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 Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine

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VampireCat92
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:10 am

Good things never lasted long.

Steve was on the couch drawing with his new tools and Angel and Bucky had forgone the TV for a card game when the door sounded with a knock. Bucky didn't recognize the rhythm or force and immediately bolted for the balcony.

Angelina tensed up, but she didn't run. He could see her eyeing the balcony and glancing at the door, clearly trying to try to read someone's thoughts behind a wood surface. Steve patted Angelina's head as he walked past her and to the door. "Hey Pep." He said after opening it. "You look...comfortable."

"I am so sorry to come by uninvited." Pepper stepped through and took off her brimmed hat. Her long ginger hair was tied up in a perfect but, and even neutral and casual her makeup was on point. Her clothes, while she forwent a suit for a pair of white slacks and a black and white striped t-shirt that slightly fell off the shoulder, were clean-pressed and void of most wrinkles. Professional and stunning even when not at work. "I'm sure I startled everybody. I just...have some warnings. I am sorry I don't bring good tidings, Steve." She did look upset.

"What's going on? Oh, this is Angelina. Angelina, Pepper. Bucky's out on the balcony." Steve introduced quickly as he stepped to the side. He turned to Angelina. "Will you-"

Angelina was already heading towards the balcony to talk to Bucky about coming back in. He sighed softly, "Its alright by the way, Pepper. Do you want anything to drink?"

"Water? Summer's still hanging on even though it's September." Pepper nodded, "It's Fury. He heard you moved and...he must've checked out the lease and saw James Barnes there because he is going to be flying out immediately. Angelina...I didn't get to meet you when you came to the Tower last; I was away. I'm sure it's not so pleasant to meet me right now. Bucky, I heard about you, too." She greeted as Angel and Buck came back in, albeit slowly and cautiously.

"What do you suggest?" Steve asked after a moment of trying to think. "Go back to the tower? Take them with?" He turned to Bucky and Angelina. "I told them they were safe here..."

"You have only been here two weeks. I don't want to take this place away from you. We could take out James from the lease, remove all his belongings. Make it look like it's just you and Angel. You /did/ just recently make her your Goddaughter." Pepper said firmly, "He's going to try and keep an eye on the place, but I'm sure, now you didn't hear this from me, but JARVIS could be put into the security and make sure to keep it from being hacked by Fury's new S.H.I.E.L.D. forces. Hacking to keep other hackers out, sure, but JARVIS is the best."

"He needs to see me here in order to catch me." Bucky's breathing was shallow, but he was doing his best to stay calm. Yet he couldn't help but to wonder why this person was helping keep him under wraps. "You might be able to make this building safe for me, but I would have to stay inside and avoid other surveillance once it's safe to move my things back in. I don't want to involve the twins, but they're the closest just down the hall and it'd be easier to move it all back and forth if it's /right there/. Fury is dead set on prosecuting me."

Steve's mouth pressed into a thin line, for he knew Bucky was right and Angelina's frown only got deeper. "Let's move Bucky out from here to the Tower ASAP." He said after a moment. "We'll make Buck an Avenger, though if he doesn't want to go on missions, that's fine with us. He's good as support and Intel if we need it. As long as he's in the tower he's safe. You won't be underneath surveillance, and you guys can live normal lives."

"What about you? Steve, you just /got/ here!" Bucky's hands tightened into fists, the metal of the one creaking, "Two weeks! You just got settled!"

"You can keep the apartment. You mentioned twins?" Pepper's brows furrowed. "You made this your home."

"We've made a home and then had to move again. It's happened before. Steve finally had his own place! Away from the Tower, so he can just be him." Bucky was furious. Why? Why did it have to happen like this? "How is me going to the Tower and being an Avenger going to fix anything?"

"It'll keep you off of Fury's radar and they won't persecute you, they'd think it's a punishment for you to try to right wrongs which /weren't your wrongs to begin with./" Steve stressed out. "You didn't want to get Dylan and Zan invol-"

"They were going to get involved no matter what happened." Angelina piped up, causing Steve to halt his words and looked at her. She shifted, "Dylan understood. He knows this was going to happen. We talked about different things. Different scenarios. It'll be fine. We'll be fine. Let him come to the apartment, and let him see it's just you and me. He can't get me. I'm really no one. Nothing. No one has a file on me. Just a name. I'm safe and tată is safe with Dylan and Zan. He's not safe with us right now. He's not safe at the Tower either. Even if we wanted to."

"Steve, it'll happen. I'll end up at the Tower eventually, as an Avenger like you want me to. Right now, it's not the time." Buck said slowly. grasping Angel's shoulder and silently thanking her. "Fury is going to try his hardest, but I know the back alleys. I know how to get around without being seen. He can use cameras, but I can use the shadows. I'll be confined, but I've been through that, too. At least this time, I have the two people I care about most."

Angelina bit her lip, Steve's thoughts were ringing hard in her head. She gently wiggled from her father's grip and walked over to Steve and grabbed his hands. "...I know. We don't deserve a lot. It's hard. It's sad. It's hurting you a lot. But we're okay. It's scary. But we got you. You got us. Let us do what we do best. We know how to hide. If Fury wants to play hide and seek, then wish him luck. Tată's the best hider and the best seeker. I never could get away and I could never find him."

Steve swallowed thickly. He gripped Angelina's hands tightly, wasn't this supposed to be his job? To comfort her? To comfort Bucky? It was weird to think that he was the one being comforted. "If you're sure." He said hoarsely. "Then we'll do it your way. I'll do what I can to protect you."

"Then, shall we hurry and go remove your name from the lease while we still can? Then I'll leave you lot to move things around. Maybe next time we meet, you and I could have some tea and have a good chat like normal people, as normal as we can be anyway." Pepper nodded and smiled to Bucky and Angel.

"Yes, as normal as we can be. We like tea." Buck agreed with a gentle smile, and the two of them left, Bucky grabbing his keys so he could get in and out. As he walked with Pepper, leaving Steve and Angel alone to get started, he looked at her strangely. They'd both dawned their hats and he his jacket and gloves to hide his arm. "Why did you come to warn us? What loyalties do you have?"

"I could have let Fury find you, that is true, but I care for Steve. We all do. We know you mean a lot to him, so I'm trying my hardest to smooth the way. I am the head of Tony's company, so I was the first to see about Fury's trip through my data. He's going to be here tomorrow, as it already is so late. I had to let JARVIS know to tell Tony, so he wouldn't freak." Pepper sighed softly, "This is all a mess, I know. I am glad you are able to handle it."

"I have to thank you, then, Pepper." Buck tilted his head to her in respect. "We'll do what we can from here."

~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:11 am

Dylan and Zan had to do their own scrambling to move things as well to make room for Bucky. Angel was the one with more Things, Bucky almost nearly as spartan as Steve due to necessity like this, but he did have a lot of clothes. Hoodies, hats, gloves, jackets and jeans galore. Mix it up as best you can, Dylan supposed. The less people recognize you the better. "This is one hell of a sleepover." Dylan quipped lightly as he sat on the couch watching Angel fidget, frowning at the bedroom she and her father would share. Bucky and Steve were moving Bucky's dresser right now. Precious came to rub against his leg and he picked the kitten up, stroking her back trying to get her to purr. "You're just like your momma, all worried and unhappy."

"I don't like this," Angelina admitted, reaching over to stroke Precious' forehead. Her eyes were surprisingly dry, but her heart felt like it was crying. "I'm sorry we're bothering you. I know you knew it was going to happen someday. I just didn't want it to be today. Or tomorrow. I don't...want you hurt."

"I'm more worried about you. My sis and I are kind of taking this in stride. Though, I suppose I can't be here when Fury shows up, either. He'd ask where I live and that'd be compromising. Just think, at least you can read his mind. Give Steve and Buck a heads up on his plans." Dylan pointed out. He reached and took her wrist, tugging her down to the seat next to him and he wrapped his arm around her, letting her have her cat, "It's going to be alright. We'll all get through this, go through our holidays, and then by the first of the year you guys will get to decide to keep your lease or move. Zan and I renew ours around February. If you'd like, and this is talking big and far into the future, you and I could get ourselves a place. The office needs to be notified of us leaving two months in advance and your lease date is the perfect chance."

"You....and me?" Angelina pointed at herself in shock, staring at him with her mouth slightly open. "You want me to live with you?"

"Zan's been getting this mechanic guy why comes in at 'not so sneaky and not as random as he thinks' intervals and she's pretty damn sure he likes her. She's going to try and get his attention, but if they hit it off then they might want to live together, too." Dylan explained. "So, that leaves me completely free and open. You expressed your dislike for the Tower as a place to live, but it seems inevitable Bucky is going to end up there, and he and Steve might not be able to live outside it for another year or so when Buck redeems himself."

He was right. Angelina pursed her lips together. That was something to think about. It was true, she didn't want to be in the Tower. She liked the people, she loved Bruce and Clint and all of them. She wouldn't mind visiting, but living there would be a problem. Sam was the smart one. He told her that having a bunch of superheroes in one place could be a blessing or a curse. She knew too well what would happen if she was exposed to the fighting again. "I don't want to be her again." She said after a moment. "And I'm not needed as Companion anymore. Tată has Uncle Steve, and Uncle Steve is a good Companion. They need to be each other's Companions. No place for me there."

"You have a place as their family, but I know you have a hard time comprehending that." Dylan frowned, but didn't say anything more as Steve and Buck came back, not even remotely out of breath. Hell, just one of them could've carried the dresser if it wasn't for the fact it was awkward to do so. "That all?" They had moved the bed and bed-frame first. At least Bucky had a place to sleep.

"Everything else Angel and Steve can pass off as theirs, like my towels and shaving crap." Buck grunted, "I'm glad I don't have a lot of belongings."

Steve noted that Angelina's face was concerned, and she was in Dylan's grip. He wished he could give her the right assurance, but he had a feeling that Bucky would be better at it. He knew what she needed and Steve was still fumbling in the dark about it. "No kidding, otherwise we'd be hauling a lot more and Dylan won't have an apartment and we would just have to lie and say that he's Angelina's live-in boyfriend and Zan would be over the moon about that."

"She keeps telling me to get down on one knee already." Dylan agreed.

"If you ask me closer to Valentines I won't be surprised. Anyway, would you like to stay for dinner? I need to keep moving, I'm too wound up, so I can cook." Buck went to the kitchen.

"That...wasn't a no..." Dylan muttered softly a blush rising, "No, dinner sounds good."

"What if it happens /before/ Valentine's day?" Angelina asked as she jumped off the couch to run into the kitchen. "What will you do then?"

'My answer will be the same, I'd just be surprised. Dylan seems content to wait.' Buck told her mentally with a smirk.

"Hmmm." Angelina hopped onto the counter, letting her legs swing freely. "Are you really going to live in the Tower one day?"

"I had planned on it from the start." Buck told her carefully, getting out his recipe book after seeing what he had on hand. "Steve gave me my choice back, so I was going to take my time until I was ready to go to him on my own. I didn't expect to make contact and then have him live with me, but things change."

"He'll be a good Companion." Angelina said seriously after a moment. "Maybe I was wrong about the Tower. About it being unsafe. It's safe for people like Uncle Steve. Like you. But it's not safe for people like me. Like Dylan. I think I made a mistake...and now it's hurting you."

"Angel?" Buck looked at her in confusion, "I don't get what you're saying. What's on your mind?" 'Are you suggesting taking Steve up on his offer? He's been wanting a place where he can unwind, I don't want to take that away from him. Which is why I was against it earlier.'.

"He can still." Angelina fidgeted and she pursed her lips together. "I just...I misunderstood. Going to the tower. I thought it was to determine safety parameters. But the Tower felt unsafe. I think I failed to understand that it was unsafe for me, but safe for you. You and I are still safe with each other, nothing will change that. But the apartment is no longer safe. It's sad."

"It is." Buck sighed, "I had hoped it would've been for a little while longer. I want you to stay here, close to Dylan. You two are very close, and Steve now made his home here, so if he wants to, he can bounce if I need to go to the Tower. I do /not/ want to leave you alone. You need me, and I need you, for the bad days. I expect us both to have one after this, and Steve will get to see them firsthand. It's too /soon/ for us to separate."

"I don't like goodbyes." Angelina agreed sadly, dragging her knees up to her chest. "I don't like bad days either. I don't like yours or mine. I don't want Uncle Steve to be sad too."

He came over to her and brought her into his arms tightly, "I don't want to say goodbye, either, fetiță. It's okay. We don't have to think about it anymore today. Just take deep breaths. We got time."

Angelina hugged him back, nuzzling herself close into his shoulder. She didn't like that this was happening, she was scared. But she knew that he was right. They had time. Bucky was going to hide here. They'd chase Fury away and everything else was in the big, far future. Just like Dylan said. "Okay. <I love you>."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:43 am

It was an unassuming little place. Fury was impressed to see Steve had landed himself an apartment like this away from the protection of the Tower. He found the number from his research on the second floor and gave it a knock, listening for scuffles as people scrambled, but it was strangely silent. Then the door opened. Ah, Steve was barefoot. "Captain." He greeted, peering around one corner only to be met immediately with a set of doors, so the closet. Steve's large frame made the small hallway appear smaller, "Quaint little home you made yourself."

"Thanks." Steve said, a small smile on his lips though his eyes were guarded and distrusting. "Would you like to come in? I wasn't really expecting visitors."

"Thank you." Fury nodded and slipped passed the man, cutting through the kitchen which had an opening next to the coat closet. He took a peek down that hallway before he looked into the living room and spotted a girl...with brown hair sitting on the couch, curled in a ball and sipping tea. "Well, hello. Just who might you be?"

