1965-05-20 - About That Time You Killed Me
Summary: It was surprisingly sanguine!
Related: None
Theme Song: None
rogue bucky ava 


There was a knock on the door, the Spectacular Spider-Whiz-Kid was in and out, and Tony went back downstairs to make sure that none of his experiments blew up the mansion. Ava is on her way out, passing through the foyer on her way to the front door. She's wearing the same, battered, two-sizes too big coat she's always worn, with thrift-store clothes beneath it, but she seems to have grown up a bit in the past few months. Where before she could easily pass for a girl, now there's a certain awkward adolescence to her that promises something sharper and more graceful in the future.

She may have missed the various Barneses lurking in the upper story. Apparently there are now multiple Buckies in the Avengers' attic guest rooms. But the original is returning from a trip out grocery shopping, laden with bags. Keeping the pups fed requires ingenuity, and Buck looks more than a little tired as he comes in. Only to nearly run into Ava.

Fifth Avenue is not the location for showing up in style, and that means invisible planes, jet aircraft, self-propelled flight or ICBMs found wandering around lost over Cuban airspace. Not that the latter is terribly common, thankfully. Heads may be bound to turn for the thunder in a fairly clear sky, but it's not Thor stamping his way over the misty heavens as much as a four-cylinder bike snarling its path around much slower moving traffic. The beauty in question is copper-bodied, a little like its flame-tressed rider. Different helmet, since the last was sacrificed taking down a mutant during a nasty attack in the city. That whirlwind of sound accompanies Scarlett in bouncing up onto the sidewalk for the express purpose of riding up — well, if there's a drive, it probably gets the most use between Steve and herself. If not, up and out of the way. No one needs to see her lobbing the motorcycle to the roof of the mansion a few floors up. Killing the throttle, the brakes squeaking at her, she draws to a halt. The other half of the grocery shopping for those other essentials are on the saddlebags.

"Oh! There you are." Ava stops short, stepping back when Bucky reaches the doors and holding them open for him. Of course, in true Ava fashion, she watches him sharply as she does. Sure, Stark said he was more himself, but that doesn't mean she's going to take his word for it. "And looking very much more alive than I'd thought." She glances past him toward Scarlett's arrival, just as curious.

He looks ….more himself. It's a good word for it. There are still those lines of weariness and strain, but there's also good humor around eyes and mouth. Healthy and even cheerful. "Ava," he says, "Long time no see, how are you?" And then he's heading over to the rider to get more of the bags. "This is my girlfriend, Scarlett. Scarlett, this is Ava. She's uh…..we have some common background in Russia," he explains. Watching Bucky try to be subtle….

Goodbye helmet, pulled off and stowed on the handlebars like a decapitated black skull. The tumble of tight braids languish down Scarlett's back in a ladder constructed of sunfire, showing shadowier streaks close to the temples. She bounces off the bike far too energetically, pirouetting on the toes of her boots while flipping open a saddlebag for the paper bags stowed within. Her poise is an accidental function of the lifelong practice of yoga, an unconscious awareness hammered into growing focus for the other redhead in proximity to Bucky, and thus, company. The corner of her mouth lifts in a blithe semblance of a smile, her tongue held until she closes the distance with a generous armful of supplies tucked to her. "Hello," she says. Broad vowels pull hard on an English accent there, stifling the overtones of anything Northeast at all. "Ava. Beautiful name. Are you here as an emigre, or a short-term exchange?"

"Uh. It's…complicated," Ava answers Scarlett's question first, smile wry. "Do you need help with those?" she asks, looking back toward the bike. "And it is nice to meet you." Her English is good, clear of accents, but there's definitely something in her word choice that suggests it isn't her first language.

"Ava's done me some very good turns, I owe her a lot," Buck adds, quietly, as he takes more of the supplies, heading past Ava as she's kind enough to hold the door for them. Good turns numbering among them spattering his brains all over the New York asphalt, but when you're talking about Winter driving, it's a favor. He's definitely alive, and at relative ease, smelling like soap and warm metal and deodorant - long-sleeved dress shirt on, despite the warmth of early summer. Tony sill hasn't perfected a cover for the arm.

