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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   Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:34 am

The car was a safe space. Angelina leaned against the window as Natasha drove down the city roads, the bright street lights passed them by, making the sky look ten times darker than it was. She felt her eyes droop as she nodded off in the passenger seat, though she fought tooth and nail to stay awake.

"Do you like your apartment?" Natasha asked after a moment of silence. She could tell that Angelia was trying to stay awake, and she knew that conversation was the best way to start that.

"I do." Angelina nodded, "We have plants, we have things. We can put things in spaces. We have space, and a couch, and a T.V that was hand-me-down from a thirft store. It's nice. It's a shame it's only six months though."

"Why you'd stay longer?" Nat questioned. "What about the Tower?"

"I don't like it. Uncle Steve doesn't look happy living in it. It feels isolated, and it's not safe." Angelina shook her head from side to side, clutching her purse tight against her body. "I don't like not feeling safe."

"I'm surprised you'd say it's not safe. J.A.R.V.I.S is the best security detail that we have." Natasha mused as she turned her turn signal on to go down a different road.

"It can be safe from Outsiders, but it's not safe for Insiders." Angelina confessed. "Sam told me."

"What did Sam tell you?"

"That having a bunch of superheroes staying in one place is risky. That you can be obliterated or you could whip ass."

"Whoop." Natasha corrected with a tiny smile appearing at the corner of her lips. "Whip." Her smile grew a little. "So why does the apartment make you sad?"

"Huh?"

"Your apartment. You smiled when you talk about it, but you sounded sad." Natasha corrected.

"Oh." Angelina shifted in the seat. "...Things are hard. There's a lot of things I don't understand, and everyone tries to tell me what I should understand and that's okay. Information is to be shared. But it's a lot of information. My tată doesn't know what to do with the information sometimes. He wants me out of the apartment more. Which is fine, and he wants me to do things, which is fine, but he wants a lot."

Natasha understood what she was saying and nodded her head, "Yeah. I think we weren't much help either were we?"

"Bruce might teach me how to sew...that'd be nice." Angelina offered. "And I could take Uncle Steve thrift shopping. His apartment's sad."

"Yeah, it is." Natasha pulled up to their apartment building and she turned off the car, "Ready to be home now?"

"Yessss." Angelina beamed and jumped out of the car.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:26 am

~

James was more than proud to have Natasha watch him as he tucked Angelina in, her breathing deep with sleep. She'd fallen asleep on the couch first, but didn't budge except to cuddle against him for warmth when he moved her to her bed. After kissing her forehead, he moved away and walked to the door where she was leaning against it, arms folded and an interesting half-neutral half-soft expression on her face. "I can tell she had a great time." She'd told him all about it, he was just re-affirming that it was quite obvious and he was happy.

"Her and Bruce made Tony jealous." Natasha said as she pushed away from the doorframe and followed him back out into the living room. "Clint had asked some very hard questions, but she answered them. It made Steve sad, but...he tends to go after things that make him sad. Or angry."

"I've noticed that. It's a bad habbit, but one I don't think anyone will be able to break so easily. Someone would have to be there with him to tell him to stop and distract him...which I can't do. Not yet." James rubbed his face, "I have an odd request of you right off the bat, but it's something you could do while we talk."

"Hm?" Natasha looked at him curiously, what request could be odd that she could do while they talked?

"I have whatever you need...razor, scissors, but would you cut my hair for me?" James smiled just a bit sheepishly.

"Scissors. A razor might wake Anzhelina up." Natasha nodded as she gestured for him to go towards the kitchen. She found a pair of scissors and she also grabbed a dish towel. She had to go into the bathroom momentarily to find a clip that would hold the towel in place. Once she got him prepped and ready, she held the scissors at his hair. "How short? A trim?"

"I got a hair tie from...heh...my long-lost brother-in-law, so I want to be able to use it. It's getting too dangerous this long, and I can't go to a hair salon." James explained as he had pulled up a chair and had taken off his shirt so hair wouldn't get all over it and it'd be easier cleanup. "Bol'shoye spasibo, Natalia." Thank you very much.

Natasha smiled warmly as she took the comb and started working at his hair. They were silent for a long moment when she decided to speak. "Anzhelina has a hard time being normal." She commented. "You're doing well yourself, but I'm guessing it's because you and Steve have the same kind of stubbornness."

"We really do. I always see him open his mouth when we're doing the runs lately in the mornings, but because of my rule of no speaking, he always clamps it shut or cuts himself off. It hurts us both every time, but I don't know what to do, what steps to take. I say I'm doing my best, but it's certainly not enough." James grumbled in frustration.

Natasha nodded her head. "Do you want my advice or do you want to keep trying? Do you also want my advice about Anzhelina, or do you want to keep trying with that as well?"

"I know when I've hit a brick wall..." James mumbled, "I'll take your advice, as long as it's not 'make contact tomorrow and stop being a whiny /suka/'."

"Aw, that was my advice to." Natasha teased and gently tapped him with the scissors. "Don't move, you're ruining my work. Okay, so for Steve and you...try calling him on the phone instead of texting. You graduated from that. Now you have to start hearing his voice. You should also ask him to do something other than run. You can hang out and not talk. In fact, if he really wants to talk, tell him that he can talk to you, but you just won't respond. It'll make him feel better...or maybe it'll take that itch away."

"I've been toying with the idea...I'm sure you've heard of the coffee shop escapades." James hummed, going as still for her as he would when waiting for a sniper shot. "I want...to start sitting with him at the table...but I will probably only do that when Sam's not with him."

"Sounds like a plan." Natasha nodded, "But you should think about calling him too. It'll be better than texting. It'll also prepare you for contact when you decide to jump the gun."

"Right..." he acknowledged, "I'm sure your advice about my daughter is a bit more complex..." he prompted her for the other half.

Natasha was frowning at that, "She's getting tired, James." She said after a while of thought. "She's trying very hard to try to make you happy, but she's sacrificing a lot to do that. I'd dare say she's going as far as to sacrifice her own sanity, to keep you that way. She's keeping secrets that are painful. Steve stumbled upon a few. So did I. So did Clint. Maybe so did Bruce. But as much as we try to give advice, we're horrible at it." Natasha moved to work on the left side of his hair, combing carefully to capture the ends and started snipping away at them. "Her wall is massive compared to yours."

"I'm pushing her too hard..." James sighed through his nose so he wouldn't disturb her. "She's improved, but she needs a break. Today was a milestone. I get what you're saying." He needed to stop telling her to go places and do things. Stop making her do things she didn't want to do. "I have my moments...but I'm not being a good father..." his voice cracked just a bit without his meaning to. He was way too pushy and Nat was right. Her smile was forced a lot of the time recently.

"I will hit you with the scissors again," Natasha warned. "I didn't say you were a bad father and she'd /never/ say that to you. She adores you. She listens to /you/. If anyone here is a bad person, James, it's Hydra. It's Hydra and you know it." She paused. "It's not a shame to want your child to expand, and grow wings, but of course it's all our fault. We keep trying to help you get her to expand we're just making her dizzy with the information." She paused. "So, how about we shut up and mind our own business and you do your father thing. You're better at it. I mean, I think Anzhelina is about to go off on Steve's apartment. She /hates/ it."

That got an unexpected tiny laugh out of him and he made no complaints as she did hit him with the scissors, but nothing had been ruined so it was okay. "Steve still living the Military life during the Great Depression? I hope he doesn't /eat/ that way, too."

"No, he's a decent cook actually." Natasha hummed. "But his apartment is bare. Angelina was muttering to herself about how the apartment was sad that the things didn't go into spaces and that the spaces were sad that the things weren't there. Whatever that means. She's very obsessed with people having things I noticed. She kept passing food to the nearest empty plate."

"It's her own little quirk. She wants more shelves to place the things Dylan gets her from the shows they watch and she likes the most." James was amused, his smile tender, "I told him to buy her things for her wardrobe for a while until I managed to get to the store. We need shelves for the books we're getting from the library, too."

"Hoarders." Natasha teased fondly, but continued cutting his hair and stepped back to study her work, raking her fingers through his hair and finding bits she missed. "Well, I can tell you that Steve's about to discover that sensation of wanting to have places to put things in. I'm shocked she didn't say anything about the color in Steve's apartment. It's horrid, James. You'd laugh and cry and you wouldn't know which feeling was stronger."

"Oh god don't tell me it's that boring beige color? Tony had more flair when buying furniture for Angel and I." James rolled his eyes, "May I move now?"

"You can move." Nat agreed after a moment and brushed some of the hair off of his shoulders. "It's worse than that. Not only is the walls beige. But the carpet, the kitchen, the bathroom..."

"I'll tell Angelina to find his paint tubes and smear it on his walls. Give it some character." James groaned, "No wonder she was sad. That is horrific."

"I don't think she wants Steve in the tower..." Natasha continued. "She's definitely not fond of the idea either. I'm sure that if she gets a chance, she'll drag him here and make him live with you two."

That made James go dead silent. He turned to face her slowly, face pale, eyes wide, and his heart had jumped to his throat but was somehow also trying to break out of his chest. "I hadn't...considered that option..." he admitted to her.

Natasha stared at him. "I thought that was why you had Anzhelina check the Tower out. She's a mind reader. She'd know safety way better than any of us."

"No...I had wanted to live there...thought it would be safest..." James swallowed thickly, "It's a new angle to think about. I remember he and I used to bunk together. What would be so different now, besides our obvious PTSD?"

"Well, you have Angelina." Natasha pointed out. "She's eighteen, but she's still living here so you should talk to her about it. Other than that? Probably not all that much. In fact, maybe it's better for you. Don't tell Steve, by the way. If it's something you think is better, which I do, then let me know and I'll get Steve out of the tower and distract Tony." There was a curve at her lips to indicate she wasn't serious about it.

James reached up and tenderly touched Nat's lips. It was an old, familiar gesture and he watched her for her reaction, visible or not. He didn't mean anything by his touch, not in that way. It was just something sweet. He smiled just for her, in that way he used to as well when things were darker yet simpler. "You're a gift. This has been an enlightening night. Thank you for your advice. I needed it, obviously." He brushed his fingers across her cheek next and then dropped his hand as he stood up.

Natasha nodded, though she was taken aback by the gesture. She was thoughtful and she watched him for a moment, "I'll drop by again." She assured after a while. "You need some rest. Have a good night, James." She placed the scissors away and walked off, closing the apartment door behind her quietly.

James took his time, cleaning up the kitchen and taking a shower to get rid of the hair tickling the back of his neck and his shoulders. When he was done, he found his phone and lounged on the couch, not ready for bed yet. Natasha's words tumbled in his mind, and he flicked through his phone contacts. He had Sam's number, even though he'd never called nor texted. Dylan and Zan, Angelina, and Steve. Clicking on Steve's he shot an easy text. /'You awake? Don't lie if I woke you.'/

/'Still awake.'/
Steve's reply came quickly. /'Did Angelina get home safe?'/

/'Yes. Nat's on her way back now.'/ James' stomach was twisting tight, and his breathing spiked as he felt anxiety and panic. He was always just...so worried Steve would ask /questions/ and that was why he'd put the gag on him. Yet...that just...wasn't fair. To anyone. /'We had a good talk...I missed her.'/

/Very Happy/
Steve sent before sending. /Angelina was a sweetheart. I think she likes Bruce more than she likes anyone. Well, besides Sam. I think Sam might be her all time favorite./

/'I'm glad she found someone new to attach herself to. I'm sure she charmed everyone.'/ James gripped his phone and barely resisted crushing it. He gritted his teeth. You didn't get anywhere without taking risks, and that was what they did best. /'I have something I want to say.'/

/Okay./ Steve wrote back promptly. /I won't text till you say it./

James hit the call button.

It took a few rings before Steve picked up, "You made me drop my phone, I wasn't expecting it." He was laughing. "Hey Buck."

