1964-11-06 - Project Virgo: Captain's Orders
Summary: Bringing Steve Rogers into the shadows of a grisly past.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
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steve-rogers rogue 


The Avengers Mansion doesn't get to see much of its most illustrious members nowadays. Wherever does Tony Stark dwell for long, he probably cares less for the refurbished grounds. Carol Danvers does work wherever employment calls her, the long leash of SHIELD or the shorter one of affection. Those ne'er-do-wells summoned to their particular corners of the world and niche interests assure the hallways stay rather empty, echoing. Only Hope Summers much seems in residence.

Calling ahead might be helpful if they actually had a butler of any kind, a Jeeves or a Jarvis or a Jarhead with wits enough to answer the door carefully and forward messages. Thus Scarlett gives in to running a few laps around the empty roof and performing a full forty-five minute routine of yoga before likely finding a response, helping herself to the bar until someone or another shows up. It's only a matter of time.

"You know," Steve says as he leans against the door jam. "They say drinking alone is a sign of bigger problems." He shoves off and approaches the bar, reaching over to grab a bottle of Bourbon while his blue eyes look for a shot glass. "Question is, is it problems for you or problems for the rest of us?"

"How have you been, Scarlett?"

"You know they say alcohol gives people a buzz," replies the flame-tressed bohemienne, her elbow resting against the curved surface. "I wouldn't know. Never does a thing for me." She raises the glass full of a clear, sharp concoction and a dusting of pepper of all things. A story behind that, it goes deep into the forest of Soviet Russian history. Raising her beverage, she acknowledges Steve with one of those wordless toasts. No French addition of 'Salut!' or the less likely Czech 'Prost!'

Another swirl forms a twisting ribbon of motion, whirlpool torn down to the glass base and dissipating again. "Problem overstates the situation. 'Situation' could be overly slanted too. You know how badly the Soviets mistreated your best friend, yes?" Let's start simple.

"I do," Steve responds to her question as he takes the shot of Bourbon with little fanfare after matching her toast. "And, I suffer from the same sort of constitution that you do." He shrugs his shoulders. "Still miss it now and again." He looks to her with a weary sigh, "I know as much as I was able to get out of him and out of SHIELD."

The girl doesn't know what a buzz is, drugs don't work, and a high from anything other than leaping through the atmosphere lasts all of a nanosecond. Cursed biology, blessing though it may be. Scarlett raises the glass such it distorts her smile. "Never let Mr. Stark know. He might wager with you to drink you under the table, and I'd like to see the horrified look on his face before alcohol poisoning becomes a distinct possibility." Her elbow rests where it will, an anchorage point, and she gracefully tucks her body closer to the freestanding bar, a narrower profile. "The flavour means more than oblivion at the bottom of a glass. Though to be honest, Steve, you never struck me as the impulsive drinking type. One of your finer qualities. Too many people try to escape their problems rather than face them head on or use honest means to handle the stress."

Wisdom from someone not yet twenty-five, and effectively leapt fully grown into adulthood, free of adolescence's tribulations. The Soul-Thief gets a very few breaks in the dark shades of the world. "Dare I ask that you wish to know more? I have a fairly complete picture, as complete as it can be with the psychological torture, fragmentation, and the cold chambers that kept him on ice."

"I mixed it up now and again in my younger days. We did more chasing than running, I'm afraid," Steve says with a bit of a forlorn chuckle. His hands lay upon the bar as he nods. "I don't know if I'd say I wish to. But it's probably in his best interest that I do know." He pauses, finally looking back to her, "How'd you come across the information—if you don't mind my asking."

"Chasing trouble? Perish the notion of innocence. Tell me more." The muted amusement flashes across Scarlett's features, illuminating the mask that sometimes conceals her youth. When coming out of eclipse, however, the magnitude can be flattening in its fury, standing on Mercury as the planet spins from freezing darkness to solar flares practically baking the cratered surface.

"I asked," she says simply enough. "He provided the information and a rather complete picture came through inference." Pressing the back of her fingers to her lips, her knuckles form a serrated mountain range against the narrowing angles of her jaw. Some might employ the gesture for coyness; she's not one of them. "The Soviets — or whatever miserable chunk of scientific horror in Hydra — didn't stop at the indignities with his arm, or the programming. It would appear they somehow took him and made more people like him. That's the prevailing theory at the moment. Several young men about his age, very clearly able to speak Russian, who are nearly dead ringers, happen to be squirrelled away around New York."

Steve nods, "I remember him telling me about them in August. He was concerned, but at the time I had assumed they were overseas. That they're here in New York is even more troubling. How many contacts have you or others had with them? Do we know about how many there are?"

"I don't know for certain. Not something which I have actual clearance to inquire, and asking Mrs. Carter out of the blue seems like a fine way to end up disappearing into Colorado or somewhere else." Scarlett looks into the glass, then she tips the drink back against her lips. "He has the original one they obtained in Vietnam. The others, I want to say number six? He knows the whereabouts. Something doesn't add up, the least of which is how they could be that old when he wasn't gone that long." She can do the math. Mostly. "I know enough of the strange to say that such things aren't impossible, but they would require drastic, ugly resources. Moreover, why would someone try to duplicate him that way?"

