2020-08-01 - Not Asking for a Cup of Sugar


HYDRA manages to pull a fast one on Steve, but thankfully, Bucky's around to stop things from escalating. Well…not really — things do escalate regardless, but in the end, no one ends up brainwashed! This time!

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Aug 1 03:44:29 2020
Location: 58 Water Street - Apt 602

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|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d10 for: 8

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d5 for: 2

It'd been a simple errand Bucky had been sent on: more milk. For some reason, they'd be nearly out of it and Steve had been dead-set on making biscuits and gravy — for science!

Thing is, he was supposed to text his murder husband about whether or not they needed more baking soda…and this never happened.

And is that the baking timer going off inside the apartment behind all nine locks? It is, insistent in its piercing sound.

And is that the smell of…smoke, the crisp of something with wheat in it and the more acrid tang of plastic? Oh dear.

That isn't right. That isn't right at *all*. Steve has amazing hearing, and isn't inclined to get distracted by music on his ipod.

The bag of groceries he's carrying is summarily set down in the hall, and he's fumbling his way through those locks - resisting the temptation to kick the door in. Even as he moves, he's got his metal hand out before him, just in case he needs to take a blow or a round.

It must seem as an eternity to get through those nine locks — so many installed after repeated attempts to breach the apartment's security and all successful.

Lock nine opens and the door can be felt to give, as if its hinges were slightly out of place. Opening it lets the waft of the burning plastic hit the nose with a fury. Something's been left either in the oven or on the stove and succumbed to heat — a mixing bowl, once white, ready at any second to spring the fire alarm and bring the fire department down upon them.

It looks calm at first: the kitchen's a mess, a normal Steve-esque attempt in a sprawl of utensils and ingredients. Soft music is playing in the background, set to one of the Internet radio stations featuring electro-swing. The goldfish bobble along in the tank without cease.

A sharp eye will catch the little things. The slight torque of the door's hinges. A boot scuff not belonging to either of them on the floor near to the door. The spray of batter along the ceiling as if the spoon had been whipped as a weapon before being dropped to the floor to smear it further. The kitchen chair slid about two feet to one side as if someone jostled into it.

It might be frightening to see one white socked foot in view from the angle of the front door; the rest of the body hides away behind the kitchen counter. It's a familiar foot, top down, indicating the prone body will be found belly-down.

He has no one at all to blame but himself for this. All those times breaking in and hiding out - but then, they did prove the need for the lock.

Buck comes lunging in like a werewolf let out of a crate. The glove comes off his left hand and he's flinging himself down at Steve's side, reaching for his neck to take his pulse. There aren't many things that can take down Steve….but that doesn't mean there aren't *any*. His face is white and desperate, full of the fear he can never bring himself to speak aloud.

There's a blessedly-steady pulse to be found beneath the press of fingerpads. It might be more unnerving to see how there aren't any visible wounds on the Captain's body: no broken bones or twisted limbs, no sign of blood from split skin, no vomit or spume. He still wears his plain heather-grey t-shirt and black sweatpants. If anything, he appears to be asleep. Deep, slow breaths leave him. Bucky's presence doesn't seem to do anything to dent this or rouse him.


From the living room, a soft creak, like someone sitting in a chair and shifting their weight followed very quickly by the sound of a slither of metal on leather — the draw of a gun from a holster.

It's one of those rare moments when Buck's enhanced reflexes are made clearest….in the way he whirls and draws at the same time. Whoever's waiting there has to know he's home - opening those locks isn't something one can easily do silently, and James'd made no attempt at all to try. He doesn't call out to this unwanted and unexpected visitor, though. No such thing, even if the element of surprise has long been lost.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 17

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 1

Guns are drawn in near-unison. It's the ugly black maw of a familiar Tokarev handgun aimed dead at him in the grip of a not-so-ugly holder. She's a pretty thing if diminutive, dressed in slacks and a blossom-pink blouse with a scarf tied about her neck. Golden-brown eyes lined by lashes expertly darkened. Her blonde hair falls to wavy curtains about her shoulders in curls from a bygone era. Her lips, so prettily red, evince nothing of a smile.

"«You have become slow in your domesticity, comrade.»" Her voice, the language Russian, is soft and cool.

And covers the slick step of another intruder then jamming a military-grade taser into Bucky's kidney. Nobody said anything about playing fair!

