1964-07-13 - Cold Fingertips
Summary: Crossing paths on the street, two of the foremost assassins enjoy some conversation and idle posturing. Who doesn't like a death threat?!
Related: None
Theme Song: None
tanya bucky 

He doesn't have a home, precisely. He has crash space at Rogue's, though that's increasingly a torment of mute longing….and crash space at Kai's. AT the moment, he's paying Kai's rent, ahead of the day that Loki steps up to keep Kai in the style to which he's accustomed. But both are safe and pleasant spaces where he can try and sleep in peace. It's to the latter he's heading after work, in the wee hours of the morning - his suitjacket and tie off, the former slung over his shoulder. His hair's still neatly clubbed at his nape - still refusing to cut it. Bucky's stride is easy, that unthinking lope.

The wee hours find a lithe figure emerging from a shop door far after hours. The sign clearly says 'CLOSED'. The brunette, wearing a rather…form-fitting set of leather pants that accent her dancer's legs and a matching jacket, zipped up tightly until it can't zip anymore at her chest, uses what appears to be a skeleton key to lock said door. She's difficult to spot within the shadows of the overhanging sign, but stepping into the golden cone of the streetlight brings her into sharp relief. Her hair is back in a simple ponytail, which manages to corral some of its wavy volume.

Tanya slips the key into its usual place — definitely not a pocket, because…there are no pockets on that jacket — and then turns to walk away from the scene of her dalliance. She's immediately aware of the man in the dress shirt and pants walking her way and assumes a nonchalant air that comes with a subtle sway to her hips. Look at how I move, her traveling seems to whisper, pay no attention to my actions or face. In the meanwhile, her olive-green eyes, lined by dark lashes, try to measure what she can of the man.

Armed. And the way he walks…..it might well be familiar. A funny, hips-a-little-forward swagger, as if he weighed more than he looks like he should. His expression's bland, a little abstracted - a waiter counting over his tips in his mind, perhaps. He sees her, that pale blue gaze meeting hers, and nods politely enough, before letting it slide away. New Yorker's etiquette.

No shame in being armed this late on the streets at night. No gun on her person, though a very sharp little knife dusted with dried mamba venom within easy reach — and, of course, her Darkforce powers.

Tanya gives him a little smile, a wisp of heat showing in the tiniest flash of teeth, and then she's past him. He'll hear her booted steps come to a slow stop and then, from behind him, just loud enough for him to hear and no louder,

"You've got to be fucking kidding me. …«Zimniy Soldat»?" The Russian still carries a heavy brush of her base Chicago accent, making it clear that it's not her first language and that she's relying heavily on memory in order to pronounce the title.

Winter Soldier. THE Winter Soldier?! It's about as likely as two arch predators on separate continents crossing paths. What…luck?

She can see it wash over him, that shock, like a man dropped into a pool of ice water. Then he's turning with deliberate, dream-like slowness — and the surprise on his face is washing out into a blank canvas. He doesn't bother to try and lie or play it off. By the time he's done turning, it's Winter mostly in charge, gazing at her with that wolf's stare. «Who is asking?»

"Uh…" Tanya's actually…dealing with the butterfly flutters of the assassin underworld's equivalence of fangirl-dom at the moment, which leaves her speechless. Well, that, and it's Russian and she doesn't speak the language at all. She adopts a relaxed stance, arms folded beneath her chest. What nice plumping. Distraction, ahoy?!

"I don't speak that language, friend Ruskie, not well enough to answer you." Her smile returns, coy and inviting, even as she slowly draws her eyes down and back up his body. Oh yes. Definitely armed. Could it be…?

He swallows once, throat working, as if that's what were needed to change modes. In the glow of the streetlight, he's impossibly young. The Soldier's been a boogeyman for two decades, since the end of the Great Patriotic War. He should at least be in his forties. But he's no more than twenty five…..save for the eyes. His English is still formal, if almost accentless. "I said," he enunciates, "Who asks?" Still slow, deliberate - to move too fast is to likely start a fight without meaning to. If he's slow, Bucky has a chance to do things without yielding to the Soldier's reflexes.

