Strangest of Places

When Steve Rogers meets a mysterious young girl late one night at a coffee shop, he has no idea what he's gotten himself into.
At first, she seems innocent enough. Dark backstory, tough upbringing and set as an outcast for most of her life. But during their encounter, something unexpected happens with him and the girl, causing Steve to ask questions about his newly found acquaintance.
Then one night as Steve is sleeping peacefully, a loud banging comes from his front door, and when he opens it, it was something he definitely did not suspect he would ever see.

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2. Mind Tricks and Alleyways [PART: 1]

Okay. First of all, an explanation. If you’re wondering why Steve’s best friend and some girl he met the other night were on his front door step with his friend badly injured, here’s why.

A few days back where Luci had met Steve at the 24-hour café, she had begun walking home in the rain with her hood up, taking a detour to her 'apartment' since it was more covered from the rain. It was also why Steve couldn’t find her since she walked through the nearby alley. Luci walked the long way around, past the tattoo parlour, old cinema, and other run-down places that were vandalised, graffiti-ed and where the 'bad crowd' hung out. You know, muggers, prostitutes, drug dealers, that sort of thing. Why Luci had decided to stay in a place like this, she wasn't entirely sure, but she did know that it was probably the last place that social services would look for her, so she stayed.

Turning down an alleyway by the second-hand bookstore (which counted as also a secret drug dealing spot) Luci hugged her arms as her shoes echoed down the dirty, unhygienic and vandalised alley. It smelt of rotten food, old cigarette butts, piss and other foul smells that Luci couldn't recognise. She just knew that it stunk ten times worse than a skunk - she would know after an unfortunate encounter when she was twelve.

After reaching about halfway down the alley, Luci heard louder footsteps coming behind her and stopped where she was. She huffed and sagged her shoulders in a frustration. Here we go...

 

"Hey, pretty lady," said the voice behind her. It was hoarse and scratchy with a creepy, perverted old guy tone to it. "What's a young lass like you doin' in a run-down old place like this?"

 

Luci rolled her eyes and turned on her heels to face the guy behind her. He was about six foot with ragged, greasy, dirty hair that looked as if it hadn't been washed in weeks, dirt and grime on his face as well as some tattoos, ink drawings running up and down both arms with pictures of dragons, skulls, naked women and other random stuff, greasy and oiled stained clothes and yellow teeth that had a few missing. He was disgusting and vomit-worthy, but to play it cool, Luci gave him a small and innocent looking smile.

 

“I was just on my way home,” she explained. Which was half true. “I couldn’t sleep because of the thunder so I went and got myself some coffee from a café a few blocks down. But it’s getting late so I have to go home.”

 

The guy took a few steps forward. “And where’s home, lassie?”

 

Luci cautiously took a few steps back. This guy was such a creep. “Not far,” she replied, although it was kinda true. It was only another block or so. “I’m nearly there.”

 

“Well, would ya family mind if I keep you out for a little longer? Assuming they know you’re out here of course,” the guy gave Luci a macabre grin which made her a little uneasy.

 

Luci’s heart began to beat faster as the guy crept closer and she moved backwards. She knew she’d hit the wall soon so she had to do something. “Look, honestly dude. You seem alright and all,” flat out lie. “But I really have to be getting home. My parents are gonna start worrying if I’m not back and they can get pretty angry when they find out I’m not there.”

 

Luci cursed herself once she realised her little slip. They guy chuckled darkly and moved quicker towards her.

 

“So they don’t know you’re out here,” his mouth was curled into a menacing grin. “Well, better luck for me then, huh?”

 

That’s when Luci hit the wall. It was cold and damp against her back and her hands scraped on the bricks. Her heart beat faster and her breath quickened. What was she going to do?

The guy was almost upon her so she had to act quickly. She could use her powers but she didn’t want to hurt him too severely. Once he was close enough, Luci raised up her knee as hard as she could and hit him in his genitals. The guy groaned and toppled over in pain, holding his ‘area’. Luci took the chance while he was recovering and attempted to make a break for it. She charged past the creepy guy and started running for the open streets. She didn’t get far when she was suddenly yanked back by her hoodie, choking her and sending her falling to the ground. Her head hit the concrete as the wind got knocked out of her lungs.The world spun and her vision went blurry with a few black spots dotting her sight.

 

“Not so fast, you little bitch,” the guy spat and stood above her, leaning in so he was just a few inches from her face. “You’re not getting away that easily.”

 

Groaning from the pain in the back of her head, Luci mustered up all her strength and reached up as she grabbed a fistful of the guy’s shirt. The creepy dude looked down at her sceptically before he suddenly went flying over Luci’s head as she threw him. He screamed as he flew through the air and landed in a pile of trash bags with a putrid smell coming from them. Not wasting any more time, Luci grinned and bore through the pain as she sat up and shakily got to her feet, using the nearby wall for support. The world spun and she could feel something warm dripping down the back of her head. Her legs felt like jelly but she mustered up as much strength as she could and put one foot in front of the other, slowly making her way out into the open.

Luci heard rustling behind her and she looked slightly over her shoulder to see the guy heaving himself out of the pile of trash.

