1964-07-23 - Queen Takes Knight
Summary: Did you really think Steve wearing a shark was going to lose out?
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
rogue bucky 

HE may have sneered at his previous job as a janitor….but on the other hand, Bucky actually likes things neat and clean. And it's a thing you can have control over when it's hard to control other things. So while Rogue's been out, he's been cleaning. The apartment smells of lemony cleanser of some kind, and there's something cooking on the burner. Buck's in clean t-shirt and jeans, hair damp from a shower and not pulled back for once. He's even done laundry, god help them.

Where hath been the Soul-Thief? Places very far and wide, but few times to New York. A few hours spent in the Avengers Mansion after startling morning traffic constitutes the sum of recent activity, a dance through the sky and the sunrise hours. Scarlett may be powerful, but not invicible to the needs of sleep, food, and occasionally replenishing her wardrobe. Such a moment might also include finding peace in her garden at full bloom. Lobelias and begonias form glorious blossoms, bites of delphiniums and upright gladioli swaying in their radiance. She touches down upon the herbs, careful not to crush the rosemary too badly, or trod on the thyme loved by bees, her fingers tracing over the rarer varieties. Footsteps carry her to the rooftop access, hauled open to allow her to descend into the hallway.

Tip, tap, the sounds of her.

He looks up, quizzically. Sounds like her tread, doesn't it. A quick glance at the pot betrays that it's close to done, and there's enough for her if she wants some, too. There are signs of someone else having been up there. He's been watering things, figuring they need some kind of care.

Ragged leather coat, shredded leggings, the steadiness of her boots: these are the things marking some distant adventure. Bruises and scratches on skin that never takes stabwounds well, nor acid or lightning scorches. Loosened braids aren't much better either, truly said. Her chin lifts as she surveys the familiar scope of her home, and drags her fingers through the thicket of her thin plaits. "Allo, bonjour, bonsoir, bonne annee! How are you?" A call to any that might be there; who knows sometimes what they collect?

That makes him grin at her, one of those smiles that utterly lights up his face. <It's your birthday?> he asks, in fluent French, with only the faintest hint of an accent. Clearly teasing. He doesn't have an apron on, but otherwise, he's about as domestic as a mass murderer gets. <I'm good,> he adds, after a moment. Remembering the language as he goes.

"No point to inquire of that," Scarlett replies, dragging off the green leather jacket to afford some freedom from the heavy material. Her shoulders roll back and forth to loosen the stiffness inherent in spending hours aloft, and the sorry state of her shirt — stained by soil, black sand, the odd bloodstain — is not entirely concealed in the deep dye. It'll settle for now. "I forget little save that which is already lost. What day I choose is merely my own choice, or one given to me. I have never asked yours, though, an unforgivable state of affairs. Should we have a lemon cake or something suitably pernicious in its sweetness?"

He has to think about it for a moment. "November 11th," he says, after a beat. "A year to the day before Armistice Day. Uh, there are cookies in the pantry. Just storebought." Not up for baking sweets, it seems. Then he's looking back to eye her. "Looks like you've been to the wars. What happened?" His tone is mild, rather than desperate. She's vastly better at taking care of herself than he is, and he knows it.

"Nineteen seventeen," repeats the redhead thoughtfully, her hair dusted around her shoulder as she pulls the weight of the combined plait to her side. "I could not even tell you the year of mine. A guess sometime in the forties, that much is evident." Her gaze tips from Bucky to the changing artwork upon her walls, the array of food in the kitchen. A smile then. "Have you been cooking? I thought that to be my task. Delightful." Her fingers comb along the cabinets and she seeks to open them, a cookie not to be forgotten. "It was near a war. A few flying sharks, terrible and dreadful things from… I know not where. You?"

Buck whistles between his teeth at her, and laughs. "Just working. Talking to Steve about working a deal with SHIELD. And I wanted to contribute at least a little, instead of taking up space and eating you out of house and home." He gestures at the neat space. Things seem more crowded when cluttered.

Scarlett does not devour cookies like a certain blue puppet monster. Her manners would never allow a hasty munch with one palm cramming the whole lot into the depths of her mouth. Instead, a faster assessment follows, though her eyes widen at mention of SHIELD. "You mean to join them, then? You know I work with the Avengers. Should you ever have a desire to strengthen your ties there, I can speak for you, too."

"I'd like to work with them, too," he allows, slowly, as he turns back to stir whatever he's making. Ravioli, it looks like? "But they're extragovernmental. I want Washington's promise they're not gonna either throw me in a cell or trade me for an American agent."

