his mind, allowing him to blink and come back forward. Even Anzhelina (that was her name?) blinked slowly at him with a slightly raised eyebrow. Where was she learning these human actions? It would be funny if it wasn't directed at him.

Confirm. Ugh. Okay. "<Need to find Rogers. Orders: Stay. Must go alone. Cannot explain why. Don't remember denial of hacking, but must be good reason.>" He waved his hand at her, "Back to what you were doing." Slipping on an outfit from the dufflebag he thankfully remembered out of this whole mess, he spotted the hat and also put that on, taking the hotel keys (hotel?) and leaving.

"YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE ON MY SIDE!" Angelina yelled after him, not really caring if it woke up the next door neighbors. She probably should have told him what that "good reason" was. She was pretty certain the Solider would be on her side then.

~

Insomnia really sucked. Ever since he woke up, sleep had been hard to come by and it wasn't just the nightmares and the guilt. His body didn't need much to keep his energy up, and he supposed that if anyone's body was asleep for seventy years, going /back/ to sleep was probably not on anyone's list. He decided that, instead of going down to the gym and trying to beat down Tony's reinforced punching bags, a long walk might work. Sure he'd just have to run during the morning light, but he was hoping for at least a three hour nap after this. Maybe even a four if sleep stayed sleep and not a bout of bad dreams.

The city was really pretty and oddly enough quiet during these hours. The lights dazzled looking like stars, and cars whizzed by without too much traffic. There were still people out and about, but few and far between. If he really wanted to imagine it, he could imagine that he was the only one in the city. It made him think of the birthday card Bucky sent him. About the museum that he went to and the little girl with black hair.

Where were they? Who was the girl in black hair and who exactly was Angelina because he was starting to wonder. Just wonder. He felt something behind him and he tensed. He looked behind him, but he didn't see anyone there. Not a person, not even a silhouette. But the feeling that he was being followed didn't cease and it was starting to irk him. He should've brought his shield. Natasha would tell him not to run, to walk. But where should he walk to. What was a good place to go?

Don't go down any alleyways, pal.

Goddamn it, Steve. Just what the hell do you think you're doing? You shouldn't be out this late at night anyway. Muggers and robbers and prostitutes and druggies. He hadn't met Building J.A.R.V.I.S. but maybe, just maybe this late he could get close enough? If it was really that sentient then maybe he could get him to tell this blond oaf to /stay inside/?

Steve. Steve stop picking up your pace. Why are you moving further away from the Tower? You should be rounding back.

STEVE.

"You do realize that I know you're following me, right?" Steve finally had enough and turned around, looking at the well lit path, but looking more at the shadows in between buildings and trying to see if he could catch a glimpse of them, whoever them was.

"You do realize you make me want to bang my head against this brick wall, right?" came the sarcastic echo.

"Bucky?" He recongized that voice. He /knew/ that voice! He started walking briskly towards it. "Bucky, what the hell?"

Nice try, pal. I won't let you see me until I want you to see me. Yay being a Ghost.

As much as that was a joke, it put such a bad taste in his mouth and his nose wrinkled. "That is a query I've had this whole time. Why are you out here?"

"I couldn't sleep." Steve explained, still trying to figure out where he was coming from and where he was at. He needed to tell Bucky this. "Look, listen. I know you pulled me from the river. I read your file. I can offer you a place to stay that's safe and secure. Especially from S.H.I.E.L.D."

A gasp and a thump echoed through the night. Soldier was pressed against the wall and had his hand on his mouth, trying very hard all of a sudden not to vomit everywhere.

He read the file.

Confirm.

Mission Protect. Can't very well protect him if he likes to torture himself by reading that filth. On him. About them. What they did to him.

Deep breaths.

When he was able to peel his tongue from the roof of his now dry mouth, he answered Steve just as he was starting to make those defeated noises from too much silence. "That file should be burned." The words came out in a deep growl.

"I think that it could help you get the people you need on your side." Steve denied. "That being said, there's hardly anything about the girl who was with you in the England Massacre."

"Companion. What about her?" Soldier jumped on the defensive. He stepped from the shadows, his pale blue eyes flashing warning, teeth gritted, "What makes you think you can protect us? Mission Protect. That's our job."

"I think it goes both ways." Steve said with a frown, god Bucky looked worse for wear. The beard looked way too at home and out of place on him and his eyes looked like they were tortured. He remembered seeing those eyes before. "S.H.I.E.L.D's looking for her too. Well...they don't know what they're looking for really. They have literally nothing on her. Just a few photos and that's all blurry besides the one where she's holding a head and I'm /dead/ certain that they kept the more gory ones."

"Trained to keep out of sight. You'll never see her face on a camera." Soldier kept his body poised, "Companion is the person I went back for. Remember telling you that I was leaving. Don't remember yesterday. Uncertain what the last thing I remember is. Only knew had to come find you." Make sure you were still in one piece. Make sure you were okay.

"I don't know about yesterday Buck, I wasn't there." Steve felt his throat constrict. "I thought you were going to come back. I mean, I knew you were going to come back, but I was hoping with more..." He gestured helplessly and had to smile sadly at the confused look he was being given. "Will you come back to the Tower? With me? We can grab your Companion...everything will be fine. Just...come back home?"

Soldier blanched. Something deep inside his mind that was trying to wake up was sending warning signals.

DENY. DENY.

"Not my call, pal." Soldier answered slowly. The words were strange on his tongue. Were they right? "Everything about tonight. Not right. Shouldn't...even be making contact. Words. Mission Protect. Want to trust you, but it is all so /wrong/, Rogers." He backed up and watched Steve take a step forward, "Building J.A.R.V.I.S... Companion tried to hack it. Not hostile. Just...wants information. Protection detail. For you."

Steve blinked, "Buck...wait, don't do anything. You're okay. You're okay. You look like you're about to fly off the handle. Look, I can't say anything about the Companion and J.A.R.V.I.S because honestly I don't know her. Just that she's apart of your team. I'm a bit concerned that she hacked in...but...according to Tony she didn't get very far. So long as she doesn't do it again..."

"Told me I denied her. Don't remember. Unng..." Soldier gripped his head, hissing, "I reaffirmed it. Don't know...No. Not okay. Not ready. Not right. Not...not safe..." His other hand came up, the metal flashing. He hadn't worn his jacket to hide, intending to stay out of sight. Damn it, Steve!

"Easy, easy." Steve took a few steps closer, but then realized that was the wrong thing to do. "Bucky shh. It's okay. It's okay. You're in New York city, you're with me, and you're safe."

"NO!" It was a blur, but then Steve was pressed against the wall, flesh arm pressed up against his neck, his metal one whirring and clacking as the plates shifted. "WHY DO YOU MAKE EVERYTHING SO FUCKING DIFFICULT?!" He punched the wall beside Steve's head, his whole head whiting out and his mouth running without a filter. At least he was speaking /English/. "YOU CAN'T KEEP ME SAFE. YOU CAN'T KEEP /HER/ SAFE BECAUSE /I'M/ NOT SAFE, ROGERS." Then his voice probably gave Steve whiplash as the shouting switched and dropped down real low, "I could kill you right now. But I won't. I can't. You. Are. My /mission/. I'm protecting you from /me/."

Then Soldier let Steve collapse to the ground in a pile and disappeared again.

~

James groaned loud, rolling and shifting, feeling blankets tangled around his feet. "My head feels like someone stuck an ax in it." Did he dream? He felt like he didn't dream, so why did he have this god awful feeling in the pit of his stomach as if he had a nightmare?

"Tată?" Angelina approached the bed with a bit of relief. She had slept through him coming home, though she did lock the doors and she did wake up a bit when she heard him bust through and was muttering to himself, but he went to sleep nice and easy...which was saying something. "Glad to see you home."

"That doesn't make sense..." James rubbed his face. Everything was too bright and the light was just barely coming through the curtains for 6:30. "Glad to see me home?"

"Solider went looking for Steve." Angelina pursed her lips together. "I don't know why. You told me to stay here. So I stayed. You weren't happy though. You were arguing really loudly with him."

The feeling in his stomach became much worse and James sat upright quickly, "I went out looking for Steve as the /Soldier/?" He felt like he was going to be sick. "Angel...Angel we have to go to the park. I don't remember what happened. I remember dark with the city lights, but it's all a blur. I think I did something bad. You can talk to him."

Angelina blinked slowly, "There wasn't any blood." She told him after a moment. "But I'll change and find Steve for you. I bet he's running with..." She frowned. "The guy who flies."

"Sam. Flying Sam, yes..." James stumbled out of te bed and they both got changed into their running gear. What did he do?

~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:46 pm

As it turned out, finding Steve wasn’t hard at all. He looked like he’s been hitting the pavement for quite sometime. His shoulders were pulled back and he had an intense gaze that went perfectly with his thoughts about what happened last night. She couldn’t read the memories, the pictures she didn’t understand nor could grasp. But she could tell that he felt strongly about it…every time the pictures popped up, he would run a little faster.

If Flying Sam was running with him, he had bit the dust a long time ago. He was more than likely going to be sitting underneath a tree right now, or…something like that. She waited for a moment, and then got in pace with him.

“You’re gonna have a heart attack and die.” She greeted him, making him glance over at her.

“Hey Angelina.” He said, his voice hoarse and raspy from the running. Now that she was up close to him, she realized that he must have been running for…well…hours. A bunch of hours. He was sweating and he wasn’t looking too good. “Thanks for my birthday present, I didn’t get to see you last time.”

“You’re welcome. Bad days happen.” Angelina sighed, “It was a bad day. I don’t know if today’s a good one or not. I think it depends.” She looked at him worriedly. “But I don’t want your day to be bad.”

“I…don’t even know how to talk about it.” Steve admitted after a moment. “I…don’t take this the wrong way Angelina, but…after meeting you things have been both good and weird.”

“…” Angelina didn’t have it in her heart to tell him that technically he was the third person that she “met”. “Well…at least I did some good.”

“Yeah. I got to meet Bucky last night. He…was still confused. The programming that Hydra did…” He pursed his lips together but Angelina got the gist of it.

The Solider visited him last night.

The Solider yelled at him that he couldn’t even protect her, let alone him because he was trying to keep Steve safe from himself.

He threw a punch to the wall.

Those thoughts were crystal clear to her.

Steve blinked when Angelina forced them to a stop, her breathing harsh since damn he went fast. “You should go to the coffee shop.”

“What?”

“Talk to someone. A friend. Running partner.” Angelina looked at him sadly. “You’re running yourself to the ground. Literally.” She let him go and she stepped back. “I’ll come by tomorrow. We’ll have a proper run. I promise. I have to go. Byes.” She waved and headed off, running with her long white hair flying behind her.

Steve had to wonder if there was an entire conversation that he missed somewhere in between the lines. He also had to wonder if Angelina knew something that he…didn’t.

Meanwhile, Angelina went back to find her dad, wherever he decided to hide. She had to organize her thoughts properly. He was going to demand a mission report. She had to be as clean cut as she could. He was going to suffer, he nearly broke protection detail.

Instead of being calm, James was shifting on his feet. He felt like he needed a run with how restless he felt, but didn't want to be seen. "You look determined. It's not good news. Steve doesn't look good, either." What did he do? How bad did he fuck up?

"Well, he knows what you look like." Angelina said slowly. "You threw a punch at him and hit the wall. You told him that he's not safety. Because you're not safe. He can't protect us, because you're trying to protect him from you."

