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Date of Scene: 11 August 2021
Location: Brighton Beach
Synopsis: Bucky gets some unexpected guests and finds out he has a dog. ...and her name ISN'T Shelley.
Cast of Characters: James Barnes, Helmut Zemo, Cael Becker

James Barnes has posed:
    For the most part Bucky as been off the grid and off the radar with everyone, even Sam. Steve knows his whereabouts, of course, it's *Steve*. There might be a few teenage girls keeping tabs on him without his knowledge. Sharon knows and Wanda knows, otherwise? Zip, nada from him.

    Of course someone with the right connections *may* have heard that there was a brief resurfacing of the Winter Soldier on the streets of Moscow. ...and then silence on that information front too. So, *where* is he?

    ...well sitting on the front porch of one of the few remaining single dwelling homes in Brighton Beach; on the top of the porch to exact, sideways, feet kicked up against one railing and back to the other, sketch pad in his lap.

     Sun hasn't quite set yet, and he's not hard to miss, even with his arm covered, if a person knows what to look for; but today the arm isn't covered. He's wearing a fitted ribbed tank style top and a pair of dark blue cargo shorts. Other than that tell-tale arm though, he looks like just a guy sitting on his porch.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Zemo hadn't been seen for weeks, right before their operation was set to complete. When Buck had a child operate on his cranium.

  Black boots clap gently from leather soles on the sidewalk as the sun continues to set behind him, walking towards the man on the porch.

  The gray jacket on the man was...plain, along with a Dodgers ball cap on his head, maintaining an air of inconspicuousness.

  It wouldn't be until he stopped at the short white picket fence before he raised up his head, looking at Buck as he looked very...American Gothic.


James Barnes has posed:
    The results of said cranium operation are suspiciously missing, it might be noted. What's under skin can't be seen, but the rest of it is gone.

    He looks up when he hears his name spoken. Buck's eyes narrow slightly. It's not a dangerous or threatening narrowing, not at first, at first it's contemplative. It's not difficult to tell that there is *zero* recognition in that expression, none.

    What'll happen when recognition happens? That's anyone's guess, but there's a split second, a moment in time when it isn't there - enough for Zemo to speak more, make a move, run the fuck away, whatever suits his fancy.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Zemo remains a gentleman, keeping behind the fence. "Always a man of few words. I understand."

  "I come with news for you...if you'll have me." Zemo offers, holding out his hands slightly, keeping them away from his jacket, just in case someone was...in a mood. "I assure you, what I bring is relevant to your pursuits." At lease Zemo was doing his best to not come off as antagonistic, as much as that's possible for him.

James Barnes has posed:
    Buck sets the sketch pad aside and pushes himself to his feet. His pale blues flicker over the street, up, down, across. Quiet night, no foot traffic. Of course he has no visible weapons - might be a knife or something hidden in one of those cargo pockets, but none of them seem weighted down in any way.

    ...but then again, does he really *need* a weapon to be dangerous?

    He maintains a blank enough expression until he's within arms reach of the man, opposite side of the fence from Zemo still. But that left arm comes up with super soldier quickness to try and snag the poor guy by the throat.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Zemo is lifted up a couple inches, that hand reaching up and grasping his throat is strong, stronger than the larynx in its grasp.

  His mouth contorts into a sneer as his neck muscles contract to try and give him some breathing room...literally.

Is this finally when he gets killed?

Would he see his wife and son again?

Should he just accept this?


  Through coughs, Zemo pulls himself up on that Python of an arm. "You wanted" Cough "It gone, yes? To undo what those Nazi bastards did to your mind." Wheeze, cough, he's starting to weaken. "I...found...it." His voice starting to give way, to the shallow nothingness on the other side, where death awaits.

James Barnes has posed:
    That grip loosens *just enough* for Zemo to take a breath, Buck's a trained assassin, he knows how to make the suffering last if need be or how to give his prey time to speak.