The awful thing is….she might be right. Nights spent in relative safety, the ability to relax - he's not the terrible, feral thing he was, where the hunt was all he existed for. He's been Steve's husband for more than a year now, a citizen again….and Winter is dozing.

So even as his lip curls in a bitter retort, and he's tightening his grip on the wicked little automatic he carries nearly every moment he's out of the house - the contacts hit home and there's the full-strength current crackling through him. He makes a strangled little 'glrk!' noise, and then he's toppling over like a felled tree.

What a heavy thud to the kitchen flooring. There's the sounds of more speech in Russian, these garbled as the brain reorients as fast as its super-human powers can muster. Did Steve make a sound? Or was it a hallucination?

"«…before he can move again, quick — the recording.»"

A sleek modern audio player no bigger than a thumb is set down upon the floor near to Bucky's face. There's the sound of a far-older recording coming to life upon it — the crackle of what almost could be an old record needle catching — and then a voice.

"Hello, soldier. It is going to be okay now. It will be alright." The man's voice is calm, certain in an unwavering way. "Just listen to my voice. Focus on it. Listen to it alone. Focus on my voice…and focus on your pain."

Winter might be screeling in the back of Bucky's mind now: it's the dreaded Doctor Fenhoff.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 10

All he can do is *twitch* - little helpless spasms. He's afraid. Just this easily they've gotten Steve and they've gotten him, and now, surely, Fenhoff will recite one of the little incantations that takes him out of himself. That makes him their creature again, with no more will than a paper doll. But he can't move, can't fight, can't cover his ears - only listen as that recording worms its way into his ears. Listen and whimper like a puppy.

The other two intruders have gone quiet. She still stands there, the blonde, but now there are earplugs in her ears even if her gun is still in her hand and live, finger on the trigger. The other, the one who nailed Barnes with the taser, remains out of sight still.

"That is it, good. Good. Do I have your complete focus now? Good, soldier, very good. Focus on your pain. Know that it is there and it is not going away, not immediately. We have some talking to do first. You can lie there as long as you want, but you must listen. Nod if you understand me." Doctor Fenhoff's voice continues soothing away resistance with an inescapable persistence like sandpaper on skin.

Steve still hasn't budged.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 11

He's sweating, now, pale with fear and distress, breath coming in shivering catches. Used to being tougher than this, stronger than this….and being caught in weakness and pain is horrifying. Old nightmares revived.

But Buck manages a weak nod, even as he tries to roll his eyes and get a better look at his attackers. The blonde….surely she's a product of the Red Room. Is she someone he trained?

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

"«I did not think it would work.»" The blonde sounds truly surprised even if her mien and tone nearly irons it flat. Unfortunately, she's a new face to him, someone not even registered in the frost-rimed memories of Winter. The other attack is a man, his entire facade and even biological build to be nondescript. Brown hair, blue eyes more grey-green, heavy lids, little humanity behind them. Bucky knows well how appearances are deceiving.

"Good, soldier, good. Focus on your pain. Now feel it begin to melt. It melts away as it melts you. Relax. Feel your body relaxing now. No resistance. No fighting. Just rest. Rest and listen to me." It's almost like Fenhoff's phantom hand can be felt congenially patting his shoulder — the metal shoulder. "You know what you have done wrong."

Oof. It's like a punch to the gut.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 1

It works, whatever her surprise. It works *beautifully* - so much for the Fist of HYDRA. At this point, Buck couldn't threaten an elderly cockroach. Melt he does, going limp as a rag on his own apartment floor, almost as if he were about sleep. Even though he knows this respite won't last - that what they have in store for him will be awful.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 19

"When you chose to leave your teaching behind, you knew it was wrong. Everything they taught you. Every way they formed you. Every way they kept you alive. All of this…all of this, you cast aside as if it had no worth. Soldier, listen. You are doing good now, listening. Focus on my voice. Listen and know the truth of it."

The visual of Barnes laid low — the Winter Soldier — the Wolf in the Blizzard — the End of All Missions — it has the others practically captivated. It means that Steve can inhale and exhale a bit more quickly now and be unheard. He has to listen, he has to…

His eyes open slowly and focus on the tipped door of the cupboard. Why is he on the floor. The floor — people — that voice. Without moving a muscle, his eyes carefully roll behind a squint to see familiar boots and legs disappearing beyond the corner of the island cupboards. That small black recorder it — the voice — NO.

