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The Chameleon

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The Chameleon

Bucky and Steve sat on the couch, each nursing a drink. There were mouth-watering smells of a home-cooked dinner coming from Steve's kitchen. Bucky inhaled deeply.

"Ok, that smells amazing. Are you sure she doesn't need any help?" Bucky leaned to the side a bit, catching a glimpse of low heels topped with old-fashioned stockings with a seam up the back. The soft sounds of Post Modern Jukebox drifted from the kitchen, familiar yet new.

"She's fine. She channels a '50s housewife when she's with me. She loves taking care of me and the apartment." Steve smiled, proud of his girlfriend.

"She's amazing, Steve. Where did Fury find her?" Bucky took another sip of his drink.

"He scouted her out of a juvenile detention center. He molded her into his best spy." Steve smirked as Bucky choked on his bourbon.

"Um... What? She was in jail? And she was a spy?"

"Yeah. When she was a kid she used her powers to get people to give her food, money, a car, a house. Got busted. It makes sense Fury pegged her as a super spy. Stealthy, adaptive. She can gain anyone's trust and she can tell when someone's lying." Steve had a dreamy look on his face. He was obviously extremely fond of her, if not hopelessly in love already.

"So... Why did Fury decide to take her on at the tower? Why not just keep her a spy?" Bucky was intrigued by Steve's girlfriend, even having just met her tonight. Most people were. It was incredibly rare to encounter an adaptive empath.

Steve looked down and studied his drink for a minute. "She got cornered. Had to deal with it bloody. Couldn't handle hurting anyone else."

"Oh, man..." Bucky ran a hand over his face, he hadn't even thought about what it must have been like for her. Feeling what others feel. Even when it was horrible.

Steve nodded. "So... Now she helps people. She's much happier." His eyes crinkled with a smile as his girl came out of the kitchen, wiping her delicate hands on her apron. Even in the heels she was quite petite. Her hair was elaborately curled up into a '50's style.

"Dinner's ready, boys. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. With green beans and gravy." She winked and smiled at Bucky, who was gazing, dazzled at her. She came over to Steve and kissed him on the head. He put an arm around her waist.

"Smells amazing, Millie." He stood and kissed her on the cheek, and the three of them went to the tiny apartment kitchen to eat their dinner.

 

It's What You Choose

That night Steve and Millie were sitting in bed beside each other, reading. Steve was a fan of recent history books, studying all of the world events that he had slept through. He had worked his way up to the '80's, and the decade had him very confused. Millie had told him this was normal, as many people who lived through the '80's were confused most of the decade too.

Camilla Jane Reed, "Millie" to Steve, "Cami" to some, and "Reed" to others, liked to read about survival, anatomy, martial arts, psychology, chemistry, engineering. She absorbed books almost as easily as she absorbed other people's emotions.

When Fury first brought her in Banner did extensive tests on her, trying to find out what made her the way she was. Turns out she had a unique mutation that made her instincts razor-sharp. She could tell how someone was feeling, almost what they were thinking, from micro-expressions, slight changes in pheromone levels, changes in pupils, galvanic skin responses. Because of this, she was basically a human lie detector.

And since she was born this way to... "less-than-kind" parents she had learned incredibly early to adapt to other people. She became whoever those around her needed her to be. It was a survival instinct learned in infancy and it was the only way she knew how to live. Sometimes she wondered who she really was, deep inside, without the influence of others.

When she had started dating Steve he put it in simple yet profound terms.

"Who you are isn't what you do. It's what you choose."

She had contemplated these words for days... weeks... before it finally clicked for her. It was true for everyone. Even among the Avengers. Many had little control over what they did. Thor had no control over being Asgardian royalty. Banner had no control over sometimes becoming Hulk. Steve had no control over being a super soldier. Bucky had no control over being molded into a weapon... her heart ached for the enigmatic and deeply troubled man she had just met. Camilla herself had very little control over being what amounted to an emotional chameleon.

But they did have control over their choices. And they, all of them, had chosen to use their various powers for good.

Camilla had chosen to refuse Fury's spy work and demanded to be allowed to use her unique skills to help people. Deep down she was someone that chose to help. And she could live with that.

 

Dying Sucks

"Goddammit, Hawkeye, where is my fucking support? They're slaughtering me!" Cami was pinned down. Someone kept shooting her in the arm. And Hawkeye, who was supposed to have her back, was nowhere to be found. Her vision blinked red.

"Clint, I'm dying. Wherever you are, this is not fucking cool." And then she died. Great.

 

The monitor blinked back to the load screen.

"Sorry, sorry Cami! There was a plumbing emergency. Sorry about that! Wanna run it again?" His voice crackled in her headset.

"No, man, I've gotta go and it sounds like that emergency isn't quite over." She grinned as she heard a clamor of small frantic voices over the line.

"Nah, simple plunger job. They're just hungry. Apparently I'm going on a pizza run." Cheers broke out on his end of the line.

Cami grinned. "Pizza emergency? You'd better hurry before you have a riot on your hands."

"Yeah, Cam. Talk to you later." He was laughing, probably being tackled by famished little gremlins. She ended the connection and turned off the video game. She switched the screen of her office computer from the game to her calendar to check her schedule.

She was an odd case. She wasn't technically a doctor or a counselor, but Fury used her as a kind of therapist anyway. She was naturally gifted and she studied psychology constantly, so she had at least an inkling of what she was doing. And she had worked very hard to earn the trust of the team.

She greatly valued their confidence in her and she didn't want to do anything to hurt it. Which meant she had to haul ass over to Banner's before she was late for lunch with him.

She pulled the pins from the bun in her hair, swiped on some heavily scented strawberry lip gloss and changed from her button-down work shirt and slacks into a pair of comfy jeans and a ridiculously cute t-shirt with a rainbow and a kitten on it.

She made it to lunch with five whole minutes to spare.

 

Out to Lunch

After knocking for seven minutes she opened the door and walked right in to Bruce's quarters. He was pacing and his walls were covered in computer projected images of chemical compounds. His hair was sticking up at all angles where he was continually tugging at it, as if he could violently yank the answer from his very brain.

Camilla took in the scene before her. "Oh, Bruce..." She could sense his heart rate and blood pressure were dangerously elevated. The team must be working on something, she wasn't entirely sure what, but she knew that he was expected to find a key component to their solution, probably something to save the whole planet from imminent destruction. He was under incredible stress. There was no way he could think effectively with so much adrenaline and cortisol racing through his system.

She got in his path on his next pass of pacing the room and wrapped him in a tight hug. It took him a minute to relax, the scent of her shampoo and strawberry lipgloss finally breaking him out from inside his head.

She let go and smiled at him. He didn't smile, not yet, but the crease in his forehead wasn't so deep as when she had come in.

"I brought deli sandwiches and potato chips. Is that ok?" She took their lunch to the coffee table in the middle of the room and began to unpack it. He was saving his work and turning off the screens.

He grimaced at her, which was one step closer to an actual smile. "That will be fine, thank you Camilla."

He turned on Disney's Robin Hood, with the fox and the bear and the little church mice, projected on the wall in front of the couch, before coming and sitting stiffly beside her.

She idly wondered how long it had been since he last ate or slept, but she instinctively knew demanding an answer to those questions would only add to his stress. So they sat side by side and ate lunch in comfortable silence.

When they were done with their food he laid down on the couch, his head on her lap, his shoes kicked off, continuing to watch the movie. She stroked the hair at his temple and behind his ear gently and just watched the cartoon with him, sharing her calm, gentle energy and making no demands of him at all.

