2019-05-14 - What's In Your Pickanic Basket?


Helena sets up a picnic for Steve and Bucky, but a wild Laura appears!

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue May 14 02:03:15 2019
Location: The Ramble

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Theme Song



Helena's life has taken some crazy turns lately. Her parents finally let her in the field. She has a…boyfriend? Who told Helena - not Blackbird - about how he's actually a superhero. Her formerly dead adopted brother is back in town. And there's a magic cult kidnapping kids and putting crazy tattoos on them. And a very scary murderer is framing her dad for some really ugly stuff.

Trial by fire, right?

But there are a few bright spots in all of it. One of them is hearing that Steve and Bucky have finally taken the next step. And as it happens, there are other things she'd like to talk to them about, but…well, congratulations first. So she sent a text to Steve, full of fireworks and noisemakers and party hat emojis, saying he and Bucky should meet her at the park for a celebratory picnic.

She's got a blanket spread out on the grass, some of Alfred's best roast beef sandwiches, potato salad, and sparkling cider, because even for Steve and Bucky he's not sending her out of the houes with alcohol.

"Bet she's gonna squeal when she sees us." Steve gives the brunet walking next to him a tiny smirk, pleased despite himself. "Look, I let her parents know. You wanna get in someone's face about letting Babblebat know what's going on, you talk to Bruce and Selina."

Sneakers make little sound along the Park's path and even less as he spots the picnic laid and veers onto the spread of green grass. He wears a brown leather bomber jacket and jeans, plaid button-down beneath this, and a Dodgers baseball cap.

Totally anonymous, what a sneaky guy.

The Captain lifts a hand towards Helena on the far approach. "Looks like Alfred packed the good stuff," he asides to Bucky. His stomach grumbles in antipication.

"I don't need it to be totally a secret, I just don't want it to be a giant public performance. The wedding, anyhow. The reception can be as big as you think is right. You're still a public figure. " Buck says, mildly. He's got his hair pulled back in a pony-tail, no cap, for once. Long sleeve green t-shirt, plain jeans, workboots. "He always does," he agrees, with enthusiasm.

The picnic is set out. It looks great. It smells great. And that's why, as the trio unite for their little impromptu party, there's a rustling from the bushes nearby.

How did no one notice Laura there? Because she's damn near the best there is at what she does. And what she's doing right now is rising out of some bushes. Well, not totally. Just her head peeks out, like a prairie dog poking out of its hole. Her nose twitches, sniffing at the air. Food.

Of course, to the three heroes nearby, this must look completely insane — a heretofore undetected young woman just elevates herself out of some bushes and begins slowly turning to look at them. No, not at them at all, at their picnic. She has a stick in her hair.

Helena does not squeal. But she grins broadly when she sees Steve and Bucky approaching, standing up and waving. And as soon as they're in range, they'll both get hugs. "Congratulations!" she exclaims, looking them both over. "Who finally asked?" Clasping her hands together, she bounces just a little bit.

She doesn't seem to have noticed Laura just yet, too excited for Steve and Bucky to worry about rustling bushes. She's still a little less paranoid than her father.

"Hey Helena." The Captain's got the dimples on full display as he grins at the young woman. A big hug for Helena, lifting her from the grass in a quaint display of strength still in check, and he sets her down to allow her access to Uncle Bucky.

"Guilty," says he, raising his hand and letting his chin drop a touch. There, on his right hand's third finger, a golden silicone ring with black Celtic eternity weaving and a match to that on Bucky's human hand. "Figured it was about time. Now, which one of 'em told you?" As Steve asks Helena the question, movement in his periphreal makes him glance over. His brows meet as he subtly shifts weight on his feet.

"You, uh…this one of your friends, Helena?" By his tone, Steve is already not convinced.

"After I suggested it," Buck notes, a little drily. "But yeah, he stumped up and asked," Then there's that brilliant grin, the one that changes his face from grim to boyish. He shows off the ring on his ungloved hand. "He used an old one from his family for the proposal….but day to day, we figured silicone. Less likely to cause injuries."

Then he reorients on Laura, back to wariness.

Laura's nose twitches again. She's staring lasers at the food. Then, she stands up fully, to her awe-inspiring height of 5'1". She's got grass stains on her, like she tumbled down a hill and landed in the bushes. She still has a stick in her hair. She's wearing an oversized Billabong t-shirt that was probably first sold to a male high schooler with frosted tips literally twenty years ago.

