1964-09-30 - Spy Games
Summary: Incognito as Jeanne Marceau, a French tourist in NY, Natasha has made contact with the man bartending at the Lux, the man she identified as the Winter Soldier. She is gathering intel, trying to get to know the fake persona SHIELD assigned him, when her efforts prove successful. Or do they? Winter Soldier is awake once more, and he has a special request only the Black Widow can fulfil. Find the mole SHIELD planted at the Red Room, and prevent SHIELD from imitating the Winter Soldier with a similar operative of their own.
Related: Operation Winter Soldier: Getting To Know You
Theme Song: "From Russia With Love" by Matt Monro - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lcdmq07u2T8
black-widow bucky 


Way up at the top of the Chrysler building, there's a club, including a restaurant. Though it's very much for the elite, he's somehow managed to finagle their way in, and now they're seated by one of the triangular windows that looks out on the glittering city below. A bartender shouldn't make enough money to dine here, let alone take a date. But he's managed…and he seems at ease, even.

Buck's in a good suit, his hair pulled back - that's become an odd trademark, his refusal to cut it. Loose it's down past his shoulders, now. "I figured this'd be better than trying to deal with the crowds at the Empire State Building," he notes, after they've been seated.


As can be expected, Jeanne, dressed in a flashy sequined a-line dress, a fashionable silk scarf about her hair. This time she put on more jewelry than the last time Bucky saw her at the Lux, and she appears duely impressed with his choice of location, "in America bartenders can offered such places? I can see why so many do their best to reach this 'land of opportunity', you've found some, eh?" She asks in a jovial tone, taking a few moment to really study Bucky's visage as she's seated across from him, "I like that…a man who knows it's smart to pay attention to the woman he's with. I'm flattered. I bet you're quite the draw with the female clientele, n'est c'est pas?"


"Lux pays well, and I have fewer expenses than most," he says, easily. "I'm fortunate, I don't pretend others are as much," Where's Winter in this clean-shaven American boy, bright-eyed and good-natured, a smile in the beginnings of lines around his eyes? The flattery only makes him grin. "Nah. That's the boss," he says. "I don't think you've seen him, but he's the one they all come for. Blonde Englishman, talented singer. Not me."


"You're financially sound? Mmmm…intelligence is such a turn on," Jeanne remarks quite blatantly, with a playful wink to diminish how forward her remark was just now. "A realist too," Jeanne continues to be quite taken with Bucky, "are all men like you in America? I might have to apply for a more permanent visa." Jeanne arches a brow at the mention of the boss, "sounds interesting, should I make it a point to meet him? How did he hire you? Paper ad?"


There's a glint of something there. Has he recognized her, and all this is some elaborate game? Winter's cold, efficient, brutal…..but he's never deliberately cruel. No feline gameplaying with him. Not before. "No. I'm kind of an oddball. And he's worth looking out for. No. Luck. He's got a soft spot for veterans, it seems. I walked in in my only suit - didn't even have a pair of shoes to match. Just old steel-toe boots. He offered me a job while Iwas getting a last drink. What about you? How are you finding New York? ANd how long will you be in town?"


If there's one man that Black Widow knows is a tough mark, it's her old mentor, after all, he taught her most of her skills…but more importantly, it is his harsh training that shaped her into the USSR's foremost Black Widow, the notorious Chyornaya Vdova. So she knows not to take any signs of success for granted. but on the other hand, playing these game may well be the one thing to jarr him free of whatever brainwashing SHIELD did to him. Installing this false James Barnes persona. It aggravates her to no end to think the Americans have taken the best agent she's ever known, and turned him, it's sickening to her. She wants revenge, she wants it know, but she's good enough to be patient when needed. For what it's worth, just spending time with the Winter Soldier again, is good on her heart. Knowing she is there for a good friend, she knows she's doing the right thing. "So you already had bartending skills, or he let you learn on the job?" Jeanne asks curiously, before adding, "asking because I would love to work with you," she winks playfully again, going so far as to suggestively blow a kiss in Bucky's direction. "You think I have a shot to get hired even if I don't know how to mix drinks?"

