Captain America is not in New York, so the Winter Soldier is. Recently the Winter Soldier has spent a lot of time in places Captain America is not, mostly because a little less recently he spent entirely too much time in places Captain America was.
That, and the World War II exhibit from DC is at the Brooklyn Museum for the next three months.
The Winter Soldier is on reconnaissance. It’s not his fault if his sources keep moving on him. And the exhibit, unlike the captain, doesn’t give a damn if he’s there or not. He can disappear whenever he wants and it won’t even notice, much less care.
That’s what he’s doing today--disappearing. Or at least, not being there for a while. He doesn’t want to go often enough to be recognized. Being recognized is a very different problem than it used to be, but no less a problem. Getting shot by an enemy agent is a hell of a lot easier than talking to Captain America.
. . . there’s something wrong with that sentence, the Winter Soldier thinks, stopping in his tracks.
“Screw you, tough guy, you don’t even have superpowers!” a voice yells on the edge of the Winter Soldier’s hearing; his head cocks, because . . . because his head cocks. “Agh, dammit, let go!”
The Winter Soldier follows the sound of shouting past the sidewalk traffic, down an alley, and around a corner, and finds a woman and man struggling over a messenger bag. He pauses, and watches. The woman is smaller and the strap of the bag is hooked around her elbow. The man is bigger and has a fist closed around the strap. The bag’s design is gender neutral and they’re both angry.
The woman is more creative about it, though.
“I’LL SEND YOU STRAIGHT TO FREAKING NASTROND, YOU BALLESS BILGESNIPE, THE VALKYRIE WON’T LOOK TWICE AT YOUR SORRY ASS!”
Much more creative.
The Winter Soldier watches the woman repeatedly kick the man in the shin and wonders if Captain America would expect him to intervene. Bucky Barnes would, according to his reconnaissance, so presumably.
The Winter Soldier really doesn’t want to do the things Captain America would expect.
So it’s Bucky Barnes, probably, who picks up the trash can lid and nails the guy in the small of the back with it. The man yells and staggers, and the woman yanks the bag out of his grip and jams the taser she’s suddenly holding into his neck. He hits the ground twitching, and she steps back and groans in annoyance.
“I have to do that to more guys,” she sighs, blowing her hair out of her face as she lets the taser drop. “And boyfriends. And a god, that one time, but okay so I’m just taking the chance to brag about that. You’d brag about tazing a god, wouldn’t you?”
“I don’t know,” the Winter Soldier says, because he really doesn’t. He’s never bragged about anything before, except maybe Bucky Barnes did. Or would.
But he’s still conducting research.
“Please, look at you, Mister Tall Dark and Leather, you would totally,” the woman snorts, bending over to rescue her dropped bag from the puddle it landed in and shuffling through its half-soaked contents. “Ugh. Okay, so the paperwork’s a lost cause, but good news, the iPod’s dry as a bone. Whatever, I didn’t really wanna work for those losers anyway. Hey, wanna blow off my job interview together?”
“What,” the Winter Soldier says blankly. The woman cocks an eyebrow at him, then gives him an entirely unsubtle once-over that he thinks is supposed to read as sexually inviting but is really more like a statement of fact. She has dark curly hair and is wearing a striking red lipstick, a slightly too tight suit, and cheap sneakers. There is a pair of high, spindly heels in her waterlogged bag and she is still holding the taser in her other hand.
She reminds him of absolutely no one, but he feels like there is someone to be reminded of anyway.
“I thought that was a pretty straightforward statement, personally,” the woman says, pulling a pair of thick-rimmed glasses out of her pocket and slipping them on. “Oh, wow,you are a looker. No offense, I thought maybe the blurred vision and adrenaline were being a little on the optimistic side about the local hobos. Actually the hobos I meet are a lot more cut than my mother ever implied they would be, go figure. Here, hold on--can I get a picture?”
“What,” the Winter Soldier tries again, which the woman apparently translates as permission because she pulls out her phone and holds it up. The Winter Soldier balks, but--
“Smile, handsome!” the woman chirps, and Bucky Barnes does. “Ohhh man. I’m totally sticking with the ‘look at you’ plan,” she says, fanning herself with the taser. The Winter Soldier can’t decide what to think of the fact she’s still holding it. The man on the ground groans and twitches again, and the woman hops over him--on him, actually, the Winter Soldier corrects his initial assumption as she lands. The man whimpers, and the woman hops off him and struts over to the Winter Soldier with a wide, brash smile. Bucky Barnes would smile like that, the Winter Soldier tells himself, although he can’t think of any particular photograph or newsreel that showed Bucky Barnes doing anything of the sort. Grinning and smirking and cocking an eyebrow and laughing and gritting his teeth, but never smiling like that.
He smiled at Captain America, once, but that was a very different smile.
“So! Nice to meet you, I’m Darcy Lewis,” the woman says, still holding her phone and taser and wearing the wide smile. “Thanks for the backup with the trash can lid move, I appreciate a supportive dude.”
“Bucky Barnes,” the Winter Soldier says, offering his arm. “Anything for a pretty dame.”
“Ooooo,” Darcy Lewis says, her eyes going wide and smile splitting into a grin as she hooks the hand with the taser around his arm. “We are going to have the best day.”