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Wild Cat (B.Barnes)

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Birth Name: Tatiana Howlett -Kyle

Adopted Name: Tatiana Erskine

 

Nickname: Tati (Most) Kitten (Bucky)

Title: Rightful Queen of Kangusha

SHN: The Cat.

 

DOB: Unknown, 1878

Age: 65 (1943) (Biological Prime: 25-30)

Place of birth: Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), Russia

Nationality: Russian. Canadian. Kangushan. German.

 

Gender: Female

Height: 5' 8"

Eyes: Dark Brown

Hair: Brunette

Notes: Armband tattoo/birthmark on the top of her left arm in hieroglyphics

Cast: Eiza González

Cast: Eiza González

Family:

Family:

James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine (Biological Father)

James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine (Biological Father)

Selina Kyle/C'ase/Catwoman (Biological Mother) †

 

Via Selina:

Brian Kyle (Grandfather) †

Nallira 'Maria' Kyle (Grandmother) †

Ma'ja 'Maggie' Kyle (Aunt) †

Queen Jaka (Great-Grandmother) †

Bast (Ancestor) – Status Unknown

Sekhmet (Ancestor) – Status Unknown

Apedemak (Ancestor) – Status Unknown

Bashenga (Ancestor) †

Azzuri (Distant Relative) †

T'Chaka (Distant Relative)

N'Jobu (Distant Relative)

Chanda (Distant Relative)

 

Via Logan:

Elizabeth Howlett (Grandmother) †

Thomas Logan (Grandfather) †

Sabretooth (Uncle)

 

Adopted:

Abraham Erskine (Adopted Father (Originally brother))

Greta Erskine † (Adopted Mother)

Marlene Erskine † (Adopted Sister)

Klaus Erskine † (Adopted Brother)

 

Future Relatives:

T'Challa (Distant Relative)

N'Jadaka/Erik Stevens (Distant Relative)

Shuri (Distant Relative)

X-23/Laura (Half-Sister)

 

Pre-Life:

Before Tatiana's birth, before even Selina's, Nallira was born and raised in a kingdom in a corner of South America. A heavy jungle nation called The Kangusha Paradise, (More commonly known as The Paradise). The Paradise is home to a tribe of female-only individuals. These females were all direct descendants of the Egyptian Goddess Bast and her sister, Sekhmet, only ever leaving their forest to seek out a mate as a coming of age ritual (21). The tribe's origin stems from Africa, possibly Egypt given their connection to Bast and Sekhmet. Nallira was the daughter of their ruling Queen, Jaka, the last official Queen of Bast when Nallira came of age, she left the tribe in search of a mate and instead fell in love, forbidden among her people. She was then unable to return to her tribe. The Kangusha women only ever keep their daughters, any males born are left in the jungle to die. Their 'sister' nation is Wakanda. Sharing strong historical bonds with the Golden tribe. The Queen's bloodline is recognized by a birthmark around the top of the left arm. A band of Hieroglyphics honoring Bast.

With the death of Jaka, Nallira, and Selina, Tatiana is the rightful heir to the Kangusha tribe.

 

Early Life:

Tatiana's early life was defined by tragedy. When she was just a girl (6 years old), her mother Selina was killed whilst they were living in Germany. Left alone, Tatiana lived on the streets, surviving off of scraps, she learned to survive by stealing, fighting, etc.

In 1896, now 18 years old, she was found by Abraham Erskine, at the time only 27 years old himself, he took a liking to the young girl. Often bringing her food and blankets. A friendship was formed in the following years which eventually turned into something familiar. Abraham chose to unofficially adopt Tatiana as his sister. 

As Abraham aged and Tatiana did not, their dynamic had to change. 

She became his 'daughter' to the outside world but their friendship remained strong. 

In September 1935, the Erskine family attempted to flee Germany. His wife Greta's father was a Jew and Abraham Erskine wanted to take his family to safety. They were stopped at the Germany/Switzerland border by Johann Schmidt and his men. Schmidt wanted Erskine's work on ways to increase the molecular density of cellular fibers through synthetic proteins. In order to ensure Abraham's cooperation, Schmidt sent Greta and her children Klaus and Marlene to the Dachau concentration camp. (They died during a typhus outbreak two years later)

Tatiana by then was very capable of physical harm, she lashed out at Schmidt and his men, managing to kill two before she was subdued, unfortunately, this showed her as a mutant and Schmidt became very interested in her and her abilities.

 

Physical Appearance:

Tatiana has dark brown hair and brown eyes. She is regarded as being very beautiful. She can some times be seen with cat-like eyes, yellow in color with slitted pupils. She is incredibly feline in the way she moves, especially when prowling rooftops, or during a fight.

 She is incredibly feline in the way she moves, especially when prowling rooftops, or during a fight

Personality:

Tatiana is a woman who is defined by pride and temptation. Being a burglar, she is skilled in espionage, so she is able to keep herself from being known. She also has a high interest in jewelry, particularly that of high value and rarity.

Tatiana is often seen as the embodiment of attraction and a pinnacle of dominating superiority, specifically over men. She isn't afraid to make suggestive comments and frequently flirts with Bucky and the Commandos. She also seems to be aware of her appearance and sometimes makes use of it.

Tatiana also stands between the boundaries of an occasional hero and villain: she only plays the role of a hero whenever necessary and doesn't show much of a villainous ego.

Tatiana does care deeply for those she calls her friends, specifically Abraham who is the closest thing she has to family. 

Tatiana feels most threatened when her freedom is in danger and is quite good at holding a grudge. 

Tatiana is mostly interpreted as a survivor; her time imprisoned has made her both bitter and pessimistic, thus she doesn't trust easily. Her past experiences have left her troubled and scared. 

Despite her willingness to use violence, she is a moral person who does not do so needlessly, nor does she attack innocent people. 

Tatiana is extremely loyal and protective and she is completely ready to sacrifice her life if it will save someone she loves and will stop at nothing to protect her friends and family.

 

Items:

Necklace: Tatiana wears a black tattoo choker around her neck.

Goggles: Tatiana likes wearing a pair of goggles on the top of her head, these can also work as a protective piece of clothing. (These were actually her mother's and the only item she has of family meaning)

Catsuit 1: A simple black cotton jumpsuit with black gloves and boots. 

Catsuit 2: Designed by Howard at the behest of Abraham who wanted something a little more resilient for Tatiana, despite her healing ability. It's lightweight and flexible, able to move as she does. 

 

Pairing:

Bucky Barnes 

Bucky Barnes (With Tony Stark in later books)

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Powers:

Animal Soul (Cat): Tatiana has the soul of a cat, and while she is not a cat in a human body, her spiritual essence is cat-like in origin.

Retractable Fangs: Tatiana has large retractable canine teeth, akin to a big cat's, which are much larger than a normal human's canine teeth.

Retractable Claws: Tatiana has 10 retractable 3-inch claws in place of her fingernails. These claws are naturally sharper and tougher than that of normal human bone structure, allowing her to cut through most types of flesh and natural materials.

Wall Climbing: Tatiana can use her claws and strength to climb buildings made of concrete and metal.

Feline Empathy: Tatiana has a strong affinity for cats. Feline species tend to flock to her, accepting her almost immediately, recognizing somehow that she is not an enemy but a friend. This allows her to calm injured cats, train them, befriend them, and form strong bonds with them. These animals will even sometimes come to her defense when she is attacked. This has proved most beneficial, especially when it has involved big cats.

Enhanced Strength: With her body naturally evolved and conditioned to the peak of human physical potential and continually adjusting to various forms of damage, she can overpower full grown humans with ease, able to hurl them with a single hand. Her strength also extends to her legs, as she is able to jump several feet into the air.

Predator Instinct: Tatiana possesses predatory instincts, allowing her to become a master of hunting and tracking.  

Enhanced Speed: Tatiana is able to run over 60 mph and move with reflexes unobtainable by normal human beings.

Enhanced Agility: Tatiana has remarkable equilibrium and coordination, greater than any human athlete. She is capable of scaling vertical surfaces with remarkable efficiency. She is maneuverable and graceful, able to pursue and outrun a target in various types of terrains. Her skills allow her to fluidly dodge and attack from different directions without losing balance. She is shown noticeable acrobatics, lunging from trees to attack her target.

Enhanced Senses: Tatiana's senses are heightened to levels similar to various animals. She can track down and identify people through their scent alone, as well as detect their presence within a large area through scent and sound. This makes one disguising themselves, even Mystique using her shape-shifting powers, pointless due to the inability to change their scent. Her hearing is equally acute. She can see much further and closer than normal humans with perfect clarity, even in total darkness. Her senses enable her to sense when danger is near.

- Cat's Eyes: Tatiana has the ability to change her eyes, her human looking eyes become slit. Much like cat's eyes, Tatiana's cat-eyes have a tapetum lucidum, which is a reflective layer behind the retina that sends light that passes through the retina back into the eye. While this improves the ability to see in darkness and enables her to see using roughly one-sixth the amount of light that humans need. These eyes seem to make her nearsighted, which means she can't see far objects as well. The ability to see close objects would be well-suited for hunting and capturing prey. In very bright light, the slit-like pupil closes very narrowly over the eye, reducing the amount of light on the sensitive retina, and improving the depth of field.

