1963-07-22 - Red Sky at Night
Summary: The Winter Soldier runs off with the dahlia girl. Marriage is sadly not proposed.
Related: http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/log:1963-07-22-cleverest-of-all-devils
Theme Song: Soviet Soviet - Hidden
bucky rogue 


The pace was a breakneck one, and from the perspective of a viewer who'd happened upon Winter and Rogue's abrupt departure from the street festival, it would look choreographed— the two of them move over detritus in the alleys and obstructions between the walls like hurdlers. Winter vaults trash cans and low barriers like a champion track runner, while Rogue leaps and bounds behind him with even less of a care for the obstructions. Winter doesn't notice he's not so much dragging the redhead in his wake as much as she's trailing along behind him with an idle air, feet almost floating. Literally, at some points.

He kicks through a locked security gate, then takes an abrupt right and smashes down a sturdy security door with a huge swing of his left forearm. It crashes halfway down and with a firm boot heel, he kicks it off the hinges. Winter dashes inside, ignoring cries of consternation from the shop owner, and dashes out the front door. They duck into another alley where Winter gets a running vault and hauls down a security ladder from a fire escape, and quickly gestures for the redhead bohemian to ascend it ahead of him.

"Fast," he urges, eyes snapping around in search of threats. He clambers up the moment the ladder is clear and ducks into what proves to be a furnished showroom apartment, meticulously arranged for potential lessees.

Finally, the mad dash stops, and Winter turns to give the flower girl a more critical examination.

"We're probably safe," he concludes, finally, his tone a rasping and grim affair.

*

A riot rages in front of the cameras, mutants and humans, law enforcement and the public, convulsed in a mental sickness stirred by a pretty smile. Let it never be said the most dangerous things in existence aren't beautiful. Beauty can be a mask for horror.

If that's the case, then Winter is fairly damned.

The young woman manages to keep pace, a blessing of wearing practical equestrian inspired boots rather than ridiculous heels. There are moments when she might jump to avoid the curb or utter a soft noise at the back of her throat for exertion, but the mad dash through the side streets requires less conscious effort and more reaction by impulse. Under any other circumstances, she might laugh for the thrill of it.

Winter won't feel too much of a drag of resistance, and the only questions ever come in search of confirmation. "Up?" or "Right?" as one might expect fleeing pell-mell at speed. When he halts at the ladder, she pauses only for an instant. Then Scarlett takes a running leap at it, years of yoga practice caught in the bunch of her calves, the tightening of her muscles released in a sudden vertical spring. Her foot catches a rung and she seizes a handhold above, scrambling upwards before her other hand even reaches the metal railing.

Never mind the dress, practicality reigns. When he reaches the apartment showroom, she's already crouched down beside the window, back to the wall, breathing heavily but not about to hyperventilate. Already those green eyes drink in her surroundings, determining the unnatural arrangement that lacks for a personal touch, those hints of habitation. She glances up at Winter, already moving to rise fully.

"As far as riots go, yes. If they close the streets, we'll have a little time," she agrees, daring to peek out the window for signs of the madness convulsions them below. Then back to him, riveted. "Are you all right?"

*
Winter doesn't face out the window— he edges to it, hovering near the drapes, and peeks in such a fashion that he's not likely to be easily glimpsed by someone. He flicks his fingers at the redhead once, warning. Three men and two women barrel around the corner a dozen yards away, kicking up trash and debris as they flounder under whatever awful goad Amora's whipped up in their heads.

They pass, and the man drops his hand to signal safety.

He looks up at Rogue again, studying her face. He nods, once, as much confirmation of his wellness as she's likely to get for the moment. He steps away from the window, looking around, and makes sure the front door is locked.

His eyes flicker to the window at the sound of sirens and engines caroming down the street. It sounds like the riot just got turned up to 11. The fellow steps around the studio apartment and into the kitchen, grunting with surprise as he comes up with a few cans of food and some old noodles. He hefts the foodstuffs at Rogue, setting them into a neat pile.

"Enough for a meal. Maybe two," he grunts.