By the time Rob and Marian were riding off in their carriage to enjoy their honeymoon he was sound asleep. She covered him with a blanket, smoothed his hair back one last time, and left.

 

Besties

"Spill, Cami, seriously." Nat smirked at her.

They were in Natasha's rooms, giving each other pedicures... Which Cami was sworn to absolute secrecy about. She was to tell anyone who asked that they spent their time together cleaning guns and throwing knives.

"I can't! You would tease him mercilessly! He told me how you guys are, you're like siblings." Cami used a fine-tipped brush to paint glow-in-the-dark spiders over the deep purple polish on Nat's big toe nails.

"Come on. Even if he were my actual brother, you are my best friend. Besties trump brothers." Nat looked up from the hot pink tips she was painting on Cami's toes. "And you're forbidden to tell anyone I used the term 'bestie'."

Cami laughed and switched Nat's feet, settling the other one on the knee of her yoga pants, starting on the other spider.

"Fine! I will tell you something, but nothing too embarrassing."

"Where's the fun in that?" Nat smirked, teasing her gently.

Cami blushed before blurting out- "He likes to take control."

Nat forgot about the polish and just stared at her. Cami blushed so much harder.

"Cap? Seriously? He's so... Seriously?" She was obviously trying to wrap her head around the concept.

Cami sighed dreamily. "Yep. He's never had any control, really. He was pushed around until he took the serum. And then he was basically government property. And now he's an Avenger. All these things he's done with a smile, but he never really had control over any of it. So now he really likes it... When he does have control."

She was sure her face resembled an overripe tomato. "Besides... He's from the era where men were the head of house and the little wife submitted to them." Cami rolled her eyes and Nat bristled. "Which I don't mind, honestly. He's Steve, you know? He's gentle and kind and sweet and considerate. And it's kind of nice sometimes to just... Let go and let someone else take the wheel for a while."

Natalie sighed. "I guess. But, Cami, if he ever hurts you, so help me..."

Cami smiled at her friend. "You will be the first to know, Nat. And thank you."

They continued painting for a while and Cami had just finished the last of the shiny top coat when she whispered, a naughty smile on her lips. "He likes it when I call him 'Captain'."

As that completely incongruous tidbit registered, Nat spit out the club soda she had just sipped and coughed for breath before being reduced to guffaws until tears streamed down her face.

 

Smack Talk of the Gods!

Thor slammed his fist into the wall again, making a huge dent in the concrete. He growled in frustration.

Cam laughed. "I keep telling you, your left foot gives you away."

"I am a god, mortal. You should have a bit more respect." He snarled, looking around and trying to find her. She was strangely quick and adept at using the shadows to conceal her all-black outfit.

"Right. You're a god like I'm the Easter bunny."

He couldn't pinpoint the exact location of her voice, and he was aware her taunts were designed to incite his ire and make him lose focus. But they still worked. He took one step forward with his left foot and was suddenly staring at the padded floor from an extremely close distance. He got up and she toppled over from where she was balanced, perched precariously after slamming into his back with a flying kick. She rolled a few paces away and popped up on her feet.

"I told you about the left foot, blondie."

He snarled and whirled around with his fist. She dropped to the floor, grabbed his ankles and rolled. He ended up on his back, his feet tangled up in a small mortal girl. He let out a feral growl of frustration that transformed into deep belly laughs when she ineffectually tightened her grip.

"Do you surrender?" Cam continued to cling to his feet. He glanced at her and laughed harder, nodding.

"Aye, I surrender."

He extricated his feet without effort and stood, offering his hand. She took it and was yanked easily to a standing position. She whipped off her black mask and they both grinned at each other.

"You have fire in your spirit, little mortal. Had you been born of the gods you may well have been a fine warrior." He clapped her on the shoulder, nearly causing her to fall over.

She reached up high to clap his shoulder, which he barely felt. He grinned at her.

"And if you had been born of Midgard you may have learned to be humble. But I seriously doubt it."

His laughter rang through the halls.

 

Confrontation

Steve and Tony were working on some research. They spoke only occasionally when they needed to compare notes, and even then it was a bit strained.

"So, how's your little mutant?" Tony asked off-handedly.

Steve sighed in frustration and scooted back in his chair. "What is your problem with Millie? You can't possibly not like her, you've never even met her."

Tony refused to look away from his work, but his hands faltered a bit on the projected keyboard. "Actually, I did."

"Did what?"

"Meet her. Once."

---

Tony was coming back from a job, and Reed was coming up to meet Cap. He had gotten hurt, just a flesh wound, really, but she was worried about her boyfriend. They were both so absorbed in their own minds they violently smashed into each other in a secluded stretch of hallway.

"Watch yourself, short stuff." Tony quipped. An instant later he was kissing the wall and his arm had exploded in pain.

"You wanna try that again? I'm sure you meant to say 'sorry'." Reed's voice was a low, icy growl. The tone in and of itself a warning that he'd better do as she said. But when did he ever do as anyone said?

He cleared his throat and dead panned- "I'm sorry... That it's apparently your time of the month."

He felt a joint pop as she twisted his wrist harder behind his back. Her other hand came up and found a pressure point in his shoulder and then nothing existed except the pain and her voice.

"On your knees." He clung to the commanding tone like a lifeboat in rough seas. He sank to his knees. She leaned close to his ear, easing the pressure on his wrist and shoulder just enough so that he could start breathing again.

"You are a fucking pussy, aren't you?" She whispered harshly. "Most people think you're brave. Putting yourself in the position of potentially dying is not brave. Is it, pussy?" She released his shoulder and dragged her nails painfully over his scalp in a strange mixture of harsh and soothing.

"No, dying is the coward's way out. And deep inside you know that... Brave would be making yourself open. Vulnerable. But that's not something you can bring yourself to do, is it?" She bit his ear fiercely enough to draw a trickle of blood. His breathing was ragged. He was bound by her voice. Her words. All he could do was listen.

"You're a chicken shit. You strut around, full of false bravado. The only emotions you show others are anger and disdain." Her voice lowered and she stuck her mouth against his ear, hissing at him- "Did you ever tell Pepper you loved her? Hmm? Did you ever say the words? Maybe that's why she's gone." He felt tears prick behind his eyes.

She released her bruising hold on his wrist and instantly grabbed a fist full of his hair, holding so tightly the pain made his head spin. She gripped his jaw in her claw like fist, leaned down and spit into his face. He barely reacted beyond a soft gasp, his eyes locked on hers. She pressed her thumb against his mouth until he could feel his teeth cutting into his lips. "Open." She snarled at him. He opened his mouth and she thrust her thumb inside. "Bite me and I remove your teeth." Though the thought hadn't even crossed his mind.

She shoved her thumb deep into the back of his throat, holding it there until he nearly vomited before easing it back into his mouth. She did this over and over, never releasing her grip on his hair. "You are nothing but a pussy. Super hero... Iron Man... You are nothing. You are no one. You are all alone and it is entirely your own fault."

She choked him again with her thumb, leaving it deep in his throat, tightening her grip on his hair even more as his throat began to make gagging sounds and his body struggled for breath. She put her mouth against his ear. "You are a shell. A shadow. As lifeless as those computer projections you are always fondling. As empty as your suits. You... Are... Nothing..."

Suddenly voices and footsteps could be heard in the distance, coming down the hall. It was like a spell had broken and she let go of him as if he'd burned her. He sprang to his feet and realized tears were streaming down his face. He looked at her, dazed and bewildered, and she looked at him, utterly horrified at what she had done. Who she had become for him.

The voices came around the hallway and Tony turned, scrubbing his wet face and retreating to his rooms.