"I...did...what?" It was rhetorical, and James' hands came up and gripped his head, "Oh no." Identity compromised. Mission Protect. He was supposed to protect Steve, not harm him. Punching at a wall wasn't the best for that. What else did he do? He did something else. He couldn't remember what. Couldn't protect him and Angel? Steve must have tried to offer. Why did he say no? Had that been the only reason? Was he really that dangerous that he could slip into the Soldier in his /fucking sleep/ and /fuck everything up/? Steve must have let his guard down. That was the only way. He must have only punched the wall with his metal hand, too, if there hadn't been any blood or pain when he woke up.

James put his back against a tree and his breathing was a lot more labored. He'd told Steve he was protecting him from himself. That had to be true, if he'd done that without knowing about it. A form of sleep walking? What if he did it again? "Is he...is he still there?"

"I told him to go to a coffee shop. Find a friend." Angelina pursed her lips together.

"Will you...can we..." Words, damn it. "Need him to explain. More detail. Go to the coffee shop with him?"

Angelina took a breath in and let it out slowly. "I'll have to tell him about my reading. About my ability. I can...I can go into the coffee shop and explain. But only if you want me to."

"Maybe you won't have to? I can...go in with you. I have a spot. I told you about it, remember? You can meet Zan...I'll have to talk to you in our tongue, but you can get Uncle Steve to talk to you...Sam might be there, too." James wasn't entirely sure how her telling him about her powers would work. "If...it comes down to it, then alright. Let's see what we can do without, though."

"Then coffee shop. Let's try." Angelina smiled holding her hand out. "Today's a good day for people."

~*~

It was a mess. Steve looked like he had decided that marathoning was the best idea ever, and then her new neighbor/costumer was looking down in the dumps too. There was a girl with white hair that had hovered between the two before going over to Steve and Sam's spot. She had half of the mind to tell her to leave them alone, that fangirls weren't allowed, but...James was watching her. She couldn't really see through the sunglasses, but...she could tell that that he was watching her. In the same way a father might watch a child go off to find friends.

Regardless, they both looked like they needed coffee, a shower, and a three days worth of sleep. Coffee and rest she could provide, but the shower was going to have to be their own thing.

"So who's this? You don't look like you mind we have a new friend." Sam commented as he watched Angelina sit down tentatively and Steve was torn between interested and giving two shits.

"Angelina?" Steve blinked, "I thought you ran away?" He paused and then turned to Sam. "This is Angelina. She's the one that can keep up with me during our runs. Angelina this is Sam, my running partner when he's willing to get mowed down."

"It's nice to meet you Fly-I mean Sam." Angelina beamed. "I was worried about Steve. He was sad and angry through the run. I told him to come here and talk to a friend. But...I'm nosy by nature. I want to help."

Sam narrowed his eyes at her slip, but held his hand out to her anyway, "I can get behind that, though he's only mentioned you a couple times. Just what exactly makes you think we can talk freely around you?"

Well. James couldn't be mad at Flying Sam for asking the hard question and being suspicious. It's what he would do. So he looked over his shoulder and watched his daughter to see what she would say, though didn't give her any yes or no definitive answers in his mind.

"You know Bucky." Steve looked at her and she looked a little panicked. "You bought me the water colored pencils a long with James' present. But, it was actually Bucky's present."

Angelina nodded. "Very much so. He stays with me. Foreigners. We like to stick together in small groups. Not everyone understands our mother tongue and he slips in it sometimes." She knew that these two were looking for the Companion, but the less she said about herself the better. The only thing that she couldn't hide was who he normally contacted. If she could be the go-between it'd be a lot better though...she glanced over at Steve, that depended on him really.

"Alright, so you know his missing buddy. That's something. So you can technically take messages back and forth for Steve here, couldn't you? God knows he's dying to actually talk to the guy." Sam shook his head.

Angelina tilted her head and looked at Sam. Well, now she knew why her dad was always curious to know how he was able to mission-assist without really knowing that he was mission-assisting. Though would that cause a problem? "I can." She nodded and she looked at Steve. "He came home and was scared. He doesn't know what the Solider did. He's certain that he did something terrible."

"Wait what? You met up with him?" Sam stared at Steve, "I hope for both your sakes he's keeping well out of sight. Nick's hell-bent on finding him."

"Whose Nick?" This was why she wanted to hack into J.A.R.V.I.S. She couldn't wait to say the words "I told you so" to him. She paused, maybe the internet was bad for her. That could get her killed.

"Nick Fury, he used to be the director of S.H.I.E.L.D before it fell." Steve said slowly, softly so that none of the other costumers, save for Angelina could hear him. "He has strong beliefs about getting him behind bars. He doesn't know what to do with the person who started the massacre, you heard about that on the news right?"

Follow the lead, Angelina nodded. "I heard. It was terrifying. So Fury wants my ta-friend." She corrected herself hastily. "How would he find him? No one knows what the Solider looks like. Besides you. You crossed him twice. Lucky."

"We're going to keep your secret." Steve turned to Sam and nodded. "I told Bucky that Tony offered him asylum if he can get to Avengers Tower without getting caught. He wasn't...all that happy. I offered it to his Companion as well. He threw a punch at the wall and told me that I can't keep him safe because he's not safe. I can't keep the Companion safe either for the very same reason."

Well that was rude as hell. Angelina frowned deeply. She would have to ask the question later though. Of course that was when she heard it loud and clear. /I could kill you right now. But I won't. I can't. You. Are. My /mission/. I'm protecting you from /me//. Ohhhh. That was the bad thing.

"Jeez, Steve...it sounds like he may have come back to himself, but not completely. This guy is like a caged animal." Sam frowned deeply, "He's got a very broken mind, if Angelina said he didn't know what he did. That's a problem. If he joined us, he needs serious, major therapy."

Sam wasn't wrong on anything. He really messed up, and /was/ messed up. He punched /at/ Steve. Put Mission Protect in jeopardy. He mentioned his Companion. Identity obviously compromised. He hadn't completely believed that he wasn't safe until now. His Soldier self apparently disagreed. He wanted...he wanted to take Steve's offer. Wanted Angel to be safe, too. Everything was so complicated and he was getting tired... There were taps on his table and he looked up to see Zan had arrived at his table.

Zan blinked and she looked over at the white haired girl who was with Sam and Steve. She looked back at James and smiled, "Sure." She told him. "Do you want the same kind of tea?" She waited for his thumbs up or down gesture and while she did that, her fingers slipped on her tray and it clattered on to the grounds. "Oops. Sorry."

James simply chuckled and bent down, his fingers brushing the metal of the tray and he was about to pick it up when it all went to hell in a handbasket.

Steve had heard the tray clatter to the ground out of curiosity and to make sure that Zan was okay, he turned around. His eyes caught onto Bucky's and he felt his heart leap into his throat. His stomach twisted, he had another chance! He stood up swiftly, but he felt two hands grab at him. One on his shirt and the other on his wrist and he looked at his friends who were stopping him. "Guys...that's-"

Angelina shook her head from side to side. "No." She said firmly. She could feel his brain get muddled with all sorts of thoughts. That she wasn't a good person, that he needed to go over to Bucky, that he had a second shot, and why were his friends trying to stop him. She wished she could speak as fast as he thought.

"Dude, don't. Steve, it's not a good idea." Sam said shortly and all he had to do was nod. James had snatched up the tray and had 'disappeared', or otherwise slid deeper into the far corner of the booth he was sitting in. So Zan's most recent customer was Bucky? "He's a cornered animal. He'll either bite or he'll run."

"Sam it's-" He had to break off when he glanced over at Angelina. "Angel?" He asked worriedly and she blinked at him before she could taste the blood against her lips. She immediately let go of Steve's shirt to cup her hands over her nose. Where...to go...where to go. So many thoughts and all of them were worried. She heard a door jingle and she quickly stood up, backing away and getting tangled in the chair's legs, falling backwards and crashing hard against the floor.

"Zan you-holy shit, are you okay? Okay. No you're not. Here, I gotcha." 'This isn't an anime world. Of course she couldn't fall into you. You're an idiot.' A young boy that looked like a male version of Zan appeared in Angelina's vision, his sandy blond hair dangling in his brown eyes. He had a tissue in one hand, a lunchbox in the other, and he pressed the tissue to her face before he hooked his arm under her back, helping her sit up.

Angelina wasn't sure what this feeling was. It felt like being really scared when the Solider was angry at her and it felt really nervous, like when she was at the mall and everyone's thoughts were blaring. She wondered what anime was, and why on earth she would fall into him for...but he was nice to give her the tissue. She pressed it against her nose. "I'm fine." She said, her voice muffled. "It happens. I get overwhelmed. I'm Angelina."

"Dylan Wicker. Zan's twin bro. C'mon, the bathroom's one-person only if you didn't know. Let's wait out this nosebleed and get you cleaned up." Dylan helped her stand and tossed the lunchbox he had in his hand towards Steve who was watching the scene, waved at his sister who was looking between everyone, and disappeared down the narrow hall towards the bathroom.

"What just happened?" Steve asked after a moment of just watching nothing and looked at Zan who grabbed the lunchbox from Steve.

"If I read my twin senses right, he thinks your friend is hot." Zan answered as she watched the two. "But I have to admit, that was the best way to diffuse the situation. Sit down Steve. You're not bothering my vet. I don't let them bother you so fair game dude."

"Good on you, Zan. I agree with her." Sam's voice got much quieter and he leaned close, "You could've very well blown his cover. The Tower is too far away from here. I don't exactly want to have a chase."

Steve frowned and bowed his head. Damn, Sam was right. It wouldn't be good and would Zan still protect him even if she knew? "You're right." He murmured and sat back down at the table. "Sorry for the trouble, Zan."

"You're cool. You two want coffee? I think you both could use either that or tea if I'm honest." She told them causally.

"Coffee with a kick and a bite," Sam nodded, rubbing his face, "Surprise me, girl."

~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:50 pm

Just before Zan could really walk by, James' hand shot out and grabbed her hand. He was aiming for the wrist, but at the last second calculated that might be too rough and he could hurt her. As it was, he hoped he wasn't crushing her fingers. When she looked over at him, hunched down over the table, hat low, his eyes were barely visible from his glasses, but he hoped she could see the pleading. Since silence was a moot point now, he swallowed thickly, "Don't...leave. Wait, please?" For her brother and Angel. He hated that words didn't cooperate with him when he needed them the most.

Zan felt her heart break and she looked at Sam and Steve. Steve's shoulders were hunched in, he undoubtedly heard his plea and was unable to do anything. She nodded and she stepped back a few paces and she pointed at the seat across from him. "Will you feel better if I sit there, or do you need me to stand?"

"Sitting is fine...impomptu break. Sorry." He gave her a strained smile and was surprised when she continued to hold his hand as she slid into the booth with him. "I don't..." he nodded at their joined fingers, "...anyone but Angel."

This was an interesting turn of events. Of course, if Bucky had ran when he was discovered by Steve it would've created more of a riot. Thankfully, there had been no name drops in the chaos, just Steve's cut off sentences. Sam could tell that Steve was hanging on that man's every word. Sam just sat back, watching the hallway and watching for Dylan and Angel while Steve had his internal meltdown about what to do.

