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The world has been thrown into turmoil. Two alien invasions in as many years resulted in thousands of casualties, with both only narrowly beaten back, and dangerous advanced technology falling into unscrupulous hands. Magneto's defeat by the Sentinels drove mutant supremacists to increasingly desperate and savage lengths. Rumors grew of uncanny monsters stalking the shadows and taking the unwary. But, through it all, humanity placed its faith in S.H.I.E.L.D.

And then S.H.I.E.L.D. fell.

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 We should not mind so small a flower, Feb 12th 1943, London
Marla Drake
 Posted: May 11 2017, 06:37 PM
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Marla walked down the London sidewalk with a bit of pep in her step. After a dreary few days, the sky had finally dawned clear. Today had been a glorious spring day, with the temperature reaching almost 55F. Everyone had been so happy to see the sun that even the General told them to take a long lunch. The girls opted for an impromptu picnic in the park, where Marla had indulged in a posy of violets. The clear day had continued into a clear evening. The lovely smells of spring and the mild warmth that lingered had convinced har to walk back to her flat. It wasn’t a short walk, but she was enjoying every moment of it.

The much stronger scent of roses overpowered the delicate violets on her lapel, causing Marla to pause. It was far too early for natural blooms. A glance up and down the street revealed there wasn’t a woman close enough for it to be perfume. She peeped down the alley to her right, curious. A few feet in was a bouquet of hot house roses on the ground, the blossoms a vibrant red in the dim light. Reaching down to pick it up, Marla hoped some poor fellow hadn’t misplaced his valentine’s day gift. A dozen roses at this time of year would set one back quite a pretty penny. There was no card but neither was there any broken blossoms, so they hadn’t been thrown here in anger. Marla raised the flowers to her face, enjoying the fragrance.

The faint hiss gave her just enough warning to turn her head aside as a metallic scented gas erupted from the bouquet. She threw the flowers away from her, but not quick enough to completely avoid inhaling some of the fumes. The effect was instantaneous. Marla’s vision narrowed, her ears rang lightly, and she got very light-headed. If she hadn’t been so lucky, she would have been unconscious on the ground. Whoever had baited this trap had meant to incapacitate her… meaning they were still there somewhere..

Marla turned to the alley entrance but barely took one step before a strong arm wrapped around her throat and a second around her waist. The man easily lifted her off her feet. The Baroness would like to have a word with you, breathed a perfectly accented english voice in her ear. Having no leverage to work with, Marla did the only thing to do.

She threw her head back as hard as she could. The sharp pain on the back of her skull was accompanied by a very satisfying crunch. The man howled and his grip loosened enough for her feet to hit the ground. That was all she needed to be able to bring one 3 inch heel crushing down on his instep. A sharp elbow to his ribs and Marla shook loose of her attacker. Her head was spinning from the gas as well as the blow, she was in no shape to fight. So she ran, or tried too.

Marla lurched out of the alley, but had only gotten a few steps before a hand grabbed her arm.


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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: May 16 2017, 06:13 PM
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Bucky had managed to get himself an off-base messenger mission, one that he was taking full advantage of. He had sort of secretly decided to turn it into a bit of a day trip, since he could probably reasonably spin the length of it that way due to the destination being halfway across the city. He'd even managed to charm some food out of one of the kitchen workers, which had led to not only a pleasant day out but one that included lunch. At the moment he was taking the long way back to camp, knowing he'd get in trouble if he wasn't back soon.

That was when his trouble radar went off. Growing up with Steve, the little shit, had given him a pretty good idea of when someone was about to do something stupid. While it wasn't exactly a sixth sense or anything, something felt a little off. He sidetracked into a couple alleys, not finding anything, but pretty sure something was up. And then he'd heard a scuffle in an alley, and not in a way that seemed like it would lead to good intentions.

He'd picked up his pace and managed to find the right place just in time to witness some lady attempting to leave an alley only to get pulled back in. Well, now, that just wasn't nice. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to let go," he said firmly, though he was a hundred percent certain that the man did not deserve the honorific. And, surprise surprise, the man seemed to want to hold onto his prize.