"Thank you," the redheaded bohemienne replies, a chain of rather crushed dianthus petals lacing her looping, thinner braids. Subtle perfume in a light floral blended to neroli, a citrus derivative, inks the air around her. Thank you for nothing in particular and a good many things in between the lines, as it happens. Hugging the bags, Scarlett says, "I have most of these. The door would be delightful."

"Sure." Ava holds the door, watching the pair as they go through the domestics of bringing in the groceries. She may not have been brainwashed, but she spent enough time on the streets, enough time in the program, enough time through someone else's memories to be able to compare quite a bit to it, and to find it all…novel. "You seem…well," she smiles faintly. "Mister Stark said that things were under control."

With the door safely shut behind them, he's comfortable enough to be frank. "Winter's locked up for good," he says, bluntly. "He's not gone, but….he won't likely ever be in control again. I don't have to spend fight him all the time. However, turns out that the Russians made more Winter Soldiers, of a kind. So if you meet a guy in this house who looks mostly like me but doesn't speak English, that's one of them. We were able to corral a bunch of 'em. Last count we had seven. Most of 'em lurk upstairs. One of them comes and goes as he pleases."

The bundle of goods remains in Scarlett's arms once inside, a pause taken only for her to scuff her soles on the doormat. No unwanted dirt tracked in here, her manners must deeply please the resident butler responsible for the ongoing cleanliness without the assistance of Stark tech like, say, a Toomba (The Tony Roomba, you heard it here first). None of the news seems to startle her in the last, or else she has learned a sufficient degree of maintaining a poker face to avoid showing it. "Mr. Stark is about accurate. Nothing in the world wishes to remain static for long, though." Her lilting voice breaks into something of a smile. "Make the most of it as we can, right? Alas, you'll probably find they all come and go as they choose. It seems to be a common trait around here."

That is enough to make Ava blink. "Not just more Winter Soldiers, but more…actually you?" She looks between the pair, brows furrowing a bit as she works it through. "That is…strange." And then, because she's not the best at not asking awkward questions: "Do they have both arms?"

Buck's not in the least offended. He grins at that. "So far as I can tell. One I'm not wholly certain of. They're made from me via both magic and science. They aren't perfect clones or twins or sons or brothers. A bit of all of that. Most don't speak really any English, and they're varying degrees of…." He pauses, searching for words. Sane? Dangerous. "Traumatized," he settles on. "They all speak Russian. They are all very dangerous. Nearly all of them like sweets."

"With enough tinfoil and Stark technology, anything is possible," says the bohemienne, her careless ease wreathing her light tone. The mirth flickers through overly bright green eyes, a smile widening by degrees. "Try not to startle them, if you can. They react as you probably expect." No further need for Scarlett to extemporize at length on philosophical matters with two individuals well-versed in such matters. Her head tilts in Bucky's direction, a certain fondness colouring her grin. "Not that it ever stopped me from playing leapfrog with you as a unicorn."

"I survived the original," Ava smiles faintly to Scarlett. "But I would prefer not to have to handle these others the way I handled him. They probably have fewer lives than he does." Once they're inside, she follows them back toward the kitchen, apparently familiar enough with the layout to know where that is. "That must be what Peter meant by it being classified. Interesting. Science and magic, you say?"

"Yeah," Buck says, as he puts away the cold goods. At least one Bucky pup loves ice cream. "Arnim Zola, that Swiss bastard, had a hand in it. As well as immortal Russian sorcerers." He shakes his head in faint disbelief. "I'm glad to see you again. I should introduce you to them." He cocks an eye at her, thoughtfully. "I bet they'd like to have more Russian speakers around them…."

The colour draining from an ivory complexion leaves little distinction to be made, except by looking hard. The unusual sort of redhead without freckles, on account of her shift into the auburn spectrum rather than ginger, Scarlett manages to hold onto the brittle smile through a few seconds. The collection of bags dropped onto the countertop distracts her and gives Bucky more to stow away in the cabinets, something she forfeits with singular ease. "They do try at English, though. Don't be deceived; all of them know a few words. At least for 'hamburger.'" Because practicalities as strangers in a strange land, evidently.

