1963-07-23 - Dino in Winter
Summary: Over 7/22 and 7/23, the Winter Soldier's search for food gets interrupted by T. rex.
Related: Red Sky At Night
Theme Song: Grimes - Kill vs Maim
rogue bucky 

The city's in turmoil and the riot's had an irritating side effect— travel's been shut down. So Scarlett and Frost had emerged from the temporary furnished room to find that the bridges were shut down and checkpoints were everywhere outside the small neighborhood. The cops were keen to catch anyone who'd been spotted at the riot, and they'd simply shut down transit to do so. Rumors of a blonde antagonist were the main driver of unrest.

Frost would have been content to just sit in silence in the over-warm apartment, but Scarlett had a fit of practicality and pointed out there wasn't any food left. So, grudgingly, Winter had agreed to 'escort' Scarlett to the local grocer's for some essential supplies. However, it'd quickly become apparent that his apathy was almost certainly feigned— and from the possessive proximity he gives Scarlett's safety, it's clear he's more than a little concerned for her safety.


If summer had a king, he would surely be Ares. If summer had a banner, it would be a seething flame fit to devour the standard it rides upon. Those few law enforcement agents capable of seeing further than the stacks of bad reports and chew-outs by superiors in every precinct might seek to impose order on the public, but it's something of a lost cause. Overnight changes little about the way human systems tend to work. Soldiers recognize soldiers, and divide up the field in lines of battle. On the other hands, the civilians still have to get around and, as far as anyone is concerned, Scarlett is a civilian of the highest water.

"This won't take me very long," she murmurs, reiterating the simple plan to ease whatever discomfort her companion might experience. "Dry and canned goods, nothing more than I can carry in both hands. Nothing without a price tag if it's in a box to avoid a slow down." If he wants to add anything, Winter is free to. Such have women been navigating food shortages, bread lines, and riots since the French Revolution and before.

She pauses a moment, glancing at the shut up storefronts, the dark windows, the broken glass. "Trouble shows up, go. I'm not much worried about the police." Supremely overconfident, supremely young, or supremely sacrificial. Take your pick.


Winter looks at the storefront, and with his left hand calmly knocks the door in. The deadbolt explodes inwards, and it resonates around the empty storefront. It's full of little nothings— some milk that should still be good, instant noodles, canned sausages. Enough for a few meals.

"Here. This will do," he says, leading the way in. He kicks some debris out of the way, moving inside and casting a wary glance around. His hand rests on the butt of a revolver at the front of his waistband, ready to draw if they're attacked.

"Here. Backpack. Load it up, I'll carry it back," he rasps at Rogue, handing her an old rucksack someone had abandoned when the riots kicked off. "We need fresh water, too. I'll get candles and matches. What else do we need?" he asks, moving to the 'supplies' shelf and loading the bag up with a sweep of his arm.


Or he can knock that open and give a survey of essentials, rather than face one of the functioning shops. The momentary splinters thrown into the air cause her to slip behind him in a fairly quick motion. Though in fairness Winter is broad enough that a shift to narrow her profile is hardly difficult. Not that Scarlett is a waif, not with years of yoga behind her.

She runs her hand over her plaits, tossing aside a bit of wood blown out of the frame. Then without a word, the young woman takes the backpack. Casing the place takes a few long seconds, and then she bisects it in a mental grid, moving through the furthest point rather than all the way along. "Can opener. Not likely they have iodine tablets, so bleach. Water from a hydrant should work if they haven't severed the lines?"

A curious look passes along every shelf, then she tosses in a few small plastic bags, ghosting along the semi-stocked shelves. Nuts and dried fruit, primarily apricots and berries, are added. A bag of pulses, another of rice. Peanut butter ends up added, crackers to follow, a box of cereal torn into and the inner bag dumped into the backpack. Canned meats go in as well, swept along. If she can find powdered milk, so be it.

In the darkness, the pair of them skulk about in their various ways, though it's only when she is absolutely certain no one watches that Scarlett's feet leave the ground by an inch. One less thing to track her by.