His mind was...actually quite pleasant to listen into. It was guarded, but his thoughts were precise. He was curious to know who she was, he did notice her scars and mentally categorized her in three different spots, and he reminded himself that a gentle approach was probably the way to go with her. She was..impressed. "...Angelina." She said shyly.

"My goddaughter, niece." Steve smoothly cut in. "Angelina, this is Nicholas Fury. I work with him."

"Hello." Angelina shifted, she was supposed to hate the guy. But he was kind of making that hard considering that he was practically an /open book/. Maybe he wasn't a monster but then what...was he?

"Pleasure to meet you, Angelina." Fury clicked his tongue, "Niece. James Barnes your father, Angelina?" So he really is lurking around. Yet he only saw signs of Steve and Angelina around the place. Then again he hadn't seen the bedrooms or bathroom. He /knew/ he saw 'James Barnes' on the lease. A slip up he had sat staring at for a good few minutes disbelieving the Soldier would make such a mistake, not using an alias.

Steve stiffened, but he couldn't say anything. Why...did Bucky not use an alias? He decided to keep his mouth shut, and let Angelina talk.
"You're one of the few that's figured that out." Angelina decided that she should at least throw a bone and see where it went.

"James Buchanan Barnes, or Bucky, was Steve's closest friend. It wasn't uncommon then, and it isn't now, for people that close to call each other brother. Hence why Steve called you his niece, and the fact he's your legal Guardian. Who else has the access your birth certificate in order to do that?" Fury answered plainly.

"Just him now." Angelina said softly. "Hydra wouldn't carry a copy on them. If they did, it'd be a surprise."

"Well, I will say I'm shocked he /has/ a daughter. Not a lot surprises me these days, mind you." He'd also had time to process that after seeing her last name had matched James'. "Going from what I remember of the photos, you look like James...You mentioned Hydra first, so I have to ask. Were you part of their group?"

"Fury," Steve's voice cut in and Angelina's eyes flicked towards him. His thoughts had been curious, trying to figure out where she was going with being honest, but apparently asking that question was something too close for comfort. "Why are you here?"

"Do we really need to play coy, Captain?" Fury asked in kind.

"You're asking the wrong kind of questions if you're trying to tell me you're looking for Bucky." Steve folded his arms.

"I was interested in Angelina." Fury told him, an actual honest statement. "Why does this place only look like you two live in it, when I very clearly saw his name besides yours on the lease?"

"You sure you want to play that game, Fury?" Steve questioned, "You made it clear from the get-go what you intended if you found him."

"Because he ruined a lot of lives and very nearly succeeded in killing me. His past isn't easily ignored, Steve." Fury stood his ground, though didn't visibly appear to tense up, appearing as relaxed as ever. "You trust him beyond reasonable doubt. He /let/ you live after fighting you on the helicarrier. I don't know what happened during that whole ordeal, but somehow, someway, he ended up here. On the lease. With his daughter. In between then and now, a Hydra base in England was massacred. While I'm not shedding a tear about it, it was heinous. He needs to be made /accountable/ for his actions."

Steve let out a slow breath, "Accountable for being brainwashed and a prisoner? You know that Hydra had technology that wipes memories, right? If you couldn't hold things against Clint for being under Loki's influence when he shot you, you can't hold it against Bucky for being underneath the influence of Hydra."

Angelina shifted in her seat. She understood where Uncle Steve was going. Fury also had a point. Too many mysteries, not enough answers, and so far all he had to go on was Steve's "gut feeling" and no one went with those. What was the right thing to do?

"Uncle Steve, you should go outside." Angelina said after a moment.

"What? No!" Steve stared at her. "Angel, your father will-"

"Please go." Angelina shifted again. "You...you don't need to be here for this. I'm good. He's not going to hurt me. He won't hurt me."

Steve looked like he swallowed a lemon. "Alright." He conceded after a moment. "But if you need me-" She gave him a dark look and he knew too well that he slipped up in admitting that he'd just listen outside the door. "...Okay." He gave Fury a look before he walked out the apartment, shutting it firmly behind him.

She sighed and stood up slowly, letting Fury watch her every move. "Tea? You can watch me make it so you know I'm not gonna kill you. Poison's not my thing, but safe than sorry."

Fury's brows twitched briefly together before he took a seat in one of the chairs facing the couch, crossing his legs and lacing his fingers together, "Tea sounds lovely. I shouldn't trust you, but I have a feeling you know well enough what repercussions there would be if you tried anything."

"Well, either we both leave here alive or one of us is dead." Angelina said, a little amused as she walked into the kitchen. She made sure her movements were deliberate, much like how the Solider would watch her if she was cooking or making tea like she was now. After tea was made and she handed him a cup, she sat back down on the couch. "You're either wired so people hear every word, or you have a com. You probably have people surrounding the building too. Smart."

"Well, it was pretty short notice, so no one surrounding the place. I'm here alone." Fury shrugged, not answering the rest, but he did wonder. He let the tea cool in his lap and he did watch her closely, "So. Tell me more about you."

"Um..." Angelina frowned as she thought about where to start. The experiments? Mary? Considering they were talking about her father, she supposed that's where she was supposed to go. "I...could you ask specifically what you want to know? I have bunch of history. Not everything is Solider related and you don't have a lot of time to listen to me ramble, and I'm not leaving the apartment."

"I'm not asking you to. Alright. If you need a direction, then tell me what your relation to the Winter Soldier is. Not James." Fury started her off. He found her amusing, how she stumbled over herself. "What are you to the Soldier? How did you interact with him? Why is it that no one ever knew who you were, or that you existed? James was a Ghost. You were the wind."

Easy questions. Though she found it puzzling that he thought it was amusing that she was so off kilter. "I don't talk much." She admitted to him and then continued. "I'm called Companion. My job is to anchor and secure the Solider. Handlers couldn't do it very well, too many times he went rouge. I was also his weapon if he needed me to be so. Security blanket, I suppose is the best term. For both sides."

He had heard of the Companion, but only scarcely. So James tried to break free multiple times. Handlers...people to keep him in control. "When he tried to go rogue, what would you do? How well did you follow Hydra orders?"

That was where Angelina paused. "He never went rogue with me, too dangerous." She said after a moment. "I was used as punishment and reward if he was to try something like that again. But Hydra's orders? I followed the Solider more when I was the Companion. You're asking me about when I was..." She looked down at her tea. "I don't like talking about it."

Fury finally took a sip of his. Small, since it was still hot, but he enjoyed the flavors that bloomed across his tongue. Was this a foreign blend? "Unfortunately, Angelina, if you want to save your father you are going to have to. You /are/ the evidence. Granted, you are biased, but you could, if at all possible, offer a place to go and find out for ourselves. We have an entire file on James, and yes there was mentions of brainwashing and control, but do we have a cryochamber to look at? No. An electric helmet or a leather chair to inspect? No. You could give us those resources. We have absolutely nothing on you, so you are, for all intensive purposes, his saving grace."

"Cryochambers were transportation. Siberia has a bunch of them." Angelina offered timidly. "The Chair is different. Russia and America has it. Alexander Pierce's property. A hide out or a place he didn't use too much." She sat her cup down and she let out a breath. "You won't find anything about me. No files. No mission reports. Nothing. I don't exist in either Hydra's clutches. But..." She bit her lower lip hard. "You could search Bloody Mary."

"I might. Yet." Fury regarded her carefully. "As far as I am aware, I never heard that name, and you have no connection to it." Pierce. So he still had things to hide even after his death. Of course he did. He would have to a recap of every single place Pierce went during Winter Soldier's tirade through DC and tear it all apart. "Just between you and me, I do want Steve to have his friend back. Ultimately, to do that, he has to be able to walk the streets a free man. Unpleasant things are going to happen between now and then, but why else would I ask you for you help?"

Angelina smiled at him. "I knew I liked your mind. You were painted not in a good picture, but...you're different in person. I like that. Okay then. I'll be your ally."

"Sometimes I like that not everyone likes me. Means I can keep people on their toes. Let's talk casual for a while now, I rather enjoy this tea. I'm worrying your Uncle, but he hasn't been on a mission in a while. He can stand to be a little rattled. At least you know what's /really/ going on." Fury gave her a pleasant smile.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:15 pm

Angelina nodded and leaned forward, "The tea's from Russia. What's it like being a director?"
~+~
After Fury left, Steve started asking questions about what the conversation was. However, Angelina was so tight-lipped, he had to give up. He knew that he was stubborn, and Angelina got her father's stubbornness and he knew too well that asking and demanding answers was only going to get him a brick wall. At least he was assured...somewhat...that Fury wouldn't be bothering them again. He was concerned however that Fury might have his sights on Angelina instead and he wasn't certain how he felt about that.

Bucky wasn't feeling too hot about it either. Usually Angelina would open like a flower, but if Bucky tried to ask? Angelina practically ran away to avoid it, deflecting every moment. It was worrying...but even Dylan said to have a bit of faith. It was kind of hard though, when Steve felt like something bad was right around the corner.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:55 am

Bucky knew Angel wasn't going to say a word about it, so by the fourth try he gave up. She could keep her secrets well, and she /knew/ how paranoid the two of them were. If she thought Fury wasn't so bad, then he would have to let it go. After all, Fury also had Natasha's trust, which was extremely hard to come by. They moved everything back to it's proper place, and after dinner Bucky went with Steve onto the balcony, looking at the sky, too hidden by New York's smog to really see the stars, but the cloak of darkness always calmed Bucky down. "It's been a wild ride, and it's only going to get wilder. It's going to take a while for either of us to relax again, I know it. I want to jump, move or hotel hop, but it's hard on me, it really is. I don't know what to do." He admitted to Steve, gripping his tea cup but being careful not to break it.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:23 am

"I wish I knew what Fury said to Angelina to gain her trust," Steve said softly, "or if not trust then her promise to keep her mouth shut. I didn't want to hurt her feelings by staying near the door. I know that she spoke about things that probably hurt her. But she is moving lighter..." He bowed his head. "I wish you could. Hotel jump, apartment jump. I wish I could spring you out, but Angelina will only feel betrayed." He let out a loud sigh and he leaned against the railing. "I think we're going to have put our faith that Angelina knows what she's doing, and that we're going to be okay. I feel like I let you down, Buck. I'm so sorry."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:31 am

"No, Steve. Its not..." Buck huffed. Technically it was Steve's fault. It was because Steve moved in that he was found. "I am not upset with you. I wanted you here. I want you to stay. We'll get through this together, won't we? At this point, I need you here. I don't know what would happen if I couldn't see you, know you're safe every day. You feel the same. Just...when I have a bad day, just hang on and push through it with me."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:57 pm

Steve's eyes widened, "Of course I will." His tone was earnest. He wrapped his arm around Bucky's shoulders and hugged him a little sideways. "I just feel like..." He trailed off after a moment. "I know it's dangerous. To go down the what-ifs path. But I think I'll be holding on to you and Angel a lot closer. I can't lose you both again. Not when I just found you...and you just found me."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:44 pm

"Oh no, the great Punk of Brooklyn's got a hold on me. Whatever shall I do?" Bucky sassed and bumped his hip with Steve's, then took a sip of his tea, relaxing into Steve's hold and leaning against him, "Don't ever let go." He murmured, letting the silence drift between them after Steve simply replied with 'never again'.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:52 pm

The cage didn’t look like a cage. She remembered waking up from…from something. She woke up and she was here. Here being a room that had pillows and a bed. It was oddly comfortable for a prop.

Someone was snoring beside her, but she deemed it a machine and walked out of the bedroom.

There were too many homey props that were surrounding the floor. The carpet was too plush and there was couches and a t.v and a table. There was a kitchen not too far away. Her opponent wasn’t anywhere to be found, and she knew the kitchen would have desirable weapons. If she could keep herself contained into that area, she would be fine. There was a lot of weapons and the opponent wouldn’t get a chance to grab them. She walked, feeling a bit naked with a nightgown that was on her over to the kitchen as briskly as she dared. She didn’t know where her opponent might be.

Put on a show, make it bloody. Make it beautiful. Those are what the Trainers would always want from her and so, that was what she needed. She started rummaging through the silverware drawer to no avail till she found a wooden block. In it were sharp, sharp chef’s knives. She tested one on her finger. It would cut prettily.

Make it rain.

Make it beautiful.

Make sure you /scream/ at the end.

Everyone adores that scream.

It sounds like agony and tears, it sounds like a song of a dying angel.

Isn’t that what you are?

Angel? She pushed her hair out of her face and turned around sharply when she heard a noise behind her. There was a man, tall and muscular. Blonde. He was looking lost, with a shirt barely covering him…

What kind of fucking costuming was this? She growled in her throat and the man stilled. She took the knife and held it close to her, ready. He just had to make his move.

….are you doing…..?

An- do- wh-


I don’t understand you. She bent at her knees, and the man paled. Did he know her? Did he know?

Everyone knows you.

Everyone’s afraid of you.

Who wants to die by your hands? You show them no mercy.

Mercy’s not in you vocabulary.

Niether is stalling.

Bu-! He was about to say something, he was about to yell something and she couldn’t have that. Something told her that him saying something would bring her death. She rushed towards him, jumping on the back of the couch and used the height advantage to jump on him.

He raised his hands and blocked her, but it didn’t deter her.

~

Steve didn’t know what the fuck was going on. He woke up hearing the clanging of metal and someone rummaging through the kitchen. He thought it was Bucky, but it was too agitated. He got up and walked out of the room just as he saw her draw the knife from the block of wood.

“Angel, sweetie, what are you doing?” He asked, keeping his voice light and not threatening. He held his hands up, hoping that it’ll show that he wasn’t a threat, but he kept himself guarded. He didn’t know what he was dealing with.

