1964-11-11 - Make a Fast Buck
Summary: We're just following orders, sir.
Related: Project Virgo
Theme Song: Halsey - Gasoline
bucky wanda 

OOC Note: Bucky tagged given this is connected to him. Wanda is the writer.

The two men in sweats followed the older woman out through the doors. He just caught the click of the lock setting back in place, that funny buzz. They used the same back home, sealing them in the dark, chilly chambers when metal bars and prods proved insufficient.

Adam’s shoulders tightened. His hands shook. Pale sweeps of Kyr filled his peripheral vision: feet lifted, arm swept forward, hand grabbing the ball as it ricocheted back off the ceiling.

“Adam, come on! You’re going to get hit in the head.”

He reflexively leaned down, the ball whipping past to collide with a wall and deflect on a sharp upward trajectory. A snap of his arm sent it flying right back at the brown-haired man,

What was the point when the lesson ended? Still, he couldn’t find it in himself to call Kyr to sit down and wait patiently. Soon enough they would be shuffled off to another room to answer questions or listen to music under the woman’s watchful gaze. All sitting, no doing.

Kyr planted his foot on the wall and leapt up into the air, wrenched around in a circle to slam the rubber sphere through a ring mounted to the painted cinder blocks. Metal groaned, a bolt torn two inches free of solid concrete.

“You’re not supposed to hang on it,” Adam called.

“Yeah, yeah, you’re right.”

They both shot a look to the sealed door. Kyr dropped, loping after the ball bouncing to the corner.

Life in a glass bowl was nothing new to them. Even alone, they knew someone watched through the window or listened beyond the bars. No one spoke without a stranger repeating the exact words from an hour before.

Adam closed his hands around the round yellow ball. His knuckles popped, ridges rippling high and softening in perpetual orogeny.

Kyr’s sneakers slapped on the ground, a steady pace for the roundabout thoughts that never went anywhere. Ragged breathing, honest puffs and pants, reassured the niggling something. Any time now, they’d be stuck at a table, stuck in a chair, stuck sitting on a bunk.

Adam tucked his feet under his backside and pushed up, an explosive motion bringing him to his feet. “Let’s get a move on. Get the ball in the ring, huh?”


All range and enthusiasm, Kyr bolted out of stillness into explosive motion. He cut sharply left to avoid Adam’s outstretched arm, leaping to take the wall up six feet into the air. A wonder the paint didn’t have footprints streaked in grey and black.

He snatched at Kyr’s pant leg, fingers clutching the rigid calf and hauling him down to hit the ground.

The younger man broke his fall on his hands, ribs stopping from a complete collision with millimeters to spare. He kicked out at the leaner soldier’s shins, a double blow fit to smash the knee caps backwards, and missed as the reversed roll opened space.

Nothing was quicker to get a rise from Kyr, and he exuded that happiness as nothing else. Their scrambled rush erupted in a flurry of punches that Adam caught on his crossed wrists. He extended enough to seize Kyr’s elbow, locking it as they reversed. A pair of dancers on double time, their retreat to the middle of the room ended when he was summarily thrown over Kyr’s hip.

Pain bloomed on his shoulder as he rolled and hit the ground flat. Instinct pushed his knees up, ready to rock back up to his feet. Instead, an arm wound around his knee and crunched in. He knew the movement.

Anticipation urged hammering his extended fingers back into soft points. Be real, what soft points? Kyr was made of rock. The yelps satisfied some inner well. Yes, there, and…

Adam flipped over to his side, hauling Kyr in a serpentine pull. Not the smoothest break, but he threw an abbreviated upper cut at the chin. A cross deflected his arm down, striking the meat of the younger man’s shoulder instead.

They scrambled away from one another, stooped over. He needed something better than a ball to throw, but the attendants never offered much. No ropes, no sticks, nothing to be a weapon. Still, Adam wondered if the metal cage over a clock would work.

He broke into a jog to grab for the thick steel bars when the doors opened again. His fingers latched through the grid and two hard flexes of his arms tore out the brackets. Not very aerodynamic, but he’d improvise. The cage would make a good choice to pin a limb with.


Fear never made Kyr shrill, but deepened the tenor to a growl that lanced through the vitals.

In a heartbeat, he hit the ground in a crouch and snapped his head up. Three men crowded around Kyr from behind, black silhouettes with faces reduced to goggles stretched over their faces. Guns rode at back, hip, hand. More were streaming through the corridor, a neat phalanx pointing the muzzles directly at head, torso, chest.

Too late to think. His fist closed, ripping the neat rectangle into an hourglass.

Someone held a wire, the ozone snapping acrid on the air. Kyr wrenched his arm away from the hands grabbing him, disembodied gloves stretching to grab the grey sweatshirt, the pants.

“No, don’t let them do it. I was good!”

They were shouting something over the loudspeaker in English, the noise lost in the squeaking sneakers and the falling hobnail boots.

“I’ll be good, I’ll be good!”

What was the point? They never listened in the dark. They wouldn’t listen here in the light. The torture was making him watch.

Raw pain shredded through the shouting, drowning out electricity. Lightning raced down the wires into Kyr’s shaking body and there, he was going to his knees. Uncontrollable shudders raced through contracting, spasming biceps and pectoral muscles.


