Piercing The Haze

Summary:
February 23, 2015: Acting on old intel from his last days as a Russian agent, the Winter Soldier seeks out the deep cover Russian operative known to a very few as 'Keeper'— aka S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Emmett Argyle.

New York City

The Big Apple, full of policewomen's apartments, vans, paint shops, and Russian super spies.


Characters

NPCs

  • Hayley Willis (NYPD)
  • Various HYDRA soldiers

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


The apartment is in Red Hook. Once upon a time, the decently-maintained sixth floor walk-up was home to one of the last employees of Project Haze. He disappeared one day, and the records indicate that he left all of his worldly belongings behind. The police found no evidence of foul play, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any. The Russians don't tend to like loose ends.

Nowadays, it's home to a junior police officer named Hayley Willis. She moved in shortly after the previous occupant disappeared.

According to the Winter Soldier's intelligence, the package he's looking for is located behind the bathroom mirror. Officer Willis doesn't appear to be home, but cops keep odd hours.
-

Gently, as if handling a baby clutching a puppy with a Fabergé egg in its mouth, the Winter Soldier sets a circle of cut glass beside himself on the fire escape outside of Willis' building. He's in uniform - mask, goggles, concealed weapons - just in case the officer is home; he would be a poor instrument of HYDRA's will indeed if he was so careless as to enter a cop's home unprepared.

Once his entrance is clear and his glass cutter stowed, he gingerly steps through the hole, one leg after another; as soon as he's in, he tries to get as good of a feel for which room he's in as the darkness will allow. Barring the presence of unexpected pets and/or people, he'll move on to creeping towards the nearest door once he has his bearings.

-

It's the bedroom he enters. The sheets and blankets are predictably ruffled - the hallmark of someone who works long hours. The apartment is cluttered, with shoes and clothing scattered on the floor. Easy to trip up and make noise on.

Unless you're a highly trained operative, that is.

According to the floor plan, the washroom is off the living area, which is just to the right.

There's a soft thud from the kitchen area. It could be mice. It could be echoing from across the hall. Or it could be that someone is home.
-

Since the room is empty, the Winter Soldier allows himself the luxury of whipping out a pen light and shining it towards the ground for a couple of seconds with his hand cupped around the tip to muffle some of the glare. It's enough to get him from window to door with a minimum of interference and quite a bit of spy-grade tip-toeing.

An odd, but potentially not out of place noise hits his ear as he grabs the knob, so instead of pulling it open and creeping outside, he cracks it just enough to give himself a peek at the kitchen— hopefully without making eye contact with, well, anyone.

Of course, just in case, his metal hand is already curling around the handle of a knife sheathed at his hip.

-

"No, no. C'mon, I just got off a double shift." It's a woman's voice. Said woman is standing in front of the fridge, backlit and uniformed (and very likely armed.) She's got a cell phone up to her ear. "Yeah, no. Tell Ang…" a sigh. "Forget it. I'll be in. Bright and early, six AM. Like a good little beat cop." Hayley grabs a piece of cold pizza from the fridge, then turns around and tosses the phone on the counter. Once she closes the fridge, the only light in the kitchen is the glow from the microwave. She stands there, rubbing the back of her neck, taking periodic bites from the pizza.

-

Dead cops are nearly as problematic as live ones; since Hayley is focused on pizza, the Soldier nudges the door shut as quietly as he can manage while sheathing the knife.

Her presence is still a problem, of course, so after stepping back from the door, he retrieves a green-shelled cell phone of his own and punches a security code into its lock screen. And then another, longer code into the green and gold-wallpapered screen that pops up after that one. Several swipes later, he's staring at an artist's interactive rendition of an apartment callbox, complete with a tape label bearing the building's address. He punches Willis' apartment number in; a second later, her phone rings.

"Hello?" he just about whispers in a put-on voice after she answers. "Uh, sorry, I— I know it's late, and I know you don't know me, but I could really use— I— found this kid today, and I've been trying apartments, houses… keeps sayin' he lives around here, but he's asleep now…" He swallows after this rapid-fire story for nervous effect, then concludes, "I know you don't owe us nothin', but it's so late, and I ain't got anywhere to be myself, so I just… I mean, forget about me, he's gotta sleep somewhere…"

-

It's a good play. A capable young woman doesn't work as a beat cop and live in a shitty neighbourhood for the glory. Hayley is a cop because she wants to help people. She listens, rubs her forehead and sighs. For a moment, she nearly tells the guy to call it in to dispatch. But this is her neighbourhood. She might actually know who this kid is. "All right, sir. Calm down. I'll be right down. Don't be alarmed when you see me. I'm a cop."
She then picks up her keys and goes for her door. The six flights and no elevator means he has a little bit of time, though she takes those stairs like a champ.
-

"Oh, God, Jesus, thank you, thank you so much," the Winter Soldier gushes. As soon as she hangs up, his expression falls back to its blank norm and he waits for the sound of the front door shutting.