It was an extremely weird mix he was feeling right now all of a sudden. His throat and words were locked up, but Steve's soft rumble of a voice sent chills along his spine that both soothed and put him on a live-wire. There was silence for a long moment, and they just listened to each other's breathing. He only spoke at the same time he heard Steve's take a breath to say something as well. He wouldn't ever /not/ be able to predict his moves, he was sure of that.

"Yes." He said first, and then, "My name is Bucky." Wouldn't Nick get a riot out of this. His own name didn't sound like he was disgusted with himself anymore. "As...good as that is, by the hitch in your breath...I really just...wanted to say /good night/, Steve." Such a silly, simple little thing he wanted to say, but it turned into so much more, didn't it? It probably always would.

Steve's voice sounded like it was smiling, "Goodnight Bucky." He said lightly. "It's so good to hear your voice."

How about a cherry on top of this cake? "You're a punk."

Steve cracked up, "And you're a jerk. I'm not hanging up till you do."

It was a good game. He really didn't. He also didn't say anything else. Bucky just listened as he shuffled around his room, doing whatever Steve did now a days to get ready for bed, and then finally it got quiet except for breathing again when he got in his bed. Buck was still on the couch, but Angelina had found him here before. He didn't want to move. The warm feeling he had was just...too good. Natasha was always right.

Steve's breathing was struggling, wanting to go deeper for sleep, but the stubbornness made Bucky smile. He whispered 'good night' again, barely a whisper, but their hearing picked it up so easily. Steve returned the words to him, and Bucky ended the call. He had pushed his own limit, but he would get better.

They'd all get better.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:18 pm

They needed to talk. Angelina could hear it in his mind, his thoughts coming and going with how he was going to approach Steve without being too creepy. It had been awkward the last past few days since she came home. Her father was careful. He stopped suggesting about what to do the for the day, and instead asked her if she had any plans. She was happy for the change in question, it made her a bit relieved, but she couldn't help but to notice the change in thought.

"Anzhelina...I want to talk to you about something important." Bucky finally said after a long day of mostly silence unless he was in the kitchen and asking her what she wanted.

Angelina pursed her lips together as she came out of the kitchen, carrying a tea cup. "I think we need to talk too." She agreed. "Couch?"

The couch had become their go-to place for talking. They'd tried it in the bedroom a time or two, but with it's high back and arm rests, they could sit in the corners and feel protected, especially if it was a deep conversation. So, that is what they did. After a moment, Bucky took a deep breath. "I decided on the name I want to use." He decided to start out with. He had already told nick when Angel was with Dylan the day after his phone call, and had told Zan at the coffee shop yesterday. "I'm going by Bucky now. It felt like the time was right."

Angelina wrinkled her nose, "I liked your other name. But it's a good name. Do I still call you tată?"

"Of course! That doesn't change anything." Bucky assured her, "We're still tată and fetiță, I swear. That will always be the same. I hope...going by a different name doesn't bother you?" he asked worriedly, "I hope I'm not...changing too much?" The last thing he wanted was for her to be uncomfortable, to think of him as a stranger and not her father.

Angelina shook her head from side to side. "What you want matters too." She told him gently. "Uncle Steve always thinks and calls you Bucky. I'm used to James. But that's okay. I can get used to Bucky, too."

Heaving a great sigh of relief, he reached over and hugged her tightly. After a sweet moment he pulled away, "So...I also wanted to to tell you one more thin, and then you can talk to me about whatever you wanted."

"Okay," Angelina took a breath readying herself to hear whatever it was that he was about to say. He was keeping it purposefully away from his thoughts, so she couldn't cheat.

"So...it had been a while since I looked at it, but I took a gander at your birth certificate because I had a feeling in my gut." Bucky smiled, "Your birthday is coming up. Would you like to know what it is?"

"I was going to ask you about that," Angelina leaned in, her hands clutched at her knees. "Everyone keeps asking me about it. I keep telling them that I don't know. They looked at me weird for not knowing. What is it?!"

Bucky laughed and then rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, "That's my fault for not telling you. It's actually August 25th. You're a Virgo...like your Auntie Allison. Nick told me her birthday had been September 15th."

Angelina stared for a moment and she leaned back. "August twenty-fifth." She repeated. "My birthday's...this month!" She clapped her hands excitedly. "That's so cool! I'll text everyone I know later. They've been wanting to know. It bothered them that I didn't. I'll make sure to include Uncle Steve. I'm sure he'd want to know too."

"Go ahead . I already have a plan for Steve...I wanted you to know that I called him for the first time a couple days ago. We didn't say much, but it was...enough. I could tell he was very happy. I was going to start sitting with him at the cafe instead of just doing runs with him in the mornings." Bucky informed her, "I'll have something to ask him face to face...it will and won't be contact. I know when I break this barrier a lot of things might happen in quick succession. We'll see."

Angelina nodded and she took a sip of her tea before setting back down on the coffee table. "It might, it might not. We'll see what happens." She agreed. She pursed her lips together for a moment before taking a breath. "Uncle Steve has easy solutions, but...we're struggling ourselves. Communication is important. Sam said so."

"I am beginning to understand that." Bucky nodded, "Not everything can happen in a snap. We both know that. At least we're both making more progress than even we gave ourselves credit for."

Angelina smiled, "We do our best. Our best is enough." She paused. "I'm not very good at talking. Not about my wants and needs. I know what I want matters. I know what I need matters most. But it's hard to...talk about it. I don't have the words, or if I do, they get stuck and I feel bad." She reached over and took her cup. "You're not a mind reader. Lot's of things that are said or done hurt. They hurt a lot. I don't like keeping secrets from you, but Dylan told me that if it's a secret that makes you happy not to know, then it's a secret worth keeping. Because it'll hurt you if you know. I don't want you to be like Uncle Steve, who finds things to hurt himself with."

"Oh... fetiță..." Bucky frowned and patted her head gently, "Nat mentioned there were things she, Clint, and Steve found out or guessed at. If you think it won't hurt me not knowing, then...do what you think is best. Secrets are a tricky thing...but I'm sure if you ever decide to tell me, I will understand your reasoning."

Angelina felt relieved. She never wanted to have her father think badly of her, especially for trying to protect him. She felt her shoulders slump physically and her mind stopped buzzing in worry. She had been so scared. "Okay." She said and she took a breath. "I was worried that it'd hurt you knowing I was hiding things. But thank you. It means a lot."

"Is that all, Angel love?" Buck asked kindly, "That's all I really wanted to talk about. How about you?"

Angelina shifted, "I noticed that you're trying really hard with me." She rubbed her hands together and started fidgeting with her fingers. "You're not telling me what to do or where to go, but asking me about my plans instead."

"Nat also kind of yelled at me." Buck admitted, "I've been pushing you pretty hard...and she told me to dial it back a notch or two. So, I just wanted you to have a break from me nagging you and you can go at your own pace for a time."

"Oh." Angelina frowned deeply. "I'm used to you shoving, but everyone else has their own advice. It's hard to take into consideration a lot of it. Sam and Bruce have good advice though." Her frown turned thoughtful and she placed a finger on her chin. "Sam told me to work on crowds. Go small then big. Dylan and I went to some places, but...maybe I should try on my own? Ask Uncle Steve to come with me? He needs things to do. His apartment is awful, tată. It's so sad."

"Nat told me it was beige everything. Honestly I forgot this, but I was going to tell you next time you're there to find some of your Uncle Steve's paint tubes and smear paint on his walls." Buck smirked at her. "Watercolor won't work, it'll have to be some actual paint."

"I'll see what I can do," Angelina promised before furrowing her eyebrows. "You need to be with Uncle Steve more. His apartment is sad, and that makes him sad. I think he has the sadness sickness. I think it's sickness anyway. His mind isn't...it's like yours. Only without the holes. It's heavy."

"Yeah...I know. I'll do something about it over the next week. Then we can start preparing your birthday party, okay?" Buck kissed her temple.

She hugged him. "I love you." She said as she rested her head against his shoulder. "I can't wait for the birthday. That's so cool. I'll text everyone now!" She let him go. "I'll do my best to do you proud." She told him before she ran off to find her phone.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:45 am

It'd been four days and Bucky felt like he was going to explode. Right now his chin was in his hand as he watched Steve watch him. The first day had been awkward, not too sure how to feel about it on both ends. Second day Sam'd been there. Third day Buck had basically done a note-passing sort of thing, as if they were texting but they were right in front of each other. Mundane topics were filling up his journal, but it was casual and more relaxed. Today, though...today Bucky had the notebook but didn't want to use it. He wanted to use his goddamn words and Steve knew him as well as Bucky knew Steve. Of course. So...Steve was waiting.

"I knew that you were dating, but you don't have to make out." Zan said dryly as she came to their table, her tray on her hip. "Coffee? Tea today? Or do I need to whip up something special?"

"Whip up a surprise for me. I'm feeling ambitious." Steve said, not once taking his eyes off of Bucky.

'Of course you are, you little shit.' Bucky thought, trying to ignore the heat he felt on his neck and cheeks at Zan's dating comment. A sudden image of Steve lounging in his lap as they watched TV on the couch in their 1940s apartment popped into his mind, and it also caused a pang in his chest. Nat had suggested it...it was a good thought. He turned the memory into a fantasy, imagining them as they were now with Angelina with her feet on her Uncle Steve's lap, morphing the dingy scrapheap they'd lived in into the nice one he had, plant included.

"I promise not to hold it against you." Steve assured as he leaned back. "I was teasing about the date, Buck. I'm sorry." He looked a little sad. "I didn't want you to think that I was rushing you. We're gonna take our time here. You're doing so well. I don't want to be the reason you have to take seven steps back or so."

"O-Of course. I know that. Sorry for snapping." Buck worried his bottom lip, "I want...to say a lot of things, but ninety percent of it isn't appropriate for public. So...I'll just stick with what's important right now. Not only is it special because I'm talking to you, but...you got Angel's text about her birthday, yeah?"

"Everyone got the text." Steve laughed, "With a bunch of emojis and hearts. She's really excited about knowing it." His smile turned soft and tender. "And think, she didn't know what it was. I was actually hoping to talk to you about it too. I want to do something for her for her birthday and I need ideas."

"That's exactly what I wanted to do. For physical gifts, if you want...to...go shopping, we can do that, but..." Bucky slid the notebook over to Steve.

"The birth certificate there will help of course, but yes really." Buck's throat tightened with emotion, "I have to tell you, don't /ever/ call her by the name on that. We haven't gotten it legally changed to Angelina yet. It's an alright name when it's used for others. She's heard of the Virgin Mary, but it's a horrible trigger when you address /her/ by it."

Steve nodded solemnly, "Angelina's a better name." He said easily. "It suits her. You named her that didn't you?"

"I did...rather, the Soldier did, but...yeah. Either way you look at it." Buck shrugged. "I knew you'd accept, but thank you. I just want someone to be able to take care of her if anything happened to me. Don't give me that look, Steve."

"Nothing's going to happen and even if it did, I don't think Angelina would let it happen." Steve said shaking his head from side to side. "I wouldn't dare let anything happen to you. You gotta know that."

'If something did, you have a reason to live this time...' Buck sighed deeply, "All in all, this is going to be profound. We can announce it at the party? Angel wants to have it at our apartment."

"She's not very happy with mine and as much as she likes Bruce and Sam, she doesn't know them well. Well, she doesn't know Bruce well. She probably feels like she's over stepping on Sam." Steve said sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Compact apartments are probably smaller and safer. I know sometimes I want to have a small, compact space for myself. It's easier to manage than too much space. I don't even know what to do with it all. But, in answer to your question. Yes. We'll announce it at the party."

Zan brought out the drinks and she placed it in front of them. "Angelina's birthday party right? Dylan and Angelina practically had an emoji war over it and that's because they decided to group me in the same message." She smiled brightly. "Do you need her at all during the day, Buck? I have an idea of what I want to do with her, but...it might be an all morning some stuff in the afternoon thing. Unless you want to have family time?"