She turned to him, and he felt something dark and cold go down his spine. Her eyes that were usually bright and curious were dark and murderous. Her lips pulled back, her teeth bared and she growled at him, much like a dog would when being threatened.

Oh.

Oh no.

“Bu-!” He was about to call out to him, but Angelina freaked. She ran at him, jumping on the back of the couch for leverage and jumped high. He threw his hands up in an X and managed to dodge that blow, but her landing didn’t slow her down. She found an opening from his side and jabbed her foot, making him stumble back.

“Angel please!” He begged. “I don’t want to fight you!” He dodged and blocked as many blows as he could as she came at him, not letting him. He wasn’t going to get a chance to breathe. He wasn’t going to get a chance to figure out what was going on. He knocked into a table and she raised her knife to stab him. He flung himself onto the floor, grabbed the coffee table and kicked it her direction, causing her to stumble over it.

She let out an injured yelp, but she scrambled herself onto her feet just as he did. “Angel snap out of it!” He caught one of her wrists as she had went for a punch and twirled her so that he had her arm pinned behind her back. She did a backwards donkey kick and he stumbled once more, letting her go and he groaned.

"Shitshitshit." Bucky was cursing rapidly as he came into the living room and saw what was going on. "I /knew/ she talked about her! God /damn/ it, Fury!" He edged around towards the hall that led to the door. There were two ways to get to it, but either way he should be able to catch her no matter what. He could deal with pain, he could deal with blood. He didn't want Steve hurt. "Mary, this isn't a fight." He tried, but in all honesty he had no clue how to deal with this side of his Anzhelina. He could control the Companion. This was different.

She froze and her eyes flicked towards the man with the metal arm. Solider. The brought him into the Cage? What for? To assess and dismiss? Or was he finally decommissioned? Decommissioned machines were meant to be reconstructed, but Hydra liked to erase theirs. She rolled her shoulders and steadied herself. Who to go for, him or the weak? This was a test.

The weak might show the crowds that she wasn't ready to tackle the Soldier.

However, attacking the Soldier might prove to be her fatal mistake. It might show that she's too cocky. Too arrogant.

/Tell me what the Crowds want/

/They want a show./

/So, whose death would be more spectacular? Whose blood should drip from the ceilings?/

That wasn't even a question. She twirled her knife and headed towards Bucky.

Steve decided to take the distraction while he can. He went after her from behind and caused her to yelp again when he tried to hit her neck. However, he misjudged how fast she might dodge and hit her head instead. She spun around, and she slashed him in the stomach with her knife. The fabric ripped and a gash appeared. He doubled over, his hand at his stomach and he pulled his hand away. Blood. And probably a lot of it. He barely had time to grab her wrist as she twirled her knife and was aiming at his head. "Please don't make me hurt you, Angel. I'm begging you."

"Steve, she's an animal when she's Mary. Treat her like one!" Bucky snapped at Steve. He knew he probably wouldn't, couldn't, but it was the only thing he could say. The sight of Steve's blood made him real and he let out a sharp snarl, jumping at her and hooking his metal arm around her waist and he jerked her away from Steve with effortless ease. She weighed nothing. She also knew how to use that weightlessness to squirm. He had his grip too loose, being too cautious with his own daughter, and she went for his balls in a backwards kick but he shifted his hips so she hit his thigh and pelvis instead, "Stand /down/!" He bellowed, tossing her towards the couch with so much force the furniture rocked before settling back in place.

The door opened then, and around the corner Dylan ran, the spare apartment key in his hand. He was in his PJs, no shoes, hair mussed and eyes huge, panting even though the distance between his apartment and theirs was very little. "Angie!" His breath hissed as he sucked air through his teeth.

It was like a switch suddenly flipped. Steve watched as Angelina's eyes widened and she turned to the door. Her lips were parted, like she was about to speak. She turned her attention to Bucky and Steve only for a brief moment before she climbed off of the couch. "Dylan!" Steve shouted and watched in horror as Angelina grabbed Dylan and tackled him out of the room. She helped him up, grabbed his wrist, and threw her knife blindly towards one of them. She didn't know, nor care who or which. All she knew was that she had to get this man /out/. He didn't belong /here/.

"A-Angie! Stop, wait!" Dylan was fruitless at first, still too dazed to really struggle against her. He didn't have Steve's or Buck's ability to snap to attention at a moment's notice, even when sleeping. It wasn't until she managed to get him out into the cold open air and he felt the sharp rock of the asphalt on his feet that he finally shook his head of his sleepy fog and /yanked/ back. He heard sirens in the distance. A neighbor must've called the cops. "Angelina, stop right now!"

She stopped and whirled on him. "We have to go." Her voice was sharp, brisk. The sirens were loud and they needed...they needed to go somewhere. He needed to be /out/. "Don't belong in there."

"Maybe not, but it's not what you think it is!" Dylan used a trick to flip their hand positions so he was holding onto her wrist, and he pulled her to him. "If you run now, you'll be in danger. I know somewhere the police won't find you. You don't have the knife, but you're covered in blood anyway." Steve would tell the police to leave it be, there won't be a search or an investigation. He won't be housing a criminal. "I just need you to trust me. You may know how to hide, but I'd stick out like a sore thumb. Trust me to keep us safe instead."

Angelina licked her lips. She knew how to hide, he knew a different way of hiding. Trust was a big word though. But she had a feeling...a feeling. /Do you even-/. Sirens. Bad. She nodded her head, just once and she felt her skin crawl as they went /back/ into the building that housed the cage.

The moment Dylan and Angelina got to the apartment, Zan came out. Angelina flinched, the girl was...she was bright. Real bright. "What in the world i-"

"Zanna!" Dylan snapped the door shut but he turned their bodies so he was shielding Angel, "Zanna, take the medical supplies and go to Steve's apartment. Your soldiers need you. Make them coffee, they won't sleep the rest of the night." He needed his sister out of sight. He needed to be alone with Angel.

Zan stared at the seriousness and she nodded, her face paling. Angelina and Dylan stood there while she went into the bathroom and pulled out a white box. Angelina was very familiar with the white box, it was medical. Just like Dylan said. Zan said nothing, she had a feeling that Dylan didn't want her to say anything to Angel either. She gave him a concerned look, which Dylan responded to with a look of his own. She grabbed her cell phone, shook it at him, and then left without a word said.

"Okay. Okay, let's get to my room." Dylan relaxed and took a deep breath, leading Angel all the way to the bed, "Wait just one sec." He went to his closet and pulled out one of his shirts. It'd hang on her just like a nightgown, so he didn't worry too much about grabbing a pair of basketball shorts or anything. He handed it to her, and averted his eyes as she got the hint and immediately tossed off the bloody and torn scrap of cloth. He took deep breaths. Now was not the time, and he would deserve to be gutted. He /knew/ she was /so/ not up for that, even when she was her usual self. To busy himself, he went to the bed and pulled his blankets further even as they were shoved down pretty haphazardly, "C'mon, this one's the heaviest." He coaxed, taking the one on top.

She remembered...she liked the heavy blankets. As long as they were soft, or had some plush. She walked over and hesitantly got on the bed. He held it out to her, invitingly. It could be a trap, but why would it be? He didn't belong in the Cage. She took the blanket and he so carefully helped wrapped it around her. She buried her nose into the cloth and breathed in.

It felt like she just came home. Home. That's what he was. He was home. She was okay. She wasn't in the Cage. The Cage and Home were not the same things.

"Yeah, that's it, Angie. Here's a tissue, just in case. Hard night." Dylan pulled a tissue from his pajama pants and tucked it into her hand. He sat beside her, but only rubbed her back.

They sat there, for who knows how long when she finally spoke. "You're home."

"Mm...am I? It's nice to be thought of that way." Dylan gave her a soft smile, worry still in his eyes, but he had calmed as she had, "Are you okay if I hold you, love?"

Dylan hadn't realized he'd said it, too focused on her, but his cheeks glowed in the dim light through his window and he nodded, "Yeah...yeah, you are. I love you, no matter what. Not even this changed my mind. You'll be horrified in the morning, but I'll just remind you as many times as you need me to." He brushed his knuckles across her cheek.

Angelina's eyes fluttered, the touch was soothing and safe. It lingered on her skin and she whimpered when his hand left her. "Slow." She said after a moment. "Steady. But you can hold me."

Dylan got on the bed and sat by the pillows. He coaxed her closer, and then rubbed his hands up and down her arms, easing her into his touch. Moving up to her shoulders, he gave her a small massage through the blanket and leaned closer, brushing her hair with his nose and he kissed her temple, "It's all going to be okay. I love you."

She leaned into his hold, letting him carry some of her weight. She closed her eyes, her mind whirring becoming tired. It would have been high time for a nose bleed, but apparently she was even too tired to bleed. "Love you." She said softly as she let his comfort and scent be her lullaby. "Love you."

~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:08 am

Bucky climbed back through the balcony after the police buzzed off, his heart still hammering in his chest. That was a close call. Even if Steve told them to keep quiet, would they really? He hurried to the bathroom where Steve was being patched up by Zan. He didn't even know how bad or deep the gash had been, if it hit anything vital. Speedy healing was great and all, but Steve could still be hurting by morning.

The door was still open and he peeked in, "I'm sorry about this, Zan." She looked annoying. Steve must've said the same.

"It's fine." Zan said, her voice a little clipped. Steve winced, but he gave Bucky a tired smile. "Steve was apologizing endlessly too." She sighed after a moment. "What just happened? Dylan told me to get out of the apartment, is he going to be okay?"

"I'm going against my better judgement and giving Dylan the benefit of the doubt." Bucky said slowly, "Angel...wasn't Angel, or the Companion. I can't...explain it to you without giving any bloody details. Though I do suppose you're covered in Steve's, so..." he swallowed, feeling queezy. Mission Protect had failed tonight. Damn it. "Her birth name is Mary. Hydra...has a sick sense of humor. They taught her everything she knows, besides a few things that I managed to slip in. I'm shocked Companion even exists, and it wasn't always Mary, but...they would throw her in a battle cage. Similar to what you'd see in wrestling. She either killed or was killed. She's still here."

Zan and Steve both froze. Zan's eyes watered. "You mean to tell me that Hydra used her as a killing toy?! Oh my god. How did you....have you ever....is this the first time she came out? What set her off?"

"Fury." Steve said softly. "I guess he asked her about her time in Hydra and she told him. I wondered why I was kicked out."

"If my file's a mess, then Bloody Mary's file would make you puke, Steve." Buck looked depressed, "I never fought her. I've caught the tail ends of her fights, and a few hours later she would be ready to go as Companion. It's...the difference from Companion to Bloody Mary /switched/ to Companion is terrifying. I much preferred when she was just her, without the animal craze."

Zan bowed her head, wiping away her tears. "That's not fair to either one of you. Just..." She didn't even know what to say, or do. She was glad that Bucky never fought her. But now they couldn't say that anymore.

"They wanted to destroy anything that would probably make us happy," Steve said softly. "They knew the damage they were inflicting, Zan. It isn't fair. It's not fair at all. Which is why we're going to burn them to the ground. I won't retire till they're all gone."

Steve would die fighting, he was sure of it. "Zan, doll, why don't you make us some coffee? Get a smell in the air to cover up the blood. I'll help Steve clean up." Buck came over and hugged Zan once she stood up. When she left to go to the kitchen, Bucky took her place and wrapped his arms around Steve's waist, head on his chest. "I should've told you before. You might've been more prepared to handle her."

Steve was quiet for a long moment as he returned the hug, putting one hand over Bucky's neck protectively, and the other clutched at his sleep shirt. "She wanted it to be kept secret." He said after a moment. "I don't doubt that she probably thinks I hate her now."

"We can figure it out in the morning. There's nothing we can do about it now. Dylan will help bring her around, too." Buck sighed, feeling himself relax at Steve's touch, even if the smell of blood kept him on edge just enough. "You should change while Zan makes coffee. Take a shower in the morning. We have a lot of blood to clean up, maybe Angel can stay at the twins' place for a few days. The carpet's going to be a bitch."

Steve hesitated in letting him go, but he finally did. "I'll go get changed and...we'll deal with whatever comes tomorrow. I think that her and Dylan could use those few days. I'll see if Zan wants to stay here with us, or if she has a friend to stay with."

Bucky released a shaky breath and finally pulled away so he could let Steve get up, "I'll do that for you." Otherwise he'd just follow Steve around. He could latch onto him later. He left the bathroom first, careful not to slip on the bloodied tile, and went to the kitchen. He saw Zan crying over the sink, the coffee pot brewing to the side, Frowning, he got to her and wrapped her up like his daughter, "Shh..." He murmured, rocking her minutely, "You wanna know a little something?"

"What?" Zan asked, hugging him back without fear. She felt safe, and the hug was so comforting it reminded her of her own father before he passed away.

"I think the Barnes family is destined to have ridiculous and foolhardy blonds for angels." Bucky snorted lightly, "Us dark and brooding brunettes need a bit of yang to our yin."

Zan let out a laugh. "Dylan is pretty ridiculous." She admitted. "And stubborn. I know him and Steve get along like houses on fire."

"See? You can be pretty stubborn, too. Chin held high, I think you'd get along with my friend Nat. You two don't deal with bullshit." Buck smiled and pulled away enough to look down at her, "I'm grateful to you both."

"We should meet them one day." Zan sniffed and wiped her tears away. "My brother really does love Angel. I know you know, but...he's not gonna change his mind because she went feral. I hope you know that."

"Yeah...I had a feeling. Ah, speak of the devil..." Just then Zan's phone buzzed with Dylan's ringtone, and she pulled it out to look at the text. "What's it say?"

"Angel's asleep. He said that everything's alright at the home front and not to worry." Zan said softly as she looked at her phone with a small smile. "He sent a picture to prove it." She turned her phone so that Bucky could see Angel fast asleep on her brother's shoulder.