"Angel..." Zan smiled softly as it clicked. "She's your daughter isn't she?" She squeezed his hand reassuringly, but made sure that she kept her posture as relaxed as she could make it. She didn't want him to think that she was like Steve and was going to jump down his throat for every little thing.

James watched her for a bit. Calculating. Thinking real hard about it. Then he sighed deeply and took his sunglasses off with his metal hand, rubbing his eyes. The thing about migraines when you were enhanced was instead of hitting you like a truck, it was just /there/. Sitting in the back of your head or wherever it decided to bloom and was an annoying little throb that wouldn't go away. "Yes...yes she is. She...doesn't have my hair because of all the stress she's been through. Hence her nose bleeds as well." Not to mention her mind reading, but that was beside the point.

"Those scars." Zan could come to her own conclusion. "She seems happy to me." She looked behind her towards the restroom before looking at James. "Can I just say I'm really happy that whatever you two went through didn't take that away from her?"

Steve gripped his hands tightly as he heard this. God, it hurt. It felt like his heart was being slowly pulled out of his chest, still beating. God. He knew that the Companion went through things. But to actually have it be concrete fact that the Companion was actually his daughter and those scars were from the torture that she endured...it made him sick.

"Hey now...breathe with me, Steve." Sam murmured, "Don't want you to hurl while we're at the cafe. There will be plenty of time for a re-acquaintance with the bathroom later."

Though, even as he said this, Dylan and Angelina came back down the hall. Angel looked pale from the loss of a lot of blood, but otherwise she seemed quite chipper, hanging close to Dylan with rapt attention. James looked up and let Zan's hand go when he saw her, letting her read his mind freely when she looked his way, that way she was caught up on what he'd revealed.

Angelina looked at her father, whose mind was ever flowing and present and Steve who was practically shattering at the edges and Sam who was trying to be the best friend and concerned counselor and she sighed. She looked at Dylan apologetically. "Bad day." She explained. "Come with me." She grabbed his wrist gently and pulled him towards her father. "I got this." She told Zan cheerfully. "You're okay."

"Well, as long as you have it then." Zan said, sliding out of the booth and letting Angelina take her place, letting Dylan decide if he wanted to sit with them or not. She looked at her brother with a long suffering look, and she looked at James. "I'll be back with tea for the two of you and coffees for the two of them." She assured, knocking on the table as she walked away.

Dylan easily slipped into the spot Zan had vacated, directly across from Angelina, "Bad day is an understatement, Angie. That must have been one of your worse ones. I'm not surprised, really? Steve and Sam's life is pretty hectic. Sam's new to the game, but he's stuck for life now. How do you know Steve, anyway?"

"My tată knew him for a long time," Angelina explained. "He's practically family so I call him Uncle Steve. I go running with him sometimes. But today wasn't a good day."

Steve laid his head down on his arms, he didn't think he knew what to do with that kind of information right now.

"That's right, baby girl...long time friends." James rubbed his daughter's back, leaning over and kissing her head sweetly. He felt a lot calmer now with her here. He heard Steve breathing heavy and Sam's words had dropped to a very low whisper. He hoped he wasn't crying. Today was just continuing to spiral down, wasn't it?

"Drama here, drama everywhere. Like some big plot device." Dylan mumbled, "Never-mind me," he waved his hand when she gave him a confused look , "Just being sarcastic. Anyway... tată? What's that mean?"

"Ah...It means father in Romanian. She's Russian-American." James explained carefully.

"Russian-American? That's fascinating. Isn't it like, super bloody cold over there?" Dylan's eyes widened.

"It's really cold. I remember the snow. I didn't get to play in it though. I don't think I have ever." Angelina happily melted at the back rub, leaning a bit forward so he could have more access. She looked at Dylan curiously. "Plot device, that reminds me. What's anime?"

A really wide grin spread across his face, "It's a Japanese Cartoon style. There's a ton of different genres and types. I have my favorites. I wonder what you'd like. Do you have anything you could watch stuff on?"

"I have a laptop." Angelina nodded, looking excited. She couldn't see the pictures, but there were a lot of Japanese names involved and a lot of them were long. "You can make me a list, I have nothing but time on my hands. Maybe you could watch some with me?" she looked up at her father curiously.

"I could, yes," James nodded and started stroking her hair.

"That sounds awesome." Dylan agreed with a wide grin, "It'll be a long list, but I can definitely make you one."

"Here, I have a notepad." James reached into his pocket and slid it over to Dylan.

It took several long moments and three pages worth since the notepad wasn't very big, but finally Dylan slid it over. He also leaned in and put his chin in his hand, elbow on the table. He didn't let Angelina take the notepad from him, his fingers firm on the spiral binding on the top, "I am curious. I never mentioned anime out loud."

The air went still between the super soldiers.

Oops. Angelina sat up a little as she took the list but didn't spare it a glance yet. He was staring at her, but he wasn't thinking anything bad. He didn't sound upset. He wasn't thinking upset. "I like the way you think?" She offered timidly.

For some reason, that made Steve chuckle. So Angelina was a mind-reader. Hydra had to be running around with their heads cut off now that they didn't have one. Though, if she was one, Steve didn't doubt that they were probably going to create another.

"That...you know what. I'll take that offhanded hint for what it is. Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me and once you watch some of those, you'll understand." Dylan beamed at her and let her have it. "If I remember anymore, I'll let Zan know. Or wait, weren't you guys going to be out neighbors?"

Angelina /really/ perked up then. "Neighbors?! Really? So cool! I think we are." She looked at her father curiously. "We are, aren't we? Down the hall?"

"Yes. Surprised that the background check went by so fast, and we...didn't have much so we moved in in one day." James agreed, "We need to get furniture...any stores you or your sister recommend that offer delivery?"

Just as he asked the question, Zan came back and set down the tea for James and Angelina. She also slid a drink to her brother. "I know a few online stores that do furniture, but if you're looking for more of a shopping experience there's a few places I could write down for you that delivers. I also know a really decent mattress place as well so you guys don't have to sleep on the floor. They deliver too. Or..." She glanced behind her. "I could always ask Steve if he knows places. Casually drop a hint it's for a friend. I'm certain he has friends in high places willing to help you out."

Steve never thought in his entire life, he would be grateful that Zan just knew how to manipulate the situation to work it out.

James swallowed thickly. He didn't doubt for a milisecond Steve wouldn't agree to help him out any way shape or form. That was the problem. He was way too willing, and he was trying hard to do things on his own. If he said the word, Stark would have his entire apartment furnished by the end of the day tomorrow.

Dylan watched as it was now James' turn to put his head in his arms and breathe heavy. "I'll repeat it for you. Bad day is bad. How about this, what's the unanimous vote? I vote ask dear Uncle Steve to get his friend to help his other friend out. Save you the trouble of another nosebleed..." he tapped is head for Angelina.

"That boy has one hell of a point." Sam drawled casually, taking a nice slow draw of his coffee and shuddering as it delivered the kick he asked for. "Woo. Now that hits the spot."

"You both needed it, otherwise you'd die on my table." Zan said, though the worried tone didn't match the quip. She looked between her two tables, wondering what the vote was going to be.

Angelina gently tugged on her father's sleeve. "Uncle Steve." She said softly. "Best option. Worst option shopping. I can't go. Too tired now. Too dizzy. It wouldn't do you any good to go by yourself."

So there it was. He could practically feel Steve from across the room about ready to jump up in his chair again. James motioned to the notepad, "The address is in there. Give him your phone number, too, Angel love. Have Uncle Steve call beforehand so I can leave."

Angelina nodded her head excitedly and she wrote down her number twice. Once for Dylan, which she passed to him, and then wrote the one that was on the address. She slipped out of the booth happily and she walked over to her Uncle, tapping his shoulder. "I'm sorry for today." She said honestly, passing him the note. "I'm sorry for lying to you, too. Lots of apologies, but I don't think they'll do much. Still sorry."

Steve looked up at her and he carefully took the note. He pursed his lips together, knowing that Bucky wanted his space. Knowing that he wanted to find himself. It was so fucking hard though, and it was even harder knowing. "I'll call you." Steve said hoarsely. "I'm sorry too Angelina. I...today was just a mess wasn't it?"

"A mess." She agreed solemnly. "But good too. Exhausting. I could nap for days now."

Undoubtedly, so could everyone at the tables. Steve smiled at her thinly. "Thanks, Angel."

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:00 pm

Another week went by. Angel had informed Steve that their lease was a six month one, and to give him at least that much time to come into his own. To be ready enough to be sure he wouldn't put Steve or anyone else in immediate danger with his slips. He'd gone into Soldier mode again just once this week, but Angel had kept him home and called Steve on her phone, just calling to chat and not giving anything away. Long enough for a decent conversation about nothing in particular, and long enough for him to realize Steve was safe and sound so he could go back to sleep.

They'd each had two nightmares on top of it, but nothing too horrifying and worth mentioning. Disturbing enough to wreck their sleep for that night, but they were fine. Tonight, however, James knew something was different before he became self-aware. Angel had been acting slow and was in a bad mood all day for two days now, with a couple nose bleeds both those days which made her extra irritable. Now, he heard whimpering and he groaned, shifting and rolling over to face her bed. Their spare bedroom had been set up to be Bucky's, but they weren't ready to sleep in different rooms yet, so they used the spare cot /meant/ for guests instead. They also switched who slept in it, depending on how bad their nightmare were and if they needed something harder than the firm mattresses to simulate sleeping on the cold hard forest floors.

Sitting up in the cot, James looked up to Angel's bed, "Fetiță? What's wrong, Angel?"

She hurt, and it wasn't in a way where her nightmares had tensed all of the muscles in her body till she couldn't move. It wasn't the type of hurt someone could bandage either. Her abdomen felt full and tight, and her stomach was curled tightly like she could be sick but she wasn't. Something wet and sticky was on the inside of her thighs, but she just wasn't able to move. Her muscles wouldn't let her. Opening her eyes felt like a chore, too. She whimpered, feeling hot tears pool at her eyes but not falling yet. "I hurt and I'm scared. I know I'm bleeding."

Bleeding? James felt his stomach twist, but there was nothing to be /really/ scared of. There hadn't been any fights. She was okay. Which meant it was that time. Getting to is feet, he got to her side, "Okay, sweetheart. Just hang tight. I'm gunna go start a bath for you. I'll be /right/ back." Leaning down he kissed her forehead and then disappeared. The sound of the tub was heard a minute later, and when he came back just like he promised, he got the covers off of her and scooped her up, "I didn't plug it. Let's get you cleaned up first, then you can soak for as long as it takes."

She held on to him weakly as she was carried to the bathroom. The water gushed, sounding very much like a waterfall that she had heard a long time ago and seen on youtube. He sat her down on the toilet and she whimpered when she saw the blood on her thighs. It barely was soaking through her nightgown, but her underwear might as well be tossed. The water steamed and she felt herself relax a little as she undressed. She winced as every move made her stomach twist, and she felt like a punch was delivered right into her abdomen, causing her to hunch over some times. She pulled off her underwear and accepted the warm cloth her father gave her to clean up some of the blood. While she was doing that, she could hear him mess with the bath, including a snap of the bubblebath she came to enjoy when she was stressed and nosebleeding everywhere.

"Good thing that Johanna woman suggested these to you, huh? They've come quite in handy," James smiled tenderly at his daughter. When she had cleaned herself off, he assited her into the bathtub, "Adjust the water to your liking, Angel love. I gotta take care of something." With that, he left her to her own devices.