"It's her day. I don't mind. It'd give me time to decorate." Buck smiled at Zan, taking his drink, "If you don't have anything /you're/ gunna do, Steve, you...could...come help me."

"I'd love to. I'd owe you that anyway since you'll be shopping with me." Steve grinned and turned to Zan. "What's your plan that requires you to take her for the whole day?"

"Girls' day." Zan said with a smile. "She needs to be pampered by a professional. Not my clumsy way of doing one." She knocked on the table as she walked off.

"Zan is going to make Angel into a proper girl." Buck chuckled deeply, taking a good sip, "I might have to play dad and reign Dylan in when he starts drooling. He's already texted me telling me he's going to bake the cake."

"He adores her." Steve smiled warmly. "You know, I wager that he's going to ask her to marry him in November."

"Hell I hope he waits a /bit/ longer than that!" Bucky made a horrified face, "They act as though they've been together for years, but there's people who are together for six years instead of six months and they break up. I trust him but I just want them to take their time a little bit."

Steve nodded, "So, when do you think he should ask her? I know you said a bit of time, but...I want to know what your "bit" looks like."

"At least get through the holidays...maybe after Valentines. That sounds cheesy I know, but that's roughly seven to eight months. That's a decent amount of time, right?" Buck winced.

Steve blinked, then his smile widened. "You haven't lost it."

"Lost...what?" Buck blinked at him. "I mean...Nick told me Rebecca and her husband got engaged before they even reached a year so...if it's a Barnes thing then..."

"Almost all of your family got married quick. Ally and Nick were just trying their hardest to wait for us, but that's not what I meant." Steve shook his head. "I'm talking about your sense of romance. You never would dare call it cheesy. Getting engaged in February is something you'd do too." He smiled warmly. "But yeah that's enough time. We'll just have to see who gets closer."

"That's for sure." Buck nodded with a shy smile. "I look forward to this party. I'm glad I made you happy." That was all he really wanted out of this, to make Steve happy, because he didn't want to be someone who made him sad.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:26 am

On the morning of August 25th around 8, Angelina was dragged from her apartment by an enthusiastic Zan who said that she had the perfect plan for her birthday and told her to come with her. One bus ride later and Angelina was staring in awe as they walked into a salon. It was a small hole in the wall that had decent pricing for cuts and for hairstyles. It was cramped with five rows of chairs and long mirrors that went on the wall. The salon had bright white lights, and bright white walls with messy aluminum tiling on the floor. It wasn't the most expensive place on the planet, but Angelina could tell from the way the stylists were thinking that they were good at what they did.

Zan decided on getting her hair trimmed, since it had so many split ends (not that Angelina knew what that was). Angelina on the other hand asked the stylist -Hannah- to give her a shoulder length hair cut, her bangs trimmed and if she could dye it brown.

“Brown? Really?” Zan asked when she heard the color. “What about something wild, like sky blue or bright bubble gum pink.”

“I thought white was a wild color.” Angelina frowned as she looked over at her friend.

“It is, but you could go crazier. You have the perfect color for it. Are you sure you want to dye it brown?” Zan looked at her curiously.

“I think I want normal hair for once.” Angelina mused. “I don’t really know what brown will look on me.”

Hannah handed Angelina a book that was filled with colors that she could do that would make her hair brown. She mused over a few of them before she found one. “This.” She pointed at a chocolate brown color that had just a bit of red in it. Not too much, but enough to give it some dimension.

"That's a beautiful color, it'll go well with your complextion too." Hannah mused as she looked at the book and ran her fingers again through Angelina's hair. "Your hair feels dry so we're going to wash it. Did you ever dye your hair before?"

"No." Angelina shook her head. "My white hair is natural."

"That explains the brittleness." Hannah said quietly. "Okay, let's get you all fixed up."

She never had her hair washed by someone other than her father, but it was so nice. Hannah's nails didn't scratch her scalp too badly and the massage felt wonderful. It felt like a deeper cleansing than her normal hair wash routine was. The only downside to it was it was hard to talk with Zan underneath the running water. Once both girls were done getting their hair washed, and were guided back to the chairs, Zan took over the conversation again.

“Was your original hair color brown?” She asked as her stylist, Matt, started combing her hair, being gentle and starting at the ends and working her way up.

“I think so. I don’t remember the exact color. But I’m pretty sure it was.” Angelina frowned, looking at Zan through the mirror. Hannah was doing the same, her thoughts careful on the cut that she was going to do. Her mind was methodical, much like how Matt’s was about the type of hair that they had, the kind of technique would get the cut that they need or want, and for Hannah and Angelina, the type of color formula needed in order to get the brown. “Are you sure you’re okay with me dying my hair?”

“I saved up money.” Zan waved her hand. “I wanted to do a girl’s day with you for, forever. I knew you were having problems with crowds, but you did /awesome/ on the bus.”

“Sam gave me an idea and told me that music helps. I borrowed Dylan’s iPod.” Angelina grinned.

“Isn’t his taste in music weird?” Zan wrinkled her nose. “I hate the indie stuff. It’s so…”

“You play guitar.” She frowned at her friend. “You can’t say you don’t like indie music. That’s all indie music is sometimes.”

“Dylan needs to learn guitar or something.” Zan grinned. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll spare you Dylan’s taste in music and I’ll let you listen to my iPod on our way to the spa place I’m taking you to.”

“Spa?”

“Yeah. It’s not like a real spa with massages and stuff. But manicures, pedicures, facials. Maybe eyebrows. I know I need it.” Zan grumbled touching her eyebrows. “Luckily they had a package deal and a discount if I brought a friend so I’m actually saving money than I am spending too much.”

“You didn’t have to go all out.” Angelina admonished. “I’m happy with just this.”

“You need to be spoiled and Bucky’s not going to have the patience to just sit while you make yourself pretty.” Zan rolled her eyes. “Besides, consider this a starter package.”

“Starter?”

“Yeah. Once you feel how this goes, you might just do more.” Zan grinned.

“Maybe…” Angelina mused.

It took Angelina hours for her to get done, and by the time that they were through with that, all of the morning had finally passed and it was almost noon now. Angelina kept feeling her hair, noting that it was straight with a feeling of a soft, silky texture that she didn’t get with her shampoos and conditioners. She didn’t realize how badly damaged her hair was from not being taken care of for years. Washing it and maintaining it was only the surface. She was advised to find a deep conditioning mask for her hair so that she could get some of the oils back into it.

“You look so pretty. That brown really makes your freckles pop and your eyes.” Zan gushed. “Maybe you were right to go the normal route. I’m still sad you didn’t go wild.”

“Maybe next time.” Angelina promised. “I don’t know if I’ll get my brown hair again.”

“Besides dying it? The stress is that bad?” Zan frowned, “I thought that if your hair turns white, the color would come back.”

“I don’t know. I had white hair longer than brown.” Angelina explained. “Where do we go now?” She hoped to distract Zan’s thoughts from anything too awful.

“Spa place.” Zan grinned. “Come on, I know the bus we need to take.”
~+~
The spa place was actually called a nail salon that offered some facials for easing to relaxation, but Angelina could understand why Zan would call it a “spa” place. It certainly had the atmosphere of one, due to Angelina doing some research about what a spa place might look like. The music was soft and ambient, the walls were a rich brown and the technicians were all attentive. They were also all oriental.

Angelina fount out that her technician came from Taiwan and she was studying abroad. She spoke in the same broken English Angelina had, and it was quite nice to talk to someone who as also a stranger in this strange land. They compared foods, drinks, and even manners. Zan didn’t get to say much since she was American born and pure, but she certainly had a few laughs about what they were talking about, agreeing that yeah…America was strange.

The facial had been weird, but the pedicure along with the small foot massage had been lovely. Angelina was a little apprehensive about the manicure as she knew that the nail paint would chip faster and easier than it would on her toes. She balked at the idea of having fake nails as well. Her real nails needed care and tending too. Fake nails just didn’t look nice.

Though they did look nice on Zan’s hand. But that was Zan.

“Now we’re doing your make up. Come on. We’re going to go to a make up store and seeing if we can’t use their samples.” Zan said once they exited the store. She forced Angelina to wait outside, like she did for the salon so that Angelina couldn’t see the price.

“Samples?”

“Yeah.” Zan grinned brightly. “A lot of make up stores have a counter where you can try their make up. It’s free and it’s no hassle. Also, if you find a product that you like or a color that you think looks good, you’ll know the brand and everything so you won’t have to spend hours and hours looking for the right foundation.”

“Foundation?” Angelina frowned, “It took you hours to find that?”

“Yeah. You have to have the right shade or something close. Though if you’re cosplaying you can go either one to two shades lower than your natural foundation or two shades higher than your natural shading. Meaning pale or tan.” Zan explained.

“But to do that you find the base.” Angelina nodded her head. “Got it. So, we find the make up counter. How do we get to the store? Bus?”

“Bus.” Zan nodded and grinned as they reached the bus stop and sat down on the bench. ‘We’ll wait for the first one that comes our way. Most of them all past the store so it doesn’t matter the route. We’ll pick the bus with the shortest way to get there though, okay?”

“Sounds good.” Angelina nodded and sat down next to Zan on the bench waiting for the bus to arrive.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:10 pm

~*~

The day was already interesting when Dylan walked in and Bucky and Steve were standing on the couch. They were /supposed/ to be hanging up decorations, but someone's hand had brushed the other's and they were staring at each other like they were the sun and moon.

It was odd having Steve there and Bucky wasn't actively avoiding him. Bucky was /talking/ to Steve. After almost two months of knowing them, Dylan was used to Bucky going 'not yet, not yet' and it had been a huge shock already having them text each other, let alone talking on the phone.

He supposed if Angie was the one taking a break and going her own pace now, it was Bucky's turn to bound forward through the hardships.

As he was setting the last candle in place, there was a knock on the door. Zan and Angie were back from their girl day. The only pictures he'd gotten were of Zan's little makeover, but Angie was a total surprise which was fine. Steve yelled 'just a minute' and Dylan snatched up the lighter, clicking it on as Bucky dashed for the lights. After all 19 candles were lit up, Dylan made his way to the couch and sat down, cake on the coffee table. Steve and Bucky joined him on either side. Zan would get the switch Bucky had just turned off when she rounded the corner.

When they did, he was okay being momentarily blinded as the three of them jumped up, arms reaching for the ceiling in a sort of 'do the wave' motion, all yelling along with Zan, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Angelina gasped when they stood up with their hands in the air. Steve was grinning wildly, and her father was looking bashful like he coudln't believe that he did that as well as how excited he was to celebrate his daughter's birthday for the first time. Dylan had no qualms about the hiding and popping out, but she did notice that he was staring at her in surprise as her new appearance was starting to sink in. "Thank you!" She beamed happy as she looked at her family. She noticed that her father was also staring at her in shock and she felt a little nervous. "Thank you! Uncle Steve you're here!" She grinned brightly.

"I wasn't about to miss out on your birthday. Tony wanted me to drag you to the Tower for a bash, but Bruce and Nat talked him out of it." Steve beamed back. "Look at you..." His voice turned soft. "For a moment I could've sworn I was looking at Becca."

"Hey, Angie..." Dylan's voice was full of awe, and he looked star-struck, his mind not blank but slow like molasis. 'She's so beautiful...camera...yeah...' like he forgot she could read minds. "I gotta be your camera man for this. Is it in it's usual place?"

Angelina blinked slowly, she wasn't used to having her picture taken. "Um...yes." She nodded and smiled slowly and she looked at her father and Steve. "It's okay if takes pictures right?"

"I'll probably be taking some on my phone too." Steve admitted. "If that's cool with you, Angel."

"It's fine..." Angelina nodded slowly.

