1964-08-07 - No Watering Cans on the Silk Sheets
Summary: Watering the plants is complicated when the Sorcerer Supreme Gates into the garden and the trigger-happy Winter Soldier is surprised. No one gets to have tea either, which is a shame.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
strange bucky 

Scarlett's absent for long stretches at times. She's companions to lords of other worlds, king and princes of realms far from earth. Bucky, despite his jaunt to Svartalfheim and Niflheim…..well, those're different circumstances. He's still a clodhopping human. And at the moment, he's a human with a watering can in his left hand and a handwritten list in the right. The latter describes what sort of care each plant needs, and he's scowling at it like it's a faulty battle plan. Not all of the roof has been landscaped, so he's reduced to schlepping water over from a rooftop spigot in a big galvanized watering can. Tomorrow, he'll get a hose from the hardware store (good for a garotte, supplies his inner Winter, oh so helpfully), but today it'll have to be step by step. A last glance at the list, and then he looks up, still with a baleful expression, "All right," he says to the potted plants and manufactured beds, in the tone an impatient sergeant uses on too-raw recruits, "Which of you fuckers is a delphinium?"

A hose would absolutely be the best and most expedient way to quench the thirst of the veritable World Wonder that is the rooftop garden of number two, East Fifth Ave. Alas, it is absent and so is the fiery mistress of said floral sprawl — but the Sorcerer Supreme isn't aware of this. He has no reason to keep tabs on the Bohemienne, but he is interested in seeing how the charmed bracelet is faring. Who knows? It might need some Mystical tweaking to ensure its continued success.

Thus, completely unaware of the possibility of the Winter Soldier acting as gardener above reproach, he aligns his mental map to the rooftop and encircles the air before him lazily from within the Loft of the Sanctum.

Firefly sparkles light up the air behind Bucky and out steps Strange, wearing nothing more spectacular than his usual daily dress-wear, white button-down and black slacks. It's an odd sound, that impress of his willpower upon reality, and the faintest crackling emits from it, like newspapers catching alight.

It's like when you rub a dog at the right spot on his belly, and the paws move whether he wants them to or not. You startle Bucky Barnes and for that fraction of a second, he's one hundred percent Winter Soldier, no matter how peaceable James is intending to be. The paper list is crumpled in his fist, and as he whirls, he hurls the watering can at full force and full speed at the intruder. It's still full, he hasn't begun his mission of mercy. IT's the water more than the metal that makes it a weapon, giving it real heft. Even as it's taking flight in an arc of shining water, his expression is changing from fear and rage to contrition. Oh, fuck.

With hands in his pockets, Strange has a second to consider the back of that darkly-haired head — why is familiar to him? The clothing is mundane, not a wizard, why would Scarlett have — and then he too is reacting.

The watering can is ducked because ducking is a skill one must master when dodging through parallel universes and alternate realities where things, frankly, wish you dead in various manners. Mind, it clips his shoulder in passing and flies into the Loft proper, making a hellacious racket as it travels across the wooden floors and makes a huge mess in the process with what water remains inside of it. Those wards. Not happy guardian spells.

The centrifugal force of the watering can sprays its bounty in passing and slops the Sorcerer well and good. It's cold and even as he's darting to one side, wiping down his face, he's got a nice handful of molten reality in gold in one hand, to develop into a shield within the next blink of an eye.

"SEVEN HELLS!!!" A shake of his head, like a wet dog, and Bucky is pinned with the brightness of frosted-violet irises and Mystical hackles raised with enough metaphysical weight to draw the air in close like the backwash of wind before a thunderstorm.

Mind you, he's also dripping on the loam and standing in the middle of the African violets right now — so sorry, little plants. At least they're getting watered!

"Jesus H Roosevelt Christ, what the actual fucking fuck, Doc?" asks Bucky, even as he lays his metal hand delicately over his heart like a palpitating old maid. All but bristling at the adrenaline. And then he realizes where the can's landed, and he starts an entire obscene litany in Russian. Like saying the rosary, only with every word you're not supposed to use. He finally masters himself enough to say, in breathless English, "Doc, lemme pass. I gotta get that up off the floor, I dunno when Scarlett's gonna get back." Nevermind that he's shaking like a traumatized chihuahua with adrenaline and reflexive fear from memory. He's scared of Strange. But right now, he's more scared of Scarlett being unimpressed with him when she gets back, and true love trumps even wizard's anger.

Standing up tall, the Sorcerer rolls back his shoulders and sighs…slowly…not too unlike a disturbed and venomous snake. The Soldier is given a considering, gimleted stare and finally, he too reigns in the adrenaline. He's not one to give in to his temper, rather to hone it finely like the point of a blow torch instead of exploding like a grenade, but there's still a sense of tendrils of smoke in the wake of his clearing of throat.