Winter is efficient about the casual larceny. Matches, candles, fuel, and thoughtfully after some hard contemplation, some toiletries. The man looks at the shelves, full of arrays of splendid people looking clean and fresh, and glances over his shoulder. Making sure Scarlett's not looking, he carefully sniffs the inside of his jacket and then permits himself a resigned expression.

He throws some deodorant into the bag in hands.

He and Scarlett meet in the middle of the shop and he starts to sling the bag over his shoulders. "Come. We've been here too long. Let's go before we're spotted." He ducks out the door and starts moving down the street at a quick trot.

And then, of nowhere, there comes a groaning, roaring sound. Cars, piled up into a big wreck and abandoned in face of rioters, start moving of their own accord. One slams into another, then a third, and faster and faster, picking up momentum. The giant crush of steel and glass and rending plastic creates an earsplitting cacophony, resolving into a junkyard monstrosity easily four stories tall. It produces a long metal tail and a huge, gaping maw with gears for teeth, and emits a screeching roar at Bucky, who promptly starts backing up.

Behind the Steel Dinosaur, thirty yards away, a young man flexes mightily. Scrawny, a bit myopic, and with bad skin, he's someone Rogue would recognize as a fellow mutant— and clearly on a bit of a power trip with all the 'big kids' out of town for the riot.

"Yes! Pulverize them all!" he screeches, hopping up and down.

Bucky starts to go for his gun, aiming it at the dinosaur. "Stop! I will destroy you!" he shouts, loud as he can, and aims at the Dinosaur's… skull? Brain?


Splendid people on a box might resemble the very young woman he associates with, had American marketing companies not such a vendetta against gingers. Or flaming redheads.

Scarlett retreats towards the front of the shop, the backpack held firmly in her hand, looking over the shelves or peering around the columns to see whether Winter still accompanies her. Lady Luck might opt to wear a blindfold and tiptoe out the door just to make mock of them both. Seeing this is not the case, she surrenders her ill-got gains to him, and follows at a pace less hectic than their last dash. They may regret that.

Seeing Fords and good American land-yachts tumbling to the street puts an end to any idea of a bright mood. Sheared metal rings in her ears and drives her briefly to her knees, hands flung over her ears instinctively against the skull-splitting cacophony played out of bumpers and doors and chasses.

Four storeys over her, something wakes up on the wrong side of the bed looking for breakfast. Some bedside manner.

"Next time, you're right," she states unequivocally to the soldier starting to measure up one of the new American monuments. It may not be The Motherland Calls. Close enough. Slowly rising from her knees, she pivots away from the gun to the target and claps her hand over her mouth. One mustn't swear in front of gentlemen. It's not right.

"Sir, stop it! Someone is going to get hurt, and this," a wave of her palm, because pointing is disorderly, "is not worth it!"


"Run. I'll hold it off."

And with that, 'Frost' is off and running. That gun rings out repeatedly as he hurls lead upwards at the dinosaur. The creature seems to have a degree of autonomy, or self-awareness, because it lunges at him with a roar of anger more than pain. He tucks and rolls in a tight ball, avoiding the crush of teeth, and fires off two more shots.

He doesn't seem to see the young mutant that's controlling the metal monster. It's a good effort, but he's firing lead against a golem made of steel and anger. There's just not much he can do!

It might be Frost's turn to need help.


Run. In a perfect world there are no dino-cars and auto rexers raining down mayhem on an already bruised and battered city. Perfection through a scratched, cloudy pane looks an awful lot better than kid on a high destroying vehicles and peace.

"Watch out for the tail!" Helpful, that. Scarlett bolts around the monstrous simulacrum, doing her best not to obscure a line of sight on the soldier striking out at violence. Metal on metal is about as effective as fighting water with oil, or deflecting a molasses flood with concrete barriers. The awful shrieks of buckling material and the ping of a bullet hitting metal hasten her steps towards the unfortunate mutant suffering the blazing glare of a rather irate emerald-eyed redhead. Their tempers are somewhat legendary — Elizabeth I. Lucille Ball. Every witch ever.