"You should hurry and get that camera. Otherwise Angelina won't be able to blow out the candles cuz the cake's on fire." Zan said with only a hint of sarcasm.

Bucky motioned for Angelina to take Dylan's place as he quickly bolted for their room, and Steve fumbled to get his phone from his pocket. He couldn't focus on much besides his daughter. Tears were prickling but he held it back. She was lovely. She really did...look like his daughter. "Can definitely tell that's my nose..." he murmured with a weak chuckle.

Zan beamed happily and once everyone was ready and around the cake, they sang. Steve had a horrible singing voice, but Bucky at least could carry a tune. Zan was more or less in tune with Bucky, but Dylan was too busy snapping pictures to even sing, let alone look away from Angelina for more than five seconds. Angelina took a moment, a deep breath, and blew out the candles the best that she could. Steve looked over at Bucky whose eyes were getting more watery as the moment progressed and he walked over and nudged his best friend in the arm with his elbow.

"I'm...sad she had to dye her hair for it to look like mine, but I'm just...so happy because /she/ looks happy and healthy. You saw Rebecca, probably because of her freckles, but I...I also got a memory of Ali, how she looked prim and proper, her hair all done up and nails polished and makeup on point." Buck rubbed his eyes as the twins took a moment to hug Angelina.

"Ally had ways to do hair." Steve agreed with that. "Her make up too. Nick showed me pictures of their wedding day." He watched as Dylan started combing Angelina's hair with his fingers and how Angelina was talking animatedly about the stylist that she had and Zan's day. "I'm actually surprised that Zan didn't manage to talk to Angelina about going more crazy with the hair color. I seen some /real/ interesting colors since I woke up. I thought Angelina would be more drawn to that...but...I can see why she didn't want to."

"Y-Yeah." Bucky didn't say much more. He really didn't have to. So, he slid the candles from the cake and placed them on a separate plate, taking one and sucking on the frosting on the bottom, then took the knife and started cutting pieces for them all.

"You're hair is so soft!" Dylan marveled, "It looks more like Bucky's, all shiny and fluffy! The stylists gave you the list of stuff they used? We should totally get it for you. Oh, oh, yeah, cake! Eat cake then presents!" He beamed at her, "Did you like how the cake looked? I baked it, so it should taste good!"

"I did." Angelia beamed happily. "They gave me a list. Zan made notes on her phone and she's gonna text it to me in a little bit. Let's pass around the cake." She was pleased to know that the cake was strawberry and the frosting was buttercream. Angelina's favorite.

"Your nail color is pretty." Dylan added when he was finally able to look somewhere other than her face, "Your makeup makes the blue in your eyes pop out, too. Zan's usually pretty good with makeup. She always does mine for me when I cosplay."

Angelina was surprised he noticed so much, and she grinned at him. "Zan is a magician." She agreed. "We went to a store she's found of and they had a make up counter. We tried on foundations, and other things. She wrote things down too so if I wanted to do my best and start my own collection, I have an idea of what I'm looking for. I didn't know what nail color to pick, but Mali gave me suggestions."

"Zan threatens me that when we're old enough to drink that she'll paint my nails pink one day." Dylan laughed, "Turn me into some sort of pretty pretty princess."

Angelina frowned and tilted her head, "I don't know. Maybe. We'll see if it happens. You might not look good in a dress."

"If he's cross-playing he does." Zan muttered.

Dylan's face flushed, "Shut up, Suzie. I'm glad she can't read images and just words."

Bucky just gaped at him for using Zan's most hated nickname, fork halfway to his mouth.

"You are sooo lucky that this is Angie's birthday, but when we get home, you /better/ lock your door and hide." Suzanna warned. "Cuz if I get a hold of you, you're gonna be /begging/ for mercy."

Angelina gasped dramatically. "Not the figurines!"

"If I can't get him, I might." Zan said viciously.

"If you catch me I'll even let you take pictures of me, but show mercy on the figurines," Dylan looked horrified.

Zan leaned back against the couch, satisfied. She took a bite of her cake.

Angelina stared and she looked at Dylan worriedly, "Scary."

'I haven't played with her like that in a while, it was kinda fun even if I'm gunna regret it later.' Dylan gave her a lopsided smile back, also taking a bite of his cake.

Angelina smiled brightly and she looked over at Steve and her father. They were sitting close together. Her father was just reeling over how she changed her hair, and how she looked. Steve was, as always, focused on her father. His mind not once strayed into the bad territory. It was nice to see Steve relax. For once.

After they had their fill of sweet cake, Bucky was the fastest at getting up to get his gift. A variety selection of bubble bath and body wash. A gift receipt was also in there in case she didn't like any of them.

He didn't bother wrapping them, but had placed them in a very beautiful gift bags. She had 3 bubble-bath and 3 body-wash duos which could be either one or another. One was scented with vanilla spice, another like Sakura, the other had a nice floral scent that was mixed in with strawberries. It wasn't overly strong, but soft. The other three were Moonlight Path, which had a nice floral scent with some musk here and there, peaches, and of course her all time favorite French Lavender and Honey, the best thing to use for her restless nights. She set her bath set aside and she hugged her father tightly. "I'm gonna try them all!" She grinned, "Thank you so much. They smell really good. I can't wait to try them."

"Your Uncle Steve had a hand in a couple of those when I was indecisive. I am glad you like them, I was a bit worried I was getting you a silly gift." Bucky hugged her back gently.

"Any girl would love that." Zan assured as Angelina nodded her agreement. "Any. Steve was that a combination present or did you grab something for her?"

"I did." Steve handed her a small square box. "I wanted to get you earrings, but Bucky reminded me that you don't have your ears pierced and necklaces were just too hard to judge so...I'm sorry I'm giving it away. Go on, I can't take the suspense."

Angelina quickly unwrapped the gift and she slowly opened the box to reveal a silver chain bracelet. On the chain was three charms that were already placed on. There was a yellow duck with a silver backing, a silver stack of books, and a camera. "A charm bracelet!" Angelina gushed. "I read about them."

"Yeah, I know you like collecting memories and this is just another way in case you don't have your camera or anything." Steve rubbed the back of his neck. "I hope it encourages you to travel and want to go places too, since a lot of places do carry charms. It's not...common as it used to be, but there are still people who collect charms and make them into bracelets. I thought you'd appreciate it."

"I like it!" Angelina grinned as she took it out of the case. She went over to Steve and held her left hand. "Put it on me? Please?"

Steve took the bracelet and attached it to her wrist. The moment it was on, Angelina hugged him tightly and he held her back, rocking her from side to side. "Happy Birthday Angel." He murmured and let her go.

"Me next!" Dylan chirped, grabbing two boxes from under the coffee table and sliding them to her.

Angelina opened one of the boxes first and burst out laughing. "It's Alphonse with a neko!" She gushed as she took it out. "So soft." She hugged to her body and squealed loudly. "It's so cuddly too!" She took it away from her. He was sitting with the cat, his metal cheeks holding a black squiggly line blush. "Oh so cute. I like this one. I never had things stuffed before. That's so cool." She set it aside and she opened the other box and let out another squeal. "Happy Edward!"

Zan cracked up laughing, "He couldn't pick between the two Alphonse's he liked them both. He was going to get you the standing one, but I told him that the sitting one would be easier for you to display."

"Yeah, and you can't have one of the brothers without the other. They're a sort of package deal. Ed always looks so pissy, so I wanted yo to have one with him smiling for once." Dylan beamed and leaned over, kissing Angelina's cheek while she was distracted. Gasps filled the room. "My other present is I want you to be my girlfriend. It's been up in the air and we haven't confirmed anything."

Zan choked on her last bit of cake and had to start coughing while Steve was giving Bucky a look with a raised eyebrow going up. Angelina could hear her Uncle Steve thinking about something about it being close to November after all...whatever that meant. Her father's mind was carefully blank, probably because he was probably trying to let her decide for herself.

Dylan's cheeks turned pink again and he shifted. "I mean. We can wait a bit longer if ya want. That's okay, too."

Angelina thought about it, "We spend lots of time together. You help me with some really bad things. We have a lot of things in common too. I know you're not doing this because you think you deserve it for everything you done. So. Okay."

"Don't you say anything." Bucky shoved Steve's shoulder.

"Sore loser already?" Steve teased him.

"I am sure I could quickly remember where your tickle spots are, Rogers."

"Don't you dare." Steve stood up quickly and moved so that he was sitting on the other side of Zan. "Ha! Now you can't get me."

"You think that, don't you?" Bucky's smirk was wicked and he stood up slowly. "I'm sure Zan recognizes danger when she sees it."

Zan quietly stood up and walked away from the couch and sat down on Angelina's lap. "I will squish your spawn if you try to attack me." She warned.

Angelina spluttered. "Spawn?! I'm not an alien!"

"Zan! You were supposed to protect me!" Steve gave her a "America is disappointed" look.

"Hell no."

Dylan had his hand over his mouth, but he couldn't contain his laughter any longer when Bucky pounced at Steve.

Especially since Steve shrieked with a high pitched sound and they toppled off the couch. "Bucky Buck no! No!" He laughed and squealed. "Bucky!"

"YOU STILL SOUND LIKE A GIRL."

"Are they children or grown men?" Zan asked curiously.

"Both." Angelina nodded, "Now that Uncle Steve isn't in the sad apartment."

"We don't grow up," Dylan confirmed.

"Well, I know you two won't." Zan teased. "Angelina's too cute to grow up and you...well....it's going to be awkward seeing you as an old man, Dyl."

"You'll be that sassy old lady with a plethra of dogs instead of cats in some country cottage." Dylan nodded.

"Dogs are amazing creatures," Zan sniffed. "Unlike cats, which for some reason come to you like you're a piece of tuna or something."

"Zan, why don't you get Angie your present?" Dylan stuck his tongue out and he chanced a peek over the coffee table with the camera, snapping a few pictures while Steve was still squirming to get away.

"So I had this planned out way before I decided to do the girl's day." Zan explained as she picked up her gift. Her gift was longer than everyone else's and a little thicker too. "Sorry." She said sheepishly. "I also included a gift card in it. It's only twenty dollars, it isn't much, so you might be better off finding the make up at a drug store or something. It's really cheap there if you wanted to go for it."

Angelina carefully tore off the wrapping paper and the first thing that fell out was the gift card she mentioned. "Oh wow..." She said softly as she carefully opened the box. Inside was a palette of four rows of four different colored eyeshadow. They all were basically in the same pallet so it was easy to see which one went with which color, but it was gorgeous. There was a neutral, two fun ones, and one pallet for the smokey eye. "So cool." She gushed. "I should get brushes and things like that." She mused. "That's awesome. Thank you, Zan, The day out was enough though."

"You needed something to jump start you with." Zan laughed as she hugged her friend and let her go. "So, we have one more present for you, but it's not from me and Dyl." She gestured over to the two men who were out of breath. "It's from them. I got nosey so that's why I know about it."

Bucky was finally leaning away from Steve, both of them panting and chuckling. Bucky's expression was fond, and when Steve managed to sit up his face matched. "Yes! I heard that. C'mon Stevie."

"I thought you were doing the announcement or...is this a one two three thing?" Steve asked raising an eyebrow as he managed to get up off of the floor.

They hadn't thought about that. That was a good question. "Well, Angel love...I asked Steve a very important question. Of course he agreed. It's something that tends to involve the church, but it's also a legal prospect..." He smiled softly, "There's your introduction, Steve."

"Not that Bucky and I are going to start forcing you to attend. I don't go and Bucky can't go." Steve quickly assured at Angelina's confused expression. "But...uh...Bucky asked me if it was alright if I could be your godfather. Which means if...something happens to him...medically or something...I could care for you. Normally godfathers are assigned when the children are really young, but we...didn't get that chance and even though you're a legal adult now, Bucky still wanted me to be your protector just in case. Is...that alright?"