Once he gets his cue, he trades phone for pen light and creeps towards the bathroom, trying to disturb as little as possible on the way; even if Hayley is gone, she probably has neighbors. In the bathroom, he studies the mirror for a couple of seconds before figuring out how to detach it from the wall and reveal the refrigeration unit tucked into the wall behind it. All six vials of white, cloudy liquid are liberated from the hidden device, and then the mirror goes back into place.

Once the vials are safely tucked away in a padded pouch, the Soldier retraces his steps until he's outside, gently nudging that circle of glass back into position. Eventually, it'll be at least somewhat apparent what happened: she'll check for peace of mind, or at her superiors' behest; by then, he'll have hopefully had a chance to meet the elusive Sasha Aleyev.

For now, he just worries about climbing the rest of the way up the building so that can parkour out of here across the rooftops.

**

SHIELD can set their clock by Emmett Argyle's routine. He spends about ten hours a day at the Triskelion or otherwise working. If he's not on missions, he's in the weapons R&D lab. There's a gym by his apartment in the Upper East Side that he frequents. There's a handful of pubs or restaurants where he meets his very small circle of friends. All in all, he's pretty easy to track.

That means, well, he's easy to track. It's also easy to tell when he goes off the reservation.

Socks is currently walking down a quiet street towards home, laden with bags of groceries, earbuds in his ears. He's listening to an audiobook of the Dresden Files, which means he's not as alert as he usually is. Why would he need to be? He's a big guy and this is his 'hood.
-

Some guy in a baseball cap, heavy winter coat, and jeans is about half a block away from Agent Argyle. The precise distance wavers, but not his presence; he's been at this for a while, now. Earlier, he was browsing grapes at Emmett's store, and he only entered the store because Emmett did minutes earlier.

Sometime well before that, he was riding around in a white van that's had maybe eighty percent of a long-closed Segway repair business' logo scraped off of it and trying to explain to the green and gold-suited guy in the back that he only needs to grab the target, not hurt or kill them.

The Winter Soldier's done his homework on Emmett; he would be a fool not to be prepared when dealing with SHIELD. As they approach a particular alleyway scouted out sometime before tonight, he begins to quicken his pace from a determined walk to a jog, to - once he's within a few yards of Argyle - a full-blown sprint.

Assuming that he's able to get close enough to the agent's back, he'll snatch at the earbuds' cord in passing, then dart towards the alley with whatever he manages to yank free trailing behind himself.

On the other end of the alley, a white van rocking maybe twenty percent of a long-closed Segway repair business' logo is parked sideways and waiting.

-

The narrator was just getting to the part where Dresden cracks the case (after getting beaten up several dozen times) when the earbuds are ripped from Argyle's ears. An iPod nano goes trailing after the cable and…down the alleyway.

"HEY!" he barks. He looks down at his groceries, but that nano is worth more than the loaf of bread and milk in his bags. He sets it down and then sprints off down the alleyway, keeping himself low. His aim is to football tackle his mugger. He may have underestimated his assailant a bit.
-

The mugger is quite fast, which is perhaps to be expected of someone whose job requirements involve running away with stolen loot. His head twitches to the side a couple of times as he glances over his shoulder to check on his gradually disappearing lead, and a shrill whistle pierces the air during one of those motions when he sees how close Emmett is going.

Shortly afterwards, he's tackled to the ground and the Nano goes skidding across the pavement for a few feet before bumping against the wheel. As the pair goes down, the van door slides open to reveal two more men, both wearing full HYDRA regalia and one clutching a gun of some kind.

Being crushed between a strapping SHIELD agent and the ground drives the wind from the Winter Soldier's lungs, but a moment after impact, a series of crackling taser lines race from the armed HYDRAgent's weapon towards Argyle's body.

-

Argyle lets out a little laugh of triumph when he connects solidly with his target. He reaches to attempt an arm lock. He realizes the arm he's trying to lock is…metal mere seconds before high voltage rocks his body. He may be a highly-trained SHIELD agent, but he's not superhuman. His body convulses several times, then he flops, face-first into the dirty, salty, snowy alleyway. The bigger they are…

-

The Winter Soldier wriggles out from under Argyle's convulsing body just in time for the agent's face to land in a puddle near his boots.