 

“I don’t know how you did that,” he groaned as he got to his feet. “But you’re definitely going to regret it.”

 

Panic washed through Luci as her eyes bulged in fear and she attempted to run. Her head felt like someone had stabbed thousands of knives into it and it hurt more when she ran – or when she just moved really. The guy’s footsteps got louder and louder behind her and she was afraid that she wouldn’t make it. At that same moment, Luci spotted a dark figure walking under the streetlight ahead of her. Thousands of different conclusions and ‘what ifs’ ran through her head. What if he was with the creepy guy and was a backup if she planning to get away? Would he do something worse? What if she called out to him and he just ignored her? What if…?

 

But she thought, fuck it, and took her chances. “Help!” Luci called, hoping her could hear her. “Hey! Please help me!”

 

The footsteps were getting louder behind her but she refused to look back. She tried again, maybe he didn’t hear her.

 

“Hey! Please help m-AHHHHH!”

 

Luci was suddenly grabbed from behind and picked up with a grubby and dirty hand covering her mouth.

 

“Shut up, bitch. You’re just making this worse for yourself,” they guy’s voice was right in her ear and it smelt just as bad as it sounded. “Now stop struggling!”

 

But Luci knew that that wasn’t an option. She flailed, kicked, hit and fought against the guy’s grip as best as she could, but her head hurt too much and her vision was becoming darker the longer she fought. She tried her best to get out of his hold, but the guy was strong and in Luci’s condition, she wasn’t in any shape to fight. She just might as well give up.

But Luci wasn’t a quitter.

 

“Stop squirming!” the guy snapped and tossed her onto the ground, sending a horrible pain up her leg as she landed on her ankle wrong and her head throbbing. “This’d be a hell of a lot easier if you just-“

 

The creepy dude was cut short by something grabbing him and tackling him to the ground out of nowhere. The figure and creepy guy went sprawling onto the ground as Luci back up against the wall, trying to make herself look as small and invisible as possible.

 

Almost as quickly as he had been taken down, the mysterious figure that had knocked down the creepy guy was now straddling him and beating him to a pulp. The figure lay one punch after another as the creepy guy tried to fight back but lay helpless and unable to protect himself. Luci watched horror as the figure beat the guy unconscious until he was not moving. Luci stared at the scene, taking it all in. Had the figure just knocked him unconscious or had he done something more fatal? And was that deeper noise when the figure punched with his left arm? Luci couldn’t think straight – her head throbbed and her ankle killed. Black spots began to form in her vision as she tried to stay awake, but to no avail, her head dropped down onto her shoulder and he eyes began to close.

The last thing she saw - before it all went black - was a pair of piercing blue eyes staring at her from where the figure was. And then darkness. 

 

__________

 

It was quiet. That was the first thing Luci noticed when she woke up. She hadn’t opened her eyes yet because she was afraid of waking up in the alley – or worse, a hospital. After staring at the insides of her eyelids for a few moments, she slowly opened them to find herself staring up at a plain white ceiling. She furrowed her eyebrows. There was something wrong about this ceiling. It didn’t have the cracks on it from being worn out over time and the foundation shifting. Also, the last thing she remembered was passing out in the alley after being attacked by…

Luci shot up, her head throbbing in pain from her sudden movements. She winced and went to rub her head, finding that there was something wrapped around it. Curiously, Luci swung her legs over the side of the bed, clenching her teeth in the pain she received from moving and tried to stand up.

Bad idea.

Her ankle suddenly sent a shot of burning pain up through Luci’s nervous system and she cried out in pain, flopping back on the bed. She groaned and winced as she cradled her sore ankle, massaging it in hoping to get rid of the pain quicker. She looked down at it and saw that it was covered in purple and black bruises. It felt like someone had ripped it off and had dropped acid onto it. It hurt to move. Luci winced as she tried to flex it, it stung like a bitch. An idea occurred to Luci and thought that she might give her healing capabilities a try. Luci focused on her ankle, having the palms of her hands over it and imagining it restoring back to its original colour and structure. A small purple cloud of energy emitted from Luci's hands and clouded her ankle, a feeling of slight pain but also relief rushing through her as she felt her ankle beginning to heal. After a few moments, Luci managed to lessen the pain and heal herself slightly but her head began to scream in pain and she couldn't focus anymore. She wasn’t fully capable of healing major injuries like a broken ankle but little by little, she could take the pain away and repair it slowly. Luci closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, trying to steady her mind.

All of a sudden, Luci heard footsteps coming from outside the door.

Her eyes shot open and a slight wave of panic washed over Luci. She realised that since she couldn’t get away with her current condition, she had to figure out another way to escape if there was any imminent danger. But if it was the person who had helped her and bandaged her up, maybe they wouldn’t be so bad.

The door open and Luci watched as a man in about his early thirties walked into the room. His hair was a chocolate-brown that reached his shoulders and was greasy and looked as if it hadn’t been washed in days, dark bags under his cool, deep blue eyes, a stubble that was a month or so old, a strong body figure, broad shoulders and about 5’11. He seemed to have this permanent scowl on his face and a grim expression, making him hard to read.