"You believe they would? Are they so fickle in their gains?" Scarlett's surprise lingers for a moment, though not entirely as deep as first meets the eye. She leans back slightly against her countertop, breaking the cookie in half and offering Bucky the other piece. "I hope there would be many who protest that, or it be no more than an act on their part to try and obtain intelligence. Then those sorts of games have never been ones I entirely play." Liar. They are, yet memory doesn't serve.

He cocks a cynical eye at her. "Yeah. Peggy's a true heart, so's Steve. But above them?" He shrugs, makes a broad 'who knows?' expression. Then he takes the cookie and crunches it enthusiastically. "I'd rather be working with Peg and Steve. They won't hang me out to dry."

"Indeed." Suspicion is the lot of a mutant or an assassin, and they are so often interchangeable. Scarlett smiles wanly. "Would I could say much about the woman, but we have never made an acquaintance of one another. Steve, however…" Her mouth quirks up mildly. "A good man. Trusting, sees the best in others, and yet holds pragmatism somewhere under that shell. He trusted me enough to hurl him from cruising speeds and put him in the toothy mouth of a celestial horror, so I cannot find bad words to be shared." Nose wrinkling, she adds, "If this should be a battle where the two of you have to outdo one another, warn me? The competitiveness is fine, but I might need to locate the appropriate kind of risk for you to partake of."

Bucky stares at her. "Wait. This is Steve Rogers you're talking about? Fighting flying sharks? And he didn't invite *me*?" There is genuine outrage in Buck's face. When he's not wearing that concrete block prisoner's deadpan, he's as transparent as glass. He even flings down the dishtowel he'd picked up, like a housewife in a snit.

"Steve Rogers thrown on an airborne shark from above the cloudtops." Scarlett repeats this statement as though it belongs in the New York Times rather than a tabloid rag invented by a conspiracy theorist. She checks past Bucky at the ravioli, then leans back. "I gave him very little opportunity. I dropped the shark's … brother shark, I suppose you may call it, at his feet and told him there was an incident. He was inclined to agree."

"Jesus H Roosevelt Christ," he swears. Likely one of the few times he's actually blasphemed in front of her. "I miss all the fun." But then he's calming down, and grinning at her. "Pasta's almost ready. Feel like helping me eat it?"

"Naturally. I go seeking all the fun, and the past few weeks have made up for months of languishing on the sidelines. So, mon ami, perchance we might link arm in arm, and seek those opportunities affording us the right to look higher and adventure through the nation. Or the stars?" Scarlett can turn a bit of poetic fancy when she wants, in all fairness. "I do. You direct me where we ought to turn our attentions."

It's moments like that that only serve to call attention to just how vast the gulf between them is. No matter how many of the classics he read to Steve - The Count of Monte Cristo lasted them most of their freshman year, when Steve was almost entirely in bed. "All for one, and one for all," he returns, drily. "And sure. I'm pretty much confined to ground scale stuff, these days. But with SHIELD or Steve….Steve's been a magnet for trouble since he could toddle."

A poke of her finger is normally a direct threat. Not when given to a metal arm. "Precisely. I trust few, and you rank among them. Someone who would be likely to drag me out of danger or stand at my back when entrapped in a mad situation," Scarlett replies. "Let me get the plates." A turn and she can open the cabinets, pulling down two. "Tell me how on earth you were not a trouble magnet? I cannot believe you sitting about virtuously on a sofa while he bashed through the bad dogs of the neighbourhood."

"I never had time to get into trouble on my own. I was sheepdogging him since fourth grade. He would never let up. He's always thought he was born to be a paladin and defend the right….but all he had to do it with was a loud mouth, a bad case of rickets, the hardest head you've ever seen, ninety eight pounds of muscle, and me. And if you've guessed that the only part of that assortment worth a damn in a playground fight was me, you're right," He levels a metal finger at her. "He never let up. Ever. And when he wasn't flat on his back from getting beaten, he was losing the fight with some kind of germ. I remember the Christmas break of eighth grade sitting by his bed one night absolutely sure he was gonna die. HE was coughing and coughing, and no one had enough money for the hospital, which is really what he needed." He shakes his head at the memory.

