1964-07-31 - Two Thousand Mike's
Summary: A handful of SHIELD personnel speak with Bucky Barns, who is essentially once again in SHIELD custody.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
coulson clint bucky carol-danvers 

The Soldier wants to come in from the cold, as Le Carre's metaphor goes. Despite all the damage he's done to SHIELD and its agents in the past. So there he is, sitting not in a cell but in one of the interrogation rooms. Oh, there've been concessions to common sense - he's bound to the chair he's in with shackles far beyond normal handcuffs, and the door of that particular room is enforced enough it might even stand up to a punch or two from an alloy fist. He's even submitted to some mental seining by the Scarlet Witch, to make sure it really is James Barnes driving.

Buck himself is….not terribly impressive at the moment. He's in a white dress shirt and jeans, hair bound back at his nape. He looks healthy enough, and clean - no longer living rough and scrounging in the back streets. Waiting for the next phase of the examination with apparent patience.

Phil Coulson's desk has been a lonely place for the majority of the year. Many agents find their desks traded, used, sublet, or straight up disassembled when they are on long term assignment, but not someone with the tenacity and history of a man like Phil Coulson.

In the past 48 hours, that empty desk found purpose again.

Its positioned near the back end of the bullpen, largely because Coulson prefers having something of a bird's eye view to what's taking place. He's well aware that James Barnes is in, well, 'custody', but other pressing matters have been facing him. Matters that are securely folded up into Manila folders marked CLASSIFIED EYES ONLY in key, tamper proof areas.

The phone on his desk rings, and he picks it up quickly. "Coulson." Pause. "Yes." Pause. "You're sure?" Pause. "Yes. I agree. Danvers too. Very good."

Oh boy, oh boy. Back in town from assignment, plenty of little birds flying back to the nest these days. Among them is Barton, the office gaining a little swagger and the lingering smell of stale cigarettes when the agent comes rolling into the office in his jeans and tee-shirt, rolling on up to Coulson's desk with his hands stuffed into his pockets, well within the older man's line of sight on his way by. "Phil. Look what the cat's dragged in, eh?" A wry greeting and welcome back, Barton sidles up, glancing loosely back toward the interrogation rooms, past the array of desks and what have you before swinging back around to face Coulson. "Seeing all kinds of fun faces around here lately."

Fun. In the 'it is recognized that you have a funny sense of fun' kind of way. Buck's let his head lean back, closed his eyes. There are lines of strain that weren't present in the old newsreel footage, but he barely looks a year older than the young sergeant trailing in the Captain's wake. Prepared to wait patiently for them to see him again. At least he's not in a cell or sedated.

Phil hangs up the receiver moments before Barton approaches his desk. He grins in a sly manner before looking up. "Agent Barton. It's good to see you're still speaking of yourself in what almost counts as the third person." He quickly gathers the files and locks them in his desk, before pushing his chair back and standing. One file remains tucked under arm. "Walk with me."

Phil proceeds to walk up the rows of desks, headed for Director Carter's office. "Fun faces, indeed. It seems this is, in fact, the season of resurrecting old ghosts. Someone went digging through an old dry storage facility in flyover country, but, that can wait." He pauses at the Director's office, so that he might slip the file into her secured dropbox.

"At least, until Rogers gets back from Washington."

Coulson hasn't changed much; he hasn't lost more hair, at least of what is noticeable, and he's still wearing the suit and tie that he always wears when logging hours at HQ. "I'm guessing you're aware of our new visitor," he says while walking now toward the interrogation room holding Bucky Barns. "He's… not the same as he was before, but honestly? Jury's still out on whether that's good or bad. Want to talk with him with me?" He pauses near the door, giving Clint a convincing smile. "Come on. It'll be a gas."

Moments later, Phil is rapping on the door before opening it, letting Clint's pungent odor fill the room where Bucky is being held.

