Even If You Can't Hear My Voice, I'll Be Right Beside You

  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    Aria Costa & James Barnes

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    Grace Hudson & Steve Rogers
    April 29th, 2016 at 12:03pm
  • ashen knight;

    ashen knight; (100)

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    She had no idea how long she had been stuck in this position, half-crouching and pressing her ear to the gap in the doorway, breathing so very little she thought she might pass out soon. The hall was empty, yet she could almost hear people walking up closer and closer. Regardless of that, she kept by the door, trying to listen in on the conversations behind it. There had been a mission, she wasn't sure which (she wasn't exactly informed of everything), but both her curiosity and her need to keep an eye out on him was pushing her to these unpleasant extremities. Should anyone find her now, they would certainly put a bullet through her head. Hydra didn't play around. You look suspicious, you die. But that's okay, you adjust. If you're insignificant, disposable, you play dumb and oblivious. You be simple and you obey. The doctors would arrive to fix him and the team up soon (and this time, the doctor wouldn't tsk his tongue at her amateur bandage skills because she wasn't there near the mission, both a good and a bad thing), but for now she wanted to hear as much as possible. Anything that could help, would help. Someone's step alerted her senses, suddenly too near and too loud and she jerked up, forgetting the tray of plates and tea in her hand. The cup lost balance, tumbled out and in the still silence smashed onto the floor. The noise was almost deafening with the echo. She cursed.

    ---

    Serum or no serum, if there was anything that still persisted to be a nuisance to him, it was paper cuts. Any other day he would have ignored it and probably kept on going with whatever work he was doing, but not today. Today, this cut was bleeding and stinging and being horrible. He didn't even know how he had acquired it. He didn't even work with paperwork often enough to acquire such a cut. All he knew was he had passed a paper to Sam and now he was bleeding. He had tried washing it under tap water, pressing a tissue, but eventually one coworker told him to go to the office. It was nearing the end of the day, there was still no news on the man who had shot Nick Fury and-
    He put a hand to his rib. He should also probably get these bandages changed. No matter. He would go to the doctor, she'd take care of him. Hopefully it would be Grace that he saw. She treated him better. Needles didn't hurt as much when she put them in. At least, that's what it felt like. With that in mind, he made his way down to the infirmary, peeking through the frosted glass as he approached, hoping to spot those nurses whom to avoid and those who were okay, and those who were better.
    April 29th, 2016 at 12:35pm
  • sugarplum.

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    James had only recently returned from a mission, a mission that took him a second chance to finish which wasn't like him. Firstly the man escaped after a car crash that should have killed him, but it didn't take James long to find the man and put an end to his life. However there had been another man there, he was crashed but still easily lost the man who had been chasing him. But it was the second he returned to the Hydra base, he was marched straight back into the room where he went after every mission. To debrief and if he needed it, to have his memory wiped clear again. He was in the middle of explaining why he didn't finish the mission the first time, when a suddenly clash sounded outside in the hallway. A frown settled across his strong features as he watched an agent step outside to check on what had happened, "Stop." His deep voice demanded when he caught a glimpse of the woman who he saw often at the base.
    He couldn't remember her name, although he had heard it a few times. The agent had grabbed her arm rather forcibly and that didn't sit well with James, an emotion filled his chest and he wasn't sure what it was. But he was almost certain that he liked this woman, she has never been rude or harsh to him and she didn't hurt him like the other agents and doctors there. Standing up from the chair he was sitting on, he wouldn't think twice before wrapping his metal hand around the agent's neck if he hurt the woman. "Leave her alone, now." His gaze was cold as he stared down the agent, who listened to what he said. "Are you alright?" James asked turning his gaze onto her, he honestly didn't care about the debrief. He never cared about the debrief, but now he had a reason to skip over that part.
    Grace was sitting at her desk in the infirmary, she was trying to get all her paperwork done while she had the time. There was another male doctor on shift with her, but she didn't have a clue where he had gone off to. It wasn't uncommon for him to leave and let Grace do all the work, but she didn't have the guts to tell anyone or complain so she kept it to herself. Besides the nurses usually helped out if she needed an extra pair of hands. She had just finished updating a file on her computer when she heard the door open and close, she glanced over to see if she would be needed. A smile instantly brightened her face when her eyes landed on Steve, "Hey. Need my help?" She asked as she'd take any excuse to step away from her desk and the paperwork, she turned around in her chair and waved Steve over to her. Standing up she knew that his bandaging would probably need to be changed, and even though a nurse could do that she always enjoyed Steve's company.
    "A paper cut?" Grace was amused, Captain America was bothered by a little paper cut. "Sit down," She pointed to her examination table, she washed her hands before she applied an antiseptic cream to the cut just for good measure and wrapped a bandaid around his finger. "Shirt off, I'll change those bandages too." She told him as he was there so she might as well, "So how are you?" She asked knowing he had been there when Fury had been attacked, she wanted to make sure that he was alright emotionally and mentally.
    April 29th, 2016 at 01:17pm
  • ashen knight;

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    This is it. This is where it ends. Good job, Ari, let down by a teacup. She was almost certain that the man who had grabbed her arm, all his fingers digging into her skin, was going to pull out a gun and put a bullet right through her head. She was all the more certain she'd be placed in that horrible chair and be interrogated with pain when she heard a deeper voice, but suddenly the arm was off her and she was free. A furious pink came to her cheeks in both shame and flush of adrenaline. She had managed to hold onto the other plate, somehow. "Yeah," she managed to say, shooting the agent a wary look. She gave the soldier, James, a suppressed look of gratitude, her shoulders dropping as she relaxed somewhat. Straightening, she walked to the table and placed the small tray down closer to where Barnes had been sitting. Ari was aware of how close she was to him. Two steps away. It was dangerous to try this now, but she didn't usually have much time alone with him.. "The doctors will be here soon." She stated, looking at the table, her fingers lightly gripping the edge. "They want him fed-"
    "I don't care," The agent had moved back to his original position, standing by the table, hands hitting down on it. "Go clean up that mess. Make sure that doesn't happen again."
    Ari hunched her shoulders forward a little, tilting her face away from the loud man. With a quick but firm glance at Barnes, she replied to the agent, "Roger" and quietly, almost a whisper, added an s to the word in a way that sounded like she simply breathed out, unless one already knew that name. She braced herself but resisted the urge to stay put, turning and starting for the door, making her move to clean the mess up, but keeping an eye on Barnes in the reflections of metallic objects nearby. Such a thrill. Would he break her back? Would he break a table? Would he even react? What mysteries.

