1964-10-08 - Everything's Fine
Summary: Kai has a bad dream and puts out the lights.
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Theme Song: None
bucky kai 

So, while Buck is generally content to play humble manservant, there is one perq he insists on - use of that full bathtub, undisturbed, at least once a week. So there he is, lounging in it, hair down, up to his neck. Reading a magazine - some military history thing, the tub aswirl with some kind of additive; it has a milky opacity. Rather than a candle, though, what's sitting on the top of the toilet is that heavy Soviet pistol. Yes, James Barnes is paranoid enough to have a gun with him in a penthouse bathroom. Blame the Russians.

It's an insistence Kai's happy to provide. He even has all sorts of fun bubble baths most grown adults wouldn't be caught with in case Bucky wants to get in touch with his inner kid. The ever cheerful elf is in the other room, taking a nap on the couch. He has a wonderful bed with sumptuous pillows, but he's facedown on the davenport drooling onto the cushion. He twitches. It's the hot, fetid breath of the wolves that cause his heart to race with panic, to smell the blood and death on their fangs, flashing just in his peripheral vision. He pushes to run further, faster. He knows they'll catch him. They'll rip him to ribbons, still he runs. Just one more breath! One more precious second of life!

He twitches again, and his bare ankle touches the cool metal of the coffee table. In his dream, icy fangs capture him, bite into his flesh as packmates howl with horrible glee. They pounce, drowning out all light with their wretched, suffocating fur.

The lights in the house go out. Bulbs pop and fry, candles are stuffed. In the living room, Kai screams.

Reflex takes over. Magazine's forgotten, modesty's never a factor. A good thing Loki's not there to see Bucky come storming out of the bathroom wearing nothing more than a scowl, pistol in hand, streaming water and leaving sodden footprints behind him. "Kai!" he roars. "Where are you?" He's clearing the room with what little light can be seen from the city's ambient glow. This has to be an attack.

Kai rolls off the couch in his thrashing and hits the floor, wedged between couch and coffee table, where he curls up small and pants for breath. Reprieve. Somehow. But they're calling his name. A chill runs up his spine. He curls up tighter. Mustn't be seen. If he's seen, it's all over.

Lights, blowing out, that's one thing, but when the sun itself goes out? That can't be good. Everything just goes dark, though. Completely. There was daylight coming in through the glass patio door, and now there's nothing but endless blackness and the whimpering of an elf somewhere on the floor.

"Kai, it's Bucky. Answer me, buddy," His hackles are up. There's the *pat pat pat* of water dripping from him on the glossy wood of the floor. He's silent for a moment, listening. "C'mon," A cock of his head, and he's gliding forward - trying to feel with bare feet, gun still held level.

The wolf says its name: Bucky. Yes, that is the one who murdered him… wait, that's past tense. Will have murdered? Kai blinks a few times. "Bucky?" he says tentatively. It's Bucky, he'll always forgive Bucky. Even when Bucky rips out his throat and laughs. He sits up, rubbing his eyes. Bucky can see nothing, but Kai can see Bucky naked holding a pistol. "Are you all right? Stop, you're about to hit the coffee table. I'm right here." He reaches out to put a hand on Bucky's leg. Because that can't end badly.

"I'm fine, kid," he says, to someone centuries older than he is. "Stay down. Do you know what's going on?" He doesn't startle at the touch, happily. Dripping wet calf muscle, that's what Kai gets.

To be fair, the guy's got bubble bath in his bathroom. Calling him 'kid' is probably okay. Kai takes a moment to appreciate the sheer power inherent in Bucky's musculature, then withdraws his hand. Man, if Bucky weren't like a brother to him, and if he weren't married… "I know you're naked," he says blandly. "And armed. Did the lights go out?" He wipes the water from his dripping friend off on his jeans. "Is Loki still out with Kevin? It's getting dark."

"….can't you tell?" Bucky looks down at him, puzzled. "It's dark in here. Totally dark. Someone's attacking us….this is more than a power outage. I don't know where Loki is. Yeah, I just got out of the tub." The Soviets did an excellent job in not distorting his lines when they installed the arm and its supports.

Kai get to his feet and says, "I don't know that we're under attack, but it shouldn't…" He walks over to the glass door and falls quiet. Sure, he can see in magic darkness, but nothing looks right. The sun is in the sky, but it's a dim disk, and none of the cars below have headlights on, and no one seems to notice anything unusual going on, and… "Weird," he says. The more awake he becomes, the less he wants to go unseen, and slowly, light begins to return. "Who's attacking us? No one outside seems affected."

As the darkness recedes, it all seems pulled in toward Kai, every inky, unnatural shadow, until it's all gone.

Now Kai gets an eyeful….and Buck's entirely unconscious of it. He checks the entirety of the apartment before he's satisfied there's no one else there. "I…." The effect of the darkness bleeding back in. "Kai, was that you?" he asks, more gently, finally lowering the gun, looking at the elf curiously. "I heard you scream."

"Did I?" Kai chews his lower lip, then shrugs as he says, "I fell asleep on the couch. I must've been startled when I hit the floor." The elf can lie like blazes when he wants to, but when some part of him wants to get caught, there are tells. Sidelong glances at nothing, that sort of thing. "Let me get you a towel." He heads for the hallway's linen closet.

"YOu did. Kai, what was that? Do you know? It….it wasn't *them*, was it?" The idea's enough to frighten him, a return to that dark realm. The elf can see the goosebumps march ove rhim.