    "Why should I believe *anything* you say, Zemo? How'd you get out anyway? I know they didn't *let* you out," the words are spat out and laden with disgust.

    If it wasn't clear *before* that something's missing in that Swiss cheese brain again, well it's obvious now. "

    "How did you find out where I lived?"

Cael Becker has posed:
    There was a nearby apartment building with an empty room on the second floor. It had a decent view of the house, and Cael had simply been watching for a short time now. No harm in a man sketching on his roof, yeah? She'd planned on spending a few days watching him, trying to get a feel for whatever was going on in that head of his before making an approach.
    And then Zemo strolls right up.
    What happens next doesn't really surprise her, and as much as she's no real fan of Zemo - well. Watching a guy get choked to death on a public street is not fun. And not good for James' future, either.
    Cael hastily slides the window open and kicks out the screen - dropping down to land nimbly on her feet. She's just close enough to hear the question, and provide the answer Zemo might not have enough oxygen in his lungs (or brain) to provide. "Because you broke him out to gain access to a cure that saved Steve's life, Barnes," she calls simply, starting to cross the street towards them, a pistol plainly visible in a holster on her hip.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     A gasp of air as the grip loosens for more interrogation. "I...from prison?" That was the epiphany, long enough to realize just what happened to James while he was in what was left of Sokovia and the palace.

  This would be where Agent Becker comes in and interjects on Helmut's behalf. "Yes...you...I wanted to help." He was not lying, after seeing what he did to stop himself from being brainwashed again, Zemo knew somewhere, he couldn't leave the possibility in the air.

  But in regards to Buck's last question, his husky voice answers. "I was special forces in my country...it was not easy, if it is any consolation."

James Barnes has posed:
    What the hell is that Shelley-looking woman doing here *again*. "None of your business, move along," Buck snarls in her direction. But then he has time to actually *process* what she's saying when she's speaking at him.... and what Zemo's saying.

    Flashes and flickers and too bright images just flood back - not all of it, but enough. Not necessarily nightmarish or terrifying those images, but the content doesn't matter. When that tiny dam breaks and those memories rush past the programming; the pretty much botched (this time) attempt to scramble his brain completely? Well, it *hurts*.

    His hold on Zemo releases, dropping the poor man unceremoniously to the ground. His right hand shoots up to press against his forehead. He staggers backwards a few steps, teetering on the edge of falling over truth be told.

    A super soldier, near felled by the MOTHER of all migraines caused be a little chip in the work they did last.

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Barnes?" Cael asks - there's concern in her voice. Concern for him, and if she's being completely frank, a little concern for herself. The man's not completely stable, and who knows what version she'll be faced with when he straightens back up again. "You good there?" she asks simply in a calm tone.
    She stops far enough back to be able to keep Zemo and Bucky both in her sight - though her hand doesn't reach for her pistol just yet. "Do everyone a favor and stay down for the moment, Zemo, with your hands empty," she suggests. "While we sort this out." She keeps her own hands still and empty as she waits.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Zemo is released, and a gloved hand grasps at his neck as he catches his breath once more.

  "HYDRA." Is all he has to say to convey he knew who could have done something to him like this. "Who else?" He asks Cael, at least he remembers her from the Germany op. "Who else knows, goddamnit!?"

James Barnes has posed:
    Buck lowers his hand from his head, still squinting against that - against all of it. The little bits and pieces that clicked back into place just have him looking confused and a little 'flighty'.

    "I need to go inside," he stammers before turning to do just exactly that. They'll follow or they won't, but he's not stopping until he's inside the walls of that little shotgun style house.

    It's better than *running* full tilt into nothing with no end goal in mind, right?