He needed to get her tampons and pain medication. The meds would wear off much faster, but they should take effect for a little while. That was all she needed. With a heavy sigh, James grabbed Angel's phone and pressed the speed dial for Dylan. It was the dead of night, but the twins had been /adamant/ that if there was any sort of emergency not to hesitate. Leaving the apartment while it rang, he got to their apartment door.

"Ung...Angie? Nightmare?" was the first thing out of the boy's mouth. It made James' heart swell that she had other people that worried and cared, even after such a short time.

"Nah, kid. It's her dad. Angel's time hit her. I need tampons and medication. I'm right outside."

Silence, and Dylan hung up. Within three minutes he was opening the door for him, blinking sleepily, "You don't mince words. I shouldn't be surprised you were so blunt about that. Here. Zan won't need them, she just finished hers. I'll be sure to let her know, too, and we'll whip up something to make Angie feel better tomorrow."

"Thanks. Sorry to wake you." James nodded his head, taking the tampon box and bottle.

"Nah, don't be. I'll be passed out in another five. Go, shoo, take care of her." Dylan waved him off and closed the door.

James made his way back, and after filling a glass of water, setting another mug with tea in it in the microwave, he went to the bathroom with the necessities, "Dylan's got you covered, fetiță."

Dylan was a constant during the week that they lived in the apartment. Normally she would go over to his place and they would watch anime together or play games on the consules. On bad days where going out of the apartment might as well be the same as breaking out into hives, he came over with something sweet or coffee and they'd talk for hours. "Dyl-dal's the best," She murmured, the bubbles were rising up and the water was the perfect warmth. It had yet to be all the way full. "Have to do something nice. It's late. Early..." She frowned. "How long do I have in here?"

"As long as you want. Desperate times call for desperate measures, hmm?" James kissed the top of her head, "Sorry...not gunna let you have the laptop near the water, though. Would you like me to read you one of your books instead?"

She thought about it for a moment, she didn't think she could handle a bright light. She leaned against the edge of the tub, putting her arms over it to cushion her cheek and she looked at her father curiously. "Tell me a story?" She asked softly. "Not a book. One of yours."

A memory. "I'll grab my journal for some inspiration." With a chuckle, he left for a split second and when he returned yet again, he settled beside the tub and stretched his long legs out. He wouldn't be going back to sleep until she did, anyway. "Let's see what we got here..." he hummed as he flipped through the pages, speed-reading and jumping over the bad ones. There was one in here...where was it? With a click of his tongue he kept going, then smiled as he found it.

"This is a story about how Uncle Steve is such a die-hard about his promises, even when everything just stacks up against him." James rolled his eyes as the words translated into mental pictures. "Winter time when we were kids. Grandma Sarah made a deal with me that Steve could spend Christmas Eve with me since she was working, but she had to have him back for actual Christmas. Sounds fair, right? Well. The week passed and a few days before, he got sick with a cold, but of course with him it always got worse before it got better. Then on Christmas Eve there was a huge blizzard. I told him not to come, not to worry about it. Let his mum take care of him and I'd see him when the weather died down. He wasn't too happy about it, from what little I could hear, the phone lines not very reliable in a storm like that."

James snorted, "Next thing I know, two hours later at about three pm, the guy was standing on my doorstep, his snot frozen to his face, eyes red and bleary, hair a complete mess from where it stuck out from under his head-to-toe layers of winter gear. It was even worse when he took it all off inside. I chewed him out, but all he did was smile at me and tell me 'I told you I would come, didn't I?' and left it at that, running off to say hello to your Aunt Rebecca and the rest of my family. Sure enough, next day rolled around and Steve couldn't even move, so it was one of the few times your Grandma Winifred got Grandma Sarah into our house."

Angelina beamed happily and turned the water off so that she could listen and soak better. She loved stories that involved her grandmothers and his sister. It made his mind cheery and it made his eyes bright. He would have this smile that wasn't pitying or self-deprecating. It was a smile that she knew only very few people could bring to his lips. She felt another violent cramp, but she shifted in the water. "Do you wish you could go all the way back? Like a time traveler?"

"Even if I did that...I don't think anything would change. I wouldn't want it to. Uncle Steve might feel different, because of what happened to me...but what's done is done." James shrugged, "I make do with what I got. Always have and will continue to do so. I want to make contact, as myself, but I'll know when I'm ready. For now, watching you get close to him makes me happy. You're learning new things in leaps and bounds every day, as well."

Angelina nodded her head. Her Uncle Steve was off doing his own thing, but he liked to send her texts of things he thought was interesting. A lot of it was books when he found out that she liked to read. He had a list too and they were going through it together since there were some books she never read and neither had he. But he did teach her things just like Dylan and Zan did. "It's...really hard." She finally said after a moment of her thoughts going through and their silence stretched. She could just feel, from his thoughts, of how proud he was and how sad he was that she was "growing up". She wasn't really "growing", but she supposed that it was all relative. "I miss Hydra sometimes. Things were simpler there. But I don't like them. For what they did to you. What they always did to you. I didn't like that you had to forget me. That you had forget Grandma Winifred and Grandma Sarah and Aunt Rebecca. You always remembered something about Uncle Steve though. I think that's a good thing. Sad, but good."

"Yes...I have fewer memories of them, but he always pops in my mind. I wonder how he'd feel if he knew that?" James leaned his head back against the wall, "He's more than a best friend. I'm remembering that. It's difficult. Being near him at the cafe makes me feel energized, if sad. Then when we're apart like this everything is so bleak. You're my anchor, the only other person I could trust with anything and everything. Without you I don't know where I'd be. I /know/ he'd take us in in a heartbeat. In fact, I'm even expecting something to come up before the lease runs out. I keep that to myself to think about when you're with Dylan. It's just how our lives are. Always fighting. What we have now isn't exactly peace, but there's no imminent danger except for being caught."

Angelina sunk a little further into the tub, the cramps were easing off a bit and the smell of lavender and vanilla was a little soothing on her stomach. She still felt bad; her muscles still just wouldn't work besides letting her sink and keep afloat, too. "I like Dyl-dal." She said slowly. "He's not mean. I like his thoughts. They're not complex. It's nice reading his mind." She was thoughtful. "I don't know. Tower is alright, J.A.R.V.I.S is mission assist, you said so. I like this. I like space. I like having space. I like that I can put things in spaces. But I don't know if the Tower would let me do that. Even if it did, where would Dyl-dal go? Where would Zan go? They have to stay here...it's their home. And what would they do with me? The Tower doesn't know me. If they know I'm blood, they could use me against you. Or they could use you against me. Or they could decide I'm not worth anything. Or I'm worth too much. Maybe you won't be in a cell, maybe I will. Or maybe we both will...I don't want to get caught."

"You are very right on all accounts. Anything could happen." James frowned deeply, "I think...the best bet is to get closer to Uncle Steve. Ask him these questions. See what he thinks and how he feels. If he offers, you can go with him to the Tower. For all we know, Zan could work there for Stark in his personal cafe. With a Tower that size, he has to have one."

Angelina looked at him a little tired. "He keeps promises. I don't think he tells too many lies. He over thinks a lot too. I don't think I can ask questions today or tomorrow though. I hurt and I still hurt. The water's nice, and I don't feel like I'm about to keel over. But...I'm still sore. I think tomorrow's a sleep day."

"We have time." James laughed softly and reached up to pet her hair, "I'm not asking you to do it right away, Angel love. Text or call him tomorrow, let him know you'll be out of commission for this next week, but mention you'd like to hang out with him afterwards. You could show him the shop Johanna offered us, even!" he smiled a little bit wider.

"Ice cream!" Angelina beamed before wincing at the sudden move. "Ugh. I don't like being sick." She slumped a little in the tub before perking and looking at her father. "You laughed. You don't laugh much. I like it."

"You might hear it more in the future." James pinched her nose playfully, "Just focus on getting better now."

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:16 pm

The next morning, Angelina was reading one of her books in bed, her legs propped up to hold the novel as she eagerly read the words that were starting to paint pictures in her mind. She had decided that the laptop was just too much of a headache still and she couldn't focus on the print that was accompanied by a bright screen, even turned down some. The book that she was currently reading made her wish that magic was real, dragons were real, and that she could wield a sword. She was pretty certain that she'd be a real good swordsmaster. Though she undoubtedly would make more of a mess than her butcher knife. No one knew where the knife was, which made her happy. Trees always knew what they were doing, and according to some books, had voices of their own.

She was so sucked into this, that she jumped when she heard the apartment door knock. She frowned, she couldn't grab the door. Last time she tried standing up, the floor nearly met her face and her father barely had time to catch her it happened so fast. That was why they decided that she wasn't to get up unless she had someone with her to help, and if it was for /necessary/ reasons. A door wasn't a necessary reason. Her father should be somewhere around the apartment...she doubted that he left.

"Dylan, Zan. I was wondering how long it would take for you to come by. What on /earth/ is that monstrosity?"

"Ice cream cake." Zan answered, her voice amused. "We heard that Angel wasn't feeling good and ice cream and cake usually is like the two best sweet comfort foods. But Dylan here decided that he was going to be ambitious and try to make an ice cream cake instead. So, I guess it's a two for one deal."

"It's not the best looking, no, but I got up early to make it and it will be eaten." Dylan said firmly, "She in the room? Give it, sis..." it didn't take long for Dylan to appear at the doorway, "TADA!" he cheered, holding up the cake. It was pretty plain, but what made James gawk was the size of it. "It comes with spoons! I'll take them back later," he laughed.

"So much!" Angelina burst into laughter. "We'll need plates. I don't have any in here. You made this? You woke up early? You don't wake up that early. You wake at ten. Did you get enough sleep?"

"I'm fine. Plenty of coffee. If I take a nap later then that's cool, too." With a shrug he just sat down on the edge of his bed and maneuvered himself so he was sitting in front of her, the cake between them and he picked up a spoon, shoving it towards her, "Plates are for the weak."

Angelina carefully placed her book away and picked the spoon up. She cut in a little piece and took a bite of it, humming thoughtfully. "It tastes good." She brightened. "I don't know the flavor though."

"It's oreo. Something I was sure we could all agree on. I'll have to get a ton of snacks and have you try them. If you don't like anything don't worry about it. I'll just take them to work and people will snatch any type of food right up," Dylan beamed at her, taking a bite.

"What do you do?" Angelina asked. She could hear Zan and her father talking, something about something. She couldn't exactly catch what they were saying, and they weren't in range for her to read thoughts. "Something with computers..no...games."

"Wow, a week later and I haven't told you where I work." Dylan laughed, "A lan center, or a place with a ton and a half of computers and consoles like x-box." He explained and looked over his shoulder as Zan and James walked in, "Oh, they brought plates."

"Because we're supposed to be /civilized/ people, boy," James teased, also wielding a knife to cut the cake with.

"And if you make a mess of the bedspread that Angelina's on, I'm forcing you to do laundry." Zan said happily as she sat down close to Angelina and gently placed her wrist on her forehead. "At least you don't have a fever to worry about." She let her wrist down and smiled when James passed her a plate of the ice cream.

"No, not the laundry!" Dyla gasped dramatically and then laughed as he took the plate, "Fine, fine. Have it your way. Anyway, um...Angie, if at any point you get sick of being stuck in bed, lemme know? I'll take you out to my favorite pizza place, and maybe I'll take you to my work, too, so you can see where it is and what it's like."

