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 Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine

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Lynx-Tiger



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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:13 am

Today was a lazy day. Zan was painting her nails on the coffee table, Dylan was reading some manga, laying flat on his stomach and sometimes poking his sister just to get her bothered while Angelina was sitting on the couch next to Zan's kneeling form. She had her laptop steady on her knees as she worked on the photos that she had taken with Sam's driving tour of New York City.

A lot of people gave her looks for taking the photos. They didn't outright say anything, but the most common thought she heard was "fucking tourists". Of course, Sam laughed when she told him what the people were thinking.

Staring at the pictures and trying to fix them up using photoshop was a chore in it's own right, but she liked seeing what she can and can't do. Basics before going to the more advanced. It was really fun for her and she could see why people chose digital over film and other hard copies. The things that you could do.

But it was exactly that freedom that made Angelina nervous. Yes, the photos were perfect. Yes, she took photos of everything that she wanted to log. But her fingers itched for the pen and paper. How much time did she spend in a car? (they wouldn't really /ask/ her that, but sometimes they liked giving her random things to log. They liked her "organization" skills.) how much time did she spend on the laptop? How many photos did she take?

You don't control anything.

How long do you think it'll be till they ask you to come home?

Home is where the heart is.

Soaked in blood and ruthless misery.

She set her laptop down on the coffee table and wrapped her legs up to her chin. She saw Zan move in the corner of her eye.

Go home.

Stay.

Hydra forgives those who ask for it.

Stay. He's here.

You don't have to run anymore.

There was never a point to it to begin with.

She felt someone's hands on her wrists. She didn't realize that she had covered her ears. She couldn't focus on who was in front of her though. The room didn't make sense. She both recognized it as an apartment and Hydra's facility.

There was a shadow in front of her.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:36 pm

Dylan had noticed Angel move before Zan did, looking up while she was in the motion of putting her computer down. He was putting his manga aside and getting up as she curled in on herself. Before he went to her, though, he glanced around for the notebook he kept around for writing notes from anime they watched, what she liked and didn't like and the whys, which became his arsenal for finding similar ones. Grabbing it, he finally knelt in front of her when Zan gripped her wrists as Angelina put her hands over her ears.

Finding a fresh page, he paused. What could he say? She was too engrosed in her own mind with her eyes tightly shut to read him. He couldn't falter like this...not when she needed him, but what did he do? Swallowing thickly, he steeled himself.

"Angelina. Give me your hand. Now."

Oh god. He hated the sound of his voice. He was demanding and rough. His posture had straightened to match the voice as well, his face set firmly, brown eyes unmoving as she snapped her head up. Even Zan looked shocked, but it was a tone all of them could recognize as a military bark.
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Lynx-Tiger



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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:41 pm

Angelina obeyed without question and with swiftness. She held her hand out. A part of her feared what he was going to do. He could pull up on her, force her to walk somewhere, go to a place she never wanted to go again.

A cell with a person.
A person screaming help me.
A person silently glaring, daring to do their worse.
Every single one of them helpful. Kind even.
They always got a pretty ending, didn't they?
They could've gotten better.
Screaming, screaming, screaming.

Do you even know that's your own thoughts?

"Dylan, she's scared. We need to talk to James..." Zan said softly, looking at her brother worriedly. Their father would sometimes have that type of tone when he was angry or upset. Of course Dylan picked it up...but she really hoped that it wouldn't hurt Angelina.

Honestly, niether of them knew what she gone through. Just pieces...and Zan didn't want whatever plan Dylan had to get her back to them, to go awry.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:49 pm

The only thing Dylan did was place the pencil that had been on the notebook and then the notebook in her lap. She was lost. That was exactly what this was, and Dylan had acted without really thinking, but he realized that he knew that was what she needed. "Log." He pointed at the paper. She was looking at him without seeing him, so he added, "I'm missing your times. Log them for me."
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Lynx-Tiger



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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:13 pm

"Dylan," Zan hissed.

Angelina on the other hand, took the pencil and started writing. She filled one page, started another as fast as she could, until she slowly started to figure out what it was that she was doing. The times were not Hydra based. They wouldn't let her do half of the things that she was logging. They wouldn't let her see Sam, who was becoming a friend. They wouldn't let her visit Steve, on the random times that he could see her. They didn't let her hang out with Dylan and Zan who were watching her, Dylan with a more stoic look, and Zan looking ready to bolt out of the apartment to find her dad.

She was home.

She wasn't at the base. She didn't have to kill anyone. She didn't have to pretend to be their friends. She wasn't the database, she didn't have to log if she didn't want to. She slowly started to stop her writing, and looked at the times that she wrote. She went as far back as she could remember last logging, which honestly wasn't too far. She still logged here and there, technically with the scrapbook.

But it wasn't like this. It made her stomach tie in knots to see where she was in her head. She remembered the dates, the time...

This was not home.

"He doesn't want me to log time." Angelina said after a moment of silence. "He doesn't like it."



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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:21 pm

"Your father is defiant." Dylan's words were half normal, half clipped Military. He shooed Zan from her place and sat down beside Angelina instead, his hand covering hers that was holding the notebook. "He had to be /brainwashed/ to follow their orders. Now that he's free, he's trying to get rid of what they did to him, what they made him do. You lived and breathed it." He swiped her bangs from her eyes, "Babe..." he whispered softly, "If it makes you feel better to log times, then you can do it here. We won't say anything. I...I hate saying it, but there's no compromise on this one. Let him believe you're not logging your times anymore. It'll make him feel better, but it will help you if you can do this /and/ scrap-booking."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:25 pm

Angelina's eyes watered and she carefully placed her notebook down on the table and looked at him, "Can I hug you?" She asked, her voice breaking in parts. Zan watched as Dylan nodded and opened his arms for her. Angelina pulled her legs on the couch and laid down on Dylan's lap, hugging him around the middle. She hid her face in his stomach and started crying into it. Zan pursed her lips, but knew her brother was right. There wasn't a compromise for this.

James had a reason to defy Hydra.

What on earth did Angelina have against them? She lived and breathed it, just like Dylan said. It was a miracle in itself that she followed her father rather than stay behind to do whatever Hydra bid her to do. Angelina was learning so much, and going so far.

She crossed her heart when Dylan looked at her. She knew he knew that she was promising him to watch over her with the time logs. To make this a safe haven.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:49 pm

It'd been a group decision to have Angelina over for the night, but when she was fast asleep in Dylan's bed, is blankets curled around her face as she breathed his scent, Dylan's heart broke again. He went to Zan's room and his lip was quivering when she looked at him. It was hard to not burst into tears when it was his turn for a hug. "I'm trying..." he murmured into her shoulder. She would be the last person to question his resolve, and he knew going in that it would be hard. "I gotta remind myself we've barely known each other a month...let alone been together for like, two weeks."


