Demon Bear: Averted Vision

November 01, 2017:

Moonstar meets Bucky and Jane and a Bear grows curious.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The Triskelion commands a significant portion of real estate in midtown Manhattan, though as much of it is actually underground as it is housed in the high tower that spears into the city's skyline. One of the things kept sagely underground, for practical reasons, is the shooting range: an expansive space taking up an entire sublevel, with lanes long enough for rifle shooting.

The class being held today, however, is not one that involves live firing. Not much, anyway. It's not something Bucky would have thought to do by himself, but there were some young agents who wanted to learn from the erstwhile Winter Soldier, and who had gotten brave enough to petition him for some instruction. He'd grumbled about it at first, but prompting from several corners brought him to accept.

Thus it is that he's sitting at a table, surrounded by a few young men and women, with an M24 in front of him, though apparently primarily for demonstration purposes. Every so often he adjusts the scope to make a point, but the bulk of what he appears to be talking about seems, actually, to be mathematical.

He is, in fact, going over the mathematics and basic formulas that form the foundation of precision long-distance shooting. As he began the lesson to say: computers can do all that nowadays, but you had better know how to do it manually and what the reasoning is behind the numbers the computer spits out at you.

Dr. Jane Foster is a professional.

She is a renowned astrophycist, and in-demand scientist, a contractor with Stark Industries, a consultant with SHIELD, and undeniably among the handful of top genius minds around the globe. She's even an overnight millionaire — literally overnight — due to her up-and-coming tech company that's apparently revolutionizing the design of spacesuits from their current bulk down to a simple layer of fabric.

She is a put-together, sensible, worldly adult. She is a woman in full possession of herself.

And she is most certainly /not/ spending the last hour hearing her own cagey heartbeat thunder in her ears like a lovestruck thirteen-year-old, ever since she decided to take the afternoon and sit in curiously, fondly, proudly, on Bucky Barnes's SHIELD seminar.

He has never been so hot to her as right now. She sits there, back in one corner of the room, chin leaned into her hands and absolutely lovestruck the more he mentally calculates complicated vectors. When Bucky eventually glances her way, Jane makes sure to silently mouth a few words in his direction.

The majority of agents that come here are typically practicing with the usual types of firearms found within SHIELD; guns of various shapes and sizes and even the ICERs with their modified bullets.

Then there's a subset of agents that have other weaponry they like to bring down here as well.

Danielle Moonstar happens to be part of that subset of agents. It's primarily with bow and arrow. That's what currently brings the Cheyenne down here to the sub-basement and to the assortment of firing lanes available. Slung upon her back is her usual quiver, filled with arrows, and gripped lightly in one hand is her bow. The bow itself is more mundane than technology advanced, or for that matter the typical compound bow often seen. Instead it's made of wood, versus various plastics, and mostly maple at that.

The dark-haired woman's stride is even and slow, and while she was prepared to begin practicing fairly quick, the sight of the class draws her attention away. Curiosity brings her gaze to the participants, the slightly offset Jane Foster and the instructor with a neat look.

Between Jane Foster and Bucky Barnes, surprised recognition might be seen upon Dani's face, and from those emotions the class earns a potential new 'student' as Dani alters her course to bring her closer to the small group.

Bucky notices Jane in the back over there. He definitely notices what she mouths at him. He misses a beat in his explanation of the effect of temperature and altitude on shots over a certain distance, but when he resumes, he seems more pleased with himself than before.

By the time Dani comes over, he is wrapping up, though she would arrive in time for his remarks on trajectory changes and muzzle velocities for varying barrel lengths ('You really should just memorize all these'). Dismissing the gaggle of young agents soon afterwards, he rises from his seat and starts to strip down the M24 to store it away again, waiting for Jane to come over.

He glances up, and recognition flits through his eyes when he sees Dani, even though they only met once and in passing, in a rather frenetic situation. The mind of a supersoldier is a steel trap.

"Not got much I can say about bows," he remarks, "though you didn't seem like someone who needed any help with that. I'd be pointing you at someone else even if I thought you did.

And in accessory to her achievements, Jane Foster makes Bucky Barnes skip a beat.

Her lips draw together, but she can't fight off the urge to laugh for long, and brings one demure hand up to hide her mouth behind her knuckles, snuffing any sound. She grins wickedly. Her eyes shine with amusement and mischief, and she indulges herself to bite briefly down on her lower lip.

Life's been a little too serious for a lot too long, and this moment alone unwrites about a month's worth of brooding. Worth it.

