You stay out of my house and I'll stay out of your's

July 08, 2016:

Winter Soldier decides a discussion is needed so he makes sure Sam Wilson is listening.

Sam Wilson's Apartment, Harlem

Harlem used to be a mostly African-American through the decades, though
this is no longer true (African-Americans are presently about 40 of the
population.) The neighborhood has been the site of a number of amazing
artistic booms, usually followed by equally devastating busts. Presently the
area is slowly gentrifying, as is much of Manhattan. Other places of note
include the Harlem Dance Theater whose troupe has toured internationally,
the Harlem School of Arts, two well regarded hospitals and the City College
of New York.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Sam Wilson's apartment is unusually large and comfortable for New York — thank that Stark Industries paycheck — but it feels slightly underused. The furniture is comfortable but not broken in, the electronics still emit a whiff of freshly unpackaged plastic, and on close inspection, the kitchen appliances are just starting to gather dust. The decor sticks to a color scheme of warm tones and neutrals so well that it's likely it was all bought at the same time. Pretty much the only area that definitely gets a lot of use is the rack of vinyl records and the high-end turntable and speaker system, currently playing a Sly and the Family Stone album. Sam himself is seated on the couch, wearing the Falcon goggles with his civvies and crouched over his wing pack. The wings themselves are extended over the surface of the coffee table, and Sam is going over the ailerons with a small, motorized buffer.

Winter Soldier may have been waiting for hours, he may have only just arrived, but he makes no sound until there's the soft 'click' of a gun being prepped and a cold metal muzzle of a gun at the back of Sam's head. "If you move, I'll pull the trigger," is said quietly in a voice that is surely familiar now. "We're going to have a chat. Now." He doesn't move and the weapon's touch is eerily steady. Maybe it's being held by his left hand. "Why are you chasing me down?"

It takes a lot to scare Sam Wilson — that much is clear from his history. You don't get a regular man willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with super soldiers and Kryptonians against existential threats to the world unless that man has unshakable nerves. So he doesn't yell, doesn't jump; but at the sudden change of his home from a sanctuary to just another battlefield, there's a sudden clenching of his shoulder and arm muscles that doesn't ease.

Still, his voice is steady when he icily answers, "If I don't pull the buffer away or turn it off, I'll ruin the finish." A bit of a pedantic interpretation of 'don't move,' sure — but the Soldier must know what it means to respect your gear.

There's another moment of silence before he concedes, "Turn it off." In respect for the gear only. "If you reach for a weapon or your phone, you'll have a bullet in your head," is spoken softly and calmly. His own adrenaline isn't up…this is just another mission, albeit one of his own making. "You didn't answer my question." Neither he nor the gun have moved.

Sam switches the buffer off and gently sets it down on the table next to the wings. He moves slowly and keeps his hands away from his body, making it clear that he has absolutely no interest in becoming a statistic. "Thank you," he says, polite but frosty. "Now, to answer your question: I've seen enough wars around the world. I've seen what it does to people. Someone tries to bring that to my hometown, to my doorstep? I'll do what I can to stop them." He almost shrugs, but stops himself — it's just a tightening of a couple of muscles and a hitch to his upper lip. "So, yeah, I don't take kindly to rooftop assassins with sniper rifles. Maybe it's more personal than that for Widow. I wouldn't know."

It doesn't seem to be the answer he's looking for. The gun remains in place as he asks, "You chase everyone down to that extreme then? Everyone who you think has wronged you or brought violence to the city? You must be very busy." Is that actual humor showing through? Maybe he's serious. "People are born and they die. It's a cycle of life."

"Um, I am very busy. How long have you been following me, exactly?" Sam answers. The humor comes more easily to him, even with a gun to his head. Call it gallows humor, call it a coping mechanism: he's smirked at worse. "I'm hunting you because I'm good at hunting people. Sometimes the situation needs someone with my level of skill." He turns his head, ever so slightly, addressing Soldier more directly without actually looking at him. "You should be flattered."