---

"Yeah, no thanks, Cap. If I want a mirror there's one in my bathroom." The most disturbing part of the entire encounter was the fact that he was unable to stop thinking about it, longing to submit to her again.

For the first time in a very long time he had felt vulnerable with another person. She had no fear and very little respect for him. She didn't care that he was a billionaire and a super hero and a celebrity. She had seen straight through the walls he had spent so long carefully constructing. It had felt amazing. Let's face it, he had a good 18 inches and 100 pounds on the girl, he could have knocked her on her ass any time he had wanted to.

The awful, inescapable truth was... he simply hadn't wanted to.

Chapter Text

 

A Job

"Reed... We need you on this one." Fury stared heavily at Cami, his gaze intense, even with only one eye. She was struggling to anchor herself to the energy of someone else in the room... Anyone else. Anyone besides Fury. And she was failing. There were a couple of junior agents nearby doing their own thing, but Fury's personality was most dominant and his need was greatest. If she let herself, she knew what she would become. For him she was always a soldier. Whether she wanted to be or not.

"Sir, I have responsibilities here..."

"The team will be fine for a day without you. They'll manage." She didn't respond and he sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose before folding his hands on the table top and looking at her again. "Look... CJ..." She looked away from him as he used the pet name he had given her, feeling her determination begin to crumble. "What you do for the team... It's invaluable. I honestly don't know if half of them could function at all without you. But this is so much bigger. This is all of New York... Maybe the whole damn world. Please, Reed."

She squeezed her eyes tight, trying to hold back tears. He touched her arm gently. Her focus was automatically drawn to the feeling of his skin on her own and by the time she opened her eyes again, she was a soldier. His soldier. She nodded curtly. "When do I leave, Sir?"

 

Awkwardness

Cami couldn't imagine this being any worse. She was in a car alone with Stark, and they were driving to interrogate a hostile. She stared out the window at the racing scenery and tried desperately to disconnect her mind from her body.

She could feel the tension rolling off of him. He fucking hated her... And she sure as hell didn't like who she was when she was with him. The mutual loathing was pretty much justified, but neither of them were eager to share their bizarre power exchange experience with anyone. So Fury, without a second thought, had put them together on this one, unaware there was any problem at all.

Cami had begged to go alone, but she was unwilling to give Fury a reason why. It was against policy to send "consultants" (her official title) on assignments without at least one team member backing them. And everyone else was otherwise occupied. So now they were stuck in a car alone together, driving the 45 minutes from the helipad to their destination in intensely uncomfortable silence.

They hadn't spoken more than two words to each other since getting in the car. They had a job to do. Focus on the job. Focus on the job. Focus on...

She felt Tony's need like a heavy winter coat, nearly suffocating her. She closed her eyes and thought of Steve, trying to envision every detail. The smell of his aftershave, the feel of his Captain America suit stretched over his muscles, the twinkle in his eyes, the sound of his voice when he spoke her name, the taste of his tongue just after he sipped bourbon. She kept her eyes tightly shut and breathed shallowly through her mouth until she felt the car come to a stop.

They had pulled up to a super secret bunker, in an undisclosed location. She opened her door and nearly fell out, desperate to find someone else to empathically soak herself in. A slightly older man with a kind face opened the door to the bunker and met them. She gasped in relief and hugged him fiercely.

"Coulson!"

He smiled and hugged her back. "Hey, Reed. How are you doing, kid?"

Fury had sent her to Coulson for basic training after he had recruited her. Coulson was an empath as well. His powers weren't nearly as strong as her own and he wasn't adaptive, he was always him. But he was one of the only people to even remotely understand what she dealt with every day. And his energy was open, unassuming and without great need. His mere presence was a comfort to her.

Tony took his sweet time and emerged from the car, crankier than normal because of the ride in close proximity to Reed. Coulson glanced at her as she broke their hug and stepped back from him. He touched her hand. He was clueless as to specifics, but Cami had told him during a recent Skype call that she had had a bad encounter with Stark. She smiled at him, grateful for his touch. It helped to ground her.

"Let's shake this soda pop, shall we, kids?" Tony only glanced at Coulson and pointedly avoided looking at her at all. He took off his shades, clipped them onto his chest pocket, and waltzed in like he owned the place. Hell, he probably did.

Coulson followed and Cami took up the rear, grateful she didn't have to walk directly next to Stark. Coulson gave quiet directions each time they came to a turn or a set of stairs and they soon found themselves in front of a pair of ominous, heavy doors. Cami could feel cold and darkness seeping through the cracks. She was instantly filled with dread.

Coulson noticed her muscles tense and her breath hitch. "Reed... If you're not comfortable with this... I don't care what Fury says. This is my call."

She swallowed and straightened her back. "Coulson, with me. Stark... Stay the hell away."

Tony mock-saluted. "Yes, ma'am." Coulson noticed both Tony and Cami stiffen and blush fiercely. He thought it odd but let it go.

"Reed... If you're sure... Just let me know when you're ready. Stark, there's a room with monitors around the corner. You can watch from there."

"So her freakish powers don't work remotely. Good to know." Tony snarked as he walked away.

"Maybe we should have brought Thor." Coulson's voice was quiet and calm.

"That would have just made it worse. I've seen the tapes and read the reports. They feed off of each other." She steeled her spine and nodded. Coulson released the door and they both walked in.

 

Let's Keep it Loki

Loki was sitting, bored out of his brain, in his round glass cell. He was completely cut off from his magic. They hadn't given him anything to read or anything to write with. He didn't even have a deck of cards. And the only company he ever got were the sadistic guards who brought him his meals.

He had his eyes closed and was entertaining himself by envisioning a plethora of diverse, creative ways to slowly and painfully slaughter his adoptive brother when he heard the doors slide open. He opened his eyes but otherwise remained perfectly still.

He heard a feminine gasp and a shuddering breath. It wasn't one of his regular guards. He flicked his sharp green eyes to the door, and his mouth curled into a slow, cruel smile.

"I can't do this, Coulson. Please..." She muttered softly, burying her head in the agent's lapels, and he began stroking her head, speaking softly and reassuringly and leading her toward the door.

"You're not leaving already, Sweeting? It is so dreadfully lonely in here. Stay." Loki stood and walked to the edge of his cell closest to the girl, studying her as a child studies an insect under a magnifying glass.

She stopped moving away, and Coulson followed her lead. She turned her head to look at Loki. After a breath she abruptly walked up to his cell, until she was inches from him, separated by a thick layer of reinforced glass. He grinned down at her as she frowned up at him, her eyes boring into his own.

"Is there nothing in the nine worlds you desire except pain and destruction, Loki?" Her voice was quiet, calm. And slightly... Disappointed. He was used to drawing taunts and screams, not... this. He found himself completely unnerved. If he didn't know better he would have sworn she was... his mother.

But she was not. Suddenly enraged, he slammed his fists powerfully but uselessly against the glass. She didn't even flinch, as if she had already known exactly what he was going to do. He bared his teeth at her.

"Are you a witch?" He hissed at her. Then she did something that made him want to burn her alive. She gave him a gentle and heartfelt smile.

"No, dear. Not a witch." She pressed her palm to the glass and before he realized what he was doing his large hand was mirroring her smaller one.

He blinked and jerked back violently, snarling wordlessly at her like an animal.

She sighed with frustration and turned to go. He went senseless with panic. He found himself pressed against the glass again, on his knees, begging her to stay. "Please... Don't leave me here. Please..."