    - - -

    Her being there instantly made everything a lot more okay. A lot better. A nurse had been approaching but seeing Grace, the nurse walked away to tend something else since he was already being tended to. And he was thankful. That nurse in particular was quite strict. But he was thankful for her being around, she kept the few younger nurses from crowding him and inspecting him and peeping at him from across the rooms. All that attention! He couldn't get used to it. He rarely ever had so much. Serum did some major changes, sure thing.
    At Grace's words Steve smiled somewhat bashfully, and in his small defense said, "It freaked a girl out in the kitchen. Also it was bleeding a lot." He watched her put the antiseptic cream and the bandaid on, appreciating the care with which it was done. No rush, no jerks. He pulled off his shirt without a second thought, not even recalling the little old Steve from so many decades ago. It felt like yesterday but it felt like forever. It didn't do good to linger on the past. The past had good but it also had some pain. More practical to live now. Save people now.
    "I'm... not too bad." He nodded his head a little from side to side. "A few sleepless nights, but there's things to be done. Someone's gotta do them." He looked up at her and put on a smile. Somehow, he wanted to tell her about that man on the roof. The one with the metal arm, who caught his shield like it was a plastic Frisbee and tossed it back with such force. The man who looked like someone he knew but the dark was all around and he couldn't see. He could feel the inner of his eyebrows inching closer together and up, he could feel himself having zoned out, and with some effort he pulled himself back to reality to look up at Grace's face and the light behind her that gave her a little halo. "How about you, how's your work?"
    April 29th, 2016 at 02:00pm
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    James watched the woman closely as she moved over towards him, she set the plate of food down onto the table that was beside the chair he was just sitting on. Since the moment he first saw her, she confused him more than anything else. He didn’t and couldn’t wrap his mind around why she would want to be there, working for Hydra but really just making sure he was fed and his bandages were clean. She never went on missions, she wasn’t a doctor, she didn’t handle the business side of Hydra. What reason did she have to be there? James had no idea and he wasn’t sure if he liked the idea of her being there at the base or not. His body tensed when she was given the order to clean up the mess she made, his eyes followed her every move as she headed back out into the hallway but he had heard what she whispered to him.
    Rogers. A name that caused his eyes to shut as a flash of a memory formed inside his head, it was of two boys. One much smaller than the other, but they were sharing candy and then suddenly a man’s face flashed across his closed eyes. Opening his eyes he scanned the room, he sat back down on the chair and ate the food that he had been given. That was the usual sign that he was finished with the debrief and he wanted to be left alone, surprisingly the agents did file out of the room. Which James was glad about because the memory of the man was still being replayed over and over in his mind, who was this man? He wanted the woman to come back into the room so he could ask her, he wasn’t meant to remember his past life but there she was risking her life to try and make him remember.
    Grace was still smiling when Steve tried to explain to her why he needed to see a doctor for a paper cut, “I’m sure it was.” She threw the used cotton ball into the bin that was beside her desk, when she turned back around to face Steve. His shirt was already off, now she had seen him shirtless before but every time took her breath away. “But you shouldn’t be losing sleep over anything, there is actually a great team behind you.” She told him to remind him that he wasn’t protecting the world on his own, Shield had many amazing agents that would be able to help him. She removed the bandages from Steve’s ribs and checked the area over to make sure he was healing, which he was. Her warm hands rested against his skin, as she felt his ribs as she wanted to make sure that he was healing and she also wanted to get a feel of his amazing abs although she wouldn’t ever admit that out aloud.
    “I’m good, work is keeping me busy. Especially when Dr. Harding decides to take off and leave me here to deal with whatever happens,” She told him although she didn’t want to come across like she was complaining, she loved her job and she wouldn’t change a single thing. But she still didn’t like it when Dr. Harding left his shift when there was work to do there, “Has Natasha set you up on anymore dates? She’s been trying to set me up with some guys for a month now,” Grace told him as she neatly replaced his bandages, her hands were gentle as she worked. She did want to find the right man for her, she wanted the typical happy ending but work did get in the way at times and she just hasn’t met anyone yet.
    April 30th, 2016 at 10:55am
  • ashen knight;

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    Only when the door behind her closed did she fully relax. No sign. Nothing. Only a moment of Barnes closing his eyes. There wasn't anything more she could do at this moment. The doctors were already approaching as she wiped up the mess, they would tend to him and maybe brainwash him if Hydra thought it fit, then he'd disappear until they needed him again. Maybe they wouldn't brainwash him. Maybe he'll go training. She hoped they would take him to the training room to give him his scheduled workout. It was, Ari admitted, quite interesting to watch him. The raw strength and power, and the fact that he could snap all their necks had they no guns was quite... frightening yet astounding.
    She made herself scarce, vanishing from the hallway and into the kitchens to dump the broken cup and mess of tissues. She had time until the doctors and whoever else of an asshat were done with Barnes. Plenty of time to do some casual research on certain persons of interest.

