1964-11-12 - Buck, Buck, Cap
Summary: Is there a common thread between Patient Zero and his brood?
Related: Project Virgo
Theme Song: None
bucky wanda 

OOC Note: Bucky is tagged as it's his problem; Wanda is the writer.

“Sit here.” The orderly pointed to a long wooden bleacher bolted to the floor. Shadows drowned the margins of the gym, disguising the size under a subterranean weight.

The patient followed. He shuffled over, white athletic socks not hiding the length of cable linking cuffs around his ankles, hobbling his stride to little better than a foot either way. Grey cotton clung to his chest, alluding the malady bringing him to SHIELD’s custody lay outside the physical. Sweatpants held the weak trace of perspiration and Dial soap, that most American of signatures known to the spy community worldwide.

Chosen this role for his wrestling title out of UCSD, Agent Monroe hung just out of arm’s reach. He watched the rock-hard biceps and forearms carved like a statue by a Renaissance artist trying to make up for something. This one didn't bother speaking to him. He sat down and the bench creaked under the sack of potatoes patient staring into the empty wall.


His shirt collar, always too tight, scratched his jaw and Monroe tugged at the button. This detail meant no cufflinks or tie tack. No belt for his pants, no strings for sweatpants. It meant the suit fit too tight and he cursed his loafers, for all his wife nodded in approval in the morning. He glanced sidelong at the hunched patient, hands waiting limp in his lap.

“Gonna stay there all day, buddy?” he muttered.

The walkie crackled to life, clipped to his waist. A woman’s voice cut through the initial static crackle, dialed way down to little better than a spectral whisper.

“Mind your tone, Gray. He is self-aware and not a ragdoll. Treat him like a person.”

As if. A person didn’t make the life choices that led to SHIELD imprisonment and a double watch of shrinks and armed soldiers, twenty-four hours a day.

He schooled his face into a firm mask, and withdrew several feet behind the bench. The patient stared directly ahead and showed not the least interest in his surroundings.

What did that shrink think she was playing at? Monroe bristled. Ridiculous to even consider embracing her harebrained notions. Let damn O Division play its mind games and pretend the monster in a masculine shape was anything other than a horror, the very instrument put to the soft underbelly of the country. He would never make that fatal error. Down the slippery slope of humanizing, sympathizing, he couldn’t afford to go.

Look where it got their greatest hero. Gunned down at the World’s Fair.

“Understood, doc,” he replied, putting his hands behind him at parade rest.

Monroe gritted his teeth.

Clipped brown hair swept over those dark, empty eyes and the patient hunched even further forward, his forearms braced on his thighs. The wait he tolerated, not straying from staring at a scuff mark on the speckled linoleum.

The white spotlight glittered against the glass pane and shot out a solid beam on the industrial greyish paint. Tainted streaks down the painted cinder blocks, resolving into rough crosshatched edgings when the reel caught the film in earnest. He heard the succession of clicks, his back and shoulders stiff plasterboard under his t-shirt.

A silhouette resolved larger than life, a blurry triangle surmounted by an oval. Bisected by the shadow of an arm, the figure took on humanoid proportion, defined features chiseled out from a misty grey morass.

Hardened lines carved out cheekbones and the famed lantern jaw, while the wide eyeholes in the dark mask revealed warm eyes crinkled at the corners. The corners of his mouth tugged into a smile, though no sound accompanied his moving lips.

His hands rose, articulating some point, but Nikita fixated on the fitted gloves stretching up to the elbows over some oddly meshed and netted jacket or shirt that did little to hide the hewn, impressive physique so like his own shown in puddles or the one mirror in the washroom.

This man wore a leather harness crossed over his shoulders and white bars impressed over his stomach, a star in the middle of his chest. Not a red star, likely. White, maybe yellow. The black and white film did not give any semblance of colour, relying on the imagination of the audience to supply the missing streaks.