"The wards are having a fit right now," Strange says tightly, each consonant clipped and precise like a surgical blade. "Allow me." Flicking his wrist to one side dismisses the mandala-shield in golden concentric circles and rotating sigils, and he even adds a single finger up-held, silent warning to stay put. No matter that he's still dripping cold water and the fabric of his dress shirt sticks to him like a second skin. The guardian spells know the Master of the Manor and he isn't taken to shreds once he crosses back over the boundary into the Loft.

Easy enough, a dozen steps in — and a dozen steps out, watering can held almost in disdain by its handle. With a dismissive sideways swiping gesture, he closes the oculus upon reality and then brings the weight of his attention back to Bucky again.

"I believe this is yours," he says delicately, the warning purr of a large tiger, as he holds out said watering can towards the other man. "Did I hear you correctly? Miss Scarlett is away from her apartment at the moment?"

"Wards?" Bucky says blankly, leaning around Strange, curiosity writ large in his face. Then he looks back at Strange. "I live here, you know that, right? I mean, sometimes. They've never had a problem with me before." He takes the watering can, which clanks against his metal hand. "Yeah. I dunno where she is. She takes off a lot, and really, none 'a my business." That last phrase is pure, unalloyed Brooklynium. Then he points, with the hand still holding the now crushed list of directions. "Those are old wooden floors. I gotta get up the water."

Strange runs his hands through his wet hair to remove it entirely from his face and manages to look supremely disgruntled by the whole affair. The Gate shuts behind him completely now with one last little sparkler-fritz of bright gold.

"Never mind the flooring, Barnes, it will stand to see another day. The wards of the Sanctum will clean up properly." And he won't even tell the Witch if she notices any water staining — which probably won't happen. "Protective spells with defensive capabilities beyond mundane understanding," he adds, finally stepping out of the garden bed. The mud on his dress shoes is given an unappreciative squint before he kicks the toes of each on the gravel, attempting to loosen the wetted dirt. "I was unaware that you lived here. Miss Scarlett allows this?" It's clear by the measuring attention given to the other man that Strange is dubious. Muchly dubious.

He'd been assuming he'd thrown it into Scarlett's flat. But then, the Gate irises closed, and Bucky just stands there for a long moment. "Wait," he says, slowly. "Was that a door to your house you just closed? I just threw all that water into, like, your living room?" For a moment, he puts the hand not holding the watering can to his face. "I'm sorry," he says, tucking the crumpled list away into his pocket. "I…uh. Damn." And Bucky visibly deflates. Only then does the assassin twig to the last question. "Sometimes, yeah, she lets me crash here." Where, under the snapdragons, like this is some Soviet surrealist retelling of Alice in Wonderland. "She's a friend of mine."

"A friend," Strange repeats, not keeping one iota of said earlier cynicism from his tone. A driblet runs down the side of his face and he ignores it entirely. "She is decidedly Bohemian," he finally concludes, with the same air as someone observing in minor ironic mockery that the sun is bright or water is wet.

With a sniff and a swipe at one of his silvered temples, he walks over to the doorway leading into the apartment owned by said red-head. Indeed, she's not present. They've made enough racket that she would have come out unless she were comatose.

"And no idea of when she'll be returning?" Turning on his heel, he manages to appear dignified despite the soaking.

He takes no offense. Love doesn't blind him to the complete ridiculousness of the entire thing. Bucky shrugs, makes one of those little moues that so often accompanies them. "Yeah, she does what she wants, and she's softhearted," he says, easily. "And no. She doesn't always tell me. Like I said, none of my business." Then something else filters through, and he clarifies, with the faintest of edges to his tone, "An actual friend. Nothing more."

"Yes…I consider her an actual friend as well."

Is Strange doing the social equivalence of reaching out a paw to push that glass off the countertop or is he simply agreeing in an amiable manner? Up to his audience, who gets another searching look before he adds quietly, "I don't know that I'd use soft-hearted, Barnes. Magnanimous, perhaps." He gets to walking around again, arms folded to warm chilled, scarred hands beneath his armpits. If he gets any colder, he'll like as not utilize a drying spell with warning beforehand. His travels take him down one of the small side paths, easily within sight still of the other man.

"Kind of you to take care of her garden in her absence." Bucky gets a glance, the Sorcerer's eyes back to their usual steel-blue now. "She'll appreciate it, I'm sure."

