Just Keep Punching
Roleplaying Log: Just Keep Punching
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Bucky and Jane check on Jessica in the wake of her disastrous encounter with Psylocke, and the three briefly discuss some loaded topics.

Other Characters Referenced: Matt Murdock, Psylocke
IC Date: June 26, 2019
IC Location: Hell's Kitchen, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 08 Aug 2019 22:12
Rating & Warnings: R
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Fogwell's Gym is an old name in Hell's Kitchen, though its heyday has long since come and gone. When old Sam Fogwell finally retired and passed the place on to new management, people thought the place would just disappear. Just part of the gentrification going on all over the city, right? They'd tear it all down and put up some new fusion restaurant, or an escape room, or something equally millennial.

Instead, the sign stayed up. Workmen came. And the place was restored to a cleaner, newer version of its former self, not renovated. Not torn apart.

The truest owner of the place isn't around today, but the co-owners are. Bucky hasn't been to the gym during its restoration as much as he would have liked, owing to being busy with the initial fallout of registration and all the associated bullshit songs and dances which the Avengers and SHIELD had to do in relation to it — not to mention his actual job, which isn't half so public as any of that for obvious reasons — but he's made time today to come by and see the gym in its fixed-up state.

Not like new. It'll never look really new in here. But that's kind of how Bucky likes it. Being in here takes him back.

He's at a particularly-sturdy looking bag at the moment, in a black tank top and jeans, his left arm fully exposed in a gleam of machined steel. Maybe he's calibrating it a little; maybe he's just working off some steam.

Fogwells, for many reasons, not the least of which being the identity of both owner and co-owners, is something Jess keeps an eye on. When she roams around Hell's Kitchen and happens to be close enough she stops by to make sure nobody's screwing with it, for example. Nobody ever does, which is just fine by her. That's how she notices someone is there at all; a peek in the window tells her who. And so she decides to go in, peeling off her wholly-unnecessary-for-summer leather jacket. That leaves her in a white t-shirt and jeans.
Shehe definitely has some steam to work off, and though she still has her own punching bag at home, working off steam while catching up strikes her as an infinitely better way to do it.

She does tap on the glass and wave before slipping through the door though, just as a courtesy. She's 900% sure Bucky knew she was there about 5 minutes before she knew she was coming in, but she does it anyway.

"Hey," she says, a quick smile flashing across her features. "Mind if I come in?" All the way in. "I don't wanna crash if you need space right now."

Cause if he is blowing off steam, he just might. She glances around to see if Jane is there too, having only seen him from the window.

Over the past few months, there's been the typical silence from the Barnes-Foster side of things. Not distant, not inaccessible — but quiet. Two people who, either by circumstance or by choice, live as unobtrustively as possible, secretive and taciturn after both their names dominated the world's tabloids for months straight.

Even more so, these days, with Jane Foster's weeks' stay in the Raft. There was a time when it was impossible to contact her, and the authorities resisted even delivering forward confirmation of her custody or health — until, with little fanfare, the Avengers (and Tony Stark) pressed for her release. She was not allowed back any of the technology they confiscated off her, and she was bridled with further warnings that her work within New York's state boundaries would be subject to rigorous checks.

And that was that.

In the month thereafter, Jane went back to status quo. Quiet, reserved, close in James Barnes' company, and usually always working.

She's doing that right now, commandeering a corner of the gym, and informally seated right down on the dusty floor — unworried about her clothes, jeans and a hoodie — with her opened laptop. The background sounds of Bucky putting the grief on a bag doesn't lend her to bat an eyelash; this is Jane's white noise, and it seems to keep her peaceful.

But to look at her, prison doesn't look like it took any pound of flesh off her small person — no war wounds, no old injuries, no knuckle tattoos. Just thinner than she used to be, and tired around the eyes where the blue light off her screen illuminates her face.

The door opens, and Jane doesn't as much as twitch from her work. She operates off Bucky's body language, and will only rouse when she senses the sea change off him. None here, especially when it follows with Jessica's familiar voice. Tapping away at her machine, Jane calls back: "Fine by me. Hey, Jess."