Nikita sat up slightly straighter when the bleating followed out, twin streams of sound besieging his right-hand side. The stencils written over the frame to the bottom didn’t sync up but he started anyway. Black and grey Cyrillic letters marched in orderly lines, flashing shortly while the man spoke in bold, authoritative tones — bright, loud, brassy.

“Hi, I’m Captain America. Where you’re a student or a soldier, there’s always one thing that will give you an edge…”

The shot dialed back to reveal the man in an A stance, hands on his hips and boots placed wide apart. Behind him spilled a smorgasbord of cheeses and loaves of bread, fruit shining like wax, things for which the blank-faced young man held no name. Wedges and blocks arranged together, piled up with vegetables on one side and a large pitcher to the other.

Fifes played in the background past his strong tenor voice, a whistling succession of notes like gulls flapping around desperately. Nikita’s gaze shot right to left, trying to take it all in, ignoring the writing below.

“That’s a hot lunch. You don’t have to be injected with a super serum to have strong bones and muscles.”

He flinched, swiveling to look up into the beams of bright light that illuminated the otherwise dark gym. Figures moved behind the rotating projector, revealed as slivers of darkness he couldn’t focus upon. The suited man behind him started, moving back to the wall, drowned in the cloying shadows.

“A good diet is one of the best ways to keep your body strong and healthy.”

The lurching scroll of Cyrillic translations held him fast as the uniformed man swept a hand before the invisible audience and smiled, the flash of carrots and ground hamburger replaced slowly by a sweep of fish and a pointed triangle. Nikita blinked again, sitting forward.

“The food pyramid will help you find the balance. Read now and let’s be our best together. Stand with me, soldier!”

Nikita didn’t move a muscle. The next teaser rolled past, the famous shield rolling around and around in front of him. He clamped his hands over his knees.

“Soldier, this is Captain America here to tell you your mission. Our country faces a major threat, and you can help us defeat… “

He made no noise, the black and white reflections dancing in his frosty eyes. Every sense peaked to the summons, the adrenaline chattering through his veins. His quarry. His target. His mission. Pay attention. Listen for the orders.

“Improper hygiene.”

The large letters blared across the bottom half of the screen. “It’s our duty to wash our hands before every meal, after we sneeze, and whenever we touch surfaces in public places. Use soap and hot water for thirty seconds every time! Through diligence, we can protect our friends and neighbours from illnesses and bacteria.”

The film spun through the man marching across the stage confidently, gesturing at backdrops of heaped white bubbles and mathematical formulae, water taps and bus seats. His confidence projected through the scripts that ran parallel to the newsreels, and in all, Cap burned himself into the mind’s eye. His star shone. His mask never smothered the charm and open warmth conveyed by his features.

His earlier nerves about what they might subject him to evaporated away. Here lay the meaning of it all. His palms itched with the need to rise and walk out the door, assuming the role being assigned to him.

The importance of cooperating with the authorities promptly and public safety melted into a uniform jangle, no different from the messages hammered into his head by bear-like teachers and their huge hands, the fanatical doctors never speaking out of a detached monotone, or the pig-eyed, jumpy orderlies wielding electrified prods with a heavy touch, too gleeful to inflict corrections on him and the others.

Nikita glossed over the cheering crowds lining a street and someone waving a flag in the background as the reel switched over at the guidance of an unseen technician, a ghost high in the booth assuring he drank his fill of American propaganda and socialization. A bank of O Division observers scratched their notes, dictating into a microphone in another chamber or scribbling while they watched through one-way glass.

Ever since the incident in Connecticut, no one trusted fully in the panes’ integrity against one of their patients from Site I. The Russian pummeled a supposedly bulletproof sheet into spiderweb cracks and powdered shards. Rather than risk their lives to technical intransigence, they withdrew to cluster together.

“Heroes of our nation can be found everywhere, among the young and old. I believe that you can make a difference by assisting me…” Captain America pointed directly at the patient on the bench. The vague round outline of Cap’s shield eclipsed the striped bunting acting as a backdrop, serving to oddly halo him.