"Hamburger is a good word," Ava laughs softly to Scarlett. "I would like to meet them, I think," she nods to Bucky. "Perhaps it will help to have someone else who…understands." There's a pause, and for all she's been working for and with SHIELD, the next words are genuine: "I'm glad that you have taken them in, Sergeant Barnes. That they are being looked after by someone who sees them as more than an asset."

He turns a solemn look on her, shutting the freezer door gently behind him. Rogue gets a glance of concern, the old familiar furrow graven between his brows, but it's still Ava he addresses. "I consider them my family," he says, quietly. "Not quite sons, not quite brothers, but we're all of a piece, in a way. Now, they had bad experiences in SHIELD custody, so you may wanna be slow to bring that up with them. But…being aRussian refugee, that they can sympathize with. My goal…our goal…" A look at Rogue again, and he goes to put an arm around her, "Is to have them healthy, happy, and free to make their own decisions, as much as they can be."

The various assortment of cheeses and vegetables, bread, and fruit all count to an attempt at healthy eating. Or at least replenishing stores that magically disappear at odd hours of the night, payment to the coblynau and brownie denizens known to precious few New Yorkers. Might as well leave out a dish of cream to earn their assistance and favour. Scarlett smiles. "No one is merely an asset, or a sum of usefulness. People are people, they have individual wants and needs, hopes and dreams, no matter what kind of person they are. Forget that and they are right to vanish away." Her shoulders tip when pulled in; the weight of Bucky's arm doesn't offset her in the least, despite him having significant mass on the lithe bohemienne. Something mildly odd there, surely. "That goes for everyone in our acquaintance. I'd like all to have the liberty of free thought, action, and choice, even if that seems unlikely."

"SHIELD kept me locked up for five years," Ava says ruefully to Bucky and Scarlett alike. "I spent the next four on the streets rather than go back to them. I can sympathize with their doubts." The comfort between the two doesn't go unnoticed, though where relationships between most others might be noted as potential weaknesses, filed away for future use, this brings a small smile to the young Russian's features. "They are lucky that you found them, I think. And these avengers?" she asks, looking around. "Are you a part of their team, then?"

Buck's lips thin out, at that. "I didn't know that," he says, simply. "No wonder. You're going to get along with them fine." He looks around at the mansion. "Sort of? Steve Rogers is my best friend, and I get along with Tony Stark. So I'm sort of by adoption? I stay here a lot, since it's the one place I can safely stash the kids."

The narrowing angle of Scarlett's gaze speaks too much on opinions she dare not voice aloud. "I've been one for quite some time. A liaison for plenty of special interest groups we interact with," she replies dryly, underscoring the iceberg of conversation by dancing on the icy fringes. "And yourself? I would surmise you have a complicated relationship with SHIELD, but it seems everyone but me does." For reasons that start and end with 'who is that person?'

"I am an agent now," Ava smiles ruefully to Scarlett, lifting one shoulder in an awkward shrug. "I suppose when it came to it, I decided that I would rather be inside where I could see what was happening than to be on the outside, wondering when they would be coming for me. It is…always interesting, at least. But if there are others in my position, then I am able to help, yes?"

"I'm one myself. I figured kinna the same thing - I have these skills, they were going to waste. I mean, I like my job tending bar, but there aren't a lot of really good assassins on the SHIELD payroll."

Somewhere in New York, both Hawkguy and the Widow look up and sniff disdainfully.

Scarlett is left not to laugh. "The odd one out," she says easily enough, shrugging her shoulders. "Not the first nor the last time." The mood hasn't shifted on her part as she lapses back into companionable silence, gaze flickering between them. A conversation is a good thing to have.

"Or appropriately suspicious people," Ava smirks toward Bucky. "Lots of good hearts, fewer sharp eyes and voices of doubt. It is not such a bad thing to have missed out on assassin school," she adds with a softer smile in Scarlett's direction. "I promise, it was not very much fun. So you are still working with SHIELD, then. Interesting."

There's an upnod at that, as he kisses Scarlett on the temple, returns to putting away groceries. "Me? Yeah. Sort of agent, sort of asset. I kind of stole the kids from their custody, but no one's yet come down on me about it. I imagine it gave Director Carter a few headaches, but…." He shrugs, with the faintest rasp of plates.