After so many years, Bucky and Jane are well-attuned to one another. Jane knows she has only to be aware of Bucky — his body language, his mood — in order to be aware of the levels of threat around them and whether she needs to respond. He's not worried, in the here and now, and so she isn't either.

"Mind? I was waiting for you to get your ass in here," is Bucky's typically-taciturn reply in addition to Jane's invitation, as he steadies the bag with his right hand and turns towards Jessica. There's a glance for Jane along the way, a reflexive check for her condition. She's always tired lately, it seems, and thinner than he likes to see her.

His blue eyes eventually settle on Jessica, and there's a faint smiling about them to take the edge off his hardass outward words. "We've had more than enough space recently." Prison will do that to you.

He flexes his left hand, articulating the metal in an absent limbering of the joints. "What brings you out here, Jess? You making sure nobody's messing up the place? I promise to put everything back where I found it."

Jessica gives Jane a long look that says everything about her concern, even as she tries to appear casual about it. Something in Jane's demeanor relaxes her a moment later though, and she says, "It's good to see you," with full sincerity. The fact that she'd been worried just goes without saying, and so she doesn't. "Both of you."

She slings her jacket over the ropes of the ring and flashes another quick grin at Bucky's greeting. But she nods at his question, snorting at the joke that follows. "I think the owning it part means you guys can mess it up however you want. Anyone else? They don't get to have the chance. It's looking good though."

She finds a punching bag of her own, next door to the one Bucky has claimed, and settles into a stance before starting in on it. Working control and precision more than hitting hard, laying off on that latter bit.

There are many things in this world Jane Foster can accomplish —

— and letting an unfinished line of code sit on her screen isn't one of them. She stares, unblinking, at the screen in her tunnel-vision workaholism, tilts her head, curls a few fingers to spatially gesture out her last logic gate, and then finishes.

It's enough of a coda that she exhales, and finally looks up, her chin nudged to her own shoulder as her dark eyes cross between Bucky and Jessica. Equal to the sleepiness in Jane's eyes, there's as much fondness.

"It's quiet," Jane says of Fogwell Gym. "And that might be the only return on this investment, but that's enough for me." She pauses a moment, then adds, amused, "I still don't get the whole sweaty machismo about men beating the blood out of each other, though."

In good spirits enough to joke around, even crease up a smile, though Jane doesn't immediately rise to stand and greet. Instead, she glances silently across the room back at Bucky, her eyes ruminating something unspoken.

Then: "We caught that video circulating around, Jess. You OK?"

Bucky gives Jessica's long look at Jane a rather long look of his own, but he doesn't say anything about it, in the end. He just glances at Jane, as if silently confirming something to himself, and then lets the moment pass in silence.

"In my experience," he says instead, pivoting onto Jessica's tease, "no matter whose name's on the door, there's usually a woman in the shadows who has the real final say."

He moves over a little as Jessica comes in for some practice of her own. Blue eyes turn to watch her automatically, though it isn't an official training session by any means. Just habit. "It's quiet," he agrees with Jane's assessment on the place, "and it reminds me of the place I used to train when I was a kid. Good memories."

He slants a glance at Jane, amused at her dismissal. "Sweaty machismo's been a man's prerogative since time immemorial, Jane, that's why you don't get it. We got needs."

He sobers a little, though, as Jane brings up what they're both thinking about. "She didn't try anything on you, did she?" is his added question, about the unfortunate encounter.

Bucky's statement about a woman with the real final say makes Jess laugh, but the tip of her head towards Jane says that's sure not her. She listens to their assessment of the place, looks it over with a different sort of eye, and nods a little bit. Her shoulders are shaking all the more at the banter about sweaty machismo. She doesn't weigh in; she has no good insert there for one, and for the other, they're asking about that. She gives the bag a slightly harder thump in response and says, "Only thing hurt is my pride. And maybe my dignity. I haven't lost my temper like that in awhile. But as for my head, no. She didn't try to, no. If she had, she'd have been on her ass. That spell's still holding. Though…"

Here she turns her wry half-smile towards Jane. "I don't suppose you have some sort of solution for telekinesis? Having her pick me up like a kitten wasn't fun."