She tries to avoid being penned in by a foot. Thirty yards is a little closer than Venus, and it comes down to running around one of the broken vehicles, hiding on the other side. Her intuitive understanding for trouble may shelter her, and it may not. The young man doing a victory dance isn't going to be without company for long. If he isn't showing signs of retreating, then so be it, he's getting a damn hug. A clothed hug, but a hug nonetheless to knock him over.


Frost is fast. Really, really fast. And nimble. There's an effortless grace to the way he moves. Like a yogi master, but always in motion, sometimes flipping across the asphalt with barely a toe touch for balance against the curbs.

The dinobot lashes out with a pair of clawed arms, snagging and snapping and reaching. Bucky dives, ducks, twists— but the beast is fast and strong, and Frost's not /quite/ superhuman. It grabs him by his left arm and starts hauling him skywards, towards its maw.

"I will rip your head off!" Frost shouts, as angrily as he can, struggling to reach his backup sidearm.

Scarlett lands near the young man, and he turns a remarkable shade of white, then green, then white again. "Oh— oh man. Oh man. You're that Scarlett cat," he whimpers, backing up. The dinosaur remains completely still for a moment. "I've heard of you. Please don't kill me, okay? I was just having some fun, honest!"


Scarlett's copper brows draw together over her brilliant eyes gone narrow in speculation. Remembering to hold to her central calm requires more focus than she might care to suggest in that moment, but any mild slip of focus could end up terrible for all. "Sucker for attention, are you?" Words come tightly through the echoes of Winter's voice above the mechanical turmoil over her head, and splitting her concentration to check on him is just something she cannot afford to do right now.

Her mouth draws a line tilted slightly down at the corners, never a good sign. Drawing in a deep breath conjures up some vestige of discipline, even if her senses jangle in a warbling lamentation.

"Put him down. Gently." Some would say those in a demanding or threatening voice. She merely asks, on the threshold of a tacit suggestion this might be a really good idea. "He's doing his job. Protecting…" What? Something. It doesn't matter. The pause lingers there, in the quick clip of her voice.

"You've got attention. Not the sort you want. This might be a good time to slip off, you know?"


Frost is trying to win an argument with a semi sentient mechanical dinosaur, and as far as he can tell, he's winning, because it's stopped eating him.

The kid, though, is terrified to the point of fainting. "Yeah, okay, sure, he's down, look, I— she put him down," he says, wiggling a finger at the dinobot, shakily. It slowly lowers Frost to the asphalt and releases him, where he lands hard on the ground and rolls, and then the dinobot just… sort of disintegrates into a few giant piles of constituent parts.

Frost looks up, just in time to see the kid running pell-mell from Scarlett despite the redhead having said only a few words. His eyes narrow in confusion and he walks carefully towards her, kicking through the piles of debris.

"It was tekid. He was controlling it, yes?" he asks Scarlett. "How did you scare him off?"


Someone gets points when arguing with sentient robots or simulacrum forged from heterogeneous components. When it comes right down to it, Scarlett isn't very successful standing them down either. Unlike the spectre of a certain Chinese square involving tanks in a distant future, this street is purely the byproduct of human arrogance and overreaching power allowed genetically instead of a living bureaucracy. An important difference. One of them can be squashed by a hug against a wall for misbehaving.

Feet smack the ground. She hugs herself, hands wrapped around her upper arms, as if the Devil needs to employ them this very instant to cause further mischief.

Someone might forgive her for swaying a little and tipping sideways against a fairly large chunk of metal adequate as a wall. Her shoulder drums into it and the sound vibrating into the ground almost dislodges the discarded hood from its foundation.

Winter is regarded by a dozen yard stare as she can't manage further. Her breath draws a little deeper than usual, rapid enough to suggest the stress detonated like a bomb moments earlier. His question brings a tip to her head. Gesturing, she says, "I asked nicely."

He may or may not believe it, but the answer is what it is. Biting her lip suppresses that awful urge to laugh in the face of chaos, and instead, it merely reminds that she is mortal, young, and reckless enough to talk to dinosaur summoners. He, on the other hand, is willing to tangle with the damn construct itself. "You actually shot it?"