'Just in case he gets prosecuted, too, Steve will have legal standing to keep you safe.' Dylan added mentally, his face tender. He was the realist while Steve kept viciously rebuking any such thing. 'It's still a beautiful offer. Means so much considering how they grew up.'

Angelina smiled over at Dylan and turned to Steve. "I'm in your hands then." Angelina beamed and Steve brought her into a tight hug which made her squeak in surprise.

Some tension in Bucky's shoulders relaxed and he leaned over to join the hug, making it a group thing. "You two can get it taken care of next chance you get."

"Definitely." Steve sniffed as he carefully pulled away. His eyes were watery but he wasn't crying. He was close to it. "Definitely." He repeated.

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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:06 pm

"Query: /Why/ is your hair brown?"
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:38 pm

Angelina frowned as she looked over her shoulder. Her hair was short and was in a low ponytail to keep away from the frying pan. She recognized the mental patterns of the Solider and the way he spoke, and it made her worried. "Change." She explained. "Wanted to look more like you and was tired of the white. People looked sad when they saw my white hair and my scars. I can't change my scars. So...hair."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:36 pm

"You could wear arm coverings? There's lace ones or mesh to keep cool. Winter is coming, though, so it is an idea." Soldier tilted his head at her. He was still in his sleep wear, and he rubbed his eyes with the heel of his palm, "Appears I've switched again...but it's not as startling as before. I know that this is our apartment. I'm not tense or worried about covering my back. Safe space."

He didn't answer at first, brows knitted tightly together, mouth slightly down-turned. Stepping over and being careful not to disturb her cooking, he touched her hair. Something not even Bucky had done yet, and he marveled at it, blinking curiously. He stroked his fingers through it like Dylan had, but didn't quite play with it. "It's...soft. Like mine. The sun catches it and makes it look real pretty."

Angelina beamed happily, "Hannah gave me treatments to make it soft. Products. Nothing dangerous." She assured lightly. "I'm glad you like it." She leaned a little into his touch as she folded the ingredients into the omelette and waited for it to cook a little more before flipping it and setting it down. "Hungry?"

"Yeah...that smells pretty good. Do we have enough eggs for two hungry supers?" Soldier asked and went to the fridge, pulling out the jug of apple juice and then also grabbed a glass.

"We should..." Angelina frowned, looking over at the egg carton. "Enough for four omelettes including the one in the pan. Grocery shopping."

"Alright. We need to go shopping often don't we? We haven't been found yet..." Soldier furrowed his brows again, "Things feel like they've been too easy."

"Why would they look for us in America?" Angelina countered. "Too obvious. They'd think to go somewhere else. Sovokia. Romania. Brazil. Places we're not familiar with."

"They don't usually expect people to come back to the scene of the crime." Soldier hummed as he drank his juice in contemplation, "It's...odd. I'm out, but I don't feel some driving need or emergency. I'm...relaxed. I don't understand."

"Confusing?" Angelina frowned as she placed the omelette that she cooked onto a plate. She absently slid it over to him so he could take it. "I don't know. Maybe you thought I was a stranger?"

"Possible." Soldier agreed absently and also grabbed a fork, "You look...so different. The more I look at you, it seems to suit you. You're brighter. You also blend in more here, like you are starting to belong."

Angelina frowned as she cracked more eggs into the frying pan and carefully cooked them so that she could start adding ingredients to make herself an omelette. "That's not bad though." She said slowly. "Right? That's a good thing? I like the color." She mused. "I haven't tried to wear make up since that day. I don't know if I should spend so much money on things like that....figurines and other things are different. A lot are gifts and found on Ebay."

"It's a good thing. Yes. I don't mean to make it sound like it isn't. I'm just...I don't know. It will take time to get used to. I am sure...the other side of me is also going to take some time." Soldier assured, and took a bite of his food and moved towards the couch. "It's good." He praised, "Long way from cooking over a firepit."

Angelina laughed, a bit startled. "It is." She agreed. "Very hard to make things over it without burning it, or worse." Once she was done with hers, she sat down across from him and frowned. "...Can I give you a name other than Solider?" She asked, a little hesitantly.

Angelina laughed, a bit startled. "It is." She agreed. "Very hard to make things over it without burning it, or worse." Once she was done with hers, she sat down next to him and frowned. "...Can I give you a name other than Solider?" She asked, a little hesitantly.

He blinked at her slowly, another piece of food in his mouth, so he only nodded at her, his eyes curious.

"Do you like the name James?" Angelina asked, tilting her head to see how he'd react.

"Isn't that...the name of the other me?" Of course some things would be lost in translation between himself and his other half.

"He doesn't want it anymore." Angelina explained. "He said Bucky's a better name."

"You were used to James, and the shock upsets you?" he asked, "You can call me that."

"James-tată." Angelina confirmed. "So you don't get mixed up with tată. I like James. It's a good name. Bucky is Bucky." She shrugged. "You need a name anyway. James is a name attached to the person." She pointed at him. "So, yeah."

"James, then..." he hummed, "I...don't mind that at all." He nodded and continued to eat his food. After a bit he looked at her with a tilt of his head, "Are you going anywhere today?"

"I don't know. Grocery shopping is a must. I might spend time looking at the cheap section of make up...see if it's something I want to persue, but I think lazy day at home otherwise." Angelina mused, putting a finger to her chin. "But I'm worried about you. You haven't switched back. Usually when you confirm something, you switch back. You're not switching. It's not a bad thing, but it's concerning."

"Maybe we should do more. There's a lot of things I haven't done." James' mouth turned into a thin line, "The last time I was out I hurt Steve."

Angelina nodded, "What do you want to try doing? Grocery shopping can be the last thing we do. You haven't been to the library yet. Dyl-dal showed me an arcade. But...uh...what are you interested in? I don't think I ever asked that before."

"Things were never about what I was interested in..." James' shoulders drooped. He glanced at the clock, "Steve would be done with his run by now...that coffee shop I have been to, and spoke with Zan once or twice. I don't want to go there. The day looked nice. It is not yet rainy season."

"No don't be sad. We'll find out something. Let's walk around the city." Angelina assured. "You do the leading. I follow. We go into whatever your interested in. If you want to go to the gardens, I know the way. We can grab lunch somewhere, too. It'll be okay."

James watched her carefully, "I want...to...apologize to Steve." He said slowly. "It has been a long time, hasn't it? Things I said...don't apply anymore. I know I made contact as Bucky. It feels awkward if I did it as...me."

"I have his number." Angelina frowned, "Or do you want to see him face to face? He'd be at the cafe probably. You didn't want to go in there."

"Would he like the gardens?" James asked hesitantly.

"He told me about them." Angelina nodded. "He might go. I can text him and tell him to meet us there if you want me to."

"Yes. You could talk to him first for a bit, and then I will work myself up to coming out to him." James agreed.

Angelina nodded her agreement and finished her omelette so that she could go into their shared bedroom and text her uncle Steve. /Do you want to come with us to the gardens today? The ones you told me about?/

It took a few moments. /Sure. Is it just you? Do you need me to pick you up?/

/No. It's me and James./ Angelina typed back.

/??/ Was all Steve sent.

/You'll see./ Angelina promised before going back out. "Steve said he will."

"Then I'll take a shower and get dressed." James put his plate in the sink and hurried to the bathroom.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:02 am

Something was...off. Angelina was chipper and was happy to take the lead around the park, but Steve noticed that Bucky -or was it Bucky- was on guard. Bucky's? eyes were trained forward, but he could tell that Bucky? was glancing around to make sure that they weren't being followed by any Hydra. His hands were stuffed into his pockets and he barely spoke five words to Steve, if not four. Steve wondered if that's why Angelina called him out to the garden. "You did good coming out today, Buck." Steve decided to say carefully.

"Not Bucky." Angelina called from her position at the front.

James shifted. He wasn't quite uncomfortable, but he was...was this identified as shy? Nervous? Anxious? He really had no idea. "It's...James..." he explained. Describing himself as something other than the Soldier was odd.

"Oh. I thought..." Steve felt his shoulders slump. "Is it okay if I hug Bu-James? I promise to give you room to run away if you need it..."

Did he think...? He shook his head, "No, that's not..." he pulled one hand out and tapped his temple, "Bucky...Bucky is here..." he promised.

"Um..." Steve looked confused. "So...you're the Solider right now? And what's why you're called James? Because Bucky wanted to use his nickname?"

"I..." James hesitated. "I...just...woke up and I was like this, but there hasn't been...any urgency. Anzhelina gave me this name, because Bucky wanted to be Bucky."

Steve nodded slowly, "Well, I think it suits you." He said with a smile. "Bucky always hated the name, but it fits you quite nicely. I wonder why you decided to come out..." He looked over where he thought Angelina was and he blinked. "Um..." He looked over his shoulder. Did they lose her? In this garden?

"She's around...she's waiting for me..." James sighed deeply. "I asked if we could be out here together. I wanted to...talk...about...the last time I was out."

Steve frowned looking at him, "The wall punch? You didn't hurt me, Bu-James." He quickly corrected himself.

"I...wanted to apologize." James clarified. "I said...a lot of things as well. There have been a lot of changes. We have an apartment, we aren't bouncing between hotels anymore. Anzhelina has been to the Tower and doesn't think it's ideal for living. She is also happy. I am...happy?" He still wasn't sure about that, but close enough. "I may not still be...safe...but it is not anything as dire as it was."

"You don't have to apologize. It was stressful for all of us. She really is happier being in the apartment," Steve gently reached out and was about to touch Bucky's no James' shoulder before thinking better of it and dropping his hand. "She took one look at my apartment...and she just...went really sad. Her apartment has a lot more life to it, and I can tell she works very hard on making the apartment happy. You guys are clean freaks, and tidy as hell. But I can tell you live in it and that you do your best to make it bright. I just don't have that much time and I know Angelina prefers being near Dylan. Especially after he asked her out."

"Time...you haven't been on a single mission since my attack." James gave him a sidelong glance, "You don't have any excuses. Or are you more afraid of the Tower being annihilated?"

"I /was/ about going around the world looking for you till you told me you were just heading over to England to grab Angel." Steve pointed out gently. "...Not annihilated." He frowned. "If I even mention to Tony that I want to redecorate my apartment, he'd go all out and I wouldn't have too much of a say unless I managed to get to Pepper first. And then it'll be deciding about funiture and things like that, and....I like going to stores to do that." He explained. "But I think I'd just make Tony upset that I'm not using his resources. He's strange like that."

"Hmm...yes. I think we lucked out when we asked you to ask him to get furniture for us, because he doesn't know us and was at a loss for what to do besides the bed firmness. Anzhelina's since replaced some of the bathroom supplies he got us with her own decor Dylan's helped her pick out. The shower curtain is purple sakura flowers."

"That sounds really pretty." Steve grinned. "She's talented at making places into homes. For someone who doesn't have a reference for what one might look like, she does /really/ well. She just keeps growing, it's a no wonder Nat kinda told us to back off. Without us stifling her, she gets more bold. She reminds me a lot of you. You used to do everything at least once. You were the most adventurous out of us for trying new things. You had a hand in keeping the apartment looking like it wasn't bare and not so lived in too. I was too weak to do any upkeeping, though I did my best when I was feeling well."

"Did I?" James shifted, the tiniest of smiles appearing, "If you let her she would have her way with your apartment in that Tower, though not as intense as if Stark did. Your Bucky would, too. I...want you to know, why I didn't like Bucky for a long time." He took a breath, "You sounded sad. When you said his name."

"You thought you brought back painful memories?" Steve asked carefully, looking at James curiously.

"The Bucky-Person made you sad, and after bashing your face in, the last thing I wanted to do was make you upset. So I called myself James because I hated the Bucky-Person for making you sad." James grunted in agreement, hunching his shoulders together and both hands were back in his pockets.