A corner of Clint's mouth nearly twitches, or maybe it's a play of the light that gives that impression as he lingers near the desk. Smoothly pivoting around when Coulson gets to his feet, Clint's eyes fall across the numerous other desks and give a practiced /not/ look at the file Phil holds onto. "We don't know what you're talking about, but the assumption hurts us."

Sidelong, sly eyes fall back on Coulson, picking up his steps to tag along for the ride. "April showers bring May flowers. I guess June firefights bring July hauntings. Not nearly as catchy, though. Can't put that on a greeting card." Clint strolls with a looseness in his joints that is uniquely his own, though when they pass the Director's office, there's a habitual and cocky little wink tossed at the door itself, averting his attention while Coulson slides that file home.

Clint's…Clint. The only thing that changes on the guy is the number of bandages visible on him. Today, it's three, and two of them are on his fingers, the third a small cut covered up under his jaw. No big deal. "I might've heard a couple tweets from a birdy here and there."

He might have also watched the man in question stroll up in broad daylight up the driveway, like a goddamn pizza delivery man. Only a matter of time.

Clint quirks a crooked smile at Phil, the opposite brow twitching upwards for a pop of motion. "You don't have to ask me out to the box social twice, Coulson." He shoots back with amusement, then lets his expression fall into his usual careless mask of neutrality before blowing on in to the room, cigarette smoke on his heels.

Barton bypasses the chair across from Barnes, taking up a hovering post on 'their' side of the table. Fingers still in his pockets and giving Bucky a lidded, neutral look. He's good at backup in these situation. Watching, waiting, letting one of the 'talkers' take point.

He seems lucid enough, does Bucky. The blue eyes are clear, without either Winter's wolfish stare or the cloudy bewilderment of memory fugue….a far cry from Coulson's last encounters with him, not long after Christmas. He's slipped from SHIELD custody on so many occasions…and even now he's not behaving like a beaten prisoner. More like someone at a job interview - hopeful and unbalanced behind that careful neutrality.

The scent of cigarettes makes his nostrils flare, but in longing rather than disgust. Clint gets a nod in greeting, but Coulson's clearly the agent in charge here, and Bucky looks at him expectantly. Wanda's declared him himself, for some values of himself….at least it's not the Soviets' puppet driving, for now.

It's just at that moment that Carol comes down the hallway, wearing (for once!) her SHIELD field uniform. She looks a little uncomfortable in it, mainly because it's been a while since she had it, "Hey, Phil! Peggy is on a bit of a rampage, and she needs you to take care of that paperwork like, yesterday." She grins a bit wryly at the other agent, "I can hold the fort until you get that done." So, with that, she pauses at the doorway, and looks over at Bucky. She can't help the mix of emotions that war on her face, though she does keep her tone pretty much business as she says, "Wanda said you had a clean bill of health now." Her eyes flicker carefully over Bucky, as she doesn't take anything for granted. Much as she might want to.

Clint knows the look that Barnes gives him. The longest relationship he's ever had is with unfiltered smokes, so he knows that one, intimately. That doesn't lend him to any sympathy at this particular juncture. The archer turns his head up when the door opens up again right behind them and Carol pulls Phil out before Peg has an aneurysm, possibly about whatever he just slid into her secured mail slot.

Oh boy.

Barton upnods toward Carol slowly as she steps inside, silent as he looms in the wide empty space beside the empty seat across from Barnes. Pale eyes level on the cybornetic fellah shackled to the chair. "Someone's gotta play ball." He murmurs the words Bucky told them both and Bobbi back at the mansion a little over a week ago now.

"Well, she's willing to confirm that I'm the guy in the driver's seat," Bucky ventures. His tone is conversational, mild. Playing it cool, even though he's bound to this chair. If they want him back in a cell, it'll happen. The question is if they do. "I had some help involving a Norn pool." He's only dressed plainly, and seems calm enough, despite the bindings. None of the tension of someone coiled to spring. "I figured it was time to try and come in out of the cold. I can only dodge the Russians for so long."

