1964-09-02 - Gears and Beers
Summary: Bucky works on Gene's car….and of course, the truth will out.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
bucky gene-fuchs 

Gene is sitting on the stoop in a tshirt and jeans, much as he was last time. A pack of cigarettes is in his pocket, and for once, none is between his lips. Instead, Gene is sipping on a can of beer. Pabst. He has a couple wrenches beside him, and he's staring at his sad little Rambler. He's pretty chill at the moment. Sorta zen on this afternoon.

Right on time is Bucky, coming down from the apartment he seems to share with Kai and Loki. For once, he's the only one of the Three Caballeros present, and he's got a set of old tools in hand. Still wearing that long sleeved workshirt, and that glove on his left hand. Beer, too, in his other hand - a couple bottles of Bud.

Gene tilts his head up and gives a smile to Bucky when he sees the tools and the beer. "Hey…I said I'd bring the beer, but I like how you operate." He does have four more cans in a pucket beside him. "You know anything about brakes? I think I just need new pads, but I gotta check the calipers. I don't know much about this, but I seen my pop do it once."

Bucky settles the bottles in to the bucket, tucking them in so they'll stay cold. "Figured I'd do my share. I used to work on bikes and jeeps in the army, how different can it be?" he asks, spreading his hands. He seems at ease, already moving to go wriggling underneath the car.

"Probably not so different." Gene picks up a plain looking box of brake pads. "I don't imagine it's much different. In Korea we had this guy," he grins. "Little Korean guy, named Park. He was a wizard with the jeeps. He couldn't say anything in English, except fuck damn car, but he could fix anything. " The car is already jacked up with the wheels off. Gene kneels down and peers under the car where Bucky has wriggled. "If it needs new bearings, I'm screwed."

That makes him laugh a nearly soundless, wheezing laugh. "There's always a guy like that, right? The one guy who speaks no real language that isn't just Car? That wasn't me, though. I'm competent, but no genius on that front." He's inspecting things, carefully, his hair tied back to his nape, rather than loose.

Gene Fuchs says, "I did better with guns and tracking." He squints and then goes to get a flashlight from his pile of odd tools. He scoots under the car as well, so there are two sets of legs sticking out from under the car. "If I knew anything about cars, I wouldn't be driving a shitty Nash Rambler. I'd have me a cadillac…and no place to park it.""

"Yeah?" he asks, absentedly, as he reaches up, twists something. It squeaks in protest. And then he's extending a hand out, and requests one of the wrenches. "Me, I got no car. Broke as hell. Thinking about getting a bike when I can afford it….but then what good would it do me in winter?" he muses.

Gene leans out and reaches for a wrench. He hands it to Bucky. "Not good in winter, no. That bartending job not working out so well, Jack? Slick place like that looks like you'd make good money in tips." He pauses, "But you have some very specialized skills. I imagine you're employable by the right people. " HIs voice is measured.

"Well, I do," Buck concedes, no change of tone in his voice. His face is hidden by the Nash, for now. "But rent here is murder. And Kai's outta steady work these days, so there's utilities and groceries and all that. Honestly, no. I got hired 'cause the boss has a soft spot for veterans. I came in after a failed interview elsewhere - cheap suit, steeltoes on 'cause I had no other shoes. I figured one good drink, you know, in memory of better days. Maybe I should go back into the Army. I did okay there."

Gene Fuchs says, "If I had money, I'd hire the kid. He's a good assistant. Hell of a photographer." Gene wets his lips. "If the Army would take you back. They are pretty particular about your health. It's the young kids going now. I wouldn't go back." He reaches to help Bucky hold on to the brake drum. "I couldn't go back. I'm too old. And you should be too.""

"I went in at sixteen, in '50," Buck says, absently. "I was an orphan by then. I'm not even thirty yet. And I got experience. I might not be able to get back in at my old rank, but….I could climb the ranks pretty quick, I bet. This thing in Vietnam is shaping up to be a mess….and I haven't climbed into a bottle or shot my knees out. Hell, maybe the Marines, they were always more desperate than the ordinary Army." He's silent for a moment - there's the clinking of him working. "Yeah, it's the pads," he says, after a beat.

