|Old Apartment, New Friends|
|What: Having finally gone back to her old flat that has been kept for her by a mysterious SHIELD member, Peggy has a nice, relaxed night in. Bucky and Natasha come to visit and the ensuing conversation goes better than expected.|
Peggy Carter's Apartment
A small flat on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Peggy's apartment has somehow managed to dodge the strike down and rennovations that are so popular these days in NYC. The building goes back to the 1880s and is defined in the real estate market as a 'Character Building'. The interior is low and dim, definitely built in a previous era. It smells slightly dusty, but not too bad. Dark hardwood floors well compliment the big leather davenport that rests in front of a small brick fireplace. Some mismatched burgundy rugs line the walking areas of the floor. There is a little two person breakfast nook outside a corner kitchen with black and white tile flooring. The walls are wood paneling halfway up and then break into a slightly peeling dark burgundy and gold wallpaper. Most of the lamps have fringes, other than the green banker's lamp which rests on an incredibly messy, large old oak desk in the corner. A matching leather sitting chair, overstuffed, and a burgundy ottoman flank the other side of the davenport.
A message was left for the helicarrier that Peggy wouldn't be back for a few days, apparently she was taking time to recover in New York City. However, if anyone wanted or needed her, she'd be at the little flat which a key had been discovered for in the archives marked 'For Margaret Carter, when recovered'. She left the address. And, of course, there was the little cellphone one of the interns had got her and taught her to use.
Bucky Barnes keeps an eye out for Peggy the next day. After all that's happened to her in the last few days.. but it turns out she's elsewhere, having left a note for everyone. That's fine, and even if Peg did get kidnapped recently Bucky got the impression she'd mostly worked her way out on her own anyhow by the time they all caught up. She's a formidable woman.
But the flat mentioned in the note catches his attention. As in, it was left for her from before she disappeared? The idea leaves him more than a little curious, and as one can do when they've resisted any formal obligations in the last while, there's little stopping him from taking note of the address and stopping by. He doesn't bother with the phone, wanting to see the outside even if Peggy isn't looking for company. Instead he knocks on the door.
It's just the right time of evening that Peggy's come back after spending the day on Long Island, to shower, change and relax in a space that is entirely her own. Just discovering that someone had kept the little flat for her (and sent cleaning in once every six months!) was a little piece of heaven. Having one's own space is incredibly steadying after having been feeling like she was hitching a ride, pretty much, since she woke up. "One minute!" She calls through the door, not too worried. She did leave her address, after all. It is a bit longer before she peeks out the little glass peep hole only to find a face she didn't quite expect. She smiles and undoes the bolt, pulling the door open to reveal the darkened apartment beyond and her freshly showered frame. Her dark hair is up in a towel and she's wearing a dark navy satin house robe over top of, well, who knows what. "Good evening, Bucky, everything alright?" She asks, immediately concerned that possibly something happened.
Bucky Barnes 's default expression of late doesn't do much to alleviate that snap concern, but he smiles a little and nods. "Looks like." he answers. "Just wanted to make sure everything was on the up and up. Hadn't heard about this place before."
"Ah!" The woman seems to trust his words a bit more than that default look in his eyes, because Peggy releases a breath she hadn't quite been holding. "Of course, please, come in." She steps back, letting him into the little flat that just screams of decades previous. There isn't a single scrap of modern times to be found. The only entertainment piece is an old knob radio on a stand near the window. Everything is made of far more sturdy stuff than most furniture these days. She shuts and secures the lock on the door. There is enough scattered in the place that it was probably a bachelorette pad when she used it regularly. "Home sweet home. I can't believe someone *kept* it... I suspect it was Howard, but the note was unsigned." She does not seem to have a care she's standing in her robe -- hell, it covers more than most dresses.
It certainly doesn't seem to bother Bucky, disheveled as it might be considered. But then, even back in the day it hadn't taken him that long to treat her as one of the team rather than some blushing violet. He takes a step or two inside the door, gaze sweeping over the vintage room. The decor certainly seems to grab his attention, but he's also looking for things like photographs, the number of chairs, things like that, and looks a little puzzled when it gives the impression of a single girl's home. He meets Peggy's eye again, saying practically, "You could get the handwriting checked. Even if it was typed, might be able to compare it to others that came from him."