Kai returns with the towel, offering it over. He purses his lips, but then seeing how it's got Bucky freaked out, he can't just let the guy go on thinking something big might be going on. "It was a bad dream," he says with a sigh. "I get them sometimes ever since, you know. It was a hunting dream. I was being hunted."

Bucky is puzzled. "Why did that make the lights go out?" he asks, bluntly, checking the pistol. There's nowhere to holster it….and then he's realizing he's left a set of wet tracks around the apartment, and sighs.

Kai shoves the towel at him, and he says, "Cover your shame." Then he heads toward the kitchen. The lights weren't on in there, so their their bulbs are fine. Which is good, because Kai's going to pour them both a stiff drink. "I don't know," he calls back. I was just trying to hide. In the dream. I'm always just trying to hide, because if they see me… well, you were there, you know what happens."

Bucky wraps the towel around his waist, and follows him into the kitchen. "Is this a thing your people can do?" he asks, more quietly, as he accepts the drink.

"Dim the lights?" Kai says. "I don't know, not really." He offers Bucky one of the drinks. Scotch, of course. Now that they can get the good stuff. "Maybe it was just some weird… I don't know, weirdness. It's just the lights going out for a little bit, right?" He flicks the living room light on and off. "No, that one's burnt out. Hmm."

"No, that was an effect," Buck corrects, mildly. He's set aside the pistol in favor of the glass of scotch, takes a slug. "And it withdrew to you. Maybe….maybe an aftereffect of…where we were?"

Kai leans against the counter, and he frowns. Thinking about where they were, not his favorite thing. He goes out of his way to avoid it. "Maybe," he says uncertainly. He goes back to the patio door. "I mean it's not an attack, and no one else seems affected. I think if the worse that happens is a little wonkiness with the lights, we're all right."

Bucky looks as if he'd like to protest, and thinks the better of it. He slugs the drink back, sets down the glass, and notes, "I suppose so. Might be worth learning to do it deliberately. Ask Loki, when he gets back? He's a master of magic, he might know."

Kai takes a drink, then sets the glass on the counter and paces, arms folded over his chest. "I will," he says. "Bucky? If it's something from back there, do you think there's a way to get rid of it? I don't want Loki reminded of that time. The tattoos were bad enough, and he's finally gotten used to them."

"I don't know, Kai," he says, gently. "Remember, this is my world. I don't know anything of magic, not really. You could ask the Doctor, maybe. He might know."

Kai nods quickly and says, "I'll ask him. It's just that…" He worries his lower lip, padding in circles around the kitchen. "There's no logical reason he's even with me. I can't start being complicated, and not because of what happened. We're just going on with life, right? Just getting on with it. Getting back to normal, that's the plan."

"No, buddy, stop right there," Buck's propped himself against the counter. "Love isn't logical, Kai. Not for humans or elves or gods or angels. He loves you, Kai. Enough to marry you, and I know Asgardians take oaths seriously. You're not complicated, you're simple and goodhearted. Don't shut him out. That'll hurt him worse. Let him know. He will help you."

Kai holds up a finger to refute Bucky, and he starts to, but the words don't come. So he scowls at Bucky, hard, and says, "If I talk to him, and he gets mad or thinks I'm less worthy, I will… I'll… I don't know what I'll do but you won't like it."

That grin. That's a wicked one Kai's only seen a time or two, feral and sharp. "He won't get mad at you, I betcha. More mad at the guys who did it to us. But he won't. Talk to him. I bet it ends well."

Kai doesn't look quite so convinced. "Love has always been conditional," he says. "Ever since I can remember. It would be just like this perverse universe if the one person who cared no matter what would be someone as mercurial as the trickster god."

"He didn't fuck you and leave you, Kai," His tone is brutally direct. "He bound you to him. He hasn't cheated on you. He cares. He's not going to leave you because of what they did to you." A pause, as he crunches down on a last piece of ice. "……it's not our fault, Kai. It never was. I hate the idea that I was a victim *again*, like Fate's pasted a Kick Me sign on my back. But….for whatever reason, that happened. Don't blame yourself." He's got kind of a stunned look on. People tell him this stuff - Pepper, Kai, Scarlett, Steve, Strange - and he keeps refusing to buy it. But here he is, trying to sell it to the elf.

"But I went out dancing that night," Kai says. "Loki's even said if only I didn't have to go do that." He sighs. "He didn't mean it like that, though. I know he didn't. Ugh. I hate thinking about this. I hate how it make me feel inside. Those dreams. They're all sticky and gross." He leans against the counter next to Bucky with a huff of breath. Hmph. "And I keep going over it again and again: what could I have done differently? Even if it's not my fault, what could I have done so it never would've happened?"

Bucky reaches over, lays his human hand on the elf's shoulder. "Kai….I know how you feel," he says, softly. "For all of it. It's like a chain of dominoes falling. If HYDRA hadn't captured and altered me, the Russians would never've even been able to revive me. I wouldn't be here now. I'd just be a name on a cenotaph and a few old pictures with Steve. Maybe the magicians can tell the future. I can't. You can't. I dream…..all the dreams, the nightmares. The war. HYDRA. The Russians and the things they made me do. The things I did when I was a wolf. I hate thinking of it as much as you do. You have to let it go, as much as you can." He takes a deep breath. "The best revenge is living well. That's all you can do. You get help along the way. I did - Steve and Peggy and the Commandos. Mr. Stark and his son. Nick Fury. The agents in SHIELD. You and Loki, the Doctor, Pepper and Scarlett, Lucifer." That last name is such an odd coda, but there it is.

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