"Ooh…that almost makes me think it is you," murmurs the brunette with brutal amusement in her tone, making no fast or further movements except to slouch a little more. Contrapposto pose, ahoy, to accent all of Tanya's curves…and better ready herself to dive to one side.

"Hell, you probably have no idea who I am, but…if you're the Winter Soldier, really him…then maybe you'd know me by 'Black Mamba'." If he does, it's with connections to Roxxon and some burgling of very interesting 'haunted' artifacts…and maybe some bodies left in the wake of her slinky shadow.

Winter has opinions like a Shibe in booties, and a fund of info, all of which he dumps into Buck's mental stream with the enthusiasm of a toddler loading a bathtub with Mr. Bubble. It leaves Bucky going still, which is Winter's equivalent of a jaw-hanging gape. "The name and reputation are familiar," he says, finally, gaze not wavering from her. IT's very much that serial killer stare. "Are you here for me?" His tone is almost casual.

Tanya stops herself from blurting out some flustered giggling and instead hides a smile behind one hand against her lips. Or…she attempts it, all part of her usual masquerade.

"Hell no," she replies quietly, after a moment of apparent consideration. "Not you. You're…hell, functionally immortal. No contract or bounty on your head, Mr. Winter. Not that I hold. No…but it's really you, isn't it…?" She begins to step forwards, still attempting to remain as neutrally inclined in air as possible. Her eyes are all for him, shadowed as they are, and they hold a muted twinkle that…may invite closer inspection if his curiosity gets the better of him.

He does not seem reassured, but nor is he inclined to immediate violence. He's still watching her with that unwavering stare, tensing a little like an animal about to shy away. "Yes," he says, curtly.

The smile she flashes is quick and bright before it melts back into a coy curve.

"Well…bury me in a fire-ant hill slathered in honey." It's a thoughtful-sounding comment, accompanied by a tap-tap of one finger alongside her mouth. Maybe…she's done that to someone before, probably out of petty revenge. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Winter. Or rather, the pleasure's all mine…" Oh yes, it's exactly the smoky purr one would expect from the Mamba. Another few steps closer, gracefully, nonchalantly, not precisely within his personal space.

And he ghosts back, precise as a dance, soundless as smoke. "No," he says, as if to ward off whatever suggestion or request. "I am retired." What an absurd, old-fogey word to come out of his mouth - but the pale eyes have gone fierce.

"What do you know? Me too," replies Tanya in a lighter tone, though it loses none of the underlying admiring heat. "No one's asked for me by 'Mamba' for…months now. Not Mr. Winter though…? What do you go by these days, if you don't mind my asking?" The leggy brunette continues at an angle now to him, as if to pass by him rather than walk head-on. Still keeping her distance, this one, measuring, testing in her own little ways, lead in a dance of unspoken threats and prowess.

He doesn't want a fight….but he's still dangerous. "Jack," he says, bluntly. "Jack Frost." There's no humor in his face, despite that name. Careful to keep from permitting her to box him in, or maneuver him into a corner - making no secret of it. No getting within easy lunging reach.

"Mr. Frost then," and there's not a speck of laughter as Tanya takes a conversational tone. Her smile is more charming now, insinuating that she means no harm as she stops, now underneath another cone of golden light shining down from above. It glistens on the leather, makes it look nearly liquid, and pools in all the right spots on her exposed skin.

"Again, a pleasure to meet you. I'm Miss Sweets. I won't shake hands with you because I can tell we're not going to be…bosom friends — not right now at least," and she sighs as if accepting this. Somehow, she manages to look up at him through her lashes. "You're…busing tables, I guess? How…normal." Now returns the twinkle to her eyes, amusement ghosting through her mien.

To Winter, this does not compute. James….it's sinking in. She's *flirting* with him, or trying to. He bobs his head in agreement, or in lieu of handshaking. "Something like that," he says, flatly. Definitely Winter's lack of affect.

By the answer, reluctant as it is, Tanya seems to realize that her subtle enactions are beginning to get through to him, beyond whatever this…mask of coldness is he's putting on. Another settling in her posture, more accentuation of curvature beneath black clothing.

