2019-10-14 - Line's End Diverted


After leaving his offered asylum with Betty Brant, Steve finds not only the scouting pack, but Bucky in Central Park. The moon proves overwhelming. And so do NYPD's drones.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Oct 14 04:01:34 2019
Location: Central Park

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Theme Song



It probably made his blood run cold, to hear over the comms — or to get the on-site message:

Steve Rogers has gone AWOL, full-shift, last seen in the Hudson River. Dredging the river has resulted in nothing but detritus. No one's seen hide or hair of him for the last nearing twenty-four hours and…so very many things can happen in twenty-four hours. The rise of the full Harvest moon offers bright light and no help whatsoever, for whatever bit the Captain — and himself as a consequence — are in deep sympathy for the perfectly-round lunar orb.

But Bucky has a knowledge extending beyond even that of SHIELD of his husband and long-habits that might even breach the ferality brought on by some symbiotic horror of virus and curse. Where would a were-Steve go? Where is the place in the city with the thickest brush and places even the transient community refuses to stay?

Central Park.

And as the moon rises framed between skyscrapers, there's a long and wistful howl to rise above the treeline. That's a very big dog…

…or is it?

He's out there with a carbine and a pistol. Not that they'll do much more than sting, with a full on were-Steve. Knowing, on that gut-deep level, where Steve will be roaming.

The places they used to play, as kids. The man-made little wilderness. He's on a little rise at the edge of one of the big lawns…..and cupping his hands to his mouth, he throws back his head and howls. He used to howl with the wolves of the Taiga, even as Winter. Recognizing his kin in the hunters of the forest.

And maybe this one will call his beloved to him.

There is an odd stillness over this quarter of the Park, as if the wildlife daring enough to live in the middle of one of America's biggest cities knows better than to react to the sound, man-made as it is.

Then, on the night wind, a far softer howl in return — seeking — where are you? Sharp eyes might catch the flush of crows about a quarter mile out within the surprisingly dense tree growth at the far edge of the lawn. Whatever's out there is rapidly on approach.

It doesn't take long. Minutes fall like boulders in an hour glass, weighted with knowledge that Barnes has called in whatever lurks in the thicker shadows of the foliage.

Winking golden nightshine appears like demonic fireflies within the tree line. In and out it weaves beneath the nearly naked trees. Leaves breathe out soft crunches due to weight alone, not to lack of finesse. Where the moonlight falls through in weak spotlights, blond fur gleams.

He comes on all fours to the very edge of the skeletal shadows thrown on the grass and pauses crouched, ears lifted. Those eyes are still true-blue. Bucky might recognize the emptiness within them; humanity is on the back-burners.

He never hunted the wolves. His prey was always human. And Winter had few interests, a creature of imperatives and instinct. A construct, not a person.

But there was something there, even if only the shadow of Barnes himself. A little memory, of observing them, watching the pack when he could. So when he sees that big, golden form….he doesn't call to Steve in human words. No, it's the crooning whimper-growl a mother wolf uses to call her pups. Come here. I'm with you. I'm yours.

Moonlight gleams again through the true-blues in the near-complimentary color yet again when the werewolf dips his head. The black leather of his nose twitches and it's clear that suspicion reigns primary in his actions. However, the first front limb to emerge onto the lawn has a predatory confidence…

…as if Steve were somehow very sure of himself through familiarity, lupine or not, or…that he can escape even if things go sideways.

Piercing, the attention, and how muscles move fluidly beneath the wheat-gold pelt. Creatures like this haven't been seen since the epoch of the Ice Ages; the sabre-toothed cats carried similar canines on full display.

The werewolf croons back on approach, his steps slowing, shadow cast moon-blue on the greyed out grass. He pauses again about a dozen feet away, half a ton of contained fury, seven feet of potential death…and stretches out his nose, sniffing harder. A tilt of the head follows, utterly canine.

What does he remember, of how the forest packs behaved? Not much. But he's done some studying in the interim, to help him. So Buck very slowly, very carefully, goes down to his knees. Takes off his weapons and sets them aside, on the lawn already gone brown and dry in autumn.

He's got his own blue gaze fixed not on Steve's own - that's a primate thing, eye contact. No, he's looking off and past Steven, as he rolls himself down from kneeling, over one hip, to simply lie belly up on the grass. Submissive.