She came back slowly and knelt outside his cell, pressing her forehead to the glass. He kissed his side of the glass where her head rested. She looked gently into his eyes and he allowed himself to be swallowed by her gaze, just sitting, stroking his fingers down the glass over her face.

Coulson and Stark watched the exchange, both men incredulous. Neither had ever seen a tender side of any kind to Loki, unless it was an act. They would have bet he didn't possess a softer side at all. But they watched the two for hours, and Loki was never anything but gentle and calm.

 

Eventually Cami and Loki began talking in low voices. She wanted to know how the guards were treating him, if they were feeding him enough, if he needed anything. He reluctantly admitted there were two especially nasty guards who delighted in getting a violent reaction from him. She bristled at this. He asked if she could get him something to occupy the endless stretch of lonely hours each day. She agreed to try.

Finally it was time for business. Her eyes caught his and he could not look away. "Loki... You said something to Coulson about imminent destruction."

He bowed his head and nodded.

"Sweetheart, I'd really like you to tell me. Please..." She pressed her hand to the glass over where his face was. "Please, Loki... I don't want to die and I don't want you to get hurt."

He turned his striking gaze to her, a few tears beginning to trail down his face. This was not his mother. He knew. But her soul spoke to his own in the same way. And he was desperate to win her approval. He told her everything. Every detail, every loophole in the plan. Everything.

She smiled gently at him and the door sounded as Coulson came back in, Camilla's work done. They had their information.

She looked at Loki and put her hand on the glass. Tears were running down her face too. "I am so proud of you." She whispered so only he could hear.

Coulson cleared his throat, wanting to remind her he was there.

She clenched her eyes shut. "Give me a moment with him, Coulson!" She growled at him.

The agent swallowed nervously, and left the room again.

She looked into Loki's eyes affectionately. "My good boy..." He nearly purred at her praise. "Please don't get upset. I need you to be brave for me." She closed her eyes and rested her forehead on the glass. "It's time for me to go..."

He stood and growled violently. She glared at him and stood to her full height, which he dwarfed easily, but she was not even remotely deterred.

"Loki!" She snapped. He stopped and gave her his attention. She calmed instantly. "My sweet Loki... I will not abandon you here. You've done so well today, I am so proud of you. I know trusting me couldn't have been easy. I will speak to Coulson. I will do what I can to make it more comfortable for you in here. And I will do anything to come back to you. I vow it."

"Please..." His whimper was barely audible, but it sent a fresh wave of tears down her face.

"You need to behave yourself while I'm gone. If you don't cooperate and follow their rules I don't know if I can come back. Oh, Loki... I'm so sorry for everything. All the pain you've lived, the choices that led to you being stuck in this prison... I'm so sorry."

He all but collapsed against the glass, this unassuming tiny mortal soothing something deep inside of him he had written off as irreparable. He looked into her eyes and he found himself trusting her completely.

"I will. I will be good. I swear it."

She smiled and kissed the glass by his face. He wished he could feel it.

"I know you will. I'll come back as soon as I can. I promise." She dragged herself from him slowly and turned away, drying her eyes on the back of her hand, and noticing for the first time the two sadistic guards he had described to her, waiting to deliver his dinner. A wicked gleam entered her eyes and she began to move like a cat, a promise of pure sex infusing her every molecule. They couldn't look away from her.

"You boys must be very best friends. Your energy is almost identical." She gave them a sly look. They were unable to look away from her. "You here to torture the prisoner?"

The taller one grinned at her. "It's hilarious. You wanna watch?"

"Hmm... It must be a rush, huh? Having power over him. A god." She was incredibly close to them now. She took his dinner tray and sat it down at a safe distance, taking her time and wiggling her ass a bit, well aware she was being ogled the whole time. The men were enthralled and unquestioning.

The shorter one spoke. "Oh, yeah. We have a bet. Who can make him hurt himself worse. You could watch... We don't mind. May even be a turn on..."

He was cut off by the sharp jab of her elbow into his trachea. He stumbled back and collapsed, straining to breathe through his rapidly swelling windpipe. She turned to the other man who was starting to snap out of his lust-induced trance. She used a pressure point on his neck to bring him to his knees and was just about to shove her thumbs through his eye sockets when surprisingly strong arms grabbed her and pulled her away from him. Coulson's calming voice entered her addled brain.

"Reed... Camilla... Stop. We heard their confession, they're fired. They will never hurt him again. Cami, stop."

She stilled, panting. She breathed in Coulson, feeling the rage ease a bit. Then the taller one began to stand up and she went wild, thrashing in Coulson's hold. "You fucking asshole! Cock-sucking son of a fucking bitch! You hurt him again and I swear to the fucking gods..."

Coulson, with shocking speed and agility, turned slightly and kicked the man in the chin, both guys down now and unmoving. She started to calm again. In a few moments she was more herself, and terrified. "Oh, God... Are they dead? Did I kill them?"

"No, Reed, no. They're breathing, ok?" The shorter one began to stir. "And if they want to keep breathing they will STAY DOWN." The shorter man went suddenly very still.

Camilla looked back at Loki. He had watched everything, smiling at her, his eyes full of devotion. "Loki..." She whimpered and tried to move toward him. Coulson dragged her bodily from the room and took her to an empty office, just holding her for several moments and letting her soak in his presence.

She was soon sobbing uncontrollably. He offered her his handkerchief.

"Shh... Reed... I didn't know it would go that way. I should have never called you here. But you got the job done, kid. You saved a lot of lives today." He spoke into her hair and held her until she calmed down.

"Coulson... What the hell was that? I have never reacted that way to anyone before... God, I am so confused..." Her voice was shaky.

He held her at arm's length and looked in her eyes. "I think you... identified with him... maternally."

"Like... Like his mother?..." She clutched at her shirt, just above her heart. "But I'm not with him anymore. Why can I still feel it?"

Coulson considered this for a moment.

"A mother's love is arguably the strongest force on the planet. It's fierce, unconditional, unwavering. Maybe that energy just left more of an impression than normal."

She looked into his eyes, suddenly very serious. "He needs a project or something. He's bored. Boredom breeds mischief. Give him something constructive to do and he will behave better. Make sure his guards are treating him well, I mean it. And I want to come back and see him."

"I'll talk to Fury."

"No, Coulson! Your call, right? Make it happen. He cooperated today. People are saved. So do it. For me."

He smiled at her and nodded. "Yes, ma'am. I'll make it happen."

 

Truth Hurts

The car ride back was turning out to be even more awkward than the car ride to the bunker. Cami was barely able to tolerate the arduous ride there, and that was before having her emotions and very identity stretched like taffy. She really couldn't deal with this the whole way back. Not even for another second.

"Pull over, Tony." she said quietly.

The car immediately slowed, then stopped, drifting to the side of the road. Tony looked at the dash, thinking something was wrong with the car. Did they run out of gas? Nope. His foot was on the damn brake. When the hell did that happen? Probably the second she issued the command.

He was livid, mostly because his body had reacted without his permission and it made him uncomfortable. So, naturally, he was pissed. Default emotion.

"I can't keep doing this, Tony. We live in the same building. We work together. I know what happened was awk..."

"...I am not comfortable speaking about that."

"You think I am? You think I liked being like that? God, here's this guy twice my size slamming into me and my fight or flight kicked in and all of a sudden I was..."

"I know, I was there."

"If they hadn't come back... Tony, I could have killed you. I have nightmares all the time. I almost killed Iron Man... Even worse, I almost killed Tony Stark."

"Kid... You just said yourself I'm twice your size. You really think I would have just sat there and let you kill me?"

She thought about it, her mind racing. "Wait a minute... If you could have stopped it whenever... Why did you let me..."