Steve nodded and he looked away, wondering how to word his thoughts. They walked around for some time. They passed Angelina by the small river that had some koi in it, feeding the fish. Once they were out of ear shot, he spoke. "It wasn't the name or you that made me sad." He said after a moment. "But what was done to you and how I was powerless to save you from it."

"You could have had a search party find my body...not all off the Commandos went on the train. They could've followed the bottom of the mountain." James pointed out to him. "Perhaps in some alternate time you might've thought of that. Yet you were distraught and weren't thinking clearly."

Steve bowed his head, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "There wasn't a day that went by that I wish I thought of it." He said hoarsely. "I even considered jumping after you. I wish that had been an option. Instead I flew the plane into the water. I really thought you were dead, Buc-James." He corrected. "I couldn't...live with that."

He took in a heavy breath, "But I sacrificed not just you to that kind of suffering. Jesus, James, the things they did to Angel...." His voice cracked. "I could live with the fact of you hating me for the rest of your life. I could live with the fact that everything that happened to you was my fault in some fashion or another. But Angel? To know that I let /your/ daughter suffer? It was crazy, James, for you to suggest that I'd be a godfather, but /fuck/ if I don't try to live up to that now."

"I...it's a hard thing that pokes at my mind...I can't even remember all of it because it was so awful..." James' own voice was raw, "I fought...I fought them...until they told me you were dead. I wished for you, but then the fight left me when I thought you weren't out there searching for me." His smile was bitter, "How could I be lucky twice?"

"God I'm so sorry." Steve bowed his head, a few tears streaked down his face. "I'm so sorry. You fought so hard, and you continued fighting till the Chair...and you still fought sometimes. I read the file, you sometimes went rouge for no reason. I think you were still fighting, even when you thought that you weren't anymore. You're so strong James. So, so strong. I'm just so sorry I didn't think. That I didn't go searching for you. But I know Bucky would tell me that it wasn't all too bad. Since you got Angelina out of it. I know you wouldn't trade her for anything."

"No...neither side of me would." James agreed, and he stopped them with a gentle hand on Steve's shoulder. He looked surprised, and he touched Steve's tears like they were some foreign concept and he'd never seen someone cry before. He wiped them away gently, and then ducked his head as if he was embarrassed. "You'll never forgive yourself...but I forgive you."

Steve laughed shakily and he shook his head, "Thank you." He said gently. "Bucky's heard me say this before, but you should hear it too. You raised Angelina so well. She's so filled with love and happiness. I don't think I ever seen her without a smile yet. I'm sure she has her bad days, we all do. But you did so well with her. I just wanted you to know that Hydra wasn't able to take everything from you. You're a good father to her."

"If you think so, it must be true, huh?" James chuckled softly, "Natalia said the same. I remember Bucky getting all emotional like he had done a horrible job and was being too pushy. She put him in his place." He motioned to the path again, "I feel...lighter. I am glad I came out today."

Steve was grinned brightly and was about to open his mouth to say something when he heard Angelina let out a sharp squeal. He turned his head and he watched as Angelina dove after...something. He raised an eyebrow up and turned to James. "Want to go see if she found a duck?" Just as he said that he could pick up tiny mewls and he frowned. "Or a cat."

"Oh no." It was the only thing he could think of, and the two of them jogged back towards where his daughter was. He was surprised since it /was/ a cat she'd found, that it hadn't scratched her all to hell. Instead, it was shaking and curling into the hair on her neck.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:06 pm

It was actually a baby kitten. If Steve had to guess, it was about four to five months, maybe even three. It was tiny and really fluffy. It had a cute face and it was a calico. The kitten's stomach was the whitest part, but it's markings were dark and vivid. Angelina held the kitten close to her. "She's so scared." She said quietly. "She must be away from it's family, but I don't hear any other cats."

"Looks like it needs food and water too." Steve said, kneeling next to Angelina and using the pad of his forefinger to pet the kitten's head. It's purrs were loud like a motor. "It doesn't look like anyone's really taking care of it. It's a bit dirty too."

"Calicos are always female." Angelina frowned. "So she's a she." She tucked her arms around the kitten a little more. "What do we do?"

"We have a few options. A vet is number one priority." Steve gently scratched the cat's chin. "Then food, water. But the hard part is if you two can keep it or not. If you want to keep it, can your apartment take care of cats? If you want to keep her and can't, I can for you. I know Tony doesn't care. Clint brings Lucky sometimes and lets the dog hang out at the tower when Clint thinks we need an animal to lighten up our home. Nat's threatened me with goldfish before."

"What if we don't?" Angelina gave her father a small fearful look before she looked back at Steve.

"A shelter. We'll try to find one that isn't a kill." He promised. "Though your other best option is to go online and say that you have a kitten who needs a home. Give a set amount and let them know if it's been spayed or not." Steve gently patted Angelina's shoulder and turned to James. "What's your thoughts on this, James?"

James tilted his head at the little thing and knelt down as well, reaching his finger out and it leaned forward to sniff his hand, and didn't freak out. "It's not gunna rip me to shreds, so that's a good thing. I'm...I would rather you wait to ask Bucky what he wants to do..." he winced, "We can make a trip to the vet together. I'm okay with that. After that, couldn't you call your Dylan to ask if the apartment accepts animals?"

Angelina nodded, "But you should have an opinion too." She said as she stood up. "Vet first." She nodded, "I'll call Dylan when we get her there. Let's go! No time to waste."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:59 pm

Dylan hummed after Angelina rattled off what had happened. "A baby cali hmm? That's adorable. So the vet says she's alright besides being starved?"

"Yeah. No worms or anything. She had to get vaccinations though." Angelina answered, kicking her legs as she sat just outside in the waiting room. "They're gonna do that right quick and then she can come home. Well. If that's an idea."

"Well..." Dylan chuckled, "You should ask Steve if Mr. Stark has any psych doctors he could hook you up with. The apartments don't allow animals, or Zan and I would've had a dog a long time ago, /but/ there are a couple people who have a pet anyway and that is because they get them registered as their companion animal. You /have/ to go through a doctor for that, though. No needles, no poking and prodding, just gotta answer some questions."

"Would cats be considered a companion animals? A psych doctor?" Angelina blinked slowly. "They mess with your mind right?"

"It's not like that," Dylan promised, his tone gentle, "These doctors don't mess with your mind. They ask you questions, try and engage you to get you to talk about yourself. Sometimes they give you a sheet of paper to fill out to test your level of anxiety and depression. After about an hour of just chatting with you, they come up with their analysis, and if you need pills or more therapy. Because you've got your father's ability to burn through that sort of crap, you don't gotta worry about being drugged up. You'll probably get labels put on you like 'schizophrenic' and a couple other things, but just ignore it. What matters is us, okay? I want you to make sure you have that firm in your mind. You're closing in on a year being free from Hydra, you haven't gone off the deep end. You're good."

"I'm not dead yet." Angelina confirmed. "I'll talk to James- tată or tată about that. I don't know if it'll be good or not. Uncle Steve said that if our apartment can't take care of the kitten, he'll take care of it for us, so there's that option if the psych isn't good. We'll see. It's a shame though that the apartment doesn't do animals. If we ever live together, we need an apartment that has animals."

"Cats are more than considered companion animals. Just think, a companion for the Companion. That'd be so cute." Dylan cooed, "I think it'd be worth it to sit through the hour and get that baby kitty approved. Zan and I would spoil her, too. Yeah, though, talk to them. That's just my opinion. It'd be sad if Steve takes her 'cause you never go to the Tower, but on the other hand it might brighten that sad apartment. She'd bond with him instead of you, as well. There's a lot of factors."

"AH!" Angelina made both Uncle Steve and her father look at her weirdly. "I forgot about the bonding! You can't touch baby ducks cuz they'd imprint on you rather than the mom! Oh no..."

"She's not a duckling." Dylan laughed a bit, "She'll bond with whoever she likes most. That's what cats do. They're sassy and do what they want. She might like you more, though, because of your scent or because you found her. Sometimes cats just hate people randomly or because they don't like their smell."

"Oh. Makes more sense. Dogs love everyone. I know cats are opposite of that." Angelina settled back into the chair. "I'll talk to James- tată and tată about the psych. It's possible the kitty might like him more too."

"Good. You do that. I should get back to work, though, babe. I'll chat later, yeah?" Dylan made a smooch sound.

"Bais!" Angelina did the same smooch. "Have a good day at work." She said as she hung up and looked at her uncle and her father. "Dylan says I need to see a doctor if I want to keep the kitten."

James tilted his head and his mouth down-turned, "A...doctor?" he looked over at Steve, concerned.

"So your apartment only lets you have pets if their registered as companion animals, right?" Steve asked Angelina and turned to James. "There are people who have trouble dealing with crowds, anxiety, depression or traumatic PSTD who have a need of a companion rather than a service animal. Companion animals are just that, companions. They're there to help you through a grocery store without freaking out and running away. Service animals help you do something. Eye-sight, seizures, things like that. So...Angelina's saying that if she wants the kitten, she's going to have to prove or your going to have to prove that you need a companion with you."

"That...makes sense. Yet there's a problem...just any doctor won't work." James sighed.

"I could talk to Stark and see if he knows anyone. God knows Sam knows a bunch of people as well." Steve said gently. "I think Sam would have the better resources. I love Tony to death, but he might think that it was for me and start worrying about my health more than he needs to."

"Flying Sam." James immediately said, "I trust him. I may have tried to kill him, but he was a good adversary and he is your good friend. I have been the one active at the coffee shop before, as well and heard him."

Steve nodded, "So, let's do this. I'll take the kitten home with me at the Tower. Angelina if you want to spend the night with me, you can or you can swing by the Tower any time to keep the kitten company. We can contact Sam and see what he says about getting you a doctor and a companion animal. Chances are you might have to wait a few weeks though, so we'll figure out away to keep you and the kitten together till then." He turned to James. "Does that sound good? Should I wait til Bucky comes back to ask him about all of this?"

"I will write a notice for myself if she stays the night. Stick it on the fridge or a door." James smiled, "We could at least shop for basic kitten supplies like food and a litter box, yeah? You could stay in Steve's car while we run in and out, Angel."

Steve nodded, "Someone needs to keep the kitten entertained."

"It's still warm and she's real fluffy, as well." James agreed.

"Okay!" Angelina beamed. "I'll stay in the car."

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:09 pm

"She's quite soft." Bruce cooed gently as he scratched the baby kitten's ear and she tilted her head into his palm to get more.

"What a pretty kitty," Natasha looked over Bruce's shoulder. "She's so fluffy her legs are hidden underneath it all." She looked over at Steve and Angelina. Angelina was on the floor, smiling brightly and Steve was on the couch, watching fondly and holding his phone up, undoubtedly either on a video-chat with Bucky or going to send the video to him. "She really makes this brown-beige apartment look ten times better. I always thought you were a dog person, Steve."

"I'm an animal person," Steve corrected. "I was forever trying to drag strays back home to my mom or feeding them on the streets when I was able to. Bucky would scold me, but I caught him feeding cats before."

"That does not surprise me one bit. I mean, I'm a dog person but look at this cutie!" Clint snatched her up from Bruce's attention and held her up to his face, the little thing mewing at him, "Such an adorable sound! Have you named her yet?!"

"No." Angelina shook her head. "James- tată was hesitant so I'll text tată later tonight. He might be back by now, but I don't know. He's probably very concerned about the note James- tată left. There's lots of questions to ask  tată before we can determine anything. She should have a name by..." She looked thoughtful. "Tomorrow is possible. I'll look up names too."

"She's so fluffy, you could just name her that." Steve shrugged. "It's an easy name, it fits-"

"That's a dog's name!" Angelina looked horrified.

"Fluffy? Really Steve? You're worse than Hagrid naming a three-headed dog." Natasha deadpanned.
"No worse than Hades naming his Spot." Steve retorted. "Since that's what Cerberus means."