 

“So you’re awake,” his voice was gruff and husky like he had swallowed marbles.

 

Luci decided to say nothing. She wanted answers, yes, but she wasn’t entirely up to saying anything to this guy before she knew about him a little bit. Time for some mind-reading. The only problem was, she couldn’t focus because of the injuries she had sustained in her ankle and head, so it made things a little bit difficult. She did, however, manage to snag a glimpse at a few images of information in his mind before her head began to hurt.

 

“What? Can’t talk or something?” the greasy-aired dude took a few steps forward. “You seemed pretty capable of screaming and calling for help last night.”

 

Again, Luci kept quiet. She was trying to understand the pictures in her head she had received from the guy standing a metre or so away from her. They were mostly fuzzy but she some of them were clear enough to understand. A snowy mountain face, a train racing along the tracks, a glimpse of silver in a mirror – or was that a window reflection? Again, it made no sense to Luci and it was all jumbled up.

 

The dude scoffed. “So now that you aren’t in any danger, you’re suddenly mute? Incapable of speech?”

 

Luci pursed her lips and looked away. She didn’t need this now, she wanted to be left alone and figure out these pictures from the guy’s head and understand him more. She never really talked to people unless she had a bit of inside information about them.

 

“Right, well seeing as you aren’t in jeopardy and seem fine – apart from you ‘speech disability’ – you can leave,” the guy stepped aside to the door and gestured his arm towards it. Luci noticed a flash of silver as his sleeve rose up a bit and then began to wonder why he was wearing a glove on only one hand.

 

And then the pictures slowly fit together like a puzzle and it all clicked together at once.

 

Luci stared at the guy by the door and realised at that moment just who he was. “Zimniy Soldat,” Luci mumbled and surprised herself in the sudden Russian tongue she had just spoken.

 

The guy froze and stood tall. “Excuse me…?” he muttered, his voice sounding aggravated and slightly scared.

 

Luci straightened her back and put her leg back down on the ground, being careful not to cause any more pain to it. “Zimniy Soldat,” she repeated with a more confident tone. A small smirk found its way to her lips. “The Winter Soldier. That’s you, isn’t it?”

 

Unaware of what she was expecting next, the ‘Winter Soldier’ rushed at her and pinned her down against the bed with his left hand around her neck. It suddenly became extremely hard for Luci to breathe and she tried gasping for air while her windpipe was being crushed.

 

“WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!” the guy screamed, small droplets of spit falling onto her face.

 

“Jeez,” Luci forced out. “Inside voice… please. I’m right here you-you know.”

 

“Tell me who you are!” the Winter Soldier shouted, ignoring her comment. “And tell me how the hell you know about that… that monster.”

 

“That monster?” Luci choked. “Y-you do realise that you’re… you’re referring to yourself, r-right?”

 

“That’s not who I am anymore,” the guy hissed through gritted teeth and pressed down harder on Luci’s throat. “Now tell me who you are!”

 

Luci gasped for any air she could get a hold of and tried pulling the Soldier’s hand away. She felt something hard and metal as she tried to pry his hand away but didn’t think much of it as her vision was going dark and her face was changing colour. She had to get him off of her, but how? She didn’t have much time, that was for sure, but she knew that she had to act fast or something severe could happen to her.

Strangely, under the circumstances, Luci began to laugh. It was more of a wheezing sound but it was a laugh nonetheless.

 

“Why are you laughing?” the guy demanded.

 

“B-because,” Luci coughed and felt her body going weak. She fought with every ounce of strength she had left in her to try and stay awake. “You kill me, and you won’t g-get your answers. You kill me, and… and you’ll just be the monster you once were.”

 

At that note, the guy’s hand released off of Luci’s neck, sending a large amount of air into her lungs as she took the biggest breath she could manage. Luci began coughing furiously as she hacked and wheezed while she sat up to get a better position and get air into her lungs. Eventually, her breaths became slower and less shaky as her lungs refilled with oxygen. Luci looked over at the ‘Winter Soldier’ who was staring at her with a bewildered and pissed off expression.

 

Luci gave him a menacing grin but quickly wiped it off as she burst into another coughing fit. “S-see?” she coughed. “I knew you wouldn’t do it. T-too much of a soft guy now that HYDRA’s out of the picture,” the pictures she had gathered from him before were becoming clearer now and she could understand them better. “And your name, it’s actually James, isn’t it? But you preferred to be called Bucky, a-am I right? ”

 

The guy - Bucky - just stood there with his fists curling into balls and his shoulders heaving up and down. "How do you know all this about me?"

 

His tone was aggravated and deadly serious. His eyes shot daggers at Luci and she couldn't blame him, honestly. It wasn't every day where a random girl you saved in an alleyway suddenly knew about your past when you hadn't even said anything about it. It was creepy and not very pleasant.

 

Bucky took a deep breath and stepped towards Luci slightly. "I'll ask you once more. "Who are you and how do you know about me?"

 

Luci took a few more breaths just to make sure she was breathing properly and looked him dead in the eye, returning his cold, hard stare. She gave him a little grin, full of mischief, cheek and a hint of wickedness. Like some possessed Cheshire Cat.

 

"I read your mind."

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