2019-05-24 - Military-Industrial Anonymous


Bucky learns about Laura's past, somewhat.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Fri May 24 03:49:43 2019
Location: RP Room 2

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Theme Song



The safehouse in question is a generic little loft space, barely more than an attic, over much fancier apartments below, all of them carved out of a former warehouse. One long room, lit by sky lights above, subdivided by screens, with a kitchenette at one end, and a little bathroom at another. Bare bones, but comfortable and clean. A cot with blankets. A little TV, a work desk, bookshelves with a scattering of books.

He's been by several times to make sure she's still there, bring her food, even cook for her. Not much of a talker, as if he senses she's an animal who won't be tamed by mere human babble…..but content to answer what questions she has. Now he's coming in with some bags of groceries, and even clothes from what looks like T arget.

Laura is very good at covering her tracks. Each time Bucky's dropped by, she's been there, with the TV on a news station, reading one of the books. (Each visit, a different book.) At some point, a box of clothes appeared, but they're not quite her size and they seem like they might have been charitable offerings. Whether they were intended for Laura, or Laura just intercepted them, who knows. But it's really the only sign that she's left the safehouse at all, and mercifully means that she's not still in the same outfit Bucky found her in. She's been very good about making the cot. Hospital corners, even.

Today, Laura is on the last of the books. The TV is once again tuned to a news station, and she's sitting cross-legged on the cot, reading the book and listening to the TV. It doesn't seem like she's having any issue focusing. A pair of sweatpants with faux-collegiate lettering on the butt, and a t-shirt that has a meme on it from three years ago. It's a very casual look.

The Target bag proves to have clothes in it. Even underclothes and socks, and a sleepshirt or two. Toiletries, as well. A backpack of her own. All of it forgettably plain. There are more books, too. Mostly classics, like Treasure Island. He sets down the lot near the door. "Hey," he says, quietly. "How're you doin?"

Laura looks over at Bucky's entrance. She closes the book without leaving a bookmark in it, or folding the corner of a page. (The one she saved for last: The Leatherstocking Tales.) "Hey," she echoes, her voice affectless.

Laura gets up to walk over to the Target bag and start going through it. "Thanks," she says, almost as an afterthought, as she starts laying things out on the cot, examining each package in turn. She's not going so far as to read the machine-washable instructions on the clothes but she does seem to be… smelling them? Her nostrils are twitching. Everything gets a sniff or two, but subtly, before it's placed on the cot.

Then Laura walks over to Bucky, her nose still going. "…you smell like Steve," she points out, and then turns to walk toward the kitchenette. "Do you want food?" This is progress — she's never actually offered before. Even if it IS Bucky's food.

"I sleep next to him, we spend a lot of time in company," Buck says, with an utter lack of self-consciousness. "I'm good, but I would like a drink. Any lemonade left?" While he's asked her opinion on what she likes, if she knows….honestly, a lot of what he's brought is things he enjoys.

He watches her examine the clothes with that quiet patience. "Do those look like things you'd want to wear?" he wonders. Always terribly careful to move with deliberation here. She knows what a threat looks like, and he's very sure not to present as such.

"Yes," Laura replies, from the kitchenette. An experienced soldier like him can easily pick out the sounds of her getting out the lemonade, getting out the glass, and pouring one. Putting the lemonade back. Laura walks out with a single glass of lemonade and holds it out towards Bucky. She does so with the same careful posture as if she was handing him a gun.

Laura spares another look to the clothes. "Yes. Should I put them on?" It doesn't sound like a trick question. Her fashion sense is a big '???' anyway since she seems to only wear stuff she found in a box anyway. (On the plus side, she's small enough to wear larger children's sizes in addition to petite adult sizes.)

After handing over the lemonade, Laura stays where she is, standing there with her arms straight down.

"Thank you," he says, gravely. There's a kitchen table, with three mismatched chairs. All worn and battered, but sturdy enough. "What about you? You hungry or thirsty? Been comfortable?" Buck settles in a seat, as if to prompt her. Monkey see, monkey do, right?