"That's...so adorable." Bucky gushed softly, "Steve'll want to see that, too. That's right, we were both wondering if you'd like to crash here for tonight? You could text Dylan and say Angel can stay there for a few days. Oh...I should grab Precious. Poor baby's no doubt scared out of her furry little mind. Let Dylan know you're coming by again."

'Can I bring Precious to you guys? I'm gonna peace out for a few days with the Soldiers. Can you handle everything at home?' Zan texted.

'Yeah, just be as quiet as possible. If you don't need anything from your room, I'd say stick to the living room. We really should just get a catbox of our own for when we do cat-sitting so we don't have to keep moving it.' Dylan replied after a moment. He did have one arm pinned after all.

'Because I'm going to be walking around nude in the tomorrow. That'll be fun. I'm getting at least a change of clothes. She won't even hear me. Promise.' "We're also stealing the cat box."

After a while and everyone had quieted down, Zan in his bed since he was going to bunk with Steve, he pulled his phone out and brought up Natasha's number. 'Hey, Nat. Think you could come over tomorrow with supplies to clean blood from a carpet?'

"Texting Nat?" Steve asked as he moved the covers a bit so that he could lie down. He wasn't sure if he was going to sleep. He didn't think he was going to.

Bucky even had his cup of coffee on the nightstand and a book at the ready. He sure as hell wasn't sleeping, "Yeah. Though I just realized she's asleep. I hope my blood doesn't join yours next."

"She might be a little concerned, she might want to check on Angel, but we'll gently tell her that it might not be a good idea." Steve said, leaning against the pillow and sighed softly. "Today was hell Buck. But...I'm glad Angel has Dylan. I was scared when I saw her tackle him. I thought...I thought she might've gone too far in her mind. But she protected him. Sadly from us, but still."

He sighed softly, "But are you doing okay, Buck? You said you never had to fight her."

"We're built like brick shithouses. Not surprised she saw us as threats." Buck sighed as he set his phone aside, and grabbed his book, going to curl into Steve "That wasn't even a fight. All I did was toss her around. What...really tipped me was you getting hurt. I got...so torn. You are...you are my Mission Protect. She's my daughter and my Companion. I had no idea what to do, because she wasn't herself, and she hurt you, and I have to protect you."

"I protect you too Buck. I also protect Angel and if that means me getting hurt a little, that's alright." Steve assured gently. "You know what sounds good? When we get everyone back in the same room, we should have a big breakfast. Pancakes, eggs..."

"Bacon, ham and cheese...shed up some potatoes for hashbrowns...The three of us supers will devour most of it, I'm sure." Buck hummed, feeling hungry just thinking about it, but food could wait for morning. "I'm still not very good with pancakes, though. You were always better at that. Getting them all fluffy and golden brown. I can't flip them, either!"

"It's a skill." Steve teased as he started stroking Bucky's hair. "Will you read me whatever page your on?"

Buck's breath hitched. It was interesting, how innocent little memories would pop up out of nowhere. He remembered reading to Steve when he was sick and croaking, easily falling asleep to Bucky's deep voice. "Yeah....yeah, I can do that for ya, Stevie." He popped the book open and held it between his thumb and pinky of his metal hand as he latched onto Steve like he had wanted to earlier, one leg tapping Steve's and his head on Steve's shoulder, his metal arm across that broad torso.

He was due for a bad night, but he hoped against hope it wouldn't come tonight, as the two of them passed out before long, coffee and phone forgotten.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Jun 20, 2017 5:59 pm

Natasha wasn't sure what she had been expecting when the apartment door opened. Bucky looking like hell was checked marked off and so was Steve and his gloomy personality. What she wasn't expecting however, was the blonde haired girl with red in her eyes. They both stiffened and Natasha insantly thought of someone who was trained by a soldier.

"Who are you?" The blonde demanded.

"Zan let her through, that's Nat. Nat that's Zan."

"I see we have something in common. Three letter names. It's nice to meet you Zan." Nat replied.

"Same." Zan agreed, letting her through.

She glanced at the carpet and she looked at Bucky. "I'm not going to get a good answer out of this am I?"

"Depends on your perspective of "good"." Steve said, leaning back against the couch. "I mean, none of us are dead so that's a start."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:35 pm

"I tossed out the bathroom rug, there was no saving that." Buck rubbed his neck with his good hand, "Bloody Mary happened, and not the alcoholic beverage. Steve still has a pink mark on his stomach where his gash is healing. If you use a blacklight in the bathroom it'd be a war zone."

Natasha pursed her lips and she looked at the carpet. "Well, you can at least save this." She said after a moment. It took a while, and a lot of scrubbing and a lot of rinsing out washcloths, but soon enough the mark was barely visible. "Bloody Mary, huh? That's a name I never thought I'd hear." She looked over at Zan. "Is she the waitress you've been singing praises about Steve?" She knew too well that this conversation needed to drop and drop now.

"Singing me praises? I haven't done anything worth that." Zan's cheeks turned pink. "I just protect people's privacy. They deserve that much."

Steve's eyes glinted as Natasha groaned, looking up at the ceiling. "I can already tell. I'm talking to another Steve. Well, we could use a lot more of them really." She gave Zan a soft expression. "Tony's been wanting to get his hands on you since Steve started talking about how you would go up against cameras. If you're someone an Avenger admires, you're undoubtedly going to get sucked into our problems. Sorry for the late disclaimer."

"It's...fine. I'm used to seeing Vets go off and have their moments. I'm not used to this type of violence...but...Dylan has a hold of Angel right now and well...as long as my apartment's still standing, I think we hit a ballpark. Got to have /some/ optimism here." Zan offered, shrugging her shoulders.

"You sure that's wise?" Natasha turned to Bucky. "Mary's not someone you should hand off to. Anzhelina is different."

Buck took a deep breath and let it out slowly, "Natalia, Dylan is Angel's Steve." It was the easiest an most point-blank answer he could give her, but he continued, "He heard the commotion, burst in here without a second thought looking still half-asleep, and screamed 'Angie'. She never raised her knife to him. She tried to protect him."

Natasha raised an eyebrow up. "I feel like that shouldn't surprise me. But yet, it does."

"Believe me, I was horrified, too." Steve let out a sigh. "We told them to take the apartment for a few days...we didn't want her to go off again and we didn't want her to come up to a bloody apartment."

"You sure /that/ was wise?" Nat's smirk was on her face.

"Zan would be ecstatic if they did, but yet, I think it was. Dylan's very respectable. The twins are literal carbon copies of Steve, I swear." Buck rolled his eyes.

"Well, clones have been around since the nineteen-nineties." Natasha teased. "Wouldn't be surprised about that."

"Wow." Steve deadpanned. "It's like all of my horrors just came to life."

"I think I'd make an awesome clone." Zan shrugged, "Who wouldn't want to say they're related to you, Steve?"

"Don't encourage her, Zan." Steve turned to the blonde. "You don't know what you're up against."

"I like her." Natasha looked over at Bucky. "So what about your true clone then? Any possible way I'll meet him?" She asked, turning back to Zan.

"Uh...probably when Angelina's feeling better." Zan hesitated. "Or when he decides to persuade her to go to the Tower. Or if Steve decides to take them to the Tower. Which ever comes first?"

"Do I see a trip to the Tower incoming?" Buck asked with a raised brow, "Zan could get /her/ hands on Stark's coffee shop. Take everybody by storm and blindside him. You really should try some made by her, Nat."

"I'd offer, but all these two drink are flavored teas." Zan said before Natasha could open her mouth. "And Angelina is the expert in tea. I can brew it, but I don't have her flair."

"I almost want to see Stark's ego get kicked." Natasha admitted, clicking her tongue. "As for the coffee, you're fine. We'll just steal you along with stealing your brother and his bride to the Tower sometime."

"We'll make plans for it. I know Angel did like going last time, she doesn't mind the thought of visits. She also recently came to the conclusion that it's not safe for her, but it would be safe for Steve and I to live. She misunderstood and made a mistake." Buck agreed, "I'm going to have to soon, but not yet. Not when Steve just got here. I know we could get to try again in the future, but I want to enjoy it for as long as I can right now."

"You know, you saying that reminds me awfully of what Sam says when he talks about her." Natasha said fondly, but her eyes were sad. "I'm sorry, James. I know that you wanted this to last a long time. You don't have to pick up a weapon. You don't have to return to the fight."

"You know we can't do that Nat." Steve stared at her. "At least, I can't."

Buck felt himself deflate. He was being selfish, wanting to stay here. Wanting to be with Steve. Two weeks wasn't nearly enough time, and it'd all come crashing down. "You saying I should go to the Tower? Sooner rather than later?"

"No!" Steve turned to him suddenly. "You should be here as long as you want. I'm saying...I'm..." he floundered. "I...I slipped. It was me being selfish. I...I want you to be safe. I want you and Angelina to be safe. Even if you go into the Tower, Nat's right. You don't /ever/ have to pick up a weapon again. Let me do it."

Zan and Nat both exchanged a look and just waited this out.

"I'm going to follow you into whatever fight you throw yourself into unless I am physically incapable of doing so." Buck told him calmly. He had been starting to come to this conclusion and accepting it ever since Fury stopped by. "There needs to be a compromise on time. The lease is up in December, but it's becoming clearer that this is no longer a safe space. There's fees to be had, but as much as I hate to say it, Stark is going to have to pay it off." He looked at Nat, "We can treat it like Steve's been on vacation. The blood may be visibly gone, but Angel and I are probably going to have back-to-back bad episodes regardless. Mine's due. We always trigger each other. Until October? Two more weeks? Get things in order and sorted, let the complex know they're moving out?"

"You know, Dylan's planning on asking Angel to live with him one day. I'll...tell him to start thinking about that invite." Zan said gently. "We don't mind taking her under our lease. God knows she'll stay with Dylan and I'm keeping my room. She'll probably feel safer, staying in a place she's familiar with. You said it before, Bucky...Angelina isn't going to feel safe in the Tower."

"No, and I doubt Fl...Sam will take her under his wing like that." Buck agreed with a thoughtful hum, "Should it be public, Steve? The Winter Soldier surrenders and stays in Stark Tower for sanctuary until he can clear his name?"

"We'll talk to Pepper about the PR. That's her area of expertise." Steve shook his head from side to side. "I don't know what will be a good idea or not for the press. I think that it might be."

"We have a lot to do and think about these next two weeks, then." Buck gave Zan a smile, "Thank you for putting up with us. None of us meant for it to turn out this way, but you and Dylan have helped a lot."

"Don't worry about it." Zan shook her head from side to side. "I'm sorry your safety was threatened."

"I should leave. I'll see you around, Steven." Natasha waved as she walked out of the apartment before it got a little too touchy-feely for her.

"Well, at least I know she'll be warning people of my arrival as soon as she gets back." Buck came over to Steve and Zan, hugging them both, "You should get to your brother and let him know what's up."

"I will." Zan hugged him back. "Thanks for letting me sleep over, Bucky." She pulled away. "You two better stick like glue for the next two weeks though. I am /not/ having you two leave without a goodbye."

"I know better!" Steve held his hands up.

"Of course, Zan. I look forward to our next coffee shop visit." Buck assured her and saw her out, before sighing and leaning against the door, running his hand over his face. What a mess.

~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:58 pm

"So, how do you /really/ feel about all of this?" Dylan asked Angel as he pet Precious who was curled in his lap between his crossed legs. Zan had to go to work for an evening shift since she'd switched with a co-worker, leaving the two of them alone again.

Angelina wasn't sure how to reply to it. She had her legs curled up to her chest, a blanket covering her legs since she was a bit on the cold side. She watched him pet Precious and she thought about it. To go to the Tower wasn't a good idea, but what if it was the best one? Maybe that's why the Tower felt unsafe. She knew she could hurt her family again. She gashed Steve. Dylan told her that it was alright, that Steve was okay, but she didn't know what to do or say to that. She threw most of her emotions into baking, like he taught her. But even that wasn't enough to stop the storm that was brewing.

They gave her the option to stay with them. To stay under their lease. It'll be easy, she'll be in Dylan's room. It was the only safe spot she knew of so far. His scent was so comforting and soothing, she couldn't imagine going to the Tower and not having that near. She couldn't imagine not being able to wake up early in the morning with coffee in hand, or seeing Dylan swing by with baked goods. To hear him talk to her when he was at work on break.

"I don't know anymore." She admitted quietly, after a long stretch of silence. "It was my fault. I ruined it. I can't ruin this. But I don't want to leave this either."

"It's not your fault, babe. It was unsafe the minute Fury walked in. Everything spiraled out of control after that." Dylan reached out and stroked her hair like he was doing with her cat, "Stick with visits to the Tower, and if you stay the night you can take one of the blankets, but I want you to stay. Here. With me. We can make it work. The far off future is much closer than I planned, but we can still do it."

Angelina pursed her lips together as she listened to him and she felt his fingers gently comb through the strands. "I..." She trailed off for a moment and then spoke again. "I want to be with you." She confessed after a moment. "I don't want to leave. I want to be close. I'm worried. October. You wanted me in February. Or was that marriage only?"

"Haha, engagement before marriage. I don't think either your Uncle or your Father would appreciate an elopement." Dylan turned his strokes into a ruffle and laughed a bit, "October's fine, love. I swear. You can read my mind, you can tell I'm sincere. It'll be hard, but try to relax. I've got you. I'm here every step of the way."

It was strange to suddenly see pictures in her mind as she read him. It was like watching a movie from far away. She could tell that he was sincere, he saw her living in their own apartment. Far, far into the future, because Zan wasn't there. She could see him come home to her after work and flop into her lap. She could see her in their bed and...it made her cheeks go scarlet. He wanted her. She doubted she was supposed...uh oh. She clapped a hand over her eyes. "Ah Dyl-dal! Too much information!" She squeaked.

