The Newest and Oldest Recruit
Roleplaying Log: The Newest and Oldest Recruit
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Amanda Waller comes talent scouting.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: January 09, 2019
IC Location: Luna Ristorante - NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 09 Jan 2019 17:40
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 (Language.)
NPC & GM Credits: Amanda Waller & Co. written by Ursa
Associated Plots

In Little Italy, there's a little restaurant.

Luna Ristorante and Brick Oven Pizza at 115 Mulberry is a quaint place with red tablecloths covered in paper. The ambiance is simple, the table arrangement open, and the portions generous.

Usually, it doesn't open until noon. It's only 1100, but there are presently a few people in there and eating. Two clean cut men, each in dark pants and polo shirts, sit near the door and are deep into their pasta e fagioli and chicken parmigiana hero sandwiches. The other is a striking and heavier set black woman in a bright peach button-down shirt and a double strand pearl necklace who dines alone with a plate of veal scallopini.

A few days ago, this was the time and address given to one James Buchanan Barnes by means of a phone call from a Lt. Col. Marquez, U.S. Army. The only sign at all that such an invitation was given, however, is the fact that the front door is presently unlocked.


Strange invitations don't sit well with James Buchanan Barnes. Strange invitations from the U.S. Army still don't sit well, but there's a small piece of him, buried deep down under seventy-five intervening years of hell, which still responds to the military branch which became such a formative part of his life.

The US Government hasn't bothered him much overall, ever since he was exonerated at trial last year, other than to finally tie up the paperwork concerning him, issue his formal discharge, and tally up the back pay. All told, by the end of it, Bucky had had a distinct feeling they were glad to formally be rid of him and his complications… which makes their approach now even more baffling.

He's not… worried, per se, but he's definitely suspicious, and Jane's outright paranoid. In a role reversal she's taken up overwatch for this particular meeting; she's not at his side as he heads up towards the unlocked front door and warily steps within, but she's definitely somewhere in the area.

He's dressed casually enough, jeans and a heavy jacket against the January cold, and he's definitely not unarmed. Still, the first thing he does on entry is sweep the area in one assessing glance of blue eyes, his left arm tense at his side.


The two men at the table nearest the door look up, but they give Barnes little more than a watchful glance. He'll know easily enough a guard detail when he sees it, even though the other men are polite enough about it and don't seem to outwardly react. Much, anyway. It's hard not to be close to a living legend and not react at all.

Except that is precisely what the woman deeper within does. She's unrushed as she finishes her bite of the thinly cut and breaded veal, and unrushed as she sips on her cup of too-early chardonnay. She closes her eyes with a mind for the timing, transparently theatrical. "Mister Barnes," she rumbles without opening her eyes, voice low. And then she looks to the gold bracelet watch on her thick wrist. Her tongue clucks, and she smiles with a smug self-satisfaction. "Right on time. A good habit to stay in the practice of." She looks to the two former military men she's brought with her, catches something from that brief glance, and then turns her eyes back to the new arrival.

"I would ask you to put down the weapons considering that New York has some particularly strict concealed carry laws, but I really don't think that it would matter even if you complied. Do you?" She lifts her eyebrows, but doesn't really wait for an answer before going back to cutting her meat. "Wasted effort really isn't my style."


One assessing glance is enough to tell Bucky most of what he needs to know about what's going on here: at least, in terms of the dynamic in the room. Two guards. A woman of some importance, with a big damn secret she's clearly got to drop on his head. And him, with no clear idea of whether this is some new government imposition, some other facet of his past come back to bite him, or a Hydra operation to blackbag him and drag him back off to the ice. Though he'd like to think that if it was Hydra, they'd at least try a little harder than this.

"I like to be punctual," he says dryly. "I've lost enough time in my life that I don't tend to waste it." There's… a message, there.

As far as the fact he's packing? "Your boys have got good eyes," he says, flicking a glance over the two. "No ma'am, I don't see as it would, especially as I'm not prepared to pop off my arm on short notice."

Wasted effort isn't her style, she says. "Makes two of us," he says. He doesn't sit, maintaining a loose and readied stance. "You asked me here, here I am."


"I bet it's a hell of a party trick," Waller replies, lips twisted into a smirk. "I bet my boys would love to see it. Carson's a real fan of your work." That doesn't say much about his speciality, but it might perhaps clearly indicate that there is one.

When Barnes doesn't sit, Amanda isn't about to insist. He can do as he likes, and it has no bearing whatsoever on the tenderness of the cutlet, the perfect consistency of the spaghetti, or the delightful complexity of the wine. She does, however, briefly set down her eating utensils to take up the glass and sip from it with a particular voracity. Once she's done so, she sets her boring, flint-hard gaze in his direction. "So, tell me, Barnes. How's celebrity life treating you?"