Carol nods, "Yeah, eventually they'll catch up to you, and they aren't nearly as nice about things as we are." She smiles faintly and walks in, then takes the empty chair across from Barnes as she looks over at Clint, "Norn pool, that's an Asgard thing… don't worry, it makes no sense to me either."

Then she looks back at Bucky, "What do you want, and it's got to be more than just coming in from the cold. Especially since the Soldier was driving a lot of what you did before." She remembers the Soldier from 11 years ago, after all, and knows Bucky well enough to tell the difference between them.

"Good to know," Clint rumbles back to Carol as his eyes track between each of them as they speak. "It's dangerous to let my imagination run wild." His tone is casual, like sharing a coffee date with an acquaintence rather than sitting in interrogation. "I was imagining a hot tub with a bunch of morally loose ladies, or a betting pool. Kind of hoping for the first one." The archer admits and shrugs one shoulder, falling quiet once again. Clint doesn't defend Barnes, but he plays a good counterpoint to the more direct line of questioning.

Gods only know how he got access to anything of Asgard's….but then, consider who he's been following lately. That little indent appears between his brows. "No," he protests. "Not really beyond that. I can't ever really be a civilian again….but for now, I have a choice. I have to make it and find refuge before the Russians get me and wipe me again. I can't keep doing this. The next time they catch me….that'll be it. I know it." And for all his attempts at calm, the fear's there beneath. Sweat beading on his brow, and his throat works. Even Clint's humor only gets a faint, sidelong grin, before his gaze fixes hopefully on Carol. She was kind to him, when he was incarcerated, not long ago.

Paperwork. Coulson knows Director Carter's bullshit excuses more than most, and she was clearly quicker on the dropbox than he's anticipated. However, the affair is now handled, and the Senior Agent has returned to the interrogation room.

"Funny you should mention Russians," he quips at the doorway, before entering and closing the door behind him. "Sorry about that," he tells the others. "Some things, well, they just can't wait."

Carol glances over at Phil, "Well, at least she's not trying to set you up with her goddaughter or something." She makes a bit of a face at that, then looks over at Bucky, "Well, if it were up to me, I'd bring you in all the way if you had the clean bill of health." She leans forward, looking at Bucky, "It's not up to me, though, and honestly, thanks to certain shenanigans, I'm not exactly listened to around here lately." Not entirely true anymore, since she had her own moment of coming in from bureaucratic limbo… but why not play that angle and see what happens?

Clint's attention swings back up to the door when Coulson rejoins them. Jutting his chin up at the man, mute, his own joke doesn't even seem to register on his own face. Deadpan delivery, if conversational.

"It's all about politics when it comes down to it," Clint hums in seeming agreement to Carol's angle. "Who can scratch whos back, grudges, assets—hell, risk analyst reports." The bane of existence: paperwork. Value. He's talking about value and cooperation.

And he has no pull, other than old friends - Peggy and Steve. A flicker of those pale blue eyes to Clint, not certain if he's there as peanut gallery or Greek chorus. "Thanks," he says to Carol, and then, after a beat, "Sorry," But then, inevitably, it's back to Coulson. He's the oracle here, clearly.

Carol is the warm recipient of one of those looks; the kind Coulson gives someone when he either doesn't approve of, or doesn't quite get, the humor. It's… always hard to tell. For such a straight shooter who wears the suit like the anthem of a square, it seems there are far too many layers for one person to simply crack.

"Considering Maximoff's report," he tells those gathered, "I'm going to do a bit of unilateral rule breaking." He crosses the distance until he's standing at that empty chair, hand resting on its stiff back. "One of those little perks that comes with seniority." He casts a look toward Clint. "Lose some hair, Barton, and you'll know what it feels like."