When the seminar inevitably comes to a close, only Dr. Foster slips out from her chair, otherwise allowing Bucky the courtesy of an (almost, just almost) interrupted hour of lecturing. Still quite impressed with it all, and excessively proud that it's her boyfriend she gets to meet up with who was just giving that super sexy math class, makes her way up to his side.

"Good work, sweetie," she says, with a brief touch to his jaw — and probably the only reason for this rare moment of Jane PDA is her belief that he two of them are momentarily alone.

Little be it known, sniper math has lured in in a roaming, wild Dani. Eye drawn to her approach, Jane's eyebrows lift with memory. Though for different reasons, she shares Bucky's ability to remember facts — and faces. It's that woman with the horse! She's with SHIELD?

"Hi!" Jane chirps up, curious, as more memory filters in of the night that feels so long ago — made more clear when Bucky brings up bows. "Right! You're that Hanzo main!" Don't mind the nerd.

The tide of humanity, small as it may be, is released from class. Dani is an old hat when it comes to avoiding the bumps and brushes of students who are intent on leaving.

For herself, she's not quite so intent, instead she'll watch the people trickle out even as she makes slow progress further inward, to that table. The Soldier's words bring her attention off of the gun and to the man who's currently dissembling it, "There's some similar concepts with the bow." States the black-haired woman easily enough, a corner of her mouth inching upward with her words, "But, no, I don't need too much help with precision shooting a bow."

Of course, at the sight of Jane, Dani can't quite stop the vague note of surprise to flare within her eyes. She remembers the brown-haired woman, she does, but for some reason Moonstar expected to see a red head. Clearly, she's spent far too much time in alternate realities. Especially a reality that left such a harsh impression upon her.

And while that slight PDA was seen by Dani, the Cheyenne does what society dictates, she pretends she didn't see.

At Jane's greeting, however, Dani's focus shifts to the other woman. "Hello -" She begins, but before Dani can go any further, Jane drops the remark about being the Hanzo main. That's enough to cause the Cheyenne's eyebrows to creep toward the midline of her face, "So, define that term for me and then I can determine if I should laugh or be properly offended." Jokes the black-haired woman, even as she offers a hand to Jane first, "Dani Moonstar."

Good work, sweetie, Jane says, sidling up. Bucky slides her an amused sidelong look as she reaches to brush his jaw. "Math butter you up that much?" he asks. "I should use it more often."

It is an odd tableau to witness, particularly for someone who would be expecting a redhead at this particular man's side and not a brunette, and it is one that probably wouldn't happen if the two were aware they had company. They notice Dani soon enough when she lingers, however. Bucky is first to realize she is there, and a moment later Jane looks too.

As usual, it's Jane who provides the more effusive and 'actually friendly' greeting, though the substance of it —

Dani is, predictably, bemused. Bucky sighs. "Don't mind her, she's a nerd," he makes excuse, with half a tolerant smile.

He offers his own hand once Jane and Dani finish their greetings. "Nice to meet you under less… strange circumstances. After seeing you shoot… no, wouldn't presume you needed any pointers at all."

Math butter you up much?

Jane's reply to that is to flush beet-red right to to the tips of her ears. "No, it would never work," she lies helplessly, around a crooked smile. "Don't ever try it." Seriously, don't, she probably won't survive.

But the moment breaks with Bucky's turn-of-head, and she realizes a beat later they have company. Her blush darkens, because she's a respectable woman, more on the reserved side than most, and not commonly caught in the act of being affectionate. Trying to avoid that immediate upswell of embarrassment, she wastes no time to launch into hasty greetings — going on to do that Jane Foster thing when she gets nervous, or surprised, or flustery.

Saying the first weirdo thing that comes to mind.

"Oh! I — that's a really good question," she chatters to Dani's question of Insult or Not. "A lot of people /use/ it as an insult but Hanzo is pretty devastating in the right hands! It's mostly because people refuse to switch out mid-match because WHY, and usually when your team already has the sniper role filled out so he's pretty extraneous. But honestly it's just the people who main Hanzo will /never/ backfill and are pretty lousy at aim, but you were amazing as I remember you so you're definitely the good part of —"

Somewhere in that, Bucky calls her a nerd.

"I am —" Jane snaps, beginning to argue, before the last thirty seconds catches up into her memory. She frowns mightily. "OK, bit of a nerd. The good kind! I was talking about a video game. I don't even /play/ that one that much."

Stop talking about it, Jane. Hurriedly, she takes Dani's hand, smiling a little apologetically. "I'm Jane. Jane Foster. This is James — Bucky Barnes. You're a SHIELDy?

Odd circumstances. There's several things Dani could say to that, but for now she keeps it about the pigeon. "Right, that incident with the pigeon was weird." Which is putting it quite lightly, what with Dani's own unique background and experiences. "Not sure if we ever figured out what happened there either."