"Wait...what?!" Dylan yipped, "I didn't say anything?! At least...what...oh my god, you saw my visualizing?!" he squawked and slapped a hand to his forehead, "Oh god, I'm so sorry! Just...just...ignore me!" Oh shit, he was caught. He'd been relying on that she couldn't see mental images to think things that wouldn't set her on edge or incriminate himself, but now he was /sooooo/ busted.

She uncovered her eyes and she watched him worriedly. He was...scared? That she would be on edge? She swallowed as she let her hand down. She watched him as he petted Precious a little faster, trying to think of /anything/ else. The mental pictures still flashed, but they were back to being the blur that they once were. "..." She reached out and hesitated before placing a hand on his shoulder. "Coffee or tea? Communication. We haven't talked about it. We should. It's important to us."

"It is. Yes. Tea. I'll make tea." Coffee would make him more jittery. He and Zan had some stress relief tea. He handed Angel her kitten and practically bolted out the door. He knew for a fact distance muddled his thoughts. He needed to think. He could feel panic rising up and he was supposed to be the calm one. Was she going to see him as some dirty pervert now? He'd been doing so good. He was a guy, a horny teenager, but she was an abused woman with PTSD as he /clearly/ saw last night. Wouldn't she be disgusted with him? At least she wanted to talk, but he thought about it a /lot/ more than he let on, usually he ignored it, wanting to make sure she was as comfortable and happy as he could accomplish.

Angelina watched him leave and she could practically hear that he was thinking without knowing what he was thinking about when he was in the kitchen. She looked at Precious who was not exactly happy that she was dropped into her mama's lap. "<I think Dylan's having a crisis.>" She told the kitten solemnly. Precious immediately got out of her lap. "<I think the cat likes you more than me!>" She called into the kitchen. "<Not fair!>"

"I'm sorry!" Dylan was slowly learning Romanian in order to follow along with pieces of what Angelina said if he needed to, but a lot of the time like right now, it was just guessing by her tone of voice. "Tea's in the microwave, it'll be another four minutes." He was a 'barbarian' according to Zan and Angel, but he really didn't have the patience for the kettle. Which they found /hilarious/ considering he could wait for /hours/ for something to bake.

"We're stealing the kettle when I move here." Angelina rolled her eyes and leaned back into the couch. Precious found another spot to sleep and was happy to be far away.

"Zan has one, but the more the merrier I suppose." Dylan released a slow breath, "Zan's going to enjoy taking you to raves. She's been meaning to, but saving up all summer to pay for school books was a pain. Now she's got everything, so she'll don her flashy outfit and wig soon. Also, conventions."

"College is hard." Angelina said solemnly. She knew how bad the strain was especially since Zan and Dylan were splitting the apartment. Having three people pay would be a lot of help. But she would have to figure that part out herself. "I would like to go to one. She likes dressing up in the fashion. I would like to try. I know that it'll be crowded, but I'm doing alright."

"You've improved a lot." Dylan nodded, and he immediately pictured her in a rogue outfit, decked out in faux [or real] leather looking dashing in a pretty blue or green cloak with the cloak hood making her look mysterious. "People would probably ask you a lot of the time where you got your contacts. You eyes are amazing, after all."

"But talk." Angelina's eyes narrowed a bit and she took the cup from him. "Talking is important and I know what I saw is important to you." Her eyes softened. "You were scared. You're not scared of me, but you are this time."

"I'm...worried what you'll think of me." Dylan admitted with a bite of his lip. He gripped the counter with a frown, "I...don't want you to be disgusted with me, or feel like you can't trust me near you because you think I'm just like every other guy, just out to get into your pants. Also, you were abused by Hydra. You never told me but you didn't have to."

Angelina felt sad. She could feel it in his mind. The pictures were fuzzy, but she could hear a slamming door. She could see him standing in the middle of the living room, his arms out like she had been in them just previously. She could see herself breaking down. She waited till he got his tea from the microwave and waited for him to come back. He sat down on the couch hesitantly, like he was afraid that now distance was an issue. She set her cup down and took his hands that were wrapped around the cup in hers, holding it with him. "I wish you could read my mind sometimes. It'd make things easier. Make things harder." She let his hands go. "But I'm hurt. I'm hurt that you would think so little of yourself. Of me."

Angelina knew that he was being honest and she quickly cupped her hands on his cheeks. "I want that." She looked him in the eyes. "I know. I know you love me. Boundaries are a thing, but..." She ran her thumbs against his cheeks. "I know you wouldn't hurt me. You wouldn't treat me like they did. You wouldn't use sex as a weapon. You would use it to love me. I know. I know you're sincere. I know you try. You /try/, Dylan." She hardly ever used his name. "You gave me a place to do my time tables. You gave me a safe space when I didn't know I needed one. You have your hands and heart open. I know. I know." She let him go and she grabbed his wrists instead. "People think those thoughts. Women. Men. They have needs. Outlets. There's no shame in it. I wouldn't shame you for it. I'm happy it's me you imagine. I'm happy you want /me/, that you /desire/ me. I'm not...I know I'm in a bad place mentally. I know that I'm fucked in bad ways. I will have nightmares. I will hallucinate. Nothing will stop it. But you? You seen me at my worst and you /still/ found me a safe space."

"With me. I'm not strong like you, but I want to protect you when I can, like I did last night." Dylan stroked her cheek back, "Angie...I won't push anything. I want it to happen naturally, you know, get in the mood sort of thing. Not now. I'm just...I'm relieved. I'm still nervous, since...I think about it way more than I should, but I do. I do find you very cute and sexy in your own endearing way, and it's not a hot passion I feel. It's all soft and...honestly, very sappy."

"I'd...rather it be soft and sappy." Angelina admitted to him and she leaned against his touch. "See? Worried for nothing. Next time, talk to me about expanding boundaries. Don't think I'll think badly of you." She reached up and took his hand that was stroking her cheek and kept it pressed there, wrapping her fingers gently around his hand. "You are so strong." She assured. "<You're my north star, you never fail to show me what I'm missing.> I'm just sorry that I kept missing the signs that you needed me to guide you too."

"It's alright. I understand. You've got things to deal with." Dylan smiled softly at her, and he set his tea down on the coffee table, "Will you at least...can we...kiss? More than just pecks on the cheek or a kiss the the temple. I want to actually kiss you." He smiled at the thought of Zan going 'oh my god finally' before later going 'will you two get a room' but the very idea of kissing Angie always got him all fuzzy inside.

Angelina swallowed nervously. A real kiss. "Yeah." She said, a little breathless from the butterflies that bloomed in her stomach. "I want that. Real kisses."

Dylan's cheeks and neck flushed a bit, but he wrapped his arm around her waist and since they were sitting side-by-side on the couch, he turned just a bit and the hand that was on her cheek still moved back a bit to tangle in her hair, and he leaned forward. He teased her just a bit, brushing his nose with hers sweetly, letting her feel his breath and his heart pounded in his ears. He slowly brushed his lips against hers, her breathing hitching, puffing against his face, and he smiled just a little before actually kissing her.

She read and heard about kisses before. Sometimes the Handlers would joke about their wives, about their girlfriends. Sometimes she read minds when she saw a kissing couple, but she never could hear what they were thinking and now she knew why. His kiss made the world spin, and it also made time stop. She didn't have a coherent thought to develop, just instinct. She leaned forward, and accidentally bit his lip. He opened his mouth and she didn't know why, but she decided that tongue was probably a good idea.

Her inexperience coupled with nervous enthusiasm was absolutely adorable. He tapped down her tongue, but coaxed it to swirl together with his and gave her a hearing cue by breathing through his nose deeply and letting it out, just so he wouldn't have to pull away and tell her so. She tasted like the juice she'd been drinking before the tea, sweet and flavorful. He held her just a little closer, his grip in her hair flexing, but he had to stop. "Oh, you are dangerous in a whole different way now." He teased her breathlessly as he pulled away a fraction, his forehead pressed to hers.

"I would say the same about you." Angelina still had her eyes closed, trying to savor the feeling. Her lips felt bruised and tingly from the all of the sensations that he made her feel. The different tastes in her mouth, the juice mixed with tea, it made her dizzy. "The only one that can bring me to my knees. Very dangerous. Good though. So good."

"I love you, Angie. So much. Good talk." Dylan laughed softly and just pulled her into his lap to cuddle her, nuzzling her shoulder, and grabbed their tea and the remote, settling down to just to relax.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:51 pm

At first Bucky was expecting it to happen when things settled down. He supposed he would be relieved it happened after just one more night, when he'd fully processed what happened. Right now...right now he was wrapped up so tight in this nightmare, he wouldn't come back out anytime soon.

The rushing of the air and the roar of the turbines were in his ears. His knuckles were bloody, the metal one with /Rogers/ and the flesh one split open with his. He was staring down at Rogers, his mission, his opponent, and now his Mission Protect. Steve. Something was horribly wrong. The nightmare jumped, he had dove down to the point his own lungs felt like they were going to burst and dragged Steve from the river. Yet, this time, instead of leaving him for someone else to find, he stayed. He shook Steve, pumped at his chest until all the water was vomited out, but Steve still didn't open his eyes.

/Mission Reset, now you must be protected. Query: Why won't you open your eyes?/ What could he do? He assessed the body of the man before him, saw fresh blood gushing from his leg and the man groaned. His limbs were too weak, he couldn't show him where it hurt. He replayed the fight.

His stomach. Confirm. He'd shot him in the stomach. He hadn't seen it right away because it was on the red stripe, and he had been jarred by the reset to remember right away. He reached out and pressed his hand against the wound, watching fresh blood gush between the metal plates.

/Assessment. Too deep. Not a through-and-through. Medical will have to dig it out./ He was too muddled to think where it could've hit him. The serum could only do so much, couldn't heal him fully if the bullet was in a vital spot. /No. Unacceptable./ He hissed. He could hear sirens and pressed against the bleeding harder. He was in danger here, but Steve could bleed out. His head snapped up when he heard his name. Or rather, the name Steve /insisted/ on calling him.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:56 pm

"Buck." Steve had woken up with Bucky straddled on his hips and his hands pressing hard against his chest. It hurt, but apparently his cough and his feeble attempt to push him off managed to appease him. Only for the moment until he started pressing hard against his stomach. He wondered if Bucky was dreaming about the River. He didn't have Angelina in here to help him assess what kind of dream he was having or what he should do. She was fast asleep across the apartment hall  and he was going to have to go on instinct, and hope. Hope that he could get him to wake up. "Bucky wake up. It's just a nightmare. It's just a dream. I'm right here. Come on pal, open your eyes. Come on jerk. You're hurting me. Buck!"

"Bleeding...have to stop the bleeding." Yet he opened his eyes, blinking them a bit more rapidly than he anticipated. It was dark, not broad daylight. What happened? Where were they? He snapped up straight, ultimately sitting on Steve's thighs, and looked around. "Location?"

"Brooklyn. We're in an apartment building." Steve answered slowly. He waited to see if there was a flicker of acknowledgement or something, but nothing came forth. "Angelina's with Dylan."

"Anzhelina...Dylan, mission assist." He blinked slowly down at Steve. "You. Injured. Your blood was everywhere." He traced the spot on Steve's clothed torso, "Mission Protect failed."

"I'm not dead. So I think it was pretty successful." Steve tried to assure his friend. "It could've been worse."

James' grip tightened on Steve's shirt and he looked at him sharply, glacier blue eyes stormy, "Mission Protect is life and death, but it isn't /just/ that. /Any/ injury is non-mission compliant. You are reckless, don't watch your flank. Don't listen." He leaned down over Steve, his hair tickling the blond's face, "If you want something done right, do it yourself. If you won't watch your six, I will."

"I wasn't going to have you hurt your daughter." Steve said, he wasn't sure what to do with his hands. He decided to grab his back, but held him gently so that if he wanted to get out, he could. "She was scared, James. And I swore I'd protect her too."

He furrowed his brows, thinking hard. "Confirm. Cage. Apartment compromised. I remember. It's...muddled. Coming back in spurts. Just remember you bleeding everywhere. I couldn't stay to stop it. Zan had to come help. Fled, like last time."

"Like last time?" Steve asked, but had a feeling that James couldn't recount the tale right now. "You did just fine. Zan was really brave about it. Dylan showed up too and Angelina threw a knife at me. We were both lucky her aim was terrible, but it was enough of a distraction for her to get out."

He nodded, and finally moved back and off of Steve, sitting at the edge of the bed, "It's not safe here anymore." He repeated, this time sadly, "I don't want to run anymore. Left you there before, relying on the sirens to find you. Query: Where would I be if I had stayed? Easy to answer. In a cage of my own. Cold and white."

"It's safe as long as you want it to be safe." Steve got up swiftly and grabbed James' shoulder. In hindsight, it was probably a bad idea, he could have startled him. "What I said about you fighting in the Avengers it was a slip. Hell, Bu-James, you can live in this apartment. We'll make it safe for you again. We're just going to have to work at it. Angelina is doing alright. Her and Dylan already have a plan should this not work, but...you two deserve to be happy."

James reached up and grabbed Steve's hand, pulling it from his shoulder, but didn't let go. He felt the ghost of the ache when he'd dislocated it and shuddered, grimacing. He looked at Steve firmly, "I won't be safe until I'm free. I'm not in a cage, but I'm not free, Steve. Anzhelina won't come back. We don't /feel/ safe here anymore. Let it go. I already have. Unless the Tower is no longer Sanctuary? Am I no longer safe with you?"