He finally sits down, and turns to face Bucky. Behind his eyes there seems to be a multitude of ideas spinning, a thing that doesn't quite match the placid smile on his face, but pairs well with the silence that seems just too lengthy to be entirely comfortable. He finally straightens, and speaks again.

"There is a massive build up of foreign powers, taking place right now, in the western Pacific. Washington won't admit this, nor will the New York Times, but trust me, it's happening. I'm reasonably convinced that the powers that be don't want to see a red panic gripping the major cities and rural areas, which, I'm sure you can understand and appreciate." A pause. "That being said, I've just delivered a report with actionable proof that Chinese and Soviet assets are working together. Now, I'm not sure if this means anything to you, Mister Barns, but…" He gestures forward with one hand. "I was kind of hoping it does."

Now we know what Phil Coulson has been up to since his disappearance in February.

Carol winces at that, and looks over at Phil, "I hope Carter isn't asking me or my… other friends to go there. Because that could be a pretty big escalation, Phil." She tilts her head, then looks back over towards Bucky, waiting for him to continue as, well, that's a level of conflict she's not wanting to entertain.

A corner of Clint's mouth twitches upward dryly in reply to Phil's advice. A hand wrests itself up from the loose hook in his pocket and skates into his hair, appreciating the lack of receding hairline. "I'm in no rush, Sir." His role isn't clear at this point, but now that Coulson comes back, he falls into the background again. Curious to see just what Barnes has to say to that. Value, man. All about value and politics.

There's the rapid darting of his eyes - not amongst the others here in the room, but the flicker of someone trying to dredge memory and do it swiftly. "Southeast Asia," he says, and his voice is even lower now, his gaze dropping to the worn surface of the table. "That's it, isn't it? They had me working there in the past few years, even though Europe and the Middle East are more my bailiwick." Because nothing blends in in the remains of Indochine like a tall white guy with a metal arm. Another of those blank-eyed moments of recall and he offers, "Tran Anh Hung, Ng%<244> Viet Thu, and B%<249>i Xu%<226>n Ph%<225>i," All pro-western activists for democracy….all of them assassinated. Guess who by? "I don't know a lot of it - they never had need to give me the big picture, and they never did. But it was clear what direction they were working towards…" Vietnam.

For a few moments, Phil carries a grave expression upon his face. It's soon broken by a very small smile. "Soviets appearing to be instructing and training Viet Cong assets. Chinese assets infiltrating the North. USS Card, broken and sunk. Soviet sub activity recorded in the Gulf of Tonkin and off Hainan." He shakes his head and moves to stand, leaving the chair unoccupied.

"Escalation is the last thing we need to see happening, Colone Danvers," he tells the woman, "in spite of the fact that it could draw certain shadows into light. I'm afraid the risk of collateral damage would simply be too great."

He sighs, and turns back to face Bucky. "James, I really wish we could find a way to get your head straightened out. We could use you. Especially now."

Carol nods and looks over at Bucky, "Yes, I'm almost certain to be going over. As an agent if not an actual costume." She glances evenly at Bucky, "And it'd be good to know what their plans are regarding the area, what their intentions are regarding Vietnam." She frowns and looks back towards Coulson, "They didn't want to press Cuba, you think, so they're trying a different tack?"

Clint watches the exchange between the agents and their new…what would you call Bucky? Guest? Eh, they could use a better turn down service in that case. The global theater's tension rising on a number of fronts, Clint simply purses his lips and flicks his gaze down for a moment before popping back up toward Coulson and Carol. A corner of his mouth twists dryly. "A gun doesn't need to know why it's being fired," he seems to say in sympathy to Barnes and his debocle. He's been on that end; do what you're told and don't ask questions.

He licks his lips at that. "Surely you have to have some means beyond Maximoff?" Buck doesn't sound all that certain…and there's a distinctly pleading note in his voice. "I mean….some other telepath or psychic who could straighten things out." Like ripping up nearly two decades of careful mental programming in the space of a few days isn't bound to have him either catatonic or insane. Insaner. He concedes Clint's point with a flash of brows. Exactly. Especially true for someone who's lived the last eighteen or so years in a strobe of interrupted time.