Angelina perked as she took a plate too and Zan started cutting the pieces. "Really? You'll let me out? That sounds good. I never had pizza before. I bet it's good." She smiled brightly. "Do you like your work?"

"I love my job, but I understand not everyone's as lucky as I am." Dylan nodded, "Of course, there's cons to everything even mine, like yelling at kids to get out of the strip club in GTA all the time, but you know, I gotta do what I gotta do."

"You could tell them not to play. It's eighteen years." Angelina pointed out. "Pull the plug! You got them." She beamed at him happily and she thought about it. "I...wonder what I'd do."

"You do you." Zan smiled brightly. "Right now, I think you're exactly where you need to be. A job would make you overstimulate your telepathy."

"Oh.." Angelina rubbed her head. "Not good."

"No, not really. You're still getting a handle on it, right? You never had to deal with things outside of small missions which then you'd be out of commission afterwards. New York is a huge ass motherfuckin' city, so it's no surprise to me that you get overwhelmed so fast like you do. You're so lucky the cafe is a calm place in the mornings." Dylan reached over and patted her knee.

James had just been eating thoughtfully and silently while they talked, and this made him realize just how lucky he was to have two kids who were willing to listen and understand. Zan hadn't even batted an eye when she encountered him earlier that week as the Soldier in the middle of the night, all short sentences and 'confirm' this or 'confirm' that. She'd just done her thing and made him comfortable. Of course they knew he was the Winter Soldier after that whole mess when he and Angel met Dylan. Who else could he be, after all?

Angelina looked over at her father and smiled warmly at his thoughts and she looked at the twins. She reached and gently held Dylan's hand with a bright smile before letting his hand go and taking a bite of her cake. "Small steps. Date, then bigger things like work if need be." She said with a bit of a nod. "Though I don't think work is a worry yet."

"Dating huh?" Zan teased, nudging Dylan in the side with a sly smile. "That's a small step for you guys. Though then again an outing would be a nicer word to use for now. Dates are for something a little more serious." She winked at Angelina.

"Oh wrong word." Angelina blinked, "My fault."

"A lot of people don't know the difference," Zan shook her head from side to side. "So it's not your fault society decided that beating around the bush is better than to just say "hey wanna go out on a date"."

"One step at a time, for sure," Dylan smiled just a bit shyly, "I'm sure you'll like pizza. Everyone likes pizza since you can make it anyway you want. Unless you don't like bread and cheese, you're fine. You can even get pizza without sauce if someone's allergic to tomatoes."

"Not allergic to anything." Angelina beamed proudly. "So I can eat it with everything. Well not everything. Don't think it'll taste that good."

"You'd be surprised, there's one called the Supreme with a ton of veggies and meats." Dylan snickered, "We'll start small with that, too, though. Pepperoni is a fan favorite, and there's Meat Lovers and Veggie Lovers. Then you can start making your own and we'll order pizza to the apartment for anime marathon nights!"

Zan laughed at Angelina's happy grin and she shook her head from side to side. "You're invited too James." She promised, patting James' on the shoulder. "Though if you ever want the apartment to yourself, we'll be happy to whisk her away to animated worlds."

Angelina beamed, "Yes!"

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:33 pm

"So, what are your feelings on the Meat Lover's?" Dylan asked as Angelina chewed her second bite thoughtfully, the first having not much on it as it was just the tip. The cheese was all gooey and he had gotten himself a straight up cheese pizza. They'd also gotten soda pop, his filled with Dr. Pepper and hers with Root Beer.

"I like the meat, I'm not crazy about ham." Angelina said slowly as she swallowed and took a drink of her root beer. It was really nice to finally get out of the apartment after being stuck in bed for days on end. Of course, the pizza shop had a lot of people in it, but it wasn't...overwhelming yet. There was a crowd, but their talking drowned out their thoughts, which was nice. She couldn't tell if she was reading their mind or overhearing a conversation so, it was easy to kind of tune out. Especially since she didn't want to get a nosebleed today. "I like the pepperoni, and I like the sausage. The spice."

"You're a spicy kinda girl, are ya?" Dylan grinned, "I'll remember that. I wonder what you'd say if you got a Hawaiian. People either do or don't like pineapple on their pizza. I personally don't like pineapple anyway, but I do like Canadian bacon."

"I don't know, I think it depends on the flavor." Angelina took another bite of the pizza and frowned in thought. Pineapple on pizza. It didn't sound horrible. "What kind of person are you? Do you like spice?"

"I don't mind it," Dylan shook his head, "Taco seasoning is about as 'spicy' as I can get, though. Zan hates me for it. I don't like Mexican food like at all. Tacos and burritos I often make at home 'cause I can make it anyway I want."

"I never had any of that." Angelina admitted, "So I don't know. But tată is learning how to cook from Zan I think. He was thinking about cooking earlier. I think it might be Zan. I don't know. I doubt it could be Uncle Steve. They can't contact. After what happened in the cafe. Who knows what he's gonna make, or learn to make. Or maybe he does something else. I don't know. I know he knows the basics. He's been showing me."

"That's good! I can show you stuff, too. I like baking more, though. Whip everything together, throw it in the oven, set the timer, and leave it alone. I don't like cooking on the range or stove much. Can't do grilling, either. Your dad looks like the grilling type, though. Instead of using tongs, he could just use his hand!"

"Probably. He's used it for worse." Angelina nodded, taking another bite. "It's been through worse too. I don't know. I don't know if he'll use it like that. It's an funny image though."

Dylan snickered, "I'll show you how to make cookies and brownies and fudge. You like the bitter chocolates from overseas, so I'll show you what baking chocolate is like instead of using Hershey’s.”

Angelina perked a little. "Really? That'll be fun. Huh...what got you into baking?"

"My mother," Dylan chuckled, "I'm a Momma's boy, really...and Zan...she was definitely a daddy's girl. I'm sure you've seen the necklace she wears with the ring? That was our father's."

"What happened to him?" Angelina asked, looking concerned. "Is your mom okay too?"

"Our mom's fine," Dylan shook his head, "Our dad died in Afghanistan. It was...awful. It's only been a couple years, too, so it...still hurts. We all still miss him."

She frowned and reached across the table to let him hold her hand if he wanted to. It explained a lot on why Zan was so flexible, and why Dylan just understood. In their eyes, the Winter Solider was just that. A Solider who needed to come home. She bowed her head down. "I didn't mean to ask something sad." She said after a moment. "I know it hurts. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with my tată. This is the longest we've been together. It makes me scared. Happy. Sad. His memories and the Solider are I guess coming to a truce. Something like that. But there's things he doesn't know. Therefore, he can't remember them. I hope he never goes back to the war. I wish that we were left alone. But that just won't happen. What's your mom like?"

"It's okay that you asked a sad question," Dylan did take her hand, rubbing the back of her knuckles with his thumb. Whenever they touched, he enjoyed the feeling that traveled through his body. It wasn't as shocking as the first time, but more pleasant tingling and warmth. "Your dad's a fighter. He'll get back to the fight eventually, but for now the quiet life is doing him good. You, too. He'll get his memories back slowly but surely. Anyway, as for my mom? She's a tough woman. Has to be to deal with twins like Zan and I," he laughed, "She's kind, sure, but she'll banter with the best of them. Not so much sassy as she is feisty."

"Sounds like a good person." Angelina smiled warmly and used her other hand to grab her cup and take a sip of her drink before setting it down. "The quite life is doing us good. It's a bit unnatural, but..." She shrugged. "So what to do after this? Where to go?"

"Well, is there anywhere you'd /like/ to go? There's so many places. There's a roller skating rink, a skateboard park...this time of year you can go swimming at one of the many pool parks. Mm...Butterfly House, several Botanical Gardens..." Dylan tapped his chin, thinking hard, "I dunno. That might be something you could look at on your laptop, New York for tourists or something."

"I haven't been to a garden yet. Uncle Steve mentioned it to me before." Angelina said thoughtfully. "We could explore. We could find the butterfly house too. I bet that's pretty." She paused. "I don't think swimming's  a good idea. I'd scare children with my scars."

Dylan winced, "That's true. We'd have better luck with swimming if we went to an indoor pool. Unfortunately, our apartment doesn't have a pool of any kind." He smiled and finished off his pizza, "So, let's go find the butterfly house, then!"
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:32 am

~

"They were so pretty and I liked the garden. The flowers were beautiful. I wonder if we should get plants. I don't know if tată would like that all that much. I never really tried keeping things alive before." Angelina blabbled happily as they walked down the street back towards their apartment. "The butterflies were gorgeous. I think they're my favorite. besides the ducks we ran into. I liked the ducks."

"The ducks were pretty awesome." Dylan agreed, a giant smile going from eat to ear across his face, "All those butterflies were such a sight to see. It was so cute when the one landed on your shoulder! We really need to get you a camera."

"A camera? Really? Why?" Angelina turned around on the ball of her foot and started walking backwards to face Dylan. "It'd be fun to learn to use. It's not something I used before. Computers. I wonder if I'd like it."

"I'm sure you'd love it. Zan has one, I'm sure she wouldn't mind showing you at all!" Dylan laughed, "We can check that out later, though. It's been a pretty long day. Do you wanna watch anime at all to unwind? We left off at a pretty intense part last time."

"It'll be nice." Angelina nodded, turning back and doing a small skip to get back into sync with him. "Why did you think of photos? Me taking them?"

"You taking pictures, me taking pictures, Zan taking pictures of the two of us...you can take pictures of your dad to show to Steve, too, maybe? There's so many things you can do with camera." Dylan explained.

"Would that harm mission protect?" Angelina placed a finger on her lips. "I never was supposed to be in front of cameras. Always behind. Always move. Blur as much as you can. Stuff a body in front of them so that you're not seen." She paused, "Oops. Thoughts aloud. Sorry."

"No, no I get it," Dylan assured, "That's for security cameras, though, isn't it? Do you think it'd be alright if it was for personal use only? Zan could show you how to scrapbook, so you can put anything you take in the book for record keeping and then delete them off the camera."

Angelina blinked slowly. Another type of record keeping. She had started to slack off a little on the shower logs, though there were times she woke up nauseous from not doing enough and would record everything after that. How much she ate, how many hours on the computer, who she spoke to, it worried her father sometimes. But other times, she slacked. "I don't know. I think it might be useful." She said carefully. "The book is a good idea. Personal. I should talk to tată about that. Make sure it doesn't hurt mission protect. I don't want the Solider to get upset as much as I don't want tată to get too stressed. It's bad enough. It's bad enough."

"Shh, that's cool. Talk to James about it before you make any decisions. Talk to Zan about borrowing hers or just playing with it. If it all comes down to it's a bad idea, then that's fine. I just thought it would be something fun for you to do," Dylan shushed and reached over, rubbing her back.

Angelina sighed, leaning a little into the touch. "Still not used to a lot of freedom." She explained after a moment. "Still not used to a lot of things I'm supposed to be. I didn't mean to frighten you. Scare you." She opened her arm up so that he could give her a side hug if he wanted it. "Fun is a hard thing to get used to. Still worried it can go away."

"It's alright, I promise. You've only been free for...two months now? Or is it nearing three? I really don't know. You're doing much better than I think you would've, after some of the things you told me." Dylan frowned, "Being scared is inevitable, for both of us. You're fine, though. I swear. We're going to be fine."