"... And I am definitely not comfortable talking about that. We done here?"

She sighed with frustration and crossed her arms. He went to put the car back in drive but for some reason he couldn't make his hand move the knob.

He found himself speaking without his permission, but he couldn't stop it. "So... If they hadn't come back... What do you think would have happened? Just out of curiosity."

She answered wearily. "Honestly, Tony, I have no idea. I was in a very primal place and I was feeding entirely off of you and what you needed from me. So whatever would have happened was pretty much up to you."

He was still for a while, thinking. "Holy baby Jesus, kid. It must be a special kind of hell living in your brain."

She laughed humorlessly. "You have no idea."

They sat in silence for several moments.

"Um... Not saying I'm all in, or anything... But do you think you might have any free slots in your schedule?" He refused to look at her.

"If you're willing to try it... I can probably squeeze you in."

He glanced at her before putting the car back into drive and taking them home.

Chapter Text


Equilibrium

Cami slept for 36 hours straight when she got back home from the bunker. Steve had never been so worried. He had read the report and viewed the tapes and he was mortified for her. He wasn't entirely sure who she would be when she woke up. He didn't leave her side once.

He stroked his thumb gently over her cheek when he saw her eyes begin to flutter, smiling gently down at her as she blinked up at him. "Hey, doll."

She smiled up at him and clung tightly to his shoulders. "Hi, Captain." She muttered his pet name, burying her face against his neck. He grinned and held her tightly. So far so good, she was his Millie.

"You hungry? I could make you something."

"I just really want to be close to you right now."

He leaned them both back against the pillows, snuggling her tightly. A large part of him never wanted to let her go again.

 

Zombies- You're What's for Dinner

"On your nine!" She shouted. Clint turned to his left and demolished a few walkers.

"Thanks, Cam." They both ran into an abandoned warehouse. It was dark and quiet inside. Cami flicked on a flashlight, and the last thing either of them saw were the gaping maws of dozens of hungry zombies.


"Well, shit." He grumbled.

"You were saying it was too damned quiet. I guess we found the swarm." She noisily sipped the last bit of her diet soda, he could hear it through the mic.

"Yeah. We need to come up with a strategy."

"Get Laura to back us up again, damn it. She kicks ass, dude." His wife had played with them a couple of times. Usually when they got obsessively absorbed in a new game and she was curious about what her husband was doing with all of his spare time.

"I can ask her, but she's been a little busy lately."

"Hey, yeah! How's the squirt?"

"She's great. Six months old next week. Sitting up already." The pride practically gushed from his voice. "Cam, aren't you late for Banner?"

"Most everyone's out right now. Not sure what Nat is up to, as per usual. Thor went back home for a while. Bucky is holed up in his rooms and refuses to see me. Steve, Tony and Hulk are out stopping the apocalypse or something. Actually, I should go see how it's going. They've been gone a while."

"'Kay, Cam. Talk to you tomorrow."

"Talk to you tomorrow. Bye, Clint."

 

Don't Worry About a Thing

She got a rough ETA from J.A.R.V.I.S., and he told her the guys were unhurt, but he had no information on their mental status. Apparently that was her job.

She put on an extra thick coating of her strawberry lip gloss, threw on yoga pants and a soft t-shirt and ran to meet them.

When the jet landed, all three men emerged looking exhausted and defeated. She guessed the mission hadn't gone well. She performed emotional triage in seconds. Steve might want to talk about it, but she knew he could wait until later. That left Bruce and Tony. Tony was visibly upset, but he was in no danger of Hulking out. Plus, he brushed past her and stormed off, she assumed to his rooms. Banner it was.

He was shaking a bit and Steve was trying to calm him down with soothing words and a hand rubbing his shoulder. Camilla knew that would do nothing but aggravate the creature inside him. She could sense a green tint already washing over his features. She placed a hand gently on Steve's arm and he gave her space, knowing without a doubt she could calm the man and tame the Hulk.

She leaned into Bruce and he clung to her, burying his face in her hair, his thumb running over her strawberry lips before bringing the scent to his nose. Olfactory input was usually the best way to soothe him, but she could tell this time was worse. He needed more.

She closed her eyes and tried not to think. Sometimes her thoughts got in the way of her instincts. She started to sway very slowly with him, and before she realized what she was doing, a soft melody rolled from her lips in time with her movements.

"Woke up this morning
Smiled at the rising sun
Three little birds
Perched on my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
With a melody pure and true
This is our message to you."

His breathing slowed and his shaking eased slightly.

"Saying don't worry
About a thing
Every little thing's
Gonna be alright.

Singing don't worry
About a thing
'Cause every little thing's
Gonna be alright..."

She sang it three times through, God bless Marley, and by the end his face was buried against her shoulder, her fingers brushing through his hair, and she felt tears on her shirt. The mission must have gone a lot worse than she first thought. She didn't say anything. Words activated his thinking brain and that irritated the Hulk and stressed the man.

She just wanted him to feel. She wanted him to feel safe and loved and at peace. So she just held him.

For as long as he needed her.

 

I Choose You!

Eventually Bruce felt stable enough to awkwardly excuse himself back to his rooms. Steve had left at some point, knowing she could work better without competing energies to sort through. She sought her boyfriend out. They needed to talk, and she had no idea how this discussion was going to go.

She found him in their set of rooms, watching old black and white films from when he was a kid. He paused them when he saw her and gave her a shaky smile.

"Hey, doll." His voice was exhausted.

"Hey..." She sat next to him, holding him close. "Do you want to talk about what happened?" She whispered.

"Not really. I know you can feel it already... We tried our best, and it wasn't enough. A lot of people died today." She held his head to her chest, her heart aching for him. "How are Bruce and Tony?" He asked.

She sighed. "Bruce is better. He's himself, went back to his rooms to clean up and get some rest. I wanted to talk to you about Tony..."

"Sure, baby. Shoot." He could feel intense nervous energy coming from her, and he sat up to look at her face. "What is it? Was he rude to you?"

She stifled a chuckle. If anyone was rude to anyone she was the guilty party. "No, hon. It's just... Tony is very complicated. His needs are kind of... Intense. I just... I don't want to do anything to betray your trust. I mean... You know I basically snuggle with Banner... This is kind of the same thing, only maybe even more intimate." She looked him in the eyes, absently nibbling her bottom lip, trying to will him to fully understand. She didn't want to have to spell it out since she was unwilling to break Tony's confidence.

Steve touched her face and gave her a look of such fierce devotion it stilled her breath and humbled her to her core. "Millie... I've watched you under the influence of lots of different people. I read the reports from when you were a spy. I watched the tapes from the bunker. Your gift is unique and special. You can see straight through to someone's soul and you can offer them precisely what they've always needed. It's always intimate. And I'm okay with that because that's who you are. Whatever you do each day... Baby, every night you choose me. That's enough for me."

She looked at him skeptically. "What if I meet someone who needs me to..."

"You're not hearing me." He interrupted softly. "It doesn't matter to me. If it upsets you, then it matters. I know you don't like to hurt people. But, whatever they need from you, if you're good with it, I'm good." He pressed his forehead to hers. "No matter what it is... Honestly. If you're good, I'm good. Just please keep choosing to come home to me." He ended with his trademark charming smile.

She pressed closer to him, suddenly feeling as if she'd been let out of shackles she hadn't realized she was wearing. "So basically, it's not about what I do. It's about what I choose. And I choose to love you."

He smiled and kissed her.

 

Stark Naked

Tony was livid. No, really he was pissed. Furious.

