En Passant

January 11, 2017:

Slowly regaining enough of his memories to wonder about 'Steve Rogers' and whether their history is real, Bucky tries to stalk him and Peggy Carter.

Manhattan, New York


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jane Foster


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

He knows he should not be here, but he can't help it. It's an increasing itch in the back of his skull that won't be scratched unless he digs at it— exposes himself to more and more knowledge about the man everyone said was once his best friend.

The man who happens to work at the Triskelion, a mere few blocks away from his current location.

He thinks he has been previously spotted in the area. That makes it doubly stupid for him to be hanging around here, but in several days of waiting and watching, he still hasn't gotten a chance to get a glimpse of Steve Rogers. Jane keeps prodding him to just meet up with the man— she has ways to contact him, could easily get them together face-to-face— but he just doesn't want to. Not in the state he's currently in.

If he was really best friends with Steve Rogers, then Steve will expect… something… when they meet. And the Winter Soldier isn't sure if he is that thing anymore.

He knows the longer he waits, the more dangerous things become, the worse things get, but fear is not often an emotion that goes hand in hand with sense. So here he is, dressed in civilian clothing, blending unobtrusively in on the busy midtown New York streets: just another young man being shuffled along in the morning commute along with everyone else heading to the Triskelion or the United Nations.


When Steve Rogers appears, it is not a man walking out of the building. Because he came here on motorcycle, the old Harley Davidson that comes out of the garage entrance with a not so modest roar. It's a civilian model of the cycle Cap had in the war. It's shiny as it would have been in 1944, but lacks the shield mount, flamethrowers, and other things that kids loved when they played with their much smaller toy model. However, what it does have currently is a side car, which he had put on when he picked up an injured Peggy from SHIELD to make sure she actually rested.

This time she is here again, hopefully in better spirits. She also has a few cupcakes protected by Tupperware, plundered goods from a birthday party in which people were all lamenting how they needed to lose the holiday pounds. Even the normally oblivious Steve could feel the icy stares of some of the men and women as he just took half a dozen of the confections with a small smile. It's not his fault that his perfect body allows him to ingest calories by the thousands and not gain an ounce!

But there is a problem now. Bucky is on foot, the two SSR is on his motorcycle! How will he ever catch up? There is no way!

Steve waits for roughly five minutes with his turn indicator on. No one lets him through. Finally, someone is too busy with their phone and forgets the New York Code of 'NEVER LET ANYONE GET IN FRONT OF YOU' and Steve is able to risk his life to merge into NYC Rush Hour. Slowly he inches away from Bucky as he tries to get through the traffic toward the detour that was caused by, well, Rogers has no idea as shown by his extreme cursing of "Fudge Nuts". Regardless of whether or not the Howling Commando stops Steve before he gets there, Cap is merely making his way toward well, if Peggy is there likely her place to be dropped off or a place to get a simple bite to eat. But this pace, normally walking won't be enough to catch up to the vehicle.

But does the Winter Soldier have it within him to get to the next level? Will he… POWER WALK?


Peggy did attempt to warn Steve about the traffic. However, in her sidecar of injured shame, she is rather comfortable, so she doesn't mind the snail's pace that they are now caught in. The agent - despite Steve's continued efforts and debates to suggest she remain at home a few days - has steadfastly ignored them. The main concession has been that she will leave when he leaves, as long as it is after 4PM.

Holding the Tupperware container of sweets, Peggy is seriously debating stealing one of those cupcakes to eat during their ride back to her apartment. At the extreme cursing exhibited by the Captain, widened eyes look up at him in mock surprise.

"My goodness, Captain Rogers. The language in the presence of a lady. Perhaps I should keep these cupcakes for myself as punishment for foul language." It's clear she is unaware of Bucky's presence.


There is nothing quite like 'trying to drive in the middle of Manhattan rush hour' to prove the dauntless courage and foolhardiness of Captain America.

It doesn't take long for Bucky to spot his quarry, albeit from a distance. He had not expected the motorcycle, but he is not exceptionally concerned. The reason why becomes evident when total gridlock brings Cap to a dead stop for five minutes. Putting his head down, Bucky does indeed power walk, and pretty much outpaces all traffic— including Steve and Peggy— for a good few blocks, getting up ahead of him in anticipation of when the traffic snarl temporarily loosens its dire hold.

Once it does, Steve starts weaving ahead again, rapidly closing the distance Bucky gained. He frowns and turns, clearly planning to head up another few blocks to keep pace with the advancing vehicle.

What he doesn't expect is the detour that causes Steve to shunt off into a right turn instead of going straight. A turn that brings him into the intersection right as his old friend is crossing it.

There is a moment where Bucky looks around, clearly trying to find Steve again to redraw his bead on the man— only to suddenly realize that Steve is right there, not ten feet distant. He pales— too close! too soon! too much!— and turns away, trying to backtrack to vanish back into the crowd.


