A Few New Missions

February 01, 2017:

The Dark Devil meets up with Captain America after Operation: Save Bucky

NYC

A street in New York City

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Peggy Carter, The Winter Soldier, Spider-Man

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's been a few days since Rogers resolved the issue of Jane and Foster. Back and forth, the man goes to Coney Island in an attempt to summon Bucky Barnes. Most days, like today, is no exception. Moving through the slightly quiet streets of New York at night, he moves through a rather middle class section of town on his quest for home. Most people would use the subway, but seems Steve is in the mood to walk. There is the occasional passer by, but considering the neighborhood and the lateness of night, there are far fewer than normal.

Perhaps a little more jumpy than usual, the causally dressed war hero pauses from time to time before alleys, his time dealing with Hydra seemingly having put the hairs on the back of his neck in overdrive. It will fade with time, it often does after high stress missions, but for the time being, Cap definitely seems to be rather wary.

It isn't until the third or fourth glance down an alley that this unusual walk home becomes even more odd. The alley is empty like all the rest, but when Cap returns to his walk, he'll notice the newfound sound of smaller footsteps beside him. Even though The Dark Devil is the newest of the Batlings, it seems she's picked up on a few tricks, reversing Batman's usual disappearing act to appear at Steve's side.

She's wearing most of her usual get-up. No gloves, no mask, and an old army jacket over the skin-tight, bullet proof bodysuit Batman had given her. The cargo pants and boots really don't look all that odd, either, and so she looks like just another kid out for a stroll, with perhaps the most swole big brother ever.

But only because Thor isn't around.

"I was just going to make sure you got home okay, but you looked like you could use some company."

The inference that she was somehow protecting him is a joke, but her flat line of sarcasm might not exactly hit home. She's never been one to show much mirth except in the explicit misfortune of others, and when she casts her crystal blues in Steve's direction, he'll see what he's always seen when looking at her: A cold determination, and a monster lurking somewhere just behind that facade of humanity.

"I kinda used to being alone," Cap begins almost sounding like Batman until he ends with " But I appreciate the thought." A tilt of the head is given, a simple cue to suggest that he's fine with the other person being around. It seems as if he is able to keep his eyes forward now, perhaps having found the 'surprise' that he felt was out there or perhaps merely having a second set of eyes about just in case.

The hands of the hero rest in his leather jacket pockets, a faint but friendly smile on his features as he begins to speak again. "Seem to be doing well, all things considered. The mission" He hesitates as he considers the best wording. "Didn't exactly go as planned."

"The mission where we lost him didn't go as planned either. There's a symmetry there."

The silence that follows the statement might be cutting, but her followup offers explanation, even as her own hands find her pockets and she struggles to swallow a lump in her throat. "I don't think he blames you, you know. I did. It's why I got in your face at Jessica's. But I wanted you to know, when I see shit.. it's what they saw, and what they felt, but how I react, that's me. It wasn't him."

This whole time she's been worried that Cap might think Bucky hates him, blames him, and if she gave that impression she wanted to make it right. It's clear on her face, in her expression - she's struggled with finding the courage to find him, to tell him. She needed to make sure he knew, and when she looks up and to the side to search his face as they walk, there's a hope there.

Please believe me. Please don't let me fuck this up for them.

There is a long silence as Steve considers the information given to him, making it unclear if he had known that or not. Finally, he chooses his words carefully, as he often does when attempting to not put his foot in his mouth.

"Even if he did blame me, it wouldn't change anything. He's still my friend, even if I'd have to prove a lifetime that I was sorry." A brief pause is given, enough time for the eyes to flicker down. Instinctually, as if not wishing to show weakness as a symbol of a nation, he carries his gaze once more forward. "I just hope that he can have a life that he considers worthwhile. He deserves to be happy. More so after everything he's gone through."

The words Cap speaks are gentle and sincere. While the war hero doesn't look toward The Dark Devil at first, he still manages to give a small smile as he changes gears faintly as he looks around, as if making sure there isn't anyone in earshot of himself or his walking partner. "It must be a bizarre gift, seeing the pain of others. A useful gift, but a hard one."

There's a palpable weight lifted from her shoulders when he says he'd spend a lifetime on his friend if that's what it took. A calm that simmers in, from her deep fret, and after he speaks of her gift, she searches for the words to explain.

"I honestly never considered it a gift until now. Not even when I was chasing Bucky. I only realized a little while ago that there are going to be people who want to put him in prison. People who can't see beyond vengeance, to the things he did with his body, even though it wasn't his mind. My.. uh.. gift…"

God she hates calling it that. It's right there in the way she says the word, laced with a cruel irony, because for all the good it can do, for all the power the creature that lives in her can bring, it is still a thing of nightmares.

And as she learned in Hydratopia, she'll only ever be at peace if it wins.

"…I have it because there's a thing inside me. Joined with me. I honestly don't know if I'd have cared as much about Bucky if I didn't know what it was like to have urges and impulses not my own. But, I guess he found the right girl to throw off a building, because I won't quit him now. When those people come for him, I know you'll be standing there, in front of him with your shield. You should know I'll be right there with you, whatever the odds."

She'd spent nights in debate, tortured by memories not her own. Considering. Planning. Plotting. The memory would come and so would the tears, and she'd lay in bed weeping until she was herself again.

But those were not Bucky's memories.