"I've been comfortable. Yes. Thank you." The way Laura has to almost wait half a beat after every brief sentence fragment makes it seem like she's trying to remember how to say things in a foreign language. "I'm going to eat an orange."

Laura collects an orange before she sits down. Monkey see monkey do actually works pretty well with her. Holding the orange, a long, gleaming blade pops out of her knuckles on one arm, and she uses it to cut into the rind and quickly peel all of it right off. Then the blade retracts into her arm, and she starts pulling apart the orange. THAT is a new development, surely.

It's enough to stop him almost cold for a moment. There's no fear in him, still, but there's definitely a new level of concern. He's faced those weapons before, oh, yes. But it's a kind of unguardedness, that revelation….and he responds in kind. Namely, by taking off the leather glove on his left hand, revealing the fine plates of alloy, layered one over each other like feathers or scales. A whole little pair of wordless stories, comment and reply. Then he's rising to get himself an orange, too, which he sections with a metal thumbnail.

Somehow, Laura picks up on Bucky's reaction. She stops breaking apart her orange and watches him, though as usual, she has the visible emotional range of a rock. Her eyes track exactly where Bucky means them to: to his hand, to him collecting the orange, to him peeling in it.

"They put these in me," Laura finally says, "at the Facility." She scoots the chair back. Two blades emerge from her left hand's knuckles ('snikt') and then pull back in ('snakt'). Then the right. Then she lifts one foot and bends her ankle to an en-pointe position. The mystery of why all of her socks have holes is made clear when another blade comes out from above her toes, and then pulls back in. She settles back on the chair and scoots further in to resume picking apart the orange.

She'd been able to smell it on him, the entire time - the amount of metal he was carrying. That it was built in; the inflammation it requires, the alteration of the immune system, changes his scent in its own way. Otherwise, he smells like a fairly normal, healthy human - soap and shampoo and deodorant, all the layers of cleanliness modern life requires.

He nods, solemnly, draws off the cover sleeve of flesh-colored fabric, exposing the arm to the end of the t-shirt's hem. "This was put on me in a facility in Siberia, as part of an experiment conducted by an organization called HYDRA. The 'they' who did that to you - do they have a name? And are you aware of others who have the same armaments installed?" Keeping emotion out of his voice, as best he can.

Laura doesn't seem to struggle, when it comes to keeping emotion out of things. Then again, it's only because she's come to trust Bucky that she's saying anything at all. "They're… the Facility," Laura replies. "I was made in Canada. I don't know more than that." And really, it makes sense: do scientists explain the experiments to the rats in their laboratories?

"I had twenty-two sisters." Laura puts a section of orange into her mouth and chews and swallows before she speaks again. (She's gotten better about that.) "I don't know if they all got these. A lot of them died, I think. I never met any of them."

No, they don't. Nor do they attempt to inculcate ideology in the weapons they create - Buck, for all his years of tireless, remorseless service in Russia, never once received indoctrination into the glories of Communism. He nods at that, thoughtfully. Nibbling at his own section of orange. "No male subjects? None who looks older than you?" Does Logan know about her? Does she know of Logan?

Laura shakes her head 'no' to his questions. "No males." She eats another orange piece. "Maybe some of my sisters look older than me, if they're still alive. I don't think any of them are, though."

Laura's eyes move from her orange to Bucky. She's very placid about all of this, but at the same time, she seem to have settled into only answering the questions that she's asked. Once he started asking them, it was an easy role for her to fall into. Like this is a debriefing, or an interrogation, with oranges.

It takes him a moment to realize the rhythm they've assumed. HE doesn't ever try to jolly her, try and break her out of the mold…..and she can sense the realization hit him, in the alteration of breath and heartbeat. "Do you have any questions for me?" he asks, in a slightly different tone.

Laura continues eating orange slices all the while. At the very least, she won't be in danger of scurvy. She does pause, when he asks. Her eyes drift down to the tabletop, then back up to Bucky. "What do you do when you're not here?"