    - - -

    Steve smiled as she reassured him of the great team. He was sure of it. Sam was doing an excellent job, so were the many agents around. But what troubled him wasn't something that they could help with. He just needed time, and a lot of research. Besides, he couldn't lay out his whole past on them. They had more urgent things to deal with right now, he respected that. There were priorities, and his curiosity and the nagging voice would have to wait should something more important come up.
    "Does he often do that? Take off, I mean." He asked with a light hearted smile, straightening as she went for the ribs and tilting whatever way she needed him to stretch. "That sounds like Natasha. She likes to meddle in other people's businesses. Comes naturally to her." Steve chuckled lightly, "She has tried the same with me, but I never know what to say to the girls. I feel wrong to get their hopes up." He shrugged, watching as she finished replacing his bandages and reaching for his shirt. Of course, there was Peggy. Safe and sound but frail and old. He had paid her numerous visits, but it hurt him to see her so.
    Steve's face lit up a little then, and he looked at her with a serious look, his shirt still in his hands hovering over his chest, paused in the process of putting it on. "I'm sorry to ask, but what is a... me-me? Mimi? I'm not sure how to pronounce it? I believe it's spelled m-e-m-e. Sam Wilson was talking about it the other day, and I never got the chance to ask him."
    April 30th, 2016 at 12:20pm
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    James sat back down and finished eating the food, but his mind was elsewhere. He couldn’t even force himself to think about something other than the name the woman had whispered or the flash of memory he received after hearing the name, he was so far away that he didn’t notice the doctor had arrived until a bright light was shone into his eyes. Startling him and he would have lashed out at the man, but that would only get him punished and he didn’t want to risk having his brain zapped again. No one there seemed to care how much pain it put him through, he had grown slightly used to it now but that wasn’t a good thing. He just had to continue obeying the orders that were given to him, he didn’t want to forget the small memory that he had gotten back.
    Maybe if he went to see the lady again, she could give him something else so he could remember more. He sat back in the chair and just allowed the doctor to check him over, he hadn’t gotten hurt during this mission so there weren’t any wounds for the doctor to tend to. He answered the usually questions that the doctor asked him after every single mission, how was he feeling? How did he think the mission went? Did he remember the person, that question was only asked a few times. James answered without any fuss, he wanted the doctor to leave so he could either sneak out and find the woman or go do some training.
    Grace nodded her head lightly, “He takes off every few shifts. But it’s fine, I’m sure he’ll be caught one day.” She didn’t want Steve to do anything, she hadn’t told anyone because she honestly didn’t want to get Hardy into trouble. It was his choice to skip out on work and she was certain it would be noticed any day now, she smiled softly hearing that Natasha had been doing the same thing to Steve. “She means well, although it is slightly annoying. I just feel awkward and uncomfortable with the guy, sadly guys these days aren’t like you or my grandpa. A lot of them don’t have manners and aren’t a gentleman,” She shrugged her shoulders lightly once she finished the bandages, “I like to think that there’s a man out there waiting for me.” She smiled at the superhero that was right in front of her, she knew about Peggy from hearing stories from her grandpa. Not that she ever mentioned it, she thought if she did then it would upset Steve and she didn’t want that.
    Grace listened to his question and had to bite her bottom lip, so she wouldn’t laugh at how he did pronounce the word. “It’s meme, people usually use a picture or video and write something funny over it. Then people spread it around over the internet,” She smiled as she did forget sometimes that Steve wasn’t from this time period, she was still explaining to him how a mobile phone worked and why it didn’t need to be connected by a cord. “All done here, did you need anything else?” She asked looking at him, she really did enjoy his company and the time she was able to spend with him.
    May 1st, 2016 at 03:28am
  • ashen knight;

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    Now if there was anyone she really hated at Hydra, it was Rumlow. The guy irked Arito no end. He was certainly the last person she wanted to run into during her visit to the training room after an hours work of casual snooping. They had a few harsh words as per usual and he stormed off somewhere, leaving the whole space to her and her alone. Usually she would have gone up to the second floor, a place where few people walked and from where she could see the whole of the training room. However, since she was alone she took advantage of it, setting aside her things and practiced some kicks, some few things she could remember from whenever she had martial arts as a kid. Ariwanted to keep those techniques of course, for everyday safety. She would have liked to ask someone to teach her, but they probably would either laugh, ask why, or with their strength be too much for her to keep up. And then that would be embarrassing.
    Ari closed the door to the large room, and taken a corner away from it (away from the main area, away from the fighting cages or whatever they were), so should someone walk in she would hopefully hear them and clear out before being noticed. But her chosen corner had a constructed view of the door, and impossible to see so should someone walk in quietly she could miss them. That was scary, but it was the only training room with the right equipment in this base and she was technically allowed to use it being a member of Hydra and all. And so nursing her slight annoyance at Rumlow, she took it out on the punching bag, stopping only when her glove slipped and - prone to distraction - she noticed her nail splitting and put all her concentration in tending to it.

