And Then Along Came Winter
All characters belong to Marvel and DC Comics
I own nothing
"Why is it that whenever I get close and personal with man, I'm always cleaning up his mess," Felicity grumbled in a frustrated breath trying to catch her bearings through the bustling traffic of Washington DC. She felt utterly betrayed-her genius level intellect and information retrieval skills were being used as devices to infiltrate and hack into a certain rogue database that became the prime interest for the League Assassins—not to mention that the harvester of mortality and the immortal war lord of world reformation—Ra's al Ghul had set his interest on the ghost files. There was also recovered information from A.R.G.U.S that gave details about a new breed of powerful enhancing serum was being cultivated underground and experimented on condemned and imprisoned mercenaries from South American borders. The code word that was written on the file was called : Venom.
Back in Starling City, Oliver asked her to fly into the Capital City while undercover and retrieve olden text from the library. He gave her instructions and directions that would guide her to the exact locations. He also warned her to avoid distractions on the mission. If her stubborn and brazen nature would cooperate to those set rules, but it wasn't in her instincts to obey -she was curious and always looked into the darker negatives of a situation. In other words, she wanted to rebel from the elusive billionaire's authority and enjoy what little amount freedom she had before returning back into the war zone.
She was on guard, had her GPS tracking set in her mobile phone with Oliver's number on the top of the caller's list and also carried a can of mace in her handbag. She knew it was necessary to prepare oneself in case of an attack from the trained and lethal assassin army. She knew Oliver had devised a back strategy, even though she was being used as the bait, and entering the nest of danger.
Ultimately, the young Queen heir had expected SHIELD, another point of interest of Ra's al Ghul's caliber of seizing information on mystical artifacts, including locations of forgotten tombs that housed Lazarus Pits, his life force of restoring his frailty and making his body anew for the new world order. Felicity spent roughly around three weeks in Manhattan, researching ancient texts and discovering new truths, gray shaded algorithms hidden form the naked eyes of humanity. It turned out that the League of Assassins had an alliance with an terrorist organization who used the Greek serpent -many headed monster: Lernaean Hydra as their face for resistance and power.
Now, HYDRA was just fragments of ruins, and SHIELD no longer existed. The government raked away all the data-mining from their networks of databases. The Avengers were now under their own command, without Nick Fury giving his orders in the shadows.
Felicity had a gut feeling that the League of Assassins had put their focus on the super-soldier serum, the substance that turned a skinny and ill Brooklyn kid named Steven Rogers into the resilient and noble-hearted Captain America. She had also dug up files from an KBG database with background information on another super-soldier. It was a 'ghost file' a dead end that led to a tragic conclusion of the test subject's survival.
The name written in Russian was James Buchanan Barnes, the best friend to Steven Grant Rogers aka Captain America. The information the documents contain were horrific to unveil; he was a victim of subornation and mind-numbing torture. A twisted and highly intelligent Swiss geneticist named Doctor Armin Zola was in charge of the horrific operations, and the process of evolving a good man into a killing machine. The rest of the file was inconclusive and pages were missing, and Felicity knew something else needed to become decoded to restore the truth.
She never expected to find the truth in the lost blue eyes of a nameless man.
The gelid wind chill pricked through her bones and a slant of moonlight shone curtains of falling snow that blanketed the desolated area. Huddled in a corner inside a vacant alleyway, near the Smithson museum. His slender and muscular body garbed in a black tactical uniform-leather jacket, vest and gloves. His knees tucked to his chest, metal forearm cradled protectively over his graven waist. His head narrowed, long, brown locks of drenched, matted chestnut draped over his square jaw line-he was stoic in movement until the sounds of heels clicking lulled him out of the drifts of torture.
"What the hell happened to you?"
His head flew up, feral, guarded azure blue eyes concealed by runny dark makeup as it ran over his jagged curvatures. He set his scruffy jaw hard and met dark eyes of a homeless woman, her face ashen and lips grimy. She carried an hostile poise, and a knife clutched in her gloved hand. "What the hell is a matter with you? Are you starving to get a fix?" she boldly asked, licking her lips and staring at his obscured face-his pale blue eyes were deaden, no crescents of light; just full of controlled darkness and malice. "Got any cash, handsome?"
He shook his head slowly, and remained dangerously silent.