"Come on, now, no need for us to not get along," he tried, giving them both an easygoing grin. Well, that seemed to be the wrong thing to say. The man shoved the woman aside, seemingly deciding that Bucky needed to be dealt with before he went back to his... whatever he'd had planned.

Bucky ducked the first punch and threw the guy over his shoulder, pivoting to place himself between the two members of the pair he'd broken up. He knew how to get rid of the average backstreet troublemaker, but somehow he sensed this wasn't the case. The other man had underestimated him and thought he was just some random wannabe do-gooder despite the uniform. Although, to be fair, the only wrong part of that term was 'wannabe'.

"I promise not to hold a grudge if you keep your hands off my gal," he offered. Which, while a lie, was more than reasonable. Because if this had in fact been his girlfriend, he would have taken personal offense at the whole thing. As it was, both were strangers but he had good reason to dislike one of them.


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Marla Drake
 Posted: May 21 2017, 12:18 PM
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Marla wasn’t thinking clearly enough to avoid being pulled back. She had barely gotten her feet beneath her when someone stepped into the alleyway. A calm baritone voice said something she couldn’t make out above the ringing in her ears, and she found herself tossed to the ground. She looked up in time to see the soldier deftly avoid her attacker’s swing and place himself protectively in the way. Steadying herself against the brick wall, she took a few deep breaths to get the whine in her head to recede. Marla pushed herself to her feet and hoped her knight in khaki wool didn’t come to regret stepping in.

"I promise not to hold a grudge if you keep your hands off my gal,"

“Dan?” She whispered before she could help it. No, of course that wasn’t him. The hair was too dark and the uniform was all wrong. Still, being called ‘my gal’ in a sweet Brooklyn accent had been enough to make her heart leap.

The soldier’s words had an effect on the attacker as well. Pale eyes looked the soldier over, flicking from the handsome face to the identifying marks on the tan uniform, as if memorizing every detail. The man lips curled in a pompous sneer as only an Englishman could accomplish. “No.” He stated, dropping out of his fighting stance. He retrieved a kerchief from his vest pocket and fastidiously wiped the blood from under his nose before continuing. “She no more ‘your gal’ than she is my captive, it seems. The difference being, eventually she WILL be mine. Until next time, my dear.” With a polite tip of his hat, the man turned and began walking away.

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: May 22 2017, 06:05 PM
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>> "Dan?"

"I'm proud to be in service of a lady." He was neither confirming nor denying that he was 'Dan', whoever that was. Although it was kind of sad that the lady seemed to be taken. The middle of a war zone was probably the worst time to be thinking of flirting, but Bucky was a social kind of guy.

>> "No. She no more ‘your gal’ than she is my captive, it seems. The difference being, eventually she WILL be mine. Until next time, my dear.”

The temptation to get the last word in was very, very strong. It'd only make things worse, however, so Bucky bit back the comment on the tip of his tongue and turned to face the lady that had evidently been the center of this hullabaloo. "You seem a little worse for wear, doll, if you don't mind me sayin'. You got people I can take you to? American camp I'm from's only about a mile up the way." If she wasn't able to direct him to somewhere to take her, he'd just bring her there and settle things later.


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Marla Drake
 Posted: May 28 2017, 03:42 PM
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"I'm proud to be in service of a lady." Nope, certainly not Dan. Despite the buzzing in her head, Marla couldn’t help the smile that crept to her lips. Her love would have certainly have come to the rescue, being a cop was in his blood, he just wouldn’t have been so gallant about it. Dan would have chased off the man then turn and ask her why the hell she was walking alone. Handsome, caring, and blunt as a nightstick, that was her Dan.

Marla willed her head to clear, focusing on the Englishman. He was really indistinguishable from most well off Brits. While she was sure she would recognize him again, his was a face she would have to search for. The perfect face for a german agent, and handsome enough to appeal to the Baroness. It seemed that platinum viper has survived Brazil, and was holding a grudge. Wonderful.

The Englishman retreated, leaving behind a sweetly concerned soldier. "You seem a little worse for wear, doll, if you don't mind me sayin'. You got people I can take you to? American camp I'm from's only about a mile up the way."