A simple chuckle is given in response to Carter's mocking. "Trust me, there are some people I know who could make you blush if you thought that was bad," the super soldier begins, still keeping his eyes straight ahead with occasional glances in the side mirrors like a good driver.

"We still need to decide where we are going to eat. If you want, could just order something and eat at your?" Plans for dinner are swiftly tabled to the side as Rogers sees a certain person pass right in front of him. Steve doesn't know what to make of this. Only now does he look toward Peggy, perhaps using her to make sure that all his previous conversations haven't caused him to start seeing the man where he isn't. Once he gets the confirmation from her however, and he will just swiftly pull the cycle over in front of a 'NO PARKING AT ANY TIME SIGN' and start to get out. He doesn't speak any words yet, merely acting on impulse as if fearing Bucky will disappear if he blinks. Considering the man's new skillset, there is perhaps some truth to that.

Meanwhile, a teen gasps to see the icon of America breaking traffic laws and puts up the video on Youtube, where it lasts for ten minutes before a person a SHIELD's monitoring service swiftly finds and blocks the video. That's two minutes longer than the video of Cap accidently littering when part of his newspaper flew away in a NYC gust of cold air.


"Is that a challenge?" Peggy's laugh in response is a warm one. "It couldn't be any worse than Colonel Phillips. He had a particularly gifted way of swearing. Quite the visual imagery."

As for their dinner plans, she barely gets a moment to think about it. Even as Steve trails off, she sees him too. The Tupperware gets shoved to the side and Peggy nods. "I think that's him," she confirms, voice tight. She can see his head turn toward her, but she doesn't want to take her eyes off of the suspected Bucky sighting. He's good at ghosting, that she knows and she's not about to give him the opportunity this time.

Without caring about where is a good place to park, the SHIELD agent pushes herself up and quickly out of the sidecar. Though she knows Steve will not approve, she brings her sidearm with her. It is not yet in hand, but it is something she will not hesitate to use should this prove a trap.

"He's trying to double back," she says, assuming he either already knows or will move accordingly to intercept.


It is entirely possible that Bucky will vanish if Steve so much as blinks. His new identity as the Winter Soldier is a seventy-year span where not a single person was ever able to track him down, nor verify his identity. He is a wraith when he wishes to be.

And right now, he seems pretty intent on vanishing.

It's difficult, though. The Winter Soldier may finally have made a miscalculation in his desperation to catch a glimpse of Steve. The crowds make it difficult for him to gain significant ground. He knows he'll be more easily followed if he tries to duck in anywhere where there's lower traffic, but if he just stays where he is he'll get caught anywhere with hundreds of people around.

He makes a clear decision and turns a left to disappear between two buildings.


Perhaps thankfully for Steve, he is too focused on following after Bucky to notice that Peggy is packing. It's hard to tell how he would feel about it, considering the conflict emotions of 'he's my friend' and 'I want her to be safe'. He himself doesn't leave unarmed, taking out a wrapped item that looks rather disc like and keeping it in his hand.

The chase is on, however, it ends up being extremely brief. The two buildings are where Barnes chooses for his location, so that is where Cap goes. He moves to ensure that he turns the corner first, just in case there is a gun waiting so he can use his reflexes and shield to ensure that Peggy isn't hurt.

Regardless if there is a an attack waiting or not, Steve's response is still the same. A very concerned "Barnes, wait!" escape his lips as soon as he makes visual contact on the friend once more.


Peggy is slower than Steve. It's not just the injury from the auction, it's a matter of him being a Super Soldier and she not having any such enhancement. Luckily, the crowd keeps the chase in her league. Otherwise she has no doubt that Barnes would be using that inhuman dexterity he used to get her in a chokehold to disappear and Steve would use his Super Solider Speed to follow. It's not something she could fault.

As it is, she reaches the alleyway moments after Steve. The gun remains hidden for now, as she doesn't know if there are civilians that could be within her aim. Instead, she waits to see if Steve's call will do the trick in halting the retreating Barnes.


There is no gun. There is no knife. There is no murderous hatred. There is nothing hostile waiting for either Steve or Peggy.

There isn't even the Winter Soldier.

There's only Bucky, looking a little lost as he tries to decide whether to get out of the alleyway by going over a wall or going through the building. He jerks around as Cap calls out behind him, spinning like a spooked deer, but for whatever reason he neither attacks nor immediately flees.

He stands still, though in the stiff-legged stance of a frightened animal on the verge of flight at the slightest loud noise.

His gaze flicks to Peggy, and there's recognition, the surface recognition of a recently-seen face— then a deeper recognition, one from memories deeper down, one that comes and goes and leaves him looking confused. His head lowers and his right hand lifts, his fingers digging briefly into his temple as if it pained him. His gaze eventually tracks back up to Cap, anxious and unsure.