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:02 pm

"You love her." Zan murmured, "and it hurts to see her hurting like this." She rubbed her hand up and down his back, holding him tightly. "You did so good though. I was scared for a moment that what you were doing was going to hurt her, but you saw what she needed. You knew that she needed to do both the scrapbook and the time logs. You were able to give her what she needed Dylan. You saw it, you honed in on it, and you told her to do it. You told her there's no shame here. She needed to hear that. I'm so proud of you."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:17 pm

"The funny part is I didn't even realize what I was doing right away." Dylan choked on a laugh as he sniffed, "I know now that...I can't always be the gentle, laid-back guy. Sometimes she needs the stability of someone telling her what to do. It's hard...I didn't like doing it, but I'll do what I have to do. I want her to be happy, to be comfortable. Slow and steady wins the race, right?"
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:30 pm

"Think of her like the vets I sometimes sit with. Sometimes, they just need a bit of direction. Sam told me once that a Vet usually responds well to a simple command. Tie your shoes, get in bed, that time of thing. You did the right thing, Sam would agree." Zan said softly, pulling away so that she could wipe her brother's tears. "Slow and steady does win the race. So does love and understanding. Sometimes you do have to be tough, but you know what? Sometimes you have to be tough...because Angelina's probably tired of being tough. We forget that underneath her smiles, and scars, she was raised to be a straight-laced person. We forget that she probably second-guesses herself at every turn, at every corner. Sometimes, we might have to tell her which way to turn. We're not gonna like it...but she needs a guide post. Not a light."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:01 pm

"Something solid and real." Dylan nodded and leaned in to kiss his sister's forehead. If he was going to do this with Angel for real, then he had to be willing to do all of this and more. Vets could be dangerous...Zan knew that from personal experience. He knew that as well. Yet... "I don't really know what I was doing with my life before she walked into it. I know you feel the same about James, let alone Steve and Sam. So, we do what we can for them both." Hugging her again, he finally pulled away, "Love ya, sis. I'm going to go pass out now. I think after that we all deserve a good rest."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:03 pm

"Good night, Dylan." Zan smiled warmly, "She's good for you, don't doubt that yet." She let her brother go and flopped down on her own bed with a loud sigh.

What a night.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:11 pm

~*~

"I'm going out with Dyl-Dal!" Angelina's happy chirp reached his ears before she reached him physically. They shared a deep hug and he barely managed a 'goodbye' before she was out the door.

James just watched the doorway for a time, towel still wrapped around the cup in his hand. His chest hurt. It was so quiet in the apartment besides his own breathing. Looking down at the cup, he brushed his hair from his face and finished what he was doing.

This feeling. He knew what it was. Easily and quickly 'identified' as /loneliness/. The longer he spent in the quiet, he could hear the hum of the electronics. The whirring brrrr of the AC. There was just...so /little/ to focus on. He read most of the time, cleaned his gun, kept maintenance on his arm, practiced his speed for unloading and loading his guns and taking them apart and putting them back together. When he didn't want to do those things, what else was there? He didn't watch Netflix really on the TV as much on his own, because it was more enjoyable with his daughter making her faces and her commentary. Why things did or didn't make sense. If characters were dumb and plotlines stupid.

What...else /was/ there? It was getting close to August. All of the hype from his destruction in Washington had died down significantly. He could leave...go out...but what would he do? Where would he go? Stalk the Avenger Tower, tease himself with possible contact and ultimately walk away without seeing Steve?

The mere thought of seeing Steve made his heart race and James scrubbed his hand over his face. His breathing became raged and he tried to calm down, going to the couch to sit.

His daughter was happy. The rough nights had lessened for her, and that made him happy. It really did. It was...difficult, though. A part of him wanted to acknowledge what he felt deep inside, but he just shoved it back again. There wasn't any /time/ to mope around, and yet there was too /much/ time.

So James stood up and threw on his jacket and cap along with his glove. Making sure all the lights were off, he scribbled a note on the whiteboard on the fridge that he went out for a walk. The only thing he took with him was a bottled water for the hot summer day. There was no destination in mind...just a walk around the block, maybe to the convenience store...but he didn't get very far at all.

The stairs going up, a man wearing rainbow arm covers, black slacks and a black t-shirt was breathing heavily, just a couple of bags at his feet. He was older...as old as he was probably supposed to be, if he'd lived life normally instead of being frozen. Yet with how colorful he was, he sure as heck didn't look like it at first glance. The rainbow beanie didn't help.

"Hey there, stranger." The old man said kindly, adjusting his beanie. Bucky noticed that he had long silver hair that was wiry and thin, tied in a ponytail that reached the edge of his shoulders. "You look like a guitar man or a drums person, but I'm goin' to go with guitar. You look very soulful. Going on a walk?"

James put his bottle in is pocket and leaned down, gathering up the bags easily, "I had been planning on it, but I can help you with these. Don't older people usually have an apartment on the first floor? What are you doing on the third?"

"Thank you," The man said graciously and started walking up the stairs with him. "I don't need a walker yet or a wheelchair. Until I need one of those, I'll climb the stairs. My balance isn't shot yet. I'm still going strong at ninety. Besides, if I did get a walker, Steve would be very upset. He can't handle another one of us dying on him any time soon, and if I so much as cough in his direction, I'm smothered to death with soup, blankets and prayers. Well...no...can't say that anymore. He abandoned that practice a long time ago. Probably after your death."

"I...what?" James was stiff as they stood in the hallway while the man fiddled with his pockets to unlock the door, "After...my death?" The unasked question was that this man knew him. It was unnerving. He even had his cap on. "Who are you to Steve?"

"A friend." The man said with a shrug. "Someone that listens to him when he needs it. Poor guy doesn't have anyone he knows that's still alive and kicking and we were friends for a bit. Well, acquaintances I guess is the better term. He only knew me for a short period, but he's determined to make that up. I'm at this door." He unlocked it and carefully swung it open. "You're welcome to come inside. It's sparse, I don't have much, but it's plenty for me."

Should he? He apparently knew who he was...he knew Steve as well. Could he be a mission assist? Nodding, he shifted the bags and walked inside. He put everything on the counters and helped put things away, even. When that was done, he glanced out the window. The old man could see a lot of things from here at least. Turning back around he watched him carefully, "Could I get a name, at least? You seem to already know mine."

"Nicolas Kelly. My friends called me Nicky. It was my wife's fault really, she started it." Nicky smiled, the corner of his eyes crinkling. "I know a lot about you. My wife..." he trailed off. "Well. If you wanted me to confirm something in your memory, I'm probably...the second person to talk to. The primary person should be Steve, but he told me you were shy talking to him. Though maybe shy isn't the right word. Cautious sounds about right. Thank you for putting my things away, you didn't have to do that by the way."

"The weather is hot. You probably need to rest, and I hadn't even left the building so I'm fine." James folded his arms, though took off his hat. He had to brush his hair behind his ears again, but he was curious as he watched Nicolas. "The second person, huh? I must've known her...your wife. Your name does sound familiar. Kelly...a Hotel business. Quite popular, I think it was. I don't remember much else, that's just what came to mind." He carefully moved to a free chair while the older gentleman sat on the couch, "I'm more than cautious about talking to Steve, but it's close enough."

Nicky nodded solemnly, "You knew my wife. You..." he paused. "You were good to her. So good to her. She was the one most upset when you were drafted into the army. She hated that they were forcing you to go. She used to cry to me, and tell me over and over again that they were going to turn you into something that you weren't. You loved her. Very much." Nicky sat walked away into the restroom before coming out with a black hair tie and sat down on the couch near to the chair Bucky was in. "You need this for this kind of weather. It's a hair tie. It'll keep your hair from making your face it's home."

"There are...few women I remember from the past." James took the hair tie and he had to re-do it a couple times because it was crooked, but he eventually got it right. There wasn't much he could do about his bangs, but it was good enough. He wouldn't be going to a salon anytime soon. "My mother...and my two sisters, Rebecca and Allison. It's very faint. I'm lucky I remember names. Rebecca is the most prominent, strangely, rather than my own mother."

"Becca was your favorite sister. You were closer to her with age. You did more things with her, you two were hardly ever apart from one another. Winifred would joke that she birthed twins when you guys were only two years apart. Ally came along at four years apart." Nicky mused causally, leaning back against the couch. "Becca was your confident. She knew your deepest darkest secrets. Though she did occasionally try to black mail you. You did the same so you guys were always at a stall when that happened."

That drew a soft chuckled out of James, and he leaned forward in the chair, "It's strange, but I can sometimes feel if a memory is off. What you just said doesn't sound like it. Angelina...my daughter, she enjoys what little stories I have about her Aunt Rebecca." He nodded, "I am...going to go out on a limb, and say since you know about me and my sisters so...intimately, that Allison was your wife? You say her name with such a soft tone, different than how you say Rebecca's."

