Tarot Day 19 - The Fool (Bucky Barnes)
How To Pick Up Girls In a Tomb
Summary: On the trail of the Black Vortex, you and Bucky break into a tomb to find it before Hydra does
Warnings: Minor peril, minor angst
Prompt will appear within the body of the text in bold
*Please do not replicate my work anywhere without my express permission*
“Let's go on an adventure, she said. It'll be fun, she said,” Bucky sasses me as I haul him up from the pit trap he nearly fell into, his boots about an inch about the jagged spikes. “Doll, I hate you so much right now.”
“I never said this was an adventure,” I huff, almost tripping backwards as he crests the verge. “This is to stop Hydra getting the Black Vortex.”
“You pitched this to me as a fun afternoon romp,” he brushes the cobwebs off of his t-shirt, even his vibranium arm was dulled by the dust down here.
“Did I?” I walk on, torch held aloft. “My mistake.”
“I swear, if I'd have known this was going to turn into a tomb exploration I would've stayed in the nice, cosy Avengers compound.”
“I mean sure, I guess I could've asked Sam to partner up instead. He's always up for reckless shit.”
“I know what you're doing and it won't work,” Bucky narrows his eyes at me.
“And what am I doing?” I regard the hexagonal floor in front of me.
“Pitching me against him. You know I get competitive.”
“Competitive is not the word. Psychotically contentious, yes.”
“As if you don't like having two boys twisted 'round your finger, doll,” he nearly steps on the first hexagon and I yank him back by the scruff of the shirt. “Hey!”
“You want another trip through the floor?”
“Who the hell set up this death trap anyhow?”
“People who don't want anyone to find the Vortex and from all the myths out there, I can see why.”
“What is it supposed to be?”
“A way to gain powers or better skills. Only the leaders were meant to use it. Supposedly it's a mirror where you can see yourself with your full potential and if you like it enough you can ask for power.”
“So why doesn't everyone have abilities?”
“Even thousands of years ago people were greedy, Buck. They kept it for themselves. Why do you think we had to climb a mountain, find a hidden door, surf down a rock face and end up in the deadly version of an obstacle course?”
“Becauseeeeee they wanted to hide it away?”
“Exactly. Now look at the walls, there's little holes at intervals. I think if you step on the wrong one, arrows or darts or maybe even flames will come out of them.”
“Oh. Swell,” Bucky deadpans. “So can you figure it out?”
“If you shut up,” I kneel down, studying the glyphs. “And for god's sake don't wander off.”
The pattern is not immediately discernible but I take out my notebook and try to make some sense of it. After some initial frustration, I see a path we can take after it spells out a phrase:
I SUBMIT TO THE BLACK VORTEX
I don't know if it's some kind of incantation, ritualistic words or what but it's the only thing that makes sense. I take a tentative step onto the equivalent letter “I” and breath a sigh of relief that it holds my weight.
“Follow me,” I say to Bucky. “Don't deviate from where I step.”
“Wouldn't dream of it,” he sighs before carefully moving behind me.
The final “X” glyph is half cracked and I wobble on it before some of it crumbles, sending me pitching to the side and into the other letters which collapse upon impact. I would've died then and there were it not for Bucky doing an athletic long jump to the safety of the other side and grabbing my hand.
“Easy does it, sweetheart,” he grunts as he pulls me up.
I stumble into him, clutching onto his shirt whilst I got my breath back. That was too close for comfort.
“Hey, doll?” Bucky's palm on my cheek startles me out of my internal thoughts. “Not that I'm complainin' about you being so close but my shirt doesn't deserve the punishment you're giving it.”
I'd twisted the fabric in my fingers without realising, gripping too hard and I let go with a mumbled apology.
“I'm not used to messing up like that,” I shake myself to focus more.
“Yeah I know. Little Miss Perfectionist,” he snorts. “Technically you didn't mess up. This place is just so old that the traps are not in great condition.”
“Come on, quicker we carry on, the quicker we can get out.”
“Music to my ears.”
So we go up the stairs into an antechamber, pillars lining in a great circle with mirrors all around bouncing the light from outside to illuminate the room. It's almost blinding as we approach the central dais which houses the Black Vortex.
The frame of the mirror was that of a humanoid, made of some dark material I had no idea of. The closer I got to the thing, the more eerie I felt.
“You feel the same too, huh?” Bucky looks a little unsettled. “I don't like it.”
“I mean it's supposed to be a good artefact so I don't know why I want to run but maybe it's another defensive mechanism to stop people with bad intentions.”
“Well I'm not getting all the way here just to turn back. I've already ruined my best adventuring clothes.”
“You say that a lot and yet you never manage to make me.”
“Quit the flirtations, Buck. We have a job to do.”