The male agent lets out a startled sound as Steve hooks his foot about the guy's knee and yanks hard enough to not only pull it sideways half out of socket, but slam the guy's head off the kitchen table through the man's rapidly shifted weight. He then rolls as the blonde's gun goes off and then HUCK — take a kitchen chair, bitch! It explodes in kindling against her side to knock her ass over tea-kettle into the living room.

"You must return to your home, soldier. Return to it and your true self," Fenhoff continues in the tone impossible to ignore — it eerily filters through the ruckus with clarity.

Steve has seen him as Winter, in the grip of HYDRA. Cold and ferocious and utterly remorseless….but he's never seen him this helpless. Never seen him sprawled on the floor, eyes wide and blank and horrified. Even Steve's rising up only has Buck rolling his eyes to focus that way, hair spilled around him. Unable to rise and fight at his husband's side, even though he's clearly terrified, pale eyes wide. There's a wheezing breath from him, but no actual speech.

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d20 for: 11

|ROLL| Steve Rogers +rolls 1d10 for: 7

Winter may be remorseless, but the Captain is tenacious, and both are ferocious in their heats of battle. The male agent has barely enough time to draw his own gun before Steve's on him. There's no retort from the gun this time, not after the blond super-soldier rips it from the other man's grip and bends the muzzle out of alignment. A solid whack of the man's skull off the kitchen floor and he's out cold. Now Steve whips around to turn his attention to the female agent who's trying to get up and not doing such a good job of it.

Bucky will be able to clearly see the spatter of blood hit the floor as his husband lunges into the living room.

"You do not know family. You do not know love. You know duty. You know honor. You know what you have been trained for and it is not this. Understand, soldier, how you have strayed." Fenhoff continues cajoling in a horrifying parallel lay of Winter's programming. "Listen to my voice. Know the truth."

There's the sounds of a scuffle out of immediate sight and a very heavy THUMP before a silhouette all but sprints around the corner into the kitchen again. A sliiiiiide to the black recorder and a hand wearing a golden ring grabs it up.

"Know that — "

The voice stops.

" — that you're mine, Barnes, 'til the end of the line," wheezes the Captain, now collapsed to one hip and holding his side.

The Soldier's expression is one of a kind of blind, panicked relief. Like an animal that's just had someone open the door to its cage, and nothing beyond but the free air. What comes out of him next isn't even a whisper, it's a wheeze formed into a word, "Steve." He hasn't come back to himself enough to rise. Not yet. There's just the dart of his gaze taking in the wreckage they've made of his home.

Steve isn't much louder. "I know, Buck, I know. They got the drop on me." He grimaces, pressing harder against his side. "Gotta get SHIELD on the line, let 'em know we need back-up…somebody to come 'nd get these agents." Never mind that it's very clear he's taken a gunshot wound to the abdomen by the spread of dark stain beyond his fingers. That he hasn't crunched the recorder into impossible pieces is a miracle in itself; his hand is still wrapped around it. "C'mon, Buck, he's not here. 'm here, you c'n shake it," the man pants. "Gonna need you to shake it, not sure how long 'm gonna stay upright. Hit me someplace good."

Surely someone's called 911 by now. Gunshots aren't a regular thing around these apartments as it stands.

It's leaving him, that immobility - weird and frightening as it was. But it's like watching him drag himself up out of mud, or hardening cement. Not weak, exactly, but so slow. Then he's shambling along to the bathroom and the great big first aid kit slung under the sink. Still with that sweating pallor, hollow-eyed and miserable. Like the doctor's words were a poison he's trying to fight off.

While Bucky is off in the bathroom gathering the plethora of first aid items squirreled away in wisdom, the Captain takes a moment to collapse to his back. He continues holding his side, his own eyes shut, a sweat having broken at his own temples as well. Wounded soldiers make no pain — a lesson hard-learned and hard to break.


"Good call, Buck," the blond says as he sees Barnes returning. "Good. Just what we need right now. Dunno who that bastard was, but he's got nothin' on you. Nothin'." True-blues try to catch and hold the Soldier's gaze. "'m here, you're here with me. You fished me outta the river 'nd I found you again. Lookit your finger." The wedding ring, yet more proof of the here and now and the real truth of things.

That ring of golden silicone, made just for them. Color's returning, though, and some of his usual toughness….as if tending to Steve were bringing him back to himself. But then, isn't it? Winter's never tended to anyone but himself, and each wrap of the bandage is a defiance of all that old programming. "I gotcha," he says, voice dry and raspy. "I gotcha, Steve." And Steve has him in turn, just as he should.