"Allison was my wife," Nicky agreed softly. "Ally." He smiled sadly, "Becca and William married almost immediately after they met. But, Allison and I...we wanted to wait till you and Steve got back. When that didn't happen, we waited a year before we married. Becca named her son after you, James. I called him J.J, he got annoyed with me when he was a teen. At least till he went through history class. Then he started appreciating it more. Grant always loved his name. It was his mother's favorite person."

James swallowed, but he nodded slowly, Grant and James. Grant...that was Steve's middle name, wasn't it? Of course, James is the name he was going by now. "The..." He paused. He couldn't speak like he did to Angel to this man. "Bucky...makes Steve sad." He said this because he remembered he didn't like this name. Yet, he couldn't bring himself to use the other one.

"Why do you say that?" Nicky asked carefully, looking at him. "Why do you think Bucky makes Steve sad?"

"Lot's of reasons..." James swallowed thickly. "He...lost me. Multiple times...Lost me to the war. He didn't know I was drafted, I couldn't tell him. Came back, I was a Sargent, left again...then learned I was captured. He saved me, but I wasn't the same person. We fought side by side...then I fell. Now...I can't. I can't contact him. You know what happened in D.C."

"Is it out of guilt or do you think he's disappointed in you?" Nicky questioned back. "Better question. Do you think everything you said, was your fault?"

"Probably not...but I..." James' throat tightened, "The only thing Bucky causes is pain. I don't want to make him sad, or cause him pain." That was why he used his traditional first name. If he was a different person he could have a fresh start. Yet he still couldn't contact him. Wasn't he causing him pain by doing that? Making him sad every time he said no? James gripped his head and breathed heavy.

Nicky nodded his head, "That's a part of living. To live you have to hurt someone and you have to heal someone. Hurting someone can be unintentional or intentional it doesn't matter. It's life. You will hurt someone, no matter how much you strive not to do it. You have a daughter. Let me ask you this, are there times where she has said something or done something that caused you pain?"

"Yes..." The biggest thing were the time logs, but he didn't want to mention that. "I think I hurt her, too...without meaning to..." he murmured, "We both do our best with what we've been given. Sometimes we don't know how to act."

"But would you say, because of what you do to hurt Angelina or what Angelina does to hurt you, you're only made of pain or that she's made of pain? That Angelina doesn't bring you joy? That you don't bring joy to her?" Nicky continued, a little relentless.

"No...no, I wouldn't say that. She does make me happy...and i would hope I make her happy..." James shook his head, "Not contacting Steve because I hurt him isn't a good enough reason...is that what you're saying?"

"You hit the nail on the head," Nicky nodded his head. "If you don't want to go by Bucky anymore, that's one thing. There's traditions where you cast off the name of the past, gain a new name for hopes a better future. He'd respect that. But you can't say, "I don't want to be around you, even though I want to, because it causes you pain" when you not being around them causes them more pain and causes pain to yourself. You're not benefiting yourself."

James was quiet for a bit as he let his words sink in. How selfish and unfair was he being? How much pain was he bringing Steve by being like this? "I just...don't know...what to do..." he admitted quietly.

"I think, you need to discover who James is...and if you want to be James or if you liked Bucky. You know Bucky even with the holes in your mind. But James is new. James is after Hydra. So. Let's start there." Nicky smiled warmly. "Do you have any hobbies?"

"No...not really. You mentioned I looked like a guitar guy?" James tilted his head at him, "Did I used to play one?"

"No." Nicky shook his head, "you were busy learning how to dance. But I used to teach music back when I was raising Grant. I taught music and I worked all night shifts I could. I taught high school, elementary school, freelance as well."

"I could...try. I don't see why not. It would give me something to do when Angelina is out...that is what I was gunna do today. I couldn't stand the quiet." James shook his head, "If you don't mind one last student, that is. I'm pretty quick, though."

Nicky smiled warmly, "One last student." He shook his head from side to side. "It's been three decades since I last taught...so you'll be both my new and my last. I don't think I have the energy, nor the strength, to teach another. Though life may throw me a curveball. I got my brother-in-law back, and apparently I have a young niece I get to spoil before I pass."

"You better, or Ally will be disappointed in you for not having stories to share about her brother's family." James smiled at him and reached out to shake hands, sealing the deal. He felt like pieces were falling into place, and he didn't feel so terrified anymore.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:38 pm

He woke up with cold sweat beading at his forehead and sticking to his night clothes. He bed felt too wet and hot to stay in and he shoved the blankets off of him, shivering as he did. He turned on his lamp, not wanting to see the memory of the nightmare linger in the shadows anymore. His breathing was still ragged, like he was having an asthma attack he hadn’t had since the serum. His heart was pounding so fast, he was surprised he didn’t go into cardiac arrest.

It was so real. It felt so real. He had been put in the Chair that Bucky had been tortured in constantly. He didn’t know what the pain would feel like, but he had a feeling he was about to find out. He was pushed into it by Bucky, who was staring at him with cold, dead eyes. His mask over the lower part of his face and his metal arm gripping Steve so that he couldn’t get away.

“Every bit of this, you deserve.”

The dream only changed from there. Only, into a worse nightmare. A nightmare where he was on the train, and he was trying to grab onto Bucky’s hand.

Instead of grabbing his hand, instead of Bucky jumping in a desperate attempt to get to him. Instead of him jumping down and breaking the rail prematurely, it was the fall. As it was. The railing broke as Bucky tried to reach for his hand and when he fell, Steve could hear the words screamed at him.

“Save me. Stevie!”

It still echoed now, sitting on the edge of his bed and gripping his head trying to get rid of the voice. He needed to do…something. He stood up and went to his dresser to change out of his pajyamas. He needed to wear something a little more grounding right now; boxers and a shirt wasn’t going to cut it. Once he changed into something that had less sweat and a bad nightmare clinging to the cloth, he went to the restroom that was attached to his bedroom and quickly threw some water on his face.

Tea with honey and milk. It sounded pretty decent to him and not a bad way to recover. He walked back to his room and grabbed his phone to check the time.

It was two o’ clock in the morning. Two text messages were on his phone. He winced, he bet it was from this afternoon. He still didn’t have the habit of carrying with it everywhere with him. After he checked those, he should text Angelina. See if she was up. God knows that girl’s sleep schedule was more random than the lottery tickets that were always called out practically everyday or so. He could never keep up.

He walked into his living room, the lights turning on automatically thanks to Tony’s invention of motion sensor lights. He went to the kitchen, and started looking for the kettle. Peggy would kill him from her grave he made tea in any other way. He put the water on the stove, got the supplies down, and then leaned against the island counter, checking his messages.

The first one was from Nicky in the afternoon.

Met with James today. He’s a good fella. I know you want to meet him, but let him come to you Steve. That kid doesn’t know who he is yet. It’s not fair to introduce you when he doesn’t even have a name he feels confident enough to give you.

Steve swore up and down that Nicky was the Flower Child the Seventies needed. He didn’t remember Nicolas being this grounded when they were growing up.

It made him wonder if Bucky knew about Allison. He decided not to go down that particular rabbit hole right now. His nightmares were already terrifying enough, he didn’t think he could add a sad dream to the mix without having an emotional crisis.

There was a text…from Bucky.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:10 am

It was a short and sweet text. Straight to the point. /Do you want a running partner tomorrow?/

Steve couldn't help the grin that crossed his face. Whatever Nicky did, Steve was going to have to thank him. Profusely. He quickly typed it back. /I'd love to beat someone that can run my speed./

/Don't get cocky. I'm not Flying Sam./ The text back was immediate. /No talking. I'll join you during the run, not before./ A pause, the dots that said he was tapping at his phone keyboard starting and stopping, before, /Are these terms...ok...?/

Steve felt his heart swell and break a little and the kettle went off exactly at that moment. He had to put the phone to the side for a moment so that he could take the kettle off and pour it into the cup with the tea bag in it. Now that it was seeping, he could get back to texting. /More than okay. You do things on your own terms, Buck. Do you mind if we keep texting?/

/If you say something and I don't reply to it, just say something else. I might not know HOW to reply, not that it upsets me. OK?/ he responded for his way of agreeing.