Annoyed, she pointed the tip of the blade down at his throat."Your blood will get me a free pass for a nightly fix. Say still, I promise to make this quick and painless." she coldly said, preparing to jab the knife into his jugular. Weakened and exhausted from the lack of nourishment his system needed, his right arm was dissociated and tucked under a tattered leather sleeve and his body was fighting a fever. He was clearly in no condition to defend himself. He could barely move. "Do you like to feel pain?"
Suddenly a sound of running heels clicking on the snow covered asphalt, drove her attention to turn and glare dangerously at a lithe, golden haired woman charging after her.
"Hey," Felicity yelled out, her tone firm and bold. "Why don't you pick on somebody your own size, trash bag," she snarled, and lifted her sleek leg up, removing her shoe and whipped it at the mugger's large and gloved hand, knocking the knife into the a dented trash can leaned up against the wall. Felicity smiled brightly, feeling confident and heroic with her noble deed. She lifted her fist to the woman, and shook it an intent threat bubbling in her veins. "Clear out .." she paused in her words, trying to configure out her warning. "Unless you want my other shoe lodged in your ugly face."
The ratty, plump woman grunted, "You're not worth my time." Then, she staggered away, coughing.
Inhaling the crisp air, Felicity, winced as she limped over the trash can, and picked up her shoe. She slipped it on, and then finally looked down to see the disheveled man staring blankly up at her. He was unshaven with briskly whiskers swathed over his heavy and chiseled jaw. His sharp cheekbones were gaunt, and his eyes were icy -almost a steel blue hidden beneath seams of dark, mussed hair. He was in desperate need of a shower-two showers at the least and his full lips were bruised with smudges of dried blood.
He blinked twice clearing the fog out of his gaze, and when he saw her staring in the dim streetlight—her lithe frame pressed against the brick wall. She was fully dressed in a light blue winter coat-bright and welcoming. Black heeled shoes-iron straight bleached-golden hair cascades down her mid back and her eyes were the color of seawater-mixtures of aqua and gray. He knew she wasn't a threat, she was beautiful, and held her own regard. He sort of twitched his lips into a amused and faint smirk, gazing intently at her fancy eyeglasses.
"It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you. I can't believe I even did that. So out of character for me." Felicity rambled, shaking her head, shamelessly. She crouched down to his level, but he blanched aback. She smiled sweetly at him and placed her hand over his armored knee."You do realize that it's almost below freezing?" she blew out a heavy breath, the brisk air turned into a haze only to reveal to him the degree of the temperature was dropping.
His weather beaten face narrowed, and his blue, spooked eyes glinted in the thick shadows. He was distressed.
Apparently, he wasn't one for conversation, because his lips straightened and quivered, looking around the area, systematically, and a hint of worry shrouded over his paled face.
"Look, I can only help you if you talk to me." She urged, using a gentle whisper. "If you ask me not talking to someone, its just a little creepy." She leaned in closer and stared intently into his intense, unnerved blue eyes. She had been used to the silent treatment with Oliver- Arrow, but she felt unsettled. "Can you talk? If you can't I understand perfectly and I ..."
"I can talk," he whispered in a scratchily breath. His chilled lips parted, and a gruff, but very decadent Russian tone emerged from his throat. He looked away for a second and then focused his stare on her, furrowing his eyebrows and rubbing his broken arm, while asking, "Why did you risk your life to save me?" he eyed her with suspicion.
"Oh," she swallowed, words clogged in her throat. "That was nothing. I couldn't watch you get hurt. It wasn't right. Besides it's in human nature to react and save someone from danger. At least that's what a good friend of mine tells me... And technically I'm supposed to be doing his dirty work. Finding the ties for loose ends, and not talking to a rugged, but handsome stranger." Her words faltered, and her bit her lip. "Sorry that didn't sound-"
"It's fine." He murmured out an interruption, giving her a short nod, his chin settling against his leather chest armor. She looked at his arm and then back at his face. He was in pain...uncomfortable and utterly afraid.
"Why are you rubbing your arm?" she wondered, concern gleaming in her bright eyes. He reacted in a quick, defensive motion, seizing her wrist. She didn't struggle. "You're hurt, aren't you?" she reprimanded.
"I heal fast," he grimaced, and then he unclasped his gloved fingers off her thinned wrist. He tore his darkened blue eyes away from her, feeling ashamed of hurting her. "My arm is broken. I was in a fight and someone. I think this man was friend...I can't remember."
"Can I see your arm? I won't do anything, but I do know how to attend injured bones. Call it a part of my evening job."