“«Yes»,” Nikita said in a Russian croak. “«Yes, I will.»”

Monroe couldn’t abide the charade. Their nation’s greatest asset trotted out onto a stage to hearten the masses while he repeated the pablum of a team of mealy-mouthed copywriters, reducing sacrifice and victory into mere slogans that exhorted audiences to learn math, say please and thank you, and pay their taxes as part of civil society. This wasn’t what he signed on for.

The Russian knave plunked down on a bench with more privileges than half the honest, American criminals cooling their heels in state pens had the audacity to shout back in that dog-bark at the screen. Giving insult to someone who took a bullet to the head, in front of half the free world.

Three steps became six, and he yanked the truncheon free from its clip. A quick flick of his wrist telescoped the metal sections out from their matryoshka nestings, and the air sang, a warbling buzz tracing the descent. He slammed the stick across the back of the thug’s thick neck, and the metal vibrated hard in protest. His grip tightened to avoid the stick flying out from his hand.

Another blow rained down and another, raising livid welts around Nikita’s jaw and the side of his neck. The soldier lurched forward, facing down over the floor. The bench groaned in ominous warning. Where the truncheon struck the man’s dusky flesh, blood trickled through the uneven tears and cored bruises.

“Gray!” shouted the doctor. His walkie buzzed to life as the commotion up in the adjacent chamber blazed like smoked hornets. “Gray, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Fists banged on the metal doors. Shouting from the other side receded into a distant tinny gale. Good man, that would be Agents Parks and Marchmont, both of whom were reliable and trustworthy. Long as they kept the others out, just a few minutes.

“Stop hitting him! This is an order, Gray, you are to cease at once!”

Mere snippets escaped distortion through glass and steel while Captain America kept enthusiastically talking throughout the madness.

Monroe ignored the ruckus in the hallway, pausing only to rip the walkie away into a distant corner. Doctor Farnsworth’s voice melted into dire promises delivered upon spectres, rather than him. Any moment he expected the side door to yawn open.

Another savage swipe cut open the patient’s cheek in a ragged, grinning line. He made no noise other than the fluttery sharp inhalation. Sweat dripped down Nikita’s brow into his pale eyes. Bones and cartilage ground under his tightening grip on his knees.

Nikita never raised his hands. Shoulders hunched forward and the grey t-shirt drew taut. The very sight enraged Monroe further, and he brought down the stick again and again in an effort to shred the fabric into copper ribbons glued to raw, oozing flesh. Poppy red stripes that ran over bleach white bars of skin, and the bluish bruises. It would do better than arterial strikes.

“He’s still sitting there? You bolt him?” wheezed another man’s voice, lower and rounded off in the Sandburg breadth of Illinois. Agent Parks emerged from the changing room, taking his time to adjust to the gloomier interior. Light backwashed the broken skin and still, suffering Russian patient, Monroe looming over him.

Monroe shook his head and lashed another pair of strikes over the flat of Nikita’s bicep, the sound satisfying but not sufficient. “How long we got?” He was panting.

“Two minutes tops. Marchmont and Gonzalez are comin’.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “We finish this then?”

A lurid, bloody grin widened across their faces, mutual assent to cause havoc. Parks stepped up to deliver a hard cross while Monroe distracted the Russian by beating around his scalp, leaving dents and bloodied wounds.

The film reel abruptly halted, the solid beam of white light pure, distinguishing every last detail of their movements in stark relief. A spotlight for the stage of the world, thought Agent Monroe. No need to conceal them within shameful masks, deterring others from acting. Perhaps the boys up there loading up the films saw the offensive act of projecting Captain America on a fucking Russian for what the filth it was, and took matters into their own hands.

In the piercing, pitiless illumination Nikita moved less than an inch in either direction. Fists colliding with his stomach and back swayed him back and forth, a thing of wooden substance than living flesh. Metal links subdued whatever range he held in his feet, but he only resisted being pushed forward into a prone space on the floor by digging his heels in.