/That's fine./ Steve texted, looking at the cup of tea. /I was about to text Angelina, see if she was up, but I miss talking to you. Bad night tonight, that's all./

/Oh. So that's how it is. Start right with the curve-ball./ A pause. then a frowny-face, /Angel is having a sleepover. Things didn't sound good on her end, but I don't know what happened. Today just sucked for all of us, I think, until I found Nick./

Steve clicked his tongue. /Three Muskateers of bad nights then/ He hit sent and he started fixing his tea once he threw out the tea bag. He brought it along with his cellphone to the couch and sipped on it as he quickly continued typing. /How was Nick?/
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:40 am

/Nick...it's vague, but I remember him. I remember the Kelly hotel more. He was pretty insightful...and as you can see, opened my eyes to some things I was being stupid about./ After another moment another message popped up, /IHe was doing alright, though. I helped him carry bags to his apartment. That was how we met./

/Yeah, Nicky's gotten more clever through time. Though I think it's because of Ally's passing really./ Steve paused, wondering if that was too much. It probably was. /I keep telling him to move to the first floor. Stubborn./

/I asked him that. He said he wouldn't until he's using a walker or a wheelchair. I think he'll die before that, though. Honestly, it sounds like he fit with my family just fine. His new goal is to meet Angel./

/I'd be okay with any influence he has on her. He's the good kind of family. If he can give me a verbal slap in the face to see reason, then just think what advice he could give for her./ The text sounded rather impressed. /I...would be okay if you came to the apartment. If you visit him, or Zan, and want to see Angel. Just not with me here. Not yet./ A quick bout of silence and then he added, /I just want you to see how far we've come in such a short time./

/I swear he got that from Ally./ Steve sent laughing as he took another sip of tea. He typed another message. /Angel's bragged about how clean your apartment is and how much /stuff/ Dylan and Zan have in theirs. I think she wants to see me go into both. I haven't yet./

/You need to do more with her./ If he could shake his finger through the phone, it sounded like he would. /You don't know how important you are for her. I haven't asked you, but I will. You will probably cry./

Steve leaned back, feeling guilty. Bucky was right, he needed to do more. Angelina was his niece in some fashion, and Sam was already someone that frequently got texts from her about one thing or another. He never told him what they talked about, which was fine. Angelina needed her privacy. /You're right./ He sent, taking another sip. /I do need to do more. I'll think of something we can do. I know that she's busy with Dylan. Maybe getting to know him will be the right thing to do./

/That would mean a lot to her./ James agreed, /He likes pizza?/ He offered lamely. /Have I.../ It sounded like he was struggling as the text took longer than it should. /Did this...make you happy?/

/This made me very happy./ Steve smiled as he texted back. /Talking to you was always a highlight. We were very close when we were kids. We were hardly apart for anything. Save dances. And the dates you tried to set me up on. I really hated that, but you just...didn't like me being alone. I understood that./

There was quite a long time before James responded. So much so that It almost felt awkward. He finally did, though. /I won't leave you alone too much longer. This is a big jump, though. One step at a time./

/I'm fine at whatever pace you set./ Steve assured. /You're probably really tired, you and Angel had a long day it seems like. I'll see you on the run. I'll hang with Angel and Dylan soon. Promise/

/See you./ James promised back, and it was radio silence after that.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:08 pm

~*~

Steve took on Bucky's advice about meeting Dylan at the pizza place. It wasn't too loud, and he was dressed in casual clothes and hardly anyone recognized him. Which was more than he could say for when he was in costume. They had two pizzas in front of them, a Hawaiian and a Supreme along with a couple of dressings just in case they felt like being adventurous and trying it with ranch. Steve was also both kind of thankful Angelina wasn't there, and also kind of wishing that she was. "So...uh..." God conversation was hard. He wasn't even sure how Bucky was his friend besides getting his face punched. "Do you go to school at all?" So lame...

"Would you hate me if I said that was adorable?" Dylan looked like he was trying very hard not to laugh, "I don't go to College, no. Zan does, however." He watched him as he took a drink of his soda, "What are you so nervous about?"

"I don't know," Steve shook his head from side to side. "I know that you're really important to Angelina, and I know that she really adores you too. She texts me sometimes, and sends me photos before she prints them off. So, I guess I'm just worried about making a bad impression. You two are really serious about each other. I know Zan goes to college, is she still trying to figure out her major?"

"Yeah. So many choices and yet nothing's really struck her fancy. She was debating psychology for a while, then realized she couldn't stand listening to other people's problems day in and day out. That'd really drag you down." Dylan shrugged. "I don't think you could make a bad impression on anybody, Steve. Even bad guys have a certain respect for you, wouldn't you say?"

"They respect Captain America." Steve pointed out as he took another piece of Hawaiian pizza and set it on his plate. "Steve Rogers is a whole other story. They wouldn't really care." He shook his head. "She seems happy at the cafe, though I know she's itching to do more. I can't blame her about the psychology. She does too much as a Vet Protector."

"You make Captain America who he is." Dylan countered fiercely, "You are you. You aren't some unrelateable superhero who's got not substance. Yeah, there's the whole 'leave work at work' but you're separating yourself into two different people. That's unhealthy in it's own right, you know that? Sure, you put on your suit and you get all serious and crap, but take it off, you still got your brains, undying loyalty and sense of justice. What changes is you just want to be left the fuck alone, but you're still gunna punch some douchebag if he's being mean to a lady or something."

"That is true." Steve nodded as he took his pizza and took a bite of it. Once he swallowed, he looked at Dylan curiously.**

**
"You work at a LAN center right? Have you thought about getting certified to do computers?"**

"I've played around with coding and stuff." Dylan hummed, "If I'm not doing laser-tag then I'm usually the one they call on when things go down or buggy and they need help fixing it. I never really thought of doing it professionally."

"I know Angelina's really good with computers. I've been wondering if I should ask Bucky if she has a G.E.D or something from Russia and try to get her into any computer courses at the college. Or...if she'd even...like to go. I think she might like it, but...I know that people and new situations stress her out too." Steve sighed as he took a drink of his coke and set it to the side. "Of course it's always up to her. I just know that she's always wanting to know more...but there's only so much a few of us can do...that a school can probably do more."

"It's something to suggest. The repetative nature of it might be something that wouldn't be too stressful. She'd own all the homework they give her, too. She watches Zan do hers from time to time," Dylan agreed.

"It is a routine." Steve knew, from mostly talking to Sam, that Angelina and Bucky were a little bit glued to the idea of a routine. Things were easy to remember, time logs didn't have to be filled out as often, and Bucky liked the simplicity of it. "I know she likes that. When I find out about Angelina's education level and what not, do you think you could help me try to find G.E.D courses or even some online or physical classes she could take at a community college? I know a lot on how to work a computer, but you two have more of an in than I do. Zan especially. I owe her way too much."

"I've heard." Dylan nodded, "I can talk to her and find out what she thinks, and Zan can find out what she can for upcoming classes this Autumn. It's August so we only got a short window. Until crowds aren't so bad, online courses will be fine and only go in when she has to."

Steve nodded, "That sounds like a plan. We'll take it slow. I know a lot of colleges have a winter semester and a spring besides the fall, if we miss a window, it won't be too bad. We still have other methods."

"True enough. Awesome." Dylan smiled, "Anything else you wanna talk about?"