Gene breathes a sigh of relief. "Good. I don't have enough money for a full break job. Can you get them off? " He shines his flashlight on the right spot. "Vietnam is a complete shit storm. You dont' want to go back. I know about your arm. You can't masquerade as regular rank and file with that thing. I'm only a few years older than you. I couldn't do it. Not after Hagaru-ri." He falls silent for a moment.

The quality of the silence has changed, at least on Buck's end. A few beats and it hangs there, like cloud cover, before he says, "Yeah, I can." Another moment and he asks, "What do you mean…know about my arm?" His voice is softer now, but not a whisper.

Gene's tone is friendly enough, but again measured. "I know about your arm, and I'm fucking tired of pretending I don't. I hear it. I smell it, and I'll be damned if there is flesh under that glove. " Gene pauses, "I figured maybe you'd be tired of pretending about it too. You're fixing my car, and we're drinking beers. I hate playing games liek that. It's worse than dating."

"Fair enough," he says, finally. "And you're right. It's metal. Right up past the shoulder." God only knows what that has to look like. No wonder he walks a little strangely - his center of gravity's got to be permanently off. "I lost it in the war."

Gene Fuchs says, "Yeah…" He knows. "You're a soldier. I'm a soldier. You don't bullship each other after what we went through…what you went through. I've known about you for a while. Just didn't know what to do with the information."

"What else do you know about me?" Buck wonders. His tone's offhand…..almost resigned. It had to happen, that leak of information beyond the little privileged circle. He's still working on the brake pads - removing the old ones and setting them aside.

Gene also continues to help, though Bucky is doing most of the work. Just two guys working on a car, but they aren't talking about sports. "I know enough," mumbles Gene. "There's one thing I don't know, though. Something I think I know but need to hear ou confirm it."

That makes him laugh, a rusty little chuckle that belongs to someone far older than he at least looks to be. "Enough to what?" he asks, laughter in his voice. "I'm sorry, I can't remember, but ….you were actually a cop, right?"

Gene Fuchs says, "No," Gene denies. "I was never a cop. I'm a private investigator. I tried to be a cop when I came back, but I couldn't pass the physical because of injuries. And I know enough that it kinda makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my blood cold. But what I'd really like to know is what side are you on?"

That silence is edged again. "I'm an American. I fight for America," he says, softly, and leaves it at that.

Gene seems to relax. He hadn't realized that he was as tense as he was. He's just some ordinary schmuck that could be living on borrowed time. "I am too," says Gene. "I won't tell anybody about the arm, but be straight with me. You're my neighbor. You're a brother in arms…I don't think you should feed me shit."

He pauses for a moment, setting down the tools gently, but not scooting out from under the car. It's a useful shield for his expression, still. "All right," he says, and his voice is resigned, again. "Ask."

Gene scoots out a little. "Ask what? I already asked what I wanted to know. I figure we're gonna see each other off and on. Am I supposed to call you Jack when no one else does? I don't want it to be a joke. That's just fucking insulting."

"Kai and Serrure….they slip. But Jack is the name I need to go by in public. In private, you can call me James," he says, softly. 'Bucky' is apparently a familiarity to be earned at some future time. "I never go by Jim."

Gene thinks about that a second. "I can live by those rules." And likely Bucky might earn a nickname from Gene if they know each other long enough. He looks up. "You gonna still fix my fucking car?" He adds, "This is your chance to sabotage it if you really don't trust me, but I'm hoping you trust me. "

"That's how I used to work," he admits, without any hesitation at all. "Make it look like an accident. But yeah. Hand me that other wrench, and the first pad. I'll trust you because you let me know what you know….and if you suspect enough, you know how dangerous that is."

Gene hands over the pad and wrench with a wry smile. "Yeah. I know enough to be very careful. Korea tried to take me. It took a lot from me. You ever reach the point you just don't care and don't want to play the game anymore? That's where I am. I'm here. I'm alive. I'll enjoy my cigarettes and booze…get the guy with the metal arm to fix my car…see what happens next." Gene gets all existential on Bucky.