"If someone had bet me money on what you'd be doing after disappearing like you did, I would not have wagered busing tables. It's clever. I like it," she says, nodding her head once to Bucky. "No one would expect it, with your reputation. I haven't found anything here yet. I have my outlets, but…" She observes her nails for a second, quirking her mouth in a flat line. "…they're not acceptable, even here in New York." Oh, the myriad implications.

Now there's a hint of something that isn't that flatness or incomprehension. "I don't have a college degree," he notes, with a sardonic twist to his lips. "I've got no legit papers. No employment record. Winter's dead. This is what's left."

"It's not half-bad looking," the brunette readily admit, as if were so difficult to share her opinion. Once more with the draw of her off-green eyes, from face to toes and aaaaallll the way back up. "You clean up well." Her gaze locks on to his and there, the twinkle he might have caught earlier in their exchange, but this time…

Her voice takes on a cajoling melody as Tanya takes a step closer. "Did you…still keep the metal arm? Can I see?" Her full bottom lip, painted red as it is, is dragged by her teeth. Never does her attention deflect from his face — another slow, swaying stop closer, out of the glow of the streetlight now.

The old legends imputed snakes with the ability to hypnotize prey with their gaze. She can see the power take hold - he's so weak on that front. The door built and opened by the Soviets admits many keys. That fight or flight tension seeps from him, from the lines of his face, leaving him looking painfully young, gazing at her in bemusement. The hand of flesh wastes no time in undoing his cuff button, rolling up the sleeve. The arm gleams like silver in the light of the streetlamp.

"I'll be damned…!!!"

There's a very real hit of fearful awe in her whisper, as if she's waiting for him to spring at her suddenly in his Russian boogie-man way and end her as quickly as she takes her next breath. Tanya waits another few heartbeats, seeing if he throws what little compulsion she placed upon him — and no, there — the infamous silver arm of the Winter Soldier. Her mouth hangs open slightly even as she reaches out to place fingertips so lightly on the metal. It's cold, cold like…prison bars. Cold like it's been…left out in the snow.

Oh god, this is the Winter Soldier!!!

The gasp gets caught in her throat that closes tight and she looks back into his eyes again. "Forget what I did, please!" It's a sharp command, frightened well and good at what her impulsive nature has just driven her to do. Quickly as possible, she attempts to compose herself and clears her throat. The quivering is forced down inside and the smoldering mask slipped overtop it again, hopefully just in time for him to return from whatever sweet, shadowy reverie he was momentarily trapped within.

It's like being able to pet a wild wolf at some sort of weird encounter tourism trip. No bars! No chains! But he obeys, still, blinking at her suddenly…and it's not anger, but fear, there. He's had some kind of fugue, and it's enough to make him pale and step back, hastily recovering his arm, as if i were some kind of deformity.

Tanya frowns, playing along even as her heart does weird flipflops and her stomach begins considering a crawl up her throat.

"Hey, you okay? You look like you saw a ghost. It's okay," she adds, showing the perfect balance of concern and mild amusement. Her hand remains fisted, tucked up just beneath her sternum. Her fingertips are still cold.

It must ache. All the time. No wonder he has an obsession with sleeping in sunbeams like some kind of cybernetic monster cat. Then he grins at her, and it's a skull's grin. "Like you? You have seen a ghost, too." It's definitely Winter talking. The ….construct/ghost/alternate personality/murderbot has a sense of humor, too, and it's far less nice than Bucky's.

They probably could have a good argument over who's the more pale at this point. The blood rushing from her face leaves Tanya's eyes glistening momentarily. Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit.

"I guess so," she finally manages. The step backwards is slow, respectful somehow, and her nod nearly duelist to duelist. "I won't blow your cover if you won't blow mine."

The smile deepens into something approving….but still predatory. Amazing how much older he looks, when that malevolent spirit is driving. "That is good sense," he agrees. "Wise people do not believe in ghosts. So there is no sense to telling stories about them." The accent's still American….but the syntax is that of someone hunting and pecking his way through English.

The old assassin's logic brings forth that smile again. It's shy at first, but it grows into a sly smirk. Here's the common ground between them again.