"Typed. SHIELD issue typewriter from back in the day. It's no matter, I... I'm just glad they did it." Indeed, the place is definitely not big enough for two, and it looks like only that overstuffed side chair was ever really used. There are some photos, Peggy and the whole SSR in some forced photo at what looks like a picnic, photos of the Manhattan streets on VE day, two yellowed but framed articles about Captain America. There is a single photo on her desk that would hint at more -- Peggy in an understated white dress and Daniel Sousa in a gray tux standing outside of a building with concrete stairs, perhaps a church or a courthouse. They look happy. There is no other trace of Daniel in this place. She steps the rest of the way in, "Do you want a drink? Something in the bar might still be good -- it's certainly aged, or James got be a bottle of Hendricks as a get well present." There is a small upright liquor cabinet uncomfortably close to the desk. It's about half stocked, all bottles with ancient labels.
Her mention of Logan leaves Bucky turning a quizzically confused look on her for a moment, though he replies, "I was just checking in. Don't gotta be formal on my account if you'd rather I shove off for now." for his own part he's been in no hurry to hollow out a place of his own, and hasn't yet missed it. It's more comfortable to be on the sidelines of the lives of those he's come to trust, just reabsorbing the concept. Besides, there were very few times in his life before he ever really was on his own, and he never did care for it. He had three younger siblings growing up, and thrived in the close knit Commandos.
But something about this carefully preserved piece of Peggy's prior life makes him feel a little like a trespasser standing in her front room, like the flat was another old friend Peggy had just met again, and she might prefer to do so without interlopers.
Despite the fact that Peggy has always been quite the opposite -- a woman so fiercely independent she thought she'd be alone most of her life -- she doesn't seem to mind his presence. His slightly awkward commentary about shoving off just makes her smirk, dark eyes levelling in his direction. "You didn't come all the way down here to shove off in less than a minute. Sit. Sorry things are... well... I guess they are in far better shape than I thought they'd be, really, but almost no one knew about this place so I never quite kept it tidy." This was her hide-away? From married life, from the SSR, from most things, maybe. "Sit. Relax. Unless you were going to get a hair cut, then go bloody well cut off that mop and come back after." She's only half teasing. She moves to pour them out some gin. It'll be warm, she didn't exactly get ice box deliveries any more.
The jibe earns her a more genuine smile, and Bucky takes both the offered seat and the drink. Luckily Bucky was never very choosy about drinks, especially if he wasn't the one buying. "I dunno, I've gotten kinda used to it." he remarks, perhaps just to wind her up a bit more.
It's a good gin, at least, and only slightly burns going down. Peggy has poured them both generous portions of the bottle before she too comes around and settles into the overstuffed chair like one would an old friend -- more of a graceless plop than sitting like a lady. She kicks her legs up, feet bared and showing red painted toenails. Sometimes, she could be so painfully feminine. She rolls her eyes about his hair, "Getting used to something isn't a reason to keep it. Do you know what Phillips would have said about that hair of yours? You look like some east end punk rotter." There is still as much teasing to her voice as there is chiding.
Bucky Barnes grins wider. He's turned up the name, even if his impressions are vague. He looks almost cheeky as he says, "I dunno; I kinda figure that's more a reason to keep it than not." he adds in an offhanded aside, "Besides, Nattie likes it." he takes a drink of his gin, followed by an appreciative noise. "This the new stuff? Steve was saying drinks in general are better lately. I'm sure not complaining."
The brunette rolls her eyes as he mentions that being a reason to keep it, but his comment about Nattie, including that nick name, draws a definite look. Peggy cocks a brow, her pink lipped smile widening a bit more. She has no make up on, so the long scar on her left cheek that she almost always hides can now be seen, as well as the plain color of her usually vibrant mouth. "Nattie, is it? Well, if *Nattie* likes it, we can't change *that*. And yes, around since '99, I think he said. It's quite acceptable."
Bucky colors a little at the teasing, and covers it by nonchalantly taking another drink. "What's wrong with 'Nattie'? Closer to her given name than either of ours, y'know." not that his is from his given name, but details details. The grin just widens on her lips as he blushes, she not missing it in the dim light. "You really are sweet on her, aren't you?" The tone in Peg's voice is entirely approving. "There is nothing wrong with it, I just have a feeling she'd gut most other teammates if they tried to call her that. The fact she lets you tells me she's gone soft for you too. It's not a bad thing. Quite the contrary." Peggy then takes a long sip of her own gin, able to put it back with the best of them. Her other hand reaches up and untucks the towel from the back of her head so she can pull it off and shake her damp, brown waves out. She tosses it to carelessly rest on her desk chair. She might remember to clean it up later. Maybe
"I wasn't saying it would be," Bucky protests, rubbing his right hand through his mess of hair. He casts about for a change of topic, not really wanting to get into the fact Natasha in her own convoluted way already more or less turned him down. His eye catches on the picture on the desk, the only sign Peggy had any connection to the outside world when she came to this place. "..He take a hit in the war?" he wonders.