She nodded solemnly, she let her arm down and looked at him with a sad smile on her face. "I won't be a downer." She promised. "Three months. It's been three. A long time. We met two weeks ago." She shook her head from side to side. "...It's been a lot longer since I spoke to Uncle Steve face to face. We talk on the phone. He understands. It was...hard on all of us. I wonder if I should try to meet up with him. I kind of miss him. I know that feeling."

"Hey...you do what you do, alright?" Dylan watched her carefully, the circle of thoughts he had 'should I...should I not...' going around a few times before he caressed her cheek, 'I'll do this instead' is what he decided on and he leaned down enough to kiss her forehead, "You're worrying too much."

Angelina blinked in surprise as he kissed her forehead. She felt her cheeks warm, and she smiled. Her father did that to her more and more often. It made her heart spin and she felt giddy. "I guess so." She agreed before grabbing his wrist and started dragging him down the street. "Come on. Let's go home and watch anime. We're at the best part now."

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:08 pm


Steve walked over to the park bench and sat down next to Angelina. She had a notebook placed precariously on her lap and a pencil that was lightly tapping at her lower lip. She was watching some of the kids play soccer with a furrowed brow. He gently nudged her with his elbow and smiled when she looked over at him. "Here." He said, handing her a can of soda.

"Thank you." She smiled as she took the can and tapped the lid a few times before cracking it open. The drink fizzed, popping bubbles before settling and she took a drink.

"What are you writing in your notebook if I can ask?" Steve asked, looking down at the page. It didn't make much sense to him. A jumble of military time and abbreviations that went with it.

Angelina looked down at the notebook, "It's a log."

"A log?"

"A time log." She corrected and smiled at him. "Tată told me that I didn't have to record time anymore. Sometimes I don't but..."

"Sometimes you just have to." Steve understood some of it. He was still used to waking up at dawn and going to sleep when he could. Sometimes he still believed that he was in the war, listening to gunshots and grenades going off. Sometimes he believed he was still watching Bucky fall off of the train even though he was very much alive along with a daughter.

He looked over at Angelina, but she didn't seem to be too bothered. She was tapping the eraser to her lips as she looked at the log that she was creating. He couldn't help but to wonder about what she was like. What did Hydra do to her. Something awful and filled with torture judging by the scars. But she was genetically half super-solider. Regeneration should be in her blood. Those scars should be horrible memories by now. Her hair that was stark white, where's the color? How stressed out did they force her to be? What kind of person did Hydra force Bucky to be with? Was Bucky even apart of it? Did he care about her mother at all or was it...

Angelina stopped tapping her pencil to her lips and just watched Steve. Steve noticed it after a moment and when he realized what he was thinking he turned away, in shame. She frowned and reached out, touching his shoulder and rubbing it back and forth. She let her hand down and she took another drink of her soda that she had rested in between her thighs. "I don't know a lot of those answers."

"Hydra wouldn't really keep you informed about anything," Steve said stiffly. He sighed loudly. "I don't want you to explain unless you absolutely want to, Angel."

Angelina nodded her head, but she wore a skeptical look on her face. He presumed that if he was really honest about that, then he was supposed to prove it by not thinking about the situations that her and Bucky must have gotten themselves into to turn into the people that they became. The Winter Solider story, as hard as it was to track down, was an easy one to read. Natasha was good at finding things about her past after all. But the Companion had absolutely nothing on her...and he was thinking about it again.

She huffed a laugh and went back to her logs and he sighed, though whether it was out of relief or just exhaustion, Steve didn't know. They sat in silence for a moment longer, her pencil scratching at the paper and he just watched the kids play wishing that he had brought his sketchbook.

The tearing of paper made him jump and he watched silently as she pressed a paper and her pencil to him. She also handed him her notebook, so that he could draw. He smiled at her and started to sketch.

She sat there, sometimes swinging her legs back and forth as she watched the soccer game play out. Sometimes she got bored and she looked up at the sky or looked elsewhere. Sometimes she tilted her head, listening as a couple or a jogger went by them, talking in one conversation and thinking in another. "I guess this isn't bad." She mused aloud.

"What isn't?" Steve asked, his pencil still etching at lines and shading.

"This." She gestured to the park. "People-watching. I think I understand why tată does it now. Protection-detail yes. It's something I'm not good at. But for fun? In small doses is fun."

"I always thought that people were interesting." He said slowly, etching something really slowly and carefully on the paper before going out and working again. "You never face the same person twice unless you're in a confined building."

"Dylan wants to take me to a con. When I can handle big crowds. But that's hard." Angelina leaned back. "So many thoughts zoom. I can't keep track of them all. Not every thought is nice either. Some thoughts are really mean. I don't come across cruel ones often."

"I doubt they'd live if they did."

"Bingo." Angelina nodded solemnly. "Bingo. Bingo."

"Maybe if I ask Sam, he might be able to give some advice. We have a lot of vetarns who don't do crowds either." Steve sat up and pulled the sketch away, looked at it with a critical eye before bringing it back to his lap and started again, this time erasing some marks. "Have you thought of getting Bucky into the V.A?"

"I don't even know what that is." Angelina frowned. "And I don't think I'd be able to go inside."

"You're not a vet that's true. So you wouldn't be able to attend the meetings," Steve agreed. "But you could wait outside."

"Look suspicious. The vets wouldn't like that. The V.A is a safe place for them right?" Steve nodded and she continued. "I'm not safe to them. Therefore, their safe place is compromised."

Steve looked at her. "Angelina. Can I ask you something personal?"

"Okay."

"...Why were you called the Companion?"

"Everything else sounded bad. The Solider didn't like the name the Hydra handler gave me. He thought that my name was being taken away. So, he gave me a handler's name. He said this firmly. She is Companion. Nothing more and less to you. The handlers thought it was funny. They kept my name, but they used Companion out in the field. Last handler that disobeyed the Solider got himself killed with a bunch of bullets. It was not a pretty sight."

"What name did you go by before Companion?" Steve asked slowly.

Angelina shook her head from side to side. "I won't tell you."

"Sorry."

"Why sorry?" She blinked and looked at Steve. "You asked a question. I said no. That doesn't mean say sorry. It just means I don't want to talk about it. No one should be sorry for that. A lot of people say "sorry" a lot, even in their minds. So easily offended...and so easily silenced. Even their anger has an apology in it."

"I'm used to saying the word too I guess."

"No." Angelina shook her head. "With you "sorry" means something. You said it to me because you didn't want me scared. You didn't want me upset. You were afraid that saying your question would hurt me. It's okay. With you I get it. But with other people...sorry doesn't linger right. It doesn't sound sincere, even when it's genuinely meant."

"I bet Bucky has the same thoughts," Steve chuckled as he began shading. "..."

She tilted her head, watching the game play and the children jeer at each other. One side scored and that side high fived a lot. The others huddled, making plans to beat them next time. She looked over at Steve and blinked slowly. "Your thoughts are gone."

"What?"

"Nothing." Angelina shook head from side to side and took another drink of her soda. Drawing took Steve's thoughts away. He was super focused on the drawing that was being sketched to life on the paper. She didn't dare glance at it to see what it was that he was drawing. Zan told her that art and music didn't get to have sneak peeks. Art was private till it was shown publicly and same with music.

Well, whatever kept Steve from the most dangerous mission and his scary train of thoughts. Angelina could support it. After a while, Steve folded up the sketch and passed it to her.

When she gave it to her father that very same day, she missed the soft expression on his face. She missed that he went to his room to tape the sketch in his notebook. She missed that the sketch was her, scars and all on a park bench, with a smile that was once common place on Bucky Barnes' lips.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:27 pm

"Something's on your mind, Angel. What is it?" James asked several days later, "You want to ask me something? You don't tend to stall unless you are unsure of my reaction."

It was true. Time and time again she would go up to him, open her mouth, and then promptly leave till a new question that was easier to answer and easier to determine what kind of reaction it would have came to her. But this...this she still wasn't sure of. Ever since Dylan mentioned the photos, she had started looking at cameras. She started looking on the internet to see with renewed interest what photos looked like. Was she a film artist or was she a digital master? The longer she researched, the more she thought about it and it was starting to become painful to not ask the question. She shifted, her tongue feeling dry and her stomach twisted uncomfortable as she thought about it. She shifted from side to side. "A...." She started before frowning. "It's...I..." She shifted again. "Talk? Can I...talk to you?" That was probably the best way to start.

"Well, considering I started this conversation, of course you can talk to me." James was slightly amused, but he took her to the couch so he could sit beside her and listen intently to whatever it was she wanted to say.

The couch felt a little more grounding to her. She didn't feel too out of depth, but her stomach still twisted and she could swear her palms were getting sweaty from moving and twisting. Her mouth still felt dry, and sometimes her legs jerked without meaning to, to get up and walk out. To pretend that this conversation didn't need to happen, but it did. He said more than once what she wanted mattered and that she mattered. "You don't like me keeping time logs..."

"Just because I understand doesn't mean I like it, you are correct." James nodded slowly.

"Dyl-dal told me another way to log time." Angelina shifted. "But it's...." She pursed her lips together and lowered her voice. "It's dangerous. A little. Hydra wouldn't like it much. And if it falls into wrong hands..." she shrugged helplessly. "We could get caught. You could disappear."

James furrowed his brows tightly, "That doesn't sound very good...but Dylan is a good kid. Just what would he suggest that you think's so dangerous?"

Angelina blinked and she thought about what she was going to say. "Hydra told me it was. They said not to be seen. If seen, we compromise the mission. That's why we shoot at security cameras, or I stuff a body in front of them. But Dyl-dal told me that I should take photos. He said Zan knows a method of time logging that's called a scrapbook. He thinks the photos will be safe in there. He thinks it'll be good idea."

He tried. In fact, he tried so hard that James made a snorting sort of sound a few times while he held it together, but in the end he just gave up and /cracked up. Not his usual chuckles, not the soft 'heheh', but he threw his head back and laughed, his hand going to his stomach.

Angelina jumped in alarm and stared at her father like he grew a few heads. She had never...heard him laugh like that. The momentary panic fled to awe as she watched him laugh and listened to it. It wasn't sadistic. It wasn't something that he was doing out of courtesy either. It was genuine as can be. She wondered if Uncle Steve heard this laugh before. Would it be something familiar to him? She cracked a smile of her own, and giggled a little. His laughter was infectious and it made her smile brightly. More brightly than Uncle Steve and Dyl-dal. She hoped she'd hear it again.

"Oh, oh, Angel. My dear fetiță," James shook his head and rubbed his eyes as he tried to catch his breath. He hadn't meant to laugh, it just happened. "That's what you've been so worried about? You do realize that whatever Hydra said doesn't /matter/ anymore, right?" He reached over and ruffled her hair, "It was good to stay hidden at the Hydra base, because if Fury is after us he no doubt has that file and whatever pictures the cameras took. Now? It's okay if you're seen here. You're seen all the time when you're out with Dylan and when we've gone shopping. It's only really me that we have to be careful of. Yet, with a /scrapbook/, you can take pictures of our everyday life. I feel as though Uncle Steve and Flying Sam would like that."

Angelina frowned. "Why is scrapbook a good thing...and why are time logs a bad thing?" It was probably another silly question, but it was something that she wondered. It allowed her some time to think about the "Hydra doesn't matter" statement that he said. It was one thing to live a clean life, to talk badly of them and to say they're never going back. To say they didn't /matter/ a whole other ballgame.