He wasn't devastated because of the scores of people he had tried- and failed- to save today. He wasn't haunted by the terrified eyes of one little boy who looked to him, his gaze pleading for help, knowing Iron Man would save him, somehow... just before watching the kid have his too-short life snuffed out. He wasn't racked with guilt for being just a second too slow.

Nope. He was furious. Because he had forgotten to tell J.A.R.V.I.S. he was out of booze and now had no way to numb all of these pesky feelings. ...Or... Did he?...


The knock on his door sounded just as he started his first cut. Shallow and low on his stomach where even a speedo would hide it and if it left scars he could tell future lovers he got them while being a hero. Saving the world. Instead of the truth- sitting alone in his room with a razor blade trying to numb the pain inside by inflicting it on his flesh.

He didn't even hear the knocking until it sounded again, a little louder this time, followed by her voice. "Tony... Please, can I see you?"

He dropped the blade on the coffee table and went to fling open the door. Not bothering to hide any of it from her. It's not like he could anyway. She saw everything. That was her thing. She saw his pants undone, his lower abdomen dripping blood, his blazing eyes, the bloody razor on the coffee table, the random smashed lamps and vases scattered about the room.

She took it all in. The sweat covering his body, his muscles so tense, his features enraged, this pheromones so contrary to his expression, distressed and agonized. Then she scented the blood. Her eyes flashed and instantly she was someone else. Someone he had been dreaming of. Someone he had been secretly desperate to see again. She slapped him, hard, across his face. "What. The. FUCK do you think you're doing?" She shrieked at him. He instinctively dropped to his knees as she slammed the door behind her.

"I seriously cannot believe this shit. This is your answer? Really?" She stood before him, barely taller than his kneeling form, but towering over him, like a force of nature. He felt his eyes lock onto hers and he couldn't look away. He could only kneel, silent and still and awaiting her command.

So she gave him one. "Take off your fucking clothes."

He stood and stripped efficiently, pants first since they were already undone, shirt, shoes, socks and boxers. He stood naked before her. He didn't even try to cover himself. He was hers. All of him. He belonged to her, why would he hide what was hers? He shook his head a bit at that thought... Where the hell did that come from? But his brain turned to mush again when she bent slightly and licked the blood from his stomach.

She pushed on his shoulder and he knelt again for her. She tipped his head back and pried his mouth open. And then she opened her mouth over his and let him drink his own blood with a brush of her tongue and a trickle of her saliva.

"Swallow." He did. "Good boy." She raked her nails over his scalp like she had done before. He shuddered. "You will NEVER do this again. Do you fucking understand me? The next time you want pain, you come to me." She put her lips against his, whispering to him- "I can give you pain so sweet you'll never want gentle again."

She grabbed his hair tightly and stared boldly into his eyes, just holding him there, pinned by her gaze, for what seemed like eternity. She wordlessly demanded all of him, his very essence. He held nothing back from her. And in giving everything to her, he slowly found himself again. He reclaimed all of the emotion he had buried so deeply, for so long. He was feeling again, willingly or not. She made him feel it all.

He started to shiver and whimper and tears streamed down his face, but still he didn't look away. For the first time since he could remember he was bare before another person. He was stripped naked before her and utterly at her mercy.

She leaned down and gave him the sweetest, most tender kiss he could ever remember experiencing. She pulled back just enough to whisper- "There you are... Good boy..."


She stayed just a bit longer. She patched his wound, made him drink two glasses of water, and sat beside him on his bed, dragging her nails roughly against his scalp, her touch becoming more and more and more gentle until she was finally stroking his head with her hand soft and he was fast asleep.

It wasn't until she slipped out of his rooms and made sure the door was closed firmly behind her that she started to weep. Not for herself. Not for what she had become, or what she had done to him.

But because of what he had needed from her. He was so full of pain. He had locked it all away, for years. It was slowly poisoning him inside. And he needed her to help him feel it. He needed her to guide him through it.

He needed her to hurt him.

Chapter Text

BFFs

A few days later Cami and Nat had donned baggy t-shirts and dark sunglasses and were spending time at the mall. The guys all thought they were at the local watering hole hanging out, drinking beer and eating steak. But they had actually just finished lunch at a trendy sushi place.

Now they were shopping for lingerie. It wasn't that the guys didn't know Nat was a girl. It was quite the opposite. She used her femininity and sensuality in her favor during her work as an agent. But in her home with her team, she wanted to be seen as an equal. Maybe even more than an equal... A badass killer, more dangerous than all of them combined. Which was kind of accurate.

Whenever the guys found out she and Cami had gone to see the latest sappy chick flick or spent a day at the spa, they always treated her differently for a while. They were more subdued, respectful. Chivalrous. She hated it, it was so damned annoying. She just wanted them to treat her like they normally did, kind of like one of the guys, fart jokes and all.

Nat had soon learned to use covers. And Cam had so much fun with it, she took their covers very seriously, almost like they were actual missions from Fury.

Cami held up a scrap of red lace that was ridiculously expensive for three square inches of material and some string. Nat tried hard to keep her face neutral and was failing until Cami burst into giggles, and Nat did too. Cami put the... underwear?... eye patch? Back on the shelf and kept browsing.

They each bought a few things and were strolling around the mall, people watching and window shopping when Cami got serious. "Nat... Can I talk to you about something... Kind of awkward?"

Natasha playfully bumped shoulders with her best friend as they walked side by side. "Um, yeah. You'd better."

Cami stopped walking and leaned against the edge of the railing, looking down at the people on the lower levels. "Ok, well... you know all about my abilities... I mean, we've talked about them a lot."

"Yeah, Cam... What's going on?" Natasha tried to look her friend in the eye, but she kept staring at the people, they looked as tiny as ants.

"Steve told me the other day... I mean, we talked about if I were to connect with someone who needed.... well, intimacy..." Camilla flushed.

Natasha waited, giving her friend time to put the words in order in her head.

"He said he doesn't mind. As long as I come back to him, he doesn't care... No matter what I need to do..." Cami finally looked up at Nat, her eyes anxious and embarrassed. "What do you think about that? I mean, I know I don't really have a strong personality of my own, but I always thought of myself as basically a good girl. One of the things I thought I'd never be is... that kind of girl."

Natasha wrapped one arm around her in a fierce hug. She could tell her friend was terrified of what Nat would think of her. "You aren't that kind of girl. Not the way you're thinking. If you do decide to do those things one day, even if you already have, it's not for power or money or a notch in your belt. You could never use anyone."

She pulled back and held her friend at arm's length, looking into her eyes. "And, Cam, you have a damn strong personality. I know your abilities make it possible to help people, I've seen it, but you could just as easily use your gifts to crush and destroy a person. I've seen that too. But unless you're doing it to protect someone... you don't ever choose to hurt anyone, honey. You are not a whore. You're a healer."

Cami smiled softly, her heart almost bursting with relief at Natasha's acceptance.

"Also, it may be a little... unconventional... but I can totally understand how Cap genuinely doesn't mind." She gave her friend a serious expression. "I've seen the way he looks at you. He loves you so much and he doesn't want you torturing yourself for using your powers to help people. And neither do I. So stop it."

Cami smiled softly and nodded. "Thank you so much, Nat. Love you."

Nat smiled. "Love you too, sweetie." She grabbed Cami's hand and dragged her to the frozen yogurt shop.

 

Oh Captain, My Captain

Steve was laying in bed reading about the late '80's. Millie was taking a long time in the bathroom, but he didn't want to disturb her. He just figured the sushi probably made her stomach upset. He smirked softly, loving how she could never seem to keep a straight face when she tried to lie to him. He was the only one of the guys who knew what she and Nat really did during their outings, and his lips were sealed.

