1964-11-16 - Project Virgo: ZeitGHOST 2
Summary: No, really, that /is/ you.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
rogue bucky 

German subways and tram lines run with a clockwork precision absent in North America. Only the Japanese hold any sort of candle to their timely arrivals and departures. The orderly array practically defies the East German bureaucrats out to interfere with everything. For all those closed spaces are good to rest, they also present their own dangers.

Bucky might hear further curses, invocations to saints or God. "Not right. Did you see his face?" and "We should get home. This isn't a good place."

He's subjected to the same blistering scrutiny again, surely. Where is the epicenter? Everywhere and nowhere. It's in the pointed stare to a news vendor trying to hawk a few magazines and cigarettes who takes unkindly to being stared at, and then slowly feels his belly clench when recognition dawns. Too late; the ghost is gone, off to slip through a row of street vendors facing a station. Easy cover, easy places to split off. A few coins of no real denomination and he's stolen someone's coffee.

They're reacting to him as if he'd just been there. This is odd. Increasingly surreal, in fact. And it's not the age of cellphones, where he can reach out to the other pieces in play. The window is closing, time is running, and he can't afford to fool around. But just as much, he can't afford to lead a hunting hound back to one of their few undetected safehouses.

So he's doubling back, hurrying as if to surprise the possible pursuer…..and then frankly trying one of those vanishes. But then….another Soldier's probably been taught from a refinement of the same book. The older model superceded by something stronger, purer, shed of doubt.

Circles orbit within circles. How disturbing may it be to carry the curse of someone left shuddering. It might be intriguing to stand in the middle of the road. The temptation is there, as Lazar gauges his surroundings. He melts through the space between two cloth-sided shops that are only there in anticipation of the Christkindlmarkt comment to nearly every German town under the west's tricolour. Wood flexes and moans to admit him, but they won't notice until he has gone past.

Winter might spot tells familiar to him. Buck might be in the same pattern of emerging and blending through the gaps in the crowd. Nothing is left to chance. Use pairs to break up paths. Stay mobile. All black isn't easy in a city of black and grey. It could be a hint of his own profile stamped on a dimming hour. It could just be tricks, because there's no way he can cross a square that fast.

It makes him uncertain enough to do something a good spy should never do, in such a situation: stop moving. Oh, he's withdrawn into a shadow of an alley, putting a hand to his temple, as if to fend off a headache. Is it paranoia (does that ever really qualify when you're a spy?) or some old hallucination kicked up, a reflection from Winter's warped mirror? A moment to try and consult with his dark passenger, brow furrowed. Of all the times to fear he might be cracking up…

Stabilize the self, madness in the mired humanity. Let there be a moment or ten of self-reflection. The Berliners don't care, not quite. Another train from the station up the street disgorges its passengers and swallows more. Night marches nigh. It's the ideal element for someone playing spygames, and roundly taunting the Winter Soldier could be a foolish move. Perfect accent to bitter, cheap coffee.

Lazar tosses the cup in the trash, and purposefully skims through the crowd shielding him. Maybe someone has tea. Cigarette. Papers for the watchcodes used on the western rail lines. Never know. Hunt, or be hunted. He doesn't stop moving.

Time to move again. He's reassured himself, or patched together enough stability. Now Buck's moving in earnest, at first blending with one of the departing crowds. Slipping off down a sidestreet, into a poorer quarter within a stone's throw of the Wall proper. Letting himself into a one bedroom flat, the most disposable of the places to go to ground. If it's lost or blown, they can deal.

He's got a cache there - clothes, weapons, money, even a new ID. The hat is flung on the bed, the one piece not more or less ruined by Widow's indignation. He showers in haste, with the Walther atop the toilet beside him.

Bucky's on his own for that. Nothing would indicate that he is followed back to the flat, a flophouse without anyone else to squat on the cache buried away for his use. While he changes faces, lives, self, other matters unwind.

A man chosen out of the blue gurgles in an apoplexy when elbowed in the solar plexus, his identification snatched from his coat and his pockets searched. In the end nothing is taken of note except a key. Half a block away, a rider on a cheap moped is hurled practically into the air when another pedestrian emerges out of the gloomy grime of night. They're sent flying, their bike snatched up and thrown aside. The party responsible keeps moving on.