Cael Becker has posed:
    "I didn't ask who," Cael remarks in a dry voice. "I'm working on what."
    She watches Bucky retreat, and she does follow - she only follows are far as the front door, though, where she waits leaning up against the door jam.
    "Barnes," she calls again. "You want us to wait out here?" she asks. "Zemo and I could go get some beers from a corner store - yeah? Give you a few minutes?" Her voice is calm - almost relaxed, as if nothing is amiss and this just your everyday occurance. You know, Tuesday.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Zemo steps back up, and doesn't wait for Cael to continue inside the home.

  He takes off his cap, and returns his hair to a normal quaff. Despite just having been chocked out by James, he looks pretty composed, if not angry due to HYDRA being HYDRA yet again. However, he waits for Buck to say something first.

James Barnes has posed:
    Once inside, Buck stopped at the kitchen counter, hands pressed down on it, back to the door, head down and that hair of his hanging in his face. He's breathing a little too quickly, but seems to be getting it under control easier than one might think.

    "I'm fine..." He's obviously not but he's trying to be. "I still don't know what you have to do with this, Shelley..." He's back on that now. "Or why you were in Madripoor with us," seems he remembers that bit, it's a start.

    "None of it makes sense," he murmurs quietly, little boy lost, that.

Cael Becker has posed:
    "No, I imagine it doesn't," Cael replies, her jaw tightening subtly for a moment as he calls her 'Shelley' in front of Zemo. Fucking thanks, Bucky. ...at least it's a common enough name. She nods for Zemo to follow her in, and keeps him insight as she enters the house - but she continues to stay a good ten feet back from James as she tries to gauge his mood. Crowding the guy will do no good - and potentially a lot of harm.
    "It's Cael Becker," she supplies again. "You want me to fill in some of the gaps? I'm not sure how much is missing, but... I can give it a go."

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Shelley, ehh, who knows? That wasn't his concern at the moment, what he wanted to know was what happened, and then he wanted to know if the information he had worked so hard for would now be useless.

  Though, he remains quiet for now, his face does show that the cogs are turning up there. He awaits Cael to proceed with the informing. Though he would offer a: "If I was going to attack, I bloody well would have done it when he was choking me out." To Cael, recognizing her strategic placement of himself in her periphery.

James Barnes has posed:
    He pushes off the counter and straights with a huff of a breath that blows some of the hair from his face. The, well, he produces a hair-tie from a back pocket and uses it to pull that messy mop back at the nape of his neck. Buck's eyes go a little distant and unfocused. A nod, tiny, barely there and to nothing?

    "I remember Steve bringing me in and then just bits and pieces after that, stuff from before. I remember the chop shop, Shel - you look so much like her..." Those pale blues fixate on Cael a moment before he shakes his head.

    "... cabin, they were everywhere, but I dunno where it was. That's just bits and pieces too, that I didn't remember until a few days ago." His eyes narrow in Zemo's direction. "I remember what you did, to me... to Steve. Why the *fuck* did I break you out?"

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Cael, Barnes," she reminds the man. Why did this conversation have to be taking place with Helmut right there? She gives the man a dry look, that shows she has no intention of being anything other than cautious around him. "Shel's an old, burned ident, yeah? I'm Special Agent Cael Becker with the FBI." She lets out a sigh. "I ran into you in the park - in New York. You introduced me to Steve, and Sam. You brought me in on some jobs you were working on. We went after Hydra - we found a lab with some of those tanks, yeah? Like on the ship? We've been working together, and then out of the blue, you ghosted."
    She nods towards Helmut as she adds, "You brought me, Sam, and Jethro out to Germany to see this asshole. You wanted intel on some sort of cure for Steve - he was sick. We thought it was just going to be a conversation - but then you sprang him, and we ran off to Madripoor together, and then back to the US... and you just cut him loose."
    Her gaze is on Zemo as she says that last bit, and from her expression it's clear she wasn't convinced of the wisdom of that call.
    "So why exactly are you here //now,// anyways?" she asks him bluntly.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
    ?He did not cut me loose. I escaped.? Zemo adds, with an eyeroll. ?And I found evidence of how to remove the programming from his mind, in the HYDRA files I stowed away in Sokovia.?