A mile may be a bit much.” She said. Her accent was as New York as his, Uptown to his Brooklyn. “There is a pub, The Black Nag, about half a block away. A good sit down will clear my head and give me the opportunity to thank you properly. For saving me and for the favor I am about to ask.”

“Could you get that bundle of roses?” Marla requested while steadying herself against the brick wall. She pointed further into the alleyway, where a bouquet lay on the ground. “Bending down right now would have some very mortifying consequences. Oh! And don’t smell them.”

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: May 28 2017, 11:36 PM
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>> "A mile may be a bit much."

"Then name the place, miss." Bucky was pretty flexible. And even if she wanted to go in the opposite direction of his camp, it was bound to only be a bit. She'd mentioned a mile as too far. He might be about to get into a little trouble with his CO, but doubtlessly he'd have a good story to share with his buddies.

>> “There is a pub, The Black Nag, about half a block away. A good sit down will clear my head and give me the opportunity to thank you properly. For saving me and for the favor I am about to ask.”

"Sounds like a good a place as any." Bucky honestly wouldn't have pegged her as the sort of lady to frequent pubs so close to a war zone, but to each their own. "If I'm to be attending with as pretty a lady as yourself, I hope you'll at least let me buy the first round," he teased with a light grin.

>> “Could you get that bundle of roses? Bending down right now would have some very mortifying consequences. Oh! And don’t smell them.”

Don't smell them? Wasn't that exactly what you were supposed to do with roses? Bucky cast the bouquet a half-doubtful glance but did as requested, making sure to hold it so that the buds were pointed away from him. If they'd had something to do with the attack, which he wouldn't wholly doubt, then he probably didn't want to get a dose of whatever had weakened her.

Returning to her, he offered Marla his arm. "Sergeant James 'Bucky' Barnes at your service. Onwards?" It hadn't been uncommon for him to help take care of his three younger sisters when they'd gotten sick, and he couldn't imagine this being too different.


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Marla Drake
 Posted: May 30 2017, 05:58 PM
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Now that the excitement was past, Marla got a good look at her knight in khaki wool. He was certainly handsome enough, but what caught her attention warmth that radiated from hazel eyes. Some men would have helped to save a beautiful woman, some would for the story to tell after. Honor and Glory. This one did because he cared, cared for a complete stranger. It wouldn't have surprised her to find out she wasn’t his first rescue.

By the time he had returned, Marla had fished a handkerchief out of her purse. With a thankful nod, she took the bouquet. Carefully she removed a metallic cylinder from among the stems, making sure not to touch it with her bare fingers. With any luck, it would lead her to the Baroness. The canister was tucked carefully into her purse.The roses, however, were tossed in the nearest bin with more than a little enmity.

"Sergeant James 'Bucky' Barnes at your service. Onwards?"

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Bucky. And I have never said anything more honest in my life.” Marla smiled, slipping her arm through his. She rested her other hand on his bicep for extra stability. She wobbled the first few steps, but soon steadied. “I’m Marla Drake, but please call me Marla. It seems we are practically neighbors. Brooklyn?”




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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: May 30 2017, 06:44 PM
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Bucky watched Marla handle the flower and canister with no small amount of curiosity. It seemed as though there was something up that he had no clue about, but at the moment it wasn't the time to ask questions about such things. He needed to get her to the pub she'd mentioned so that she could sit down for a minute. Although he did grin slightly at the way she tossed the flowers into the bin.

>> “It is a pleasure to meet you, Bucky. And I have never said anything more honest in my life.”

"I'd say the pleasure is entirely mine but my mama raised me to never contradict a lady as lovely as yourself." A little bit of teasing, but in all seriousness, his mother would have never let him get away with such a thing. He was also glad that he could be of some help to her.

>> “I’m Marla Drake, but please call me Marla. It seems we are practically neighbors. Brooklyn?”

"Born an' raised, Ms Marla. Got drafted in December and here I am. Can't say I regret that as much as I did yesterday." More than most else, he was a flirt. Even if he expected nothing to come of the current situation. He'd get her home, they'd part ways, and he would hopefully be a fond memory and a funny story.


