–Some Days Later–
Sam sat outside at his favorite restaurant in his neighborhood with his sister for lunch. They’d ordered their food and were catching each other up on details of their lives. Being teachers they leaned on each other for support when they needed help and when their jobs were just getting to be too much. They tried to meet regularly to have lunch or go shopping on the weekends.
“So how are things with that sugar daddy of yours?” Sarah asked jokingly.
Sam shook his head. “That’s absolutely not what’s going on,” Sam refuted.
“He texts you when he’s in town, takes you out to expensive restaurants any time he’s in town and then you give him some, every single time yall meet up. How is that not what’s going on?”
“Shut up Sarah,” Sam said mostly exasperated at his sister for pointing on the oddness of his early dates with Bucky. If he hadn’t had such a wonderful night with Bucky last Friday, Sam would feel some kind of way about what his sister pointed out. However that was not the case and things had changed between the two of them and nothing could dampen Sam’s happiness about that. “We’re together now.”
“Are you serious?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said looking over at her as their food arrived. “We made things official last Friday.”
Sarah took a few bites of her food and thought a little bit about the information her brother had shared with her.
“What? No opinion? No, ‘congrats Sammy I’m so happy for your new relationship’?”
Sarah wasn’t sure why but something wasn’t sitting right with her. She’d met Bucky briefly when she ran into him and Sam while they were downtown going to the theater for a show one afternoon. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but there was something about the man she wasn’t convinced about.
“I don’t know about him Sammy,” she stated again.
Sam sighed. “You never like anyone I date though. What makes him any different?”
“A fine ass, white man with his shit together is either a drug lord or an arms dealer.”
“Just those two?”
“You know what the hell I mean! He’s some type of bad or criminal. Money and swag like that don’t come from ivy leagues,” she pressed. “I’m telling you Sam.”
Sam shook his head and couldn’t see Bucky dealing in anything nefarious. Granted the man talked a really good game, that didn’t mean he was a gangster.
“If some shit pops off while you’re with him don’t come crying to me,” she said sipping her coffee.
“You won’t bail me out of jail?” Sam joked.
“Nah, if you wanna let some good dick lead you to a life of crime, by all means gon head then, I’m not gonna stop you or help you after this point,” she said looking at him.
Sam smiled wide and shook his head.
“I love you sis,” he said softly reading a text from Bucky that the other was thinking of him.
6th Arrondissement, Paris, France // 7:00 P.M.
Bucky put his phone away after texting Sam and sat down to have an evening coffee. He acknowledged Valkyrie at the outdoor table of the little Parisian café they picked for their meeting.
“Good to see you in one piece,” she said not looking up from her phone.
“You too,” he said coolly looking around through the dark lenses of his sunglasses as the sun began setting around them.
“It’s not hard to dodge bullets when you’re the eye in the sky Buck,” she reminded him.
“Talk to me,” he said, asking about any assignments with open contracts and anything that was specifically sent to him.
“You’ve got a contract with notes. Clean and discreet,” she said having memorized the file so she wouldn’t have to open it in public and risk being traced or them getting pinged out in the open.
“The money right this time?” he asked casually looking around and keeping his senses open to their surroundings. It was just the two of them sitting outside except for one table a couple of feet away on the other side of the patio.
“Always about the paper huh?”
He looked over at her with his sunglasses on at 7pm at night. “Aren’t you?” he asked her.
“True,” she confessed. “Money’s there. Three mill. But this one won’t be easy though. I looked into this guy, Walker; he’s got people all over.”
“That’s why we’re working together right?”
“I’m just your eyes for intel Bucky,” she reminded him.
“How much to hire you as a second gun?” he asked. “Get you off the sidelines and back in the game?” At one point Val had been notorious for her skills and high hit count but for some reason, no one knew why, she pulled out of field work and became an ‘eye in the sky’ or Eagle as they were called in the business.
“You couldn’t afford me,” she said putting her phone away to look at Bucky.
Bucky kept that in mind and looked around the area. “Talk to me about this guy.”
Val filled him in on the target using their code for public settings and explained most of what the file had on the guy.
“It’ll be tough but it looks like you’ll have an opening next month if you plan this right. It’s a small window but for you I’m sure it’ll be more than enough time.”
Bucky considered her words and figured it would be more than enough time to come up with a plan and backup courses of action just in case.
When they wrapped their discussion with business, Bucky felt the need to talk to someone about what was on his mind. He didn’t have close friends but Val was the closest thing to a friend one could have in his line of work.
“Do you date Val?” Bucky asked softly thinking of Sam, wondering what the other was up to at the moment.
Val eyed him carefully, trying to assess why Bucky was asking her such a question. Paranoia in the business came standard. You didn’t stand a chance of surviving if you didn’t have a healthy dose of skepticism when talking to anyone once you got in the business. Getting personal with colleagues in their line of work was taboo. There were details everyone kept secret for safety and security reasons.
Bucky knew he and Val trusted each other but that trust only went so far.
“I do hookups. I don’t date,” she said pointedly as if the idea of dating was beneath her. She’d learned that lesson the hard way. She vowed she’d never make that mistake again. “Dating is dangerous in this line of work.”
She eyed Bucky, gauging his reaction to her words.
“It is,” he agreed.
“Having feelings or attachments often doesn’t end well for anyone in this business,” she said off handedly. “Leads to a bullet in either your head…or theirs, eventually.”
Bucky felt a chill run down his spine. He was thankful he had on sunglasses and Val couldn’t see his eyes, or the worry he had to conceal in his expression. He hoped against hope he wasn’t putting Sam in harm’s way by being with him.