"Because, taking pictures requires you to find things you /want/ to log. If you have it with you when you're out and something catches your eye, you take a picture of it. Dylan's smiling or has a really concentrated look when he's playing his video games? Take a picture of it." James smiled softly. "A /time log/ is tings you feel obligated to record, like how long you're on the computer, what and when you ate, shower times."

"What I want matters..." Angelina repeated softly, looking down at the couch between them in thought. "I matter. But...Hydra doesn't? Matter?" She looked at him a little fearfully, a little scared that it was okay for him to say it, but wrong for her.

James tugged her to him and hugged her tightly, "That's right, Angel. I know it's hard. They raised you when I didn't get to. Yet you turned out just fine. I love you so much, and I'm really proud of you, you know that? Hydra doesn't have a hold on us if they don't matter. What they want and what we want are two different things. I want you, us, to be happy. I want to protect you and Uncle Steve, and Flying Sam and the twins. Hydra wants us back as their puppets and they want all of them dead."

Angelina felt tears well up. "I don't want them dead." Her voice cracked as she accepted the hug and held him tightly too. Just imagining them dead made her heart feel heavy and her throat clog up. They wouldn't die peacefully. They'd die with so much blood and it scared her a little further into her father's hold. "They've been s-so nice to us."

"Yes, yes they have." James rocked her, "I told them before that I'm grateful to have them, but I don't think they'll ever really understand. There's only so much they can comprehend, even if they have a military background."

"Civilians." Angelina sniffed adjusting her hold so she could be held better and so it wouldn't put too much strain on her arms. "I don't want them to be apart of this, tată. Hydra can hurt them. S.H.I.E.L.D too. Uncle Steve said Flying Sam might be able to help me do crowds...so I can deal with people."

"They could, yes. They'll be more than happy to help you with anything." James kissed the top of her head, "They're going to be a part of it no matter what happens, however. Zan knows Steve and Sam. Dylan seems to know Steve a bit, too. Even if they didn't know us, they'd have been in our lives somehow."

Angelina pulled away from the hug and watched her father for a moment. She lowered her eyes, thinking before nodding her head and looking at her father. "The mission is to protect. I can...expand on that. If I want. Because...the mission is..." it was hard to say it, but she managed. "flexible. I can protect the Civilians. You're better at protecting friends. Maybe. Possibly."

"I'll protect who I can." James nodded with a tender smile, "I love you, Angel. You're doing real good. When you decide on a camera you want, let me know and I'll get it for you."

"I've been looking at cameras. I'm still undecided about what I want. I'll let you know, I promise." Angelina beamed happily, hugging him again. "Thank you. I love you too."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:20 am

"Whatcha got there, kiddo?" Sam asked as he met with Angelina at the cafe, since it was a spot they both knew besides the park. Steve was busy, and he was quite surprised when he got the message on his phone that she wanted to hang out. "I haven't seen you in almost a month! You look pretty good."

She blinked and smiled. "Thank you. It's a camera. Tată gave me permission to take photos." She took the camera case that she had strapped over shoulder and placed it on the cafe table. "It's been a long month." She admitted. "But I think we're doing good. We like the apartment that we're in. Well lit unlike the hotels we were staying in. We have a balcony. We're thinking of getting plants to make it a little more live-in." She shifted. "Uncle Steve's been asking strange questions, but he told me you could help me with projects. I didn't want to assume though."

"What kind of projects?" Sam straightened in his seat, brightening up with excitement, "What made you want to come to me, if I might ask?"

Angelina was shocked to see that he was taking this request with excitement. She would've thought that he would be overly cautious or something. She thought about it for a moment, wanting to give him a good answer. "Uncle Steve mentioned to me a few weeks ago that you were good at things. You were good with your vets. You helped down at the V.A. A couple of days ago, I gave him a missi-" She broke off and huffed. "I told him about my day. He said that my projects go hand in hand with what you do best. He told me you were the best person to seek advice. He...warned me though that there were a lot of things you couldn't do."

"I'll tell ya what." Sam put his hands on the table, "You just tell me what you want to do, and if anything comes up that I can't do, I'll let you know. How's that sound? If you want advice on anything personal, though, I'd suggest private settings. I moved from DC after that big fight with the Soldier and got an apartment over around Brooklyn Heights."

"Should we go there then?" Angelina asked curiously. "I don't know what would be personal or not. I don't want to slip and have you get in trouble. Safety first before sorry."

"That's cool, I getcha. I drive my car. You good with confined spaces? I can always roll the window down for you." Sam promised as he stood up.

"I'm good." Angelina stood up as well and grabbed her camera case so she wouldn't forget it and followed him out to his car. "Tată doesn't do well in taxis. I trust you won't drive me somewhere to kill me. Uncle Steve would hate that."

"Your dad wouldn't be the only one I'd have to worry about if I did that." Sam winked, "Not only your Uncle Steve, but a certain pair of twins, too."

"You say nice things. This is why I also came to you." Angelina beamed as she followed him to his car. "Road trip! Can I sit in the front with you?"

"Yeah! Go right ahead," Sam waved his hand with a flourish and got in on the driver's side. On the road to his house, he looked over at her through the corner of his eye whenever he had the chance, "This is technically a safe spot. If you wanna talk now you could."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:42 am

Angelina thought about it. It felt like a safe space. The outside was going by her and she was able to catch glimpses of places that she hadn't been yet that also looked like they'd be interesting to go into. There were a bunch of stores that she didn't realize were so close to them. A bunch of them really. Some looked really expensive, while others looked like they weren't. She leaned back against the car seat, content and holding her camera case on her lap. Sam didn't try talking anymore, which was nice of him. So many people like herself would just fill up the silence with chatter.

But this was relaxing. It was...familiar to her to be in a car. Being transported to a place. She'd never get to look out the window. She'd never get to see how the scenery would pass by and what was outside the world. But it was familiar and it was soothing. "Why Brooklyn?" She asked after a moment, looking over at Sam. "You lived in D.C, so why move to Brooklyn? Wouldn't you want to go home?"
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:29 pm

"After helping Cap, Uncle Steve, I realized if I was going to get back into the game of fighting evil villains that I needed to be where Steve is the most. I trust him, he trusts me. I also know if Steve'd been accused of what he had been here, Tony would've gone to town." Sam shook his head, turning another street, "As it is, he's been real good to him and I've gotten to know him pretty well, like at Steve's party, but I'm just not comfortable with the idea of living in the Tower. Having so many super heros in one place has it's pros and cons, ya know. They can either all be wiped out at once, or if somebody /does/ attack then they'd get a real ass whoopin'."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:17 pm

Angelina nodded, "We're offered asylum if we go to the tower." She rested her head against the window, continuing to watch the scenery go by.  "Tată thinks it's a good idea. I worry too. Not the same concerns you have, but...maybe similar." They finally got to a decent sized apartment building and they parked underneath a awning that was inside of the space. She got out and grabbed her camera case and followed Sam towards the building and inside.

"So, this brings me to the question that's been on all of our minds." Sam fished his key from his pocket while they walked up the stairs to the 2nd floor. He waited until they were inside and he was hanging up his jacket before he continued, "Does your father even know what he's waiting /for/?"

"To meet Steve as is." Angelina answered as she took off her shoes by the door and wandered the apartment, looking at the space. There were a lot of monochrome artist work on the walls, but there were some military photos that were on tables and by the computer. She didn't dare go over to those. "The Solider is not a voice like I have voices. He's a person. But he's not a personality. I don't know how to explain it."

"Then why doesn't he? I've heard he's not safe, or that he's not ready or something like that." Sam explained as he went to the kitchen and grabbed himself some orange juice before looking over his shoulder, "Have you tried this before?"

"Orange juice? No...I want to try." Angelina followed him into the kitchen and took a seat at the dining table that he had. It was small, able to fit about four people around. It was a nice, decent size. Undoubtedly Uncle Steve would come here for dinner or Sam would drag him here. She thought about the question that he asked and she frowned deeply. "That's because he isn't. I don't think I'm explaining things right."

"Well, I know he isn't, so that's alright. I'm a pretty patient person, so take your time. I might not be asking the right questions, either. It's not all your fault." Sam soothed and he brought her a shotglass with orange juice in it, "This is to taste it, and if you like it I'll get you a bigger glass."

Angelina took the shot glass and did what anyone would do and tipped her head back drinking it one go. She pursed her lips together in thought and smiled, "I like it. It's sweet and tart." She placed the shot glass back down. "A big glass please. Thank you. Uncle Steve tried asking the hard questions too, but tată told me he didn't need to know. I think it's okay if you ask the hard ones."

"Steve is just concerned. To him, it's only been a few years ago. The time warp is odd, but I understand to a degree. James as lived through the ages as a weapon, Steve's been asleep." Sam sighed as he rinsed and dried the shot glass, put it away, and got down another big one as he continued. "He lost his friend, went on the warpath and I'm sure he was prepared to die. Woke up in this era, new tech, new everything, people he knew from back then also dead or dying. Even Peggy is old and frail. Now he's got a chance to get that friend back and he's being told he can't. It's breaking the guy's heart."

"That goes against mission protect." Angelina said slowly, as Sam placed the glass in front of her. She looked at the camera case that was still hanging on her shoulders and she took it off. She rubbed her lips together. "I don't know if tată knows. It's something to discuss."

"James has his own crap to deal with, though." Sam hummed as he sat down across from her, "You can tell him, but I don't think it's going to change much. It sounds like to me, that your father is terrified."

"Very much so." Angelina agreed, looking relieved. "Uncle Steve asks me hard questions. Mostly about myself. Sometimes about tată. He's read his file, I think he's trying to figure out mine." She paused. "I think that's another reason why he doesn't let Uncle Steve close."

"Very much so." Angelina agreed, looking relieved. "Uncle Steve asks me hard questions. Mostly about myself. Sometimes about tată. He's read his file, I think he's trying to figure out mine." She paused. "I think that's another reason why he doesn't let Uncle Steve close."

"You're gunna have to elaborate, kiddo." Sam tilted his head at her a bit.

"I think he's ashamed." Angelina clarified. "Not...of me. But the circumstances that happened to..." She looked away. "Make me. Build me too I guess. Mostly make."

Rape. That was easy to clarify. If she was a Hydra tank-bred child there wouldn't be such emotional attachment and such, at the very least. "How old are you, sweetheart?" Sam asked curiously.

"Tată says that I'm eighteen." Angelina answered as she took a sip of the orange juice, smiling around the rim. "He...didn't know I existed till I was five. Then we started having intervals of not seeing each other for years. Eleven. Sixteen...recently now."

"That's...that explains a lot, really. He just found you, basically, and you're all grown up now, and am I right to assume you're starting to get with Dylan? Zan talks about you two all the time to Steve and I." Sam explained.

Angelina blushed and took another sip of the juice. "I like Dyl-dal." She said softly. "A lot of bad things have happened. He knows that. Not the whole story yet, but he's managed to get bits and pieces. He's starting to understand the big picture. He's not afraid of me and he makes me happy. So...yeah. You're right."

"That's good. I'm really happy for you." Sam nodded with a smile, taking a long, thoughtful drink. "How are things at home? Learning new things? Do you have a favorite color? Favorite animal like cats or dogs?" He could ask any hard questions later. He really did just want to know more about her for the moment.