And while Dani was just about to say something more, Jane steps in with her explanation of just what Hanzo means.

And at first Dani's expression goes completely blank. It's only as Jane nears the end of her definition that there's finally a glimmer of understanding within Moonstar's brown eyes. "For not playing the game that much you sure seem to know a lot about it." Returns Dani with a crooked grin and evident amusement within her voice, "Nice to meet you both." Continues the Cheyenne, as she switches her handshake over to Bucky as well. "And no need to justify your nerd cred - I've a few friends who like video games too. I get it."

Once greetings are out of the way, Dani moves to address that very last question of Jane's, "I am. I haven't been an agent long, but -" She shrugs, she's learning the ropes, "You both?" She says, the question easily rolled back to the two, even as she offers the more rhetorical words of, "It's definitely a small world, isn't it."

Jane's lie prompts a slow smile to crawl across Bucky's features. It's the same leisurely smirk he used to give gals back in the day, preserved even across the decades. "You're a very bad liar," he says, and he would know a thing or two about liars.

But they have company, and Jane blushes, and perhaps to everyone's astonishment, Bucky colors a little too and clears his throat. Despite his smirk surviving to the modern day, not all of his flirtatiousness did too, and the intervening years have made him more private than he used to be.

He goes quiet in reaction. Jane, though — she runs her mouth. He tries to cut her off at the pass, but she just keeps going. Bucky looks steadily more and more embarrassed. By the end of it, his right hand is over his face and he's peeking through his fingers.

"This didn't happen with girls in 1935," he bemoans, mostly to himself.

As for the pigeon incident? Bucky frowns, hurriedly taking the opportunity to steer the topic away. "I think chemicals were involved," he says. "Mutating chemicals. You know, the usual."

As for how long they've been SHIELD? Bucky looks like that's a slightly awkward question for him. "Uh… pretty recent. I'm not really official. I just consult on whatever suits my skill set." He does not really elaborate on his skill set. He likely doesn't need to, what with the recent trial throwing his entire sordid past into sharp relief.

This didn't happen with girls in 1935, says the old soldier —

— and Jane takes that moment to stare ashamedly down at her feet, looking for a moment like, more and anything, she'd love to disappear between the cracks in the tiles. She looks absolutely tiny enough for it to be halfway /possible/, too. Maybe she is a bit too big of a nerd, and not much like far more classier ladies of old.

"You shouldn't call it a mutating chemical. They're called mutagens. More likely than not a reactive oxygen species and — not important," Jane stops herself this time, because this is really not helping her unsexy giant nerd case.

At least with the topic change, Dani asks if both are SHIELD agents.

"Oh, god no," says Jane, very emphatically, the words falling out of her like some kneejerk reflex. She pauses, because probably not the most gracious thing to say to the actual SHIELD agent. "Not that… I'm judging. I'm a consultant in a way. They have me on contract — uh, I'm trying to build them their own Einstein-Rosen bridge. A portal to other worlds."

She glances toward Bucky's own stilted explanation of what he does, and her eyes crease momentarily with quiet understanding. "Nice to meet you, though, Dani. Welcome to the weirdness, I guess? Though I don't — you had a flying horse. I vaguely recall something flying horse-shaped."

The interplay between the two can't help but be noticed by Moonstar and it's enough to bring a faint grin.

The lament of just how 1935 'girls' were likewise isn't lost upon her. In fact, those words of his are enough to cause one dark black eyebrow to arch high upward, toward her hairline, a quick retort immediately popping straight to mind - thankfully, perhaps, if there's one thing Dani has learned with her time here at SHIELD is how to effectively bite her lip. Even if she /really/ wants to say those words stuck in the back of her throat.

Either way, that hot retort is tamped down by the level five field agent.

Instead, the Cheyenne turns to the conversation of mutagens, consultations and winged-horses.

Realization doesn't strike Dani of just how awkward her question was until after she catches sight of the subdued reactions from both Bucky and Jane. Then, when it becomes clear just how awkward her question really was, Dani can't help but take a turn at looking embarrassed. Her expression twist slightly and there's a sort of rueful apologetic look to her features now. However, before she can verbalize that apology of hers, Jane is once again off and running and this time Moonstar gratefully grasps at the switch in conversation.

Grinning at Jane's own unabashed reaction to field agents versus consultation, the Cheyenne says, "All good. Being a field agent isn't something everyone wants or wishes for." Then it's onward to the mention of portals to other worlds, and that's enough to bring a slightly sardonic look to Moonstar's features.