 In very bright light, the slit-like pupil closes very narrowly over the eye, reducing the amount of light on the sensitive retina, and improving the depth of field

"She has uncharted regenerative capabilities, enabling her to heal rapidly."

Regenerative Healing Factor: Tatiana can heal and regenerate all physical and mental harm to herself instantly. Any damaged area or lost anatomy will be completely restored with no lingering side effects in seconds, even forcing objects embedded out to heal properly. Even if she clinically dies, she can quickly resuscitate herself, making her near-immortal. However, she is still capable of feeling pain and enough harm can render her unconscious.

Ageless Longevity: Tatiana's healing factor keeps her from aging beyond her physical prime, having remained virtually unchanged despite her age. In addition to prolonging her life, her overall health, prowess, and condition remain at its peak.

Disease/Contaminant Immunity: Tatiana is virtually immune to all viruses, diseases, and most poisons or toxins. Only the most potent of chemicals will affect her and only for a brief period before returning to normal.

Enhanced Vitality: Tatiana exhibits inexhaustible drive, willpower, and stamina, able to continue her exertions far longer than any normal human while showing no signs of weakening or exhaustion. She is highly accustomed to pain, able to withstand most levels of it while only slightly fazing her. 

Environmental/Weather Adaptation: Tatiana is able to survive and adapt to any environment or weather conditions without changing shape to adapt. Tatiana is able to survive at any temperature without discomfort. She can wear minimal clothing in sub-zero temperatures without any harm.

Psionic Resistance: Tatiana is highly resilient, if not immune, to all but the most powerful of telepathic manipulation. Even more, Tatiana's mind is able to withstand greater trauma.

 

Abilities:

Master Acrobat: Tatiana is gifted with heightened acrobatic prowess. Her feats have been so amazing, one could argue that her athletic ability is somewhat superhuman.

Master Martial Artist: She is a dangerous, clever and resourceful fighter, known for precise, agile attacks and speedy getaways. Her formidable hand-to-hand combat skills are augmented by her cat-like speed, reflexes, balance, and flexibility. Tatiana has mastered the following martial arts styles; Boxing, Capoeira, Hapkido, Jujutsu, Dragon Style Kung Fu and Karate

Stealth: Tatiana is as stealthy as any large cat. She has easily been able to sneak up on large groups of people. She shows marked prowess in this ability while she's on the prowl for her next job.

Master Thief: Tatiana is a master thief, known for her love of cat-themed objects and/or gems and jewels of the highest quality. Hardly one to knock over a bank, Tatiana would rather break into the chairman's office and take his personal documents.

Multilingualism: Tatiana speaks and understands fluently Russian, German, Egyptian, English, Kangushan, French.

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Readers

Not sure if you guys are interested but I made a spotify playlist for Tatiana and her fic series. 

 

https://open.spotify.com/user/5rbo3jh7fz3z1187w9ve6rh6l/playlist/3YnpVvI2CJpRlTOh48zcAf?si=BwfzL4ImRyGFq6LxfqlvIg

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1945:

Tatiana has lost a lot of people in her life. A lot of those that are closest to her. Her mother. Her friend, father, and brother, Abraham, though not blood related they're been friends far longer than she even knew her biological mother. Abraham's wife. His children. She's lost them all. But none of them hurt like this one. Love of her life. And of that, she is sure off. There will never be a man that fueled her the way he did. That looked at her the way he did. Touched her. Kissed her. Nuzzled his nose against her cheek, because he knew that it stroked at her inner kitty cat. She looks down a little and takes a shaky breath. She sits cross-legged in front of a headstone, mourning. Still. The rain around her splashing down as if it's grieving with her. She doesn't care for it. She shivers slightly but it's not from the cold or the wet. It's because she is without him. All she wants is him.

“I guess it all started on the day that I died” her voice breaks through the rain. “If there had been an obituary, it would have described the unremarkable life of an unremarkable woman, survived by no one. But there was no obituary because the day that I died was also the day I started to live” she admits. “But that comes later” she takes a breath and cocks her head. She takes a deep breath and then releases it, her eyes shifting slightly looking beyond the headstone and through the rain. “In my old life, I longed for someone to see what was special in me” she states touching the letters, tracing the name on the grave. “You did, and for that, you'll always be in my heart but what I really needed was for me to see it. And now I do. You were a good man” she admits as she stands. “And I'm going to miss you” she adds and closes her eyes before turning and walking away. “The day I died was the day I started to live” She repeats walking through the grass away from the headstone. “You see, sometimes I'm good. Oh, I'm very good. But sometimes I'm bad. But only as bad as I wanna be. Freedom is power. To live a life untamed and unafraid is the gift that I've been given, and so my journey begins anew” Her hips roll as she walks, stalks away with a new dangerous and predatory glint in her eyes. “Perhaps I should start from the beginning. Yes...” she agrees with herself. “The beginning.....”

.................

1943 – 2 years earlier:

A figured dressed up all in black runs across the rooftops, ducking, diving, rolling....then with a graceful and completely precise leap, the figure makes it across an alley landing on the next roof, then with another jump she's leaping upwards clinging to the edge of a chimney before she's bounding onward, across the rooftops again, swapping between two feet and all fours as she moves. Practiced moves from years of experience. Her eyes narrow slightly, and she smirks, locked onto her target ahead of her. Her target is an open window above her, she pulls her upper body back, coiling slightly, readying herself. And then with a push of her legs, she's soaring, body stretching like a big cat, her fingers curl around the edge of the window ledge as she reaches it then pulls herself up, twisting to slip through the small opening, her body twists almost inhumanely as she slips out the other side. Her feet touch the floor silently. She bounds onto the bed in one jump and then turns to sit on the edge. She takes a soft breath and smiles laying back on the bed. Standing from the bed she turns and empties her pocket onto the bed, sorting through her horde: a few wallets, a couple of watches, a ring. Her eyes sparkle flickering over each item as she pulls off her gloves and toes her feet free of her boots. Next is the black jumpsuit she wears, her fingers pinch the zip at her throat and pulls it down her body. It's just something her father had made for her, so she didn't have to bounce from roof to roof in a dress or a skirt. It's nothing special, just a cotton outfit that clings to her. She steps out of the suit and then throws it under the bed, pulling on a nightshirt from the dresser, pulling it over her head and letting it fall down her the length of her body. She wiggles slightly to get it to sit just right Her ears perk up, alert, hearing her 'father' in the next room, scooping up the items she sets them in a box in the bottom of her wardrobe before closing the doors on them and leaving the room.

...............

Abraham looks up hearing a noise behind him, he narrows his eyes slightly and then jumps as Tatiana slips into the seat next to him. He smiles though seeing a fresh lightness to her. Something that's only present when she's been prowling. She hates being locked away, and she's currently not actually allowed to leave the apartment without an escort of the SSR variety, but she sneaks out anyway. She's a wild animal, always has been, she needs to roam free. Leaning against his side she pulls her legs closer to her body.

"How far did you go?" he asks her softly, she hums a little.

"Not far" she answers. "Where are you going tomorrow?" she asks looking to his notes, she doesn't understand them, doesn't pretend to either. He doesn't mind.

"Queens" He answers looking back to the notes in his lap. "There is a recruitment office at Stark Expo; I'm going to go looking for recruits, so I'll probably be there all day...possibly into the night"

"Can I come?" she asks.

"Tatiana" he starts, she pouts because she knows the answer because it is always the answer. She's got powers people can't explain. And the SSR doesn't like her wandering about freely.

"Please, I am so bored sitting here, alone...I need to get out, and not...as the Cat" she looks at him, eyes wide and pleading. "I can help, please let me do something...." He reaches up and brushes her hair back behind her ear before moving his fingers to her chin up slightly.

"I'll see what I can do" he offers. "I know you hate being stuck inside"

"We've been here for months and I can only leave if I sneak out" she reminds him as she stands. "At least Schmidt treated me like I was something special...and not a freak to be hidden away" she adds walking back to her room. She closes the door and rests her head back against it. She listens to Abraham approach her door, his feet shuffling on the other side, she knows he'll want to comfort her but it's nothing that can be fixed. They don't know why she is the way she is. She's just different from everyone else. She closes her eyes and slides down the door to sit on the floor. Her fingers trace around the birthmark on her arm, a band in strange images, Egyptian hieroglyphics Abraham had told her, just another weird thing to add to the list of weird in her life. She lets out a breath and stretches her legs out in front of her, she pulls them back laying on her side and tucking her hands under her head, reminiscent of an actual cat, she hums, almost purrs nuzzling into her hand before she starts to fall asleep.

............

Abraham smiles watching Tatiana sleeping on the top of the bookcase in the living room, it catches the morning sun, and she likes to nap and soak it up. He glances back as someone knocks calmly and formally on the apartment front door. He looks up at Tatiana before leaving the room to answer it.

..........

Abraham must have been gone only mere moments, seconds even, when he returns with a woman at his side and two men at his back. Peggy Carter smiles warmly at Abraham before raises an eyebrow.