"That's enough," he states, pushing himself to his feet as the taserman's finger lingers near the trigger to administer another shock. "Get the ropes and hood, get behind the wheel," he instructs as he works on gathering the agent into his arms and hauling him into the van. "We're exposed; we need to leave immediately."

Once Argyle is in the van, the guy still back there starts cuffing, tying, and otherwise securing the agent for the trip ahead. No seatbelt, of course; those are reserved for the people up front.

Despite his apparently strict time table, the Soldier spends a few extra seconds retrieving Emmett's grocery bag and music player before finally climbing in back with him and sliding the door shut.

The van reorients itself, then pulls out of the alley after everyone's inside; as they hit the street, the Soldier draws a syringe loaded with white, cloudy Fogburner with his left hand while checking for the agent's pulse with the other.

-

Argyle is completely black-out unconscious for several minutes, then he starts the low moan of the hurtin', but possibly soon-to-be-conscious. Those bonds better be good and tight. He did really well in 'escaping bonds 101' at SHIELD academy. Or whatever that class was called. Still, the minions have plenty of time to make sure he's well and surely bound before he even starts approaching consciousness. In general, though, he's in no state to resist. His pulse is even and strong, despite the tasering. He's healthy as a horse.
-

Cuffs at the wrists and ankles, several sets of ropes tightly coiled around the legs, more still keeping his forearms together in front of him; Argyle is good and bound. The Winter Soldier made sure to double-check his helper's work before sticking him with the syringe, just to be sure.

The van rolls into an auto paint shop as Argyle stirs, side door ajar since the HYDRAgent riding with them had to pull the shop door up. His moans are intercut with a loud *KER-THUD!* when the door comes back down, and then the Soldier tries to help nudge Emmett into consciousness with a backhanded swat across the face from his flesh arm.

"Go," he orders the driver, head twitching towards the front of the van as his right hand braces on Emmett's shoulder; the driver doesn't comply immediately, but the Winter Soldier doesn't stop staring at him in the rear view mirror until he does.

Once they're alone, he returns his eyes to Emmett and asks, "What's your name, and what's your rank?"

-

The drug's effects are immediate. If there were any doubts that the substance was still good after nearly five years inside a wall, the tightening and deepening of his veins and the sudden sheen of sweat on his forehead tells otherwise. His eyes roll back in his head, whites fluttering. He makes a low, gasping sound. After a few moments of this, his breathing becomes more regular and his muscles slack. His head drops forward.

It's then that the hand strikes him across the face. His head snaps up and his eyes struggle to focus. When he does, his bearing is decidedly…more serious than the persona Bucky's read about from the files. Argyle is easygoing, personable, and very much a product of Louisiana. He may be a capable SHIELD agent, but he isn't stiff and military. The man that looks at Bucky is harder, more focused. And still, he answers, "Agent Emmett Argyle," in his long, Louisiana drawl.
-

It's not that they have eyes on him actively all the time. That would be a huge waste of resources. But they have some alarms that have their way of going off once in a while. When it's needed.

Natasha has been partaking of one of her lesser-known hobbies — she's volunteering as a teacher at a Harlem kids' dance studio — and is just leaving when she gets the automatic alarm. Socks is off the reservation.

She's darting down the alley in a moment for her motorcycle, pulling up the tracker itself. He's not too far. Not just yet. They'll find him. It's taking a little while to load up his biometrics, though.

-

"Ah," the crouched Winter Soldier exhales before leaning towards Emmett until his lips practically graze the agent's ear.

"You should try my grandmother's apple sharlotka, Agent Argyle," he offers in a bare whisper. There's no trace of an accent - any accent - and while his eyes are tightly focused on Argyle, he's looking at the agent more like a weapon that might need re-servicing than a person— much less a person who he, at least once, shared a common ideology with.

"And then, perhaps," he adds as he sits back on his heels, "you could tell me about a woman named Fracture."

-

Argyle tenses when the Soldier enters his personal space. He stiffens and looks directly ahead, eyes slightly hooded. His face is set into a stubborn line. One thing that both SHIELD training and his Project Haze conditioning taught him was to resist interrogation.

But when those words are spoken, he looks at the other man. For what seems like forever, he just stares, searchingly. Then he purses his lips.