Having needed to strip of the shirt carefully to showcase the sucking gunshot wound, Steve props himself carefully up on his elbows in order for the bandaging and insta-clotting packing to be applied. A few grunts leave him, twitching his lips and twisting his expression. Pain isn't one of his favorite things on the planet, clearly enough.

"You do got me, Buck. You do," he breathes, sounding winded still. "Nobody else but you. I got you too. 'm right here." Very carefully, he lets himself lie back down, both legs still pulled up and bent with knees in the air. His cleaner hand reaches out for some part of limb to hold — thigh, forearm, hand in turn. "Turned the recorder on me too. Said they were from the NYPD, could I volunteer my time to be a sketch artist for 'em. Would I listen to the victim describe the perpetrator? Got me with whatever was on it. Suddenly half-asleep 'nd it was easy as hell for'm to tase me."

Buck gives him that flat look. "Jesus, Steven," he says. "Even now you're so goddamned trusting you make Bambi look like a cynic. I don't believe you." But his tone is more shaky than it is really annoyed…and his hands are very gentle, as he works. "Relax, you big lug. You're already making a mess on the linoleum, and I just mopped it yesterday." Mock scolding, as a way of bleeding off steam. "What a meatball." He gets Buck's forearm, though, and the older man smiles, a little, just despite himself.

There's a reassuring squeeze of Bucky's forearm.

"'m not a meatball," the Captain grouses. He'll be fine if he can argue for the sake alone of being contrary. "'nd yes, that's the story they came in with. Flashed badges 'nd all. Check over 'em 'nd in their pockets…or let SHIELD do it. They'll find the badges." His voice is still present enough, even if the underside has been made hollow by pain and some blood loss.

"How'm I supposed to say no to that? Helping out the officers dealing with unsolved cases? 's a good way to put my sketching skills to use." He blinks hard up at the ceiling and licks his lips in passing. What he calls the agents still sprawled about like tossed sacks of grain in Gaelic isn't printable or kind. "Can't believe they'd try it on me."

"Because they have perfectly ordinary people just as good as you at that particular skill, Steve," The sigh Bucky gives is extremely spousal. As if Steve were boring someone at a garden party, with a longwinded story. "That's why. I can believe it. They sure as hell wouldn't try it on me." A glance at those sprawled bodies. "They're lucky SHIELD is on its way," he says.

"They are lucky." And a very cold note passes through Steve's agreement. Bucky will know there's anger kept in careful check there, more than ever after the advent and injection of the super-serum. "Still might be a good idea to ziptie 'em, if you feel up to it." His true-blues roll to Bucky's face. "Stashed a few with the twist ties, in the drawer with the saran wrap 'nd aluminum foil. Do it myself, but the ceiling's doing that thing where it starts to blend together like it got wet on paper."

Steve means fluctuating blood pressure. There's the rrrrt-rrrrt-ping of his cellphone going off and he brings it up into view with a surprisingly steady hand. "Oh, 's' Agent Yates this time, 'nd she's got some others with her. They'll be up shortly. Had to call off NYPD, apparently." There's a half-hitched laugh from him as he lets his hand flop back down to the kitchen floor; the other still holds Bucky's forearm.

"Hold on, sweetheart," Buck says…and he bends down to kiss his husband on the brow. Then he's hopping up to get that pack of zipties and use them. None too kind to the limp bodies sprawled on their apartment floor, but he doesn't get terribly artistic with it, at least. Steve's the distraction….and probably the one thing keeping him from wreaking some serious bodily harm on the both of them.

"Might wanna gag'em too…" A woozier note from the Captain with his knees still stubbornly bent against passing out. None too soon, there's the sound of a brisk knocking on the door followed by Agent Yates announcing herself. With her, a gaggle of five other SHIELD agents, one of them trained as the field medic of the small troop.

Efficiency, thy name is SHIELD. Quickly enough, even as they stabilize and lose to Steve absolutely insisting he's doing to walk out of the building, do NOT stick him on a stretcher (damnit!), the two false-officers (with fake badges and all) are collected up. Bucky is given a few glances even as they are. Everybody knows it even if nobody's saying it: HYDRA has their thumbprint on those fake NYPD officers.

"C'mon, they gotta at least see if the bullet's still in me," the Captain says quietly to his husband as he stands with an arm around one Agent Thompson's shoulders at the very least. "Get you looked over too, 'nd then we can come back home."

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