"So, where is she?" Peggy asks softly, Peggy she likes. Tatiana opens an eye to peer down at the woman below. Peggy hasn't once looked at her as if she's this....strange alien freak. Abraham points up at where his 'daughter' had been napping, Peggy looks up and smiles. “Are you going to come down, so we can talk, Tatiana?" Peggy asks moving towards the couch, Tatiana turns onto her back and then stretches, letting out a cooing purr as she yawns before letting herself roll off the edge of the bookcase, she lands silently on all fours before standing to stretch, the two SSR agents that came with Peggy watch her carefully, she knows Peggy is only here because they're both women, and the men got nowhere with Tatiana, she wasn't having it, not with the way they laughed and looked down at her. Tatiana knows her worth. She knows she's better than most men. Stronger. Faster. Smarter despite her animal nature.

"Peggy" Tatiana greets sitting on the floor in front of her, one knee set high for her to rest her chin on the top of it.

"Dr. Erskine told us you'd like to go outside today" Peggy starts causing Tatiana to cock her head.

"Wouldn't most people?" Tatiana asks back.

"You're not people" One of the male agents snaps slightly, Tatiana twists her head around and lets a growl rumble in her chest.

"Easy" Abraham warns before turning to look at the agent. "Tell me, do you know much about genetics, Agent?" he asks, the agent shakes his head. "No, I suspected as much.....Tatiana is 99% as human as you are, that 1% is what marks her as different....1%...." he raises an eyebrow.

"That 1% is also enough to ensure that if she desired, she could kill you with her bare hands" Peggy adds. "And fangs...so perhaps you should remain silent" the agent clenches his jaw shut but glares at Peggy who scoffs and turns back to Tatiana. "How about just us girls have a chat?" Tatiana smirks and nods sharply.

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Peggy glances to Tatiana as Abraham and the two agents leave them alone, Tatiana stands from where she was sat and sighs letting out a breath. Peggy watches her as she starts to pace, almost as if she is a caged animal, and that's not far off of the problem. She is a caged animal. And that makes her far more dangerous.

“They're just.....concerned” Peggy offers, Tatiana turns to her.

“Right” she scoffs. “Because I'm the freak that requires leashing” Tatiana points out as she lets her fangs grow, she shoots Peggy a look and then lets them retract.

“I would never use that word” Peggy scolds looking to Tatiana. “You're unique in ways we don't understand and it makes us cautious of you” Tatiana scoffs and rolls her eyes.

“Whatever I am at least Schmidt was always honest about what he thought about me” Tatiana argues. “You and your people hide behind pretty words and charming smiles....and believe me to stupid to know what that means” she turns to Peggy. “They only bring you in when it's bad news and they're worried about my female emotions so spit it out, Peggy”

“They're not allowing you permission to attend the Expo,” Peggy tells her. “Even with your father” Tatiana scoffs and turns away from her. Her jaw aching as she clenches her teeth together. These people control every inch of her life.

“Well,” Tatiana starts and then nods a little. “I'm going anyway” Tatiana argues. “I'm sick of playing by your rules....sick of sitting aside, of being locked away, I can't even walk down the street.....”

“Tatiana” Peggy starts. “Your relationship with Erskine can only protect you for so long”

“Yes, and I only put up with it this long for Abraham” she comments, her eyes shifting to the open window behind Peggy. “Because I owe him my life...But I'm done playing nice” she looks to Peggy. “I'm done being your pet”

“If you leave, they will consider this a breach of terms you agreed to” Peggy points out as Tatiana walks past her. “They could detain you, and not just in some apartment, I mean prison, real prison, Tatiana, or worse...” Peggy continues to talk but Tatiana is beyond listening now. She pounces out the window instead. Peggy sighs and shakes her head.

…...........

Tatiana walks away from the apartment, hips swaying because now she's let it out, she does feel this fresh sense of freedom. Something she hasn't felt in so long. Not since before Schmidt. 8 years now she's been under the watchful eye of the SSR. She's reached her limit. She lets a rumble settle in her chest before she pounces, leaping up through the air to grab onto the fire escape. She's suddenly feeling very....feline. She pulls her legs over the edge of the escape and the prowls up the ladder. That sliver and promise of freedom runs through her and lights her up. She lets out a feline squeak and drops to all fours as she starts to pounce up the escape to the roof.

…...........

Tatiana walks along the roof edge watching a figure below. Military dressed. Cap in place. Dark hair. Her target. His hands hold papers, clutching tightly to them. They are important then. She looks around before jumping between the buildings, her nails dragging down the wall to slow her before she reaches the bottom, her shoes silent on the concrete before she is moving, slipping out of the alley and into the street. She weaves through the small crowds and the occasional straggler to reach her military target. He's relaxed, calm, though there is a tense line to his shoulders. She closes in, a smile working onto her face. Her fingers graze the papers and she snaps, grabs them from his hand. He turns sharply to look at her. Blue eyes peer back, he tries to snatch at her wrist but she spins out of the way.

“Hey!” he shouts, she takes off at a jog, which appears like a run, given her enhanced speed she's learnt how to slow it down so she doesn't stand out too much around people. She likes to let them feel like they have a chance to catch her. He's behind her. Running to catch up. She looks back at him and then forward again as she turns a corner and speeds up a little. She ducks into an alley and presses herself against the wall, shifting into the shadows to wait for her pursuer to pass by. She glances down at the papers in her hands and reads what she can see. Her smile fades slightly. Her pursuer doesn't pass by the alley...He steps into the alley and looks around. She swats at his hand from the shadows, causing him to spin around, she snatches at her hand, twisting her wrist, she allows it. She purrs and smirks under her curtain of hair. “Hey” he states softer this time, maybe a little more familiar then strangers on the street. Her eyes flicker across his before she holds out the stolen papers to him, he takes them back from her.

“Not worth anything anyway” she comments with a smirk, he lifts his eyes to hers, hers sparkle with feline curiosity.

“Still worth enough to steal” he argues tucking them back into his jacket.

“Don't know what it is until I take it” she shrugs a little and then presses a finger to his chest, her eyes seem to dilate and then retract, he grabs her wrist to stop her. “So...” she draws off. “You're going to the front?” she asks. “Bad luck” she tries to keep it light.

“For them” he counters with a smirk. She lifts her eyes to his.

“For you”, she argues stepping closer to him. She sets her hand on his chest and then draws it up to his shoulder. “Though I do like this uniform” she admits. He smirks and wraps his arm around her waist. Their eyes softer now, with recognition and friendship. “It's very....fetching” she purrs.

“Gotta say, Kitten, seeing you out in the day is a shocking experience” he comments looking over her. “You almost seem normal” she shoves at his chest a little. He grunts and then grabs her wrist. “The night visits have been fun, but this...” he sighs and smiles at her. “You're something else in the light” she rolls her eyes as he brushes her hair over her shoulder, his fingers graze her neck.

“You are completely corny” she comments, he shrugs.

“Works, doesn't it?” he asks leaning closer to her. “It's why night after night for the last year you've been sneaking into my bed...” she cocks her head.

“Maybe I just like that it's warm” she argues weakly, she straightens his jacket and tie. “But I guess I'll have to make do with my own now” she adds, he nudges his nose with hers.

“Goodbye, Tati” he whispers, she shrugs.

“Was fun whilst it lasted, Junior” she comments. He leans forward a little as if to kiss her, she presses her fingers to his lips. “Let's not do the kiss goodbye” she argues pushing him back.

“Handshake?” he asks teasingly holding out his hand to her. They share a look, she shakes her head and smirks before she takes his hand. He pulls her closer and kisses her, surprising her. He holds her hand between them, his free one raising to cup her cheek, his fingers threading through her hair to hold her to him.

“Now who's the thief” she whispers against his lips as she pulls back from him. She leans up and kisses his cheek. “Goodbye, Bucky,” she tells him, a sliver of emotion escaping and then walks away. He touches his fingers to his cheek and smiles. Lifting his eyes he finds her gone. He hurries out into the street and looks around for her. But she's long gone. He can't help but smile though, his fingers touching his wrist, realizing his watch is missing.

 

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One Year Earlier:

Bucky yawns scratching at the back of his neck heading to his bedroom, he shrugs out of his shirt as he makes his way to his dresser, toeing off his shoes without unlacing them, he'll worry about them later. He reaches for his belt and then pauses, fingers on the metal clasp, his spine stiffening, something is off. He frowns a little and then turns around. Tatiana is lounging in his bed, dozing lightly.

“Well, not every day I find a dame waiting for me in my bed” he states, she lifts her head and smirks.

“You're home early” she points out as he steps closer cautiously. He raises an eyebrow.

“You've been watching me” he comments, she shrugs and sits on his bed. “What are you doing?” he asks her.

“Nothing” she answers.