Angelina perked at the easy questions. "I like our home a lot. We still get nightmares and sometimes the voices get loud, but so far it's a safe space. I'll be sad when the lease is up. We might re-new it but tată has other ideas. I learned a bunch of things. Including projects I need your help with." She pointed at her camera. "Dyl-dal told me that a camera is a better way to time log. Tată didn't like that I would make my time logs. I have to find things I want to record. Not what Hydra taught me. I think so far I like electric blue so far. I like neon a lot. Ummm...do ducks count as a favorite animal or do I have to find a mammal?"

"The lease is six months, isn't it? So...do you think your father's debating on taking Steve up on his offer when it comes around? That'll be about nine months since you guys have been free and out...more or less, since he got you after the fact." Sam nodded with a hum, and then he laughed a bit, "Ducks count, I was talking the usual kind of pets people get to have in their homes. There's been a forever-debate on cats vs dogs, and I was only curious. Have you not encountered any other animals?"

"I seen dogs at the park." Angelina blinked, "And I seen birds. But I got to pet a duck." She paused. "He hopes."

"Hoping is all we can ask for right now, isn't it?" Sam smiled, and then leaned back in his chair, "Have you taken any pictures yet?"

"I haven't found anything I wanted to log." Angelina looked at him shyly. "And it's a part of the projects I wanted to ask you about."

"You've said that. I get it. Do you have scrapbook of your own? Or a printer? Or does Zan and Dylan have one you could use? In order to log it in a scrapbook, you gotta be able to print it out. You'll need tape, too, so it doesn't go anywhere." Sam listed.

"Zan told me how to scrapbook it," Angelina frowned, "She gave me one of hers. She didn't use it and she thought it was better to give it to me. She's letting me borrow her photo printer thing too." She bit her lip and admitted, "I just...when Hydra told me to log things, they were...specific. How much time in the shower, how much time on the computer, how much time training. There was a..."how much" in the question. But with this..." she pointed at the camera. "There isn't anything specific to follow. And...it's scary? I'm not used to it. I don't want to take a wrong photo."

"Honey, it's super easy! You're overthinking it!" Sam beamed at her and he picked up his orange juice, "Take a picture of me and this. When you put it in your scrapbook, you can log it as 'chat with Sam and I tried orange juice'. Just like that, boom."

"That's it?" Angelina blinked, was it...really that simple? She opened the camera case and fumbled with the camera a bit, her hands shaking and her heart beating quickly as she turned it on. She carefully raised it to her eye. "Smile?" He smiled and she clicked the button. The flash went off, which surprised both of them, but the picture came out decently enough. "I took a picture." She said breathlessly.

"Lemme see?" Sam took it when she handed it over and he grinned wide, "See? Look at that. Not too shabby for the first picture ever." He gave it back, "You got a super nice camera, too. I'm sure it's got tons of settings. You should spend a day doing just practice pictures that don't mean anything and you can delete just to see what they do. Like, nighttime photos, indoor and outdoor settings sort of thing. Right now, being on auto works fine."

"There's another thing that I have a project for too." Angelina smiled a little. "This is where Uncle Steve said there's things you can't and can do..." She took a breath and let it out very slowly. "I want to know how to deal with crowds. But I have telepathy. That makes everyone's noise amplify by a thousand. It makes me really sick. So I can't go to malls...and other crowded places long."

There was a long pause and he blinked at her, but he just took a breath and let it out slowly, "Okay. That's not the craziest thing I've heard since joining the Team. Telepathy's a hard case...there's a ton of movies and stuff about people who have it, but of course they're fake. They explore different angles about it, though. What I think needs to happen, is start small. Endurance is something everybody has to work for. Mentally and physically. Someone just starting out jogging in the mornings isn't going to get very far or go very long, but after a month that changes. I'm sure we can at least try and follow that basic principle."

"What is small in a crowd?" Angelina asked, swallowing.

"Well, a crowd is a large number of people gathered together. Steve's birthday party with just six or seven people was kind of a crowd, to us anyway. I know Banner tapped out after having some food. He doesn't like a lot of people either." Sam soothed, "The cafe is a crowd, but it's calm in the morning and then gets louder through the day. You could start there, if you wanted to. Go on a date with Dylan to some museums or the aquarium, places where you go on tours with a set number of people. You'd be detracted by things you see more than the people, I think."

Angelina nodded, "So go where small crowds are...and get better to do big crowds." She smiled a little. "I can do that. Okay. Three hard questions. I owe you."

"That's fine...though, I do want to say you should think of your scrapbook less like a log, and more like a memory keeper." Sam folded his hands together, "I've seen James write in his journal in the corner there, but that's where he's writing out past memories. This is something where you're keeping track of the new memories you have and the feelings you had during that time."

"He reads me his stories and memories from the book," Angelina agreed, taking another drink from the glass with a small smile. "I like asking him about them. Sometimes  I can't, because it's a bad day, but sometimes when I have a bad day, he takes it out and tells me what he remembered. A lot of it is Uncle Steve. He doesn't remember his sisters well. He remembers Grandma Sarah just as well as Uncle Steve, and a little of Grandma Winifred, but...not my Aunties."

"If he doesn't remember them, I'm certain your Uncle Steve would." Sam assured, "I'm sure those are good memories for him to think about. I don't think a lot of people really ask him about his 'before' very often."

"He seemed very shocked I didn't know Captain America." Angelina agreed.

"Haha, well, this gives you new things to think about, doesn't it?" Sam finally finished his juice and went to go wash it out and put it back, "If you'd like to, we can just go for a random car ride and you can take pictures to your heart's content?"

"Going to cash in the three hard questions later?" Angelina smiled but nodded. "But the car ride would be /really/ fun!"

"Then finish up and let's go!" Sam laughed, "Yes I am, and that's ok."

"Okay!" Angelina cheered.

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Lynx-Tiger



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Join date : 2013-12-18
Age : 24
Location : Texas

PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:03 pm

The cafe was their go-to, but Sam was feeling really chill after hanging around Angelina, so he invited Steve over to his apartment for dinner, "Hey, man, thanks for showin' up. I know how you eat, so I ordered, like, three pizzas. I also got several selections of movies for you to pick from."

“Thanks.” Steve said, taking off his shoes since Sam liked keeping his carpet clean and he knew that he wanted him to be comfortable while going around in his house. He walked over to the kitchen with him and picked up a plate, passing it to him before taking the other one. “Are any of them on my list? Or are we just winging it now?”

"Some might be on your list and the others are just ones that I wanted to see but couldn't decide." Sam laughed and led Steve the rest of the way in, "Also, soda. Only two bottles, though, since we both prefer juice, but you don't just eat pizza with juice, man."

“I agree, orange juice and pizza doesn’t sound like the greatest combination,” Steve snorted. “Speaking of juice, Angelina texted me and told me that you showed her orange juice. She used a lot of exclamation points in it, so I’m guessing she was really excited.” He took a few pieces and went into the fridge to grab his soda. He was probably the only one that would drink Pepsi without irony. “It’s funny about what things get her going.”

"She's really clueless, Steve. Things are being taken for granted or assumed. She has seen cats and dogs, but hasn't really interacted with them. She told me her favorite animal was a duck so far. Ducks are cool and all...but she told me she only really had a meat lover's pizza so far, and root beer. She drinks mostly tea." Sam rubbed his forehead, "There's just so much she doesn't know."

Steve frowned deeply. Bucky probably had a clue. At the same time, how much of a clue did he have? Hydra clearly didn’t deserve the best parent award for keeping Angelina in the dark, but…surely Natasha had been in contact with other animals, other people, other things. She was grounded, a spy, so she needed to be. But Angelina wasn’t a spy, her arsenal didn’t have that. What did Hydra use her for then, if not a Widow, not a Solider? Was she…just something that they could collect? A trophy? He took a bite of his pizza. “I knew that there were a lot of things she was deprived of.” He said, finally breaking the silence. “I didn’t know it was that bad. Do you think Bucky knows? Do you think I should text him and tell him?”

"Oh, he knows. I think she knows to an extent, but not as much as she should. She's trying. They both are, and we talked about quite a few things. Namely her photography. Also crowds and how to deal with them. I mentioned the Tower, but I did and didn't suggest going there." Sam explained as he chose his own pizza and showed Steve his movie selection.

Steve hummed as he looked over the titles. He felt a little better knowing that Bucky knew. "Do you think she'll go? Natasha's probably her best bet at getting to know the world. I don't know how Tony would handle her. He might go for it. Bruce and Clint are probably the ones that won't care unless something major happened..."

"She might if she has enough encouragement." Sam agreed, "Nat would be a good person for advice, sure. Clint is sure to really like her. She's quite endearing. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with her, anyway." He grinned at him, "She really likes Dylan."

Steve blinked and at first he was about to open his mouth to say that "of course she likes Dylan, she likes practically everyone" till he noticed Sam's grin. "Like....going steady?" He felt his stomach sink and his heart thud. "I don't know him," he said slowly, "and she's eighteen. She can make her own decisions. But after what you told me...I don't want to say this, I know how it's gonna sound, but...is she mentally prepared for that? Or is it like...a high school crush? A fast "fall in love for a week"?"

"See, now that I don't know, but she sounded like she genuinely likes him and enjoys his company. From what we hear from Zan at the cafe all the time, they've been good for and to each other so far." Sam explained. "I have the same worries, but I also got faith in the girl."

Steve shook his head from side to side, taking another few bites of his pizza when a sudden thought came to him and he started laughing. He knew he surprised Sam, so he swallowed and explained. "I just had this thought about Rebecca and Allison. They were Bucky's sisters...I wish they were alive, you would have gotten a kick out of Rebecca. She was our firecracker. She was Bucky's favorite sister. They were the ones who'd paint the town red. Allison was...well...she was my favorite sister. More introverted and...quiet. But god you didn't mess with her at /all/. You said something, you looked at someone wrong, and she was tearing you apart with words a lone. I started thinking about what they'd think of Angelina and...well...Rebecca would've adored her. Angelina has a lot of Becca's personality, but she has Allison's quirky curiosity. At least, from what I see from the texts and when I call her."

"I dunno anything about that, but I'll take your word for it." Sam smiled at him, "I'm glad she's triggering happy thoughts for you. She did tell me that James can't remember her Aunts, but I told her se could always ask you for those memories."

Bucky couldn't remember Allison or Becca? Steve knew that he had memory problems. He knew that there were things that were missing, but it just was....shocking to hear that even his sisters. His precious, most beloved people probably ranked higher than /Steve/, were taken from him. "I guess that means he doesn't remember his mom...or his dad. Or my mom for that matter and she was...Bucky would say that she was practically his mother. He'd never put her my mom above his, but...we were both mama boys really. It wasn't anything to be ashamed of. I wish I knew that sooner." He felt a lump in his throat and he forced it down, swallowing it. Bucky didn't need his pity. "If Angelina wants those stories. I'll give them to her. I'll let her know in a text. I'll tell her to tell Bucky too. I can remember them for him."

"There you go. I suggested coming to the cafe some more for smaller, quieter crowds. Museums and the aquarium with Dylan for tours that are small but focused on the task at hand instead of busy minds. If you think of any other good places where it's quiet but crowded, be sure to suggest that, too. When she's ready, you and I can talk to her about visiting the Tower." Sam patted his leg, "Pick a movie already!"

Steve laughed and handed him one, "You get to put it in. Since it was your fault you distracted me."
~+~
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