The door to the bathroom opened and he looked up to see a... '50's pin up. His jaw dropped. Her hair was curled up fancy, she was wearing a minuscule red low-cut halter dress with white polka dots, a garter belt and stockings, and heels. She curved her body into a seductive pose against the doorway and smiled provocatively at him, biting her bright-red-lipsticked lower lip between her teeth.

"Hiya, Captain." She said in a breathy voice. He dropped his book on the floor, not even noticing the thump.

He cleared his throat nervously and sat up taller on the bed, his boxers suddenly feeling a bit tighter. "Come here." His voice was gentle, but commanding. She obeyed him readily, coming to stand close to him. He dragged his gaze over her slow, allowing himself to fully appreciate her... assets.

He reached out and touched her bare upper leg, watching with rapt fascination as his fingers drifted higher and higher, brushing the hint of her skirt up until he was looking at a pair of red lace panties with bows on the sides tying them shut. His breath left him in a shudder and he looked up into her lust-clouded eyes.

He curled his hand around the back of her neck and dragged her mouth down to his, claiming her with a deep and fiery kiss. She melted against him, straddling his lap and burying her hands in his hair. He scooted them both back until he was leaning against the head board. His strong hands circled her small waist. One of her hands came down and fisted in his white sleeveless undershirt.

She writhed hungrily against him, his mouth swallowing her soft whimper of need. He answered with a deep and rumbling growl low in his chest, and when she broke the kiss to gasp for breath he took the opportunity to nip at the sensitive spot on her neck, just below her ear.

"Captain... I need you." She gasped and whimpered again.

She could feel his smirk against her throat. "I know, Doll." But he kept up his agonizingly slow pace with her, nibbling softly at her clavicle. She was getting desperate and ground her core against his lap. He rewarded her with a frustrated groan, and then his hands were on her hips, holding her absolutely still.

She moaned her need and frustration as he buried his face in the V of her exposed cleavage and began nibbling there, bringing his heated gaze up to fix onto her own. She struggled futilely to press her hips against him but his grip was much too strong. She growled at him and he chuckled.

"Please..." She begged, but she knew it wouldn't do any good.

He was in a dominant mood. He would take his sweet time with her tonight. He would bring her to the edge again and again. He would make her beg. It would be exquisite torture but by the time he was done with her she would be completely exhausted and totally sated.

She could hardly wait.

 

Apple Pie

The next day Camilla found herself outside Bucky's door, again. She had tried every day, but ever since the first night they met he refused to see her. She was worried about him. She knew her powers could make people uncomfortable to be in her presence, maybe that was why he shut her out.

But she still had to try. She had read him. She had sensed his internal landscape, and he was so close to snapping. He felt violated and terrified, unable to relax even here, the safest place on earth for him to be. He had been brutally used for so long that he had forgotten touch could be anything but pain. He wouldn't even let Steve, his best and closest friend, touch him.

The Winter Soldier pathways in his mind had been carved deep, again and again, every minute of every day for decades. It was his normal now, and fighting to remain himself, to retain his own identity was very hard work for him.

She knew she could help him. She could help ground him, help ease his anxiety, maybe even earn a sliver of his trust.

If he would just open the damned door.

"Bucky, please talk to me. Steve is so worried about you." He answered her with silence. She waited for ages before finally resigning herself to the situation, planning to try again the next day. She walked away, leaving a homemade apple pie just outside his door.

If he wouldn't see her, listen to her or talk to her, maybe he could at least find some comfort in her baking for him.

 

Bucky looked up from the couch he had been crumpled on with his face buried in his mismatched hands. The knocking had stopped. She was gone.

He smelled the warm pie from the crack beneath the door, it must have been straight from the oven. It had always been his favorite, Steve probably told her about it. He opened the door cautiously, glanced both ways down the hallway, snatched the pie and sealed himself inside again.

He sat there, his back against the door, and devoured the steaming hot pastry using his metal fingers as a scoop. The fresh baked treat warmed him from the inside. He could feel it slide down his esophagus. It was what he imagined feeling her touch and swallowing her kisses would be like, warming his heart from the inside.

He sighed with despair. There was nothing in this world he wanted more right now than to be able to open that door to her. But he knew what would happen. He knew what he needed most from her, and he knew she just might try to give it to him.

And he couldn't do that to his best friend.

 

Thor Loser

Thor found himself on his back... Again. Pinned by the insignificant weight of the tiny mortal girl. They were both panting and covered in sweat.

When he had first met her he was.. unimpressed. She had come to his rooms to make his acquaintance just after she had moved into the tower. At first he thought her weak and timid, in a business suit and heels and her hair in a tight bun. He was soon proven to be very wrong about her.

To his amusement when she came to see him again she requested they spar. She was wearing skin-tight black stretched from her toes to her neck. She even wore gloves to cover her pale hands. And when they arrived at the gym she slipped on a black mask that allowed only her eyes to be seen. Without warning she flipped off all but the emergency lighting and was suddenly swallowed by the shadows.

It had taken him months before he could let go of the urge to hold back with her. He now struck as hard as he could, because he had never, not once, connected a blow. It was as if she could anticipate his movements and she reacted with blinding speed. Her tiny size she used as an asset, squeezing her body in and out of spaces he would never even think to check.

His blood sang when they sparred, he could give it everything he had- something he could rarely do with other mortals. And it was a novel experience, not winning. Though he rarely lost with her, it was most times a draw. But he never won their matches. And the challenge never staled.

But now he was lost in thought and she noticed he was unmoving. She pulled off her mask, a signal that their duel had paused. She stood and offered him her small hand, which he took with a wry grin but got to his feet on his own.

"What's up, blondie?" That was another thing he found refreshing. Her irreverence. She was not hostile, on the contrary, she was quite fond of him. But she didn't genuflect before him. She treated him like a man, not a god. It was nice.

"I saw the footage of your confrontation with my brother." He watched her body language alter instantly. Her back straightened but her eyes softened.

"Loki..." She breathed. "Have you heard from him? Seen him? How is he? Are they treating him well? I call Coulson at least once every day but he won't answer. I need to see him again, I promised..."

Thor silenced her with a gentle hand on her shoulder. "I spoke with Coulson about him yesterday. He has been behaving well. Better than ever before. Cooperating, and, dare I say, almost respectful."

"So Coulson spoke to you yesterday and he hasn't answered my calls in a week..." She bristled.

"Lady Cami... What happened with my brother? What did you see when you looked at him? Is this an act or is he genuinely trying to better himself? He has done terrible things but he is still my brother and I care deeply for him. Anything you can tell me... Please..." He tried to catch her eye but her gaze had fixed on something that wasn't there.

"He is so scared... So hurt. He still feels betrayed and abandoned. Alone. He hates what he's done, what he's become but he can't seem to find his way back from the darkness.

"He's lost and afraid and responded by lashing out. He believes he's a monster... That he deserves no kindness. That he will never feel love again, and he accepts it, all of it, as his penance... He fully expects to live out the rest of his days drowning in isolation and despair.

"What kind of life is that? It's not one worth living." Her eyes, brimming with tears, finally came to land on Thor's. He was completely speechless. She stilled and blinked a few times, releasing the tears to run down her face. She touched the wet streaks as if she didn't know how they'd gotten there.

Thor crushed her in a bear hug and all she could do was emit a tiny squeak.

"The next time I go to Loki you are coming with me."

She smiled and hugged him back.