This strange, dark-haired presence continues to watch the food, then looks at the three gathered, as wary of them as they are of her. She doesn't seem threatening, though, or at least, not explicitly so. Her look is more… probing. As if to say: 'I want that.'

"Silicon is smart. What makes you think either of them had to tell me?" Helena arches a brow at Steve, smirking slightly. "I have my ways." She winks, and as she's stepping back from Bucky, she hears Steve's question and looks to catch sight of Laura. "Noooope," she says slowly. "Though can't blame you for asking. Heya," she greets the girl with a small smile.

"Care to join us? There's roast beef and potato salad." She tips her head toward the blanket and the basket, though she doesn't step that way herself. Wouldn't want to scare her off.

The Captain's eyes quickly rove over the petite young woman in a professional accounting of probable threat. The twig in Laura's hair, admittedly, does not speak to master-level assassination potentiality right off the bat.

"Haven't seen behavior like that since we found the renegade prisoners escaped from one the death camps back in the war," he whispers to Bucky, his eyes never straying from Laura. "Do you clock her?"

"Yeah," says Buck, flatly. He's got his head cocked in turn. "Hey there, little sister," he says to Laura, tone more gentle. "There's food here, if you're hungry. We got plenty. No one's gonna bother you. You need us to step back some more?"

The petite, raven-haired wild-girl steps out of the bushes. Aside from the billabong shirt, she's wearing jeans that look at least two years out of style, to those who can track the micro-progressions in the fashionability of brands of jeans. She has tennis shoes with holes at the toe.

Laura looks between the three of them and doesn't reply, but DOES seem to understand what they're saying. Comprehension does not appear to be an issue! Table manners, though? Because upon being invited, Laura power-walks forward, drops to her knees, and begins eating their food in a way that is, frankly, kind of piggish. Actually, pigs chew more. She's using her hands, too. Mashed potatoes become a finger food pretty easily if you just use your fingers.

Helena looks between Steve and Bucky, quirking a brow slightly. Unusual. But the truth is, they're a pretty safe group to come on in the park. Patiently, she simply lowers herself to sit cross-legged in the grass, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. "I'm Helena," she introduces herself, keeping her voice soft. "And this is Steve and Bucky. You're welcome to stick around, no rush. You'll make yourself sick if you eat too much, too fast. It's a little on the rich side. There's water in the basket too," she nods toward it.

Giving his fiance a concerned side-eyeing, the Captain is still calm and composed as he too seats himself — though noteably, he makes to place himself in a sit between Helena and the food-scarfing stranger. Once his weight is properly settled to launch into action again if needed, he begins letting his eyes take note of pertinent details on her person.

The clothing speaks to a desperate need for it, function over fashion. Her upkeep isn't necessarily wild, persay, but it speaks to a lack of a home base, a campfire in the night against the worries of the world.

"Trust me, the cooking's top notch. Take your time. We're not gonna scare you off," he says quietly.

Buck's the last to fold himself down, but even he follows their example. A hint of that wild-animal wariness in him, really, if far tamer. Not so very long ago that he was the feral creature Steve had to try and tame to hand again. "What's your name?" he asks, keeping his tone even, conversational. The blue eyes might've gone a little hard, though.

Laura occasionally looks at the three more reasonably dressed individuals around her, but her focus is clearly on eating as much of their food as possible. Exhortations to slow down mostly seem to fall on deaf ears. There's… SOME left for them.

Laura takes one of the bottles of water, drinks it until it's crumpled, then drops it and picks up another done to do the same thing. Then she abruptly stands up, right after everyone's sat down. "I'm Laura. Okay. Thanks. Bye." Her voice is nearly monotone, sounding like a kid who's being made to introduce herself at a family gathering. Then she turns like she's just going to keep waltzing along.

"'Kay, thanks, bye," Helena singsongs with a wry smile as she watches Laura stand up to go. She sounds…amused. It seems like she's willing to give Laura her space if she wants, but maybe that's just proof that she doesn't have any agenda in mind.

Steve's learned to trust the remnants of the wild creature, wide-eyed and shellshocked, that he had to bring back from the brink of madness those long years back. His eyes flick from Bucky and back to Laura, still watching her in unchanged mild wariness.