“So you broke into my apartment to do nothing?” he asks stepping closer, careful and precise steps, his eyes lower to her hands where something catches the light. His mother's wedding ring. He purses his lips annoyed now. “Put it back” he scolds her, his voice harder now. Now she knows she's in trouble. She moves, jumping over the bed and towards the window, but he's quick too, not her quick but still quick enough to reach her. He pins her against the wall. She could easily get free from this but something about him is.....setting her off. Not the way humans usually do either. Humans annoy her. She, for the most part, avoids and hates them. But this one....is different. It's part of why she chose him, why she chose this apartment. His eyes search hers and she swears, never in her entire life has she seen eyes that blue before. Never. “The ring” he orders of her. “Please” he adds softer. “It was my mothers” he holds out his hand towards her. She softens slightly. The cause is just. Mothers. Something in her eyes shifts before it is gone again, not there long enough for him to decipher. She leans closer to him and smirks before licking up his cheek, her fingers dipping into his pocket, he cringes pulling away allowing her the opportunity to push him off of her and then she pounces out of the window, swinging off the fire escape before climbing to the roof. She doesn't look back. He doesn't come running after her. His hand is in his pocket, he pulls his hand out and smiles looking down. His mother's ring. He turns it around in his fingers and sighs a little looking to the window.

….............

The next night Bucky is woken by the sliding up of his window, it's got a kink in the frame so it gets a little stuck, takes a bit more force to open, makes noise. He blinks awake, eyes slow to adjust to the darkness around him. His eyes see it just out of the corner of his eyes, just enough to make him jump.

“Jeez!” he scolds sitting up sharply. His cat burglar is sat on his bed, legs folded, a brown paper bag in her lap.

“So I felt bad” she starts ignoring his surprise. “And well...here” she holds out the bag to him. He glances from her to the bag. “It's for you” she adds watching him. Her eyes shining almost in the dark.

“What is it?” he asks her.

“Open it” she pushes, he sighs and takes it from her. Unrolling the paper bag he watches her. He peers into the bag and smiles a little. Two slices of cake sit at the bottom of it. “Abraham said that people prefer cake as a gift over dead animals” Bucky looks to her alarmed now, but she just watching him with this wide-eyed look. She's waiting for him to give her something back, Abraham taught her that people usually say thank you when they get a gift. Granted she's not been around 'people' much so she's not had the chance to test it out on people that aren't her 'family'.

“No, no, cake is...cake is good” he assures her and then smiles a little. Because though she tried to steal from him, and she did break in, she did give the ring back....and then broke in again just to give him 'sorry' cake. “Thank you” he offers, she smiles and pulls her legs up straight to her chest, letting her arms wrap around them. He folds the paper bag down again and then holds out his hand to her. “Bucky” he offers, she searches his eyes before taking his hand.

“Tatiana” she informs him.

“Nice to meet you” he then holds out the bag to her. “You want to share this?” he asks, she smiles and nods. He unwraps the bag and lets her reach in, she takes one of the slices and pulls it out, swapping it to her free hand. “Let's just forget that you broke in, twice, and tried to steal from me” he admits watching her as she licks her fingers clean of the icing. Something so feline in the way she acts and moves. It's....intriguing and he's pretty sure he's already lost whatever battle he was going to fight in getting her to leave.

“I didn't know it was your mothers” she admits looking to him. “I wouldn't...I don't have much left of my mothers either so...”

“What happened?” he whispers sadly, she shrugs.

“She died..” she answers looking down at the cake, trying to keep her eyes off of him. She doesn't talk about her mother much, hasn't in a long while. She doesn't feel the need really. Her time with her mother was limited, her memories now barely there, she doesn't need to think about her anymore. “Everyone has a sad story” she adds plucking at her trousers a little then lifts her eyes to his. “You live alone” she points out. “Where's your father? Siblings?” she asks, he shrugs.

“My father died years ago....” he answers. “When he did my mother sold the home, moved from Queens, brought us all to Brooklyn, put us in this tiny apartment, five of us running around under her feet....” he smiles a little. “After his mom died, I moved to be closer to Steve” he admits.

“He's the little blonde?” she asks, he stares at her a little.

“How long have you been watching me?” he counter asks her softly, she shrugs.

“A while” she whispers. “I saw you at the baker's one day” she admits. “Followed you...followed the banana-nut bread” she offers.

“You've been eating my bread?” he asks her with a smirk. “I blamed Steve” she smirks and nods.

“Those fights were funny to watch” she points out. He chuckles a little before he sobers.

“Why me?” he whispers, she shrugs.

“You seemed nice” she answers. “I didn't think you'd mind” he raises an eyebrow. “The food” she motions to his bedroom door indicating she means the kitchen.

“Do you have a home?” he asks her as she picks at the cake, she nods lifting a bite to her lips, he waits patiently for her to finish.

“Yes, I have a home....” she assures him.

“So what? They don't feed you?” she shoots him a look.

“Yes, there's food...” she whispers and shrugs. “Nothing as fancy as banana-nut bread though” she teases, he nods and lifts her chin with his fingers.

“Well, I suppose Steve will just have to keep stealing it” he teases back, she smiles at him.

“Thank you” she whispers licking her fingers clean, her cake finished. She then shuffles closer to him, moving to his side, he frowns at her a little, watching her, cautious.

“What are you doing?” he asks her, She sets her head in his lap and he stares down at her before setting his hand on her head, she lets out a breath. Maybe she needs human contact. He strokes her hair and smiles a little. “You wanna stay the night?” he asks her, she hums a little already falling asleep against him. Bucky pulls the blanket around the two of them.

 

Chapter Text

Tatiana stares up as a monorail speeds past her, her eyes wide and peering out from under a black hood, she's careful to keep herself hidden just in case the SSR are looking for her, they probably are, and this would be the first place they'd look, because it's the place she asked to go. The World Exposition of Tomorrow. She ignores the sounds around her whilst her eyes shifting across the faces in the crowds, she saw something, someone familiar. Bucky. Her eyes land on him and Steve walking together, Bucky's still wearing his uniform. Her eyes lighten slightly watching him smile at Steve. Her ears reaching out and adjusting to listen in.

“I don’t see what the problem is,” Bucky tells Steve as they walk together. “You’re about to be the last eligible man in New York. You know there’re three and a half million women here?”

“I’d settle for just one” Bucky waves at somebody in the distance, Tatiana's eyes shift to follow his line of sight. “Good thing I’ve taken care of that” Across the midway, two girls wave back in front of The Modern Marvels pavillion. Tatiana clenches her jaw and looks away before slipping through the crowd. Wanting to escape. She's not sure what she's currently feeling but she doesn't like it. Her chest aches. It hurts. She blinks a little and hangs her head. Bucky glances around slightly sensing something, his eyes scan the crowd but he finds nothing out of place, Steve brushes his hair back a little and looks to Bucky.

“What’d you tell her about me?” Steve asks. Bucky looks down at him and grins.

“Only the good stuff” he answers.

…..............

Exhibits line the hall as Steve, Bucky and the two girls enter. They pass a glass box which holds a red-suited android, it's plaque reading: 'Dr. Phineas Horton presents...The Synthetic Man! A fire extinguisher rests at the base. Bucky and the two girls (Connie and Bonnie) hurry past this exhibit. Steve tags after, ignored.

“Oh my God, there he is!” The girls squeal, urging Bucky towards the Stark Stage. A crowd gathers by a stage: 'Stark Industries Presents.....' Steve buys peanuts as Bucky and the girls get in close. On stage, a dashing Howard Stark stands with a 1942 Cadillac. The girls giggle, smitten.

“Ladies, you know how hard it can be putting on makeup in a car that’s bouncing like a kangaroo on a trampoline” Steve offers Bonnie a peanut. She looks at them with scorn. “What if I told you that in just a few short years, your automobile wouldn’t touch the ground at all?” Stark hits a button. The Cadillac rises, leaving its tired on the ground, bulky devices, where the wheels should be, allow it to hover above the ground. The crowd gasps. Bucky and Steve gape impressed.

“Ho-ly cow” Bucky states impressed, his eyes wide like a child seeing a new toy.

“With Stark Gravitic Reversion Technology (patent pending), you’ll be able to do just tha..” There’s a pop and an explosion. The car slams down onto the stage. “I did say a few years, didn’t I?” The audience applauds. As Bonnie swoons over Howard, Steve looks around, sheepish. He spots something in the distance. Bucky wraps his arm around Connie.

“Hey, Steve. What do you say we treat these ladies” But Steve’s gone. In his place, a little girl digs eagerly into his bag of peanuts. Bucky goes to look for him.

…................

Bucky shakes his head disappointed that Steve took off, Bucky went out of his way to arrange tonight and he thought it was a good idea, with him leaving, for them to spend some time together before he did. He has an idea as to where Steve's gone, so it's not like he's completely vanished. Bucky glances up a little, instinct, subconsciously, whichever it is, to see something ahead, he smiles warmly.

“Tatiana?” Bucky asks seeing her lingering against the wall away from the noise, she looks up startled slightly and as soon as she notices him she's looking away and reaching up to tug her hood back over her head. “Hey, what's going on?” he asks moving closer to her, she shakes her head and looks to him, her expression softer, she plasters on a smile. He smiles back at her and goes to kiss her, she pulls away turning from him, he frowns at her really seeing her face. Her eyes are red and her cheeks damp. She's been crying. “What's wrong?” he asks her reaching for her.

“I saw you on your.....date” she answers, Bucky raises an eyebrow and then smirks a little.

“Are you jealous?” he asks stepping closer to her, she takes a step back pressing herself against the wall behind her.