“Be good,” Doctor Farnsworth tried to tell them every time. “When you talk and stand still, they feel a few around you. You are good young men, but they see you and forget that. They see…”

Him. Traitor. Killer. Trash. Oughta-be-dead, deserves-a-firing-squad, do they even do it anymore?

He heard what the guards mutter. He knew the agents’ opinion.

The death squad. That’s all those two are good for, said the men over their coffees and lonely vigils.


The same men approach now, faceless blurs in the fluorescent strobe. Not ones mobbing the crouched young man on his knees, but the others out of the hallway. They point the dreadful guns on him, sizing up the best way to take it.

Not so different from every other day of his life, really. Shouting at him to drop the cage and put his hands up over his head dimly echoes. Surprising they’d think that will stop him.

And there’s Kyr’s face, soaked in sweat and fresh blood, his frost-blue eye too wide. That look, he knows that look, he knows.

Adam knows nothing.

He sidearms the metal cage into the face of the nearest soldier and lunges into movement. The fool raises his hand to block his face, they always do, and he tears the stock out of gloved hands.

First bullets ricochet and a voice shouts, “Take them alive, don’t kill them.”

He swings the semi-automatic rifle down and the blossoming gunfire throws them back, bloody feet on mincing steps. Messy work. Never would make Anastasiya happy stumbling like that. One goes down, open, and Adam plunges in.

The gun makes an extension on his arm and they can’t keep up, no one finding a way in through the sweeping defense when he bunny punches it into their guts, their faces, their arms. Snatching up two makes for quicker work, so he takes the fallen soldier’s gun and rams the solid butt into someone’s knee.

That pop sounds good.

He processes them moving and turns among them, letting blows fall on his back rather than anywhere else, vital. Guard the core, the center. No hurt slows him down.

Not until the bullet strikes his upper arm, cutting clean along the outer edge. Grazed shards burn hot worming lines down but he takes a breath and dives in deep.

Old friend keeps the focus, don’t they know that? No, apparently not.

“Get the other one out, get him down!”

Kyr rises up with one of them in a lock, palm pressed to the jugular, and the slack man is gaping, mouth a red hole and eyes bulging. Quick twist and that would all end, but the onyx wave surges again to drown and the lightning shines where they try to shove the wires at him again.

Wires catch on the cotton pants and he steps back, hurling the semi-conscious-dead-maybe agent into the other soldiers.

Bad move. The rage is palpable on the air and they turn on Kyr, a mob throwing punches and pairing off in hopes of taking down the weakest link.

Stupid. He was never, ever the weakest.

They never knew how Kyr ran bare-chested in the snow or sat on the tundra until the distant, watery sunlight breached the horizon for just an hour or two. He laughed and recited the silly phrases that rhymed after frostbitten, prodded all the way into the sterile clinic room by the white-coats. When the rest of them fell, there he stood, staring at the horizon or smiling despite the pain.

For Kyr, he had to be stronger. Faster. Not enough.

“They won’t hurt you.”

He had said that. The one like them, the heretic the Americans caught. He had their face and their voice, so very ignorant of how things had to be.

The Mephistopheles of Brooklyn. The one man with the crooked teeth called him that, and all of them.

Mephistopheles of Siberia, Mephistopheles of the Gulag, double-crossing devils who ought to be shot.


Adam threw them into one another, twisting their arms aside. The blow, when it came, pushed him forward and he followed the current as they swarmed in a circular wall.

Protecting his face with his arms, taking the blows, absorbing what he could. No guns. Guns meant death. They would shoot back, then.

Nothing meant he couldn’t take theirs, shoving them into groins and chests. He grunted out too loud, through bloody lips, when a truncheon slammed down across his shoulders.

Yes, just a little more. Kyr might not have the Champion of the Motherland, who was just his foolish story, but Adam could pretend. Only a second, only a few more.

He glanced through the blur and saw the gap in the door, the bodies mingled around him too thick to make out more beyond charcoal streak legs and sleeves.

Kyr saw it too.

The man heaved himself up and seized one of the balls. Good, good. No gun. He kicked off his shoes in the first ten steps, and the efficient form emerged.

It was beautiful. Adam had no envy, wouldn’t know it if he tried. How could he hate the smooth perfection of someone who ran through the woods and trod across the tundra after the last soldiers collapsed in exhaustion?


He shouted the sound before someone hauled him backwards, wrenching him off his knees. They were savage dogs, the hungry ones who chewed on everything and tore pieces out. The blows fell and he saw the butt of the rifle closing on his face.

Then blessed darkness.

Out. There was always an out as there was always an in.

Evgeniy knew out better than any of them. Kyr caromed around a corner into a blind hallway, doors set against him. He sank his fingers into the frame of one, feeling for the seal or a gap between the jam and the metal.

Thunder boomed behind him. He squatted a little and screamed, the howl of a wolf. Veins erupted under his strained skin, the muscles bursting up and his body shuddered, contorted.

Hinges popped and seized. He tore the corner out, out and down. Blood on splitting fingertips slid off the metal but he flung away the slab to the side.

Just enough space to get through if he pushed himself. Kyr climbed and pressed himself into the notch highest at the corner, ignoring the cloth that tore on the edges and his skin opened up by sharp bits.

He dropped into the corridor and sprinted out, past the doors wedged shut, past the souls huddled low while the whispering, traitorous ghosts in the machine whispered, “Initiate lockdown. All personnel are to remain in secure areas. This is not a drill.

It would be as Adam wanted. He’d find their brother.


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