Those wolf-pale eyes follow Strange….and then he makes a little motion of uncertainty, a side to side head-waggle. "Yeah," he agrees, after a beat. "That's a better word. Magnanimous," He hefts the can, as if to go refill it, "Oh, you want me to get you a towel?" Then he really give poor sodden Strange a looking over, and adds, "I…I think my t-shirts would fit you. I've got some clean ones." He's broad shouldered enough, if not quite as tall as Strange. Another shrug. "You do what you can, right?"

"No, thank you, to both," Strange replies, one hand emerging in a warding gesture before hiding away again. "It's nothing. I can dry off easily enough, just a few simple Words." He glances up from considering one of the many rubescent hues of peony, attended by adventurous bumblebees that have somehow found a way into this singular paradise.

"…unless you've got a twitchy trigger finger?" The eyebrow is the sardonic dot to his question mark.

Which he plays straight man for, as he always does. "I sure do," he says, wryly. Strange has seen it, all too many times. He may not be happy about it, but nor will he succumb to shame.

"Why I ask…"

It's a grumble meant for himself, but if Bucky's a lip-reader, he'll catch it well enough. "You could…cover your eyes. Or turn around." Strange isn't to rolling his eyes just yet, but well on his way. "Or go refill the watering can. Or — you could observe." Out from hiding from within sodden arm-folding emerges his dominant hand and as he holds it out, the air about his skin seems to begin to quiver and waver, not too unlike the mirages of the far Gobi deserts. He's watching for every micro-tell of the Soldier's posturing and movements at this point, very much aware of the man's blase attitude in counter with the training they both mock so lightly.

No such courtesy. Bucky's not gaping like a tourist, but he's observing with interest. He knows so little about magic and the magical, even after palling around with an Asgardian prince and his elf sweetheart. Still clutching the now-empty watering can.

Having measured in on the danger scale as 'mostly safe' for the moment, Bucky is treated to the vision of said heat-mirage snaking back up the Sorcerer's arm as if it were alive. Holding the Soldier's gaze, Strange mouths a few select words and the effect continues around him in a cyclonic effect. The outburst of rapidly-evaporating air blows back plants, rattles leaves, and scatters a few petals in its wake. Left behind, the ephemeral scent of morning dew in bright sunlight that fades as quickly as it plays about the nose.

Fresh out of the dryer, that's the Sorcerer Supreme, though nowhere as snuggly as a bathrobe. "Much better," he murmurs with a short sigh, taking a moment to adjust the cuffs of his dress shirt, incandescent eyes of amaranthine diverted to the action.

This guy must have magic to burn, if he's wasting it on trivialities like that. The Soldier's opaque gaze doesn't waver - patient and wary as an animal. Though he's clearly storing it away for later consideration. The habits Winter inculcated….will they ever really die? Doubtful. That scent makes his nostrils flare, for a moment, only heightening that lupine impression. "Want a drink? To drink, not wear," he adds, utterly deadpan.

Or perhaps it's like a well-oiled mechanism in a favored gun. A draw from a hip holster practiced so very many times that it takes minimal effort and energy. After all, many a dimension is full of humidity…bodies of water…acid rain…gelatinous, exploding blobs of rancidity that make rennet feel ashamed and walk to a corner. It's a particularly useful spell in the end.

A huff of a laugh. "If I'm wearing tea, there's an issue at hand that needs resolving. Miss Scarlett does have a proper collection. Unless you mean alcohol? In which case, again, thank you but no." Finishing with fiddling the last button into proper placement, Strange looks up at Bucky expectantly. "Did Miss Scarlett teach you the proper way to make tea? It does take a light touch sometimes. One mustn't mishandle or the flavor of the body doesn't come fully." It seems he's half-made up his mind already for how he begins a meandering pacing towards the entrance into Scarlett's abode proper.

At that, there's a vicious little grin, more fox than wolf, curling one side of his mouth to expose the molars. Including the steel one. "I can make tea that'll give you a heart attack," he says, as if it were a perverse point of pride. But then, not everyone can drink chifir on a regular basis and not ruin their cardiovascular system. "But I'll make it her way, since you asked." Buck sets down the watering can, and turns to head back in.

As duelists might test blades by sliding edge upon edge, Strange returns that sly grin and doesn't let the ambient glow fade from his irises completely.

"I look forwards to this…arrhythmia-inducing tea. I'll bring a favorite blend in return. There's nothing like a hot cup of Ayahuasca." He seems to savor the word with inflections from the high Andes and priests of ancient magics of altitude. The tall Sorcerer pauses at the threshold, choosing instead to lean on the lintel of the door nonchalantly. Rather telling given he's in the presence of the Winter Soldier, sporting that lackadaisical attitude.