*

The caution he displays speaks volumes to a world in which World War Two vets live alongside Korean, and the Cold War rages in a frosty pitch through lines drawn across Warsaw to Mozambique. Perhaps she might even be witty enough to know. Nonetheless, Scarlett watches the way Winter moves and the restraint with a veiled curiosity evident behind her lowered lashes. So might the snow leopard peer down to assess how a tiger brings down its prey, possibly measuring its own tactics against those witnessed in another distant cousin. So it goes.

She ghosts after him towards the kitchen, leaving ample room to maneuver around the kitchenette. A moment of hesitation lingers as she raises her eyebrows, seeking tacit approval from the soldier. His house, his rules. "I can make something out of this if you would let me." A glance over the variety of tin cans and their labels generate a recipe mentally, pulling down options from a broad range. There are benefits to being a student.

"Do you have any beans? I shouldn't take more than fifteen minutes to pull together something palatable for you." Her shift into that role happens almost effortlessly, even as the dahlias still bright as stars in her braids sway whenever she moves her head. The familiar, the mundane, may seem almost bizarre.

Her lips part as she considers speaking, then curbs her tongue. Let them start with simplicity.

*

Manners rule the subconscious kingdom of Scarlett's blasted psyche, at least some portion brought to the fore. She aids in laying out the table in efficient order, spreading out the washcloth and centering a filled plate around glass and fork. Quantity forms a definite imbalance by polite regard or the simple fact the man who dislocated a full half of a mutant deserves the lion's share. Certainly no comment is made to doling out a reasonable amount for herself. In passing she smiles, one of those rare luminous creations knocked to the stratosphere by their veracity.

Thanks needn't be a pair of words repeated now and then.

She sits across from him after an instant of hesitation, giving 'Jack' the benefit of breeding or doubt on that respect. Tucking her dress to her sides adds one more element of normalcy while at the foot of the building, humans and mutants tear each other to pieces and the swelling violence crests above the music in a cascade of shrieks, angry bellows, and wailing sirens that strobe the facades under rattling endurance. Meanwhile they're having a meal by candlelight, spun from the dregs of an Asgardian charm still playing upon befuddled minds. Perhaps that magic still runs rampant through two entirely unlikely figures beset by countless barriers not to be poking a fork into a noodle to test how close to al dente the redhead got. (Directly atop it, as it happens.)

They who embrace conformity in turn are subject to its laws, and those who masquerade must choose always when to lower and raise the masks. "It worked when it needed to." Pop. Pop. Pop. The dislocation of shoulder and arm is no mere memory. "Sometimes that's enough."

*

Where Scarlett is at least making the attempt to hearken to the days of manners and niceties, it seems like Jack is a man who is going through the barest of motions. Like it's something he is trying to recollect from having seen in a movie, once upon a time. He sits after Scarlett settles, opting for the sofa— but he eats almost face to plate, with quick and mechanical motions, satisfying an animal sort of hunger instead of a human desire for food and company that the communal act of breaking bread evokes.

Elbows on his knees, leaning forward, he barely looks up until he's inhaled almost a third of his meal. His eyes flicker with discomfort when he realizes Scarlett's lagging far behind him in his hunger. Something in the back of the mind suggests he might not be doing the 'proper' thing, so he chews and then swallows, deliberately, and sits a bit more upright.

"It's good," he mutters, his voice low and a bit detached. He glances out the window at a shockingly proximate cry of anger, but it passes into the night and he refocuses on his meal.

"How'd you pick Scarlett?" he inquires, finally breaking a prolonged quiet. He seems to instinctively assume that someone would only pick that name for themselves, instead of being given it by their family.

*

The hasty way he eats does not seem to appall the redhead, though not except under extreme duress will she gobble a smaller plateful of food. He eats as he will, finding no judgment from her though she segments noodles and chases after the beans thickening the tomato based sauce with a great deal more finesse. The perfunctory process does not evince a great degree of epicurean pleasure; neither is she the sort to moon over a single bite and praise its joys. Food is food. The communal act of breaking bread comes second to assuring her temporary guardian and guide through a hellacious night is properly fed. Other concerns fall as they will, inscrutable as the man across from her.