    - - -

    Steve took a moment to process the meaning of this new found word. A picture or a video with a funny comment spread over the internet. Where the internet was this wide-used public library on a virtual database that everyone in the world could access. He took a mental note. "Ah, I see. Thank you." He put his shirt on, stood and nodded. "All done. Thank you again." He smiled and turned to leave but paused and looked over, looking Grace over once more. Something in him calmed, and he was very much okay with that. Steve headed out of the infirmary, back to the room where had had been working. It was closer to end of work times, and he completed what he could soon enough to leave on time. In his little notebook of things to catch up on over the years he had missed, he crossed out 'meme' and wrote a small definition of it. At home, he turned on his laptop and spent the next two hours catching up on all the memes, their origins, their meanings and all the various types until he was satisfied that he had covered the most important ones. Although it seemed a silly thing, Steve was not going to be that one odd crow that didn't know what a meme was.
    Finished with those, he turned on the TV to watch some news, then late into the day fell asleep to the documentary of Steve Jobs, another crossed off to-do off his list. It would take some time getting used to the softness of his bed and so more often than not, he fell asleep easier on the much sturdier and less marshmallow-y couch of his.
    May 1st, 2016 at 04:37am
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    Once the doctor had decided to leave James for the time being, he waited until everyone was gone from the room before he walked out as well. He headed straight for the training room, he spent a lot of time in the training room because it was a place where he was comfortable and felt like he could be himself. Well to an extent, anyway. As he stepped through the door, he stopped walking when his eyes landed on the woman from before. Normally when he went to train, the room was empty as most agents knew this was a time in which he either wanted to train or he was being brainwashed again. Silently he stood there just watching the woman, until she stopped that is. “The gloves need to be tighter, you need to push from your shoulders. It will give you more power and strength,” He told her to try and help her out a little, if she knew how to throw a decent punch then it was a good way for her to keep herself safe.
    He began to walk closer to her, his eyes never once leaving her. “You need to continue, no distractions.” He spoke in his usual deep voice, he reached out towards her when he was close to her. He pulled the gloves tighter around her wrists, but not tight enough that it would hurt her. He rested his good hand against her shoulder blade, “Find the strength here.” He told her as he removed his hand, no matter how nice it felt.
    Grace let Steve leave before she returned to her paper work, thankfully it didn’t take her that much longer to finish as she did want to finish work on time for a change. So when she had finished, she took off her white coat and hung it up in her office. Grabbing her handbag she headed out of the Shield building and made her way towards her apartment, but that night she decided she’d visit the evening market that would be on just down the street from her apartment. She tried to go there whenever the market was being held because she always found great food, and she was pretty hungry after work. She walked to the market and instantly begun to look around at everything that was being sold, she did stop to buy herself a Mexican taco because she wasn’t going to pass it up. Even if it was a little messy to eat, Grace didn’t care as she sat down at a table.
    She also loved coming to the market as it gave her a chance to watch the people walking past her, she had always enjoyed people watching. How different their lives were to her’s, what they had planned for the rest of the night.
    May 1st, 2016 at 11:25am
  • ashen knight;

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    The voice at first, startled her, and she jumped a little in her spot with a small ‘ah’ of surprise. When she saw Barnes standing there, having appeared like a ghost, she instantly glanced to the door, but not in fear or a way to run out – more of a moment of forgetfulness that this man was trained to be stealthy and quiet, that no door would make noise for him. She had looked to see if it was open, or if he had simply diffused through the wall or something. Though she listened, more with mild stupor than anything. “I… see…” She nodded and blinked. Glove tighter. Shoulders. Yes. These words made no sense to her but she kept them should they become clear.
    He neared, and she resisted all the urges to step back. Logical and rational and reasonable thinking was telling her that this was a dangerous place to be. If when she had fallen and entered the room with food there was an agent or two, here she was alone. Should Barnes lose his mind- She cut that thought off when suddenly the gloves were tightened and he was like, right there.
    “Uh-huh,” she looked up at him and then slowly reached out to the punching bag and put her fist on it, more of a technique run through rather than an actual punch. “I thought you were… Uh… I’m happy to see you’re okay.” What am I saying? Ari sneaked a look over at him, the touch his warmer hand still lingering on her shoulder. “Were you wanting to train here too?”

    - - -

    He woke up just before dinner, had a quick snack and clutching a small paper in his hand followed the given address. The flyer he had cut from a newspaper featuring a small evening market that was set up every few times a week. Steve was surprised he hadn't spotted it sooner, it seemed quite an interesting thing. What mostly caught his eye was the 'antiques' description in the flyer. He had really wanted a nice clock in his room, none of those digital glaring shrieking alarms. So many fast gadgets and electronic devices always beeping and carrying on, rushing his life a little more than he was used to.
    The cool night air was enjoyable and one who had a thing for nature and peace, Steve wouldn’t pass up a stroll like this. He found the park in a few minutes, and made his way slowly through the market stalls, looking at things with the uttermost genuine curiosity. He picked up a mantelpiece clock for cheap in pristine condition, had a lovely chat with an old woman, and headed on. Steve found himself soon enough near a food place, examined the foods for sale, but bought none. He wasn’t too hungry. He was almost about to leave the food court when he caught sight of a familiar face. Without a second thought he neared the table, catching sight of Grace and coming in from the side of her as to not startle her.
    “Good evening,” he said as he paused by the table, smiling and lifting his cap’s front a little (sure it was evening, but the less people recognized him, the better). “Pleasant surprise to see you here, you like this sort of thing?” He asked with a genuine grin, lightly gesturing with one hand around, holding a the bag with the clock in his other.
    May 1st, 2016 at 11:53am
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    James couldn’t tell if he was making her feel uncomfortable or not with now close he was to her, she didn’t seem to be looking for an escape route nor was she moving away from him. But that didn’t mean anything, he honestly couldn’t tell how she was feeling with him being there in the same room as her. He looked at her when she stumbled over her words, “I am good.” He told her before he watched her press her glove against the punching bag, he moved his metal hand to the glove and ever so slightly straightened her wrist. “Keep your wrists straight and locked, you won’t hurt yourself this way.” He mentioned to her before he glanced down at her, “My training can wait. You were here first, unless you don’t wish for me to be here.” He would leave if that’s what she wanted, all she had to do was tell him and he wouldn’t think anything of it.
    “I forgot your name,” His voice softened lightly as he didn’t want to offend her, but he honestly didn’t know her name and he did want to know. She was different to all the other agents at the base, and he thought that he liked that but he couldn’t be certain as he wasn’t all that connected with his emotions and feelings. It had been that way since he could remember, and all he remembered was waking up in the base.
    Grace finished off her taco and wiped her mouth when her eyes landed on Steve, she hadn’t ever expected to see him outside of work but it was a really nice surprise. “Hey, yeah I always try to come here whenever I can.” She told him smiling before she pointed to the chair across from her, “Please sit down. Show me what you brought,” She saw the bag he was handing and wanted to see what he found, she adored searching through the furniture and the decorative pieces that people were selling. She had a few pieces at her apartment as it was easy for her to get home, considering she only lives down the street. “I’m surprised to see you here, but I guess one antique knows another.” She teased him as she really couldn’t help herself, she usually never joked about what his age would have been if he hadn’t been frozen. But this was a chance that she wasn’t going to pass up, and whenever she did make a joke to Steve he always took it well.
    “Did you want some food? I can show you what’s good here,” She offered as she did have her favourite food stalls, Grace was very much a creature of habit. She knew what she liked and she stuck with it, she didn’t often change or try something new especially when it came to food. Some called her boring but she didn’t care, she was happy and never got bored. “Or you could be a gentleman and help me look for a mirror,” She smiled at him sweetly, she had been searching for a mirror that she wanted to have in her bedroom. She had been searching for months now but just hadn’t found the perfect one.
    May 1st, 2016 at 01:03pm
  • ashen knight;