  Though in all of the vigorous looks he was given, he rolls his eyes. ?Unless I should just forget about it.? Dry western European humor showing itself. ?You helped me break out because I had connections that could lead back to who Zola was using to propagate his virus. I told you I would stay...that was until you had...modifications put in your skull.?

James Barnes has posed:
    "Is Steve still sick? He didn't seem sick at that ball? Is that why he hasn't come yet?" For the moment everything else Cael's said is just background noise. ...because it's *Steve* and, well, Buck seems genuinely confused, even a little hurt, as to why Steve hasn't been here yet.

    Something Zemo says, however, has him hanging his head a little, and maybe wishing he hadn't tied that hair back. "...I thought... if I found Zola, ended where it started, the maybe I could get rid of the part of me that everyone hates, fears." He takes deep breath and lets it out slowly before looking up again. "But it was all bullshit, can't get rid of something that was already there, that's always been there. That's when I ended up at the cabin. I remembered the cabin, them coming for me. There's still nothing between that and waking up with Wanda and Sharon."

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Wanda and Sharon, huh?" Clarice remarks calmly, tucking that away for the moment, and taking a few steps closer to Barnes. He didn't seem flighty and panicked - perhaps a little proximity wouldn't crowd the man. "Steve's fine, I promise you. You got the cure. You fixed him." She hadn't been there for any of that but- well. She knew enough to piece it together. Or at least, that was the obvious conclusion.
    Her attention shifts towards Helmut, her arms crossing over her chest as she asks bluntly, "So - how do we do it? I can't imagine it's a simple fix. What's involved?"

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Zemo turns to the pair, and pulls a USB stick on a ball chain around his neck, his Sokovian dog tags on that selfsame chain. "Its a process. And i can only imagine that those nazis designed it to be as painful as possible. But...it involves some of the equipment from the Winter Soldier project. An array that surrounds the head."

  Surely, Bucky would know exactly what he spoke of, or at least has a recollection of such. The USB key is tucked back into his shirt, before he finishes. "I would like to see this through."

James Barnes has posed:
    ...and array that surrounds the head. Yeah, those words don't induce calm. In fact they have those to bright flashes of images and moments going off again, only this time they *are* nightmarish in nature.

    Buck makes a strangled, strange sound somewhere between a growl and a moan. His hand goes to his head again, left one steadying himself on the counter. A beat, one, two... three and he's doing that creepy, thousand yard stare again.

    Uh-oh, that generally doesn't end well!

    ...but this time? When his eyes focus once more, he seems... okay, as okay as he ever is or can be. "All right, then lets do it. Let's go find us some equipment."

    If only he could remember where they *just* held him, used one of those very damnable devices on him so very recently?

Cael Becker has posed:
    "...Barnes?" Cael asks as his hand goes to his head. She watches and waits - staying exactly where she is until she's sure he's himself again, and then she takes a couple steps closer.
    "Alright. So we do it," she agrees. "But... I say we're smart about it." She nods her head towards Zemo. "We should have someone with some tech know-how check out the intel on the USB. Make sure putting you in that machine is safe, and is going to have the desired results. Yeah? While it's being analyzed... we try to source or build a chair."

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     "James. You pick someone you trust to never use this." Zemo offers, before he looks back to Cael for a monent, then back again. "The Winter Soldier program deserves to be forgotten about. Once this is done, we destroy the technology, and piss on the ashes." Yeah, Zemo is not a fan of any Super Soldier program. Especially one developed by HYDRA.

James Barnes has posed:
    "I'm good," and Buck actually seems like he's being honest about that. "That's gonna be hard, when I can't remember jack or shit or anyone outside of Steve, Jimmy, Peggy..." All the 'old crew'. "Sharon, you," Cael obviously, .."from before. I barely remember anything from the time after Winter." The sentiment is directed at both Cael and Zemo. "No one I remember is anything like that."