Peg sits forward a bit more in her chair, looking over his face, something behind those eyes about Natasha that she's missing, but she doesn't push it. Not now, at least. She just takes another sip of her gin and then lazily stretches her arm over to rest the tumbler on the table at her side. His question draws her eyes over to the picture, her lips settling into a neutral line again, "Yes. Lost his leg from the knee down. He was lucky the amputation was so clean, it could have been worse. You were there, actually... though there were a lot of men in that raid. When you and Steve got most of the 107th back?"
Bucky Barnes repeats, "Got them back?" he's read about the first mission Steve led, disobeying orders to free over a hundred men. It's one of the ones he remembers bits of. But from what he can piece together, he wasn't in a position to have been much help with that. "Did we lose 'em again?"
Peg chuckles a bit, "No, that first time. I always think of it as the first time the 107th really ran together, though I know parts of the unit had worked together previously. Daniel was in that mess, among the lucky ones to get out... Not lucky to get out whole. He never let it stop him. Joined the SSR same time I did... we worked together after the war." She's doing her very best to keep most emotion out of her voice, even if the amount of things she's feeling about her husband are too many to name and incredibly complicated. She's wearing her wedding bands still, though. She's also finishing off her gin in one deep gulp.
"No kidding?" Bucky wonders, still looking at the photo. "Sounds like a swell guy." he says. He crosses his right arm over his left, and says, "They musta sent him home after that. Guess you really met in the SSR?" he looks back to Peggy, and pauses at her expression.
Peggy Carter's eyes narrow at him and she leans forward, grabbing up the bottle of gin from that little glass coffee table between them. She pulls the cork out of the top of the bottle and pours them out both another generous two fingers of the stuff. Apparently, she doesn't plan on going *anywhere* else tonight. "If you're giving me the third degree, I'm allowed to do it in turn, you know? Yes, we met in the SSR. And what happened with Nat?" Peggy is not subtle about her proposed tit-for-tat of this conversation.
He'd already taken pause when he caught the look on her face. As together as Peggy always appears, sometimes it's easy to forget how deep some of her own hurts must run. "..Sorry.." he offers quietly. "Was letting my mouth run." he grimaces a little at her own question, but gives a shrug and doesn't let the top-of go to waste. After he's had a good swallow he says, "You're really set on this, aren't you?" he comments neutrally. "But if you're gonna keep asking, guess you might as well just know she's not looking. Not for me, maybe not anyone, I dunno."
"Yes, I'm set on this. You are the closest thing I've ever had to a brother, so that entitles me to stick my nose in it." Whether he liked it or not! Peggy takes another sip of her gin, that smile returning to her lips, "And I've actually grown rather fond of Miss Romanov too, so I am going to keep asking. What do you mean 'Maybe not anymore?' What happened?" Like a dog with a bone, Peggy wasn't going to give up now that she's pretty certain she's brushed on something here.
Bucky Barnes lets out a breath, leaning his head back on the top of the vintage high backed chair. It's comfortable, even if it's not the prized overstuffed armchair Peggy claimed to curl up in. "Because we.." he scowls at the ceiling, not even sure where to start with this. "There ain't really a short version." he concludes.
"I don't have anywhere to be until 10 am. The nursing home isn't letting me cheat around visitor hours any more. There's plenty of gin left. Hell, if you don't tell medical, I ever have a pack of cigarettes stashed." She winks to him, giving her glass a little, encouraging shake and another small sip. But then Peggy's expression turns a little more somber, not actually wanting to tease about the story. "But truly, James... talk to me. I'm listening. I'm probably one of the few people that might even start to understand and I'll keep my mouth shut about it."