“No” she answers. “I don't...I don't feel that” she argues looking away from him as he steps closer still, his fingers brush against her arm before he touches her neck. He chuckles a little and smiles.

“You know there's only one kitten for me” he whispers softly against the skin of her cheek, his hand coming up to brush her hair back from her face, fingers grazing over the warmth of her flesh. “Tatiana” he states lifting his face to look down at her, his eyes searching hers. “Bonnie would only agree to come for Steve if I take Connie out to appease her parents” she frowns at him. “Connie likes girls” he whispers to her, she softens a little. “And her parents don't know so....she fake-dates boys” he twirls a strand of her hair around his finger.

“And you don't...” she starts. “Most men would have opinions....”

“I don't care” he assures her. “You can't help who you love” he stares down at her softly. She lifts her eyes to his. She knows that look in his eyes, she's seen it a lot the last few months.

“Junior” she scolds pulling away, he lets her slide out away from him, he sighs. He's tried to say those three little words before, and she always dodges him. It's been a year. A year of secret rendezvous and nightly fumbles between his sheets and she has come to mean something to him. More than any women he's ever met. He presses his hand against the wall and pushes slightly to turn and face her.

“Any other girl would love to hear that someone loves them” he points out, she glares at him.

“I'm not any other girl” she scolds and the points her finger into his chest. “And if you're thinking that I am....”

“I don't” he argues softly taking her hand from his chest and pulls her closer. “You are the strangest, most unique woman I have ever met” he assures her clasping her face between his hands. “And if after a year, you don't understand what you mean to me then I haven't been doing a very good job at showing you” he presses his forehead to hers and sighs softly. “I won't tell you” he assures her. “Not yet, not today.....when I get back” he promises her. “I need to find Steve” he admits threading his fingers with hers. “He wandered off” he kisses the back of her hand. “Come with me...” she raises an eyebrow. “Please” he whispers, she nods and squeezes his hand.

Chapter Text

Steve stares at a mirrored booth in front of the recruiting pavilion. 'Your Duty: Try It On For Size!' A huge burly man stands in front of the mirror. He looks big and heroic in uniform. Now Steve steps up. In the mirror, he now wears a G.I uniform. His disappointed eyes barely see over the collar. Just then, Bucky clamps a hand on his shoulder, Steve spins to face him and notes Tatiana at Bucky's side, not the date Steve left Bucky with. Nearby Abraham is watching on. Steve raises an eyebrow at Tatiana, Bucky realizes what Steve is trying to say.

“Oh, right, Steve, Tatiana, Tati this is Steve....” Bucky introduces them both. 

“What happened to Bonnie and Connie?” Steve asks, Bucky shrugs a little and looks to Tatiana, she glances back at him.

“Steve” Bucky whispers to his friend trying to get his message across. “This is her” He gives Steve a meaningful look which Steve seems to figure out.

“Oh” he looks to Tatiana and smiles. “You're her” he adds, Tatiana pulls on her jacket and shrugs.

“You told him about me?” She asks Bucky who hums and nods.

“Well, I told him about this incredibly beautiful woman that's been haunting my dreams” Bucky teases, she rolls her eyes but he sees the blush on her cheeks. Bucky eyes the recruitment signs. “You’re really gonna do this now?” He asks Steve.

“It’s a fair. I’m gonna try my luck”

“As who? Steve from Ohio? They’ll catch you. Or worse, they’ll actually take you” Steve looks at Bucky with a grim smile of disappointment.

“You don’t think I can do it”

“This isn’t some back alley, Steve. It’s a war. Why are you so keen to fight? There’re lots of other important jobs” Bucky points out trying to protect his friend.

“You want me to sit in a factory?

Collect scrap metal in my little red wagon while the men are laying down their lives?” Steve argues. “I can do as well as them and I got no right to do any less. That’s the thing you don’t get, Bucky. It’s not about me”

“Right. ‘Cause you’ve got nothing to prove” A tense beat passes between them but Steve doesn't say anything else, Bucky nods and pulls Tatiana closer to him. “Tati” she looks up at him. “You want to grab a drink?” she looks to Steve and then back to Bucky.

“Sure” she whispers and turns to Steve. “Nice to finally meet you” she offers, he smiles at her and nods.

“You too” Bucky looks down at Steve, then holds out his hand. Steve sees his friend’s genuine worry. He shakes his hand.

“Promise me you won’t do anything too stupid before I get back”

“I can’t” Steve answers. “You’re taking all the stupid with you”

“You’re a punk” Bucky teases affectionately.

“You’re a jerk” A moment, and Bucky turns to go tucking Tatiana under his arm, she waves to Steve as she goes with him. “Don’t win the war till I get there” Steve adds, Bucky glances back at him, the two friends share a look before Bucky walks away with Tatiana.

…..............

Bucky smiles down at Tatiana as she picks at cotton candy, her eyes watching the cotton between her fingers. He chuckles and strokes her cheek, she looks up at him. He leans down and kisses her, threading his fingers through her hair to hold her close to him, she hums and closes her eyes as she kisses him back.

“You want to come back to mine?” he asks her softly. Her eyes find something across from them and she suddenly moves ducking behind Bucky who frowns and tries to turn to face her, she stops him. “Tati” he scolds a little. “What are you doing?” he asks her.

“Just hide me” she whispers leaning against his back. Her eyes track the uniformed agents moving through the crowds looking for her, Bucky realizes that she's hiding from people she shouldn't be hiding from unless she's done something wrong. Bucky turns to her, threading his fingers with hers.

“What did you do?” he asks her touching her cheek. “Steal something you shouldn't?” he teases, she stares up at him and then looks away.

“No” she whispers. “I have to go” she pulls back from him, Bucky grabs her wrist to stop her.

“Tati, Kitten, what is it?” he pulls her back to him. “You can tell me anything”

“No, I can't” she argues and yanks her hand free. “I'm sorry, I have to go” she dodges his reach and then slinks off into the crowd leaving Bucky standing there utterly confused.

…........

Peggy stops Abraham from moving to Tatiana when he arrives home. He was really not expecting to come home to find his 'daughter' being heavily restrained and manhandled. Tatiana isn't fighting though. He's never seen her so defeated. So lost.

“She escaped custody, I'm sorry, Dr. Erskine...” Peggy tells him. “I really am” she adds watching her colleagues snap a muzzle over Tatiana's mouth, slipping a bit between her lips and teeth to stop her canines from growing, her hands are already cuffed with specially designed gloves to cover her claws, just in case. It seems these people deemed her a risk enough to create ways to restrain her. “But she broke the contract you agreed to when you started working with us” Peggy reminds him.

…...........

Bucky sits by his window, hoping that Tatiana will stop by like she does most nights. This is the last night, for who only knows how long, that they have the chance to see one another. He glances to the clock on the bedside table. She's never left it this last before. She's not coming. His eyes linger on his enlistment papers, he sighs and stands. She's not coming tonight. He closes his window and then moves to his bed. He is a little disappointed but given how flighty she was earlier he's not surprised. Disappointed but not surprised. He wrinkles his nose and flops back onto his bed with a sigh. 

 

Chapter Text

Tatiana sits in the corner of a sterile room, her knees pulled up to her chest, fingers digging into her arm. She'd basically been stuck here after her capture. She gets fed but that's about the only contact with people she gets now. It was worth it. For that last night with Bucky. Of course, she would want more but she got what she got with him. A year. A year is more than she's ever had with anyone. And she's never had it with someone who makes her feel the way he makes her feel. Even if she doesn't fully understand or accept those feelings. The door across from her opens revealing a male figure, she knows him. Howard Stark. She'd met him when they brought her in. He seemed nice enough, he didn't try to instantly manhandle her like the other agents did. He looked at her with more fascination than suspicion. He talked to her like a human being. So it kind of puts him above most of the other humans she's met. He touches his wrist, running his fingers there a little trying to steel himself.

“Howard” she greets.

“Tatiana” he counters and then nods, more to himself than for her. “I'm really sorry to have to be the one to tell you this” he starts, she cocks her head as she stands. “Tatiana.....Abraham he....” he struggles a little. “He was killed” she pulls back alarmed a little, a sharp sound leaving her.

“What?” she asks him.

“A Nazi spy infiltrated Project Rebirth and after its success....he showed himself and...shot at your father” She turns away from him, her eyes misting over. Abraham may not be her actual father but she has been at his side for decades. His is....was her brother. She takes a shaky breath. “I know how close you were” Howard tries. Her face contorts into pure pain. “And I am sorry....” She lunges at him. Howard manages to dip out of the door and slam it shut behind him. She screams hammering on the door. Her emotions rolling out of her. He was all she had left. Her protector. Her best friend. And her brother. She breaks down into sobs falling to the floor. She throws her head back and wails sounding almost animalistic.

…..........

Days Later:

Peggy stands with Howard watching in on Tatiana, she's curled up in a ball in the corner of her cell. Howard was concerned so he called in Peggy. Peggy sighs softly, her own concern touching her.

“Has she eaten?” Peggy asks, Howard shakes his head.

“No” he answers. “If she doesn't....with her metabolism she will fade, and she will fade fast” Peggy lets out a breath.