When he speaks, it's in flawless Russian, but he sounds like an American who learned it very well rather than a Russian speaker. "I've been under for years, and you bring me out for intel on a single person?" He tests his bonds and finds himself well and truly secure. He exhales a note of frustration, then tilts his chin up and hoods his eyes. "What do you want to know?"
-

Now that the alarm's been triggered, Natasha's also getting audio. She slips the little earbud and cranks the volume as she checks that bio-feed.

She watches. She listens.

"Bozhe moy."

Fracture. Why Fracture of all people? But she's kicking her bike into life. She considers, briefly, sending a message to the Director or to Hill. But she doesn't know who else is there. Socks, yes. But not the other Russian-speaking voice. If she had visuals, not just audio, she might be calling in the cavalry. As it is, she's just on her way to the Upper East Side.

-

"I believe that she's been taken," the Winter Soldier states as he lays his arms over his knees, "and I need— I want to know who might have done it. If it had been local, or perhaps even federal authorities, it would not have remained a secret for very long: she has too much blood on her hands for her capture to escape the news forever. Costumed vigilantes could not have done it, because the same problem applies: her capture would have too much symbolic significance to their community to be kept quiet. This leaves two possibilities: a rival or group of rivals successfully ambushed her… or she is in the hands of an organization with no cause to care about setting the public's minds at ease by broadcasting word of her capture."

He meticulously lays his reasons out in Russian; like 'Argyle', he speaks it unaccented diction of a student rather than a native speaker. Once the case is made, he concludes with, "So: I want to know if SHIELD is that organization. If it is, I want to know where she is held— and then I want to know everything that you do about infiltrating and breaking out of it."

The paint shop is just over the bridge in Queens; not so far, but far enough for a little distance.
-

Argyle - or rather, Keeper - rolls his shoulders back and shifts. The ropes creak. The handcuffs rattle like a dog on a chain. He keeps a watchful eye on the Soldier as he speaks, searching for tells, for signs of untruths, for any clues about the other man's motives. It's an unnerving watchfulness, completely unlike the man he spends his days as.

Finally, he speaks. "She's being held in an off-site SHIELD detention facility." and he gives the address, easily, evenly, without any ambiguity. "Security is…" he shifts again. "…manageable. I would strike between three and four AM on a bad weather night. That is when there is a shift changeover. This time of year, the next shift is often a few minutes late. With the poor weather, sometimes others leave early. A distraction at the main gate, followed by a loading dock infiltration would be your best strategy."

Oh, if only he could hear himself. Socks would be livid at his other self for giving up SHIELD secrets so easily.
-

Not so far. Far enough that it's going to take her a little while to get there, though, even on a bike. Even if she decides not to be subtle about it.

But there's no immediate reason not to be subtle. Someone knows how to activate Argyle. Fine. The important thing is to find out who they are, who they work for, what they're up to. At least the last of those is becoming a little clearer. Fracture's an important asset to them, is she? It'll be interesting to find out why.

So she's in a hurry, taking the emptiest streets she can — and that's not impossible, not even at this hour; not EVERY street of New York is constantly choked. But it's still going to be more than five minutes before she finds this place.

-

Similarly, the Winter Soldier's eyes search Argyle's face for signs of dishonesty as he responds. Yes, the sleeper ostensibly trusts him; this doesn't give the Soldier leave to completely disregard good sense and skepticism.

Everything seems copacetic, though, so after giving himself a second to be sure that the information is committed to memory, he starts to speak again, only to seal his lips and crawl towards cab to look for the HYDRAgents… who are basically just standing around a few feet away, trying to suppress the urge to 'Hail'.

"What does SHIELD know about James Buchanan Barnes?" he wonders after crawling back to Argyle, invading the other agent's space once again so that he can keep his voice as low as possible. There may be some more details about the prison to cover, but he has the main beats covered; anything else can wait.

-

That's the problem with programmed, indoctrinated trust. You can never be entirely sure that it's solid. Still, all Keeper's paperwork says he's never resisted giving up information after the proper keyword was spoken and there's enough Fogburner in his system.

He watches the Soldier creeping towards the cab, then back again. It may be an evaluation of the way he moves, it may be simple curiosity. When his interrogator moves back, leans in, he moves in further. Moving in to share a secret, or to prove that the invasion of personal space doesn't unnerve him? Hard to say.