A furtive figure in place too long, brought down by a throat punch. Another wire twist locks in a door in a shop down the street. Useful, considering a torn-free pipe can poison someone.

He re-emerges - different outfit entirely, a dark hat to replace the pale gray, the long hair tucked up beneath. Moving at an even pace, no longer trying to conceal his passage. Time won't wait, not any longer…..he has an idea of where Coulson's taken Jorg, and it's where he's headed, just another young man out for who knows what on acold winter's night.

Time won't wait, will it? A blessing, really. Just another man out for a winter's stroll, taking in the sights of West Berlin. His roaming path takes him somewhere on the way, and assuredly that will be direct. Wouldn't it?

Pray that he doesn't question why on earth a hand skates along the shadows, a mirage taking shape…

… to steal his hat.

It's only a pony-tail, tucked up beneath it, rather than properly knotted….or shorn. He really should cut it, to better blend in, but….some whims are stubborn. Perhaps meant to be the final differentiation between himself and his brothers, when the arms are covered. For surely he's the only one with an alloy prosthesis.

The hat….he blames it on an errant gust of wind, turns hastily on a heel to see what's happened to it, one hand already coming up.

Surely he is. Is he so sure? How far do they go to mirror him in their fashion? The hat has helped itself away. It's not on the ground, nor is it carried by an intrepid retriever back to Master. The cap exists somewhere, and that requires a very good eye to catch sight of. A twinkling of murky hue vanishing in and out of visible sight, and an empty road behind him. Mostly.

On the rooftop, there's another benefit to being crouched down. Easy sighting.

|ROLL| Michael +rolls 1d20 for: 20

The hat is abruptly forgotten, when that roaming gaze snags on the ever-so-unfortunate glint of a streetlight off a scope. The perfect shot spoiled by the equally perfect ridiculous luck….and then he's moving like a bat out of hell, trying to find the nearest cover to put between himself and the sniper. My kingdom for a radio. Or the invention of cellphones that aren't the backpack sized Motorolas that the radiomen toted through the battlefields of Europe.

Scope used in fine order; thank you, Mr. Glassmaker, for something of such exquisite quality. The Buckling on the rooftop smoothly hides behind the lip of the building, wrought in cement to surround the flat roof. Nothing really gives away the scrape of that shift, the dark clothes concealing him ever so well. Off runs that elder form of them, and how telling is it?

He runs right past the other, but then there was never much of a hope of noticing that or the hat unless craning his head into the shadows at ground level and not up.

No, not indeed, with that advantage Lazar possseses. It might make a fine joke, or training routine, setting the two younger Soldiers to chivvy their elder into some corner he can't escape from….if it weren't so likely to be in very deadly earnest.

The hat can remain, a form of coup counted on their template, for Buck looks back only to make sure he's put concrete, stone, and steel between himself and the shooter. A shooter too wise to waste a round, or alert the quieting streets by the echoing crack of a rifle round.

Blame the ghost. They're blaming him, a string of misdeeds calculated without reason or rhyme, deeper patterns blown out. How compelling is this to the KGB, the West German spies?

Whatever the purpose is, was, shooting apparently isn't part of it. Not yet. But how many minutes has he spent on a goose chase? Time management is important, especially for Bucky, and an agency founded on distrust….

They've thrown him, thrown him badly. Because now he has to make sure he's thrown off pursuit again, that he's not leading that killer to his comrades. The dance resumes, but now he's no longer sure he's leading the measure.

A Berlin spreads before Bucky Barnes, favourite weapon of the USSR. The difference here is that other powers in play, from the Black Widow to the children of his house, may or may not be turned. He better choose his dance partners well…

All Berlin spreads before Bucky Barnes, favourite weapon of the USSR. The difference here is that other powers in play, from the Black Widow to the children of his house, may or may not be turned. He better choose his dance partners well…

They have to be driving him - that was a killing shot lined up, and if he had time enough to notice it, it was surely meant more as theatre than anything else. The Soviets are better than that - he knows, because he trained so many of them.

There's a moment's temptation to try for the Wall itself….but the guards there are too fearsome, and using one of the tunnels under, too risky and not yet necessary. So he's back to the sheaf of tricks that shake loose a tail, dodging through open businesses, including all the way through the kitchen of a little cafe. Between his 'brother's' efforts and his own, it'll be night of impish spectres, brown hair, blue eyes, and varying degrees of violence left behind.