    His attention shifts completely do Zemo and he asks, bluntly, "Why man? Why'd you do it? Especially to *Steve*? He's a motherfucking *boy scout*?"

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Well. What about someone Steve trusts?" Cael asks simply. "Or someone Peggy trusts? Would you be willing to put your trust in their judgement?" She still has Zemo in her peripheral vision as she watches James with a serious expression on her features. "I'd feel better making sure that whatever we do to your head - we have more than just his word," she nods to Zemo, "that it's good for you. How do you feel about it?"

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     "Peggy Carter. She will know someone." Zemo offers, right before he was bombarded with the mother of all questions. One that Bucky didnt even ask after breaking him out of prison.

  "Let me finish this...and I will gladly tell you." Mainly because he is sure the truth would only get him a punch to the face. "Until then, the key, and the answer...stay with me." Not to mention the HYDRA incursion into SHIELD was...not suprising.

James Barnes has posed:
    He doesn't much remember the past three years, but Zemo's suggestion still sparks a cold rush of fear followed by a warm wave of adrenaline. He doesn't even know why when he says, "No, not Peggy."

    Cael, however, might get it. All the fear and uncertainty he went through with SHIELD, after that incursion, long after, it's a powerful thing, powerful enough to have those feelings bubbling even without the memories of what caused them. "I'll ask Wanda, or Steve. Not Peggy." Even though it's not Peggy that Buck doesn't trust... it's everyone else in those walls.

Cael Becker has posed:
    "Sure, Barnes," Cael agrees. "Steve or Wanda will know someone they trust." Her gaze locks back onto Zemo. "And if you have the files - what? We bring them to meet with you? Let them sit down with a laptop and study the files while you watch?" She had no problem with any of that - she just wants to make sure they're all on the same page.
    "How do we contact you when we have someone?"

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     "I still have this." He takes outthe burner phone in his pocket. "212-555-8673" Zemo offered, before looking to them both. "I'll work with whomever you wish. But this must remain the only copy of the files. If it falls into the erong hands...anyone could make a Winter Soldier copy."

James Barnes has posed:
    "Okay, then we'll figure it out and get in touch," Buck agrees, if a little hesitantly.

    His brow furrows ever so slightly and he looks a little at a loss as to what to do or say next. Silence, it's a heavy one, a little awkward. It'd take someone paying really close attention to him to hear the 'not even a whisper' he offers, like he's reminding himself. "Your home, you have choices..." It's more mouthed than out loud.

    Then, a little louder but not overly certain, "I need to lay down... so, I kinda need you guys to leave."

Cael Becker has posed:
    After programming the offered number into her phone under the name of 'Zasshole' (yes, to differentiate it from other assholes already programmed into her phone), Cael looks towards Bucky, giving a simple nod of understanding. "Sure, Barnes. I'll get out. Let me leave you my number first, huh?" She pulls open a drawer as he indicates it, fishing out a pad of paper and a pencil, and jots down the number, setting it face down on the counter. It's labeled 'CAEL' - yes, in capital letters. Because that 'Shelley' shit has to stop.
    That accomplished, she glances around the visible parts of the house, then looks back at him. "...is Lili here? You need me to track down your dog and bring her by?" This is asked as she starts towards the door.

Helmut Zemo has posed:
     Zemo pockets his phone again, and starts to head back out. No sense in staying when youre part of the problem.

  He leaves the Dodgers cap, it was to be an olive branch anyway.

James Barnes has posed:
    "Dog?" And that probably proves, more than anything, just how many holes are left in Buck's head. "I have a dog?" ...and there's a little 'up' at the end of that question; like he's actually intrigued or happy about the idea of it?

    ...and maybe, just maybe, Lili might be of some help, jarring some of those lost memories back into place... gently.