"Just..." Steve pursed his lips together and looked at Dylan. He shook his head with a soft smile after some thought. "Not now, but....when I hang out with Angelina more...I might ask you a question. Until then, let's finish the pizza."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:27 am

"Angelina, I wanted to tell you something." James smiled as he watched his daughter make tea.

Angelina froze as she was pouring the water over the tea bag and looked over her shoulder. She couldn't figure out what it was that he wanted to tell her, since he was thinking about the book that he was reading, and what her reaction was going to be. "Oh...kay."

"I met someone you Aunt Ally was close to. Her husband. He lives on the third floor." James bookmarked his place and stood up.

"Aunt...Ally?" Angelina's eyes lit up. "She has a husband? He's alive still? He's on the third floor?" She nearly split the hot water from the kettle as she spoke and she winced as she quickly finished pouring the tea into the cup. "What is he like?"

James laughed, "He's a fun old man. Colorful and bright. He was able to help me out...in more ways than one. For one thing, he offered to show me how to play guitar, since I haven't done that before."

Angelina smiled warmly, "Zan plays guitar from time to time. She told me before she started working at the cafe, she was a street performer. She likes to sing. I'm glad you're doing more things. I was worried. You were upset when I left."

"I was...but he made me feel better. The other thing I wanted to mention was..." He shifted a bit, looking a bit shy, but there was a small smile on his face, "I sort of made contact. In a good way this time. I texted Steve last night while you were having your sleepover and we talked for a while...then this morning I went for a run with him, but we didn't talk face to face."

"Uncle Steve is probably really happy," Angelina grinned as she sipped her tea and leaned against the counter. "Dylan told me that he wanted to be taken out for a lunch. I guess he wanted to celebrate or something. Is the mission coming to a close then?"

"Mission Protect is an ongoing mission...but I think I'm getting closer." James agreed, "I wanted to know what you thought about going to the Avenger Tower?"

Angelina's eyes widened and then her face fell. She took another sip of her tea. "I don't know." She admitted after a moment. She walked over to the bar part of the kitchen and sat down on the stool. She looked around the apartment that they had gotten for their six month lease. "I like Uncle Steve. I like Sam. Are you asking me to visit or...live?"

"Both? Visit first, check it out, how everyone is and how they treat you...Just be careful of Fury. If he comes by, I would suggest going to Tony. It's his building." James told her carefully, "We're staying here until our time is up. I'm firm on that, unless something drastic happens. Okay? This is just to test the waters."

"What happens after time goes away?" Angelina's eyebrows furrowed. "Do we leave somewhere else or is that the Tower?"

"We could renew it, if we're able." James nodded with a hum, "If things work out, then the Tower is where we would go, yes. If you do not want to, then we can stay, too."

Angelina bit her lower lip. This was going to be a hard decision. She nodded her head a few times. "I'll visit first. Then we decide on moving. Right now, I want to stay."

"Of course, fetiță." James got over to her and kissed her forehead, "I love you. I'm sure things will be fine. You'll have Uncle Steve, too, right there with you. Natalia should be there, and I've told you a lot about her."

Angelina hugged her father tightly. He was really hopeful that she would go to the tower. She didn't know why he was hoping so much. Probably because of Uncle Steve, but she didn't know if the Tower would be home or not. There was only one way to find out. She would have to ask Dylan to come with her.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:40 am

Angelina stared up at the tall skyscraper. It strained her neck and she still couldn't see what the top floor might look like. There was so many floors, and she knew that everyone in the tower had their own personal floor, and then the lower floors were for workers. She was aware that there were a bunch of labs that were strewn about as well. She didn't talk to J.A.R.V.I.S, but her father did say that the building said it was alright for her to come in. That it'd let her through the doors.

Going through the doors, she noticed that it was styled in a very...modern way. The tiled floor was polished so well the light could reflect. There was a coffee shop that had a few people inside, a lot of them with laptops but most of them with ceramic cups that they drank from. Some were tall, some were short and fat, it was like bar-tending. Only with coffee cups. The security desk was in the middle of the floor. There were about three of them, and there were small machines that you were supposed to put your I.D or staff card in or something and the computer pulled them up.
Angelina didn't have anything like that, so how was J.A.R.V.I.S going to get her through security? She could probably sneak by, but her father told her to do things the /right/ way.

"Hey." Angelina jumped and placed a hand on her heart. Steve looked torn between amused and shocked. "Sorry. I thought you saw me in the coffee shop. J.A.R.V.I.S told me that you were coming by and I knew you didn't have a way to get through security."

"Oh." Angelina gasped trying to steady her breathing. She was so glad that she didn't carry her knife. Killing her uncle would be so bad it wouldn't even be on HYDRA's list. "I noticed the cups. I didn't see you."

"Nat would be pleased. You'd like her." Steve grinned placing a hand on her shoulder. She leaned a little into the touch. Steve was starting to become a lot braver in touching her, it was really nice. "Bucky told me that you might do well with someone that went through the same things you did...but I think you might go well with Clint, too. So I asked them if they wanted to hang out today. Tony's super fast and Bruce is pretty calming when he's not upset. You might like them...but I thought it was better safe than sorry and bring you people you might be able to relate to."

"Agents." Angelina nodded, "Good choice. Tată says the same thing about Nat. He calls her little spider. I don't like spiders all that much, but he remembers her more than he does his family. I hear a bunch of things."

"So let's go up." Steve grinned though wondered a bit about that. Nat certainly seemed to know more than she let on. But now wasn't the time to worry about that. "Don't worry about the guards, you're with me." He gently pushed her forward and they started walking to the elevator. Just like Steve said, the guards didn't bother them and they got into an empty elevator. Angelina was nervous and excited. "My floor please, J.A.R.V.I.S." Steve said.

"Of course, sir. Hello, you are Angelina, are you not?" J.A.R.V.I.S. asked, a curious pitch to his AI voice.

"I am." Angelina beamed. "I'm sorry for trying to hack you months ago. I was just curious."

"You are new to this world. Mr. Stark certainly wasn't happy, but it kept us on our toes and I have since had an upgrade. You will have to inform him of any other hacking abilities so I do not fall victim to anything more disastrous. That would be dangerous for everyone." J.A.R.V.I.S. told her, his tone gentle.

"You are new to this world. Mr. Stark certainly wasn't happy, but it kept us on our toes and I have since had an upgrade. You will have to inform him of any other hacking abilities so I do not fall victim to anything more disastrous. That would be dangerous for everyone." J.A.R.V.I.S. told her, his tone gentle.

Angelina nodded, "Tată told me you were security detail." She nodded, "I'll let him know."

Steve had a feeling Tony was going to give a very long winded lecture about that.

"I hope you enjoy your stay. I'll be talking with you throughout, I'm certain. I just wanted to wish you welcome." J.A.R.V.I.S. toned out to leave them to their conversation while the elevator continued up.

The moment that they got to Steve's floor, Angelina felt a wave of sadness go through her. The area was quite bare, save for an easel that was standing at the sliding doors where the natural light was best and his paints. There were bookshelves and movies, but the apartment lacked color. It reminded her of how their apartment looked before they started working on color. For the sheets, for the bathroom, for the kitchen. Angelina and Bucky had both started to collect plants thanks to Dylan and Zan, too. Angelina would have to tell her dad that Steve needed a plant in his life.
This was too sad.

"Hey Steve." Natasha waved from her position on the couch. Her feet were propped up on the table and she was leaning against a blonde haired man who was sharpening his arrows. He also looked over and waved. "Brought a friend?"

"Yes." Steve placed a hand on the back of Angelina's shoulder and gently pushed her towards the couch. Angelina felt worried, she forgot to take off her shoes and she was probably ruining the carpet. "This is my niece, Angelina. Angelina, this is Natasha and Clint."

"Nice to meet you," Angelina said as she bent down to hurriedly take off her shoes. She'll set them by the door later.