That she's able to give up a name is fascinating when counterposed against her abrupt and flat-voiced turn-about. "You can stay longer, Laura. Let the food sit for a bit. You don't have to sit with us, you can be nearby," says the Captain, raising his voice without projecting any force or threat — a thing of painful practice in the case of the Soldier's past.

There's a faint hint of a smile. How hard Steve had to work to bring him back to something like human. But here he is. "Workin' your magic again, sweetheart," he says to Steve, sotto voce.

To Laura herself, he adds, "There might be cookies in there." If she didn't tear into the whole basket like a starving bulldog.

It's not the sing-songing or cajoling that makes Laura stop in her tracks — it's when the good Captain raises his voice. When he speaks like a soldier, basically. That makes Laura stop and turn around, slowly.

Laura has a passing resemblance to someone Steve and Bucky might know, maybe. It's hard to say, but it's there.

And then Laura marches right back toward Steve, leans in, staring right in his eyes, and… sniffs him. Just gets right into his personal space and is taking big sniffs of the air around him.

Helena sets her elbow on her knee, propping her chin up in one hand as she watches Laura start sniffing Steve. "Careful there," she cautions, wry. "That one's a little protective of him." She points a thumb toward Bucky in illustration. She, on the other hand, seems equal parts fascinated and amused. And for all she keeps her distance, her mind is spinning through the possibilities.

The Captain holds himself very, very still in his seated placement on the grass. By his body language, he's not necessarily taken-aback (man, some weird things have happened since he was thawed), but he's very ready to remove Laura from his immediate presence if anything else exceptionally uncomfortable happens.

"Showered this morning, shouldn't smell too bad," he murmurs wryly. "Maybe it's the dryer sheets?" His gaze slides to Bucky and communicates to hold but remain ready. He looks back to Laura again.

"Not gonna hurt you, Laura. Do I smell familiar?" he asks quietly of her, voice still steady.

There's that increasingly feral energy in Buck's posture - the tenor of his stillness changing. That girl is close to his Steve. His Steve in civilian clothing, no armor, no shield. In that flat voice, he affirms, "He's mine."

Laura seems most interested in sniffing the air near Steve's back. Where his shield would normally go. She squints and pulls back, to say to Steve: "You wear body armor." She looks over at Helena, and her nose twitches, but she doesn't seem interest in coming over and sniffing Babblebat. Still, Helena would be very much able to recognize the look on Laura's face — it's almost the same look as her dad would get, when he's puzzling out a mystery.

Laura turns toward Bucky and sniffs at him, next, not getting QUITE as close. She sniffs near his head, then his shoulder — and then she reaches out, to tap his metal arm. She rears back to her full (unimpressive, five-one) height. "Soldiers," she says. The microtonal shift of her voice is toward suspicion. She gestures at the picnic that she demolished. "Why are soldiers eating here?"

"They're kind of more veterans than soldiers," Helena offers, a slightly teasing glance cast toward the men. "They don't look it, but they're like…a hundred years old. And they're here, because Steve's my godfather, and the two of them finally got engaged, so I invited them out for lunch. To be entirely honest there was some other stuff I was going to ask them about, because my life is weird, but mostly to celebrate."

She doesn't move, still sitting there with her chin propped in her hand as she watches. It's not just how her father looks. It's how he taught her to look at things. Though her mother taught her a little more about not showing it. "You found us," she points out, moving a step ahead of the potential panic. "Remember? Way too much city for people to be setting up random picnic basket traps, especially in a place as public as a park."

In slow increments, Steve reaches out to place fingertips on the outside of Bucky's thigh very gently. He doesn't flinch at the notation from Laura as to what he had on not a day ago, but he does leave his touch on the man's jeans as anchor to the present.

"Helena's got a point." Again, the Captain adopts a level and patient tone. "It'd be a smaller spread of food if we'd wanted a trap," he points out. "We're veterans out to enjoy a nice day. Not interested in hurting you, Laura."

Soldier. He doesn't like that designation one little bit. It was true in a good way - hey there, 107th - and then it was true in a bad way…..but now all he wants is to be Mr. Rogers. "Used to be soldiers. Now we're civilians." Nevermind that he still smells like metal and gun oil …and still carries himself like the weapon he was. "But this is a public park. Anyone can eat here. We're hungry and it's nice to be outside."