Ivory teeth come slowly into view as the curtain of black-lined lips rise. It must be the guns, seeing human hands touch them — proof that the Captain is somewhere within and teaching the feral state quickly to distrust the weaponry. However, seeing them peaceably put aside visibly throws the creature for a loop. Ears rotate back forwards again and rather than tucking chin, the nose comes up level again.

This man smells of…home. Who is this? This is…

Talons dig into the loam beneath the frost-bruised grass of the lawn as he slinks closer yet. It's a stalk, clear as day, and let's pray to god no one's watching this unfold. Bucky looks the part of a willing sacrifice to some heathen god here to collect.

Steve's shadow crosses over the Soldier's torso ear-points first. He's sniffing so hard, it's audible now, and there's a small hint of a whine on the end of each snort. It's probably rude, how hard the wet cold nose jams into Bucky's neck, but the inhales and exhales are gigantic whufts of lung volume. Then comes the hard headbutt against the man's human shoulder. Spear-pointed ears go flat to the sides.

This is pack.

A nose that sensitive will catch the tang of solvents, the metals and alloys that make him up. The blades, the guns. More mundane things - soap and shampoo and the chocolate he was eating not so long ago. His skin, the scent that even Steve's human nose knows.

….and no little fear. Oh, he trusts Steve with his life, his heart, but still.

The jab of cold nose makes him grunt laughter, whine a little in cheerful submission….then he's slowly bringing up his human hand to scratch under that long jaw. "Hey," he says, softly. "Hey, buddy. Hey, sweetheart."

A quiet croon answers to feel the familiar blunt nails touch at the elongated underside of the formidable mouth. There's no tail to wag, but there are a pair of arms complete with thumbs yet to try and gather the pack to himself. Thankfully, there are few leaves, burrs, or sticks stuck to the surprisingly soft coat, even with its outer layering of guard hairs.

Cold noseprints continue to be left as the werewolf sniffs hard at his dark hair and then at the nape of Bucky's neck; whiskers are blunter prickles to brush in passing. One to the cheek, one to the man's human hand, one to the gleaming metal, and there the nose lingers. Is it edible?

Front teeth very carefully test at the metal once in a mincing, grooming manner. Skritch. His black nose wrinkles. Blech.

Buck lets himself be cuddled up, tenderly. No tensing, no flinching. It's just Steve, even if he's wearing steak knives and a fur suit. "Sweetheart, don't bite that. You're gonna chip a tooth," he advises.

Laughter for how the whiskers tickle. "Do you remember words, buddy? Still with us?"

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d5 for: 4

The human's making sounds. Steve pauses in his lipping at the metal — it's really not edible, damn — to look dead into the Soldier's face. True-blues look between Bucky's eyes. The black nose wriggles again as he leans in to sniff millimeters from the mobile lips so different from his own currently.

Ears go back and up and then there's a rusty whine.

The sounds mean something. They do. In the back of his mind, they try to compute, but what comes up is frustration bitter on the tip of one's tongue.

From the trees comes another howl suddenly, beseeching. Bucky is suddenly bodily dropped as the blond werewolf spins in place. How very still the Captain becomes now as his wedge-shaped face arrows towards the pocket of forest.

After all…both had howled earlier.

Of course. He should've thought of that….And Bucky goes still, with his own hunter's stillness. "You made a friend, Stevie?"

Or….dear gods….a *mate*.

He puts out his human hand for the wolf's arm, after thumping down on the cold grass. And he tries the little croon-growl. Maybe he can tame this one, too.

One ear shifts back as he hears the pack-human make the same sound as earlier; the accent is rough, but he is pack-human, not self-pack. Steve doesn't move. It might become apparent he's taken up a crouched stance of semi-coverage in front of Bucky. Possessive? Defensive? One arm remains outstretched before Barnes as if to bar him in place. The ear turns forwards again. He remains still.

Four werewolves emerge from the treeline in a perfectly organized row. That might be chilling. It signals intent and intelligence. Two reddish brown, one smaller black, and one platinum-blonde. The largest, one of the reddish brown creatures sporting a shock of white on its head, sports eerily-green eyes and growls at Steve. He lifts his lips and snarls back a little louder.

Suddenly, he makes a quick bluffing rush away from Bucky and lets out a ROAR of sound. His hackles rise from skull to end of his spine like a living thing and he leaves his teeth fully on display. Slowly, he backsteps towards the Soldier. It's enough to leave this scouting force temporarily paralyzed, each showing teeth of their own.