"…Steve?" he ventures eventually. It sounds like a question that wants some kind of confirmation.


When the question is posed, there is a brief pause as Rogers' face hardens. It only lasts for a moment, perhaps steeling himself so he doesn't let any emotion overpower. He does relax and sleep soon after though, his tone soft as he walks in. Cautious for so many reasons, he takes a lone step forward. He keeps himself slightly ahead and close by Peggy, his situational awareness still intact despite the situation. He wants to hope, but as Carter and others would advise, he understands that he shouldn't assume things are just going to work out the way he wishes.

"It's me," Steve offers in response. A few beats pass as the man seems rather speechless as to this turn of events, but Cap is able to add a simple "Good to see you" to prove he can speak.


When Bucky's gaze moves to her, Peggy returns it with a wary look of her own. She knows that stance - she's seen it on criminals she's pursued down alleyways not dissimilar to this one. However, she also knows that looks can be deceiving. The flicker of recognition in his eyes could be many things. She's not willing to blindly trust him simply because he seemingly recognizes Steve today. There's a tilt upward of her chin, that's the only greeting she gives him.

As Steve moves forward, Peggy remains where she is, allowing the moment to unfold as it will. This is clearly a moment between these two men and she will stay back for now. It also helps to fade into the background to watch his movements, his facial expressions. Should he try anything, she will be ready to pounce, hopefully as a surprise.


Steve's features harden. Bucky draws back slightly, uncertain.

It's me, Steve presently says. Bucky is silent, to that and to the greeting, his gaze twitching back and forth between Steve and Peggy. Inevitably, it gravitates back to the face of his erstwhile brother.

"I read about you," he says eventually. His voice rasps with disuse, the once-vivacious James Barnes reduced to the monosyllabic monotones of a man unused to speech, and all too often unneeding of words. "I remembered… some things."

His aspect becomes slightly defensive, as if he fears censure or retaliation for having followed Steve. "I just wanted to see if you were real."

He backs away a step. "It keeps telling me you aren't," he whispers.


There is a lot of anticipation on the face of Captain America, an odd mix of tension and joy upon his facade. As stated to Peggy before, hope is what he is riding on. A glance is given toward Peggy, an unspoken 'take my lead' given with eyes alone. "We are real. We want to help," he offers softly, but the smile he brief had sours at the talk of some unknown force or third party messing with things. He doesn't want to speak a lot, merely keeping it to simple phrases that hopefully won't be twisted against him. Cap's leg muscles tense, but he refuses the impulse to step forward as Bucky steps back. His one word question is simple, but considering the situation, it is likely a large one to ask. "…'It'?"


From slightly behind Steve and to his right, Peggy watches Bucky and listens to his stuttered statements. They sound sincere. Of course, many people can sound sincere when they wish. However, when Steve looks back at her for a moment, she meets his eyes before returning her attention back to Barnes. There's no words exchanged, but she understands the meaning there. In turn, she offers little to show that she received his nonverbal request, but she does show what she means.

Though every muscle screams at her to move forward to ensure that Bucky is within running reach should he bolt, she remains exactly where she is. The gun remains tucked away, instead, she stands rigidly, ready to spring into action. Steve already asked the question she would have. The more in depth questions she has can be saved for if/when they manage to get him to a secure location.


Bucky holds position, but there is a slight trembling that runs periodically through his body, his limbs. He is tense as a taut wire. Probably any kind of loud noise would have him off like a shot.

They're real, and they want to help, Steve says. Those familiar blue eyes turn frightened, desperate. They keep jerking away to focus on particularly loud noises that rise above the background seethe of the crowds on the street not far away. But, Steve wants to know: what does Bucky mean, 'it?'

"My head…" he answers unhelpfully. He grasps at it, fingertips digging at his temple in a repeated gesture, as if he could claw a proper answer out by force. "It said the whole story was a lie. A trick to make me turn traitor. But here you are."

His features work in confusion— then freeze. A current of realization seems to run through his head. "You… have to stay away from me. They are after me. You're not safe near me." He starts backing away. The look in his eyes is the look Steve always remembers seeing, when Bucky came in to protect him from something. "You're not safe," he repeats, and turns to ram his metal shoulder into the door of the nearby building.

The minute he leaves his position, there is the soft hiss of a dart hitting the pavement right where he was standing moments before. And high above, on the rooftop overlooking, there is movement as someone hastily leans back from the edge.


At Bucky's final words and the retreat that it heralds, the Man with the Star Spangled Plan moves a step forward at last. It is good that he didn't move too swiftly however, or the shot meant for Barnes might have hit Cap instead. A glance is given up and then back toward Carter, clearly expecting the crack shot woman to provide cover.