"It's not so bad as all that." he assures as she starts offering cigarettes and then getting that weighty look. "We all of us got a second chance, and that's nothing to sneeze at. But look, she spent years with love just being a weapon. She had to. I know that. I get it if she's done with it all, and it's fine. But.." he grimaces, drumming the fingers of his free right hand on one knee. "Look, we had a talk about it already. She doesn't remember it, but she knows about it, and she's leaving it alone. There was this...nasty shrink in with HYDRA. Called himself Marlowe. Nattie dove in with them trying to extract me, and he took a shot at scrambling her brains too. 'Course she's not stupid, she took some sort of precaution she had to keep mostly hush hush to protect a friend from what I got after the fact. Anyhow, she had kind of a..splinter personality? There was two of her in her head for a little while, the one watching over the other, and she was able to merge them back together to kick out all that bastard's meddling. But she remembered all the stuff that--" he pauses, rubbing over his face. "Ah, hell. We used to know each other, did you know that already? Over a decade ago."
The gin is now ignored as Peggy follows the slightly rambling story. She needed a clear head for this and was already a drink and a half in. She sets the glass down and crosses her legs, dark eyes all for him and the tale he lays out. It's the last bit which makes her gaze narrow. "Over a decade? From what I've read in Natasha's file, she's only been in SHIELD ten years or so. You knew her before? I didn't know..." She admits, but then falls quiet, curious for him to go on and the best way to encourage someone to speak is to give them a silence to fill.
It does the trick. Bucky rubs the back of his neck, but goes on. "Yeah, that's the long and the short of it. We were with the same covert group in Russia for awhile. There was kinda a dust up over her and this other kid, and I got.. reassigned. But the Natasha that was keeping her sane just lately, she remembered everything. All the things our Nattie's lost. Her childhood, some time from then, all that stuff. Remembered she'd been sweet on me too, turns out." that uncharacteristic flush resurfaces. "Was a nice little tender moment, you'll prolly be glad to hear. I told her Nattie'd want to know those things.. even the bad stuff, even stuff she'd lost." He adds a little more quietly, "I would. But, uh. She wouldn't have it." he pauses to put a pretty good dent on the remainder of his glass. He goes on, "Talked her into at least writing some stuff down.. the good stuff, you know? If she was so worried the bad would be too much to carry, at least the stuff that'd make her happy, right? And, uh. She did. She wrote down most of a notebook of the stuff."
As much as Peggy hated using the old tricks on a friend, it worked, and from the way he spills? It's something he needed to talk about. She listens in silence, occasionally just letting a quiet sound of understanding escape her throat, but she never parts her lips to interrupt. As he nearly finishes off his gin, she stretches her foot over and just pushes the bottle on the table closer to him, an indication that he can help himsef. Poor Logan was going to miss all the gin. "That... that all sounds like a really good idea, getting her to write it down. I know she's... she's fighting with a lot of the bad stuff. She talked to me a bit about it. Not enough. I'm glad she's talking to you too." Peggy whispers softly, a genuine undertone of concern in her accented voice. "But that is also all very much in the past. You two have both changed. Grown."
"Right, exactly.." he replies fervently. "It stinks. It stinks to high hell, but it's gonna weigh you down if you try to pretend it didn't happen.." he breaks off, and laughs a little. "Funny, huh? Here I was so dead set on facing the bad, I've..been missing out on what's still good. Got you all to thank for knocking some sense into me..." he all but murmurs. He takes a breath, and snags the bottle, though he only pours a little more. It's not doing much, and it's awfully good to be downing. "And Nattie, huh? She's finally got something good going, and the other her didn't want to ruin it by dumping all that old garbage on top."
"But none of us is a whole person if we don't dump all the good in with the bad. We can't just ride on the nice things, pretending like no shite ever happened to us, you know? I'm certain you do, and she does too. Good and bad, it all comes together. It's called being alive. Something we are all damned lucky to be." Peggy raises her glass with that, a silent toast to the fact they are still all breathing, and then she takes another deeper drink of the gin she was neglecting. "So...why do you think she wouldn't be interested?"
The matching glass raises up in solidarity at her sentiment. "You sure got that right." he agrees. "That's the thing, isn't it? It takes both. Guess she and I'd just kinda gone to opposite extremes, huh?" he chuckles again. "But yeah, anyhow. I kinda hung around after. Once the other her was...gone. And I mean, Nattie'd been through a lot, had a lot to process. But I thought maybe after she'd read up on everything.. maybe she'd reconsider the whole life of solitude and want to talk, you know? But, um. Guess I was getting a little ahead of myself.. either she didn't write that part down with all the good stuff.. or she, uh. Didn't think it sounded quite so good with a fresh set of eyes in the here and now. She hasn't changed her tune on that point a bit."