Frost blinks at Scarlett, a bit taken aback. He gives the damaged wreckage a confused look, then at Scarlett, then at the path the young man had taken.

His expression turns a little suspicious. He'd barely survived the construct— she'd scared the man off with a few stern words?

Then there's the sound of yells and shouts from around the block, and it breaks his train of thought.

"Didn't know what else to do. Thought it might have a brain or something," he grunts, looking vaguely embarrassed. He unloads the revolver with a flickering of his wrists and fingers, barely looking, and locks a fresh moon clip into place, rolling the cylinder home and tucking the revolver into his waistband.

"Let's get back to the apartment," he tells Rogue. "We don't want to stand around explaining this, I think." He uplifts his chin towards the apartment, shouldering the backpack and cinching it tight on his broad shoulders. "Are you injured? Can you jog?"


Less stern than, say, logical and opening a viable route of escape to live another day when a man jumping around firing a pistol with some degree of accuracy at a four-storey broadside of the Jurassic finally got tired and found a new target.

"Sometimes people see sense when it's brought to them. Other times the click of a hammer works." She isn't necessarily condoning that, but the weary tone to her voice meets the slightest wry uptick of her lips. Confusion might go both ways. It might not.

His embarrassment kicks her off that cloud enough that Scarlett murmurs, "No, I meant you actually hit something when you were moving at that speed. It's impressive." Scary. "Remind me not to startle you. I may end up holier than a Swiss saint."

One cheese joke later, the bohemian gently disengages her arms from around herself and step-skids down the slope of junk sorted into ruinous plunder. A nod for his suggestion proves she's steady enough on her feet. "Let's go." Points for sticking the landing, right?


They jog back is a fast one, and Frost leads the whole way, moving with a steady, ground-eating jog. He disregards the blocked off front door and they go to the alleyway. He boosts Scarlett up to grab the ladder, and the two of them scale it and he pulls it up behind them.

Back in the apartment, he finally stops to breathe, removing the backpack and setting it on the kitchen floor.

"I've spent a lot of time shooting," he gravels at Scarlett. "I can do that with my eyes shut if need be. Short range is easy."


Zigzagging run notwithstanding, she pursues the path almost step for step with him. If her boots sometimes slip, the soles not intended fully for the same ground-eating grip Winter's more practical boots allow. On the other hand, Scarlett scarcely so much as cares. She keeps up by hook or by crook, following him through the labyrinth back into the heart of the building where that second-floor model apartment has swiftly become a place to hole up.

This time around, she doesn't bother taking her boots off, and she goes on her knees to sort out the contents into a pile of various goods separated by pairing rather than other categories, like type or colour or purpose. Crackers and peanut butter. Granola and dried fruits. The reasonable sorts should hold no surprise.

"Well and so, you still have an impressive skill set. I cook. And sometimes hand out flowers."


"Was a soldier." Frost gets the emergency supplies squared away. The big advantage is the hurricane lantern— once that's lit, the room is actually a bit less oppressively shadowy. He sets it well away from the window, the yellow flame sending their shadows to dance and sprawl in a corner. He moves efficiently to light the other candles, then moves into the bathroom and tests the water with a squeak-creak.

"Huh. Must be a gas heater," he mutters. "Water's hot," he calls back to Scarlett, leaving the bathroom. He steps into the living room and shucks his coat. After a moment's consideration, he throws the coat in the closet.

Then he stops, staring at the wall. A tic settles near his left eye. The thick shouldered fellow freezes, staring blankly into the closet. His face is unreadable, and he almost seems somehow internally conflicted about his actions. As if the mundane act of throwing a coat in the closet had triggered a conflicting whirl of emotions.


"Student," she replies, making fairly evident the case for young, female, and unchaperoned. The sorting process consumes Scarlett for a time, though she doesn't stray so far into bean counting to avoid Winter's eye or where he might be moving. "Thrown together by fortune, though, so whatever we are seems to be working for surviving through the night."

New York may be no Beirut, no Manila, no hellhole carved out from a civil war. Nonetheless the unprecedented violence in the race riots and the varied civil unrest makes it feel so. "I think I grabbed some extra soap on the way out. Do you want a comb?" No, it's not a measure of judgment. Some things are automatically assumed by a woman with hair to her waist.

