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Luminary

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The swearing was easy to ignore.

The gunshots, not so much.

Huddling deeper into the thick, fleece fabric of his hoodie, The Soldier tilts his head forwards, scraggly hair falling out of the hood and around his face like rain from a cloudburst, shadowing his features from any who dared to look.

Not many did.

Everyone went out of their way to ignore the homeless, to walk right past them on the street and pretend the people sitting out on cardboard with growling stomachs just...weren't there.

The perfect cover for The Soldier; hood up, head down, arm covered.

They'd not think him daring enough to hide in New York, right beneath the Avengers' noses. He'd set up some false trails to Western America, but right now, he was content.

The memories were coming back slowly, trickles really.

Sometimes, The Soldier was there, sometimes it was Sargent James Barnes.

Rarely was it Bucky; that was the part of him they'd tried to kill the hardest, after all.

Still, it was Bucky that detected the sounds of a fight, Bucky who had the flashback to the weedy little kid wheezing like a champ and taking those punches about as well as wet tissue paper hold up under pressure.

He knew the sound of someone getting beaten up.

What he didn't know was why he got up to go help.

Regardless, that's seems to be exactly what he did.

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Crumpling to the floor, Matt was unable to stop the short, raspy exhale that was really more of a wheeze, from escaping between his lips. His limbs tremble, but he could feel that familiar, furious rage ebbing beneath the surface of his skin, lapping at the edges of his consciousness, just begging to get out. For him to let it out.

He is but a second away from reaching for it, a second away.

But then, he hears it.

The heartbeat, the steadiest and strongest he's ever heard before, echoing down the streets. He recognises it, there was only one person he's ever run into who had a heartbeat like that. He's heard it only twice so far in Hell's Kitchen, and he is reasonable certain it belongs to a homeless man.

What doesn't quite fit into the usual outline for a person, is the whirling sound, the pressurised air that duets with the slow, smooth grind of shifting metal plates.

Regardless, as far as Matt can tell, the man is on his side, given the fact he's just punched one of the Russian Mafia thugs with the not-human left hand.

It sounds like metal, but not quite metal, as it meets flesh, and the mobster's collarbone gives way with the sharpest crack Matt has ever had the pleasure to hear.

"Need someone to pull your ass out the fire, punk?"

The male speaks with a thick Brooklyn accent, but seems surprised at his own words.

The Russian Mafia, more so.

They actually freeze in place, and Matt can read the panic lining their faces as the air currents around them shift.

"Зимний Солдат," one whispers, almost reverently.

Terrified.

Fearfully.

It is the strongest emotion in the air, and whatever this guy has said in his asshole language, it stops the others in their tracks, pauses their advance on him.

Hell, two take a step back.

Whoever this guy is, he couldn't be so bad if the Russian Mafia are scared this witless of him.

"Right, want to let go of the kid then?"

Matt snipes, with more confidence than he feels and with perhaps more breath than he should waste.

Still, his unexpected aid stiffens, and he doesn't so much as round on the men as simply turn his gaze on them, it sure as hell has to be an intimidating look, because none of the Mafia dare reach for their guns.

When his apparently terrifying comrade speaks, it's in Russian, and Matt has no idea what the man says.

He does know how the Mafia reach, can feel it seconds before they make a move.

And Matt throws himself on the closest one, downing the man after three solid punches.

As it turns out, his help has managed to take down two others on his own in the same timeframe, starting to work over his third and leaving one shaking newbie for Matt to handle.

And honestly, he feels a little redundant right now.

Where has this guy been, and really, could he perhaps stay a little longer?

Until this problem with the Russians has died down?

The two of them take a step back, glance down once at the crumpled group, before Matt aims a grin at the the man with the prosthetic.

"Want to help me drop the kid off?"

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The Soldier's not quite sure why he follows the man in black to drop the child off, he's even more unsure over why he took the man up on his offer to camp out on his couch for the night.

But the idea of a safe place, staying with the man -the man who fights Russians and rescues little kids and shows no signs of HYDRA; he can't be HYDRA- doesn't fill him with dread.

It can't be an elaborate plot, it's too coincidental to be that.

He falls down upon the man's couch, and it is the softest surface he has the potential to sleep on in far too long. He cannot even begin to guess how long it's been, his mind, his memories, are no longer what they used to be.

The man who fights Russians and rescued children places a blanket over the Soldier's shoulders, and the Asset doesn't snuggle into it.

He does however, allow his shoulders to relax, for his head to lean back on the couch as the man introduces himself as Matt.

The Soldier keeps silent, unwilling to offer up a name. He doesn't have claim to one; just the idea of one from an era long forgotten.

So the Soldier remains quiet, even falls asleep when the man -Matt- retreats to his own room.

He gets five hours of sleep, a record.

And then-

"Matt?! Why is there a scary looking hobo on your couch?!"

