1965-10-21 - Mixed Signals
Summary: Uncertainty, and familiar that is unfamiliar. Natasha wants to admit reality, explore it even, but isn't quite ready.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
bucky amber black-widow 

It's been awhile since that USSR adventure, it's been a while since Natasha returned to SHIELD out of the blue after not sharing a word for months on end, but some things take much longer than that to handle. She has been reserved for the most part, nothing new to the few SHIELD personnel who actually got to cross paths with her. But inside, everything was different. To the point she actually asked Bucky to accompany her for a drink at the Lux, for some fine jazz music, and a suspicious semblance to something of a date.

Dressed casually, with a black peacoat over a red camisole and black capris, she walks into the Lux with Bucky and is immediately pointed at a place by the bar, apparently not being here for the first time.

People love to take him here, even though it's a busman's holiday - Buck works here. And it's not just his civilian cover story, either. But tonight, he's off, and content to have someone take him here and have the drinks served to him. A quick glance around confirms the Boss is not present. Off brooding over what it'slike to reign in Hell, perhaps. He's in a decent suit, hair tied back into a neat tail - it's past his shoulders when loose, enough to always draw asecond glance in this buttoned-down age. They claim seats at the bar, all the better to keep an eye on doors and the crowd.

:enters the bar with that certain kind of grin that you know you should be hiding, but all but can't. She's dressed as elegantly as a groundskeeper's salary will permit, rented Little Black Dress, Little Black Shoes, Little Black Purse. Cheap, but not quite tawdry. She had to leave her Stetson in the truck, and it's obvious that she misses it. Finding a seat at the bar, she spots someone she thinks she recognizes, and gives a polite nod, instinctively reaching for the brim of her missing hat for a moment before blushing and chuckling softly. "Gin and tonic, please, sir.", she says to the bartender, her Texas twang unmistakeable.

As they settle, Natasha is quick to order a fitting Moscow Mule, for a while sitting next to Bucky in silence. Odd, seeing how she's the one that insisted they go out for a drink.

When Amber walks in, Natasha is eager to avert attention from her own silence, as she points out, "someone dressed out to draw attention…we don't often do that, do we?"

Buck flashes her a grin. It's reflexive, polished….once upon a time, James Barnes was a lady-killer, rather than a literal killer. And he can summon it up, now and again. "Sorry," he says to Amber. "Off-duty tonight." And with yet another redhead at his arm. "But Ana there," And a nod to the strawberry blonde behind the bar, "Will take good care of you." To Natasha, he says, gently, "Not generally, no. I was never…." Looking for a way to phrase it. "One that they sent out as any kind of aesthetic temptation."

"Good to see ya again, sir.", Amber replies, taking a slow sip of what, judging from her expression, is her first gin and tonic. "Mmm…That's not half bad. Brits are on to somethin' here.", she smiles. "Thank, you ma'am.", she nods politely to the bartender. "Thank you, three of diamonds.", she sighs, giving a little, self-contented smiel.

"Nor was I…," Natasha muses, before adding the exception, "unless it was on stage." The words seem simple enough, and assuming he can recall some of what has been, maybe he knows better than most. But she has a different weight behind these words this time around. Her eyes veer from the drink she sips from, to Amber, for once shying away from Bucky even though she is clearly talking to him.

She's probably circling towards something….but Buck's not Winter. Well, Winter isn't driving right now, cold and implacable and direct as a fired bullet. No, James is far more mellow and at ease. "Good to see you again, too," he says, offering that smile. A nod at Natasha, eyeing her sidelong. Not demanding her direct attention. Natasha will come 'round in time.

"Amber Mueller.", the girl in the rented clothes from somewhere in East-by-Jesus Texas says by way of introduction, offering Bucky's friend her hand. "How's things, sir?", she asks Bucky. "Been a spell."

A hand is extended in turn towards Amber, hand covered with feminine black gloves, before the redhead replies to the introduction, "Natalie Regan." She lifts her glass for another sip, pressing Amber, "I take it you know this fine gentleman quite well?" A subtext of a jealous girlfriend just faintly offered in her tone, for Amber to note or utterly ignore.

It earns Natasha a faint, amused look, the grin almost a smirk. "We've met a few times," he says, generously. "Been all right. You, Miss Mueller?" he wonders. There's even a faint hint of the old Brooklyn accent.

"I am /rolling/, sir and madam.", Amber purrs like a contented kitten, taking another sip of her drink. "All is bright and shiny.", she winks playfully. A cat who just ate a very tasty canary.

"Rolling…?" Natalie plays dumb, looking a bit incredulously at Amber, "I can see very well that you are most certainly sitting," the tone is spoken deadpan, not a hint of levity as she sips some more of her drink, "either way, I am pleased that you find the sun is out and bright."