If there was no issue in Laura's comprehension of the trio before, now something seems to be breaking down. The talk of 'veterans' and 'used to be soldiers' just makes her nose crinkle up a bit and her brow furrow, like someone was saying 'we used to be Martians, but now we're just giant squid' for as much sense as Laura is getting out of it.

"…oh," Laura finally says, her expression flattening out. She seems calm, now. "You ran away. Okay. I won't tell anyone where you are, then."

"It's okay, they already worked that part out," Helena smiles faintly at the idea of not telling anyone where they are. "Nobody tells these guys where to go or who to fight anymore." She quirks a brow, curious. "Sounds like you haven't been quite so lucky, though. Need any help with that?"

"It's complicated."

For all Steve hates hearing that excuse, this time? It's the truth. The Captain then sits silently, his eyes wandering from Helena to Laura and then to the Park beyond her. Briefly, he squints, but then looks back to her again, awaiting an answer to the Babblebat's question.

"Yes," Buck says, and there's something in his voice, a wilder note beneath the calm. "I ran away, and he helped me." It's a simplification of his story, but it's also the truth. "Now I'm free. I don't take anyone's orders, and I'm with him because I want to be.

Laura stares at Helena for a moment with that same 'what are you talking about' look. She seems almost offended at the question of whether or not she needs help, which is weird because she still has a stick in her hair and pretty soon her stomach might realize she ate about a pound of mashed potatoes in thirty seconds.

Bucky's words seem to land better. Maybe he just has that winning charm, or maybe it's as simple as Laura being deeply and grotesquel misogynistic, but the result is the same regardless of cause. Laura's expression shifts to one of… well. Even those who aren't great detectives will be able to see how her slender throat tenses like she's swallowing tears.

But she doesn't actually SAY anything, is the thing.

Yeah, people get weird about help. Which is crazy, because what's better than having an entire stadium worth of people who can help you? Then again, a chance to be a part of something is all Helena's wanted her entire life, so her perspective might be a little skewed.

Catching sight of the emotion, she glances back to Bucky. Nothing speaks like the voice of experience, after all.

Sensing something's landed home, the Captain lets out a slow sigh. His brows begin to meet in a gentle quirk.

"Sit down, Laura. Sit with us. Sit and listen — or tell us what happened. I can see it, it's nothing normal. We understand." He looks between Helena and Bucky and back to the petite young woman again. "All of do, to some extent. C'mon. Sit with us." Slowly, carefully, he holds up an open hand to her, palm up, and doesn't rise from where he rests on the cool green of the Park's sprawling lawn.

Maybe it's like recognizing like, on some animal level far below human verbal reassurance. "C'mon, little sister," Buck says, gently. "Take a rest. This is a happy occasion, after all. We're all friends here."

Whatever it is, it works. Laura steps back toward the group and sits down, lotus position. She still doesn't look very easy about the whole thing. She un-self-consciously got down on her knees and gobbled their food, but sitting down with the three as a peer is what makes her seem uneasy. She fidgets.

"Can't say. It's classified," Laura replies. She rests her hands on her knees and squeezes them gently. She's seated right across from Laura, and seems to regard the other girl with… something like suspicion, although whatever emotion overtook her a moment ago still has yet to fully pass. "I'll listen, though."

"Hey, us too," Helena smiles ruefully at the mention of classified. But Steve and Bucky seem to have this under control. "I'm gonna grab the cider if you don't mind, though," she nods toward the remains of the picnic basket. As long as Laura doesn't look like she's going to spook, she'll go and get the sparking cider and the glasses to pour for everyone.

"Cider sounds good. Thanks, Helena." A perfectly normal vein of societal behavior for Steve to take and he does as such. Bringing his hand back into his lap, he keeps watching Laura in quiet interest, understanding in his way.

"You don't have to tell us right now if you don't want to. You don't ever have to tell us. But if you do, and there's something we can do about it that'll help you? We'll see what we can do. Remember this, okay, Laura?" He looks her dead in the face, knowing she like as not has his own memorized by this point.

"I was classified, too," Buck's voice is wry. "For a long damn time," An apologetic glance at first Steve, then Helena. "I was a slave who killed whatever target they told me….or tried to. But he," A jerk of his gloved thumb at Steve, "Remembered me from before….and he knew I was more than that. He kept reminding me until I remembered a little on my own…."