"I won't trespass within for lack of her presence. Something dark, please…blackcurrent, if she has anything like it. I'll be waiting." He then turns his attention to something beyond…far beyond, given how he squints and seems to perk like a guardian sheepdog scenting an unknown on the wind. After a moment, he seems to relax. "Rebuffed again. Excellent." He's talking to himself just briefly here.

Well, Bucky doesn't seem to've wrecked the place in her absence. It's painfully neat, in fact. The only sign of the wanted assassin she's taken in is the blanket carefully folded on her couch. Even when she's not here, he doesn't sleep in her bed. There's bearing things with stoicism, and then there's deliberately tormenting yourself like a jackass. He's brisk as he fusses around the kitchen. "Don't give me anything psychedelic," he notes, idly. "It ends badly."

"Duly noted," and Strange sounds not a smidgen apologetic for having offered up the option from his lazy lean in the doorway. He does mark the blanket, folded in perfect layered squaring, and the general air of the place has…a reverence to it. Reverence? The Sorcerer muses over it as he watches the Soldier prep the tea. He lacks judgmental interest in it momentarily as his quicksilver mind does some addition and subtraction…some multiplication — a little quantum physics for good measure.

"I wouldn't with Miss Scarlett present, at least. No need to shock her sensibilities or ruin your stay here in her abode. Relegated to the couch?" He asks this with a sudden plunge into frankness, brows quirked.

That has Bucky turning on him with that snakelike quickness. Though right now he's armed with nothing more than a steel teascoop. "Relegated? She's only got the one bed," he replies, quietly, as he turns back to the kettle. Wizards have an eye for weakness. "On the other hand," he adds, with that rueful note in his voice, "A painkiller trip might be nice."

Prick them and they will bleed. Strange eyes the scoop and briefly considers the various ways he could, in fact, suffer grievous harm from the utensil. He has an imagination and no doubt, so does the Soldier. Ugh, what a way to go — stop that line of thought, whoa there.

"I don't indulge others in pity trips, Barnes," he replies quietly. "I'd rather not play with the risk of the blend. It was a joke. I am immune to it and your chifir's effects." He lifts one hand to accent his shrug before tucking it away again into his pants pocket. "Besides, the couch isn't terrible. It's not the dog house. Or the garden tool shed. Warm, comfortable, sheltered." He tilts his head left and right minutely, a ho-hum gesture, and looks back to Bucky again.

"Honestly, I mostly sleep on the roof, or out in the garden," he allows. "It's warm now, and nicer at night. And there's an old lawn chair out there." Because Buckies don't get nice things, apparently. "Sometimes I'm at Kai's."

"And what does Miss Scarlett have to say of your sleeping outdoors? Does she tilt her head to one side in mournful curiosity," and Strange mirrors the motion unconsciously to a minor degree, " — or does she bid you good night and you come to the door in the morning again?"

It does make some sense to him that the Moon Elf's pad might be another safe place for the Soldier to hide. He remembers well enough the connections he sussed out while diplomacy kept him at bay during kidnappings and happy returns.

It's amazing how many people do befriend this guy, whether he wants them to or not. That makes him laugh that absurd,snuffling little laugh, not turning away from getting sugar out of the cabinet. "You know her. It's more the second. She's real good about not asking about things."

His eyes, back to their normalcy once again, twinkle in muted dry appreciation in turn.

"She does have a good head for not prying, I'll give her that," Strange agrees. "Still…I can't imagine sleeping outside, even in this weather." His scrutiny passes over the evergreens, the cypress and the camellia, the brilliant dahlias, and the leaves of the lemonbalm — he knows he could bruise them between fingers and indulge in that scent easily enough. He even catches sight of the variegated foliage of the Winterberry, a rare species known to exist in the foothills of the highest mountain range on earth. A mild smile curves his lips before disappearing. "There's something to be said for silk sheets."

That makes Bucky glance back at Strange in surprise. "It's nice," he say, mildly. "And….I don't like sleeping between walls, when I can help it. In the winter, it'll be harder." He'll be out there wrapped up in that greatcoat he's stored for the summer, in an army sleeping bag. Much as he hates cold, he hates confinement worse. Then he grins. "So they say."

The Sorcerer snorts, all the acquiescence he's giving to a laugh in the end.

"Miss Scarlett sure as the seven hells isn't going to let you sleep outside in the open wind and the snow come winter. You can expect the garden tool shed, at the very least. No silk sheets there, however." The smile is quick, thin, and disappears again even as he looks back over his shoulder and narrows his eyes. "If you'll…excuse me, Barnes, there's something that needs my attentions. Duty calls."

And on that abrupt and presumptive note, Strange opens up another Gate within nothing more than a twist of his wrist and willpower. Through he goes and thus, he leaves a cup of tea behind.

Must be very important business, that.

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