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    She accepted the wrist fix without question, giving a hum in response, even repeating the movement to make sure she got it right. Every comment counted. Especially more so if it came from someone who bashed heads in for a living.
    “Oh no, please, this room is big enough for two.” She smiled and looked up at him again. “I wouldn’t kick you out. That’s horribly rude. And that’s a Rumlow thing to do, cause he a bitch.” Ari replied, mumbling the last sentence. She put her arm out again, repeating the technique and this time fixing her wrist as he had shown, putting extra effort in as well, and simply because she felt too awkward to have at it at the bag again. Also, somehow, she had lost that anger in these few moments. Whether she was calm because of natural calm, or because she was in so much fear, she didn’t know. She didn’t think she was that afraid of him. Just reasonably wary. “It’s Aria. Ari.” It’s not the only thing you’ve forgotten though. She grinned big, poking her tongue out. “Now you know whom to assassinate in the middle of the night if ever asked. I’m easy to find. Down at the fourth floor with all the other scrub apprentices.” She studied him carefully then, wondering if this guy was even capable of jokes at this point. Would brainwashing by HYDRA wash away his humor? She hadn't ever seen him smile. Maybe he took her literally. In any case, that'd still apply. "Though the old you..." she trailed off and shut her mouth.

    - - -

    “Really?” He sat down at the offered chair and placed his bag on the table, “That’s neat. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this. Thought I might drop by and have a look around, it’s quite a nice place. Lots of interesting things.” He pulled out the clock gently from its packaging when she asked, happy to share. It was a beautifully carved mantelpiece clock made of dark polished wood and coated in some golden metal. “Just this. Beautiful, isn’t it?”
    He laughed when she made the age-joke, her being one of the few to actually crack a good one. Sam was the other one. “It’s a trip down memory lane. So many things I see that I recognise before the stall owner can even greet me.” He chuckled but shook his head at her food offer. “No thank you, I’ve already had dinner. I can afford only maybe a small snack. Have to keep fit. Don’t know how serum does against all those fries and burgers.” He grinned, fixing his cap when he caught a kid staring and winking at him. The kid pulled a face of amazement and ran off.
    “A mirror? What kind are you looking for? There was a small show not far from here, same place I got this clock from, which sold some nice mirrors.” He offered, happy to help. He wasn’t in a rush or anything, and that smile of hers was really welcoming.
    May 1st, 2016 at 01:43pm
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    James felt a little uncertain when she told him that he could train while she was there, sure he trained against other agents but she wasn’t an agent. And if he got caught up in his training, well he didn’t want to end up hurting her in any way possible. She had only ever been nice to him, the few times that they had interacted. He watched her closely and studied her face, she was smiling when she told him her name and what level she lived on. Aria. James found that name to suit her and he liked it, “Do you have a death wish? Most people don’t make a habit out of telling assassins where they can be found,” He spoke to her as he could tell she was joking, not that he found it amusing but if she did then he could go along with it. “Who knows how long I’ll remember that, Dr. Walsh could easily make me forget.” He joked or at least he had tried to joke with Aria, he wasn’t sure how well he had done because it was the truth. If Dr. Walsh felt like James was remembering or wasn’t obeying orders then he would brainwash him all over again.
    Then she mentioned the old him and a frown settled between his brows, he looked at her. “What old me?” He demanded, however this was different to when he demanded the agent to let go of Aria’s arm not that long ago. This didn’t hold as much coldness, but he was still being firm with her as he wanted to know what she did. “And who’s Rogers?” He knew this could easily be a trap set by the doctor, but Aria didn’t seem like she would do something like that to him. Even though he didn’t know her well at all, she was different and seemed like a good person.
    Grace smiled when she saw the clock that Steve had found, “Markets like this are great if you want to buy something specific. And the food is great when I don’t feel like cooking for myself,” She looked at him before nodding her head, “It’s stunning. My Grandparents house was filled with pieces like that, I spent most of my childhood there so I love furniture like that.” She told him as when she was growing up as an only child, her parents worked all the time so she would spend time with her grandparents who pretty much raised her. She was glad that he found a place that did remind him of when he was growing up, she knew how good that would be for his mental health and his wellbeing. “If I had known, I would have brought you here myself.” She smiled as she looked at him, “Yes. I’m looking for a large vintage mirror, hopefully white and wooden. I have an idea in mind but I just haven’t fallen in love with any that I’ve seen,” She stood up when he mentioned the stall he had been at had mirrors, “Let’s go then.” She didn’t want to waste any time, placing her bag over her shoulder she allowed Steve to lead the way.
    “The serum would burn those burger and fries off instantly, you have nothing to worry about.” She assured him as she walked beside him, if only she was that lucky but sadly she had to work to keep herself fit. The stall wasn’t too far away so it wasn’t long before they arrived, the sweet older lady who owned the stall greeted them warmly and she clearly remembered Steve. But Grace was too busy scanning the mirrors, all beautiful and amazing but one stood out for her. Walking over to it where it leaned against a metal post, “This is it.” She smiled back at Steve, she didn’t even care or know how she’d get it back to her apartment but she wanted it.
    May 2nd, 2016 at 08:33am
  • ashen knight;

    ashen knight; (100)