"Aw, so sweet, worrying about the carpet. Makes me feel bad for having mine on," Clint laughed sheepishly, "Nice to meet you, Angelina! We've been hearing a lot about you!"

Angelina blinked and Steve laughed sheepishly. "Come on, sit down. I'll grab everyone a drink while I'm still up."

"You're sweet, too, Steve." Nat called after him as he walked into the kitchen. Angelina placed her shoes by the couch and sat down next to Natasha. Nat smiled, "Steve told me that James talked a lot about me?"

Angelina nodded, "You're easier to remember than his family." She tilted her head. "You were like me?"

Clint nudged Natasha with a little wink, "Need me to leave you for privacy? I know you don't like talking about that with people around."

Nat shook her head, "I'm not going too far down the rabbit hole." She assured Clint. "It's a girl thing. You establish a common ground and /then/ you get into the nitty gritty during a coffee break."

"Whatever you say," Clint grinned at her and started putting away his arrows.

Natasha grinned and turned back to Angelina. "Not quite. The Red Room was different from what you went through. Good-guy nonlethal is pretty hard, isn't it?"

"I don't get it sometimes," Angelina confessed leaning back against the couch. "Tată is really into it. There's lots of things I can't do. Which is okay. But it's hard, sometimes I don't know if I'm doing something bad, something good, or neither."

"That's why I had Clint honestly, he was the one that kind of helped me out with what I could do and couldn't. S.H.I.E.L.D had to retrain me in some areas of things as well." Nat nodded. "But you and James appear be doing well for yourselves. So I wouldn't worry too much about it. The Tower is a safe place, so you're not in any danger here as well."

"We rely a lot on J.A.R.V.I.S, but we can handle ourselves pretty well," Clint agreed, "We were waiting for you to work up to coming here. I was pretty excited, not gunna lie. The Soldier's daughter? The Companion? That's interesting in it's own right, but you're /Bucky's/ daughter. Steve's best buddy's, which makes you extra special to Steve. Hell, if you'd waited any longer I probably would've shown up at your doorstep anyway."

Angelina blinked slowly, "I'm...special? I mean, I know the Companion part would interest you. You're a part of S.H.I.E.L.D, but...me?"

Natasha grinned, "Your father and Steve are famous. Their love story is just as on par as the Titanic, though Steve wouldn't dare call it a love story. Everyone wanted to have a friendship like Steve and Bucky's, or even imagine themselves to be apart of the Howling Commandos."

"I'd call it a love story even if he doesn't." Clint chuckled and reached out, ruffling her hair, "You're a cute girl. I hope you are able to find your way. Somebody will always be there to help you out with whatever problem you've got. I've been a little bit brainwashed, too. Not very long, and Natasha broke me out of it, but the point still stands. Nat's been through a lot of her own crap. Steve, too. Not everything's all sunshine and roses behind that dopey smile...oh, hey, Steve, didn't see you were back with drinks."

"I had to stop you before you tried to sprout of anymore poetry." Steve said with a smile as he handed everyone a drink. It was mostly a can of soda, water for Natasha, and he sat down on the other side of Angelina. "We're already talking about the heavy stuff huh? I'm surprised Clint, you had a bunch of questions you wanted to ask her and you wouldn't shut up."

"You wouldn't." Nat agreed with a crinkle at the corner of her eyes as she cracked open her water bottle. "Steve did his best to answer some, but all we got was "I don't know, I haven't asked, that's a good question...it was painful Angelina."
Clint sipped his soda, "They're exaggerating...but only a little." Tapping his chin he hummed a bit before beaming at her, "Are you a sniper like your father? What's your favorite genre? Do you like hiding in the shadows or do you like people to know who's coming after them? Do you prefer reading or have your tried writing your own stories? Do you like playing with tactics on the field or are you a follower? I heard you tried hacking J.A.R.V.I.S. have you played around with a lot of technology? Do you like building things? Do you like the outdoors? Have you tried fishing or horseback riding? Do you like the city? Are you afraid of heights? What about water, are you afraid of it at all? When's your birthday? Do you even know it? What's your natural hair color? Your eyes are so pretty, and I love your freckles."

So many questions. Angelina stared at Clint for a moment. He spoke quickly, but his mind was calm and easy to follow along. Much like her father. Maybe it was because he was a sniper, too. Though his energy was a lot higher than her dad's. "Um...I know how to shoot, but I'm not a sniper. I was trained in hacking, torture, killing methods, manipulation mostly emotional, information gathering both on the internet and from reading someone's mind, and being the Solider's watchdog. The Solider used me a lot more than Hydra ever did really. Hydra liked to do experiments on me. Which is why all the scars." She held her arms out. "For manga I really like dark things. I like horror a lot. Dead Tube is my favorite so far, so is Death Note and Another. I don't like Uzumaki I don't get it. I also like Shoujo. Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket, Fushigi Yuugi. But for real books I like children's books, fantasy, and some romance."

Steve had stared when she spoke about her time in Hydra. Experiments? He wanted to ask what kind, what they did to her, but he had a feeling she wouldn't answer that. In fact, she would probably just smile and say that it was a reward or something. Natasha took a drink of her water calmly, like it wasn't news to her. It probably wasn't.

Clint didn't think twice about what she said about the torture and training. What he /did/ react to were the scars, reaching out to her and catching an arm, leaning over across Natasha's lap and kissing one of them, "Bastards." He muttered darkly under his breath, before he reached the hand up that had held her arm and patted her cheek, smiling brightly, "I don't know much about anime, but I've heard about it. You like children's books? What's your favorite fantasy creature?"

"Dragons and Faeries." Angelina grinned happily. "Faeries try to make you do things, and give you riddles. You're not supposed to eat the food. You're not supposed to be indebted to them either. Dragons though, dragons in the West are bad, but dragons in the East are good." She nodded her head with finality and let her arms drop. "I don't understand the shadow one. Like...if I'm fighting someone? Or am I killing them?"

"Uh...both? Like, you come up behind someone and take them out without them knowing who did it, or sniping, or if you like them to know who's got their life in their hands. That was kind of a dark question, too. You don't gotta answer it. Kinda just popped out." Clint shrugged.

Angelina was thoughtful though and she leaned back. "I never thought of it." She said slowly. "I did what the Soldier told me to do. I killed silently then. But Hydra liked to make a game out of it sometimes. There were some people they captured, I had to kill. They'd tell me they did bad things, so the more blood the better. They always gave more specific instructions to the Solider."
She tilted her head, "I haven't tried writing. I like reading a lot. So does tată. We started collecting books. We have two bookcases. One for me and one for him. We go to the library most often though. We don't buy books too much."

"I have books you could try! Nat might have a thing or two in Russian, and a couple other things if you want something complicated. Steve's got a bookshelf here you can rummage through if you ask." Clint winked at Steve, then returned his attention to Angel, "Everybody here likes books, I think. I'm sure Tony's got a library hidden away somewhere...though he prefers his labs more so maybe not."

"I'll look." Angelina beamed happily. "I like reading books in Russian. It's easier to read than English. I don't tell tată that because he doesn't seem happy. He likes Russian food, but I think that's all the memory he'll take." She was thoughtful. "I wasn't allowed to try out much. I could only follow what the Solider said. I had free reign when it came to what I did with the captives. If I needed to information gather, I could do whatever. Killing, torture. Very rarely did they ask me to do something specific. Besides information gathering. They always told me what to look for. I'm dependent."

Clint tried to catch her attention but resorted to reaching behind Nat and doing it that way. He was avoiding responding to those at this point because Steve got paler the more he heard. It was his fault for asking those questions, but too late now. Steve would want to know it all, just to torture himself, but sometimes Clint wondered if it would be better to get it all out of the way at once or stop after a certain point so not to overload him.