“This wasn't the best idea” she motions to the cell. “Have you ever seen a caged cat?” she asks him. “They don't survive in captivity”

“You did help put her here” Howard reminds her.

“I was outvoted” Peggy scolds. “Someone like her, someone that evolved...does not belong locked up...She is magnificent” Peggy tells Howard.

“I happen to agree” Howard assures her, turning to look at her. “I don't want her here, but I have my orders” he shrugs. “If some better solution presented itself...”

“You would be agreeable?” Peggy asks.

“You know I would” Howard answers. “But as there isn't....she is here to stay” he claps his hands together a little. “Hence why I called you” he admits. “You were close...ish, I figured if anyone can talk her into eating....bathing, sleeping.....it would be you”

“I was part of her rescue from Schmidt” Peggy agrees. “I wouldn't call us friends, but I would have liked to, before all this” she shakes her head. “I'll talk to her, see what I can do” she shrugs. “But I think whatever trust was built before is gone now”

“Be careful” Howard warns. “She's been lashing out....” he holds up his hands in a clawed shape and slashes a little. Peggy raises an eyebrow and then heads to the cell door.

…..............

The walls of Tatiana's cell now have deep scratch marks in them, Tatiana doesn't look like she's washed, slept and definitely hasn't eaten. She's pale and withdrawn, hair ratty and unkempt. She looks wild. Feral almost. Peggy closes the door behind her and then turns to Tatiana.

“Tatiana” Peggy greets, Tatiana sniffles and turns away from her. “I know you're upset” Peggy offers softly. “But you should eat something...and have a bath because you do actually stink” Tatiana shoots her a glare and then stands, pushing herself to her feet, Peggy takes a step back trying to hide her nerves.

“What is the point?” Tatiana hisses at her. “I lost everything because of you people”

“This is not our fault” Peggy argues. “It was....”

“You couldn't protect him....” Tatiana interrupts her as she draws her nails along the wall, her claws driving grooves into it. Peggy's eyes watch her carefully. "I should have been there, I could have protected him, I could have saved him"

“It was unfortunate” Peggy adds. “And we did everything we could to protect and save your father” Tatiana laughs dryly.

“He wasn't my father” She argues, Peggy cocks her head. “I met him when I was 18 years old, just some stray on the street....and he was kind to me, he didn't have to be....he took me in, I called him brother first....then father” she pulls her claws back from the wall, close to Peggy now. “I'm 65 years old” she admits. “And you are all treating me as if I were a child with no understanding of the world around me....believe me, I understand it just fine....” Peggy is staring at her. “Questions?” Tatiana asks.

“A few” Peggy admits, Tatiana smirks a little and shrugs walking away. Her eyes already tearing up again, thinking about Abraham. Talking about him. She hangs her head and tenses her entire body. She's weak. She's hungry. She's tired. She's dirty. But she will not give them the satisfaction of winning. She has nothing left. Nothing.

 

Chapter Text

July:

Tatiana has a window now. A small thing, not big enough for her to escape through but enough to let the spring sunshine shine through, it gives her a patch of sunlight that she can sit in. It's not much but...she supposes it's something. She finally allowed them to bring in a bathtub and a divider so she can bath, in peace. Some days she'll drag herself over to it when it's filled and just sink into the water, hiding her tears from those that watch her. Every time she thinks she's all cried out, more will come, more will come and cripple her. She can't bear the pain. It hurts so much. Because she is alone for the first time in years, in decades. Since she was that skinny street rat Abraham found. Except she eats now. She has to eat. She's grieving but she's not suicidal. So she eats what they give her and then goes back to her patch of light to lay in the silence.

.................

August:

Tatiana hasn't spoken since her visit from Peggy after Abraham's death, she doesn't answer the questions, doesn't let them near with medical supplies. She's completely unresponsive and disagreeable. Peggy doesn't blame her. She really doesn't. If it was her, she would be exactly the same. Tatiana's freedom has been stolen from her, her closest friend and ally is gone, Bucky is gone. And whilst the loss of Abraham hit her hard, she didn't realize how much she would miss Bucky, without her nightly fix of his smile and his eyes see feels utterly lost. She has nothing. She is nothing. Tatiana leans back in her seat, her fork tapping on the edge of the plate in front of her, across from her Peggy sighs a little watching Tatiana poke at her food. She's taken to coming to sit with her just to give her some company, Howard does it too, brings in reports and sits with her. Despite the situation, they do both like her, they both hate to see her locked away like this. But she's dangerous. And unique. And that scares the humans.

…........

October:

“Happy Halloween, Tatiana” Peggy tells Tatiana, her eyes on the woman as she kicks at the wall in front of her. She sits at the far side, her back against the bed, her feet pressed to the wall. She took a turn in her mood in the last few weeks. Going from subdued to violent again. She lashes out at everyone. Hence why she's currently wearing a straight jacket, she'd lashed out and clawed at the guy that brings in her food and they'd held her down and forced her into this stupid piece of clothing. She's struggling, in her head. Her heart aching. She can't even bring herself to look at Peggy who sets a small tin of candy on the table for her. “I brought you some candy” Peggy offers. Tatiana doesn't even look at her. Peggy sighs, her shoulders slumping forward slightly. “Yeah, I didn't think you'd talk to me” Peggy admits and then leaves, shutting the cell door behind her as she goes. Tatiana lets out a sob as she suddenly starts to cry. She's had this bad feeling for days, in the pit of her stomach that something terrible is happening and she can't figure it out. She hangs her head, letting her hair fall over her face. Peggy watches her sadly.

…..............

November:

In a briefing room in an underground bunker, Steve Rogers stands over a table where a map lays. It's been a rough few months for him too. He's so far from the young man Tatiana first met. Taller. Broader. Enhanced.

“The fourth one was in Poland, here, not far from the Baltic...” Steve explains as he sketches precise coordinates on the map, perfectly duplicating the one he found in the Hydra factory, the same place he rescued Bucky from. After everything that happened with Bucky, after these last few months. He wished he had a way to contact Tati to tell her about Bucky. To tell her that he's okay. That he's fine and he's back. Steve might not be an expert on love but he is an expert on Bucky, and he knows how much that spunky little woman means to him. The smile on Bucky's face. The twinkle in his eyes. Bucky loves her. Peggy raises an eyebrow at Steve who seems to have paused. Steve clears his throat. “And the last was outside of Strasbourg, say thirty, forty miles west of the Maginot line” He looks up from the map again. “I only go a quick look”

“Nobody’s perfect” Peggy comments. An aid picks up the map and carries it across the room. Steve and Peggy turn as Howard approaches, a blue hydra cartridge in his hand.

“Hey, aren’t you supposed to be picking up a medal right about now?” Howard asks Steve.

“I’m off the publicity circuit” Steve answers. Just then, Colonel Phillips approaches from across the room.

“Rogers, you just embarrassed a senior senator in front of a dozen reporters and ten members of Parliament” He hands Steve a medal. “You should get a medal just for that” He sees the Hydra cartridge. “You figure out what this is, yet?”

“If you believe Rogers, it’s apparently the most powerful explosive known to man” Howard answers.

“If?” Steve asks.

“Well, either you’re wrong or Schmidt’s damn near rewritten the laws of physics” Howard admits. “And I’m rather fond of the laws of physics...” Phillips moves toward the room-sized map table.

“These are all of Hydra’s factories?,” He asks.

“The ones we know about” Steve answers. “But Sgt. Barnes said Hydra shipped all the bombs to another facility. And that...wasn’t on the map” Phillips studies the map, deciding. Then walks toward his office.

“Agent Carter, coordinate with MI6. I want every Allied eyeball looking for that main Hydra base”

“What about us?” Peggy asks him.

“We’re going to light a fire under Johann Schmidt’s ass” Phillips answers and then turns to Steve. “What do you say, Rogers? It’s your map. Think you can wipe Hydra off it?” Steve stares, finally given the responsibility he’s wanted.

“I’m going to need a team” Steve admits

“We’ve already started lining up the best men” Phillips assures him.

“If you don’t mind, sir...so Have I” Steve counters. Peggy and Howard share a look, both conveying an idea. Howard shrugs a little and then nods to her. It could work. A better solution has been considered.

“Sir” Peggy starts turning to Phillips. “If I may offer....one name” Phillips raises an eyebrow, Peggy takes a breath. “Erskine” she offers, Phillips' eyebrows shifts lower in thought. Steve looks at her. “His...daughter” She elaborates for Steve and then turns back to Phillips. “You know what she can do, you know she's....unique, give her something to do....something good”

 

Chapter Text

 

Steve and Peggy walk through the facility, it's tiny really, only refurbished to house Tati and for Project Rebirth, once the project was over, everything but the cell was scrapped. Steve glances at Peggy but she keeps her eyes forward. She's nervous about this. Tati has been unpredictable and Peggy doesn't know how she is going to react. They enter a small room, one wall covered in a mirror. Peggy clears her throat and motions to the glass. Steve raises an eyebrow and approaches cautiously, he's not sure what he's going to find on the other side. Steve's breath catches slightly.