"Except you're crashing on her couch now and she sure as hell hasn't kicked you out. And she lets you call her Nattie." Peggy adds with a slightly pointed brow, not entirely buying it, it seems. "Did she straight up tell you she didn't want to talk? That it was never happening? Or did you assume things because you are a man and men like to just assume things?
Bucky Barnes blinks up at Peggy, retorting, "I always called her that! ..And I've been crashing lots of places." he snorts. "And catch me if I'm wrong, but you're a funny one to be saying if a lady takes a fella back to her place to fall asleep it means something." he ribs her gently. "Anyhow, it's a touchy topic for her. I said my piece, if the other her wanted it to stay forgotten...it's still Nattie. I'm just supposed to ignore that?"
"If you always called her that and she wanted all that forgotten? She wouldn't let you call her that any more, James. I think she trusts you, and wants you in her life, more than you realize." Peggy smirks at his commentary about bringing a guy back to her place. "That was my being practical, I did not invite you to move in. From what I know, she *did*. It's different."
"I mean I called her that since I got back. Before the other her popped up. She'd think something was off if I stopped all of a sudden." he pauses at the comment about asking him to move in. He'd more or less brushed it aside as helping out an old friend, but she did say something like that once, didn't she? He shakes his head, though. "Peggy, we're old friends. I'm not saying she wants to forget me. I'm not even saying she might not like me around. I just don't think she's looking to go on ration if you know what I'm saying."
There's a knock on the door. "Peggy, are you home?" It's Natasha. "...I really hope you are, otherwise I hauled all of this up from the car for no reason..."
Peggy Carter is about to answer him, probably with something equally as stubborn, but then there is a completely unexpected knock. She blinks at the voice. "...speak of the devil..." She mutters beneath her breath, laughing quietly and slipping up out of the chair without *much* swaying, even if there is a bit. "Yes, I'm home, one minute!" She double times over to the door, unlocking the bolt and chain, before opening it and grinning in surprise. She's got damp, messy waves of brown hair and no make up on, showing that old scar on her left cheek. She's in a navy satin robe which is tied tightly shut so covers more than most dresses. "Nat, I didn't expect you, what is all this...?" Peggy Carter is also wearing, which she didn't before, two gold rings on her left ring finger.
Bucky Barnes stands up when Natasha enters, perhaps out of some reflexive reaction to his dated surroundings. He has an ironic sort of smile on his face, and a mostly empty glass of gin in his left hand. He raises the other in a small wave. "Fancy meeting you here." he says, and his tone also suggests she was in fact the recent subject of conversation.
Natasha Romanov grins, two large boxes in her arms. It seems more awkward than heavy for her. "Well, word was you'd gotten your old apartment, so I thought I'd get you some house warming gifts." She smiles a bit bashfully "...And I got some Christman decor too." She pokes her head around when she hears James, her face lighting up just a bit, which only Peg would catch. "James, hi! I was wondering where you went off to, you really should leave a note or something." she chides. At that tone in his voice, she smirks. "You were talking about me weren't you? No wonder my ears were burning. Peggy, whatever he said I did, don't believe him!" Her tone is pure teasing and affection.
Dark eyes go wider as she sees the boxes, leaning forward to scoop up at least one of them from Nat. "Oh, Natasha, you... You really didn't have to, most everything I've got here is still good!" If 60 years old, including her literal ice box and radio. She still chuckles lightly, shutting the door behind both of them with her bare heel as she brings the box over to rest on that tiny breakfast nook table -- it's really the only bare flat surface in the house. The desk looks like SHIELD paperwork exploded all over it 60 years ago and hasn't been touched since. Whoever sent in the cleaning crews didn't have the heart to clean that up. "And yes, though all good things. I was telling Bucky that you wouldn't have invited him to stay if you were at least somewhat fond of him." Leave it to Peggy to be uncomfortably forward. She then looks into the boxes, curious about the load.
Bucky Barnes scoots over the nearest chair as an optional surface for the remaining box, sighing. "I didn't say she wasn't." well, everyone's just speculating about her feelings, it seems. He pauses though, hand still resting on the back of the chair without really looking at Nat. "How long did you mean for?" he adds, all smoothly casual-like.
The box Peggy peeks into has a few simple picture frames, each one holding a different picture of the Avengers. One looks like a publicity photo, while the others seem to be candid shots of the group at ease. Not everyone is in every photo. Under the pictures are two hand knitted pot holders (those things you put on the table to rest hot pans on), a set of coasters from the 70s judging from the designs, and a a little tea leaf holder for making loose leaf teas.