Buck eats an orange section before replying. "I work. I spend time with Steven. I have a garden on a roof I tend to." He's come smelling of hose-water and soil, sometimes, subtle traces. There's a curling little smile. "Mostly I'm with Steven."

"What do you do for work?" Laura asks. Her tone is kind of a 'why is the sky blue?' one from a kid — just filtered through the voice of a young woman with a flat Wednesday Addams affect.

"I work for an organization called SHIELD. We deal with…certain kinds of threats to humanity. I'm not exactly a soldier for them, but I use soldiers' skills," Buck explains. He pops another section into his mouth, rearranges it with lips and tongue, then offers her an orange smile.

"I know SHIELD," Laura nods. When he does the orange smile, she stares at him with her brows subtly knitted, like she's trying to figure out what the hell he's doing. She doesn't try to copy that one.

He waggles his brows at her, for a moment….then chews and swallows the orange piece. Buck stifles a sigh. "But before I was with SHIELD….HYDRA. They installed this, they installed mental programming, so I only did what I was told."

Laura still can't make out what Bucky is trying to convey at her. When he waggles his brows, she gets visibly more confused. She relaxes when the subject turns back towards familiar things. "I know HYDRA, too." Laura pauses a beat. "That was what the Facility did. They created me so that I would do what they told me to do. That was why I left. I went to New York because I reasoned it would be easier to hide here."

"How did you get enough…..initiative to flee?" He's apparently had enough orange, for a moment. "But yeah, it's a good call. Cities are best to hide in. Wider variation makes it easier to disguise differences."

Laura nods. "This city is also in a post-crisis rebuilding state. Many records will have been lost. It will be easier to obtain credentials." She seemed to blow right past the question of how she found the wherewithall to head south, but then circles back to it. Her frown intensifies, just a bit. "My mother helped me. She died."

A ripple of open sympathy troubles that impassivity. "You knew your mother?" Lips parted, as if he'd ask a further question. "Was she the one who named you Laura?"

Laura nods, once. Her frown stays. The sensitivity Bucky shows seems to make it harder for her to recover back to her usual state of neutrality. "It was the last thing she did." Laura picks up the last piece of her orange, but doesn't eat it. "Before that, I was just a number." She swallows, hard. Her brows are knitted a bit more. It's as if she's trying to hold back an emotional outburst of some kind — which is probably exactly what's happening.

"That's the first thing they took from me, HYDRA. They took away my name. I'm James Barnes, though I go by 'Bucky'. But….they only ever referred to me by my project name. Winter Soldier. Addressed me as 'Soldier'. It's one of the things Steve used to help me break the programming - called me by my name."

While Bucky speaks, Laura closes her eyes for a moment. Her breathing slows. It's as if she's trying to will herself to go to sleep, but it's plainly just an exercise to calm herself down. It seems to succeed. Her eyes are a bit moist when she opens them, but that's the only clue that anything was ever wrong. "I like having a name," she says, which sounds heartfelt and all, but remains a totally ridiculous thing to say on its face.

Which is when, very slowly, very gently, he reaches over with his human hand to take hers, in turn. Just holds it for a moment - no attempt to keep her from withdrawing. "It's an important thing, for humans. Laura. It's a good name."

Laura squeezes Bucky's hand. Her grip is slight, and her hand is much smaller than his. It's a great sign, all things considered, that she doesn't react to him taking her hand like that by making knives come out of her arm. "Thank you," she says, and seems to really mean it.

"YOu're welcome," he says…and just as slowly withdraws. "Laura….what do you want, now that you're free? I imagine that you want to keep hidden, so you don't have to worry about pursuers from the Facility….but…other than that, what?"

Laura lets go when Bucky does, and finally eats her last orange piece. She has to take a moment (while thoughtfully chewing) to answer his question. "I don't want to kill people anymore," she says. "Unless they're people who need to be killed." That she believes such a thing exists probably speaks to her upbringing at 'the Facility.' "I want to try and have a life like my mother wanted me to have. I want to try to figure out what that would be."

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