"Actually you're half-way right. It's ḱerberos." Natasha leaned back. "Regardless, you shouldn't be proud to put yourself on the bad-name list."

"She's got these adorable eye markings!" Clint turned the baby kitten around and she just blinked at the crowd with her big blue eyes, "What about Bandit?"

Angelina whipped around towards Clint, "She's not a Racoon!"

"Tiger, maybe?" Bruce supplied with a wince.

"Or Rebel?" Clint tried again.

"Tiger I can live with." Angelina said slowly, "But Rebel?" She looked at the cat for a moment before she wrinkled her nose, her face contorting like she swallowed a lemon. "She's too cute to be called Rebel. Rebel's...Rebel's a grey tabby name."

"Natasha?" Bruce arched a brow, "The rest of us don't seem to know how to name an animal. You going to try your hand?"

"So far Bruce is winning on the name game." Natasha mused. "Steve already tried his...hmm. I don't know.  I don't think this little kitty looks like a mighty Tiger to me. What about...um....Tigger?"

"That's a boy name," Bruce chuckled softly.

"Tigra?" Clint beamed.

"Crookshanks?" Steve offered. "Yeah the cat that Hermonie had was a boy's too, but..." He shrugged helplessly. "You could probably get away with calling her that."

"Haru?" Angelina offered. "Kyo?"

"I think you should give Bucky these names." Steve suggested, "And see what his suggestions might be. I think we're awful at this."

"I can't tell you yes or no for those since they're Japanese. Maybe Dylan would have a better opinion." Bruce shook his head and sneakily plucked the kitten from Clint while he was pouting and brought her back over to Angelina, "For now, Haru sounds pretty."

"Dylan and tată." Angelina nodded as she held the cat. She mewled and crawled up Angelina's shirt, on her shoulder and forced her to lean forwards so that the kitten could climb down her back and and play when Steve took out his laser light and started playing with the kitten with it. They bought the necessaries as well as some cat toys while they were out and about. "We'll see."

~*~


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:19 pm

Angelina's phone rang at about seven am and the kitten jumped about a three feet off the bed and clawed at the sheet as it tried not to fall off but failed, landing on the floor with a soft thump and a tiny mew.

"Baby!" Angelina was barely awake when she heard her phone ring, but was immediately up when the poor kitten fell off her bed and cried. She leaned over her bed and laughed a little when the kitten ran underneath her bed as the phone rang again. She rolled over and picked up her phone from her bedside table, "You scared the kitten." She scolded in greeting, not knowing who was on the other line.

"Why was there a note on my fridge that said to call your phone in the morning?! Where are you? What kitten?" Bucky's slightly panicked voice answered back.

"James- tată, or Solider, came out yesterday. He was...very confused as to why my hair was a different color. It triggered him into coming out." Angelina explained. "He wanted to apologize to Uncle Steve, so we went to the gardens. I found a baby kitten that needed love and a home. We don't have a name for her yet. I can give you a list. But...our apartment doesn't want animals in our apartment unless they're registered as service animals or companions. Which means seeing a psych doctor."

"Oh...oh boy..." Bucky sounded like he was wiping his hand over his face, "Can you...can you come home? I really...I don't know what's going on. What is Steve doing? What does he have to say about all this?"

"He's said that until we come up with a solution, he can take care of the baby." Angelina smiled from the phone and she pushed the covers off of her. "I can come home." She assured. "We didn't know when James-tată was going to leave, and he assured me that he had everything under control. I guess not though. I'll be sure to let him know next time that notes aren't helpful. Do you want me to bring the kitten? I'm sure we can allow her to visit. Do you need me to bring Uncle Steve, too?"

"Y-You could do that. So I know what she's like?" Bucky agreed hesitantly. "I'm really delirious still. I'll just...take this time to have something to eat and I'm going to brew coffee." He really didn't sound good, very shaky.

"Coffee, shower." Angelina commanded. "Eat something real healthy for you." She stretched. "I'll be home soon, I promise. I love you."

The kitten mewed sadly and waddled around the floor, looking at the bed expectantly and mewed again when Angelina turned the phone off.

"I'm sorry," Angelina bent down and picked the kitten up and set her on the bed. She petted her head and gave her ears a good rub before she went to the bathroom to brush her teeth and hair (thank god for Uncle Steve having a guest room in his apartment, bathroom and some supplies.) Once she was done, she picked up the kitten. "I think Uncle Steve's awake." She said aloud. "So let's go find him and get breakfast. We'll feed you some soft food. Then, we'll head to my apartment. It's tinier than Uncle Steve's. It's another car adventure. I'm glad you don't get motion sick."

The kitten mewed at her, this time happily, and curled into her arm, purring loudly.

"Let's go." Angel said softly and walked out of her room.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:37 am

When Angelina came around the corner, he made a sub-check to make sure she wasn't carrying anything before he wrapped her up in his arms tightly, "I woke up and the apartment was empty and I didn't know what was going on. I looked at my phone and an entire day disappeared."

"I'm sorry." Angelina hugged him back fiercely. "James- tată convinced us that you wouldn't worry too much since he was going to leave you a note." She pulled away. "I didn't think how bad it was going to affect you. Next time James- tată comes out, I'll spend the whole day with you, so you won't get scared when you wake up."

"It was my suggestion." Steve said, carrying a small box that had holes in it. "Your apartment doesn't like animals, and...Angelina really wanted to bond with the kitten so I told her that she could spend the night at my place. I'm really sorry, Buck, I didn't think things through either. Let's sit down. You're going to love her. All of my team do and they tried to come up with names."

"It sounds like it was a horrifying event. What was your suggestion?" Bucky eyeballed him and heard shuffling from the box. The three of them went to the couch.

"Fluffy and Crookshanks." Steve replied. "Clint was worse. Bandit and what, Tigra and...Rebel?" He looked at Angelina who nodded solemnly. He sat the box in between himself and Angelina and she pulled out the kitten and passed it to her father. "Adorable right?" Steve teased. "Angelina has nothing but Japanese names."

"She's...so.../tiny/." Bucky gaped at the kitten and he was careful as he picked her up. She mewed at him and she sat all contently on his metal hand while he used his flesh to stroke her forehead, "Isn't she the sweetest little love-bug?"

"She slept with me last night," Angelina grinned, watching as the kitten purred loud and without stopping as she was given attention. "She follows me everywhere, she likes to know what I'm doing. She's very action-oriented though. Uncle Steve has a laser light he uses to play with her. She likes that."

"I'd love to see that!" Bucky laughed, smiling up at them, "She doesn't act all snooty and privileged does she? Just an attention seeker for pets."

"She's been looking for a family." Angelina concurred. "She came right up to me and sat on my neck. She was so scared, tată. I was worried."

"Buck you always had a penchant for names." Steve grinned, looking at his best friend. "Do you have any that might work on the cat?"

"Well, anything royal wouldn't fit..." Bucky leaned down and nosed he nose with his, "You're a pretty little thing, but still not Princess or Duchess or Queenie." He smiled wider as she popped his nose with her paw, then continued to bat at his hair so he shook it out for her, "Precious?" he offered curiously.

Angelina looked thoughtful. "Precious?" She asked carefully. The kitten's ears flicked backwards and she nodded, "I think she'll respond to it."

"It's better than /Fluffy/," Buck smirked as Steve rolled his eyes at him, "So...what's this about a doctor?" he finally asked slowly.

"Dylan told us that the apartment doesn't do pets." Steve said slowly, knowing very well how this conversation could turn out. "His advice to Angelina was to get Precious registered as a companion pet for her. That way she would be welcomed in any and all apartments as she'll be a type of service dog. Companion animals are for emotions and for PSTD triggers. A lot of dogs are used as companions, but there's been cats as well."

"What would she have to do to do that?" Bucky's brows knitted tightly, "Is it...only once? Get in, answer their questions, and get out? I need...more information. I know good therapists are like looking for a needle in a haystack. Do you know anyone?"

"We're going to ask Sam. James was quite adamant that we ask him." Steve shrugged. "I think it's just once, but they might want her to come in for check ups to make sure she still needs an animal as a companion, I really don't know. But I have to agree with Dylan. Angelina needs to develop skills that she lost during her time with Hydra. I think while therapy is an option, a companion animal could relieve half of the stress that's on her. Pets are known to help with stress levels and Angelina's high strung. I think that having a pet around would be helpful to you too Bucky. Precious might be registered to Angelina, but like Dylan said, she might not bond with Angel. There's a chance she could bond with you. But if you think this is too high risk, I can always keep her at my apartment. But I get a feeling that if I did that, Angelina would just sleep over at the Tower."

"Ha, yeah..." Bucky nodded in understanding, running his hand down the full length of Precious' body and she moved to jump down, tail flicking once she was on the floor and she pranced her way down the hallway towards their bedroom, "Did you take her to the vet? How old do you think she is?"

"Four months old. Poor cat was starved and was a little dehydrated. Luckily she didn't have any worms or other problems like that." Steve explained, leaning back into the couch. "She needed vaccines. She's too young to spay so, we'll have to wait a bit till we can do that."

Turning to look at Angelina, he watched her for a moment. "Do you want her?" he asked gently.

"I would like to try to keep her." Angelina nodded, "I want to take care of her. She seems like a good kitten. She was scared and I know what that's like. Being scared is awful. It hurts. I don't want her to be scared, or hurt. She's just a baby and an animal. They don't understand."

"Then, if you are skeptical or afraid of the doctor Steve finds for you, I am sure he can be with you. As your guardian as well, he can confirm or deny any information you do or don't want to give." Bucky told her firmly.

"That's true." Steve gently placed a hand on her shoulder. "If you want me there, I'll be there. If you don't want me there, I can always be outside waiting for you. Sam would probably encourage you to seek out a doctor you're comfortable with. So don't force yourself to like someone just because they can give you the go ahead for Precious."

"Okay." Angelina nodded and smiled at Bucky. "Thank you so much tată! I promise to be a good kitty-mom." She hugged him tightly.

"I'll be a good kitty grandpa," Bucky chuckled and stroked her hair, kissing the top of her head. There was a mew, and Precious had wandered her way back to them. Easily he scooped her up and she managed to get herself onto his shoulder, perching happily. "You're going to get attached to that spot, aren't you?" she just purred and hunkered down a little bit more.

~*~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:25 am

"Dude! How long's it been since we talked? I felt like you were ignoring me!" Sam whined as he sat with Steve at their table, "How was Angelina's birthday part? I'm hurt I didn't get an invite."

"Bucky wanted a family gathering," Steve said apologetically. "So it was small. We weren't sure how Angelina would take too many people or how many was too many." He sat down across from him. "She dyed her hair. It's a gorgeous brown color, and she's starting to learn from Zan how to apply make-up. She looks /just/ like Bucky's daughter now without the white hair. Her freckles pop more, she looks healthier. The scars you can't do anything with, but...she's gaining more confidence. But that's kind of what I want to talk to you about actually."

"Steve you gotta show me her with her new hairdo!" Sam demanded, leaning forward curiously, "I'll have to find her a belated birthday card or something. Maybe take her to a good ol' steakhouse. She's probably stunning in makeup. I know there's tricks to use makeup to hide scars. The internet is awesome and I have a couple VA women who told me about it."

Steve grinned as he started searching on his phone, "I have a bunch." He confessed. "She might like the steakhouse a lot so that's a good idea to do." He handed him the phone. "She looks so beautiful, you'd never guess it was her." He gushed as Sam looked at the phone.

"Look at her!" Sam agreed, "I can tell with one glance she's Bucky's! From what I've seen of him at the booth, and in you other pictures, he looks pretty good, too. Those freckles are the cutest!" He laughed and handed the phone back, "Wow, that makeup wasn't very intense but it did just enough."

"Zan's the queen at it," Steve told him, putting his phone away. "Apparently Natasha told Bucky that he needed to stop pushing her, as well as the rest of us and watch and see what she does. This was all her doing. Zan only suggested a girl's day for her birthday and she went for it. Bus and all."