Buck's back on his feet, and he's got his weapons to hand again. And he, in turn, bares his teeth and snarls. It lacks a certain something - all he has are flat monkey teeth, after all.

But the intent is there - he's not prey. He's not Steve's kill. He's part of Steve's pack. He doesn't advance, but he's there to lend his weight, if he needs to.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 12

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 9

The pack-human is joining in. It makes the blond werewolf gain another inch of mass yet and his growl drops another octave. Grizzly bears seem higher in pitch. It might vibrate Bucky's own rib cage at this close distance.

The reddish-brown werewolf with the white shock of hair narrows in attention on Bucky. This makes the Captain step very deliberately in front of the Soldier to cut off immediate view, his eyes gone hellishly pinpointed in their glare at the stranger-were. The other three werewolves are apparently following the lead of the reddish-brown; they look to him and back to Steve, awaiting some order.

Then the large leader of the scouting pack begins a deliberate approach on all fours. It seems he's going to test Steve's mettle. The blond werewolf's nails dig dark furrows as he drops his head and spreads his mouth even wider, showcasing strands of saliva clinging between teeth.

So, HYDRA never trained him to bark at people. But Buck so is. Utterly unselfconscious, he's barking and growling and snarling at the wolf. Like it's going to buy the argument that he's one of them. Hell, even if he suddenly did wolf out…..it'd still be two against one.

And then it degenerates, suddenly, into Brooklyn playground invective, ending in, "…..and your motha dresses you funny!" Because yeah, Buck reverts to earlier programming, under stress.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 16

Bless Bucky and whatever he says in the language of faux-canine. It brings the reddish-brown scout-leader to an abrupt halt. Wide green eyes consider the Soldier beyond the hackled curve of the Captain's shoulders.

English with a Brooklynite's accent must be beyond the scout-wolf whose ears fall to the side in utter confusion. What the hell pack is this lone werewolf collecting?

It lets Steve take advantage of the distraction. Clods of dirt bounce off Bucky's thigh and stomach as he tears off and into the opposing red-brown werewolf with an audible meaty thud of impact. The opposing wolf's growl zips to a yelp and there's vivid blood in a literal heartbeat as the two get to grappling with full use of teeth and claws. The other three werewolves crouch down low, paralyzed by the sight of their leader engaged.

Buck is still doing his best to hold their attention, growling again. Yes, he feels faintly ridiculous - there's a tin-foil monkey trying to speak our language, sir! But hell, he's a predator in his own right.

And one that's come armed with silver-jacket slugs in his carbine, just in case.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 9

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 14

The frost-burned grass ends up looking as if someone were attempting to wrestle wolverines while wearing ice skates. Steve's teeth and claws blur, red-tipped, while the opposing werewolf goes for his throat. Teeth slam shut with the sharpness of a shotgun blast not but an inch from the blond werewolf's throat. The scout-leader gets a cuff to the face to leave the skin rended; one eye isn't of use anymore. He yelps and rolls off to one side before hurrying to right himself, his teeth bared.

Bleeding at his chest and bicep, one ear tattered where a bite missed his scruff but shredded the cartilage, Steve rises onto two feet. A deep inhale and the resulting roar is leonine.

The red-brown scout-leader barks once. Suddenly, the platinum-blonde veers around wide swiftly, headed straight for Bucky.

It's a brutal distraction. Steve pulls his attention from the scout-leader and then yelps loudly when he too is cuffed, though he takes it to the flat of his shoulder rather than to the face.

"Oh, no you don't, shweetheart," Because maybe the werewolf will be impressed by his Bogey impression, if it isn't by the faceful of silver jacketed rifle rounds it just got.

Buck's backpedalling, but it's not out of control panic. He'll do this, if he has to. Even fist and knife to furry face. The Soldier is grinning, almost maniacally. "C'mon and get some."

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 18

The scout-leader pays dearly for attempting to murder the smaller furless half of Steve's pack. Another taloned cuff to the face leaves the red-brown werewolf sprawled on the ground. Apparently, there's a memory of Bucky ever being able to hold his own…even against nearly four-hundred pounds of now furious, wailing pale werewolf.

Steve goes for the kill. Canines flash down towards the back of the other creature's neck and land. The shake is hard.

It's swift.

It's brutal.

It's done.