Shots don't chase him through the urban desert. Bucky has only the disturbing accompaniment of his boots on the ground, the rough hue of breath in the threat. The Soviets are better than dirty shots and exposing themselves?

Are they better than being funneled through the streets and against the shadows of the barrier splitting east from west. They belong apart, separate. In every glass his image reflects back at him. No other faces, are there? Windows empty, doors open. He doesn't have his own likeness to worry about. The baba spooning out goulash shouts when he goes by.

The darkness of an alleyway, a shadowy crossroads. Not winded, but another place to pause, listen for echoes of other steps. Chill sweat on his brow, hands fisted in his pockets for the sake of warmth. Trying to withdraw into the shadows, himself.

"Bah, no good! He pays for nothing. I'm not an avenue." The old woman frowns and sits back down, eyeing up her knitting. Another of the regulars shakes his head. "Children these days."

"Pah, you have no children, you know nothing of it." She bangs her needles down on the counter and shakes her hand. The regular hides.

It's cold to sweat in the wintry atmosphere of Berlin. Not so cold as the American heartland, but the wind has a bite and the lungs hurt with the thick cloying weight of diesel and doubt.

His hat drops out of the emptiness.

All right. Now they're fucking with him. He picks up the hat and says, quietly, in Russian, «C'mon, for fuck's sake. Do what you're going to do, and stop playing games, fella.»

Another toss sends something skittering wall to brick to ground, careening hard into the shadowy spot whilst Bucky takes cover. He could fear it except it moves at speeds he can follow, and those speeds cause no particular harm to him unless he happens to step into the way of it. A bullet casing zings for his chest at those oblique angles.

Calculate a trajectory of up, the many windows make it hard to gauge where. What.

He settles the hat atop his head, raises his hands in a gesture of surrender. They've got him dead to right - but are they merely trying to pin him in place and delay him? Or are there more circling up to take him? He picks one arm of the crossroads, slides down it. Not so much trying to vanish as to evade. Listening, since he can't see.

Hard to miss the silhouette there at the side of the route he takes through the tall, forgettable buildings that give such density to Berlin. Not for nothing have the Americans, French, and British been busy trying to reconstruct it, and how rough the street-by-street fights went for the unfortunate souls locked here twenty years ago. He's good with tradecraft, have no doubt. The street skills of the dark creature staying out of sight are not quite so experienced in a way, though black clothes and down-turned face do a great deal to help Bucky's own near identical self stay hidden.

But he's there, waiting, hands stuffed in the pockets of his coat.

James simply walks towards him. No weapons in hand. If that'd been the point, it'd've come already, gunfire and running. The direct pproach - so rarely Winter's style. IT's always been meant for deniable accidents, plausible disasters: the blown-out tire on the mountain road, the aged diplomat who dies in his sleep of apparent heart failure. The angel of death leaves no fallen feathers in his wake.

But these've learned from his book, they'll know his tricks. Bucky's face is calm, empty, without either the ready smile or that cold anger.

The angel of death's apprentices don't always have the same approach that he does. Winsome efforts to earn favour, this, or perhaps an indication of things gone terribly, terribly awry. Wary's an anagram of the same thing he might care to decide to use. Buck's future lies in odd directions.

It's not Lazar waiting there at the end. One of the other ducklings in his image, those unnerving eyes the same shade as his and possibly a hint even lighter.

Something is terribly wrong. That's his vote - the hair's raised on the back of his neck. But….curiosity's the goad. He has to know. What does this one want, that he's willing to be out in the open, be seen. Unless it's a matter of getting Bucky to walk docilely into the crosshairs.

But he's been in them for a time, at the very least. Winter's survival instinct is an incoherent snarl, a frantic kicking at the bars. This is stupid, they should be running. «Well?» he asks, tone low, trying for patience that's not really there.

Hair is wrong; it was darker, in the past. Skin is the same pale shade, and no scars show. The eyes, though, they hold the wronness of it all, focused and flat, appraising in the distance. Clean-shaven, hard jaw, the face is too much the same. Nikita is probably the least familiar of them to Buck. Unconscious at discovery, he was buried deep, deep in SHIELD's facilities for a time.

Where Nikita goes, well…

Winter should be screaming. They did say only one of them could really direct the ghost, and that man's standing arguably within arm's reach, earshot, line of sight.