"Still, I wanted to do something feminine. Don't often get a chance with all the boys. And of course I'm fond of James. I mean, who isn't?" Nat says with a wink and a chuckle. She sets her box on the offered chair. "What, staying at my place? James, I told you before, I want you to say - for as long as you want." The last part of her statement sounds added on.
At that 'too smooth' question about how long he can stay, Peggy just lofts both eyebrows and hides a bit of a grin with digging into the box to gently start pulling things out. Strangely, her walls are a weird match of the photos in there -- some personal photos of the SSR, with a few Captain America clippings from the 1940s. There is also her wedding photo with a dark haired man in a silver tux on her desk. "Oh...Natasha, these are lovely. And tea. You know I can't do without tea. Thank you." She leans in for a warm kiss to the woman's cheek, if the woman allows that is. And then she looks back to Bucky with a smirk, "See? And Natasha, he's fond enough of you to forego cutting that mop he calls hair because you like it that way."
"Bet I could dig up a few, but only 'cause they got bad taste." Bucky replies with a smirk to Natasha's first comment. He still stands behind the chair though, to leave space if the ladies decide to use it for the remaining box. His grip tightens on the back and he flashes a rather comically betrayed look to Peggy.
Natasha Romanov is rather surprised by the warm kiss on the cheek, and blinks a bit to hide whatever emotion was welling up. "You're too sweet, Peggy. I make my own blends of tea, mostly to feed Miss Pott's fancy for them - but it's something I enjoy." Making sure to set her box down gently, she leans over and ruffles Bucky's hair. "*I* think it makes him look handsome." she says, mischieviiously. There's fondness too. The unopened box holds Christmas decoractions - including a few ornaments, one of which is a petite ballerina wearing a Sugerplum Fairy dress.
"Don't I get a say in this?" Bucky speaks up, brushing the hair out of his face he made no effort to stop Natasha from upsetting. He seems more than ready to skirmish with Peggy on the point, but gets distracted when he spots the ornaments in the newly opened box, especially one of them. "Say... Nattie? What happened to those things from when you were off grid? I still got the knife, but there was a ballerina too. Like something out of a music box kinda..did it end up with you?"
As the two seem to share a moment from their own history, Peggy quickly drops the subject of hair. In fact, she doesn't intrude on this at all. She just lets them talk and remember as she herself quietly goes to hanging up a few things. There is no tree for the actual ornaments, but she gently lines them up on the fireplace mantle, between the few photos she has. She is happy to busy herself as they talk.
Bucky Barnes's brow furrows in confusion. "It was yours before? SHIELD probably has it, if you wanna ask for it back. It's yours now, anyhow. Same for the knife.. was it really his, or just the same kind?" she must have written about that, right? Then again, maybe not. If she doesn't remember Nikolai, it'd be a pretty clear indicator her other self felt matters of the heart weren't worth remembering.
Natasha Romanov rubs her forehead. "The knife... It was..." She grimaces, sorting the muddled memories in her mind. "His? I feel like I should know this, but it's like looking through opaque glass. I think, it was something important, wasn't it? I can't remember." She sits down on a chair, looking overwhelmed suddenly. "Like I should know the answer, but it's out of reach. I *know* I had three things, for some reason..."
Silently, Peggy stops unpacking and slips over to the little standing liquor cabinet and the glasses on top of it. She pulls another of the tumblers down and then returns to the coffee table, where she has that bottle of gin. She pours Natasha out a finger and a half of the stuff, not even asking if she wants it, then gently sets it in the woman's hand. "Have a drink and relax. Don't push it. It's harder to remember something when you're trying to force it." Her dark eyes raise to Bucky as she says that. "That goes for both of you."
Bucky Barnes has crossed his arms over the back of the chair now housing the ornaments. "Yeah," he agrees, though for his part he's sometimes had as much trouble stopping memories as tracking them down. The mind just does what it wants, he supposes. "Don't need to force anything." he does glance to Peggy, a silent, 'see?' in his gaze.
Natasha Romanov takes the glass, sniffs at it, and sips. "Not really one for gin, but this is pretty good." she comments, still a bit unsettled. "Oh shoot - at the bottom of that ornament box *should* be a bottle of vodka. The good stuff." And by good stuff she means super expensive imported potato vodka. "...I admit, I haven't read that whole book yet." she tells Bucky. "...I start reading, and so much hurts me - it hurts." She takes a long gulp of her gin, nearly finishing it. "I know that sounds stupid of me..."