"Tatiana?" Steve asks under his breath staring into the cell, Tati is sat on the small cot picking at a bread roll. Steve's eyes soften into sadness seeing her all locked up like this. "What is she doing here?" he asks.

"You know her?" Peggy asks back at him, Steve nods.

"She...she was Bucky's friend" Steve whispers.

"She's....enhanced" Peggy admits, Steve looks at her. "Sort of like you are...only" Peggy sighs a little. "Only she was born into her....gifts" Steve looks back to Tati and then sighs.

"Find Bucky," Steve tells Peggy. "He needs to be here for this"

"Are you sure?" Peggy asks, Steve nods.

"Yeah, and then she's leaving with us," Steve tells her firmly, not leaving any room for argument. Peggy nods and then walks away leaving Steve to watch Tati sitting there, alone. She looks so alone. Bucky is going to blame himself for this. For leaving her to this fate. Even if he didn't know that this would happen. Tati blinks a little and then looks up, seemingly meeting Steve's eyes behind the glass. He seems surprised, unsure if this is one way or two-way glass.

"She can't see you" Howard states behind him at a table, Steve looks back at him. "She just likes to stare at the glass"

"Why is she in there?" Steve asks, Howard stands and moves to join him.

"Erskine made a deal" Howard answers. "He would work with the SSR, if Tatiana remained in a secure apartment...she broke those terms....." Steve shakes his head.

"And locking her up was in the best interest of who?" Steve asks. "Certainly not hers" he answers himself.

"She's dangerous" Howard points out. "Extremely dangerous" Steve raises an eyebrow, Howard nods. "I'll be right back" Howard states as if suddenly remembering something. He turns and leaves the room. Steve shakes his head disappointed that they'd lock someone up for being different. How easily this could have been him.

.................

Later: Steve glances away from the glass as the door to the room opens and Bucky walks in, Peggy hangs back letting them have this time.

"What's going on?" Bucky asks approaching Steve as he yawns, he had been mid-nap when Peggy had appeared and disturbed him.

"Urm...well...I don't really know how to say this" Steve starts and then nods towards the glass, Bucky frowns and turns, his eyes instantly find Tati.

"Kitten" he whispers stepping closer to the glass. "What the hell?" he asks staring at her. "Steve, what the hell?"

"She's Erskine's...daughter" Bucky snaps his head around to his best friend.

"Because that suddenly explains why she is locked up like some kind of animal?"

"She's enhanced" Steve admits. "Dangerous, apparently"

"This is not okay" Bucky hisses at Steve.

"I don't agree either" Steve counters. "But it's their rules..."

"And you're their new poster boy...do something?"

"I already did" Steve points out, Bucky pauses slightly.

"Oh," Bucky whispers.

"She's coming with us" Steve adds with a small smile. "We're taking her out of here" Bucky nods and takes a breath. "You really care about her, huh?"

"She's all I thought of in that place, when Hydra had me...when...they did those things to me...." Bucky admits. "She was the only reason I kept fighting....because" Bucky's voice breaks a little and then he shakes his head. "I made her a promise..." he adds softer. "And I didn't want to die without telling her that..." Bucky looks to Steve who seems to understand.

"Buck" Steve whispers, Bucky shrugs.

"I owe my life to that promise" Bucky admits. "I owe my life to her..." Steve raises an eyebrow. "And to you, of course" Bucky adds with a smirk. The two of them share a look. "So...can we get her out?" Bucky asks impatiently. Steve looks to Peggy in the doorway, Bucky follows his gaze. Peggy smiles softly and nods.

"I'll...go get the keys" Peggy takes a deep breath and looks to the glass worried. "Hope she doesn't claw my eyes out" she mumbles, Bucky pulls a face as Steve raises an eyebrow. Peggy heads out of the room again and Bucky turns back to the glass, his fingers touching it as he watches Tati. She looks so....sick in there. So...caged and pained. He knows just how that feels. And he never wanted it for her. He's still recovering, till tired and aching in places but this is good, seeing her is good, that's all he wanted. And they have her caged like a villain. Like a...criminal. Bucky hangs his head clearing his throat knowing he's getting upset. 

“I'm sorry, Bucky,” Steve tells him, Bucky shakes his head.

“You weren't to know” Bucky whispers. “How were you to know?”

“Gentlemen” Peggy states behind them again, they both turn to her. “If you would follow me” she nods behind her and Steve and Bucky share a look before doing just that. They walk behind her as she leads them into another room. Howard is already there waiting for them, stood in front of a table that holds a suitcase-sized box. And behind him and two SSR agents, heavily armed and ready. Bucky shoots Steve a confused look. Steve shrugs back.

“Alright” Howard states and looks to the two agents. “Stand ready,” he tells them. “You know how she's been” they both nod, check their weapons and then follow Howard to the cell door.

“What are you doing?” Bucky asks motioning to the guards. “This whole thing is ridiculous”

“Barnes” Peggy warns slightly. She knows he means well but they've been dealing with Tati for months.

“No, come on” he argues back. “Armed guards...a cell...what is wrong with you people?” Howard nods a little and holds out a key.

“Be my guest” Howard tells him, Bucky looks to Steve who nods a little. Bucky takes a breath and takes the key from Howard and then moves to the door. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bucky unlocks the cell door and then pulls it open. There is a blur and then he's on his back, Tati kneeling on his chest. Steve's eyes widen in realization. Bucky blinks slightly as Tati growls. She has her claws ready and pressed to his throat, almost breaking the skin.

“Tati” Bucky pleads with her. She blinks, seemingly returning to her senses as she realizes just who it is beneath her. She pulls her claws back from his throat, they retreat back into her nails and she lets out a pained noise from the back of her throat.

“Bucky?” she asks softly.

“Hey, Kitten” he whispers softly. She scrambles off of him, pressing herself back against the wall. Trembling as she clutches to her legs. “You okay there?” Bucky asks her as he sits up, crossing his legs on the floor. He hates seeing her like this. What these people have reduced her to. He turns a glance at Peggy who hangs her head. She knows how bad Tati has gotten since she was brought in. He scoots closer to Tati and she whimpers at the proximity. He touches her shoulder gently and she sniffles before leaning forward, falling into his arms, Bucky wraps his arms around her tightly. “It's okay” he whispers soothingly. “I've got you” he strokes her hair a little and closes his eyes. This wasn't the reunion he had in mind. Holding her is what he wanted but not comforting her like this, feeling her trembling against him. Feeling how skinny and boney she is now. He hates it. he hates what they've done to her.

“Junior” she breaths hugging him tightly to her. He kisses her head and breaths her in, she stinks, but he doesn't care, he has her in his arms again, and after everything that he's been through he needs her. He needs this. And from the way she is clutching to him. She needs this and him too.

…...........

Steve and Bucky don't linger in that place with Tati, Bucky wanted her out of there. Peggy had arranged a hotel room for the night, just for Tati to recover a little before they leave. Bucky was hoping for a little more time with her but he can't exactly ask for more in the middle of a war. The room is actually pretty nice, considering. Obviously, the SSR is trying to make up for what they did to her. Steve sets the suitcase-sized box they'd been given by Howard on the dresser as Tati glances around the room. She's been quiet since they left. They don't blame her.

“I'll leave you two to....catch up” Steve offers. “I'll have some food sent up for her” Bucky nods in thanks and takes a breath as his eyes shift to Tati as she falls onto the bed, Steve smiles a little and then slips out of the room. Tati nuzzles into the bedding, how long since she slept in a real bed. Bucky smiles watching her indulge in the fabrics beneath her. Her fingers grasping at the covers. She looks so tiny. Bucky kneels on the bed and brushes her hair back from her face, her eyes flickering up to meet his.

“Do you want a bath?” he asks her, she hums a little and nods curling up, he nods a little and then stands again before he heads into the side bathroom, Tati closes her eyes, only for a moment, just a moment.

…..........

Bucky leaves the bathroom when the water is warm and the bath is full, but he finds Tati fast asleep on the bed. He sighs softly and moves closer to her to join her. He wraps his arms tightly around her, holding her close to him as he presses himself to her back as he joins her in slumber. Sleeping soundly for the first time in months.

…..........

Tati is awake now, but Bucky sleeps soundly at her side, she lays facing him, watching his eyes shift behind the lid. Her fingers trace over the lines on his face, she takes in how tired his skin looks, how tired he looks.

“I'm sorry” she whispers.

“Why?” she jumps a little when he talks, assuming he had been asleep. He opens his eyes to look at her. “Why are you sorry?”

“Just...for before” she stutters out wanting to hide away, to escape. She turns, intending on fleeing. He grabs her wrist and pulls her back into the bed.

“Don't go” he pleads. “Stay” she keeps her head hung low. “Please” he whispers, she turns and curls into his chest. He relaxes and nuzzles into her hair.

“How long?” she asks him. “How long was I in there?” He sighs a little.

“6 months” he answers her sadly. She was kept a prisoner for far longer than he was. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asks her, she shakes her head.

“No” she vocalizes. “But I know we have to” she sits up again. “Let me go to the bathroom first” she whispers and stands before she quickly disappears into the room, Bucky knows she needs space and time to process what she is going to tell him. She knows her abilities have been shown and now she has to tell him everything. She can't not tell him. She cares too much for him. And she knows she does. 