Then he stops, and she goes still as one assesses their actions, and the other reacts to the shift in the atmosphere with an intuitive caution. It doesn't tell her what to do, which may be the fatal flaw in the engineered outcome. Slowly she rises from the floor, dusting off her knees, and takes a very broad angle to approach the soldier, making absolutely no secret of doing so. The floorboards squeak. "Everything okay? You want me to go hide on the roof for a bit?"


Frost twitches and ticks twice. Then her soft voice comes close to his her and he turns quickly, backing up a pace. His eyes go rapidly in and out of focus, distant and laserlike intense, and then he relaxes.

"No. No, I'm— I'm fine," he mutters. "Just… memories," he mutters, darkly.

He casts around, evading Rogue's eyes as if they're looking right into him. "I… need to clean up." He tugs at the front of his shirt, absently, as if only now remembering that he's wearing it. "It's been a few days. I don't smell…" He clears his throat. "I smell like I need a bath." He looks at the kitchen. "Can you— will you make food?" he says, the words a bit thick. Slurred, even. It's still English but there's something about it that sounds garbled. Like he's forgotten how to use the words except in the most technical of fashions.


It may be terribly unwise to corner a predator starting to lose the overtones of domestication, even if he is very much in that class of species that will never be tamed nor domesticated, simply convinced to eat something else and not rip out the throats of the unexpected.

But few people might comprehend the current horrors than someone whose memories lie in fragments flung from one horizon to the other pole in all its frost-bound glory. "Got it. You need anything, I'm right here."

It might be right to stop there. But she holds her hand out to him, palm up, fingers curled. This could be a disaster in the making but the only way to know is try, the simplest of human gestures. A reminder of flesh and beyond the flesh, belief and faith all wrapped into one echo of when she handed him a flower.


Frost looks at those hands. He's clearly completely at a loss for how to respond, what to say, how to /act/. Someone went into his heart and cut out his empathy, and gutted him well on the way out. Rogue's own fears and temerity and worries utterly fail to register, because the shocked look on his face is the expression of a man who hasn't the foggiest idea of /what to do/ or how the woman is feeling.

He looks down at her hand, then at his rough, callused right palm. His hand rotates back and forth, as if only now aware of that extremity, and then— quite unknowingly putting his life in her hands, literally— he squeezes her fingers.

It's awkward, and cumbersome. But it's a gesture asking for real human contact. He looks at her, his blank face seeming to ask— 'is this what you wanted?'


"You don't have to." A point made in the shining gold of her lightly accented voice rests between them, reassurance as much as Scarlett can verifiably offer him. Some point of his shock hurts on a level she can barely name, though not exceptionally out of the ordinary given how much lies compressed in the last twenty-four hours. He let a stranger sleep in his bed. He nearly tore apart a mutant. He came to start a small war on a street that bit its own tail. Will it make any difference, her words wouldn't imply such. "Always here, got it? No questions asked. No price, either."

The touch descending on her palm is something braced for as if that dinosaur construct just bashed through the wall. A tremor runs right up her arm and lodges between her shoulder blades, a rusty arrowhead needing only a small slip to pierce lung or heart.

Long fingers lightly close, framing his knuckles. Below the flexing, straining barriers of control a vexed monster thrashes in its slumber. Her pupils widen a fraction and shrink in the light, though the bonds hold. Transference lies entirely on the spectrum of the warmth of skin, and little else. But she won't chance that for long, still offering that. "I'll take care of it." It could be substituted for something else, like shooting seagulls that try to steal French fries or yelling at monsters. His pain is private, his own, if it exists at all. She tips her head and gazes at him, eyes fathomless, expression calm. Focused, but so terribly calm.

What else could possibly be said?


Perhaps it's the one saving grace of his broken, shattered psyche— there is no profound personality to rampage through Rogue's brain. It's all scattered, fragmented. Purpose but no pride in that purpose.

And then Frost's fingers slip away, and he withdraws, moving to the bathroom. He carefully shuts the door and the water rattles to life, gushing against the porcelain. Not a full bath, not really, just a shower over a drain with an oversized bucket to stand in.