Laura takes the cup of cider and drinks it all. Like, instantly. It's as if you put food or drink in front of her and she has to eat or drink it all immediately so that no one can try to take it from her later. She stares right back at Steve when he stares at her. Trying to read her face is like trying to read Helena's dad's face. There's an overall SENSE of what she's feeling, but the details are much harder to untangle. Maybe that's who she seems so reminiscient of…

When Bucky speaks, the corners of Laura's mouth tense up, and she says, almost talking over him: "Okay." Half a beat. "Then I'll stay with him, too." She looks over at Helena, as if to question whether that's why Helena is there.

Helena shakes her head to that glance from Laura. "Different kind of complicated," she says for herself. "By some miracle, I came out pretty well-adjusted, despite a variety of family issues and traumas." All things considered, it is kind of a miracle. "But I'll vouch for the awesome of staying with Steve," she adds, pointing a thumb toward him.

She's definitely an odd read, for someone with Laura's background. She looks like she can take care of herself. But she doesn't seem like a soldier or a spy. Not the discipline of law enforcement or military, nor the ruthlessness of an assassin, or the philosphical attitude of a monk. Just utter self-assurance that seems to be reflected in a certainty that any situation can be improved.

Steve gives Bucky a flat if knowing look — there go the beans, all across the table — oh well. Not like it would have been a secret for a longer while yet, and the Soldier's not wrong in the least. Sometimes, all it takes is some reminding. Laura's statement does take him off-guard by the upwards flick of his brows.

"Staying with me's an option, but we're not gonna be hasty here. Our place isn't safe right now. We're mixed up in classified things." He sighs slowly. "We've got a place nearby that nobody knows about, a safehouse." A glance at Bucky and back to Laura. "Only he and I know about it. Might as well be our place. It's full of supplies and we can make it comfortable until more things come to light."

Bucky nods at that, firmly. "It's not somewhere they'll find you, if they're looking for you. And it's not hard to get in and out of. We're not trying to keep you…..but he's a public figure now. If you're hiding out, you don't wanna be seen coming and going from where we live." Helena get an approving nod.

It's entirely possible that Helena's purity-of-Helena-essence is what's making Laura so… purely-Laura in reacting to the other young woman. Each time Laura looks at Helena, it's like she's studying the young Wayne. Like an alien studying a human.

"I don't need comfortable things," Laura says to Bucky and Steve. She says it so flatly that she might as well be commenting on the weather, but it's the way she says it that might sound awfully familiar to both of them as it relates to the history of one person we'll call 'W. Soldier' — no, too specific, we'll say 'Winter S.' She looks at her empty cup for a second, then back up. "I'm able to defend myself. Anyway. Thank you." It's such an affectless way of saying it, but it seems… well, at least kind of genuine, in some weird way.

Helena is a strange creature. It is known. But when Laura declines, she digs into her pocket to pull out a business card, black paper with a black embossed number on it. She stays seated, but leans forward far enough to offer it out between two fingers. "In case you change your mind," she says with a small smile. "Or you know, just get hungry. Or need to start a fire. Whatever works for you." The smile slips crooked as she leans back again, shrugging. "The way I see it, if someone hasn't been letting you make your own choices, last thing I'm going to do is take that away from you."

Steve nods at the card handed towards Laura. "Take it. Not gonna go without something you need. Doesn't work like that now. Safehouse'll be a good place for you right now. There'll be enough in it to keep off the cold and not go hungry. Don't even have to let us know when you're leaving, if you feel like you're not safe and need to run." It seems like he dislikes the option, but offers it nonethless.

He sips at his cider and smacks his lips. "This's good, Helena, d'you know what brand Alfred grabbed?" he asks the young woman.

Buck just nods again. Now he's observing Laura intently in turn….but offering no comment. "Steve, I'll take her from here." Just in case there's surveillance - he knows how to shed a tail, even if Laura herself does not. And Steve's such a big beacon, really.

Laura takes the card, reads it once, and then hands it back to Helena. If Helena doesn't take it immediately, Laura says, with a firm resoluteness in her tone: "I'll remember."

Laura turns her head to listen to Steve speak, and then Bucky in turn. She nods, but her only comment on the matter is: "Okay." Well. That was easy. Sort of.

Helena takes the card back, tucking it away. She's not going to question memorizing a phone number. She's seen weirder things in the last two days. "I'm not sure," she answers Steve. "But we can check the bottle. I mean, I was gonna bring you guys some champagne, but Alfred drew the line at letting me out of the house with alcohol…"

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