Gonzales and Marchmont closed to join the tight circle, kicking their steel-toed boots into soft recesses and waiting for the inevitable crack of bone under the stomping collisions. Men’s bodies were not made to withstand such punishing forces, and every second ticked forward on the clock turned the odds to their advantage.

“Traitor Russian motherfucker, move!” shouted Gonzalez, after a particularly hard punch to Nikita’s jaw split open his knuckles. Blood flowed out of the Russian’s broken lips and ran down his chin, breath bubbling through the morass of copper.

“Too chickenshit to fight back?” Marchmont spat out the words between the sodden slap where his truncheon inflicted those dolorous, thumping basso blows on pulped flesh. His breath heaved in wheezing bellows.

Somehow he remained conscious, and worse of all, Monroe realized Nikita wasn’t fighting back. How dare he? Were they so far beneath him, such trash that he wouldn’t raise a finger? Nothing bound his wrists or arms to keep him from throwing a punch in return. Revulsion coated the back of his throat in bile and the bitter taste seeped over his tongue. He spat.

“Take his eyes,” Monroe hissed. No, that arrogant fuck wasn’t going to be staring him down and mocking him like a piece of meat ever again.

Gonzales hesitated. Park circled around to stand in front of the beam, and he jabbed his hand at Nikita’s reddened face, a mask of grime and gore disfiguring what had been a face they knew, enshrined as a victorious hero of the War in the Smithsonian.

Fists pounded on the glass in the projector room. Silhouettes in a shadow puppet play raised their arms in wide stances, fearful and urgent. One stepped in front of the mute beam and cut the illumination.

By touch they could continue their beating, slowed, the cover of nightfall affording a certain intimacy of grunts and groans, wet breaths wrapped around a core of viscous rage in the bloodstream.

Monroe never saw the pistol pressed to the side of his skull. He heard the discharge and then pain erupted throughout his skull, a lightning storm concentrated on a burning trail drawn to the horizon. He opened his mouth to shout and blood dripped over his tongue, filling the cavity and running down his throat. Breath seeped out in firework spatters while his eyes struggled to fix on sparkling lights erupting everywhere.

The muzzle fire in copper glow seized Marchmont’s notice and he turned, sidling away uneasily. He swung on reflex, too wide an arc, slowed down and the follow up of two sharp, shortened punches made up for the initial failure. He hit nothing but air.

Fire bloomed again. No, this wasn’t right. He can’t move. The exits are secured.

Groaning became a double-shot burst, left, right, and the third shot Agent Marchmont waited on manifested itself a second later. Gonzales collapsed onto the floor at the Russian’s spread feet. Nikita still hadn’t fallen by whatever grace of a dark power smiled on him.

He raised his face and whispered, “«My captain?»”

Two agents wrenched open the main gym door, followed by another pair pointing their snub-nosed pistols in sweeps. Distant light framed them as the avenging angels delivering judgment upon the damned, rather than the righteous men protecting the United States of America.
“It isn’t right!” he blurted out, shouting to them. “The bastard killed Steve Rogers and he deserves to die! Do your duty to your country. Your people. See the truth!

Their hard faces showed none of justice’s blind affinity, only a cold hostility. Blood pooled around their feet. He wanted to scream in abject fury. Park was fighting their grip when they hauled him back, and the pistol trained on Marchmont held by a kid not older than twenty-five never wavered. All of them, traitors to their country.

The Russian didn’t even smile, but dawning curiosity skimmed along the smeared, clouded expression turned to the empty wall where the projection once shone. He slowly nodded.

Rough hands hauled back on Marchmont’s shoulders, dragging him past the corpse of the champion wrestler in his too-tight suit. From the corner of his eye, he swore a shadow detached itself from the wall and drifted next to the bowed Soviet prisoner.

“Look,” he hissed.

“I’d advise you shut up and do as you’re told,” answered the SHIELD security officer into his ear. “You’re not getting out for a long, long time, boy.”


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License