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    Ari gave a short laugh, sounding more like a ‘ha’ but still light hearted. “Most people don’t join shady small businesses that turn out to be Hydra when given the option.” She turned back to the bag, finding that she couldn’t keep looking at him in the eye while she stood here all mess and nerves, regardless if the latter being hidden as well as it currently was. She gave the punching bag a few more punches before again falling to distraction at some stray string on her glove. “No matter. I’ll remind you again should you ask.”
    The demand caught her slightly off guard, in fact, she was surprised he even pursued the statement. Though she really shouldn’t have been. “Old you.” She repeated and looked around, suddenly wary. “I’m not…” she bit her tongue and looked down at the glove again, fiddling with the string, lowering her voice, “I’m not supposed to know your origins. Neither are you. You find out and you start questioning. What good is a killing machine that questions orders?” Her voice shook once on the last few words, and she wondered why she cared so much. Naturally, she didn’t like violence. Everything here was just wrong. But it paid well. She briefly remembered the whole induction week where they drilled into her the rules of all Hydra bases. Don’t ask question. Don’t sneak around. Don’t do things you’re not allowed to. Etc. Etc. “Rogers was-“ Ari shook her head, quickly muttering, “Please, forget it. I don’t want you to go through another wash just because of me.”

    - - -

    Steve nodded a little as he listened. It was amusing how they both grew up in a house full of things from older times, but for largely different reasons. He stood up as she did, “Please do let me know if you attend any other secret but wonderful events.” He led the way to the stall, weaving through the crowd with ease despite his larger stature. It was a habit from the older times, when he was small and had to squeeze through and although he didn’t quite so ‘squeeze’ through now, the same technique helped him flow through the crowd – but he always made sure Grace was nearby and not behind. In so, he basically cleared a path for her.
    “Oh, I couldn’t,” he said with a light shake of his head, “Abuse the serum like that, that is. I have this irrational fear that one day it’ll just run out and I wake up and am the small Steve again. Silly, I know.” He chuckled, “Maybe one day I just wake up and this is all a dream.” How that would be nice. But he wasn’t sure which he preferred. On one hand, he’d get many people he knew and loved back, on the other – there were people he knew and loved here now too.
    They approached the stall and he greeted the old lady again, letting Grace go off more inside to look at the mirrors. He watched her look through, her reflection skipping from mirror to mirror until she finally stopped in front of one.
    “That’s a beautiful old mirror,” the old lady said, watching them two. “Looking for things for your new house? Must be nice, living together finally. Mm?”
    “Oh,” Steve looked at her apologetically with a somewhat shy smile, “We’re not… married.”
    The old lady looked surprised, then – with a pointed look at Grace, winking at her – said, “Not yet.” And with a string of ‘heh heh’ shuffled away, calling over her shoulder for them to let her know when they were ready to purchase.
    Steve raised his brows but in an amused way, the hand dropping from over his lips that he had used to hide a small partly bashful chuckle, and looked at the mirror, “That’s huge. You said you walked here, didn’t you…?” He left the sentence hanging, ready to offer to carry back or whatever, being the gentleman that he was. Aint no Serum getting wasted for a pretty lady. She said she didn't live far that is too, so it wouldn't be too big of a deal.
    May 2nd, 2016 at 09:15am
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    James had never been told to kill another agent in Hydra, not that it would bother him as he didn’t have a single friend there. Really the only person that he had contact with and actually liked, was Aria and he didn’t know a thing about her other than her name. He wasn’t sure why she brought it up, unless she was planning on doing something that Hydra wouldn’t approve of. Which didn’t seem like something she’d do, but he could be completely wrong about her. He’d just have to wait and see. “Why do you know my origins then?” He asked as she obviously did know but why did she care? Why care about him when she didn’t know him, and he was someone who didn’t deserve anyone’s help in anything. Especially not after what he was done, and because it would get her into a lot of trouble. It was something that would get her killed.
    “You shouldn’t be doing this, they’ll kill you if they find out that you’re sneaking around.” His voice went quiet, he wasn’t going to forget about what she has said but he still wouldn’t allow her to get into trouble for him. “Don’t be worried about me, I’m not. I can take whatever they decide to give me, I can’t say the same about you.” He told her honestly as it was true, maybe if he acted like he let this go then she wouldn’t continue to research him or the life he once had. Which he knew that he did have, but it had been drilled into him that he had to forget and only focus on the now.
    “I’ll take you next time,” Grace agreed as there were a few more markets that she did attend when they were held, which she could take him to the next time she went. The white mirror was taller than Grace, it was made out of thick wood and had a delicate pattern on the top of the frame. It was exactly what she had been searching for, it was hard for her to look away but when she overheard the old lady talking to Steve about them buying items for the house they shared. It was easy for her to look over her shoulder, her cheeks flushed pink when the lady looked at her and smiled as she said, “Not yet”. Grace hadn’t been in a position like this before so she had no idea how to react to it, the old lady was probably just being nice or buttering them up so they’d buy more items from her stall. “Well she wasn’t holding back,” She murmured softly as she glanced over to Steve, where he stood chuckling softly over the whole thing.
    And then Steve mentioned about how large the mirror was, there was no way she’d be able to get it home. She’d need a truck and then a few moving men so they could carry it for her, she sighed softly as she looked at the mirror. “I did walk here, there’s no way I’d be able to get this home.” She was sad about it, she had finally found the mirror that she wanted and she’d have to leave it there. Which meant someone else would see it and take it, before Grace could organize a way to get it to her apartment. “Let’s go before I get more attached,” She said turning to Steve, it was stupid to admit that she did get attached to materialistic things but she did sometimes.
    May 2nd, 2016 at 10:43am
  • ashen knight;

    ashen knight; (100)