The accent from Bucky, faint though it may be, has Nat turning her head to focus on him. As if it was another anchor thrown overboard, to stabalize the sense of the present over what was past, and what was more.

"She's speaking metaphorically," Buck explains, with a gentle elbow to Natalie's ribs. Only the mildest nudge, and not from the alloy arm. "What's the good news?" he asks Amber, promptingly. The blue eyes agleam, as if he were in on the joke.

"Eh, I don't know how much I'm s'posed to tell ya.", Amber says quietly, looking around. "Let's just say that, hypothetically speakin', I might'a just drew a diamond flush, all in, right at the damn river. And the other feller was all in.", she winks. "So, yessir, I am, hypothetically, one very happy camper."

"Ah…" Nat allows Bucky to correct her, as if it wasn't obvious enough, looking ever so slightly dejected as she takes a few moments to invest her full attention in the remainder of her beverage. "Gambling…is that not a vice?" Nat asks Amber as an observer from the side, more curious than judgemental, despite her choice of words.

"Only if you're bad at it," retorts Buck, still amused. The bartender sweeps by, and Buck's ordered himself something bizarre…but then, that's what this bar does. For Natasha, he dares to suggest that it's Ana's choice. "She'll pick something perfect for you," he asures the Widow. "Just you watch." To Amber, Buck doesn't feel compelled to press. "I won't pry, then. But I wish you luck. May it all come up roses."

"It is, ma'am.", Amber replies simply, giving a little shrug. "But it's done well for me, so far. More or less.", she says, polishing off the rest of her gin and tonic. "A glass of water, I think, ma'am.", she says to Ana as she comes by. "I got a bit of drivin' to do."

With her glass of Mule empty, Nat is all but ready for a second drink, and despite one rather pointy look, she seems to accept Bucky's assurance. "I'll watch…who knows, maybe it will be good. "I've been unwillingly accepting surprises lately."

She inclines her head as Amber shares her winning experience with gambling, "all the more power to you, Miss Mueller."

Clearly, Buck's intrigued….but not pressing. "It'll be good," he insists, with a hint of that old arrogance. And you have been. You're getting really good at it." Now he's teasing the Widow - Winter never did. A deadpan joke, now and again, delivered without even a twinkle in his eye. But then, Jame's a far better-natured creature than his erstwhile possessing demon.

"Thank you, ma'am.", Amber replies, sipping at her water. "But I see I'm intruding.", she notes, standing as she polishes off her little glass of ice water. "Y'all have a pleasant evening.", she adds as she leaves a small pile of $20 dollar bills on the bar to cover her tab. Ana accepts them with a grin, wink and nod as Amber departs.

Nat does look intrigued herself, as she finds herself getting teased for once, as opposed to doing the teasing, which is her wont. She tries to focus on Amber to avoid giving away the fact she was off guard, "isn't life itself one big intrusion?"

"Not at all. But ….stay lucky, Miss," Buck says, as she heads out. "I dunno," he says to Natasha. "How d'you figure that?"

"Observation," is the single word Natasha offers as a reply to that last question. This time her tone is back to her usual controlled dry delivery, almost detached from the very conversation she's having at this moment.

Bucky lifts one brow, promptingly. But he's even less disposed to press her on the issue than he was Amber. The bartender sweeps by with something that's a deep ruby red, and he takes a tentative sip of it. Meets with his approval. "Well, we are trained to observe and report," he replies, lightly.

"It's odd." She remarks out of the blue after a moment of silence that follows his quip. She knows Bucky, his face at the very least, his body, and yet everything that attached to it is sufficently different to make the experience surreal. The fact that for the first time she's truly observing 'him' as opposed to the facade of him, makes it all the more uncomfortable. "The light comment you make of our craft, and yet you are accurate…who is that Amber to you?" Subject is promptly changed once again, as Natasha samples the drink she's served, swirling it in her mouth for a moment before nodding in approval.

It's go to be dizzyingly strange, that body she knows so well - the weight of him, how he moves, the little gestures. The physical form is the same, but the animating spirit is someone else entirely. Like watching a loved one possessed by some alien. "She's an acquaintance. Met her a time or two. That's it." He shrugs, spreading his hands. Neither of which are gloved; some clever scientist has made a cover for the alloy arm that will serve, it seems, to pass at least at a look.

"Not an asset than…? A happenstance…? She wouldn't necessarily matter if it came down to a real decision?" Natasha asks Bucky, turning to glower at him, not with anger, but just a very intensive stare. "I changed my mind…going out for a drink was a bad idea." Just like that she's up on her feet, and heading for the door, "you'll treat me, won't you?" She asks while fleeting, no doubt intending to toss the bill on Bucky to give her some more space to disappear. Something is bothering her, and it seems she's not quite ready to talk.

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