He bit his lip, a little apprehensive, and then he nodded, nervously. "Okay."
Felicity brushed her hair back, and adjusted her glasses. She removed her glove, allowing her warm fingers to brush heat over his blemished skin. Carefully, she removed her hand upwards, feeling the angulation of the bones, and alignment of the dislocated joints. Everything was intact, her diagnosis was a fracture in his forearm and he separated shoulder. Easy, but painful fix.
"Okay, its not really serious. You need medical attention -Knowing your stubborn type that's not going to happen. So I guess if you want I can fix you."
The intimating man opened his mouth, a weak breath escaped, and then finally asked, "You're not afraid of me..I don't scare you?"
"Not really," she said, applying heat over his swollen limb. "I've seen my fair share of freaks and serial killers. You're like a breath of fresh air, well apart from the growing smell of body odor and dry blood."
Faintly, his lips upturned into a small, frail hint of a smile.
"Do you a place to stay? A apartment?"
He shook his head, "I don't have a home." he sputtered in a broken voice. "I have nowhere to go. I came here looking for someone, but I got confused."
"Alright, let me think," she chewed on her lip, complicating on her decision. It seemed logical for her to feel sentiment towards the long haired stranger. She had to keep her distance from him. No distractions. She swallowed feeling a sudden swell of humanity build in her chest. It had been a long time since she cared for someone without using her own selfish actions to restore her own scarred heart.
"Obviously, you're suffering from memory loss. You have all the signs, but I don't think you have a damaged psyche. You don't look that a borderline psychopath, but I have my limits when it comes to trusting people that don't even have a name. Do you have a name?" she drawled, her low voice laced with curiosity. Her friendly aqua eyes examined over the number of bruises and gashes on his sweaty neck. "Lucky for you, I'm used to seeing a lot of red."
He smirked lightly at that. "You can call me anything you want. I will respond to it."
"I have a few names on my mind," Felicity teased, involuntary turning her gaze to the street lamp outside the alley. "I think you deserve a good name." She tentatively caressed his scruffy cheek with her hand, "Don't worry it's not going to be Ralph or Oliver." She smirked, and looked deeply into his guarded, and haunted blue eyes. He reminded her of a stray mutt, neglected and confused. He also carried warmth and strength-almost like that soldier from the old HYDRA file. "You like look a James to me."
"James," he repeated, it felt familiar for him to say that name. "I like that name."
She half- smiled. "Good, because it was the one that suits you, and now we can give each other a proper introduction." she said, straightening to her heels, extending out her hand. "My name is Felicity. Don't worry I'm not a secret agent or a doctor. Just a high tech computer nerd with no social life." She shifted a little, feeling slightly embarrassed, and then looked at her watch. "It's almost closing hour, but I think we can still make it."
James furrowed his eyebrows, uneasy.
"Do you want to grab a coffee and maybe a muffin? I think you haven't eaten in a few days."
"I don't want to waste your time," he dropped his eyes to the ground, stuffing his gloved hands into the pockets of his jacket. "I'm not someone who people like to be around with, Felicity."
She stiffened her lips, shaking her head. "You're very nice and normal-"
"Normal," he scoffed, his face hardened and his voice grew into a gruff pitch of self-remorse. "I have a metal arm."
"So, I have IQ above the genius level and I'm not even a real blond." she replied, lowering herself down to him. "We're both in the same category of being abnormal in society, and I'm pretty sure we can go have coffee like normal people."
Instead of being the urge to ran, he nodded and placed his shaking hand into hers, interlocking his metal fingers against her flesh and bone. She helped him to his boots. It felt good to feel human touch, without shudders erupting in his body. He felt calm with her, guiding him through the felt her heart beating, but she kept her eyes leveled on his handsome, and youthful face. "After we get our coffee, I will bring you someplace safe and we'll fix your arm."
He leaned his exhausted body against her petite frame, "Thank you, Felicity."
Hearing that gentle voice ghost from his lips, Felicity froze, and almost choked on her words, "For what, James?" she almost sounded a tad innocent.
"You saved me," he murmured, with a sincere gleam piercing out of the fathoms of his blue eyes. "I am in your debt."
Felicity smiled to herself, and squeezed his metal hand with her own. He had become an necessary distraction.
A/N: I am revising a few chapters of this story. A lot of details and more scenes will be added. It will take a few days. Thank you for adding.