Bucky still has the pale werewolf circling him now at a distance. He shot well; there's a graze along the werewolf's brow, a clear hole in one ear, and by the slugging drip of blood from the high portion of its nape, one bullet's still within. Death looks at him with deeply-brown eyes reflecting red in the moonlight. Another rush at him is zig-zagged!

There's the chatter of carbine fire, the blaze of the muzzle flare. Buck shouting at it in a mishmash of all the languages he knows, English tumbling into Yiddish into furious Russian into a wordless roar of battle rage. Pouring on the fire, like he can bring it down that way.

His hair is loose, his eyes are blazing…..and perhaps to throw the beast off its course, he doesn't retreat. Instead, he rushes towards it.

A cacophony of shrieks follow the Soldier's barking of both mouth and gun. It's the language of war — of fear turned against the enemy rather than left to degrade his own moral. Steve turns towards the sparking of gunfire with tongue curled within his open mouth. Red blood lines like wet paint along his lips; the scout-leader lies dead on the grass, stuck in his werewolf guise rather than doomed to turn back in a slump of bare skin.

The other two werewolves crouch down very low now. They stare at the blond werewolf who turns to suddenly engage with the pale attacker clawing at her torso where silver-touched bullets sting like hornets. He dramatically over-estimates his leap and the air of his passing might ruffle Bucky's hair!

He's so used to dropping prone when he feels the brush of fire that he does it. Even if what passes over him is a giant furball that was his husband, rather than a rifle round. So Buck's crouching down, carbine still in hand - wrenching the muzzle away, lest he send stray fire into Steve.

Not that it'd do more than hurt much, but no distracting him when he's in mortal combat. Though there's a wince of pity at the sight of blood on those lips. Steve hates killing.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 2

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 3

Tumbling to one side, the blond werewolf takes a critical moment to aright himself. It leaves the smaller paler creature to lunge at him and take an attack of opportunity. Her teeth land firmly in his forearm, but rather than cling to him like a burr, she strikes and dances back. Every movement on her part speaks to pain; Bucky's bullets still burn like fire where they landed.

Steve himself favors the forearm now sporting welling teeth marks, but he still blazes in to put himself between the smaller werewolf and Bucky.

Another leonine roar leaves him. It splits his jaws wide while his true-blues narrow to mere slits of rage. His body tenses to leap at her while she cowers down, as if realizing she made a grave mistake.

He can't fire into a close melee….but as she darts back, he's reloading and firing. Aiming for her legs, trying to cripple her leap, her ability to lunge.

Even as he does it, he's yelling at her, "Run away, you stupid bitch. All of you, run away! Don't make us do this." Because they're like him. Even when the monster is driving, there's a person in there a prisoner.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d10 for: 2

Like a flurry of wasps past his ear, the bullets, given how Steve's roar naturally brought him to lower his head to fully access the entire volume of air in his lungs.

It sets him to throwing himself to one side even as the silver-jacketed bullets bury themselves into the pale werewolf's limbs. Blood spats brightly on her fur and she screams now, heavily dragging one leg.

Having torn up more earth for the force of his sudden displacement, Steve then roars at Bucky at full volume. The ferality of the werewolf battle-blood is pressing all humanity back now. Pupils gone pinpoint narrow in on him — guns — guns are a threat!

The remaining werewolves sense the shift in intent in the Captain's actions. In swift loping strides, they get up from their bellied state on the ground and swing around behind Steve in clear alliance with him.

Oh, Jesus, he's done it now. Barnes blanches, biting his lip. He can't fight them all. Hell, he can't even take Steve down….even if he could bring himself to fire on his beloved.

Bitter proof of how far he's come since HYDRA held his reins….that he can't. "Sweetheart," he says, as his voice breaks on it. "Don't." Carefully, carefully….he's kneeling again, putting the carbine down.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d10 for: 3

Whimpering, the pale werewolf drags herself around and out of immediate sight on the slope of the lawn. Steve continues breathing heavily and bleeding where teeth and claws have broken his skin. He continues to drill his attention dead on to the brunet now kneeling. The gleam of the gun in the grass is ignored.

Tongue curls up and along his mouth from one side to the other, half-cleaning it of blood. He doesn't seem to notice its taste. Flexing the fingers of the bitten arm has him breaking attention to look at it, his nose wrinkled in a disgusted grimace.

The other two werewolf dare to cross the plane of his body, clearly jonesing to take a bite out of Bucky.

A swat at one and snarl at the other sets them to retreating behind with quiet whines, ears pinned back. Steve's attention pans back to the Soldier again — so very, very empty.