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    She blinked at him. How does one even answer a question like that? Why do I know origins of some random. Somehow Ari felt that ‘I felt like snooping around’ wasn’t going to pass it, but it was close to the truth. Almost. “People like you,” she started off slowly, testing waters in her head before letting the words come out of her mouth this time, “Don’t just pop up out of nowhere. There’s always a story. I was curious, so I did some reading.” She went back at the string, pulling and tugging best she could, hoping to break it off. Get killed if caught snooping around? Of course. She knew. “Oh, I know. Curiosity killed the cat and all that sort of thing.” Whatever he said, maybe to try reassure her, maybe for whatever reason, she shrugged it off. He could say he was the strongest, serum helped heal, whatever all that but she was sure it still had some sort of emotional effect. Something at least. It made her a little sad. “I know you can handle that. The thing is,” she muttered, not looking at him, “You don’t have to.”

    [edit: didn't realise she said same thing as Bucky said like decades ago until I reread it. oops tehe ]
    - - -

    Old granny certainly wasn’t holding back. He agreed. Steve could still see the lady glancing over at them now and then while helping out other customers. But the mirror was the main focus now. Helped focusing on that helped forget about that little awkward moment, where old people decided they liked a couple and put them together before even knowing the actual situation. Aha. Steve hoped Grace would take the mirror, she seemed to be happy with it, but her sudden decision startled him. He moved to partially block her way out, and shook his head, “Get it. It’s pretty. And you really want it, it’s written all over you.” He smiled, and then folded his arms, “I’ll carry it. You don’t live far. That doesn’t look heavy. I’ll carry it if you carry my clock.” He chuckled when she said about getting attached, “You’re already attached, come on.”
    He looked at her, watching her face for any hints of anything really, but he could see that she really liked it and softly added, “What are the chances of you finding something like this again? You find something, seize it and don’t let the chance to pass up.”
    May 2nd, 2016 at 11:21am
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    (I noticed that, but it's fine!)

    James listened to her and took a few steps backwards, he really didn’t know what else to say to her. She was willing to risk her life to read up on the life he had before all of this, no one had ever done anything like this for him before. Or at least if someone had then he didn’t remember it, but he was pretty sure that no one liked him. He was only there to do all the dirty work that Hydra wanted done, “It doesn’t matter where I came from. I can’t go back, there isn’t a reason for you to know about my life.” He told her as he wanted to get her mind off of trying to find out more about the man he used to be, he thought if he was rude or firm enough than she would back off and she wouldn’t end up getting killed.
    “Leave it alone before Hydra finds out, and they will.” He ordered her, not sure if she would listen to him but he was going to at least try. “Nothing will stop them from using or hurt me, I am used to it because they won’t ever stop. You can stop all of this and it won’t happen to you,” He spoke to her as his cold stare focused on solely her.
    Steve had a good point, the mirror was stunning and she wanted it so badly. “Are you sure? I couldn’t ask you to carry it,” She looked at him, she’d never ask him to carry something so big back to her apartment. But he did offer and she loved the mirror, “It’s perfect. I won’t find it again,” She murmured mostly to herself as she looked back over at the mirror, it was then she decided to just let Steve carry the mirror for her. She would re-pay him in some way for it, “Alright.” She smiled as she turned around, she waited for the old lady to finish with another customer before she waved her over. “I’d like to take this mirror, please.” Grace was clearly happy now, all the doubt was gone from her face and mind. And she had to thank one person for that, which she would.
    She paid for the mirror and thanked the lady, she took Steve’s clock from him and wrapped her arms around it. “Thank you for this, you really are a hero.” She smiled as she watched him take the mirror into his arms, he made the mirror look like it was made out of paper as he easily carried it. This time she led the way through the crowd of people, however they all parted to give Steve enough room as they left the market. The walk wouldn’t take them long, it was only a few minutes to her apartment and there was an elevator there so it would also be easily to get the mirror to the floor that she lived on.
    May 2nd, 2016 at 12:37pm
  • ashen knight;

    ashen knight; (100)

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    The sudden change in his voice put her on guard. Okay. Time to put some space, in case he lashes out. “Maybe,” she replied softly, “I’m just curious. Maybe I’m not trying to send you back.” She rubbed her eye, and laughed, “Honestly, you’ll sooner lash out and break my neck than Hydra finds anything out. You’re dangerous and I’m-“ She heard the door click before it opened. She suddenly stiffened and regarded Barnes with a cold look in return. Her lips pressed into a thin line. The door opened, she could see it from the side of her vision. A man with bleached undercut-like styled hair walked in. A tattoo crept down the side of his face near his ear and down his neck, disappearing under a heavy jacket.
    “Ari?” He called out, his voice sounding surprised but then suddenly wary of the Winter Soldier, slowly drew his gun. Ari put her arm out to the side with her palm facing him. Her cousin, Luka, the partial reason she got into Hydra by ‘accident’, kept the gun ready anyway. He was a member of the main squad, buddy buddy with Rumlow, he knew the Winter Soldier and his methods.
    “It’s okay, Luka,” she said softly, stepping away from Barnes. “I’m fine.” Quickly, she grabbed her bag and turned, rushing away from Barnes. The man grabbed her arm lightly as she passed him, muttering, “You gotta be careful around him.” To which Ari only shrugged and pulled her arm free.