"It's easier to have a barbecue in your own backyard," Coulson tells Carol. However, Clint's suggestion earns a quick look from Phil, before he darts eyes back to Bucky. "Perhaps," he tells Bucky, "But Maximoff is the only one I trust."

He crosses the distance then, and begins removing those sophisticated cuffs that chain Bucky down. "Thing is," he says, while working the machinery, "as long as her talents are at work? You won't need these."

The cuffs clatter to the floor with a sharp bang.

Carol glances over at Phil, "Maybe the only one you trust, but that's not the only one out there. We might want to ask around…" She looks to Bucky as she stands up, "I'll talk to Director Carter, see if we can maybe get some other options since… well, Wanda's good, but…" She hrms, and makes her way out of the cell, casting one last look to Bucky before she goes.

Exchanging glances with Coulson, Clint seems comfortable where he's at for the moment, uncowed by the glance from the senior agent. The mention from Carol to find outside help makes him take a moment of pause and glance back at Phil to see how hard that point hits. The handcuffs come off and Clint trails somewhere between the table and the door.

That's a bewildering show of trust for James, and he blinks, watching Coulson release him. The departing Carol gets a little grin, and then he's asking, slowly, "What do you mean?" The full extent of the Witch's abilities is entirely unknown to him….but that hint's enough to make him uneasy. He doesn't rise from his seat, but stretches and flexes each hand and arm in turn. In the case of the metal one, there's a snake-like rustle of plates.

Carol gets a nod of acknowledgement and approval on her way out, but for the moment, he got the majority of his attention upon Barnes. It's a calculated gamble, of course, but there are always contingencies.

"Whatever happened to you, James, I don't believe it was something you went along with so willingly. I know my history, and I know Steve." He takes a step back and gestures with both hands. "As long as we're able to keep your head sorted out? Then I see no reason to keep you chained up in here, like an animal." He leans forward, resting a hand on the table while lowering his head to be more on Bucky's level. "I do have to ask you to remain in SHIELD HQ. In here, I'm confident you won't suffer any… malicious, outside influences. And there will be agents who escort you, to keep you from sensitive areas. I ask this, and I ask you to be patient with us. With me." He makes to stand up again. "Don't think of it as imprisonment. I think you know that looks a lot different. Just… think of it as a process. Steps. It may seem impossible to turn scrambled eggs back into the raw, shelled material, but…" He casts a brief glance Clint's way. "I'm a believer in the impossible."

Utterly calm while Coulson lets the mind-fucked cybernetic threat out of his chains, Clint doesn't much seem to mind one way or the other. Standing in solidarity (or complete apathy) for Phil's decision, he remains mute until that brief glance is passed his way during that 'impossible' line. A wry twist of his smart mouth, Clint deflects it toward a generalized comment. "Impossible's got a real thin margin these days."

He doesn't like that, at all, that's clear. They can see him considering a breakout….not that that ever really worked before. "All right," James says, quietly. "But I need you all to tell some people what's happened. Or let me write them notes - if I just up and vanish, it'll go badly. Again." Because no one's forgotten Loki's incursion. All a misunderstanding, but it ended with CAptain America bleeding out on the pavement.

"It's all a thin margin," Coulson agrees, before turning his attention back to Bucky.

"Sure. Whatever you need. We have the best coffee." He pauses, and just like that, his friendly and disarming demeanor becomes chillingly severe.

"Don't. Vanish."

Those two words linger for a moment, before he walks over to a cabinet and withdraws a tablet of paper from its spartan supply. It's left there, along with an ink pen, right in front of Bucky's hands.