Her teeth sink into her lower lip, pupils gone glassen in the emerald seas drowning her gaze, swamping reason under distinct memory. "You know more about Hydra than I do. Was this something they did in the day? Make copies?"

"Well, I think the obvious answer is that they want to use him and his abilities. That is if the copies have been able to take that from his genes. I confess I don't really know a lot about that sort of thing." Steve shakes his head, "To be honest, I never really came across anything that made me think they had the ability to make copies of people, no. But, that's sort of their thing—the different parts of the organization stay pretty separate. Which means it would make sense if I missed it."

Scarlett nods to that, downing the remainder of the vodka. Not her drink of choice; she prefers armagnac, bourbon, cognac, rum. Give her something with a flavour and smoothness rather than the burning heat that scours out her belly, carving fiery lines down. "Troubling. I drew a fairly similar conclusion. They wanted whatever makes him him. Presumably faster and cheaper than trying to train others, wouldn't it? Better success rate?" Her fingers trace around the rim of the glass, treading carefully around uneasy discussion. "He worries about them, and feels a certain responsibility towards them. I have no idea what SHIELD thinks of the kennel of Buckies. Having them about and confined takes more of a toll than he's letting on, though."

"I can see how," Steve says with a weary sigh. "If you want I can go talk to Director Carter about him and see what's up. I haven't talked to her in a while, but she might still pick up the phone if I called her."

"Talk to him, if that's something you feel comfortable doing." Scarlett inclines her head, that flaming weight of her braids not much stirred by the breeze. "Steve, he's adrift in a sharp world. We moor him where we can, but no one has such a strong connection to him as you. You are the anchorage, the friendship that endured everything else. While he makes his way in the world, it's Steve Rogers that matters. Not Brooklyn, not the stars and stripes, not some diverted sense of guilt and duty beside you. By no means am I a psychologist, but I am a friend. Yours, and his. I know right now, given how everything flipped on its head, you would be something that walks him back to what counts as a normal life. Because let's be honest, you personify what is good and right, even if someone manipulated events to introduce you to a bullet."

Steve nods, "Yeah, I'll talk to him. I haven't caught up with him in a while, and though I've been meaning too, I haven't. I didn't realize he was struggling as much as he is."

Scarlett shakes her head slightly. "Not struggling so much as finding a place, an identity. Learning to make choices when systematically deprived of them is not immediate. And he talks about you from a good place, not so much a broken one," she murmurs, reminiscent through the vault of her own turbulent memories. How many of them are her own? Less than anyone wants to know, nowadays, but they all have their place in the archival vaults of her psyche. "But that would help, I think. Putting minds and bodies back together has never been my forte. Compassion and building bridges, yes. So how about you? How are you, these days?"

"I can't complain," Steve replies with a shrug of his shoulders. "Been taking some time to deal with some stuff on the personal side. Been generally laying pretty low. What about you?"

The question may be a loaded one. She considers answers initially, looking back at the bar and setting her empty glass. "Direction, more than anything. The lull in activity never bodes well for us, not the least because something will happen. Columbia keeps me busy when I'm not trying to make sense of the world. Met an angry dragon that thought I tasted good, and it found out quite the opposite."

Steve coughs and chuckles, "Well, that's something you don't hear everyday. Dragons can make for an interesting day, I imagine." He gives her an upwards nod, "What are you going to school for?"

The sheer surprise demonstrated might be the reason for saying things at all. "Alas for the dragon, I do not taste good with ketchup." That coined phrase brings a certain sharpness to the smile, a predatory gleam to sharpened eyes the hue of the summer aurora crackling across polar skies. Scarlett inclines her head. "International studies combined with a variety of social sciences. It seems appropriate if the Avengers will be managing matters of that sort of scale, I know what I'm talking about. Having a degree also gives me a modicum of authority when it comes to being the official diplomacy bandwagon for everything not from here."

"Sounds pretty useful," Steve says with a chuckle. "School was never really my thing. Good thing we have you around. How long until you graduate?" For a moment, Steve considers pouring another drink, but then decides better of it.

"About a year, give or take. The trouble being me, I have competing priorities and classes matter only so much." Scarlett raises her shoulders slightly, but she smiles. "Not all of us have clear career paths, mine least of all. Discovering something to fall back on makes sense, though I honestly see this as something of a serious job." Her hand waves around her, indicating the mansion and the world at large. "Is that even something a girl can do nowadays? Say 'Yes, I'll defend the planet' and it actually counts?"

"Well, if it is, then count us as lucky," Steve replies with a chuckle. "It really doesn't matter what the world thinks. Whether or not it wants your help, it needs your help."

"Yeah. I suppose it does, though in all honesty I am not sure what help we should be giving it first. Might be something to talk to the team about, where we have to focus our energies and our efforts. Right now," Scarlett admits quietly, "I have the benefits of a roof over my head without the work necessary to sustain it. I know Latveria came expensively and if I ever see that swaggering cad around, I'll be sure to tell Mr. von Doom I hardly appreciated us being sprawled out on his floor as a greeting. That said, call us when you need us and we'll answer."

"Well, I appreciate that, Scarlett," Steve says with a nod. "I think that's a pretty good idea." He nods to the doorway, "Longer I sit here the more I think I better put in a call to Buck. Thanks for the talk, Scarlett—Let's compare notes soon."

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