"Oh, yeah," he says, easily. "A lot of the time. I've been dead several times. Some of it I don't remember. Some of it I do. What Iremember wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It's still tempting, sometime. To just tie off the long cycle of violence and degradation. But there are people here who care for me, who would be hurt if I were gone."

"That's good you got people," Gene admits. "Everybody sould have somebody who will miss them."

"That's what keeps you going."

Bucky finally pulls himself out from under. "Yeah," he agrees. "You? You sure you got no one?" There's no pity in his voice. Only genuine curiosity.

"I didn't say I got no one, did I?" says Gene a little surprised. "I mean, yeah, I guess I don't. I used to. But all that doesn't mean I feel like dying or nothin'" Gene hands Bucky a beer. "I'm saying it just makes you not care so much if you run into a little risk. I mean you're kinda numb. You need something to shake you up once in a while."

He settles on to the stoop, wipes his brow with the cuff of his sleeve, and takes the beer. He chugs half of it in moments. "Oh, yeah," he says. "Amazing what a difference being responsible to someone makes."

Gene nods, "That's what I'm talking about. I had nothing to lose letting you know I knew. " He takes several gulps of his beer, drains the can, crushes it and tosses it into the bucket.

Bucky settles back, leaning his weight on that gloved hand. There's that faint grating sound. He nods at that, sipping the rest. "Fair enough," he allows, more slowly.

Gene sits there a moment, he hears the grating sound clearly, but doesn't do anything that would indicate it. He stares ahead at the car illegally parked in front of the tenement. Eventually, he plucks his pack of cigarettes from his pocket and plucks one out before offering Bucky one. Camels. He reaches in to take out his lighter. The silver zippo lighter with 'K3' scratched on the side. "Nice job with the brake pads," he says. "Nothing to lose, but a brake job to gain. I should sell the damn thing."

Bucky accepts with gratitude, leans in to let Gene light it. "Yeah?" he asks, idly, happy to contemplate his work. He looks thoughtful. But….a car is one more thing he doesn't need. Still flying under the radar, though presumably there's a New York license with 'John Frost' on it.

He gives the lighter a flick. It's a good reliable lighter. Gene's thumb rubs over the side before he slips it back into his pocket. He takes a long drag and then points at the car with the cigarette. "Yeah. New York is a hard place to have a car. Granted, it's come in useful when there's no late train, but finding a place to park it is a bear. " He glances over at Bucky and at the interesting arm. "Ever need repairs? If so where do you go? If you need a doctor or anything. You know I could hook you up, but I assume you got people."

HE takes a deep drag, blows a plume of smoke up at the autumn sky….and then that question makes him laugh, softly. "I do. I have…a friend or two that can help with the parts I can't reach. Honestly, I do need someone here. I have some possible resources, but I need to check 'em out, really. No one trained for it."

"I'm not a tinkerer, but I can pick a lock and probably check to see if things are smooth. I hear grating…but if you need someone checking out, I can do that. That's my job. But I do know a doctor who owes me more than one favor who can forget his patients really easily. You just let me know. He helps me once in a while." Gene takes a drag on his cigarette and looks up squinting. "I don't know much of anything, but I have contacts. People who owe me favors."

Buck's silent on that front for a little. "I have contacts now I didn't before - it's arecent change. I will keep that in mind, though. You never know what you'll need…." He hesitates, ashing delicately to one side. "But I'm reluctant to draw you in on that front. The people who are after me play real dirty."

Gene shrugs, "Eh, just trying to be neighborly. If you're on the right side, I owe it to you." He turns to Bucky, and his brow wrinkles up in a question. "That being said, "If you're on the right side, who is after you?" Gene pulls out another beer, a bottle that Bucky brought. He doesn't ask if he can have it. He pops off the cap on the handrail of the stoop.

"Russians," Bucky says, without hesitation. "I was their prisoner for a long time, and they did some heavy-duty brainwashing." He's still sipping his beer, meditatively.