"You are safe with me." Steve wished with all of his might that Angelina would just...appear out of nowhere and help him figure out the Soldier's thoughts, but right now he was all on his own. "The Tower is still safe. I just...Angel won't come with us. And we have two weeks to make a decision completely."

"My decision's made. It's all about putting it all together. Pepper. I remember I liked her. Talk to her, figure it out. Fees and the management being angry at the great Captain America moving so soon will be taken care of by her, I'm sure of it. I was a nobody, they didn't care. Huffy, but didn't care. You matter. You've always mattered." James shook his head, "If possible, I'd just go tomorrow, but that's irrational."

Steve sighed softly. It was so weird, how James treated Angel and how Bucky treated Angel. Bucky wanted those two weeks to give Angel time to decide. James on the other hand, seemed content that his decision was made. He didn't really regard Angel as anything more than someone with a name. It hurt a little, but Steve understood. He was talking to the Soldier and he was talking about his Companion. Bucky and his daughter were two separate people. "Give it time." He said after a moment. "But don't think for a moment I'm gonna let you off for thinking you're not important."

"I'm the Ghost, a weapon, a machine. I may be important to you, and Anzhelina, but not anybody else. It's just a fact of my life, Steve." He didn't mean much by it, but he did see how it darkened Steve's expression. He reached up and ran his flesh thumb over the creases on his forehead, "As long as I am important to you two, then that's fine with me. No one else matters."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:51 am

Steve closed his eyes, sighing softly and opened them again to look back up at him. "Well, at least you know you got two people in your corner." He reached up and grabbed James' wrist, feeling his pulse against his fingers. It was soothing, to be reminded that he was alive. "You're stronger than me. You always have been." He admitted to him. "I would be going out of my mind right now, but you always took things in stride. You and Bucky both. I admire that about you. I hope you know that."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:50 am

He didn't say anything. He knew they would just go around in circles. So instead, he surged forward and crashed his lips with Steve's. It was hard and fast, maybe a little bruising, but even without tongue he stole his breath away and pulled back, looking at Steve imploringly, "Was that wrong of me?" He asked, his voice rough and husky, "Are those really memories, or are they wishful thinking? Because that felt awfully familiar. I could, of course, also just be thinking of it a lot more than I should."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:50 pm

Steve wasn't sure what to think about the kiss. It was too quick. It was too fast. Yet it was everything that he wanted it to be. Smooth, familiar. Bucky kissed like that. Way back. "No it wasn't wrong." He said after a moment, getting his thoughts back on track. It was the fastest way, Bucky would say, to get him to shut up. "It's...I'm surprised you remembered. We...it wasn't easy."

"Of course not. Things are never easy for us." James put his hand on Steve's knee and leaned in, "I am sorry for frightening you. Even though I was made a machine, I still had to make my own rational thoughts and decisions, and speak plainly or not a all, on missions. I'm better now that my head has cleared. I was remembering when I pulled you from the River, which is why I took your hand from my shoulder. A dislocated shoulder is never fun, and I had to swim with that, and drag us both from the water. All our tactical gear made me feel like I was lugging boulders around." He snorted.

"I wouldn't doubt that," Steve let out a soft laugh and he smiled softly at him. "People tried telling me it wasn't you that dragged me out, that I managed to wash up myself. But I knew. I always knew. You would never let me drown."

"Steve..." he said after a minute, his gaze far off and coming back to lock with baby blues, "Am I good enough for you? Do you think that kiss wasn't what Bucky wanted, too? He is me, I am him. Our wants are roughly the same. I am trying to make sure you don't...push me away, because you believe it's not what your Bucky wants."

Steve got up and he wrapped his arms around James' neck. "I know you're both different sides of the same coin. I know Bucky's kiss and I'll learn yours. You're more than good enough for me. I just hope that I'm just as good for you. For both of you."

"Confirm, though that is a stupid statement. You are home. No matter when, where, why or how, you have always been /home/. Skinny or big, you're Steve." James reached his flesh hand up to twirl a blond lock around his finger. "I'll tell you a secret. Might make you choke up a little."

"I think you already did, but alright." Steve said through a thick voice, closing his eyes at the feeling of James' playing with his hair. It's been a long time since he had.

James fell back onto the bed, dragging Steve on top of him and he smirked at the 'omph' as their thick chests collided when Steve lost his balance. He wrapped Steve up tight and continued to play with his hair. "I forgot your face. I forgot your name. I didn't forget you." He let out a slow sigh as Steve finally settled, not even trying to escape, his blond head resting so his ear was over his heart, "Shadows aren't supposed to be bright. That defeats the whole purpose. Yet I could never think properly to call you a ghost, and my faith was shot so I wouldn't call you an angel. Instead, you became my blond shadow."

He was choked up, but he also had to fight back a laugh. "Blonde shadow." he repeated, his eyes filled with mirth. "That makes for a horrible spy. No wonder Nat says I'd stick out like a sore thumb. You could have called me your light you know. Guiding the shadows back home. Though maybe that's too romantic." He cupped James' cheek with his hand and kissed him, keeping it innocent, but none the less passionate. "Though I'll be your shadow." He murmured softly. "I'm always watching your six, too. Front, side, center."

"My mission. My light. My shadow. My home. Mine, Steve. Just...mine. As I am yours, and always have been." James tightened his grip in his hair, Steve's breath hitching, but he smoothed it over and they kissed again. Tears mingled into it, but all they did the rest of the night was hold one another until they fell asleep again.

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:42 am

It made Steve's heart break a little as he watched the movers help pack away Bucky's things. Bucky was /extremely/ careful about what to leave behind for Angelina so that she could come by and take her stuff. She was trying to find a job, now that she knew that moving was inevitable and that Bucky and her would have to part ways. Steve knew that the three of them would show up at the Tower one day, probably to surprise them all. It hurt to leave her behind, but Angelina even reminded them again that the Tower wasn't safe for people like her. But she hinted that she might find a way to meet them on the battlefield if they so needed her. He didn't know what that meant, but he was grateful. He glanced over at Bucky who...wasn't doing too hot.

It was so. Empty. Everything but the couch, TV, and Steve's bed was gone. Kitchen didn't count, they still needed to cook dinner and breakfast. Bucky hadn't realized how...full and homey the apartment really was. The little things. He had been right and Angel hadn't come back at all the last two weeks. Dylan had been the one to grab whatever she needed whenever she needed it. They'd started grabbing all her clothes last weekend, and then her towels and other bathroom knick-knacks.

Tony's workers knew not to say much. They got payed to stay silent, basically. Even so, he had stayed out of sight. Until now. Two of them were going for the couch. he knew they were supposed to completely move out today, but he felt like he was being punched in the stomach and his hand flew to his hair. "Stop...Stopstopstop! Enough! No more!" He couldn't. Where was the big bad Soldier? That something like this, leaving it all behind, would be setting him off. How pathetic. How low he had fallen. This was his life. It was always like this. Mission, bunker down for a while, complete it, move on. Safe house to safe house. Debrief. Cryo. Chair. Do it all again. Never the same year, never the same place, same people. Fading in and out of existence like he did.

The workers were stunned and Steve immediately played the peacemaker. "I think that is enough for one day. We'll stay behind and prepare for the next." He said gently. "Sorry, I know you guys wanted to do everything in one go."

One of them held up their hands. "We were following Stark's orders, sir. We'll let him know we need to come back tomorrow." They all quickly said their goodbyes and left the apartment, the last one out the door making sure it made a thump.

Bucky went to the couch and curled up on it, back to an arm rest and his arms wrapped his stomach. He felt ill. Dizzy and sick and his head pounded, "I'm sorry." He choked out. "I couldn't...I just..."

"No, don't be sorry. It's a lot." Steve rushed to Bucky's side and placed his hand on his back. "Do you want to go to the bathroom? Or are you okay here? Tea? I know Angelina left behind some for us."

"No, no, let me...let me stay right here. I need to breathe. Open the slider? Let air in?" Buck asked and cupped his sweaty forehead, leaning heavily against the back of the couch.

Steve got up and did exactly as he was told before going back to Bucky. He was kind of glad that Precious had a home with Angelina and Dylan, otherwise, he'd be really concerned about the cat getting out. He sat back down on the couch and watched him worriedly. "If it's too soon, we can make things work with what we got." He said softly. "We can have the movers reverse it and we can set it back up."

"No. Steve. It's all squared away anyway. It was just...too much too fast." Buck swallowed thickly, "Zan helped get this place for us. Paid for by Hydra money, but it was...our first home. I didn't expect it to be permanent. I simply wanted it to last longer than what little time a mission would allow. Longer than we could stay at a hotel. It did, and now I'm...greedy. I got way too attached and I shouldn't have."

"Zan's an awesome mission assist." Steve smiled warmly. He was always going to be thankful to the blonde for helping his friend out. She was so willing. "But it's okay Buck. Getting attached." He said gently. "This was your first home to raise Angel in. You guys made memories here. Do you remember the fuss I /kicked/ when you decided to move out of your home to come into mine? You looked me square in the eyes and told me not to doubt that my apartment holds as many memories of my mom as it did for me. It made me shut up. You didn't want lose my mom anymore than we already had. I could understand that...I didn't want to either."

Feeling tears prick at his eyes, he rubbed them. He hadn't remembered that, but he could easily recall it now he had a reference point. There were still times he doubted his memories, but if Steve confirmed or mentioned it first, it usually helped. He rubbed his hand on the fabric of the couch, "Since I'm...bunking with you on your floor...can we...keep the couch?" The twin beds were being tossed, so was his dresser. He was getting a bigger and better one, so all his clothes had gone into boxes. The bed he was sharing with Steve was also going, but Steve had one just like it. The blankets and pillows would help. Yet, since Steve also had his own furniture, he hadn't wanted to ask.

"We can." Steve said gently. "Angelina would tell you my home decor is awful, and well...I should make it a little more lively so more people can fit into my apartment. Just having one couch doesn't make up for the eight or nine Avengers I have to deal with on a constant basis."

"I get to make your sad apartment less sad." Buck gave him a wry smile, "Beige, Stevie? Nat told me."

"I..." Steve's cheeks tinted pink. "Angelina hated it too. She looked kind of brokenhearted when she saw it." He shook his head. "I just never had the time, and when I did I thought that I wouldn't be staying so why would I try to make it a home?"

"I'll fix that." Buck nodded firmly, and he felt well enough now to move, so he went and got Steve to wrap his arms around him. Nose in the collar of Steve's shirt, he felt calmer with each passing second. "It'll be our home. Add blue to go along with all the beige. You're an artist, we'll treat it like a canvas and add some color."

"And put things into places." Steve agreed, hearing Bucky chuckle. "I did promise Angel she could smear some color on my wall, so we'll leave one blank so she can do that when she visits. Did you want to bunk with me or did you want to take the guest room?"

"After doing it for two weeks, I think I'll stick with sleeping with you, Steve. You may not be as bony, but you still kick back as good as you get." Buck snickered.

"Then Angel and Dylan can figure out the guest room." Steve decided. "That way it's fair that they have something in our home that's considered theirs."

"That sounds fine by me. If I hear them being naughty I'll just be obnoxious in return." Buck snorted.

"They're going to have to have nerves of steel if they try anything." Steve let his mind wander at that. "Do you think Angel would have kids?" He sounded perplexed like he wasn't certain kind of emotion should go into that sentence. "Dylan would be an interesting father."

"I'd hope Dylan is smart enough to use protection, because Angel can't take any form of birth control on her end. Her body burns through medication like we do. If they did have kids, I hope it's down the line. She's still just a baby herself. I'll tease and jeer, and be all for marriage, but no grandchildren yet. I just got used to being a father." Buck frowned.

Steve looked at Bucky and then tilted his head for a moment before snickering and putting his head back against the couch. "I just pictured you as a grandfather." He laughed again. "It'll be weird since we're so young looking, but we have the age for it at least so we hit one qualification. Though you are right. You're still getting used to being a dad." He let his voice trail off. "I think Angel might work for Fury. Or Fury's gonna ask her to work for him."

"Well. You already do. At least it's better than working the Underground or something dark like that. I've tried too hard for her to fall now. Dylan has her back, too." Buck furrowed his brows, "She does need direction, and when the Avengers aren't Avenging, like you haven't been, you're free to do as you please. Angel has a hard time with that. Fury will give her a new purpose, as much as I distrust him."

"It's a good thing she can read minds." Steve said, a little proud and fond. "There's no way Fury can keep a secret from her. So, at least she's protected on that front." His smile faded a little. "I'm sorry Buck, for just...rambling about Angel like I have. I know that I have so many other things we could talk about, but she was the first thing on my mind. I guess I'm just as scared as you are. I mean, you're leaving to a new place and you've been on your own before and stuff, but it's like you said. You got used to being a dad and I got used to being a godfather. I feel like we're giving her away or something at a wedding. It's ridiculous and our mothers would be rolling in their graves laughing at us right now."

"They might be. At least they all have invitations to visit whenever they please. If Stark snatches up Zan, that might be in the cards sooner and easier than expected." Buck gave him a reassuring smile, "It's not like we won't see her again. She knows I still need her."

Steve nodded and then grinned. "I probably told you this already. About how you said that if you had kids you'd have all girls because Ally and Becca would murder you. I just had a thought that...you know. You could do that when you're a free man. Have another."

He shrugged, "Of course, if you don't want to, then you don't want to. I just like thinking of you happy. I see how you act around Angel and I know big families used to appeal to you. I'm not...trying to pressure you like Nat would about getting out there and finding someone. Or doing something like that. I just...I don't know. Seeing you with Angel makes me wonder about myself too."

"You didn't think about family until you met Peggy, but even then the war was still raging strong." Buck agreed quietly, curling closer, "Do you think you can? Find someone? Do you think that's in the cards for you? I still don't think it is for me. Angel may be my baby, but she is an adult, too. I might be overwhelmed if she had a child, but I'd be there the best I could."