The shield is uncovered brought to bear, providing cover as Roger moves to look through the forced upon door way. "No matter what it is, who it is, Bucky, we can keep you safe. If you let me, I'll do everything to keep you safe," the hero half-implores, half-pleads as he tries to follow the path of his friend slowly. "Let us find a way to help."


There is barely a backward look needed at Peggy before the gun she had stowed is out and trained on the roof the dart came from. Though she knows it is a useless shot from this angle and with no clear eyeline, she lets a bullet hit the edge of building - right where the attempted darter was standing moments before. She moves backward in an attempt to get a clearer view, but it is near impossible to get anything closer.

"Clear," she calls to Steve. Then, louder, without turning her head toward them, but clearly speaking to Bucky, "We can get you to safety if you come with us!" She has no idea if he's actually going to be heard, but for now she'll stay and guard the exit.


Being shot at seems to kick Bucky into full flight mode, paranoia vindicated. The first slam of his shoulder against the door groans it in its frame, but it doesn't quite give way. He reels back for a second—

—and hesitates, looking back wildly, as Steve's voice rings out. He listens, despite himself, to that promise. If he'll just let him, he'll do everything to keep him safe.

Something in his expression breaks. He thinks remembers this. Or something like this. But he remembers being the one doing it.

It's a sentiment Peggy echoes— to lesser, more reserved degree— a moment later. Bucky lingers obviously, looking back and forth between them.

"I believe you," he eventually replies Steve. "But if they found me, there's someone else I have to make sure is safe. Right now."

The Winter Soldier turns back to the door. "I'll come find you," he promises Steve, "Once I know— more. Once I won't just bring them to you."

He rams his shoulder against it again, knocking it open and vanishing within.

The dart, broken on the pavement, is left behind. It does not contain any sedative or poison: rather a tiny tracker, meant to latch on on impact.


While Rogers could say a lot, he doesn't. The excuses are many: he doesn't want to risk sensitive information being overheard, it's clear that Bucky doesn't fully trust, Peggy might be upset if Rogers fully trusted a man who has not yet been verified, the site has been compromised… The list goes on.

There is only a stare that continues with concern before slowly transforming into resolved determination. Only when he's sure the Winter Soldier has disappeared does Steve move at all. Even so, there is a long moment as Rogers seemed trapped in history once more. The memories play, but what are are unknown, only that he gives a simple sniffle in response before leaving the building.

As the war hero makes his way out, piercing blue eyes lift toward the edge of the roof where the attacker hit from. It's clear they are gone and considering Peggy and Steve don't have a real flight or teleportation power to catch up, they are likely going to get away. "I'll keep a look out if you want to check out the scene," he offers, figuring that he'll play up to strengths to the Agent in front of him.


To Peggy, it's no surprise that Steve exits the building without Barnes in tow. However, she does give him a bit of a soft, sympathetic look that lasts only a moment. It certainly looked and sounded like Barnes. That, at least, she can finally concede. But, she doesn't say anything - encouraging or chiding. She hopes, much like his nonverbal signal before, her own doesn't need to be said out loud. In any event, this is not the moment for it.

Instead, her gun lowers. Putting the safety on again, she stows it and moves to the dart meant for Barnes. It's evidence and something she can study. Perhaps some make or model can give them more information as to who it is that is after Bucky. Of course, there is a nagging thought in the back of her mind that him moving just in the nick of time is simply too convenient. It's something to discuss with someone else later.

Using the edge of her sleeve, she picks up the dart to not contaminate it with fingerprints and stows it. She'll bring it to the lab to be tested. Then, she nods to Steve and makes for the fire escape. It takes one or two jumps, but she grabs the edge of the ladder to pull down and then hoists herself up. The metal clangs and creaks as she climbs up to the roof. Once up there, it's as she suspected, there's nothing there. With a sigh, she looks over the edge and shakes her head to Steve.


Bucky runs several long avenues before he finally slows, ducking down into the subway and resuming a more normal walk as he loses himself into the crowds. He isn't sure if Steve is after him. He isn't sure if the Hydra operative is after him. What he is sure of is that he narrowly got away from a situation he was rapidly becoming unable to handle.

It was one thing, looking at pictures, listening to recordings, reading articles. It was another to really see him— face him and speak to him, one on one. The way he talked, the way he moved, the slight inflections in his voice when it went from resoluteness to a plea— too familiar, too much, too quickly. Too many prods on too many buried memories that have not and cannot be erased.

And there was just no time. He was surprised. He was closed in on. Better to do it like Jane said, all along— as a formal meeting. They'll find somewhere safer, somewhere more remote. Somewhere they can talk in peace. He'll come prepared. He'll know what to say. He'll remember more than just the way it hurts when there's pain in Steve's voice.

He takes a photo out of his pocket. The faded image of himself next to Steve looks up from its surface. He smoothes a wrinkle out of it, before putting it away again.

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