"I bet they would," Bucky says, with an amiable and they're not gonna tone of voice. Carson being a fan of his work does tell him at least a little bit; most of the people who are "fans of his work" tend to be SpecOps, at the very least.

He doesn't see a reason to sit yet, and so he doesn't; Waller's contentment with his choices causes him to settle in for the long haul, in a stance a few shades more casual than 'parade rest.' Good for standing for ages. How is celebrity life treating him? "I'd tell you, if it was treating me any which way at this particular moment," is his rejoinder, with no impatience or irritation: only the ease of simple talk. A lot of people, knowing only the taciturn and reclusive Winter Soldier, forget about the man James Barnes who came before, and that man knew how to carry a conversation perfectly well. "I've made a habit to stay out of the papers, and so the papers have been kind enough to forget about me."

He doesn't speak to the brief furor that was the public response to the Winter Soldier — under Iron Man and Captain America's collective wings in the Avengers — registering in solidarity with the rest of the team. It wasn't much of an uproar. Most people were just relieved he did. Many still don't trust him, even after the trial — least of all Bucky Barnes himself.


And the answer he gives? Pleases the woman at the table, should the feral glimpse of white teeth be any indication. She leans back in her chair as she continues considering, leaning harder against the chair back than she probably should without actually lifting its front feet off the floor, all so as to make it squeak under her solid weight.

"My name is Amanda Waller," she finally offers. "And the lieutenant colonel who reached out to you is an old colleague of mine." And then, lest she claim credit that she is not actually due, she is prompt to respectfully append, "I never served myself. But I certainly respect those who have."


Amanda Waller. Bucky Barnes combs his mental bank and comes up blank, though that's not surprising; he's lost track of a lot of memories, over the years.

That doesn't change too much about this interaction, so Bucky absorbs the name and moves on. That she immediately disavows claiming the honor to serve when she did not, however, raises his brows. He certainly doesn't look like he objects to the sentiment, though. Too many people milking privileges which don't belong to them, in this day and age.

"I get that a lot," is Bucky's equanimous response to her token of respect. "So you aren't from the Army. Pulled a big favor with them, though. What's this about, ma'am?"


The two guards continue to eat in the corner by the door, until one finally gets up to head towards the kitchen. There's some chatter back and forth as he leans lazily against the swinging door, asking after moon cookies. Wants to take a half dozen or so with him.

The woman with the short-cropped black hair ignores the exchange occurring behind her, refusing to spare one iota of attention on anything that isn't James Buchanan Barnes. "Business, naturally. Of the country-saving kind."

She lets that sink in as she abruptly sets down her wine glass, moving to once again start working the veal and slicing it into neat bites. All the while, she watches the work of her hands, not her guest. "And you work for this country long enough, you have chips to cash like I did with Marquez. You see, Mister Barnes, I'm looking for an individual who respects the chain of command and likes serving his country, putting chaos to order, helping American citizens earn second chances, keeping himself out of the papers, keeping his trap shut, and affording the sky high cost of living in Manhattan these days."

She ducks her head down to take a particularly large bite of her meal, chews, washes it down with more wine and then continues. "I'm asking you to help defend your country." A pause, and then her steely gaze comes back up to consider him with the lower lids lifted in open appraisal as she gauges his reaction. "Or managing the team of shitheads, anyway. They're a little unruly."

Understatement. Of. The. Decade.

And yet? Amanda Waller delivers that understatement as smoothly as the chocolate mousse that is being handed over from the kitchen, too.


Business, she says. Of the country-saving kind.

"I happen to have some experience with that," Bucky says, though the remark sounds more like dry, self-directed satire than an actual statement of patriotic pride. Not surprising, when one considers what happened to James Buchanan Barnes at the end of his country-saving tour of duty. He doesn't speak much otherwise, however, because Amanda Waller is finally wending her way towards the point of this meeting, and he is absorbing each word carefully.

His eyes narrow slightly at the words 'helping American citizens earn second chances.'

"The rent's a far cry from the $20 a month I paid in '41," he says presently, "but I get by fine. The rest, that's broadly true too. But what do you mean by second chances?"

Implicit in that question: what do you mean by team?


She appreciates not being rushed. The woman known by those who have dealt with her most as "The Wall", lets out an airy 'heh' with her guest's satire. She is a politician, at the end of the day, and she reads well enough the meaning there. But her glass nears empty, and so she doesn't toy with him.

…much.

Reaching down, she opens the small messenger bag that rests against her chair. A dark brown file folder—the legal type with the clip at the top that keeps pages from falling out—is slid across the table to the place across from her. And then she goes back to efficiently cutting her meal. "This country often needs things done that it can't tell anyone it's doing. It doesn't stop needing those things just because they're inconvenient, now does it?" She lifts her gaze just long enough to lift her eyebrows and goes back to eating. "I'm in 'acquisitions'. But I acquire the disposables. Criminals who owe society a debt. They play ball and do what I tell them—what we tell them—and they get reductions on their sizable sentences. Some of them earn extra perks."