"I don't know. I know that now that I know our serum can be passed down, I'm not as worried about having kids as I once was." Steve admitted softly, wrapping his arm loosely around Bucky so that he could come close. "I don't know if there's ever going to be a girl as kick ass like Peggy and maybe there won't be. It wouldn't be fair to compare the two. But if I did...well...I think it'll depend on a lot of things. I wouldn't mind having at least one kid. Just one. Angel's too big to do the things I want to do, unfortunately. Though if she has a child and I'm still feeling the baby-fever need or whatever, I can always see if she'll let me babysit or something."

"You'd be the best babysitter." Buck agreed and felt his eyes drifting closed, "I don't know how many I would have. Two, three, It's dangerous in this world, but I'd protect them with all that I have. You've noticed, but it's hard to get passed kissing. I'd best not go down that road right now, though." He pulled away and stood up, "I am going to make dinner, and then I am going to try and sleep."

"Do you want me to help?" Steve asked, getting ready to get up as well.

"Yeah, you can." Buck smiled at him softly and headed for the kitchen. It was fairly quiet after that, his head still pounding from the stress, but he tried to ignore it, appear to be as normal as possible.

Yet, even with all his efforts, the following morning scared Steve the most.

~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:51 am

Steve didn't know what was wrong with Bucky, but he knew it was something awful. Yesterday, it had been pretty bad with the movers and trying to get things squared off. But today, with the movers nearly done, Bucky was...zombie like. He wouldn't respond to anything Steve said, just stared blankly ahead. It was like Steve wasn't there at all. He only replied to things when they were placed in front of him. Food, water, clothes. But other than that, he stayed exactly as he was. Steve knew that he needed to get Bucky out of the apartment, the movers were triggering somehow. But how to get him out was another problem.

"Do you want to see Angel?" Steve asked after a moment, feeling at a loss of what to do. "Should we got to a hotel? I don't think going to Tower is a good idea...not like this." He wished he knew what to do, Bucky didn't even respond when he heard his daughter's name. Just a blank stare.

He decided texting Angel was the best way to go. What do I do? Bucky's been off.

How off?

Staring and not talking and not doing anything.


There was a long pause.

Bad day. Real bad day. Was all she wrote and she started a typing and stopping pattern for three minutes before finally sending. Get him to a new location. Hotel will work. Here will only make things worse. He's leaving me behind.

Steve understood what she meant. He needed her, she needed him, but with the apartment compromised, he had to leave her with Dylan. It was safer for her to remain in the apartment building. They knew that, and they knew that it wouldn't be long till Angelina might even go into the Tower.
 
But right now, reality was striking and it was shaking everything to the core. Somewhere different would jolt him. "Hey Buck, let's go somewhere." He gently took his friend's arm. "I'm gonna call a taxi and we're going to spend a day and a night at a hotel. You know, let the movers finish up what they need to do. I'll call a taxi." He hoped he wasn't talking too much. Angelina told him that she usually rambled to get him grounded and Bucky told him the same thing.

But he didn't feel like anything he was saying was helping. Just making things worse.

At least he wasn't completely useless. He did nod his head just slightly as he was moved towards the door. He grabbed his hat and his jacket, tossing them on without much care, but he did take out the gloves in the pockets and put them on, then continued to watch Steve, following him obediently down to the first floor where they stood and waited for a taxi by the mailboxes, Bucky out of sight from anyone walking in or out behind the stairs. He ducked his head as they moved to the taxi, and tipped his hat down so the driver wouldn't see his face. As long as Steve was recognized, as long as he made himself scarce there wouldn't be any questions.

It didn't take long to get to a hotel, and it didn't take long at all to get a room since it was Captain America and a strange guy that was asking for it. He made sure to get a room that had an easy escape route, just so that Bucky could relax just a bit. The moment that they got into the room, he gently turned to his friend. "Would a shower help? Do you need me to open the window?" He stuck with yes and no questions, just in case. They were easiest to answer, and he knew that sometimes, simple answers were enough.

Bucky regarded him a moment, and slowly observed the room they were in. Simple. Muted colors. Everything looked plush and squishy. At first, all he did was hum, letting Steve know he heard him, but he did not know. What was really calming was the quiet. No noise, outside or in his own mind. Just being. Slow thoughts, simple thoughts. Couldn't explain it to Steve. His mind was always running. Non-stop. He didn't even know the meaning of quiet. That made him create a grumpy noise, and something flickered over Steve's face. Relief?

"I guess no to the window." Steve said kindly as he gently sat down on the bed and watched his friend watch him, "I thought I was going to have to drag Angel down here to help me out...I think I might want to do that anyway...she knows how to take care of you. I'm sorry, Buck. I'm doing my hardest though."

Buck finally moved on his own accord. Walking over to him, it was and automatic movement, to put his hand on his right shoulder and squeeze, but not too hard. Always the right, even if he had to swing his arm over his shoulders to do it. He was fine, but how could he say that? He had Steve. He was going to be okay. He kept his expression soft as Steve looked up at him, but his lips still refused to part. As the day progressed, he went from completely unthinking, to at least having a small sense of self.

Steve relaxed the moment that Bucky gripped his shoulder. It was familiar, a weight that he had missed. He had given it a small shake, just like he used to back when. Bucky didn't look too much like a zombie anymore, there was light coming back and his expression told him everything. "Thanks Buck. Aren't I supposed to be comforting you though?" He kept his voice light and jesting, hoping that he'd get another reaction. It didn't have to be anything big, but...he liked seeing his friend come back to himself.

Bucky just shook his head with closed eyes, and he sat down beside him, sinking into the bed and bumping shoulders. Comfort each other. Like they always had. An idea came to mind quite suddenly and he pulled away. Things like that out of the blue were going to give him a headache. He scooted a bit further away and shifted his body to face Steve, /What about this?/ It was slow, methodical, but he signed to him. He didn't want Steve to be upset.

"/You remembered?/" Steve was thanking god that Clint signed often. Since Steve wasn't hard of hearing anymore, it had been hard for him to do a lot of signing with the updated slang and grammar. Especially since they only used sign during the battlefield and that was just to make sure everyone stayed safe. "/Clint taught me how to sign again. You'd like him./"

"/I think Angel said the same. I don't remember right now./" Buck lost some tension to his shoulders, "/I am sorry. For worrying you. I become this way when I need to be calm.../" His face contorted in a wince. "/Like a reset for electronics./"

"/What helps?/" Steve's back went straight like he was ready to do whatever he could to make sure that there was peace and calm here. "/I know Bruce likes music. I know Angelina is a bath fan./"

"/Slow./" Buck held his hands up. "/You...going a mile a minute is a stress. Now that I figured out a way to talk to you, please take a breath./" He closed his eyes and took one himself, before looking back at him, "/Angel will laugh, as I am not a mind-reader, but I know you. You think too fast./"

Steve's cheeks flushed, "/You and mom would tell me that if it's not my mouth running it's my head./" He made sure to slow his signing as well and he calmed his breathing, remembering a technique Bruce taught him back when the Avengers were finally a team. "/You always had a radar for me./"

"/I did and still do./" Buck nodded, glad for the slower pace. "/This became my coping mechanism when the...torture...became too much for me. It was easier to not feel, not think. Just be, let them to what they wanted. You got lucky, Steve./" He didn't miss how Steve's eyes widened and his breath caught at his old Sign Name, and S tapped to the heart, "/It is my fault, for not explaining to you properly what to do. When this happens again, you'll hate it, but just...order me around. Asking me questions won't do anything for me. I can't...respond, as you can tell. Just telling me what to do makes my life so much easier, because I just go with the flow of things./" He made a face, "/It sounds...like BDSM, Dom/Sub dynamics, but...it basically is./"

Steve pursed his lips together tightly. He knew about the BDSM community and a lot of them were kind people. To hear that a lot of the ethics involved in it might have been a reason why Bucky was the way he was now...he wasn't going to go there. He knew Bucky suffered. But this was a little too much. He almost asked Bucky if he knew if Angelina suffered the same way, but held his hands tight on his lap. No. Angelina wouldn't tell him that. She had Bucky's ability to keep her mouth shut about all the bad things that happened. She didn't joke about it, but she wouldn't tell anyone. Dylan was probably the only exception and that made his blood boil a little more. Not at Dylan and Angelina, fuck no. But at Hydra...and the pain he put his loved ones in.

Bucky reached out and took Steve's hand, squeezed it, and then let it go to sign again, "/You're nothing like them. I trust you. Steve. I love you. Stop thinking about it. You can brood later. I'm okay for now. I don't know when I will get my voice back, but we have something. Let us just take things one step at a time?/"

Steve sighed, taking his hands and grabbing Bucky's. Not really to make him shut up, but he wasn't sure if he could go in for a hug right now. He didn't want Bucky to tense up, but he also didn't know if he could handle it without breaking. He brought Bucky's hands to his forehead and just breathed a few times before nodding his head and letting his hands go. "/I love you too./" He smiled softly. "/Should we watch something dumb to get our minds off of this?/"

Bucky nodded, leaning in and kissing Steve's forehead before pulling away and motioned for him to go find something on the TV. Everything would be okay. Just one step at a time.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:26 am

Steve had been relieved when Bucky woke up that morning and was able to talk to him again, and he also accepted the fact he might slip again after moving to the Tower.

Now here they were walking into the lobby, and the first word that came out of Bucky's mouth was 'wow', which made Steve chuckle. "From poor street rat to living the high life. Look at how you've moved up in the world." Buck quipped at Steve's dismissive shrug that was basically 'it's alright I guess'.

"I lived in an apartment in D.C, but I had S.H.I.E.L.D agents spying on me or pretending to be people I didn't care for." Steve said as they walked through the lobby. There was a little cafe that sat in a nook. Hardly anyone was in there, but there was soft acoustic music floating from the door. "Stark basically told me to move here or face his wrath. It was a lot. I think I fell on the floor and stared at the ceiling for a good part of the day before I could walk around. The amount of money /still/ baffles me to this day."

"That's because you haven't completely defossilized." A cool voice said right behind them, making them turn around.  Natasha was holding two drinks in her hand and she shoved one into Bucky's hand. "Not the same as Zan's, but you look like you could use the pick-me up."

"Natalia." A chunk of the tension in Bucky's shoulders drained away at the sight of her and his face also loosened. He took the cup of coffee gratefully and held it close, "I'll be glad when I can set up my coffee grinder and coffee maker and brew my own. That is, if the boxes haven't been unpacked yet. Also my couch."

"Tony wanted to," Natasha said as they started walking towards the elevator. She pressed a button and they waited for a bit. "Your couch is better looking than Steve's, but your boxes are safe. I told Tony you'd want something to do with your hands. He understands it."

"He really hates the couch I picked out," Steve made a face. "What's wrong with it?"

"Well, now it doesn't match what James has going on." Natasha answered smoothly. "It looks like a designer error."

"Maybe...you know, that sounds like fun. Furniture thrift shopping. Make Steve's room go from beige and sad to a Hodge-Podge of color." Bucky tilted his head towards the ceiling thoughtfully, "Different patterns; floral and plaid and striped color..."

Natasha grinned, "Red white and blue."

"You are not Tony." Steve glared at her. "He suggested that already."

"He takes away all the fun." She rolled her eyes but she didn't mind it. "At least it's not going to be red and gold."

"Red and gold are lucky colors in Asian culture, but I wouldn't want a room full of it." Bucky made a face.

"Also a sign of marriage too." Natasha grinned. "At least the red is."

"Sounds right up Angelina's alley then. Should we paint the guest room red and gold?" Steve quipped.

"Going to mention the pinky-string?" Buck reached and hooked his pinky with Steve's and held both hands up, being playful about it.

Steve gave Bucky an overly fond yet weirded out expression. "Crazy."

Natasha sighed, "We all know you're tied at the string, it's too easy. But what do you mean by painting the guest room red? Angelina's not married yet....is she?"

"I have been crazy all our lives. I just got worse." Buck let him go and stepped into the elevator when it finally arrived. "No she isn't. She only has a boyfriend."

"A boyfriend we're kinda all secretly hoping will marry her." Steve corrected.

"Welcome home, Steve." came the British voice when all three had entered and there was a pause as Buck threw his back to the wall and looked around. "I am sorry, Mr. Barnes. I did not mean to frighten you."

Bucky cursed quietly in Romanian, "It's just Stark's AI...I forgot. Um...J.A.R.V.I.S., was it?"

"That is correct. Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Barnes."

"Erm...if you're going to be formal, James works fine." He rubbed his forehead and looked at Natasha and Steve sheepishly.

"That was better than what Steve did." Natasha said, she didn't let any amusement show, but there was some hidden laughter that was easy to see. "He nearly kicked the doors down."

"I did not nearly kick the doors down." Steve grumbled. "I jumped just as Bucky did."

"Yeah towards the door." Natasha said, taking a sip of her coffee.

"You know what Romanoff?" Steve glared at Natasha playfully, but Natasha just gave him a sideways smirk, clearly pleased that she riled him up.

"I am going to enjoy living under the same roof as you." Bucky told Natasha sincerely, also highly amused and he took a drink of his own coffee.

"Is there anyone you want to meet before you get up to Steve's and hide away in boxes?" Natasha asked conversationally. "We already met J.A.R.V.I.S. Bruce is a good person to have on your list. Angelina was most fond of him. More fond than Clint and Sam I think. Though Sam and Clint might fight over that."

"A shame Thor's not around yet." Steve sighed a little. "You'd like him the most. Science fiction come straight to life."