    - - -
    The granny was more than overjoyed to sell the mirror, still giving that look from before, winking at Steve this time. He smiled awkwardly and quickly turned away. He took up the mirror without a word of protest. It felt really light in his hands that he had to check he took the right one. Carefully, he carried it out of the shop and followed Grace through the crowd, keeping close but far enough so he didn’t hit her with it.
    “Not a hero,” he replied with a laugh, “Just a decent human.” They left the market soon enough, walking down the street, Steve in tow of Grace. Sometimes there would be a soft wind he would see her hair blow around a little, and it was nice. The city of the night was still something he was getting used to, the towering buildings with all their flashing lights, Stark’s tower visible above almost all. Cars beeped and people on the streets laughed as they walked in groups.
    “Were you born here?” he asked Grace, catching up to and walking by her once the path widened and there were fewer people walking around.
    May 2nd, 2016 at 01:05pm
  • sugarplum.

    sugarplum. (100)

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    James listened as someone joined them in the training room, glancing over his shoulder he saw Luka. An agent who he had only worked with on a few occasions, however he did know that he was somehow related to Aria. And it was obvious that he was protective over Aria, James could tell by the gun that was pointed at him. Although the gun didn’t bother him, he has gone through much wrong then being threatened by a gun. Not that the agent would dare shoot him, he was Hydra’s most prized possession at the moment. She thought he was dangerous, she was right because he was deadly dangerous to be around but she had actually said that to his face and he didn’t know how he felt about it. He watched as she walked past him, his eyes stayed on Aria as she left the room with the agent following slowly behind her. Like he was making sure James didn’t go after them, even though he hadn’t moved from where he stood.
    Turning around his metal fist connected with the punching bag, which sent the bag flying across the room from the force. What Aria said to him was effecting him in a way that he wasn’t used to, either it was her risking her own life or that she thought he was dangerous. He didn’t know which was making him feel the way he was, or if it was a mixture of them both.
    Steve was always going to be a hero, not just in Grace’s eyes either. He was a hero and a decent human being. The night was cooling down slightly and there was a nice breeze in the air, feeling Steve move to walk beside her she glanced over at him. Every time they moved under a street lamp, the light would catch onto his features and make him even more flawless. “I have, born and raised here. My grandparents lived out of the city, so I grew up having more space and not as many people around. But I’m used to living closer to the city now,” She smiled at him, she never enjoyed talking about herself but Steve always seemed to be interested so she did answer all his questions. She was comfortable with him, he put her at ease which not many people could until after she knew them for a period of time. Having been working in Shield and hearing stories from her grandpa, she knew not everyone was going to be a nice person and she has been hurt before. So it has made her a little weary of others that try to come into her life.
    “Are you getting used to the city? It’s a lot to take in for most people,” Grace asked him as they walking along the streets, she shifted her hold on his clock when they reached her apartment complex. She used her key to open the front door and she held it open so Steve could go in before her, she followed him inside and they waited a few seconds for the elevator doors to open. Stepping inside she pressed the level three button, “You’ll stay for a little while. It’s the least I can do,” She told him rather than asking him, she wasn’t going to let him leave until he had a drink or something to eat.
    May 3rd, 2016 at 02:30am
  • ashen knight;

    ashen knight; (100)

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    [ohdamn, that punch c: ]

    Little did Barnes know, that Luka was so overprotective that he would happily shoot the guy in the knee should Barnes attack Aria. Insubordination, sir, he would reply if questioned, dangerous, unstable and erratic and needs to be brainwashed. And being all buddy buddy with Rumlow, Rumlow would take his side, and then Rumlow has influence and Pierce would have to take that into consideration. Luka wasn’t too blind and arrogant to not appreciate Barnes’ usefulness though. Slow the guy down, but not kill him or injure him too much. None of that applied at this moment though. Aria was safely out, and with a distrusting look at Barnes, Luka cleared out too.
    Meanwhile, in her rush out and rush to her room, Ari replayed the conversation over in her head, worried more than she should be. She didn’t get to finish her sentence, which was a shame. Also Luka entering had thrown her into guarded mode, putting up the act that she distrusted Barnes, and that – with the unfinished sentence – probably had all the wrong meanings. No matter. She’d fix it. And no matter what he said, she’d still look into whatever she wanted to. Who was he to order her about? She pouted. Stubborn curiosity is a heavy flaw.
    But now, dinner and then sleep.
    - - -
    “That’s wonderful. Must have been nice, to grow up in fresh air and with plenty of space to run around in. I grew up in the city, Brooklyn actually, so city life isn’t something too new for me. Though, it was a lot smaller and less populated back then.” He chuckled. “I used to lie about my place of birth just to get in to the army.” The memory was fuzzy, but he could remember the five times he applied, and the four rejections before a mysterious man swooped by and gave him that opportunity. Changed his life.
    Steve walked inside once they were at the building, and almost instantly headed for the stairs – he was still getting used to elevators in apartment buildings – but caught himself in time and turned to the elevator. The dinged open, he shuffled in carefully, set the mirror down for the ride up so it would fit, and watched the lights flick around as the elevator took them to their destination.
    Her apartment, when they entered, was really nice. Already he could see the few things she had said she collected, and it somehow put him at ease, seeing all these quite old things again – though there were still things he hadn’t recognised, things made later, after he froze up.
    “Where would you like me to put the mirror?” he asked, looking around and then back at her. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a familiar symbol, but didn’t look again – not yet. “I don’t have anywhere to rush, I suppose I can.” He smiled, grateful, but not wanting to overstay his welcome. An hour at most for now he thought would be fine.
    May 3rd, 2016 at 03:15am