Steve was pale, but he was also boiling with anger and was sad too. They made Angelina and Bucky do such terrible things. Bucky had an entire list, but...the things they did to Angelina. He understood now why Bucky thought Steve couldn't protect Angelina. God. Angelina had been underneath the control of the Solider and Hydra for so long of course she'd pick the Solider. She was the Solider's to begin with. He hoped he could end Hydra, and soon.

Angelina could hear their thoughts going. Steve with his regret, Clint's panic about how much she was revealing, and Natasha who was still listening to this without reaction nor thought. Nothing she was saying was stirring any memory. She was listening to this much like she'd listen to someone gather information and trying to determine what to do with it afterwards.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:08 pm

"So, what about some of te oter things I asked? Fishing, riding, birthday?" Clint encouraged, figuring it would be best to stray away from the darker topics for now. There would be plenty of time for that later, with this group and all.

"I like fish. Dyl-dal took me to an aquarium once. I like the sharks. I don't know about the fishing. I never been. Riding? I never seen a horse before, besides on pictures. I never rode one. I don't know my birthday. Until Uncle Steve had his birthday, I didn't know what it was. I just know I'm eighteen. Tată told me."

Steve smiled sadly, he remembered that conversation. "She came up with brilliant ideas on how to spend it though. She wanted me to be a motorcyle racer in my spare time."

"Now that would be a secret life I'd support." Natasha grinned. "Though I'm not sure you'd look good in leather. Brown leather maybe, but black doesn't suit you."

"His stealth suit is black and that's pretty dashing, though it's not leather." Clint shook his head with a chuckle, "If not racing, just take Angel out or a ride. You don't use it nearly as much as you can. Not everything has to involve you smashing it into bad guys."

"Tată would agree," Angelina said solemnly. "You give him lots of heart attacks when he finds things out. The parachute made him rant. A long time."

"He found out about that?" Steve asked sheepishly.

Angelina nodded, "I'd like to ride. It'll be fun. We'll be really careful. Stick to the street and not freeway till I'm good. Then we do freeway. You could go real fast on that."

"Angelina, you should get him out of the Tower more." Natasha grinned as she watched the exchange. "He needs to do things that are reckless that /isn't/ mission related."

"I do plenty of reckless things that aren't mission related." Steve retorted.

"Pining over Bucky isn't one of them."

Angelina just frowned, "You need fun."

"Fun is a foreign word for this guy, he just worries all the time and thinks too much. You should teach him what fun to /you/ is." Clint beamed at Angel.

"I'm still learning." Angelina tilted her head and looked at her uncle who was looking exasperated at Nat and Clint. Nat just looked very pleased with herself. "I can do my best though. I'll talk to tată and come up with a sub-mission plan."

Steve felt his cheeks burn. Bucky's ideas of fun were always dragging him to dates. He wasn't sure what the new Bucky was going to come up with, or with Angelina's help.

~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:21 am

Tony and Bruce weren't in the labs, but they were at the communal room that was on one of the highest floors. Steve told her that it was the largest place to hang since they were all Avengers. Movie nights happened on Thrusdays, Game nights on Tuesdays, and whatever Tony and Bruce thought of happened in between those days. Steve didn't come up with her, mostly because Nat held him back. She didn't know what they were going to talk about, but Angelina assumed the worst. Nat's mind was too sharp, but a little confusing. Even her own motivations were a bit strange.

"Hey Cap-whose this?" Tony asked as he appeared from the kitchen, wiping his hands down with a dishtowel. His mind was like watching a speed-car race a circuit. it made her dizzy just to listen to it. "J.A.R.V.I.S?"

"That is Angelina Barnes, sir." J.A.R.V.I.S. assured, "She is the one who attempted to break into my system."

"I'm sorry about that." Angelina shifted. "Tată wasn't happy."

"Yeah, neither was I. Why did you try to hack into J.A.R.V.I.S system? You were trying to get into everyone's personal files, I saw that." Tony shook his head, "Well, it's whatever. You didn't get them, and clearly you're not planning on hacking J.A.R.V.I.S again are you?" She shook her head.

"Good. Hey Bruce! Brucy! Bruce. Bruce." He paused and turned to her. "Have you even eaten anything yet? Bruce is making lunch for the team, come on. J.A.R.V.I.S will keep an eye out on you while you're in here. I don't trust you. How did you learn how to hack anyway? Hydra?"

"Um...yes." Angelina frowned as she walked towards the ktichen. It was huge. A long island counter with enough space to walk around it without crashing into anyone. There was a nice bar seat that had fancy glasses hanging above it. A large fridge that could store up tons of food, and there was a man standing at the stove, watching something sizzle in the pan. It smelled really good, it made Angelina's stomach growl.

"I'm going to go annoy Cap." Tony said easily. "I'm only in the way when Bruce is cooking and he doesn't like me in here. Hydra bastards. You're gonna tell me more about your hacking abilities later though. Who knew Hydra even cared about computers. I didn't. Hey Bruce, this is Angelina. She's Cap's niece or something like that. You're good with kids so you keep her."

"Have a seat at the island counter," a nerdy looking man waved absently to the place he mentioned before returning to chopping the vegetables on the cutting board. He glanced behind him briefly, "I only don't like him in here because he doesn't stand still," he clarified to the child.

"I stand perfectly still," Tony answered, but both Angelina's raised eyebrow and Bruce's over the glasses look made him roll his eyes. "I'm not appreciated. I'm going somewhere else then. Ciao. Don't let her burn my kitchen." He walked off towards the elevator and Angelina tilted her head.

"He's so...weird." Angelina went to the island counter and sat down on a stool and watched Tony walk off. "He talks as fast as he thinks."

"That doesn't surprise me at all." Bruce admitted with a soft smile, sliding the chopped veggies into a bowl, "Angelina, is it? That's a lovely name. Steve's niece? So you're Bucky Barnes' daughter?"

"Thank you. Yes. He likes being called James. But, he doesn't say anything when Uncle Steve calls him Bucky." Angelina nodded, "What are you making? It smells good."

"It's a surprise, but also a variety. Are you going to stick around for dinner? Or do you have to go home?" Bruce asked curiously and he put oil on a frying pan, working on breaded fried chicken next, "What do you like to eat? Who does the cooking for yourself and your father?"

Angelina grinned, "Tată and I both share. He does it more though, it's relaxing for him. I like the the taste. I don't have a favorite. I like spicy foods. I got to try Indian Curry with Zan once. Dyl-dal doesn't do spicy, so he told us to have fun. It was. We also tried this strawberry sherbet thing, it was real smooth. I like baking more though. Dyl-dal's been teaching me his recipes and we make things together. Tată has a big sweet tooth so he tastes everything we make. Zan's not much of a sweet person. She likes coffee cakes and things like that." She thought about it, "I can ask my tată if I can stay, but he probably wants me home."

"I'm sure if Steve texts him, he could convince him to let you stay. Steve could even drive you home to make up for stealing you all day." Bruce offered, "I'm sure you're getting hungry, and a group meal would be quite entertaining. You'll be the light of the party, but I can keep an eye on you and steer the conversation off of you if you need it."

"You're really kind. I like that about you." Angelina smiled brightly as she went through her cross-over purse and started digging through it to find her phone to ask her dad's permission to stay. "What do you do? For a job?"

"I try to be kind." Bruce murmured, "I'm glad you like me so far. I don't do anything, except work here. Tony let's me use his lab, and we work together. We have our arguments, as all scientists do, but it's all in the name of research."

Angelina sat up straight. "A scientist?" She felt her heart pound. "You don't do...experiments on people. Do you?"

"Oh, no, no, relax," Bruce said calmly as he shook the chicken in the pan and then flipped them with tongs, "Just technology. Computers and things like that."

Angelina breathed a sigh of relief. "I had enough of being experimented on by others. I don't like needles or knives that much on me. I do computers too. I built my own once. They didn't like it and made me destroy it...till they realized it was helpful. Then they asked me to make another one. They couldn't make up their minds. Do you like cooking?"