"But I have a favor to ask."

A blink is given as the woman describes her situation. It is clearly a pained one. A small frown is given with a nod. "Sorry, I didn't mean to make it seem as if it was something it wasn't," Rogers replies, not wishing the woman to change her viewpoints merely because he suggested something as truth. There are times that Captain America enjoys the honor of the people's respect and ability to be a strong influence of character. Most times, however, he tempers his own power as if in respect to checks and balance of a 'true' American Government. "Either way, I know that Bucky will be dealing with the law for awhile. Hopefully, something can be figured out. I want to wait some time and talk to some people in the hopes of getting the groundwork cleared for him being free from charges, but there are other nations involved They won't have the same reverence for American War Heroes as we would."

For a moment, Cap stops walking to look at the smaller woman in front of him. "I'm honored for offer of help. Seems like you're a handy person to have around. As for the favor, not sure if I can help, but rarely hurts to ask, right?" he concludes, giving a small grin before walking forward once more.

As Cap goes through a range of emotions and settles on being glad that she's willing to help, she suddenly steps in front of him, a hand reaching up to find his shoulder.

Finally they are face to face again, and the crushing gaze of her God-thing looks upon the too-perfect features of Steve Rogers and finds him offensive. It conflicts with how Bucky saw him when he fell, hope slipping away. Conflicts, too, with the last thought of another. A thought that drives her to action now.

"I'm not your friend, but I want to be. It's strange for me to want to be anyone's friend, because like you said, it's a hard gift, and it makes me a hard person to like. But you're the opposite of that. I told Spider-Horse to shut the fuck up just so I could hear you speak, and didn't want to snap his head off when he made fun of my outfit. You know why? Because you told us all how important it was that we do our parts. Because /you/ held it together. Maybe you can help balance me out. Or maybe I remember what Bucky remembers: That you're a swell guy."

Holy fuck. Did she say /swell/?
"I'm telling you this because a friend would say what I'm going to say next with an ulterior motive. They'd want to see you happy. They'd want to see you content. I just don't know you that well. But I know /her/, Steve." Her voice escalates, and she sounds almost angry, but instead it becomes a rallying cry, the hand on his shoulder coming away to form a chastising finger that she waggles at him, and her eyes turning to fierce determination. "And if you don't grab that fucking girl by the hips and pull her close enough to feel every one of your hard edges and kiss her like it's your very last moment on this Earth, and I mean /soon/, /I'm/ going to fucking do it!"

Her eyes light up as the threat comes, because the thing inside her quite fancies the idea. THE GAMBIT HAS BEEN LAID STEVE ROGERS.

There is a tense pause as Az sings the praises of Rogers. Some heroes would bask in it. Others would dismiss it. Rogers does neither.

"Just be careful with putting all your faith on people," the man points out softly. "I hope I never let you down, but I know that I'm going to. Not because I want to, but just because I'm human. Spider-Man seems to be a good guy too, just has a different way of showing it. And you're a good person; you're just dealing with a lot. It's hard to be compassionate when you're in pain and it seems to me like you hurt quite a bit."

The man seems prepared to talk more on the inner soul and how to bring out empathy, perhaps Rogers most powerful aspect of self when combined with his strong moral code. However, things take a left turn. Steve leans in, clearly confused at the first mention of /her/.

"Language." And she was doing so well with words like swell.

After the knee jerk reaction, Rogers clears his throat. "Not sure if you mean who I think you mean, but it's a little more complicated than that. Still, I appreciate your opinion on the matter." Yeah, he's trying to diplomat this away… a plan surely destined to fail.

What can Azalea do but laugh? STEVE ROGERS IS ADORABLE. The chortling thing cracks the night, and she steps closer, gently reaching in to give him a tickling poke to the ribs. On his left side. "My opinion on the matter? This isn't an opinion, soldier. This is a /mission/. Listen here and listen well, Star-Spangled Man. Bucky isn't the only one who needs saving, and you saw what I was willing to do for him. Meandering through the crosshairs of Hydra is will seem easy compared to what I will visit upon you if you do not kiss that girl and tell her /exactly/ how you feel about her."

Of course, she probably shouldn't be playing matchmaker. Or threatening people with intimacy. The last time she used that tactic it did not go so well. Whatever, this part of her redemption, and she can't get the regret she saw in Peggy Carter's mind out of her head.

She knows Peggy can't get it out of hers, either.

"Peggy needs you, in the worst way. You need to get on that. Make them panties drop. Like yesterday. Or last decade. I mean it, take care of business or the next time she hears 'A Whole New World' it's going to have a whole other meaning."

Azalea Kingston begins backing away, her poking finger turning into a fingergun. A wink follows, and if Steve Rogers does not tackle her for her maddening offenses, she will find the shadows like the familiar home they are and slink away.

The poke barely gets a response out of Captain America, who remains unmoving during the words of Bucky and Peggy, two very near and dear people to him. This is not proper talk at all, that's for sure.

Soon, however, Steve finds that he has weathered the storm and The Dark Devil is making her way out.

"HAVE YOU CONSIDERED FINISHING SCHOOL?"

The simple recommendation is called out for Kingston, who likely doesn't hear it or offers some sort of response that suggests her interest in learning about proper forks is low. Either way, Rogers straightens his outfit and prepares to make his way home, frowning wiht the deepest frown he's had for a very long time.

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