The groceries go hither and fro, mostly with Scarlett stepping out of the way. Where Bucky is not occupied, she unloads the bag, sorting the purchases into easily distinguished piles that attest to a working familiarity with the recent storage of the kitchen, barring any temporal or spatial accidents. "I imagine the school of had knocks is an alma mater, and not a great deal more enjoyable. Thus far, Columbia is proving sufficiently tricky for me." Her fingertip taps against the counter. "Fact is, you didn't exactly steal them, Bucky. I seem to recall they were adamant about their involvement outside of a cage most of the time."

"I think Director Carter is used to headaches by now," Ava smirks, picking up a couple of mugs from the table and moving them out of the way of the groceries. With traces of whipped cream on them, they smell of whiskey and coffee. No doubt what passed for hospitality with Tony. She takes them to the sink, washing them out. "I was never really in school," she muses to Scarlett. "But I think maybe it was not meant for me."

"True," he admits, with a grin. "On both counts." A little envy, at the mention of Columbia. "I never did go to school on the GI Bill. Nor didSteve. I bet he can still claim the benefits. I….should look into it."

"Not worth the effort for the most part. You got to see more of the world without the need to maintain a grade point average and a place assumed to be claimed because I needed to marry well." The sharp sickle edge of her moonbeam smile is a dangerous thing when unleashed, all golden charm and hyperenergized delight lurking deep. Scarlett taps her finger again. "Thank you, Ava. Professors tend to assume that's why a girl bothers with school at all, if she does not intend to be a teacher. The more things change. And do be careful, Bucky, you might end up having to pay a heap of back taxes and income reassessments as a result of claiming the benefits. It goes both ways." And how she knows that, don't ask.

"How do the tax assessors value your income as a prisoner of war?" Ava drawls, dry. "America." At the talk of marrying well, though, there's a glimmer of sharp amusement in her eyes as she cants a playful look between the pair. "I am very sorry for your difficulties in the marrying well department, Miss Scarlett," she deadpans.

That makes Buck laugh uproariously, eyes going to blue crescents. "I keep telling her she can do better," he assures Ava, when he can speak again. "But she won't give up on me." The warmth in his face is immense, something not present when he was a captive in SHIELD's cells. "I'll remember that, sweetheart," he adds, with a chuckle.

"I prefer to see my advisor's eyes fall out of their sockets when I tell them what lovely arrangement I worked out. Their old-fashioned views do rankle, but I have it better in my department than in the law school." Scarlett shakes her head slightly. "The odd thing seems to be that the spy line of business never quite devalued contributions from the fairer sex in the same way. At least not in all countries. One day, America, you'll learn. If you don't like it, darling, take it up with the faculty. I'm certain you sitting in the dean's office will net me points that my name and grades do not."

"Mmmm. Russia knows. Women go unnoticed and underestimated, unseen in ways that men are not. And so they go places and hear things that men do not." And that's how you get little widows. Ava's smile eases a bit to see the change in Bucky. "To be honest, Sergeant, I had come to see if our agreement was still needed. But it looks as though I do not need to worry about that any longer."

"No," he says, far more somberly, fixing that pale stare on Ava. "I'm safe, now. But I thank you for what you did before, I didn't have a chance to until now," Then he smiles, a little, "Call me Bucky. I think I'm technically discharged….or at least written off as MIA-KIA. And Sergeant seems so formal."

"Bucky," Ava repeats, though there's a glimmer of amusement in her features that blossoms into a laugh. "It sounds very young for someone who is not so young, but I will try," she promises. "I told Mister Stark that if your avengers ever needed help with something that required discretion, they could call me and I would see what I could do."

Rogue slips off, presumably to check on the kids. "It's from my middle name, Buchanan. You can use James, if you prefer, that's my first. I don't do Jim or Jimmy," he says, pleasantly. "And good. Some of the Avengers….well, they're pretty flashy. In fact, I bet you might be useful….we're going to have to go back t Russia, put paid to this supersoldier thing for good."

"I would very much like to help with that particular mission," Ava agrees, jaw setting as she nods. Though she can't help a little bit of amusement at the mention of the others being flashy. "Yes, I am familiar with Mister Stark. But there is a use for flashy, still. Keeps eyes away from where you do not want them."

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