"I like cooking, I also like mixing drinks. Domestic things...cleaning house, sowing..." 'Though that last one is a necessity...' he hummed, "Spicy foods...sherbet..." he was making mental notes of foods to possibly make her, or find recipes for. "Building computers is one thing. I wonder what you could do if Tony and I gave you access to the components we have."

"I don't know." Angelina grinned, "Hopefully something good. Especially with the materials Tony has. It depends if he'll let me near them. I ruined his trust with J.A.R.V.I.S. You should write the recipes down. I do better with written word. It's easier to memorize than spoken. English isn't a good language for me yet. You know how to sew? That's so cool! Bartending...it sounds noisy. I haven't been in a bar, but I know that it's loud.. I can't drink yet. I'm eighteen."

"Ha, Tony has his own bar where I can mix drinks." Bruce chuckled and put the cooked chicken on a plate. He'd done a couple batches while they talked and was now done with the chicken. Next step was to do the steak for the 'real meat' lovers and he already had that tenderized, so he grabbed the George Forman press and started to get it hot. "The clinking could be noisy I supposed, though I do agree a real bar is annoying. It suits those who enjoy partying, such as Tony, but quiet people like us don't care for it. Yes I can sew, both with a machine and without. If you have any pants that are too long for you, I can hem them."

"Could you teach me?" Angelina asked, her eyes wide. "Zan taught me how to scrapbook. Sewing would be fun. You don't have to go into a mall! I'm still working on my tolerance to crowds. People think a lot and it gives me a headache. It makes me sick sometimes."

"I understand that feeling. The tenseness, the feeling all eyes are on you. All the touching and too much stimulus." Bruce nodded, "I also understand it's difficult because of your ability to read minds. Perhaps if you come around here more, we could practice. Knowing what you're dealing with helps a lot. I am sure your Dyl-Dal does the best he can, but he doesn't have experience. That's okay, too. There's methods and tricks we can all help with. You've noticed Natasha keeps herself pretty calm, I'm sure."

"Her mind is tricky." Angelina nodded, "I can't read her as well as I can read Uncle Steve. Clint's talks fast, but his mind is easy to keep up with too. I would like to learn. It's starting to hurt tată sometimes. He's...not happy. He tries to be. He's happy when he comes home from seeing Uncle Nick, or texting Uncle Steve, but...I think he's starting to realize that I'm a mess. He doesn't know what to do. Dyl-dal too. We have to keep a lot of things secret from tată. Like the fact I still keep a time log."

"That's very sad..." Bruce admitted softly, brows furrowed, "It sounds like your father is missing something in his life. He is just as lost as you are. Yet he's happy when he talks to your Uncle? That doesn't surprise me at all. He's struggling with Contact, from what I've heard. Texting is a huge step. I didn't expect it to happen as soon as it did." Within a year is what he meant my 'soon', really. He expected it to take so much longer. Yet of course, with the temptation so close, he supposed everything was up in the air.

"I wish I knew what to do. He does a lot." Angelina's shoulder's slump. "I know hiding my problems is bad. But, I think that's the only thing I can do right now. I talk to Sam and Dylan about them, but I don't think I should tell tată and Uncle Steve. He got really upset when he heard about what I was trained to do in Hydra."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:38 pm

"Would you be upset if Dylan had to go through the same things as you?" Bruce asked carefully, slowly.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:55 pm

Angelina frowned, tilting her head. "I wouldn't want him to become a science experiment. They're not very kind and they don't like using anesthesia all that much. The training's interesting, but you can die if you make even a tiny flaw. My handlers were very unforgiving. They didn't kill me, I was lucky. But they liked putting me in the black box. It was horrifying." She shuddered. "I don't want Dylan to go through that either. The black box isn't fun."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:22 pm

"You wouldn't want any of that for him...because he is your precious person, isn't that right?" Bruce hummed, spraying the Forman with Pan spray and throwing the first two small steaks on, pressing the top down lightly and there was sizzling in the kitchen again.

Angelina nodded. "Yes." She felt her stomach growl. The food that he was making smelled so good. She wondered if her father was already texting Steve about letting her stay. He hadn't responded to anything she sent him yet. Unless he was talking to Nicky.

"That's why Steve gets so worried about you. You're the daughter of his most precious person, and you've become your own precious person to him. For Bucky, you and Steve will always be on equal footing when it comes to being precious to him. It frustrates you and makes you sad, to lie and hide, but they just want you to be happy." Bruce sighed, "What Hydra did and does is the worst. Everyone knows that. It took away Steve's precious person and destroyed both of their souls. Now he has to endure the knowledge that you didn't grow up in a loving and happy home. That's ripping his heart to pieces all over again, and it's not your fault. I'm sure he's itching to get back into the fight every time he hears another tidbit. He wants Hydra wiped out more than anyone you could name. Steve has to be one of the most vicious people here, besides Natasha, when people injure those he cares for."

Angelina thought about what Bruce was saying and she frowned as she looked at the counter. Steve was hurting. She knew that. She heard her ringtone go and she quickly looked at it. It gave her time to process her thoughts about what she wanted to say to Bruce.

/'I interrogated your Uncle Steve to see what he'd do with you if you stayed and confirmed it's fine if you decide to stay the night. I'll know where you are. If not I don't care how late or early you come back. I'll be awake either way.'/ James' text read.

"Tată said I can stay for dinner and if I want to, spend the night." Angelina said as she closed her phone and placed it away in to her bag. "I don't know what to do." She said as she laid her head down on the counter, watching him move around the kitchen. "Mission is to protect, but I don't know what I'm doing with that anymore. Open-ended missions are hard. Especially when my protecting is hurting."

"Oh, dearheart..." Bruce sighed softly, "That mission protection detail is never going away. It's permanent. You protect Dylan without needing to be prompted, right? It's the same for Steve, and even your father, or anyone else you're close with. When you stop thinking of it as a mission it'll get easier. What would be easier at the /moment/ is to give yourself sub-missions. Goals. Do this or go there. Get to know, learn. The peaceful downtime between real missions for us can get a little boring...for me I'm grateful whenever I don't have to become the Big Guy, but sometimes even Natasha will get antsy. She would be the person to ask about what to do with your downtime, having the best understanding of your situation."

"Maybe." Angelina said with a frown. "Sub-missions. I don't know. Too much to worry about. Uncle Steve asked me about my education level, I think he wants to work on that. Dylan wants to take me to a con so I gotta work on that. Tată wants me to get used to living in the tower, but...I don't think I want to. I like the apartment where we are. We put things in spaces and those spaces are happy. I saw Uncle Steve's floor. It's so sad."

"Steve is pretty Spartan. It annoys Tony, too, who decorates everyone's floor." Bruce laughed softly and threw two more steaks on since the first two were done, "Work on one thing at a time. I will still suggest having a one on one with Natasha. If you wish to, you could say she is one of my precious people. I trust her enough where she is the one who can calm down the Big Guy. We've been working on it slowly but surely. She'll be good to you."

"I trust you." Angelina nodded, "Talk to Natasha. I'll do that later. I like watching you cook. You don't think fast and it's really nice. Soft even. I don't get thoughts like that often."

"Well, I'll be wrapping up dinner here." Bruce turned to her briefly with a slightly bigger smile than what he'd been wearing, "Just a few more things to cook since Steve eats so much, but then we'll all be sitting down together. If you're staying, I'm sure Tony will make tonight movie night as well just for an excuse to keep you longer."

Angelina smiled and she slipped down from the island counter. "Then I'll tell people to start coming. Movie night sounds good. Not much bothers me. As long as I get home I'm okay with whatever. I don't think I'll sleep over though. I don't like wearing the same clothes. See you at dinner." She said with a wave and went to the elevator.

~*~
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