The folder has a big fat 'CLASSIFIED' stamp in red on the front, but the inside is a collection of rap sheets, mug shots, and medical assessments. There's a lot of metas in the mix.

Around a bite of noodles, she chuckles darkly and adds. "Some of them? Not so much."


Blue eyes track immediately at the first sign of movement, watching as Waller draws a folder free from her messenger bag. They rest briefly on the file as it's laid on the table surface, slid over to the place opposite her.

After a beat, Bucky finally approaches the table. There's a certain quality to his walk that takes him clean out of any possible civilian definition… a sort of guarded, sidewise approach that strongly calls to mind the image of a wolf coming tentatively close to man's first fires. He still doesn't quite sit; he leans over instead, resting his left hand on the table so his right can page through the files. A slight whir hums from under his left sleeve as he moves.

One of the mugshots, in particular, catches his eye. His eyes narrow.

"You're using criminals for covert ops," he assesses bluntly, after Waller finishes her pitch. "Hell of a work-release program."

He's silent a moment. As Waller likely expected… there's pity there, a distinct empathy for these people who are in such a similar situation as he was. Who've committed crimes against the world, and now pay their considerable debts by doing 'what they do best'—so nobody else has to get their souls dirty, too.

"You said they're given reductions in sentences," he finally says. "What about rehabilitation? Eventual release? If they risk their lives, do they get a chance to reclaim them after?"


"It's a relatively new program," the stern woman tells him, tone frank. "Although, I suppose most things are by your fairly unique standards." Pushing her mostly empty plate forward, she sets her napkin down beside it and then uses the new space to set her forearms down on the table and lean forward. It reeks of a woman accustomed to command, and fighting both for it and to maintain it.

Her own eyes are sharp as steel, assessing openly. "No one's gotten that far yet. But it's not off the table. That's the dream. The pitch, certainly. But, let's be honest, some of the names on that list are just excited to be out of solitary." She shrugs her broad shoulders, and then leans back into her chair anew.

Her head tilts. "I need someone who can motivate a pack of unwanted convicts to stay on track, but has the stomach to handle them if they don't. Last recruit I hired for the job was …disappointingly soft."


Waller speaks, and Bucky listens. Eventually, he shuffles the files back into a neat pile, and slips them back into the folder. "Program's new," he says. "Idea behind it, that's old as dirt."

He finally pulls out the chair and takes a seat, left arm resting on the table's surface. "The shot at a second chance is good enough," Bucky says. "Those who want it will work for it. Those who don't…" He shrugs. "Better than leaving them sitting in a cell staring at the walls all day."

He nods. "All right, ma'am. You give me the full briefing, I'll see what I can do." The Soldier laughs at the back of his mind: you know exactly what to do. "I've got some experience handling unconventional units." It's one way to refer to the fact he trained probably ninety percent of the Soviet Union's various Widows, death squads, and meta-killers.

He raises a brow. "You're gonna be sharing me with Fury. You talked to him?"


"No." Waller holds out one meaty hand towards the file to retake it. "I don't invite that nosy bastard into my affairs unless absolutely necessary."

She doesn't like the thought of sharing anything, and it's transparent from the plummeting temperature of her tone. "You decide to take the plunge, Barnes, and I'll have the conversation with Fury to see if we can't come to an arrangement on the best way to timeshare your talent. Are you consultant, contractor, or full-time with him?"


Bucky evinces half a smile at the reaction to his comment, though it's a very brief expression that soon slips back into impassiveness. But that's about as far with the information-gathering as he should probably go, for now; there's already a lot to be read from her response. And not the one she makes verbally.

"He's nosy, for a fact," Bucky allows. "Though he's also very practical." He leans back in his chair. "He don't own me, either way. I just consult on the things that benefit from my experience — when he doesn't already have somebody covering it."

He inclines his head. "So I've got the free time. I'll see what I can do with your convicts, ma'am."


"So will I," comes the probably expected response as the file is tucked back into the bag and a few twenties set upon the table. Slowly, in a movement born of her unwillingness to do anything that looks like she is rushing than inability to do so, The Wall rises to her feet and pulls the bag along with her. "I'll have Carson show up in three days with the travel arrangements to our main Louisiana facility. Let you get acquainted with a few of the regulars and lay out your much better benefits package."

Her hand stretches out across the table expectantly. "Is that acceptable, Mister Barnes?"


If Bucky feels any surprise to hear about 'the main Louisiana facility,' he doesn't show it. He just nods once as the Wall—her business here finished—makes to rise.

He lets her make it to a full stand before he himself rises. Her outstretched hand is taken in his own in a firm grip.

"Done deal," he says. He can worry about what his guilt complex has gotten him into—later.

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