"Barnes…Barnes…" and then a light goes on in his eyes. He leans back to be able to take in the other man more fully. "Mostly what everyone knows. Friend of Captain America. Ally of the SSR. Though, maybe a little better-trained than the public records say." He gives the other man a meaningful look, a long look. "The records say he died a long time ago. Why, you looking for him?" Little tells that Natasha can't pick up on with audio alone are evident on Keeper's face. That, and the fact that he nods meaningfully towards the rear-view mirror.
-

This close, with his mask and goggles stowed in the glove box, it's easy to see the Winter Soldier's glacial features shift as Keeper speaks: his jaw tensing at the mention of Captain America, flaring nostrils for Barnes' elevated training, the moment where his eyes start to widen at Barnes' death before shrinking back to their blank norm.

Despite the running, the tackling, and the slapping, it's only now that his breathing breaks out of its steady rhythm, gradually rising in tempo until he finishes following Emmett's eyes towards the mirror; a second after that, he exhales sharply through his nose and twists his head back towards the other agent with a glare.

"Someone is," he growls, lowering his eyes and briskly pushing his hands up his face and through his hair. When they fall, he returns to sitting back on his heels and adds, "Someone was, and I don't…" in a low murmur.

A second or two of staring at the dirty van floor later, he finally concludes, "I was made to deal with a dead man's problems, and I want to know why; that's all," in something barely bigger than a whisper.

As interrogators go, he seems to be a little uneven.

"How do you feel about your post?" he asks, still quiet.

Okay, maybe a lot uneven.

-

Among many things Argyle and Keeper have in common is their ability to observe. He watches the other man move the way one might watch a pacing leopard - with curiosity, respect, and more than a hint of wariness. Who knows, after all, if those bars will really hold when it comes down to it?

Unlike Argyle however, whose ability to interrogate is so poor as to be the stuff of legends around SHIELD, Keeper is more adept. He senses the other man's anxiety and frustration. Perhaps this can be a two-way exchange of information. Not that he can do anything with anything he gains - for now.

"You were made? Well, something you and I have in common, comrade. Do you know my story?" He shifts again, taking up the most casual posture he possibly can while bound so expertly. Chains rattle, ropes creak. "I won't lie, you know. I will cooperate with whatever you want me to tell you. I don't have the keys to SHIELD's kingdom. He's only level 5, after all." Not 'I'. "But if you have ever desired for someone to be completely honest with you, now is your chance."

As for the question, he smiles and shakes his head. "I do my duty. I do what I was made to do. How I feel about it is not relevant."
-

Keeper's answer is so familiar that the Winter Soldier silently says it along with him; it isn't often that he's asked how he feels about— well, anything, but when he is, those words, or some version of them are his standby; when he's knee-deep in trouble due to a questionably chosen mission, hamstrung by incompetent support, and forced to waste his time servicing the needs of the short-sighted, they are practically a mantra.

Which is probably why it's so disappointing to hear— not that his expression betrays much of that beyond a briefly furrowing brow.

"I was trained," the Soldier flatly corrects without looking up. "To serve my country— to build a better world." A twist of melancholy enters his voice, but it doesn't last too long; even with his present HYDRAffiliation, it's hard to completely forget the dream he once killed for, dozens of times over.

"I know what was in your file," he says, lifting his head to make eye contact. "You were made to blend— like the rezidentura, like— me. But more; deeper. I— as posts go, it— seems like a good one. Tenser, perhaps, than anyone could've expected." His eyes remain stuck on Sasha's as he slowly lets out a breath. "It is good that you have no doubt; even now, you are— your post is important," he quietly decides, eyes beginning to drift downwards again.

A beat later, though, his gaze returns to Sasha's and he states, "I am going to need a map of the facility— or, at least, information about its layout. Weapons, guard stations, the cells. The garage or hangar. Beyond that… the locations of any vital bases that you are aware of." His head and eyes visibly turn towards one of the agents in green.

"I will need something for my employers, you understand."

-

"What is the point of doubt?" says Keeper. "I am just an observer. I have no control." His tone is matter-of-fact. Resolved. There's no emotion connected to those words. It's just how it is. "If I doubted that my post was worthwhile, I'd go mad inside another man's head." So maybe don't tell him that there is no Project Haze, that his life is a failed program, shelved and mostly forgotten.

He seems oddly relaxed, now. He's stopped fighting against his bonds. There's a tranquil, almost blank look on his face. "Untie my hands and I will draw you a map of the holding facility. Keep the rest of me secure if you like." A beat, then a tilt of his chin. "I'm certain you have nothing to worry about. You're enhanced, yes? I'm not. I'm just a man."