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Running a hand slowly through his bed head of hair, Matt climbs to his feet, making his way to the entrance of his bedroom.

The stranger that had helped him last night, the stranger with the metal arm, has stiffened at the sound of Foggy's voice, Foggy who'd clearly come to see him for some reason or another.

Matt doesn't have the slightest clue as to why, his head is far more focusesd on how he's going to deal with the Russians, how he's going to flush them out of his city.

Perhaps he should have devoted a little more time to explaining the reason for the presence of the strange man with, what appeared, to be a metal arm. As far as Matt's enhanced senses could tell that's what it was.

"That's Jason."

The homeless man shoots him a concerned, confused glance, but Matt ignored it with the skill that comes with hiding a secret double life from his best friend.

And if the problem was the name, well, he should have damn well given Matt one then.

"Jason," Foggy repeats ludicrously, the swish of his hair indicating he was looking between the two like he's missed something. Which, obviously was true, but Matt's not about to let him know that.

"Punk almost got mugged," the newly dubbed Jason confirms, and Matt can practically picture the bitter smirk that licks at the corners of Jason's face, "hauled his ass outta there."

"Jesus Matt." And then Foggy is upon him, checking him over for cuts and bruises, tutting at the swelling of his cheek.

Really, it'd have been a hell of a lot worse without Jason's timely intervention.

"You know what, don't come in today. Stay here and-" Foggy cut off, head tilting towards Jason and from the awkward set to his shoulders and palpitating heart, Matt knew he was nervously trying to figure out what to say.

Jason seemed to realise it too, because he drew the blanket a little closer around his shoulders -hiding the arm, Matt belatedly realises- but went to stand.

"I can clear out-"

"No!" Matt cringes at his sudden declaration, even more so when both Foggy and Jason snap around to stare at him.

Time to play up the good old Catholic guilt.

"He was a great help Foggy, I can't just send him back out onto the streets. Not without giving him a chance to get back on his feet."

Foggy nods, clearly well aware of the fact his faith would all but demand this of him, never mind the fact Matt wanted to help because it was the right thing.

And he felt a bit guilty using that fact here, but with the way Jason's shoulders slump, relax and the tension coils out of his body, Matt's got a good feeling that the man would like to stick around, even if he doesn't know how to express it yet.

He remembers how it feels to have nowhere to go, no idea of what was to come next.

"Right okay. Well, I'll leave you to it. Let me know if you need anything, in fact, ring me. Every day at dawn. So I know you haven't tripped over another step and broke your neck or something this time."

Matt huffs a laugh, shaking his head but insanely grateful for all the good that was Foggy Nelson.

His sharp ears catch Jason's stomach -empty, hollow stomach- growling for food as he escorts Foggy to the door.

Once his best friend is halfway down the corridor, Matt turns back to his unexpected guest and smiles.

"Hungry?"

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Is it a trick question?

He was hungry, he's always hungry, it's part of the serum they injected him with.

The Soldier doesn't frown, doesn't allow his emotions to show on his face even though this new....

Acquaintance?

His new acquaintance can not see it.

He's blind, it's clear in his sightless, unreactive pupils.

But that doesn't mean he can't sense it.

The man -Matt, he introduced himself as Matt- can clearly fight.

For a blind man, he was efficient.

The Soldier cocks his head to a side as it's clear that the man, Matt, doesn't mean for it to be a rhetorical question.

"Yes," he answers slowly, voice low and watches as the man nods, heading over to the kitchen. He begins pulling out condiments, ham, cheese and bread.

"Sandwich good with you?"

"Yes?" It comes out more of a question then a confirmation, and the man, Matt, doesn't so much as look up at him, though he does bother to raise a curious, questioning eyebrow.

"Are you okay with Jason? You never did give me a name."

"No, Jason is," incorrect, he doesn't have a name, wrongwrongwrong, "fine."

He tries for a smile, for a reassuring gesture, but gives up when remembering the man won't see it anyway.

"But it's not your name."

There's quiet for a moment, before the Soldier concedes and nods. He's got a feeling the man will sense the movement somehow.

"Are you in trouble?" The man asks, voice serious as his fingers plate up the sandwiches he's made.

And the Soldier works his throat, trying to swallow despite its sudden dryness. He can answer, he can answer truthfully and if need be he can flee.

The man may be good in a fight, but the Soldier is better.

"HYDRA," he finally rasps, shaking his head as he does so, "they're after me, and I can't, can't go back-" panic clogs up his throat and his hands go to his hair.

The sharp clang of china meeting wood snaps him back to attention, and there's a sandwich on the coffee table in front of him.

"Foggy read out the files to me on HYDRA. You can stay here as long as you need."

That's... Well, yeah. That's something.

The Soldier doesn't realise his hands are shaking until he picks up the sandwich and nearly shimmies all the cheese out of it.

If the man notices, he's polite enough not to mention it.