"That's fantastic progress. There can be over twenty people on a bus." Sam beamed at him, "So, you mentioned you wanted to talk about something?"

"It's about the progress that she's making," Steve took a breath and explained about the cat, the apartment not taking pets, and Dylan's suggestion to Angel about getting Precious registered as a companion. "I was wondering if you knew much about it." He concluded.

"There's a bunch of people who have cats and dogs and even hamsters as a companion pet. It's not just a PTSD thing anymore. Lots of people with depression and anxiety need a more simple-minded creature to keep them grounded in this over-complicated world." Sam told him gently, "What you're asking for is a lot simpler than you might think. I know lots of therapists, sure, but if you give me a couple days I can find you one that will get along just well with Angel."

"Awesome." Steve sighed in relief. "I was worried that what I was asking about was a little over the top. Do you know much about the process? I know Angelina might be anxious and I'd like to give her as much information as I can so that she won't freak out so much. If you don't, that's fine, too."

"There's a one-sheet paper at least she'll have to circle a bunch of numbers describing how she feels one through ten for things like 'I tend to feel alone' sort of questions. Sometimes an apartment will accept a notice faxed to them, sometimes the apartment has to fax the doctor office a form the doctor has to fill out to fax back. So, she'll have to probably sit through one therapy session so the doctor can do their job properly." Sam listed off, "It'll be fine. I'll find one that won't even mind if Angel can, ya know, do the mind thing." He didn't want to be outright with it in a public place at least.

"That sounds good." Steve nodded. "I don't think she'll mind the paper work. She's a little more in tune with her emotions, but she certainly still is a bit loss about social concepts. I don't think she'll mind sitting for a session. I think she's somewhat prepared for this."

"It's cool if you're there during it, too, by the way. There's guardians who tell people what to put down, but I know Angel will just ask you what something means or for examples, which is good, and you'll help her chose if she can't decide. That's entirely different." Sam smiled reassuringly, "Show me a picture of the kitty."

Steve looked through his phone and found one of her curled into a ball and asleep. He passed his phone and grinned, "We all tried to come up with names but Bucky won the contest."

"What's the name?" Sam barely managed before he started gushing at how fluffy she was and her markings.

"Precious." Steve smiled. "We decided on the name Precious."

()
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:20 pm

It was a week into September, the kitten had been approved and the apartment was filled with 'housewarming' gifts which included two lazer pointers, one for each of them to use, an electric mouse courtesy of Stark for Precious to chase, a feather tickler that sounded like a bird when you batted at it. There were two cardboard boxes, both filled with the grocery bags from the last time they went shopping. Then there was a good scratching post slash climbing gym which was by the window. Another gift was a pink and yellow ball with a bell in it Bucky had to dig out from the couch and beds constantly, several kinds of flavors for kitten food, and two febreze scents for when they changed the cat box.

For the night, because Dylan and Zan had become common raiders of their apartment to see the kitten, the catbox and a couple food cans were gone over to their apartment instead. As Bucky sat down on the couch, the TV was on the History channel and there was some show about mythology going on that he wasn't even paying attention to. It was...quiet. He had this problem a lot more lately. Nick was the first time it ever got really bad, but Bucky could feel his heart trying to hammer itself out of his sternum again.

It was too late to go to Nick, and he hadn't gone to get his own guitar so the one Nick had was with him, of course. The TV might as well be muted, so he grabbed the remote and hit the power button. Jumping to his feet, he paced around and looked at the time. It was too late for Nick, but...digging his phone out, he used the speed dial for Steve's phone. "Hey...you...got any plans tonight?" he asked after Steve's generic 'yeah, buck?' hello.


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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:36 pm

"Besides watching T.V and trying to sketch? No, I don't." Steve shook his head from side to side. "Why?" He didn't think that Bucky would want to take a stroll around NYC right now, and there was something off about the tone of his voice. He sounded on the verge of panicking, but was forcibly calm. "Do you need me over?"
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:43 pm

"I...want you over for more than just a visit." Bucky told him honestly. If he was going to have Steve here to live with the two of them, then why not do a few test runs? "We have a guest bedroom we don't use. I can set the sheets on the bed in there while you make your way over, if you...want to stay the night, anyway. It'd be a fun surprise for Angel in the morning, too."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:04 pm

"It's been a while since we've done a sleepover. Let me pack an overnight bag and I'll be there as soon as possible. Did the twins steal the cat and forced Angel to come visit them?" Steve asked as he shifted the phone over to his shoulder and walked into his room. He grabbed a duffel bag he rarely used and started grabbing pajamas, clothes for the morrow, and his toiletries he needed for the night.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:46 pm

"Ha...how'd ya guess?" Bucky asked with a weak chuckle, "I just...can't invade them when I'm like this. I'd be a party pooper. No one wants an embarrassing dad." He rubbed the back of his neck and he did his own shuffling, going to the linen closet and grabbing sheets and a comforter, "You bringing your own pillow?" he chuckled.
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:52 pm

"Yeah. Not that I don't trust you. I'm sure you have the guest bed with a pillow, but..." Steve shrugged. "I found a pillow that I really, really like and well." He trailed off "And you wouldn't have called me if Angelina was there, unless Angel was the one that suggested the phone call, but I don't hear her in the background." He paused in stuffing the pillow into his bag. "Angelina wouldn't think you're embarrassing. I don't think things that you and I consider embarrassing would phase her much. But I do understand the sentiment."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:38 pm

"Thanks. Yeah, she took the kitten to the twins' apartment. I was watching the TV, but it was as if it wasn't even on. Perhaps you and I could watch something when you get here? Just regular cable is fine, I've been kind of bored of Netflix." Buck chuckled, "I like Travel, History, Discovery, and the Food Network of course."

"The History channel always has such new things, but I like the travel channel too." Steve laughed, "It makes me want to go somewhere and do something, but...I don't know. I guess I'm more comfortable in New York. We could always send out Angelina to scout out for us." He teased lightly over the phone.

"That could be a thought for the future, when I'm not worried for my life. You know it is by a stroke of luck your phone hasn't been bugged." Buck chuckled back, "I'll hang up now, actually, so you can get here faster. Then...we can talk all night if you want."

"I'll be there soon." Steve promised and hung up, slinging the bag over his shoulder and headed out of his room and into the elevator.

~
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:10 am

Bucky smiled warmly, even as his cheeks felt hot, when he opened the door to let Steve in. "You got here pretty fast. Did you ride your bike?"

"I did," Steve said as he stepped through, taking off his shoes since he knew Angelina would get on to him if he didn't. "There wasn't much traffic heading your direction, but I didn't check the time. Apartment too quiet without Angel?" He guessed after a moment as he watched his friend curiously.

"Yeah...and it's only been a week, but I'm real used to the kitten making a ruckus. We've had to put away the noisy toys like the bell ball and the chirping thing." Buck nodded and once Steve plopped his bag on the floor he reached out and gave him a hug.

Steve hugged him back tightly, chuckling a little. "I swear Tony got those that make noise just to spite us all. Natasha was thinking about getting Precious a harness and a leash so that Angelina could take it on walks. I'm not exactly sure if a cat can walk...but...I think she just wants to see if Angelina will have to drag Precious or if the cat will actually walk. She makes her own fun." He pulled away. "I understand the need for noise. I used to leave the radio on. It helped me when I flashed back."

"Did it?" Bucky pulled back, blinking at him curiously. They went further into the apartment and he tilted his head at the TV, "I guess...leaving the TV on wouldn't be a comfort to me. The words running together after a while I can see would be an...easy trip for me. It would...remind me of seeing but not seeing, hearing but not hearing. Like being in a foggy glass box."

Steve nodded, "I understand. Esepcially when you don't know what will trip the Sol-I mean James out." He sighed softly. "Is it becoming more frequent?" He looked at his friend worriedly. "Or was this just...you need the noise and company?"

"I don't know what it is I need, but it is becoming more frequent. The more people I'm getting to know and become friends with, or finding again like Natalia and...you." Bucky ducked his head, "Um, here's the guest bedroom. You can shuck your bag in there. If you...wanna get comfortable I'll give you a minute. Have you eaten dinner yet?"

"No." Steve answered as he looked into the guest room. It was minimal, but it had a splash of light blue on the sheets. The comforter was a dark green. There was a dresser that was made with a dark wood and the carpet was a pale blue color the same as the living room. The curtains were white and it was the most calming room Steve had ever walked into. He placed his bag on the bed and walked over to the closet and peered inside. It was small, but certainly roomy. "Nice pick for the colors, it's not too shabby."

"I use these on my own bed, I just threw some things together. I hope the green isn't too army and it's dark enough?" Bucky asked hopefully, "Forest green is a nice color for me, anyway. Dark blues and dark greens. I'm not there yet for brighter colors. The clothes in here are mine, of course. I kinda just shifted everything since Angelina has more and more of her own."

Bucky relaxed a bit, "Good. Alright. Well, I'll make food. Chicken? Potatoes with ham? Potatoes with cheese is heaven in a bowl, by the way, especially with cut up baked nuggets. I'll break a good breakfast with pancakes and eggs and bacon in the morning, but right now I'm kinda lazy but I don't mind cooking ever."

"Chicken sounds good, with that potatoes and cheese." Steve agreed as he walked out of the room with Bucky. "You really go all out for guests." He teased his friend. "You're gonna make me want to stay here than to listen to Tony."

"Maybe that's the intention..." Bucky muttered under his breath, but he though he was far enough away or that Steve was already at the couch.

"Is it?" Steve asked as he turned back around and raised an eyebrow at him. "Do you want me to live with you and Angel, Buck?"

"Oh...shit, you heard that?!" Bucky's eyes widened like saucers, "I..." He looked down and away, shifting, "I was...I was gunna wait before I said anything. I wanted to see how tonight worked. Nat suggested it but Nick and Angel think it would be a good idea."

Steve walked over to the couch and leaned against it with his hip. He folded his arms across his chest and he looked at the guest room's door with at thoughtful look on his face. "You only have a six month lease. Are you thinking about keeping it like that or are you going to extend?"

"We have been talking about extending it...do a year this time as December is just around the corner. Angelina doesn't want to live at the Tower, so neither will I." Bucky explained gently, setting the oven for pre-heating before he came back to focus on Steve. "I don't know if it's too soon? Or if this really doesn't surprise you, given how well you know me."

"Angelina hated my apartment, I think that's why she doesn't want to be in the tower." Steve said slowly, "But at the same time, I think she's worried about what you and her might be forced to do. She's probably not willing, nor wanting, to be an Avenger. I can't blame her. After what Hydra did to her, she probably sees us as another organization, and being in the Tower means to give up a lot of her and your freedom. She's probably concerned about how that'll interfer with her seeing Zan, and Dylan too."
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PostSubject: Re: Fill the Cracks - Monster and Machine   Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:13 am

"I wouldn't blame her, either. It's a worry. A real threat." Bucky nodded with a frown. The oven beeped saying it was ready, and he moved back into the kitchen, getting a flat pan to put the chicken nuggets on. He threw about twenty from the bag he pulled from the freezer on it and stuck the pan in the oven, setting the timer for ten minutes and returning to the living room with Steve, "If Fury stayed ignorant who Angelina is, it would be possible to just have me stay in the Tower when that particular pile of shit hits the fan. If he did find her, she would agree to just be a temporary resident because Stark gave us sanctuary. That's understandable. As soon as we were cleared, she'd come right back here. I'm glad her therapy with Mrs Brandon went well to that regard, too."

Bucky sighed, "Ignoring all of that...down to the simplest answer...we lived together before. This time, I have a daughter, but there really wouldn't be much of a difference. I'd cook the food, you draw, she does her gaming and anime. We all do our own thing and we'd be happy. That's what I've been picturing."
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