"Stick to the shadows, eh?" Tanya idly toys with the zipper of her jacket. "Be the thing your mommy always warned you about. The closet door rattling. The doorbell when you're alone… Boogity-boogity," she laughs, low and quiet and somehow faintly cruel.

"CIA Agents scare their new recruits by telling them that if they are bad or foolish, the Soldier will come for them," he returns, with a hint of arrogance, mock-solemn. "Let them have bad dreams a little longer. That which is dead can not die."

"I used to drink with folks who would shoot vodka in your name, Mr. Frost." Note that she sticks to the name given by his more…normal mindset. "I'll do the same when I get home. Promise not to tell anyone, truly…"

Her fingertip, of the warmer of the hands not having touched cold metal, crisscrosses over the bared skin above the home of her pulse. "…cross my heart." It's a purring promise.

There's a moment's cold consideration. Will she really keep her mouth shut? He doesn't believe it…..she can see it, the cold calculus of what kind of struggle she might put up. Then he visibly dismisses it. "Don't. You don't hope to die."

The adrenaline kicks her heartrate up high. Surely he can see it in the lines of her throat. She licks her lips slowly, eyeing him with noted caution wisping through the poise.

"Don't what…? Oh — hah," she chuckles from the back of her throat. "I'm not concerned about that. I have no mark against you. You really want to sully your name removing a major player from the board? And over what, a ghost story…? Tsk." And she clicks her tongue, folding her arms once more to accent her chest.

He sneers at the idea, just a little curl of his lip. "Sully my name? It's dirty enough already. And I'm a free agent, now." Then he lets it go, weary again.

Watching the defenses fall brings that composure back in full force for the Mamba. She looks him over carefully, noting the changes in demeanor and poise, and marks them well. She's one for faces too. It'll be very hard to hide in a crowd anymore, at least from her. He seems…so old to be so young, at least now, in the garish light coming down from above.

"You are. It's…crazy to think about." So is everything Bucky's done, spanning decades and even into the present. She read the newspapers. "So am I…I guess." She shrugs. He's considered again and this time, it's lacking a predatory air. "Where do you work? If I wanted to come say hi and exchange stories."

Someone's still a fangirl.

Bucky shakes his head at that. No. Not giving it away. She's just going to have to stalk him the old-fashioned way.

With a scope.

"No….?" That plump bottom lip slips out, perfectly timed with another look up through her dusky lashes. "Not even for a kiss…?" It's a sultry question, of course, paired up with a lip bite that speaks to the duality of proposed innocence veiling a willful streak of incandescent fire…if he wants to burn his fingertips rather than leaving them cold.

He jerks back like a horse whose had his bridle yanked hard. Blame Amora, he's gunshy now. "No thanks," he says. "What is with people this week?"

Well, normally that works. Bucky gains himself a frown, one of the first negative expressions since they crossed paths.

"…'everyone this week'?" she echoes, tilting her head to one side. "What, someone liked the spaghetti you delivered so much that they goosed your ass or something? Attempted to tip you with a blowjob?" A eyebrow arches. "I can think of worse things than swapping a work address for a kiss."

"It's a long story, but….the end result is 'no'," he says, simply, drawing away a little further. Don't ask him what the Russians did to discourage further liaisons after Pepper. He can blame Amora. It all started when she was present.

Gosh, stymied good now. Tanya sighs, looking truly petulant.

"Alright, fine…I won't press. Although, just get ready. Someone's going to attempt to goose your ass one day in those pants." It's her duty as the infamous Black Mamba to warn him of such little bites that leave sting in their wake. "But look at the time. I'm going to turn into a pumpkin if I stay out any longer. Mr. Frost…"

And her olive-eyes, with that muted twinkle perpetually begging for a closer look, rake him again before returning to his face. "Have a nice night." No one should be able to make that sound as invitational as she does.

With that one last idle volley thrown his way, Bucky gets a smirk, a wink, and then a view of those hips which do not lie as she saunters away down the sidewalk.

It'll probably be Loki, supplies his brain. Bucky looks disgruntled, watching her until she's out of sight. That could've gone better.

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