Gene Fuchs says, "You afraid they own a few of New York's finest? They wouldn't be the first..ah, yeah. I'm probably asking too many questions." He puts out his cigarette on the side of the step. "Sorry. I'll let you know if I see any. Beyond that old Russion lady who works in the corner store.""

"The Russians have their hooks in a lot of places….but I can't blame them for the cops being after me. That's legit - I did shoot Captain America, in public," he says, easily. "It's just luck he's not dead." Buck grins, bitterly. "Sick irony, isn't it? Making me kill my best friend."

Gene bites his lips and nods. "I saw a lot of guys reading those comic books about him in Korea. They loved him over there. Even the Korean troops. They'd look at the pictures and ask me what was going on." He shakes his head, "Your best friend…that's tough. I know how tight I got with the the guys I served with. It'd tear you in two when one was KIA. That was your family, man…that was it."

He knuckles out the cigarette on the sidewalk, starting to fieldstrip the butt as he nods. "Most of the comics were horseshit," he says, without hesitation. "But Steve's the real deal. I've known him since he was a scrawny kid, and even then he was hard to believe. People aren't supposed to be the good, but he is." He's not looking at Gene, but gazing out at some indistinct middle distance. "Yeah. Thank God he's alive."

Gene grins, "Nah, they weren't horseshit. They were from home. They were gold. Guy I I knew got thrown in the brig for beating the shit out of a fucker who wiped his ass with an Archie Comic. That was an /Archie Comic/, man. No one would pull that on Cap's book." He laughs to himself. "You're making me reminisce. That's probably not a good thing." He takes a breath, and his smile fades as he nods to Bucky, "I'm glad he's alive. If you was brainwashed, it ain't your fault."

Bucky gives him a sidelong look, and then smiles, slowly. Nothing like the bright grin they usually pasted on in said comics. "I tell myself that," he acknowledges, and then taps his temple with a fingertip, "And that believes it." Then he knocks himself lightly on the solar plexus with a fist. "This doesn't buy it. I still have the guilt. I remember what I was made to do."

Gene nods solemnly. He doesn't have anything to say to that that will help. He mumbles a quick, "That's just fucked up," in agreement and lets that linger there for a while as if in mourning. "Where were you in Korea? Or were you just saying that?"

He deflates a little. "I lied," he says. "Sorry. If I was in Korea, it wasn't on the AMerican side. I was in the big one with Steve. The Russians got me in '45."

He looks disappointed, but not because Bucky had lied. More because it meant he had less in common. Less to talk about. "Yeah, I figured." He rubs the back of his neck and falls silent.

"I am sorry," Bucky says, quietly. "But I can't imagine Army life changed that much in five years. I was in the 107th before I got seconded to the Commandos. I wasn't anything special when I went in. Hell, I'd'a been dead if Steve hadn't rescued me that first time the Germans got me."

"No one was special, we just thought we were. Lucky Seventh. I was in the 32nd infantry. The Buccaneers." Gene shrugs, "Wars don't change. Just the languages of the enemy and your friends. I learned a little. Not much." He stretches out a leg. "It musta been fuckin' hell." He pats the man's shoulder if Bucky lets him. "Even if you did get a pretty good adjustable wrench out of the deal."

Buck laughs at that, softly. "It's true," he says. "They don't." He doesn't move away from the pat….it's the metal arm, unyielding beneath Gene's hand. "War wasn't so bad. It was almost fun, some of it. I had Steve and the Commandos were like abrotherhood. It's the aftermath that was awful."

Gene finishes his bottle of beer in one last gulp and rises to his feet on the stoop next to the dangerous man. He hands the remaining can of beer to Bucky. "You are so right, mister. I miss 'em. " He looks down. "I really miss them." He skips a beat, then looks up at Bucky again. "Thanks again for helping with the car. Thanks for being straight with me. " It means a lot to him, though he can't articulate why very eloquently. "I got a matter I gotta deal with in a short while. Come by later. I'll show you some of the guys in my platoon. I got a picture." With that, he picks up his tools and the bucket and heads up to his office.

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