"For an office," Clint amends the claim of the /best/ coffee. Mention of letters sent out results in a glance from Clint over toward his senior agent, a look of warning or maybe of some lurking feeling of things to come. A look of 'I'm not a messenger pidgeon' seems more dryly amused than irritated. "It's in everyone's best interest that another incident doesn't happen, Barnes. You came to us, which means you're willing to work with us. Don't go back on it just yet."

Assassins can kill people with pens. Especially fountain pens. Just ask Bourne, or Blank. But Bucky obediently starts writing, in the kind of painfully neat hand you only get in the really old-fashioned schools. Scratching away for a moment, then ripping it off the pad and folding it neatly, inscribing addresses on the front side. No attempt to seal them - they'll have to pass the censors. One to a club called Lux, explaining a need for leave of absence, signed 'Jack'. One for the address of the bookshop Loki runs as Serrure. One for an apartment in Hell's Kitchen. And one for the Avengers' mansion. Steve will need to know, even if he's out of town now. "If you don't want to pass a physical note, just have someone go and tell the recipients what they contain," he says, when he's finished. "I'm not going anywhere," he tells them. "But you don't want an angry Asgardian barging in here again because he's sure I'm being tortured."

Coulson waits patiently while the notes are prepared. Odds are not a single one of them will actually be delivered; this whole situation is beyond fucked, and the last thing SHIELD needs is for some encrypted message to somehow pass to volatile assets through something innocuous as a message to one's boss.

"I'll make sure they are delivered," he tells Bucky, while reaching forward to collect the messages in hand. The pen and tablet are collected as well, but there are no tells. Phil Coulson is many things, and one of them is a fantastically masterful liar.

On his way out, he stops at the door and turns back. "Oh, and James? If an angry Asgardian comes barging in here against my orders? There'll be hell to pay."

Clint watches those notes gathered up, casting glances at the addresses as they're written out and making mental note if nothing else. The threat of an Asgardian bringing hell down on themagaindraws a mirthless twitch of Clint's mouth upward, reading into the hand of threat that each man holds. He veers toward the door at a casual pace, jerking his head over in that direction. "C'mon, Sarge. Let's find you lodgings now that you're out of the dog house."

The stillness in his face….Bucky's not much of a liar. That's a face built to be transparent as glass, from pathetic misery to that incandescent grin. All he has is the prisoner's deadpan, Winter's little legacy, about as expressive as a cinder block….and that's what he presents to Coulson. Does he know he's being bullshitted? No. But are the odds reasonable….oh yes. He's walked himself in here like a docile little lamb, but the past is still that bloody trail behind him….and so many of the fallen bodies are SHIELD's. "Be sure he gets that message," he says. "Or that Kai does. Otherwise I can't answer for them. I don't have magic, Coulson. He does." Then he's rising and following Clint without a backwards glance. That off-balance swagger never changes, a gunslinger's deliberate pace. "Kai's got some of my clothes," he adds, offhandedly.

"Oh," Coulson remarks, "we all have a little magic in us. Just ask Barton."

Why yes, that was an offhand remark about Clint's storied romantic adventures. His lack of an acknowledgement is further testament to his skill at deceit; a novice liar would of course reinforce the lie with an acknowledgement of a promise meant not to be kept.

Coulson locks up the room behind as they depart, then makes for his unassuming desk, presumably to begin prepping those letters for analysis before delivery.

"Some of us more than others," Barton shoots back toward Coulson with a sly smile and all the confidence of a man who knows this by fact and could tell you tales worthy of an Asgardian braggart's feast. Taking first 'shift' as Barnes' escort though there doesn't seem any communication to that effect, Barton's intuited it from the mention earlier and being the less senior of the two, it made the most sense.

It isn't with a gallows march that he takes up Bucky's side, but the casual stroll of a man out for a tuesday afternoon stroll, playing hookie from work rather than droning away in an office. He leads Bucky out and past the desks, turning to look at Barnes. "So. What's the deal with the arm? You have a specialized mechanic for that thing or do you just take it in every 2,000 miles?"

Damnit, Barton.

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