She shakes her head, a little; she'd eased off asking after their wellbeing directly out of a sort of courtesy, and now she's not sure it was the right kind of courtesy when they so quickly and kindly ask after her own wellbeing. Her own wellbeing, in the wake of an incident that she brought on herself by letting that burst of white-hot rage take over instead of her ability to think clearly and strategically.

Jane Foster is just a hypocrite like that. Quick to ask after others, and just as quick to eel herself away when the same spotlight is turned back on her own person. It's hard to break old habits, and hers are an unfortunate double-tap of isolationist independence and growing up as someone's carer. It feels weird to be cared for.

She's let James Barnes in every way a person can into her life — and even his occasional, worried glances make her briefly, vividly impatient. Old habits are exhausting.

Rather than subject Jessica to further interrogation — Jane's a hypocrite, but she is a careful one that knows not to press her concern too hard, too fast — she swivels in her place, and leans her back against the wall, her arms slung across her crossed legs. Bucky's return brings an archness to her eyes, her smile quirking — she loves it when she makes him get sassy — and refuses to give him the last word. "Did you seriously just say 'time immemorial'? Those are some big words for a boxer."

She does quiet when Bucky asks a very important question. Innocuous-sounding question, perhaps, but implying a meaning enough that Jane's gentle humour snuffs out — goes cold. If some sort of psychic or telepath even tried something with Jessica's mind —

There would be consequences.

Jessica's answer merits some relief, enough that Jane folds up her legs, fidgetting as she pulls absently on her own fingers. The question on telekinesis is the only thing that makes it all stop. Jane weighs the question empirically with a tilt of her head. "Well, um. Telekinesis is, what — someone thinks something, and that same thought applies force on the world?" She considers it transparently.

It's an anathaema, really, being asked a problem of no immediate solution. Gets Jane's mind off other things — a wide, many other things. "I think so. I mean, depending on what you want to do. I used to have this program that allowed me to reboot the neural RES, so say goodbye to thinking — that, uh, involved magic, however. If I looked purely on the application of force, well… whatever the source, it's still governed by the laws of thermodynamics. So, yeah, there's a workaround." She pauses. "But, Jess, you can throw cars and mulch metal like old fruit. I can't imagine it being mentally easy to hold onto the amount of force you can generate without getting some sort of headache."

"I did," is Bucky's equanimous response to Jane's 'did you really just say that.' "Back in my day, they actually taught shit in schools."

Bucky listens in silence as Jessica explains nothing's hurt but her pride. There's a brief, tense moment after his question in which he and Jane are very quiet — consequences indeed, if someone tried to pry into Jessica's mind — but her demurral pricks that bubble of tension.

Her follow-up question on whether Jane might be able to do anything for telekinesis, however, has him turning interested blue eyes towards her himself.

"Could use something like that myself if you developed it, anyway," he says. "Just in case. Things are only gonna get more complicated as this registration business ramps up, and people start getting more openly agitated in flinging around their very varied assortments of powers. Wanna be prepared when shit hits the fan." Not if — but when.

There's another dimension to his words, an implication he might be on the side of enforcement if things went down, but then — is that surprising? The Avengers had to come down publicly behind registration, even if many of them have… personal feelings on the matter.

"Fuck me," Jessica says. "You mean I could have just…kept punching? Shoved off that shit? I'll remember that next time."

Learned helplessness is a thing sometimes. Or maybe just assumed helplessness, in this case. Next time someone throws that at her, though…she'll be hell of a lot more prepared to do something about it.

But talk of registration has her reaching out to stop her bag. Here, she sits down, much as Jane was sitting, right in the dust. She drapes her arms over her knees and frowns.