The philosophical point, however, has Wilson looking straight ahead again. "Funny, I don't remember high-caliber bullets figuring highly in the life sciences. People die, sure. The way you end lives? The way HYDRA ends lives? Nothing could be less natural."

"SHIELD isn't as squeaky clean as you might like to think," is offered easily enough. "You don't think they've ended lives? You don't think they have blood on their hands?" The Winter Soldier doesn't deny or try to justify what he's done. He knows he's killed and he knows that he's had no control over who or why.

But this isn't about which organization is the worst. "SHIELD has tried to detain me before. It didn't work out well for them. I suggest you stop trying to capture me again."

"I'm not as squeaky clean as I might like to think, either," Sam answers, his face tightening and his eyes drifting to a thousand-yard focus. "Doesn't mean I can't try to move on from that. Doesn't mean I can't try to make it better. Just because I had to wade hip-deep in it doesn't mean anybody else should have to." He takes a long, deep breath. "Maybe that's what I like about SHIELD. They're in the shit, no question, but they're trying to keep everyone else out of it. That's a mission I can get behind."

Far from being dissuaded by the warning, Sam actually smirks when Soldier implies that SHIELD should give up on capturing him. "Wow, you really don't know much about Americans, do you?" he asks. "Russians have nothing on us when it comes to stubbornness. We're not going to give up on stopping you just because you got away once." He raises one eyebrow and adds, "Maybe you should learn from your past, realize that we're going to catch you eventually, and just turn yourself in. Might like it better than being traded around between masters to be an attack dog for causes you don't even know anything about."

"I suggest you dig deeper into your precious SHIELD. They're creating it just as much as pretending to keep others out." Maybe Winter Soldier is trying to pass on information? Maybe he's just not as convinced of the 'goodness' of any organization like that. Maybe this is someone other than the killing machine talking. It may never be known because the veiled threat has him pressing the gun tighter to the SHIELD agent's head.

"We're done. You lay off of me and I'll do my best to lay off of SHIELD." He can't promise, but he can at least try. That's as much as he's willing to give.
Wake up!

This puts Sam in a tight spot. He can't have the Soldier lay off SHIELD, or Natasha's entire plan is kaput. He also really, really doesn't want to get shot in the back of the head, which makes antagonizing his attacker a tricky prospect. He'll do his best to thread this needle — that starts with a laugh.

"I appreciate that you think I've got that kind of pull," he says. "But if you think SHIELD is going to let you drop off their radar after you repeatedly came gunning for their people, just because I said so, you're really overestimating my position in the chain of command. The absolute best I could do is not go and track you down personally without specific orders to do so. No promises about what SHIELD will or won't do."

"If you think I'm going to just walk in and rot in a cell for the rest of my life, then you're crazy," it's not quite a direct echo of what the other said, but it's close. SHIELD may lower The Winter Soldier on their radar if he stops taking those assignments, if he can. That's a big 'IF'. If he's discovered having this conversation, he may be reset yet again and then all promises are null and void.

However, a counteroffer was made and it seems to finally mollify him. "Accepted." The muzzle of the gun is removed from the back of the other's head and Winter Soldier takes a step back, waiting for just a moment, almost daring the other to try something sneaky.

Sam is all kinds of sneaky. One of the key tricks to being sneaky is not making your move when you know damn well you're being stared at — especially if the onlooker has a gun pointed at you. If he's going to try anything, it'll be after the Winter Soldier leaves his apartment (which he's probably going to have to sell now, or something) and it's not going to put Sam Wilson anywhere near his line of sight. For the moment, he sits still, looking the very picture of a cooperative hostage.

The gun is put away and Winter Soldier just…walks out of the front door of the apartment. As if he was there for a social call or, maybe more likely given his current clothes, some sort of delivery. The door is closed behind him and he walks casually down the hall to exit the front, a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes so that it's hard to catch his face on surveillance.

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