Peaceable silence reigns until he or another unruly subject of the city breaks it, these things taken in stride. Her posture is more upright, though no less watch as a response. Sudden moves are absence, one adjustment folding into the next. Close scrutiny might reveal the considerable control over her core muscles, subtle hints that give away the unveering commitment to sitting just so. The balance of barely touching her feet to the ground means she's in essence perched and holding still by playing seesaw with gravity. Nothing unusual there, entirely, save it's another time and form of training.

The question, however, beckons for an answer. She pauses for a moment, then taps her bare finger to the shock of her brilliant flaming hair. "After all, tomorrow is another day," she murmurs in a deliberately elongated southern accent, though her own is purely New York visited by the salons of Savannah or Charleston, maybe borrowed somewhere from the graciousness of England. "That's how. You?"

*

"Given to me." Technically true, though the dour fellow leaves out the clarification between 'given by family' and 'assigned as codename by KGB superiors'.

Frost finishes cleaning his plate fairly swiftly, scraping the remains off the flatware, and rises from the sofa. He's an odd study in contrasts— the flatfooted stride of a career soldier, but the poise of a person as utterly in control of himself as Scarlett is. Every tread of his heavy boots is a study in muscular refinement. There's a sense about him that the parkour run through the alleys was as little effort for him as it was for the scarlet-tressed woman behind him.

He edges up to the window again, resting one hand on the butt of the old service pistol tucked into his waistband. He cranes his neck slowly, well concealed from casual view, and then turns and shakes his head at her.

"They're burning down the block," he gravels. "Two carfires, and they're looting the drugstore." He looks out the window once more, then moves to the door, checking the locks. He seems to find something about them a bit lacking, because he picks up one of the model showroom chairs and shoves it under the door latch at a firm angle, the wood creaking in his grip.

The radio continues to croon in the corner, a weird contrast to the shouts of outrage in the streets. Amora might have been more the spark to a gas can than tinder on the bonfire, it seems.

*

The nature of violence: it consumes its own children.

The meal will be continued until she is done, though Scarlett watches the man calling himself derivatives of winter pace across the floor and learns, in those moments, a little more about him as surely as he has discovered about her. Practicing yoga asanas to balance of mind and body may constitute an explanation for the self-control or discipline as much as evident ability as a soldier or someone disposed towards a physical lifestyle could explain away so many things. At the present she does not push on those tenuous boundaries. Salient bits will be slotted together into a forming puzzle for which she doesn't even know the final image, though the reserved state is enough to ward off digging in deeper.

Her brows do draw together at the appearance of the gun. A weapon occupying a coat or the room is a fair bit different than one in hand, tucked to the chest, snub nose pointing to the ceiling or trained on an appealing target back-lit by a fury of copper.

"You think the building is at risk?" Against the tallow candles, Scarlett's eyes effervesce nearly a toxic shade of green lightened by gold, at the borderline of natural and properly belonging to a cat. Then she turns her head and the flame reflected in emerald shifts, the illusion devoured in turn. "Most of these old buildings have fire escapes. Get to the roof, we can get away. Or at least to the next building, which might be enough."

It's said as casually as he did warning about looting and carfires. Does it bother him she already has an evacuation plan figured, and presumably some backup? To be fair, life looks awfully different when your third dimension is a tireless reality.

*

"No. Old brick, asbestos walls." He raps his knuckle against the wall. "We're not on the main street. Lower income area. Fire escape is noisy, we're on the second floor— we'll hear anyone coming." He looks skywards, as if he can see the roof through the ceiling. "Rooftop is a bad retreat. Fifteen foot jump between buildings. I can do it— not sure you can."

That might be longest, most nuanced series of statements he's said yet in Scarlett's presence, and it's delivered with all the dry dispassion of a ticker tape news report.

He moves back to the door and sits down with his back to the entrance, tucking his boot heels close to his rear and resting his forearms on his knees. He pulls the bandanna off his head, finally, hair a bit tangled from lack of care or maintenance. "You sleep. I'll keep watch. Once things are quiet, we can leave."