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Marla Drake
 Posted: Jun 3 2017, 06:32 PM
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Marla laughed delightedly at Bucky’s playful flirts. “Lenox Hill, which I am sure you guessed. Though I do have some fond memories of Brooklyn. There’s an Ice cream parlour on Ocean Ave, Carlotta’s, They make excellent strawberry floats. My father used to take me there after an outing at Prospect Park.” She didn’t mention that her fondest memory was busting some thug heads when they were trying to shake Carlotta down for protection money. Miss Fury had rounded them up and handed them over to Detective Carey. The sweet and very grateful lady had offered her free ice cream for life. “Then of course there is the dancing at the Grand Prospect. I do miss that.”

The Black Nag wasn’t very promising from the outside.The building across the way had been gutted in one of the previous night bombings. The explosion had blasted out the windows and peppered the brickwork with pock marks. Once one got past the boarded up front windows, the interior was warm and inviting. This early in the day there were very few patrons. The daytime barkeep, who was actually the wife of the night time barkeep, looked up and smiled as they entered. “Take a seat anywhere, dearies, I’ll be right there.”

Marla steered her escort towards the nearest table, glad to be able to sit. “Dearies..” She chuckled quietly. “Not sure I will ever get used to that.”

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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Jun 4 2017, 12:11 AM
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"Now, Ms Marla, you can't be telling me that you're from practically around the corner from me! I know that I would have noticed you." Although he was slightly familiar with the ice cream parlour she mentioned. "I had a friend who worked a couple doors down from Carlotta's. He said the lady runnin' it was a real classy lady." And he had no doubt that she was, though he'd only visited once himself.

He was very familiar with dancing, however. "The Grand Prospect was one of the best places around for dancin'. I haven't found these Londoners to have anything like it. Such a shame." Clearly. Bucky was a man who liked to enjoy himself, which in this day and age, almost certainly meant that he'd frequented a dozen dance halls with a lady of his choice. Even dragged Steve along a couple of times.

To be honest he wasn't all too sure about the Black Nag from appearances. It looked like it was half ready to fall down. But Marla had named this as the place, and didn't seem to be second-guessing herself. She'd probably been here several times before if it had been the first place to come to mind after an attack.

But once they got inside, it was actually a quite nice little place. Bucky had to admit he'd been a little hasty with his judgement. "Your choice, milady," he offered Marla when they were told to seat themselves. He pulled the chair out for her, being a gentleman and all, and took the seat opposite. "Now you're sure you're all right?"


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Marla Drake
 Posted: Jun 8 2017, 06:06 PM
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Marla sank gratefully into the chair, placing her purse on the table. By the time her rescuer had sat, she already had a cigarette out of it’s silver case. The matching lighter seemed to have fallen to the bottom of her bag. Distractedly, she answered while searching for it. “Yes, or rather I will be. That was an attempt to kidnap, not kill, so the gas used should wear off shortly.”

Hazel eyes flew wide as she realized what she had said. She hadn’t meant to tell him so much, and certainly not so frankly. The gas must also have had the side effect of lowering inhibitions. Marla looked up, vainly hoping he hadn’t heard but knowing there was no way he hadn’t. “Merde…” The cuss was out of her mouth before she even thought to stop it. Marla clapped a hand over her mouth before she did anything else embarrassing.

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 Posted: Jun 8 2017, 07:30 PM
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Well, Bucky had certainly managed to find himself an interesting woman to rescue. "Oh, good," he said almost casually. But one look at his face would betray his 'what the hell?' thought process. It was a good thing that whoever it was hadn't been interested in killing her and all, but who on earth had she interested enough that they'd used something fancy like a flower trap to get her?

At least the mysterious assailant had failed... Or so he hoped. Though he was slightly concerned about how much danger this was going to put him in. No doubt the other man had taken careful note of his face, uniform, and name. If he decided to follow up, well, Bucky was pretty sure he'd do it in a way that didn't leave him with many defenses.

"'Merde', indeed," he agreed. The swearing didn't bother him in the slightest. He was in the Army, after all. You tended to hear those kinds of things. "So tell me, Ms Marla, am I going to half to be careful of rose bouquets in my future?" While his words might be teasing, his tone was entirely serious. "And is there anything I can do to help you out?"