Frost stands under the shower, head bowed, hot water pounding against his scalp. His face, though hidden, betrays his consternation— his confusion. His uncertainty.

He examines his left arm, slowly, inch by inch, staring at the patchwork of steel plate and cable that makes up a fifth of his person.

That literal, missing part of his personality.


The girl with the memory palace serving as an oubliette for stolen lives, buried memories, targets one and all turns back to the kitchenette side of the studio when he walks away. Some victories are small but enormous. For want of a touch a life could be lost. For want of a nail…

She opens the bag of apricots and pulls one of the dried fruits out, staring at it before taking a bite, the window holding her reflection but a thousand miles away. Some kind of dinner requires more processing than that; hot water can make a decent variety with the rice and instant noodles, at least, beefed up by the tinned meats, the pulses, and turned into something more like a casserole. At this point her thoughts meander through possibilities around a phantom of possibility.

He stares into the gloom at himself. She watches him askance, and there might as well be a minefield between. Whatever is sought, he knows where it is.

And aside from gathering a few things from the cupboards, Scarlett isn't going anywhere.


About ten minutes later, Frost emerges from the shower. He's wearing his street clothing again— it's all he has. But he does smell a bit cleaner, though his hair is a strangled mess that hangs in unkempt tendrils. As he walks into the room he tugs a glove onto his left hand, leaving only that thin strip of grey flesh between the cuff of his undershirt and the glove's heel.

"Why are you here?" he asks Scarlett, finally. He looks at her with a glower that has nothing to do with her personally. "You don't know me. Don't owe me anything. I could be… a criminal. Dangerous. I /am/ dangerous. You'd be better off running away from me as fast as you can."


During the intervening time, Scarlett has put the request of food to good purpose. Noodles again, though this time tossed with a few spices for a culinary punch and spliced by a can of vegetables to go with it. She refrains from tucking into the tuna fish, or anything protein-based on that front, probably leaving those for when they're needed.

When he returns, the plate is already on the table, covered by an inverted bowl to keep it warm. She hasn't made a point of hanging out near the window, but picks up a fallen plastic tab on the floor. "Because the city went somewhat insane and I don't trust whether that woman is out there, still, causing mayhem. Safer to stay here than not." His points are taken in stride, but she inclines her head. "Had you wanted to hurt me, you'd have done it when I was on the ladder or sleep. You did not. Last I remember you stayed by the wall and left me alone. I'd almost think you expect me to do something but that is, I suspect, your way of being polite and cautious. It hasn't upset me."

The smile may be faded, but it exists nonetheless. "You are dangerous. You nearly got stamped by a tyrannosaur, and I missed watching the fight. Terrible for me, you know?"


Frost looks at Rogue, then just shakes his head. "I won't let you get hurt," he says. It's a bit impulsive, and the words take him a little by surprise. "We're stuck here together. You helped me during the riot. I'll help you until you're safe. We're not safe until the riots are over, so I'll stay with you until then." It's a long-winded QED, but the math all adds up. It's so plainly simply, when he puts it like that.

"As long as we're here together, I won't hurt you," he tells her, his lips pressing together into thin lines. He fidgets, as if trying to think of something to add, then just falls silent and rather mechanically, moves to sit at the low table and start eating his food with a soldier's hungry efficiency.


A = B. B = A. Simple math, easy factor. "The offer for help extends out there whenever. It's the least I can do. So there we are." Scarlett accepts that fact as she glides over the kitchenette, picking up the smaller plate of food. Once again, she leaves the lion's share to the one actually burning up the calories compared to the somewhat sedate lifestyle lead while holed up. It's not like he expects her to start doing handsprings or going toe to toe with anything but a bottle or a bit of broken glass. "Thank you."

Settling in, she perches on the seat in front of his low table, and wields the fork easily enough. "And outside of here?" The question begs to be asked, out before the girl can call it back. Maybe he's just condemned himself to a housemate for a while. Ye gods, poor Wanda. She answers for herself, at any rate, between neat bites. "Always a flower for you."

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