The one he's never laid eyes on, before, conscious or no. Buck's shoulders are hunched, tight. «What are you doing?» He's slid to the side, backing himself against the wall. They can speak across the alley, so at least none will come from behind. «What do you want? If you'd wanted me dead, I would be, by now….and how are you here?» That this is one that's been in SHIELD's hands, he's sure of.

«Why here?» Russian comes as easily to Nikita as it does to Bucky. He is hostile only by right of breathing. Supposing that exhaling is a hostile act, go ahead and assume that. He has a tenser feel to him, brittle, less elastic in the way that Orel's wide-eyed wonder and Kyr's intense bond to Adam suggests. He's not the same staring in wonder at a public service announcement of their joint hero, if he ever experienced that.

The ghost in the service of darkness doesn't approach.

Those frustrating mirror conversations. «Why are you following me? What do you want? You're one of the ones who was captured, but now you're running around….did you want to come back?» That doesn't make any sense - try as he might, he can't bring himself to believe that any of them might want to defect. There's sadness in his eyes, frustration….more at his own foolishness than whatever little drone they've dispatched to deal with him.

«You are here.» This seems to be about as self-explanatory as it gets. Nikita tightens his shoulders slightly and stares pointedly at the man so like him in size, proportion, and clearly not disposition. «Why?»

The city burns around them in all its shabby glamour.

This is utterly unreal, and despite himself, he laughs softly, smile incredulous. "What?" It's in English, before he drops back into Russian. «Well, not looking for you, that's what. Did you make it back home and they sent you after me, or are you looking to find a way through the Wall?» And then it comes back to him, that little fragment of conversation. «Where's your buddy, the ghost? Are you looking for him.»

«They locked us underground. Stopped us. Hurt them.» Nikita doesn't mince words about that. Let it be said his tone is flat and a bit rough around the edges. Talking might be something of a surprise, out of practice, a rarity to actually be used. Hard for him to really express himself ror any length of time, in part because he's probably next to exhausted.

HE gets that look in his face. Not surprised, not quite resigned, but just kind of….bitterly accepting. They are what they were made to be, and it's all gone wrong. «I'm sorry,» he says, simply. «I guess you can't help being what you are. What's your name? Do you know?»

Would he believe that? Say it aloud, Winter. Spit out the use of what they are, tools, no better and no worse. Let them all hear his truth, offered as thick and bitter as hours-old coffee from the bottom of the pot after sitting untouched on the warmer. It might come out easier past the lips than sludge goes in.

«Help? We aren't helpless.» The bared teeth and flashing, frozen eyes in Nikita's visage a thing of terrible lucidity. «They ripped me away from a piano. So very bad. Dangerous.»

«In the way that matters, you are,» he says, simply. «You don't have a name, do you? Not until the people who captured you gave you one. You guys lived likes wolves in a pack, didn't you? Sure, you're probably better than me. And if you aren't, someone coming off the assembly line will be. I was only the first draft, after all.» Then he cants his head. «You can play the piano?» That's bemusing. «And sure you're dangerous, we all are. What do you want, Yasha Junior? I'm not going to tell you why I'm here - that's my business.»

The attitude is there, bleak and cloying, dark against the senses. Nikita's weighty gaze lacks compassion and tolerance. It holds an edge. «Stop. Waste your time with guessing. Why are you here?» A sweep of his hand barely etches three inches on an angle. «Going? Leaving?»

«If you're not going to stop me, I have somewhere to be, little ghost,» Bucky says, tiredly. «I'm not going back to Russia, if that's what ou're asking. I'd rather die than have them take my memory and make me weapon again.»

A catastrophe which shames them, the deteriorating state of affairs calls for Bucky to hurry on. He must know the time he's running against, the ticking clock that carries on and on behind him. Tsk. Tsk. The hands moving in circles, the digits flipping, the heartbeat all chastise.

Nikita's stare is pointed. Another whisper passes behind them, and Nikita pushes off the wall, headed right past Bucky without any indication he plans to punch or strike out.

He lets him go, not striking out, either. He's never desired to hurt him. Quite the reverse. Only once Nikita's out of an easy reach does he peel his back away from the wall to try and continue on his way.

Lazar is the witness to the departing elder brother, father, Buck to the ducklings. Nikita shudders in his wake, head bowed, as the silent figure standing sentinel maintains his lonely watch for the time being.

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