There are many things she could say to that, but Dani settles for the least crazy sounding one, "How close are you to making a successful portal?" The question is said with interested curiosity, even as Jane then touches upon the weirdness that often surrounds those here.

It's only after the brunette mentions Brightwind that Dani adds, "Yes, Brightwind. Most consider him a pegasus, which SHIELD does too, but that's not quite correct."

Jane looks like she wants to vanish into the floor, and a hint of remorse enters Bucky's features. he nudges her gently with his right shoulder, as if to say: c'mon, I like you more than those 1930s broads in every other way, anyway.

Besides, she gets even. He rolls his eyes good-naturedly at her correction on what to call 'weird-ass chemicals that turn pigeons the size of airliners.' "Whatever. It was green and disgusting and it made a goldfish into a sea monster."

Dani gets in her lumps, too. Her reaction to his comment about 1930s chicks is so pronounced that it can't possibly be missed — and the insinuation of what she probably would have said if she didn't catch herself equally obvious. Bucky has the grace to look embarrassed, though the abashed look mingles a bit with vague defiance.

The query on whether they're SHIELD agents is a slightly more complicated topic. Bucky side-eyes Jane when she reacts with her usual disgust, though she catches herself quickly enough and stammers her way onwards.

His features darken markedly at mention of the horse. "Not quite correct? What is he, then? — If I may ask?" Other than an asshole.

The nudge of his right shoulder draws up Jane's eyes, who offers Bucky a hopeful half-smile, before she exhales and forgets the brief embarrassment already.

Her arrogance is a grand and substantial thing, enough to fill a Triskelion of its own — especially when it comes to her specializations — but it seems even Dr. Foster has her little raw spots. Namely, her mental image that all women from Bucky Barnes's time have the class and sophistication of Peggy Carter. It took her /months/ not to be intimidated by that.

But not enough of a raw spot that she would miss that /look/ the newcomer Dani Moonstar gives Bucky. The curiousity on Jane's face is a wistfulness that the agent had not held her tongue. Would have been a whopper —

— and honestly, this is Bucky Barnes /after/ her rigourous lectures and lessons on what not to say in Politically Correct Modern Times. It is a steep learning curve.

"So — a pegasus is real," Jane says out loud, adding that to her tally of things that have revolutionized and rocked the foundation of her entire world in the last weird year she's had. However, this one is different — usually spoken with such skepticism or quiet defeat, the woman takes in this fact with light in her eyes and a widening smile. Like a seven-year-old's whimiscal love of horses finally coming back full circle. "That makes my entire week."

Of course, though, Dani Moonstar dooms herself entirely by asking Jane about portals. This is probably somewhere in the SHIELD agent trainee manual. Do not engage the Dr. Foster about portals or be prepared to lose five hours of your life to a lecture. Double that if she has a whiteboard around.

Only this time, it's mitigated a little by the wince that comes and goes in the alleys of Jane's features. How do you build a portal? is a great question. How close are you? is different. And a bit embarrassing. "Close!" she says. No, she can't lie. "Two-thirds. Halfway. It's — a process. It's a very… tedious process." She's the worst.

Bucky's defiance is met with another look from Dani, but once more the conversation turns to other things. Safer things.

The darkening of Bucky's features with the mention of Brightwind is seen, and the Cheyenne quirks a brow at him again. Though that movement holds less anger this time and more a silent question.

Before that question can be voiced, Dani answers Jane first, "Yes, they're real. Crazy, I know, but they are. He's also far more intelligent than a regular horse. Almost as intelligent as a person." She adds before her attention shifts to Bucky, "Pegasus really comes from Greek mythology. Brightwind is more along the lines of Norse -" Mythology. Asgardian truly, but her thought never finishes, not when the phone at her hip suddenly buzzes to life. Pulling it free the woman glances at the message that promptly scrolls across it.

"Well damn." She says, even as she spares a look for each of them, "Looks like they're calling me away." To Jane now, Moonstar says, "Next time you're at HQ look me up. I know a few people who might be able to .. help - " Yes, she'll use that word with only the barest of hesitation there, "- with opening portals to other dimensions."

Then, just like that Dani offers a quick farewell with the Cheyenne hot-footing it to the door and eventually out to the elevators found within the hallway proper.

It's only after Moonstar exits that something finally stirs.

While the fluorescent lights within the room do a fine job of casting light upon most things, there are still patches of darkness to be found within. Specifically in the corners of the room. There, within one of those corners, the shadows stretch and move, shifting to turn upon themselves, as a presence focuses on the two that remain. If an emotion could be tied to the shadows perhaps it would be thoughtfulness.

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