Since he'd gotten himself into something, might as well go all the way. He had no doubt that she'd be able to take care of herself, but it was in his nature to look out for people. And, evidently, to pull feisty punks out of alleys they were getting into fights in. That seemed to be an international habit.


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Marla Drake
 Posted: Jun 15 2017, 06:57 PM
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While he took her candid talk lightly, there was a thread of true concern in his voice. Be it for himself or for her, Marla found it endearing. Her hand dropped to Bucky’s arm with a reassuring pat. “You should be safe, as long as you limit your exposure to me. And rescuing me from her henchman again is right out… ” She answered in the same flippantly serious manner.

“This was purely personal. The Baroness is nursing a grudge that is several years old, though I am surprised she made a move here in London. She must have found another Daddy Warbucks…” Marla would have gone on, but the Barkeep’s wife had bustled over to the table asking for their orders.

“If I could have a cup of your strongest tea? And get this gentleman whatever he wants, he’s my hero today.” She requested of the portly lady, gracing her with a dazzling smile. As Bucky made his choice, Marla fished through her purse again, finally coming up with a slim lighter. Two scritches and as a many puffs, and her eyes closed for a moment. The stimulants in the cigarette, as well as the tea, would help counteract whatever was in the cannister. Turning her head to one side, she exhaled the smoke off into a corner. She didn’t think her hero would mind the smoke, but better polite than sorry.

“Actually I would rather have a cup of coffee” She whispered conspiratorially as the woman left. “But English coffee… “ Marla shuddered theatrically.


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James "Bucky" Barnes
 Posted: Jun 15 2017, 07:45 PM
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"Now, now, Ms Marla, you can't expect me to pass up a lady in need of help." And while he might say it teasingly, Bucky meant it. It just wasn't in his nature to walk past someone in trouble. Which was the way that he'd met Steve, come to think of it, and look where that had got him.

Seriously, though, he'd do the whole thing over again if necessary. "You're sure whoever it was won't give you any more trouble?" Or more trouble that she had a hard time handing, more like. Bucky highly doubted that she was helpless in a fight. It seemed like she'd been doing a good job for herself until he'd showed up.

"I can't say I've ever met a Baroness, but such behaviour's certainly not befitting a lady," he said. He smiled at her when she called him her hero, a bit of an aw-shucks look despite the fact that he clearly didn't mind. "Cup of Earl Grey, please." Tea wasn't exactly his, well, cup of tea. But anything stronger would probably be frowned upon by his CO.

He laughed at her whispered confession. "I won't tell if you won't," he promised quietly, giving her a smile. Far be it from him to spill a lady's secrets. "But I'll let you in on a secret, us Yanks brought coffee over with us to avoid such a fate. If you ever need a proper dose of caffeine, we'd share." Possibly. Coffee was the quickest way to a man's heart in times as these, and the Americans had quickly learned that the Brits could only be relied upon to brew tea.


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Marla Drake
 Posted: Jun 26 2017, 06:19 PM
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“Baroness von Kamph, married into the title. Husband Number Two, in fact, who didn’t survive the marriage more than a year.” The very same fate befell Husband Number Three, Gary Hale, Marla’s ex fiancee and childhood friend. Though he was listed as missing in action, Marla had little doubt the Baroness was involved. “I am sure that was not enough time to teach a guttersnipe true manners. “

“It will take some time for that gentleman to get back to her, as she has been denied ‘legal’ entry into Britain. Last I knew, she was in occupied France. I should double-check that when I get back to the office…” Marla paused as the barkeep returned carrying a large tray. Two mismatched and well worn teacups were placed on the table, along with a good sized teapot. A chipped plate with four jam filled thumbprint cookies was added with no explanation. Looking from the woman’s retreating back to the plate, Marla grinned. “I guess one can’t have tea without biscuits…” She chuckled.

Marla picked up the strainer, placing it over Bucky’s cup, and filled his teacup. While not a fan of tea, she obviously knew how to serve it. She filled her own, setting the pot and strainer aside, before adding enough sugar and cream to make a true englishman writhe in polite disgust. “But enough about me. Tell me just who and where these ‘Yanks’ are so I can raid their coffee stores.”

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