The eloquent arch to those brazen eyebrows and the flickering hue in surreal green eyes form a query not quite raised to Scarlett's lips. God knows she tries to form a question, but it will simply not come forth. Not when the mischief erupts in a full typhoon sweeping sense out through the corners of sanity, registering as something of a laugh. "I have never in my life been in a playground fight," she points out, almost rueful. "I couldn't tell you what childhood is like. My own, at least. I never had one. Remember others', at times, the ghostly whispers of a television or radio program at the back of my head, but they were never mine. Discriminating between the gossamer revelations that were your Christmases and if I ever had my own tree, or my parents ever…" She trails off; the subject is too difficult at times to tread. "I…" The blink deadens a moment. "Liniment. Did his mother give him some kind of liniment to make it better?"

"…..I'm sorry. But at least you have mine, and they were good." And they were - poverty aside, he had a loving family. His mother died, and that was hard…but he had his father, and his sister. And Mrs. Rogers as a surrogate mother. "Yeah, she did. She knew all the kind of home-made medicine you could want. She was a nurse until she got too sick and weak to work. I took care of Steve a lot, when she had to work and he was sick."

"Eloquent, James Buchanan, terribly eloquent." Forks laid out with knives around her large table leave them at twelve and three, rather than separated by a stretch of wood. Usual for Scarlett; she is not the sort to be opposite another in most situations. Rallying something in the way of proper manners, she does have to take more care picking her path through the narrow kitchen to afford misstepping and forgetting how tall or high her gait is supposed to be. "Ah. That might explain some familiarity. But I don't want you to course through history if you would rather not."

"Yeah," Buck's at ease with it, clearly. He settles at noon, after having grabbed the silverware. "No. You're talking about the good part of my life. I was a happy kid, Scarlett. I had a good life. If it weren't for the Russians, I'd a come back, gotten my degree on the GI Bill, and be married with kids." He doesn't sound regretful about missing that normal life, though.

Scarlett drops down into a chair, crossing her legs. "Oh, the age of enlightenment. Is there something so horrific about a degree and the stability of a family? I suppose such sounds absolutely terrible as a liability." Her hand rests under her chin, elbow shockingly on the edge of the table. "What do you want now, having overcome such troubles as those?"

"No, I mean….it just seems so remote now," he says, with that indent between his brows. "That life. So many of us came back from the war and….that's what happened. Now….for me, it never will. But…the things I've seen, the things I've done." Buck raises his gaze from his plate. "Now…I think I really do want to work for SHIELD. What I am, what I do….I can't tend bar forever, much as I like my work." He looks down at his hands, metal and muscle. "I'd rather work for the good guys as a conscious agent, not a robot or a slave."

The redhead spins a fork around, dabbling it. "I can imagine. The world shifts a bit when induced to act in certain directions, varied positions. We make the most we can when life turns to ashes, and the cinders blow softly away. What you make of yourself then counts. But then ashes become diamonds, too." Scarlett's countenance flickers with a certain measure of understanding, albeit not on the scale that one in position would ever really have. She meets his gaze and then reaches out to put her hand upon the metal one. The other risks too much; leaving him unconscious is not going to win points with Steve. "You are never a robot. Ever. I know that deeply, with the surest certainty, for if you were I could not rob you of your good sense."

He looks into her face, softening. The grin is almost dippy, now. What a teenager he must've made. "Exactly," he says. "They never succeeded in taking my humanity away entirely. Thank God," His hand turns to lace fingers with hers. She may not love him as he wishes, but she does love him, even knowing the entirety of the depths. And that's more important than a ring and a house in the suburbs.

Dippy grin; teenager without the eye-black. How different they must have been in their day, her before she turned into the star-crossed skald and he before Hydra got their hands on him. Scarlett matches palm to palm, one of the fair few people can even countenance that with. "Never. It survives like kudzu. Careful, one day you will look up and be totally overcome by the good kindness and strong qualities that so define Captain Sharkmerica. He wore the shark, you know." Her gaze flits to the door and back again, in the fear they might be bugged. "You've no idea… I might be able to draw it, but there are days I wish I had telepathy. A rare few days. For merely to show you what that looked like."

That breaks him completely. Bucky's started to shake with that silent laughter, eyes going squinted. "Oh, my god," he wheezes. "I can imagine it. Steve. Jesus Christ."

"Right up until the other shark bit its tail off and he fought his way out." Scarlett has won her objective for the moment: earning a ray of sunshine out of the gloomiest corner of midnight.

Buck has his face in his hands. Somehow, he can see it. God bless Steven Rogers. Still laughing helplessly, and occasionally sucking air in past the metal fingers.

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