“But the flirting is most of the fun for me,” he does that charming lopsided grin. “Alright, let's destroy this thing.”
I got to the top of the dais and made the mistake of looking into the mirror. For a split second I only saw myself staring back but then the image morphed and suddenly I was watching myself taking on teams and teams of Hydra soldiers, doing acrobatics I never thought I was capable of, killing in ways that seemed impossible for my body to do.
The more I watched, the more I ended up doing death defying leaps over large chasms with no issues, the more tombs I was exploring and writing accredited papers on...I'd become the world's leading ancient civilisations expert with hands on experience. I was even finding more powerful relics.
Where was the downside?
“Say the words,” a whisper in my ear tickles at my thoughts. “Say the words and it can be yours.”
“Doll?” Bucky is calling me but it seems like a million miles away.
“This is your cosmic potential. You can be The Explorer.”
“Just say the words and you can be the most valuable member of SHIELD and SWORD combined. You can find them weapons and relics that will benefit the human race. Say the words.”
“DOLL!” Bucky is shaking me violently and I'm trying to come to my senses but the lure of the picture in front of me is great. “HEY!”
Still I'm captivated....at least I was until Bucky kissed me out of the blue in an attempt to shock me back to reality. It worked though.
“What the hell are you doing?” I blink.
“Stopping you making a mistake,” he looks at me gravely. “Don't look at the mirror.”
“I'm deadly serious, sweetheart. You want me to kiss you again?”
“Bucky...I...I need to destroy it,” I take my climbing axe out of my backpack. “Move.”
“Alright but I'm on standby if you get all misty-eyed again,” he steps out of the way.
There's no avoiding seeing the image of myself as The Explorer again but I ignore the whispers, taking a great swing and cracking the glass. There's a hiss and a shriek before I'm blasted back, almost into the hexagonal glyphs but I stop a few inches from the ledge.
“Shit!” Bucky runs over. “Are you okay?!”
“I'm fine,” I groan, taking the offered hand. “I feel really strange. What happened?”
“Some kind of light blew outta the thing, hit you directly.”
“I...” I start but the whispered voice interrupts me.
“The Vortex cannot be destroyed. You shall be the host. Remember the words and pass them to others you believe worthy.”
“Oh no,” I look at Bucky horrified. “The Vortex's power. It transferred into me. I think...I think I'm the Black Vortex now.”
“But you're not a mirror?”
“Maybe I can grant powers.”
“If that's the case, I need to get you outta here right now,” Bucky frowns. “Hydra catches you...I don't wanna think about it. We need to get you somewhere safe.”
“This is not quite what I had in mind when I came down here,” I make my way back across the glyphs, trying to spell backwards.
“Can we talk about that kiss though?” I throw it out there to distract both him and I from what just happened.
“The amazing one that was so great it broke you out of being hypnotised? That kiss?” I can hear the smirk in his tone.
“It wasn't that good,” I make it to the other side.
“Doll, that hurt,” he pouts as he jumps the last hexagon. “I got a reputation to uphold here.”
“Sorry to break it then.”
“Hold on now,” he grabs my arm. “At least give me another shot to impress. Ain't exactly doing my best work when we're in danger.”
“One more chance,” I humour him.
Bucky draws me to him, using all his best moves from his pre-WW2 days I imagine, before kissing me gently. It's much too gentle for my tastes though so I grasp him closer and deepen it.
In the end, I think I was the one that impressed the most.
“Better,” I shrug.
“You're killing my ego here,” he shakes his head. “I've been building up to that for two years now.”
“Well the sex better be stellar then once we get outta here,” I ready myself to leap over the spike trap.
“Sex? Holy shit, sweetheart. Let's get outta this mountain as fast as we can,” he laughs.
I take a running jump and clear the landing zone I'd intended by a long way. That was new.
“Uh, something you're not telling me?” Bucky joins me. “You couldn't do that before, right?”
“Not that I know of. I guess...I guess the vision the Vortex showed me came true in a way. Showed me as being the ultimate explorer.”
“Well...if you're the ultimate explorer, doll, you can explore us the way out,” he takes it in his stride.
“You're an ass, Barnes,” I hiss.
“And yet you still kissed me,” he winks. “Even in a dusty old tomb, I still got the moves.”
I rolled my eyes but he just flashed that charming smile. Honestly, his playfulness was the only thing keeping me calm right now.
What even was I any more? A mutant? A Celestial like figure? Something else entirely?
I wouldn't know until we got back to SHIELD base but there was no use worrying about it when I couldn't do any research.
For now, at least, I had Bucky by my side and, for all my teasing comments about Sam, I would never have picked anyone else to do this with. I trusted him implicitly, I valued his skills and abilities and I loved his arrogant personality and how we traded insults almost daily.
The kiss just now had been inevitable when I really thought about it.
There was only ever him.
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