 

Chapter Text

Bucky pulls the lids off of the mountain of food Steve sent up for them, he probably went above and beyond because he worries for Tati. Bucky knew Steve would help with her. He has this weakness for the downtrodden and the hurt. Plus Tati has this wide-eyed soft naïve air about her, even if there is nothing naïve about her. She just has that way about her.

“Where do you want to start?” Tati asks Bucky as she sits on the edge of the bed, her towel covering only very little and his eyes latch onto her legs. “Junior” she scolds, he clears his throat and looks to her face.

“Sorry, can you get dressed or something?” he asks her, she sighs and stands. “And..well...from the beginning will be helpful” he answers her original question.

“Fine” she grabs a shirt from the clean clothing Peggy had arranged for. “I guess...the beginning would be....” she sighs and pulls on the shirt. “I was born in...1878” he chocks a little on his breath as he takes that in.

“I'm sorry....what?” he asks her. She turns to him.

“You heard” she scolds. “1878” she repeats. “I was born in Petrograd, or...Leningrad as it's now known”

“You're Russian?” he asks her, she nods.

“Yes, my mother was called Selina Kyle and my father, well...that's.....” she shrugs a little. “Never met him and all I know is that he was called...Logan and that he was....Canadian” Bucky smirks.

“You're a Russian Canadian?” he asks, amused, she smirks and nods.

“Sort of” she admits. “My mother wasn't Russian, she was from....some tribe in South America”

“So you're all kinds of everything” he teases, she smirks and drops into his lap, his arm wrapping around her.

“I was born....enhanced” she admits with a shrug. “If that's the right word for it” she holds up her hand and lets her claws grow. “My mother had....enhancements, as did my father according to her” He watches as she retracts her claws. “She died when I was six years old” she admits. “And I lived on the streets of Germany for a while”

“How long is a while?” Bucky asks her, she shrugs.

“Till I was....18” she answers, Bucky closes his eyes and looks down. “I learned a lot, mostly how to stab people who tried to take my food or my.....shelter” he nods a little, suddenly terrified of her....for her, it adds something to her, an understanding, he knows what she is the way she is now. Because she's had it sooo bad. Living on the streets. Locked away. Again and again. “Erskine found me” she offers softly. “Brought me food and blankets and clothing.....” she smiles warmly. “I..owe him my life, Junior” he smiles. “And he took me in...this street rat, he...took me home, called me his sister....but...he aged, I did not, so..over time I became his daughter, and then...well, he married, he had kids, and I loved them, all of them, so much.....” he strokes her back. She's quiet a moment, and he waits, because he knows she has more to say. “In...1935, we fled Germany, Greta was Jewish....and we wanted to keep her safe....we were caught, she and her children Klaus and Marlene were sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Erskine and I were captured......by Johann Schmidt...by Hydra” Buck nuzzles into her jaw, trying to comfort her. “Peggy and her team saved us, but...there were terms...I was to remain in a secure apartment in New York” Bucky pulls back to search her eyes. “I've never really been one for following the rules.....I broke them, and they found out, put me in that place you and Steve found me”

“I'm sorry” he whispers, she scoffs and shakes her head.

“Oh, Junior, don't flatter yourself” he brushes her hair back from her face, his fingers grazing over her cheek.

“I'm sorry your childhood was so hard” he corrects himself. “I'm sorry you suffered and lost....” she swallows a little and looks away from him. “I'm just sorry” he keeps his arms around her. “No one should go through what you went through....” she glances at him. “But...you never said any of this...before”

“I wasn't allowed to” she whispers. “And it wasn't one of their rules, it was just agreed between me and Abraham that....we kept everything that I was a secret....” she sighs. “There is no one out there that can do what I can do, there is no one that is like me....and Steve can probably agree but urm...people that different, we're...science experiments, Abraham was just trying to keep me from being...” she stops, he understands why they kept it a secret, no one wants to be experimented on. And someone so different, so special, doesn't deserve it. He nuzzles into her cheek.

“You hungry?” he asks her softly, she nods. He pats her thigh and nudges her off his lap, she stands and sniffles a little, turning away to brush her hands over her face with a deep breath, calming herself. Bucky strokes her as he stands before he takes her hand from her face. “Come on” he whispers. “Steve over did it so I hope you can eat” he teases pulling her closer to the food cart. She looks at all the food and smiles a little, he kisses her shoulder and grabs a plate from the tray for himself. She bites her lip and picks up a bread roll from the cart before sitting at Bucky's side.

“Thank you” she whispers warmly, he gives her a soft look. Feeding her and looking after her is something he is good at doing.

 

Chapter Text

Bucky lays on his front on the bed, picking at the food on a tray at his side. Tati stands at the window looking out over New York, her eyes soft and sad. This was her home once. She's not sure it is anymore. She barely slept the night before. Tossing and turning. He knows she is going to have some trouble getting used to normality again, and chances are, it is all about to be turned upside down again when they leave. She should be resting. But she will not do as she is told. Steve's going to just love having her as part of a team.

“I wonder where they buried him” she muses, Bucky frowns a little. “Abraham” she explains.

“You don't know?” he asks, she shakes her head.

“No” she admits. “No, I wasn't allowed to go to his funeral, and no one told me where he was so...I guess they assumed I wouldn't be able to leave to see him anyway” Bucky clenches his jaw a little and pushes back on his anger. Not at her. But at those people. She takes a breath and then leans up to make her way to the food cart. Her fingers grasp a bread roll before she moves on. “What is this?” she asks, Bucky glances to her and then to where she is looking. The case Howard had given them when they'd left. The case for her. Tati takes a bite of her bread roll as he grabs his own toast from the tray.

“Howard handed it over” Bucky answers as he bites into his toast, Tati cocks her head and traces the top of the case. “It's for you” he assures her. Bucky's eyes watch her. She unlatches the locks and then opens it. She cocks her head staring into the case.

“It's a...” she frowns. “I don't know what it is” Bucky moves to her side, his hand soft on the small of her back as his eyes follow hers.

“It's a suit” Bucky offers. “Like the one Steve has” he touches the fabric and lifts it out of the case revealing an all in one black catsuit. “What do you think?” he asks holding it closer to his own body. “Black my color?” She laughs and then looks down.

“I don't think you have the cleavage for it, Junior” She comments as she reaches for the zip on the suit, he smirks, glad to see her smiling and laughing again. She takes the suit from him and looks over it as Bucky glances into the case, there is a letter sat there with Tati's name on it. Her real name. Tatiana Kyle.

“Tati” He states, she hums and turns to him. “It's for you” she glances at the letter and then snatches it out of the case, Bucky blinks a little at the speed. She sets the suit down and tears into the letter pulling it from the envelope. He waits for her to read it.

“Abraham, he...asked Howard to make me the suit” she reads, her eyes turning sad as she sits on the edge of the bed. “He thought I might need one that could better protect me when I was...” she smiles a little. “Prowling” Bucky smirks. “He says it should move better with me, that they'll be less wear and tear” she ends on a whisper. “It even matches my goggles”

“These?” Bucky asks lifting her goggles from the case and setting them over his eyes. She nods.

“They were my mothers” she answers. “They are all I have of hers” Bucky lowers the goggles and gives her a sad smile.

“Did she bike?” he asks as she moves towards him.

“No” she shakes her head and takes the goggles from him. “She used to like climbing to the tallest point of a town or a city and just....” she lets out a breath. “Watch the world go by, but the tallest points could be....dusty, so she wore these to protect her eyes” she runs her thumbs over the goggles. Bucky gives her a sad smile knowing that she was too young to have lost her mother when she did, and having nothing but a pair of goggles to remember her by is horribly lonely. He can't imagine what it's like for her. To have family stolen from her, time and time again. She takes a deep breath and looks at Bucky. “Thank you” she offers, he raises an eyebrow. “For looking after me” she gives him a sad smile. “You and Steve, you didn't have to...”

“Of course we did” he argues. “We weren't going to leave you in that place”

“So what happens now?” she asks him. He takes a breath and moves closer to her.

“Steve will talk you through it” Bucky assures her. “But..basically he's putting together a little team, and we're going to kill some Nazis” She laughs a little and looks up at him. “We want you to come with us”

“You do?” she asks him, he nods. “To use my abilities?”

“If you don't want to fight, then you don't have to” he assures her. “I'd feel better if you were with us, at least then I would know you weren't locked away somewhere” she glances at him.

“Okay,” she whispers. “I'll go with you” she clutches to the goggles in her hands. Bucky crouches in front of her and touches her knee.

“If this is not what you want, Kitten” he whispers. “You can say no” she lifts her eyes to meet his. “People have been telling you what to do for long enough....and yes, you might have to follow Steve's orders now and then, but it's not to control you, it is to keep you and us safe, and to protect other people” she nods a little.

“I can do that” she assures him. “Using my abilities for good” she offers, he nods. “I can do that” she repeats. He smiles softly at her and nods proudly. “I think it's something Abraham would have wanted”

“Yeah, he'd be proud of you” Bucky assures her, they share a look, he leans closer and brushes his lips over hers before he stands. "Now eat up, we have to meet Steve in an hour"