"I remember the news. Science-fiction mixed with ye olden times." Buck smiled with a nod, "Um...perhaps it would be best to meet the man who owns the place? I mean, he's offering me sanctuary...If not him, then...Clint sound like a good choice. Steve said he taught him how to Sign again."

"I remember the news. Science-fiction mixed with ye olden times." Buck smiled with a nod, "Um...perhaps it would be best to meet the man who owns the place? I mean, he's offering me sanctuary...If not him, then...Clint sound like a good choice. Steve said he taught him how to Sign again."

"Tony's been going off on his workshop. Clint then." Natasha said and she looked up. 'J.A.R.V.I.S did you catch that?"

"Yes I did, though he's in the vents again. I'll take you to the main gathering lounge." J.A.R.V.I.S. answered, "It will be just a moment."

Steve sighed, "is he ever not in the vents?"

"Nope." Natasha popped the word as she took another sip. "If he's not in a vent then he's sitting on the floor or watching t.v or in the training room."

"He likes getting around in odd ways." Bucky tilted his head at them, but soon enough the elevator was stopping and he took another sip of his coffee. They walked out and he sat down, surprised by the sinking feeling of the couch, "You could get lost in this thing!"

Steve laughed and he sat down as well. Natasha knew that J.A.R.V.I.S. probably told Clint that they were looking for him, so she wasn't too concerned about raising her voice and telling him that they were there. "Tony likes the expensive stuff." Steve said, "Though don't try sleeping on it."

"Oh god the back pain." Natasha's nose wrinkled. "It's good when you're bone tired after a mission, but you regret the next morning."

"You're going to hurt the following morning regardless." Bucky rolled his eyes, but he leaned into the arm rest and settled himself, "Surprised a tiny body like yours can make it out of one of these couches alive."

"That's why I have Clint." Natasha pointed upwards. "He drags me out sometimes or he's nice enough to carry me to bed. Or he just leaves me there to suffer. It depends on the mood."

Steve rolled his eyes, "If he wants you sweet he'd do anything for you."

"Oh but sometimes a feisty Nat is quite entertaining." Came a sudden voice behind Steve.

"Nat already did that trick," Steve sighed, making Natasha smirk. "You're ten minutes too late."

"I win." Natasha said with a side-ways smirk on her face.

"Aw, bummer." Clint pouted and chuckled as he went around the couch, "So we're making fun of the furniture?"

"Clouds are too fluffy to be furniture. They will swallow you up." Bucky commented from his place curled up in the corner.

"Well, you're not /wrong/." Clint grinned.

"Clint this is James," Natasha said as she gestured towards him. "Anzhelina's dad and Steve's long lost suffering soul mate."

"So /you're/ the one who Steve's been moping around about." Clint came over and held his hand out. "I think your daughter is adorable and I really wish she'd drop by again. I need to get her my number."

Bucky regarded him a moment, watching him and looked at his hand for a second before he took it, giving a good firm shake, "She did enjoy her time here, she's just...wary, considering it would be a prime target for attack."

"And yet if anyone does they'd be shit out of luck." Clint snorted, but he stepped back when the handshake was done and sat next to Natasha, the action making the woman lean towards him with the indent of the cushion, "It's also not often Bruce gets someone who he can share hobbies with."

"What hobbies? Steve only really mentioned music." Buck blinked.

"Cooking, sewing, surprisingly good at mixology...mostly domestic stuff outside of his science with Tony." Clint listed.

"I like cooking." Buck perked, sitting up a bit straighter.

"He tends to make our dinners for us when Tony doesn't order out." Clint beamed.

Steve looked too pleased to even try to get in the middle of the conversation, but Natasha had no qualms. "I think she's scared to introduce us to her boyfriend too." She told Clint.

Clint gasped, "The little lady has a boyfriend? And she hasn't introduced him to us? How rude."

Bucky snorted a laugh and covered his mouth so not to spit out his coffee, "He's the brother to Zan."

"Oh! I know of Zan! Steve and Sam adore her. So he must be a pretty good kid. That's good." Clint looked relieved.

"He is. He's proved himself several times now. I think he's a good choice for Angel, myself." Buck agreed lightly.

"She should still bring him around the Tower. It might take a little time. Things got shaken over at the apartment building." Natasha told Clint as she finished off her coffee.

Steve nodded, his expression darkened slightly. "Shaken a bit of an understatement, but she's doing alright. We haven't seen her in a...while." Not since they started moving. She just hid and they understood that it was just too hard. "Goodbye" wasn't in their vocabulary. It was probably best it went unsaid.

Clint's expression softened a bit, "I getcha. It's cool. I was just being dramatic. I'm not about to push the little lady. I'm glad she's okay. What about you two?" He ached a brow at Steve, and glanced at Bucky.

"Bad day yesterday. Learned you re-taught Steve Sign. I shocked him by remembering what his Old Sign Name was." Buck smiled a bit fondly.

"Oh my god, what is it?!" Clint perked up like a dog with a treat dangled in front of him.

Buck glanced at Steve who didn't seem to mind, so he made the S sign and tapped it to his heart.

"That is the /most adorable/ thing /ever/. Steve, I love that!" Clint's face was glowing.

"Does Angelina know how to sign?" Natasha asked curiously. "It'd be interesting since that means you'd have five people to talk to and you could bother everyone about not knowing sign. Like I do with Russian."

"Like you do with every language you learn." Steve retorted. "Russian's just common because you like how it annoys Tony."

"She does.know Sign, so you're right. Do you know some Russian, Clint?" Buck arched a brow.

"Enough to figure out about every other word she says when she gets in a tizzy." Clint chuckled.  
"Natalia? In a /tizzy/? Never." Buck waved his hand.

"She's quite endearing when her face's all red, like an angry kitten." Clint grinned at Natasha.

"Hmm. Well. I don't think she'd let us live if we go down that road." Buck mused.

"Aw, you're right. At least you know what I mean." Clint agreed solemnly.

"It's like you two don't even know I'm here. I'm not wearing the Invisibility Cloak." Natasha deadpanned.

"I think they think you are." Steve answered.

"I should've used it against them." Natasha mused.

"You've got plenty blackmail up your sleeve." Clint pointed out.

"She's a Slytherin. Of course she does." Buck quipped.

"What are you?" Clint tilted his head.

"What do you think I am?" Buck countered, "Cuz Steve's a Slytherin, too."

"Hufflepuff." Steve and Natasha said together at the same time though Steve actually thought about it. "I could argue for Gryffindor though."

"No." Natasha looked at Steve with a mock look of horror. "Steve, their cannon fodder. James isn't."

"Why, thank you. I also enjoy food." Buck smiled at Natasha, "Gryffindors are also really obnoxious."

"So....we don't tell Dylan that he's really obnoxious? Or Zan?" Steve grinned a little.

"Zan and Dylan have their own things they can be obnoxious about, so yeah, no we won't say anything. We love them anyway." Buck agreed to Steve.

"So it's two Huflepuffs and two Slytherins in the room." Clint tapped his chin, "What's Angelina?"

"She's still on debate." Buck shrugged.

"I think she'd be a Hufflepuff like her dad." Steve said, letting a bit of sentimentally show there. "She might have a few of my traits, and maybe she has a few of her...caretakers." He didn't know how to refer to the woman that gave birth to her. "But everything she's been through, she still smiles. She still reaches out to people, even if she is weary of them."

"I think if she was being sorted by the Hat, she'd be a stall between Slytherin and Hufflepuff." Bucky sat up straight, turning more towards Steve, "She might end up being sorted to Slytherin, but she also might do what Harry did and ask to be put into Ravenclaw because she loves the riddle door and they're the smart house, they're mostly neutral and she loves Luna. She would no doubt get everyone around her finger, though, no matter what house she's put in."

Natasha looked like something just came across her and she smiled softly. "She does like people who are different. She befriended Bruce no problem, and he's one of the harder people to get to know."

"I noticed that too." Steve said looking over at Natasha. "Which is why I'm insisting on Hufflepuff. Who else cares about the differences and stuff? Angelina just...barges on right through."

"But I agree with Bucky, she'd probably be sorted into Slythern." Natasha continued, making Steve give her a hurt look. "She knows how to make real friends. Whose going to betray her when they know she can read their minds?"

"That's a point as well." Buck agreed.

"A HuffleSlytherClaw!" Clint shouted excitedly after been quiet while they had their back and forth, "I find it funny we've alienated the Gryffindors and yet she has a boyfriend who is one."

"Well, that means when she has her own, they'd be a combination of all four." Natasha couldn't help but to tease.

"Nooooo too soon!" Bucky whined.

"Marriage first." Steve agreed. "Everything else comes after."

"You just did that stupid song thing without doing the stupid song thing. Why? How?" Bucky stared at him.

"I don't even know what you're talking about. What stupid song thing?" Steve asked, staring at his friend like he lost his head.

"First comes looove~" Clint started, only top immediately stop when Bucky shot him the most loathsome glare. "Wow. So. Did you learn your glare from him, then?" he asked Natasha.

"No." Natasha said, "I had my own special glare custom made by the Soviets. His was made by exasperation of a certain blonde."

"Jeez." Steve deadpanned. "Thanks."

"You're so loved. That glare, man, if looks could kill." Clint whistled, "So, I think I heard Bruce and Tony were debating on a party."

Buck's expression turned wary. "Is that so?"

"Bruce is fighting for a calm welcome where he makes dinner. Tony is just looking for an excuse." Clint clarified.

Steve sighed loudly. "Tony's parties are nothing but trouble."

"Says the one that doesn't get drunk but has to watch the rest of us." Natasha teased.

"Tony might back down if he's outnumbered. Since I've learned yesterday was crap, I could pass the word along." Clint offered.

"I would be highly disappointing at a party right now." Buck nodded and watched Clint stand up.

"Well, then I'm on it. C'mon, Nat, we can gang up on Tony with Bruce while Steve here takes James to his room to unpack. Oh, saw the couch, too. Looks way more comfortable than these things. How even?"

"It was made to last so it has proper materials, not whatever's cushioning these couches." Buck looked pleased.

"Also I wouldn't doubt Angelina had a say in some of the decor." Natasha quipped making Steve roll his eyes. She knew the jab at him. "Come on, Clint. We'll take the elevator first and then you guys can. J.A.R.V.I.S. keep them posted."

"Of course. I will also inform Mr. Banner of you impending visit." J.A.R.V.I.S. answered politely.

Steve watched them leave and he sighed, letting his head rest against the couch. "Thank god for Bruce and his ideas."

"His cooking sounds like a staple." Bucky scooted closer to Steve from the arm of the couch now they were alone, "You were right, I do like Clint."

"You'll like Bruce too. He's a good guy. Quiet and shy, but it's understandable. He has a short temper. It's easy to Hulk out." Steve smiled a little as he let his head drop a bit to rest on Bucky's shoulder.

Bucky leaned into it, "I get to finally see what everyone is complaining about. I'll say a few customary words about it, I'm sure, just to jump on the bandwagon. Then we could do some online shopping for ideas and since I'm now bound to the Tower until I'm cleared, you and Angel could go to a furniture store."

Steve nodded, "She'll be thrilled to have that list. I hope you're not bound forever. Once we get you unstuck, you'll be free to do whatever you want. I swear that."

"I know." Buck stood up just as J.A.R.V.I.S. dinged the Elevator back to them. It was a fast thing. Had to be, he supposed, in a building with over ninety floors. He held his hand out to Steve and they headed for it. Today was going well so far, which was good. He would be exhausted and sleep like a rock, which was also good. Sleeping deep meant no dreams. He curled close to Steve inside the elevator and they headed up to his floor without needing to press a button or say anything. That was interesting. He was going to have to get used to it. "I just...no, I probably shouldn't jinx it."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:36 pm

Steve looked at his friend with a bit of concern, but he knew not to press. He leaned against Bucky again and took a breath. "Well, we'll finish up meeting everyone and then we can pass the fuck out. After that, I'll let you have free reign over the computer and you can do what you want with my room, how about that?"
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:32 pm

"That sounds good. Thank you. A lot has happened in a short amount of time. By all accounts, I'm doing better than I should. I've always been adaptable, though, haven't I?" Buck was looking forward to the calm and being alone with Steve again. Natasha and Clint were nice, but he was still recovering from yesterday. Clint was good at reading, he noticed. Changing subjects when he really was uncomfortable with something, or splitting when he was winding down. That was good. No wonder Natalia liked him, too. He was a good mission-assist.

Ah, he was starting to think odd again and he sighed. They stepped out onto Steve's floor and the hallway was plain, which didn't bother him much, but when they actually got into the apartment he wasn't expecting it to completely /stay/ that way. "<Oh God.>" He said, stricken, in Romanian. "Steve. It's like walking into a hospital lobby." It was the /worst/ insult he could come up with. "No. There's no way. Where's my box with the bedding? I'm going to your room instead." He was absolutely horrified and he set his coffee to the side and bee-lined for the boxes, glad he had asked for them to be labeled so he wouldn't be digging through them aimlessly.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:45 pm

"Jesus, my house isn't /that/ bad." Steve said, a frown on his face, but he went over to the boxes. "I don't know if my room is-" He didn't even get a chance to say anything. The moment Bucky pulled out his bedding, he was already zooming to his room.

His room was a little more lived in, with sketchbooks on the desk and papers and a few cups filled with different types of pens, pencils, and charchol. There were drawings that were framed and hanging on the walls, and there were just drawings that were scattered about. His bed was already made with hospital corners at the sheets. There wasn't any clothes on the floor and his trusty shield stayed by his bed, at the ready in case he needed it. It didn't have a lot of color, besides his own bedding which was a grey blue. Which was promptly being taken apart by Bucky and was hastily throwing his own bedding on to it.

The colors clashed horribly together, the browns and the green. He frowned, "I got a feeling you're going to be texting Angelina later about this."
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