"Original plan was a month, not even sure that's enough to see everything…but, having met you, I'm thinking maybe I should stay longer, non? Quite an adventure, I don't know any men like you in Paris." As she speaks, Jeanne playfully moves her fingers along her wine glass, perhaps unintentionally in quite a suggestive manner. Most people won't pay attention to such body language, no doubt, easily missed.


"I doubt that," he says, easily, one brow going up. "I mean, men like me in Paris. I'd've thought you'd find plenty more men who know how to treat a lady there." The waiter comes by and he orders a glass of wine, lets her choose he drink. "I don't know if they're hiring right now. I was originally mostly at the door as a bouncer, but I had some bartending skills already." He smiles at the kiss, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I don't know how the visa program works, truth be told, when it comes to working here."


Rolling her eyes, Jeanne quips as if she wouldn't want to be overheard by anyone else, "of course, of course, how to treat a lady, but there's a price, you know what it is?" The way she says it suggests it's not a very good pay off. At least in her own opinion. "A gin and tonic please," Jeanne keeps it rather simple, not pondering her order at all, seems like most of her attention is set on Bucky tonight. "I'm sure if I apply in person, they could make exception, I am rather fetching, don't you think? I've been told I could be an a model or an actress, if I put my mind to it. I don't know, haven't tried yet, but it is quite flattering! Isn't it?" She asks with a giggle, no doubt fishing for compliments.


"You're lovely and you know it." He sounds amused, more than bedazzled. "You know how to dress, how to play up your beauty and do it subtly. Where'd you learn?" He's giving the menu only the most token glances, eyes on her.


"I see it takes you just a few meetings to really read into a person's heart, huh? You got me pretty good," Jeanne admits, though her charming smile does help alleviate the pure arrogance she shows. "Well, to be fair, in Paris, if you want a guy's attention, you have to practice, practice, practice, see, the problem in Paris is despite all decorum, the men are mostly interested in themselves, so a woman really needs to stand out." She fishes inside her purse and takes out a pack of cigarette, holding it towards Bucky, "would you care for a smoke?"


«Don't mind if I do,» he says, in that perfect Russian. He's always had more than a tinge of Vladivostok in it, and it's as distinct as ever. «And not many, if I know the heart in question already.» He taps the cigarette out, hands the pack back, finds a worn Zippo in his pocket.


Jeanne looks a bit confused when Bucky speaks in Russian, looking a bit lost, but when he reaches for the cigarette, she laughs nervously, "oh…you do smoke? Was that Russian?" She asks, the sounds of the language after all are quite distinct, she looks slightly uneasy as she asks half jokingly, "don't tell me you're this good looking and charming because you're a Russian spy!"

Nevertheless, feigned wariness or not, she does put one cigarette in her lips and leans towards Bucky, giving him a chance to light up her smoke in a gentlemanly fashion.


Of course he does, with the ease of long practice, before lighting his own. «You understood me,» he tells her, after a long drag on the cigarette. It isn't a question, not remotely. «C'mon. I trained you. And you're doing an excellent job. Well done, little spider. Report. What have you found?»


It's by sheer will power and vast years of training alone that 'Jeanne' manages not to drop her lit cigarette and start a fire right on the table. She takes a big puff on her cigarette, and pushes her wine glass against her knife, before lowering her arms under the table. Is she reaching for a pistol? Well, considering what he just said, she should be happy and disappointed at the same time. Tough to tell which is which, when her visage all of a sudden takes on a frozen expression, devoid of any tells as it were. He truly did train her well.

"Zimnij Soldat?" the Black Widow drops pretense for the moment, her Russian as to be expected is flawless, it is after all her native tongue. Even though one would be hard pressed to tell, she speaks with perfect fluency in dozens of languages.