It worked once, maybe it'll work again. For firing and fighting will get him rushed, or circled and slowly slashed to death, like a pack taking apart an elk. Running even more so - there's no tree he can reach in time.

So Buck just slowly rolls himself down, over one hip to the side. None of his blades are silver - if they're within melee range, there's only the metal hand to offer any defense. Back on his back again, looking up at a sky rendered bruise-colored by ambient city light.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d10 for: 1

One can hear the heavy breathing still of the largest werewolf, he of the spangled shield lost to the pull of the gravid moon hidden away. As if to spite the Soldier's attempt to win back his beloved, the clouds shred apart and again comes down the silvery light to grey out everything — to ink out blood — to make everything shine like a nightmare rather than a dream.

Step by step, Steve begins to approach on his hind feet, forehands up and ready with talons still slicked in gore. His teeth are still at least half-bared. He reaches the immediate area beside the prone form of Bucky.

Silhouetted against the sky, the starring of his hand spreading even as it rises up, intended to drop hard and fast.

The gun suffers immediate death. Metal practically explodes from the force of his cuffing it away and off nearly into another patch of trees. With his weight dropped down, the blond werewolf then ROARS a mere foot away with all his might. Spittle flecks the side of Bucky's face pinked with stranger-werewolf blood.

Then, with a dismissive snort, he turns and makes to leave on all fours.

Oh, that breath. It's awful. But the jaws don't close on his throat, the claws don't descend to rend alloy from flesh and leave him spilled ragged across the lawn. Buck closes his eyes, even as the monster that was his husband bellows animal fury in his ear.

He waits until the werewolf has begun to knuckle away, sits up, slowly. "Stevie," It's a plaintive whisper, as if he couldn't help himself. This isn't how it's supposed to go. *He's* the monstrous one, not Steven.

In the distance, sirens are just beginning to rise. It will take some time yet for the police to arrive because someone sure as hell has called the cops on the freaky sounds being heard to echo from this sector of the Park. Bucky's whisper has the blond werewolf pausing about a dozen feet away with his ears pulled back as if to listen. One of the smaller werewolves, the red-brown remaining alive, utters a short barking cough and swings his attention towards the wailing of the cars.

A toss of Steve's chin directs the two hale and one wounded members of the scouting pack back towards the trees. When there's a delay, he barks loudly once. The three get to moving briskly now; apparently, the silver bullets damaged the pale werewolf well but not enough to mortally wound her. Those grey eyes find Barnes even as this distance and promise revenge.

When certain the pack is beneath the shadows of the trees, Steve looks back at Bucky again and half-turns to face him, lips still lifted.

Kneeling there, on the cold grass, under the autumn moon. Tears shining on his face, in that silvery light. "Steven," he says, aloud. "Steven. Don't go. It's me, Bucky. You're not this thing. You're not a wolf. Come back."

As the invocation of that name were a spell, in and of itself.

And then, more quietly, "….Till the end of the line."

Warily, the blond werewolf continues watching the man there on the torn lawn of the greenery's span. His ears remain aggressively forwards and his ribs continue to rise and fall in deep breaths, as if he were still readying himself for action. That was always Steve — so very ready to react at any time — to surmount any obstacle in his path to reach his goal.

The last whisper weaves its own spell. Black-lined lips fall along with the tension keeping the creature's entire body electrified. An uncertainty clouds the intense focus of his true-blue eyes. Staring breaks away from Bucky and the werewolf bridles to one side, shaking his head.

"C'mon, sweetheart. It's me. It's Bucky. Come home. We can beat this. Don't go. They're not your family, I am."

He holds out his human hand, beseeching. The tears run unheeded, but he tosses his head, once to get his hair out of his face.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d2 for: 2

With a frustrated groan that rises to a basso whine, Steve stops shaking his head and slaps a hand instead across his face. The motion smears dirt and half-dried blood upon it like some demented war-paint. Apparently, the ferality in his blood is going to fight tooth and nail for superiority beneath the fall of the harvest moon's glow.

A low buzz suddenly comes into hearing in the distance: a drone, sent ahead by the officers to see if this incident qualifies as something requiring heavier weaponry, like the SWAT team.

Steve whips around and roars once at the approaching speck in the night sky before then taking off like the East Wind towards the trees. It's shocking, how fast he disappears again, and there are no further howls to announce their presence.

Just like that: Bucky is alone.

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