As for other intelligence… "I'm not aware of many. He follows orders. He doesn't ask unnecessary questions. He knows what he needs to know to do his job. Which means most of what I know is connected to past missions where he functioned as field support. I can tell you what I know, but I can't promise it will be valuable."
-

"Anything," the Winter Soldier says as he undoes ropes and unlocks handcuffs. Not only does his metal arm give him an advantage in the event that Keeper has treachery on the brain, it makes him pretty quick at untying knots. "I'll need to have had a real reason for see you— something bigger than just one woman." A beat as the tip of his tongue presses against his teeth. "Or man. As you noted."

Once Keeper is free, he backs towards the cab, keeping an eye on the double-agent until he's close enough to twist around and pop the glovebox. After a little digging, he comes up with a pad of paper, a pen, and a lower face mask, which he carefully slides into place as he scoots back up to Sasha.

"Here," he says as the paper and pen are dropped into Keeper's lap. "Agent Argyle will have had a long night of drinking. Maybe at a bar, or his home; he would be useless if he was broken."

-

She's not far now. Not far now, but already whoever's on the other side is finishing the conversation. Natasha's managed to cross the bridge into Queens, and she's honing in quite neatly on Argyle's location.

Ensuring her motorcycle helmet is hiding her hair, she hunts for an alley nearby. At least she might be able to see them leaving — maybe even tail the interrogator to find out just who knows Socks's little secret. Though given that he's going to be trying to spring Fracture, she's not going to bother trying to take him in.

Not when she can spin a web for him to blunder into.

-

Keeper eyes the Solider with one arched eyebrow. "So. This is personal for you." There's no judgment, there. The other man had Fogburner and his keyword, so as far as he's concerned, this has all been authorized by someone. He does not question it. In fact, he is not capable of questioning it. The drugs make sure of that. If he were to somehow be freed of his false identity, he would be a whole man again, and capable of independent thought. As it is, Keeper is only meant to be a relay for information.

For all he is a man with the leash firmly clamped about his neck, there is still fierce intelligence and simmering strength beyond the mask - beyond the Haze. He takes the pad from the other man and draws the map. The diagram is detailed and complete, and as to-scale as the paper will allow him. He does, after all, have access to all Argyle's skills as a trained mechanical engineer. As he draws, he points out exits, security checkpoints, weapons lockers, guard stations and cells. "I do warn that the last time I was there was some time ago. but SHIELD does not tend to change what works. As for other intelligence…" He takes a moment to stretch out his arms, then, "How about a small weapons factory in the Bronx? Would that provide your masters a choice enough target? It's where he sends off requests for custom tooled components and for small-scale production. Nothing of a high technology level, mind you. It is mostly custom arms for assault teams."
-

"It'll do," the Winter Soldier states as his eyes scan incessantly over the map. It's not going to last for very long, so he needs to be certain that he knows as much as he needs to. "You've been a great help." He takes the pad with him as he moves towards the door, tacking on a flat, "Thank you," before opening up the van.

"Back into the van!" he calls to the two HYDRAgents, who hurry back over.

He waits until one is in the driver's side and the other - who had to make a detour to pull the doro up - is about to climb in back to slide the door shut; once the second guy shakes it off and hops into the passenger's side, the Soldier says, "Let's go; back to Agent Argyle's home," and the van takes off.

"There is no personal," he murmurs after a minute or two of driving and studying. "There's following orders, and there's doing what I must to follow them as effectively as possible; nothing else matters."

-

Hell. Of course they'd be careful. That's the fun of vans and being able to pull them into buildings.
But it's not so much of a problem. Natasha is, at least, capable of catching the license plate number. While it trundles up the road, she zips through alleyways, hunting for the closest intersection where she can cross its path.
When she does, she'll take the opportunity to toss a tiny magnetic tracker to catch the undercarriage. And that's all it takes. Subtlety and care.

-

Keeper nods solemnly to the Winter Soldier's words. It's as if that affirmation came from some holy book and whispered on Sundays. It's gospel. "I understand," he says. There's something…not soft, but…empathetic? in his voice. He sits quietly, despite the fact that being half out of his bonds means he could, at the very least, have a shot at taking out the two HYDRA agents. The Soldier on the other hand…

And then there's the fact that he's starting to feel the effects of the Fogburner wearing off. He coughs once, twice. The colour drains from his face. He looks nauseous. His eyes start to lose focus. Before he fades out, back into deep unconsciousness, he utters a pair of words.

"Good luck."
-


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