"I'm starting to think being pissed about registration is causing more harm than the actual law. I mean it's only been three months but…the damn thing has benefited me. Costa, my DPS agent, briefly called me about the video and I expected a load of shit. Instead I got a few brief questions about the chick I fought, you know? The assumption was more or less that I was acting in good faith. And…Well. If you watched the video you heard what I said. But at the same time, the freaking Sentinel thing, and the whipping up excuses to arrest people…"

She sort of gestures out at Jane, adding, "People I care about getting arrested…I don't know what the fuck to think any more, to be honest. I don't know if I ought to be smashing Sentinels, digging through Amon Bell's fucking garbage to see if I can't find something that would force him to slow his roll, continuing to protest, following Carol's initial suggestion or what. And with Matt and Foggy on the front lines of fighting against, it feels wrong to even re-evaluate."

She blows out her cheeks and looks between them. "I remember you guys saying you maybe supported it, but that was before they hauled you in, Jane. Where are you guys even at with all this shit?"

And James Barnes answers sass with sass. There is no force in the world that can make Jane suppress her smile. That irrepressible part of him is one of her favourites, and God if she loves encouraging it out every chance she can get. Keeps the man from brooding too hard.

She gives him that victory, bringing up one hand to briefly slide over her grinning mouth. He's not wrong.

Instead, she settles, letting seriousness and that old, familiar itch of invention take her thoughts as Jessica asks for a solution to telekinesis. Jane's gaze grows distant, pensive; the wheels are turning in that prodigious mind of hers.

An idea sparks against the lenses of her eyes. "I think I could create a device — I'll talk to Tony about how we could power it. Telekinesis breaks thermodynamic laws, so I don't see why we can't, on a quantum level, just break them right back."

Though she offers an immediate solution to Jessica — much to the woman's surprise. Her question comes met with a mild shrug from Jane. "Maybe? I think so. I've never been able to field test mental abilities. But it's basic Newtonian mechanics. Next time, make them work, and don't hold back."

She watches as Jessica sits on the ground, the action its own curiousity — before it follows with the most loaded of loaded topics. Loaded enough that it strikes Jane palpably silent, listening on as her friend struggles with the salient points on both sides of registration.

Talk of Jane being 'hauled in' — she glances away, over and down at the ground, rubbing her thumb over the knuckles of her right hand. There's a look to her reminiscent to the day in Court she took the stand, small and raw. Barely even ready to think about what happened, and forced to talk about it.

She glances over to Bucky. Jessica has asked them a very good question, and Jane isn't sure how to answer it. Her glance begs him to.

"Ah," Jane tries, a little feebly, "I mean. We're with the Avengers. It's the side we chose…"

"I think you could stand to 'keep punching' on a few more occasions than you do," is Bucky's quiet observation. He knows Jessica's hangups when it comes to the full force of her strength — and damned if he doesn't empathize with that particular brand of guilt — but at the same time… he doesn't want to see her hurt because she didn't defend herself as hard as she needed to, when she truly needed to. He's had occasion to worry about that coming to pass in the past, and her reticence was one of the first and most major hurdles he had to get past with her in terms of training her.

He doesn't harp on the issue too long, however, especially as Jane's sassing him. His countersass seems to shut her down, which he takes straight as a victory without contemplating that she might just be managing his brooding allowance. The playfulness doesn't last long anyway, what with the conversation turning to science — and then to registration.

The first topic, Bucky hasn't got much input on. The second, he might have too much input about. He doesn't look at Jane, at her sudden silence on the topic of being 'hauled in,' but he does step closer to her, his presence hovering in close in wordless reassurance — and protectiveness. There's something loaded in the silence that hangs between them on the topic of Jane's jail time — something which spurs the normally taciturn James Barnes to talk over Jane, and take over the conversation from her feeble demurral. He never could say no to her pleading looks.