She is stunned by his words to her, based on the exchange they had when she infiltrated his safe house. She was going to infiltrate SHIELD, she was weaving her web for that operation, this little tryst of getting to know the 'new' James Barnes was purely for intelligence gathering. She didn't expect to stirr the Winter Soldier out of his sleep, to regain conciousness inside the fake shell made by the Americans. She is yearning for his return. Retrieving the Winter Soldier would be the highest achievement by any KGB operative in years, on a personal level, the return of her mentor, best friend and perhaps something of a lover, would mean far more than it could to any high command officer back in Moscow. She needs this to be true, but there's always doubt. Still, on a limb, she decides to play along and drop the pretense. «Are you truly awake…? If SHIELD put you up to play games with me, I promise you, regardless of HQ, I will eliminate every single one of them. Orders be damned.»


His expression softens, just a little. Struck right into the gold. Yes. He took a calculated risk, nearly made a fool of himself….and it's paid off. «I am awake. More awake than I've been in years. I wouldn't leave you to flounder in the dark, Natasha.» It's true. For some values of it - Winter is there, to be consulted,but not the driver. «I need your help. There is a weakness, at home. A mole, I think. It might be my paranoia,» he notes. «May it be so. Better for a mouse to jump at shadows than get eaten by a cat he doesn't see coming.» Buck taps ash into the ashtray, thanks the waiter in that flawless English when he brings their drinks. «I have more to do here - I've got some work to do within SHIELD. I want you to find my original file, the one about my creation and training. I think SHIELD's working on an imitation of me. Under no circumstances let anyone know what you're genuinely in search of. Maybe….» He trails off, makes a little moue of thought, «I don't know. Looking for traces of infiltration after the war. You can make something up. But come back with what ou find….and look for any mention of James Barnes.»


«I want to believe you comrade,» Black Widow speaks in brittle words, clearly not having foreseen this turn of events for this specific meeting. She is delighted to hear Bucky speak Russian, she is delighted to hear the words that suggested the Winter Soldier isn't lost, he's aware, and trying to fight for his freedom. But she is bothered by one thing. She is the best Black Widow. She can save him from SHIELD, they don't even know what they're facing. So why would the Winter Soldier, the one man in the KGB who actually knows her full capabilities, will insist she go look for files of his training. The Red Room, for all its brutality, is their home. Would they hide secrets from their own operatives? That was the Americans' ways, not the way comrades behave. The request was unusual and disturbing, but progress has certainly been made today.

Natasha drums her fingers atop the table, her nails making an audible tapping sound each time. She doesn't lose her attention to her surrounding, because much like Bucky, when the waiter arrives with the drink, she shifts to English, lilted with the French accent expected of 'Jeanne'. "Thank you so much, I've been parched."

Her gaze than levels back at Bucky, her blue eyes no longer charming and inviting, the look is grave and penetrating, «deep accusation to suggest trouble at home. Americans sneak a mole by KGB? Possible, but unlikely…I can do the barium test,» Natasha offers. Calculating as ever, her mind no longer on the game of a wouldbe date. Rather she's thinking how grave it is if what Winter Soldier suggests is true. It infuriates her to even think of such a possibility.

«I recall our last meeting, where you pretended not to know me…I assume it was result of other person? Kai? Is he SHIELD?» That would be one explanation why Winter Soldier refused her advances when she was there to take him out, to rescue him, and he gave up the chance. «James Barnes was name you gave instead of Winter Soldier…you think SHIELD created this fake persona as far back as in Red Room? They have such impressive capabilities of infiltration? This is gravest of accusations, Winter Soldier…I may have to pursuit on my own.»

Just like that, she stands up, slaps Bucky as if he said something rude to her, while raising her voice, "is that what you think of women? Pig!" But even as she turns to leave the date early, her anger with him explaining why she's leaving early without having touched her wine, she still whispers at him in Russian, «I will think. I will decide. Till next time, Winter Soldier…»


He recoils at that - good acting? Genuine surprise? Who knows. "No, no, Jeanne, let me explain," Ah ha, the former. A hand reached out for her, and he murmurs, «Kai is not SHIELD. But there are places I know I'm observed. That's one of them. There's something you need to find at home, Natasha. And yes, it's behind our walls. I know you can get to SHIELD's files here, but would you be able to trust what you might find?»


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