*

At least there isn't a parade to accompany it. "Fire escape may be noisy, but a decent distraction for you if necessary. It would pull attention to me from you." Scarlett reaches for her water and takes a sip, then slides out from between the chair and table. Carrying the dishes to join his will be easy enough, though she accepts the assessment in truth. "Fifteen feet shouldn't be impossible with a decent run. I know to roll when I hit the ground, and keep moving. Rule one, always move."

Her fingertips skim over the counter top, and some unnerving chord playing between them and the radio fluctuates. For a time, her gaze drifts to the wall and through the window, though at the angle she stands, she wouldn't be an easy shot. "Is there anything else you need? I can forfeit on a bit of sleep. Wouldn't be the first time." The moment taken to pull the dahlias from her hair leaves a few loose strands untucked from her braid, stems dragging them out like plumes underwater from an exit wound. She pinches the stems lightly together and drops them in the glass, the remainder of the water serving to keep them alive and somewhat fresh until morning.

A model showroom without a lockable door, and now an impromptu vase full of flowers, suggestive of parallel and unnatural realities.

*
Winter watches Scarlett taking her hair down. A tic flickers near his left eye, unseen, partially concealed by his stringy hair. His expression is guarded, even if Scarlett were to look at him as he covertly studies her. Is it the color red? The flowers? The humming contentment as she takes a moment to beautify a little bit of nothing in the middle of the riot raging around them?

When she turns back, his eyes are focused on the wall opposite him, distant and inscrutable. "I can go a while without sleep," he tells her, shaking his head. "Doesn't make sense for both of us to be on watch. If things calm down I'll rest a while." He uplifts his chin towards the cramped bed in the corner, a silent suggestion that the redheaded florist take advantage of the relatively security around them and sleep if she's able.

*

One could argue the point, and then they would be an utterly reprehensible individual acting out under stress, in the Scarlett canon of behaviour. Her braids still hold intact, though that telltale white streak — pure as the Siberian snow — threads through one section of the plait. It might be the only proof, the only instance, of deviation from bog standard pretty thing. Either way, she moves with a feline quality of absolutely careless self control towards the indicated bed, though she pauses along the way to remove her boots.

Palm resting upon the table for balance, she folds her left heel back so she can get a decent grip. The side to side twitch of her foot loosens up the grip of vinyl. A bit of a shake permits that necessary freedom to slide the shaft of the boot over her calf, and placed onto the ground. Repeat for the other side, and she stands in stocking feet upon the ground.

Both shoes end up within arm's reach of the bed, where she moves afterwards. The times it helps to be tall if not especially broad illustrate themselves by how she the bed isn't quite so cramped. A few adjustments here and there are taken to avoid entanglement in the sheets, for all the wrong reasons. "Don't stretch yourself on my account. Trouble comes, wake me up." A beat. "Please?"

*

"If trouble comes," the man agrees, nodding his head once. He flickers a look over at Scarlett- inscrutable, his eyes flat and bordering on empty. There's a sense about him of a fellow who's on uncertain ground. Trying to process all of Scarlett's little motions and gestures and looking for a mental manual on the proper responses to her. Finding none, he simply ends up looking a bit unnerved at the prolonged social contact. Even to the forgiving nature of the bohemian redhead, he's obviously someone far more accustomed to silence and solitude than dealing with a person on such a personal level.

But all he ends up saying is, "Good night."

*

At some level she understands better than most. What more could be glean beyond the terrible sorrow of isolation within a hairsbreadth of another living soul would require a violation worse than any Amora gave, for the vaults of self and memory breached by just a touch are a terrible curse. All the same, Scarlett tucks her hands beneath her cheek and rests on the second most lethal weapon in the area, after the man choosing to keep watch. "Good night," she agrees. A pause, then, lingering in the air.

A promise of safety from her means nothing. But she murmurs it anyways before trying to succumb to the weight of sleep, a fraught transition between unknowns. Perhaps it just happens that she practices meditative breathing or fakes it, or willingly slides into the abyss.

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