"It's not… cut and dry, no," he starts slowly. "Not a lot of things are." He's certainly qualified to speak about the many shades of moral grey between black and white. "Like Jane said, while we're with the Avengers we toe the party line in public. In private…"

He shrugs. "Of course it's got benefits. Anything like this has benefits at first. The Nazis sure promised all kinds of benefits for the people of Germany. Now, this law doesn't have to go in that extreme a direction — but it could, if people aren't careful, and they're not being real fucking careful right now. Giant robots? Night raids in Mutant Town? That's how this shit turns sour."

His arms folds, his head bowing. "At the same time… there are some people who oughta be registered, people who use their powers criminally, people who are extreme dangers to society, people who need to be monitored." A pause. "People like me, which is why I registered myself early."

He shakes his head. "But I've served a bad government before, and I know the risks involved in trusting anybody to hold my leash like that. Just a matter of whether I think that risk's more acceptable than the risk of me being — turned again, and nobody having any kind of tabs on me at the time."

Bucky gives Jess a gentle admonishment on holding back, and she briefly dips her head in acknowledgement. He's not wrong. She remembers that lesson all too well. And yet even now there's still a great deal of restraint in the woman. Not that there was in Psylocke's case, but…she's almost glad. If the woman really is just a shit communicator she would have felt awfully bad for breaking a whole bunch of her bones.

But…they are diving into the waters of Registration all the more deeply.

Jane looks small for a moment, courtesy of her comment about her jail time, and Jess gives her an apologetic grimace. Gives them both an apologetic grimace. That was nothing she meant to do. Then again, she sticks her foot in her mouth all the time. Why should right now be any different? Nevertheless, the apology is there.

But then, Jane gives her halting comment about joining the Avengers, and she blinks a little; rubs her head. To the spy in the room, it is a weird, but clear gesture of…is this a fact I already knew? Did I forget it? Did I just fail to keep up? Or am I just learning it now? The detective is thoroughly unsure, and briefly bugged by it.

But as Bucky does take over, she listens closely and carefully, her hand falling away. And she doesn't address whether she should have known it or not, but instead asks, "Why did you guys make that choice? To join the Avengers?"

Questions are always the go to for her, no matter what…and in that answer she thinks she might just find some clarity. Because it's all a mess. A big one. And for a woman who functions far better when things are cut and dried (the asshole did it, or didn't. The kid is missing, now she's not)…well. She'll take any help she can get trying to get any perspective at all on shades of grey. Because she has a fundamental need, like most of their circle does, to try to do something to make things better. And when she has no idea what better is…that becomes an awful hard thing to attempt.

The last eighty years made the Winter Soldier one of the world's best, and most ruthless killers, and it is his same, closing presence that slowly eases the knots out of Jane's bearing. He does not even look at her, and she does not look back — it's not even needed. His proximity is enough to help her center herself, and chase away unwanted memories.

Something happened in the Raft. Jane's not ready to talk about it — but something happened.

Recovery comes among the low, patient cadence of Bucky's voice. Jane listens absently, riding the sentences back out of the dark place that took her, and when she finally looks back — there's no nervousness, cringe, or even derision in her brown eyes. And never for Jessica Jones, whom Jane would never blame for asking needful questions. If anything, Jane looks a little ashamed of herself, before she tries to smooth that raw spot away, not wanting to make a fuss.

She adds nothing to what Bucky said. Jane seems to agree with it all; seems prepared to stand on his side of the debate, no matter her own testy relationship with government, and the danger behind untouchable authority systems. More choices she's made in her strange last few years of life, but all choices true to her.

Jessica asks them why they joined. Jane, far more composed now, considers it. She glances back up at Bucky again, less pleading, far more thoughtful. She answers, her words slow — careful — and her voice soft. "I need to keep an eye on Tony. James, the same with Steve. Our position affords us a great deal of information, and the Avengers keeps us accessible to SHIELD, so we haven't lost touch with them. There are certain freedoms we're allowed — boons, I guess, for remaining in the public. There's also a lot of opportunity for us to protect those who don't have our resources, or those who have secrets that need to be kept."

Her lips press into a brief line, and she exhales. "It wouldn't work for everyone. It works for us."

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