Peggy gives him a silent, small nod of approval as he gives her that look. Her smile is gentle, tempered, the situation delicate, she understands that, but she has some hope for it. "Thank James. Ah- not Bucky here, Logan-James. I need to get used to calling him that." He'd always be James Howlett in her mind, though, so it was difficult. She blinks at the comment about vodka, leaning down in to pull out the last few things -- including that bottle. "Very nice. Would you rather some of this, Nat? Sounds like you could use it." There is Peggy, not dancing around anything, forward and caring at the same moment. Even if she's telling someone they should drink.
Peggy's expression of understanding causes Bucky to relax slightly, and he finally steps out from behind the chair, setting some ornaments and knick-knacks aside as Peggy walks over and collects the remainder, bottle and all. "Don't wanna lose track of that." he says with a smirk. "Logan? So that's who you meant before."
"Logan's a good man, even if he's rough around the edges." Natasha says, relaxing a bit. "And sure, if you want to break it out now." She sets her glass down, letting out a loud sigh. "Hey, James? I... nevermind." She blushes a looks away. "I was just going to ask... if you read through that book? Or, if... you'd sit and read it with me."
You know? Maybe this bottle of vodka is going go be hard to open. And maybe she should get other glasses, from another room, that will need washed, of course, for vodka. Peggy nods to the question of Logan, "Yes. He and I... we were... Close, once." She leaves that line of inquiry there, though, letting the two talk. "I'm just going to get some fresh glasses." And she bustles off into the kitchen, the sink can be heard going a moment later. It's the closest she can get to giving them privacy in her own apartment.
The question regarding the book catches Bucky by surprise, though he's not able to line up a response before Peggy moves to busy herself in the kitchen. Bucky turns to watch her go, then shakes his head at Natasha. "'Course I didn't read it. I don't think that woulda been...no. No one did. That was for you, Nattie." he assures. "You..sure you'd want me around for that?" he'd very much like to know what is in there. He'd like to know more about her, but it's an awfully personal thing to not treat with due gravity.
Natasha Romanov watches Peggy go, touched by the woman's discretion. It meant a lot to her. "I know it was meant for me, James. But... I want you to be with me. For..." She trails of, reaching for his hand and sqeezing it gently. "Support, I guess." she says thickly.
The sink continues to run. Peggy probably has an entire cabinet full of dusty glasses that need washed.
Her fingers twine with his, and receive a light squeeze. He can understand that..god. If he's being honest, he hasn't had the courage to ask Steve to pick through the snatches of what he remembers that exhaustively, but he's grateful even for the occasional question answered. If she's willing to have him there, he's not about to deny her his perspective and support. "Yeah.. yeah, you bet. Just tell me when and where, Red."
Natasha Romanov smiles then, spirits cheered by just the simple gesture of holding hands. :You... really are a sweet heart, James." On impulse, she leans over and gives him a peck on the cheek, different than the one Peggy gave her. "I think I'll keep you. Even if you're still a hobo." she says, affectionate. And, maybe more, as she blushes a bit.
Peggy Carter kills the water a moment later and she comes back into the room with a fresh cup. She sets it and the bottle down on the coffee table before a long yawn takes her. "You two kids... stay as long as you like. Relax, I won't tell anyone. But I do need to be awake in the morning, so I'm going to bed. Relax, start a fire. I'll see you all soon..." She leans over and hugs Bucky around the back of his shoulders before giving Natasha a kiss to the cheek, much like if she *was* their mum, and then disappears back to the little side bedroom, leaving them alone.
Bucky Barnes breathes a laugh, "Keep saying things like that, it's gonna go to my head." he teases her gently, though he too flushes some at the little kiss. And it's in that uncertain state that Peggy sweeps through, doling out understanding and affection, and the time to go with the talk she so shamelessly stirred up. "Sweet dreams, Peg," Bucky says, patting her arm around his shoulders.
"I'm not lying, James. I mean what I say. You're a good man." She'd say more, but then Peggy comes in and acts all motherly. Nat is again taken surprise by Peggy's gesture, and has to blinking quickly to retain her composure. "I... Good night, Peggy." She sounds a bit choked up, and hurriedly pours herself some vodka - three fingers.