 

What's Yours is Mine

Steve and Tony were researching together again, sitting facing away from each other, Tony using his projected computer and Steve using his laptop. Usually they said very little to each other, occasionally sharing information so they could cross-check the accuracy.

But today Tony had not uttered a single word. Steve finally couldn't take it anymore. He turned around in his chair. "Do you have an issue, Tony?"

"I've been told I have several." Tony didn't stop working.

Steve grabbed the back of Tony's chair with his impossibly strong muscles and spun him around, bringing them face to face. "I know you were with Millie."

Tony's face instantly went totally blank. "I never had sex with your girl, Cap."

"Doesn't really matter to me if you did. She's my girl. What she does with other people is her business. She comes home to me."

Tony just blinked at him. "Seriously?"

Steve sighed. "Do I wish she wouldn't touch anyone else? Of course I do. I love her. But her options are to fight her gifts and live in pain or give in and betray me and live in pain because of that. I can give her another option, one where she can be herself and be honest with me. Why wouldn't I do that?"

Tony sat in silence for several moments, digesting what Steve had just told him. He was humbled by the strength of the Captain's devotion to his girlfriend. Cap's acceptance of everything made him almost feel worse for doing... Whatever the hell it was he did with Camilla.

"Cap... I'll tell you anything you want to know. If you want, I won't ever be alone with her again." He sighed. "Just tell me what to do."

Both men looked at each other.

"I don't need to know anything you don't wanna tell me. And if she's helping you, and it's not hurting her, I don't want you to avoid her."

Tony was baffled. "Ok, wait, how can you be so cool about this?"

Steve shrugged. "When she's with me she's Millie. She's not Millie with anyone else. Feeling betrayed by her helping someone would be kind of like... Holding Banner personally responsible for everything Hulk does. They're not the same person and he has no control over Hulk."

"How... Progressive... Of you." Tony was still uncomfortable, but he found he could look Steve in the eye again. "We good?"

Steve smiled and clapped Tony on the shoulder. "We're good."

 

No Luck with Buck

She was pounding on his door again. Bucky had her so worried... He hadn't spoken with her since the first day and, she had asked around, he hadn't met with anyone else either. She was half considering getting someone to remove the door, hinges and all.

"Bucky... James... Please, if not me, then someone. You have to talk to someone. How about Steve? This isn't healthy, isolating yourself." She pounded on the door again. "Dammit, Barnes, open the door!"

To her complete shock, the door opened a sliver and she could see a single crystal blue eye peeking out at her. It took her a moment to realize he wasn't going to initiate the conversation.

"Bucky..." She breathed.

"James." His voice was flat and lifeless.

"Ok... James... Thank you for opening the door." He didn't move or speak or look away from her. "We've all been really worried about you... Did you get the pie?"

"Apple."

"Yes." She was discouraged. He had been doing so well, chatting some, even if it was only with Steve. She could tell he had regressed quite a bit in only a few days. It's what she had been afraid of. "Can I come in, James? Please?"

He hesitated a long moment before answering. "No." He shut the door in her face. She leaned her forehead against it and sighed.

"James... You don't have to talk to me, but please just listen... I'm going to send Steve to talk to you sometime in the next few days. Please open the door for him. We're... I'm worried about you." She couldn't think of anything else to say, so she just sighed again and left.

He leaned against the wall and tried desperately to forget the feeling of her eyes fixed to his own. Her gaze was sweet and it warmed him, inside out, like hot apple pie.

He sat, alone and in silence, trying in vain to forget the way his best friend's girl made him feel.

Chapter Text

Just Following Orders

Thor went to visit Loki later that week, and, as he had promised, he brought Cami with him. The ride from the helipad to the bunker was immeasurably more pleasant than her previous trip with Tony. She drove and they shared battle stories. Thor, it turned out, had a sweet tooth. He chatted animatedly about past adventures while he ate gummy bears, black licorice, cookies, and all manner of chocolate. He ran out of snacks with about twenty minutes left in their journey, and Cami was nearly bowled over by the wash of Thor's anxiety that the sugar had been holding at bay.

"I apologize, Lady Cami." He noticed her tensing up beside him. "I can usually stave off unpleasant emotion with rigorous exercise, or, apparently, sugar. But I find myself suddenly without an outlet."

"It's alright. Both intense activity and sweets release endorphins in the brain. Or... At least they do in Midgardian brains. Why don't you try deep breaths and thinking of something pleasant, something that makes you feel at peace? It's what I do sometimes."

He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the seat and focused on breathing deeply and slowly. Cami was relieved to feel his emotions ease considerably. She didn't disturb him and he didn't cease his meditations until the car rolled to a gentle stop just outside the bunker.

By this time Cami honestly couldn't tell where Thor's anxiety ended and hers began. She had been feeling her own increase with each of the last few miles.

The bunker door opened and Coulson came out to greet Thor, who was standing just outside the entrance. Cami exited the vehicle, and Coulson's face turned pale.

"You should have told us you were bringing Reed." He said to Thor, his voice low.

Cami stormed around the car when she saw Coulson. She marched right up to him and glared into his eyes, hands on her hips. "So you do know how your phone works. Thor told me you always answer his calls."

"Reed, I..."

"Shut. Up. Phil." It took everything within her not to scream in his face. "What was it? Did Loki have a break after I left? Did he hurt someone? Was the information he gave inaccurate? I don't recall New York coming to a disastrous end. Did my visit cause him to become more violent than usual? More snarky?"

Coulson had the decency to look slightly ashamed. "No, Reed..."

"Then why have you kept me from him? You said you would get me in... You haven't even answered my calls."

"It wasn't my decision, I was following orders..."

"Really? You're going to pass the buck on this one? Whose, then? Whose call was it?"

"I gave Fury the briefing and he decided it was too dangerous for you. You've never reacted this way before. Even Rogers was concerned..."

"Steve..." Her voice was instantly deadly calm and Coulson knew he had said too much.

His very pale face now flushed a nearly purple-red. "Um... He was worried. Said he didn't know if you would ever return to normal."

"I am a fucking adaptive empath! The only time I am ever fucking normal is when I'm completely fucking alone! In other words, almost never!" She ground her teeth hard for a moment, making Coulson wince at the scraping sound. Thor was very busily trying to blend into the nearby shrubbery.

"I will deal with Steve Rogers later. Right now, I need to see Loki. And don't fight me on this, Coulson. I will see him whatever I have to do." She lowered her voice to a whisper beside his ear. "Do you remember Arizona?"

And once again his face lost all trace of color. "Right this way." He turned and guided Cami, followed by Thor, through the twists and turns of the bunker to the set of heavy doors.

Camilla stood outside Loki's doors and breathed deeply, something unknotting deep inside her chest. His scent was still very potent but much calmer than last time she was here, the dread and pain nowhere near as strong. She shot Coulson a sharp look and he used his eye scan to open the door. Thor waited outside and Camilla walked right in.

 

Brotherly Love

She was delighted to find Loki in comfortable loungewear, sketching idly in a notebook. She ran to the cell and pressed her hands against it, dropping the carefully wrapped package containing a few books she thought he might enjoy. Tears sprang unbidden to her eyes.

"Loki..." He looked at her for a moment, it took a heartbeat for her presence to register as real and not just another dream or hallucination. He stood, uncaring that his book and pencil fell to the ground, and he came to her, pressing his hands against hers through the glass.

They both began at once.
"I'm so sorry I didn't come sooner-"
"I've been on my best behavior-"

They smiled at each other, eyes locked, and he nodded graciously to her. She began again.

"I wanted to come sooner. I called every day... No one would answer. I sent you letters, did you get them? One every day. I baked you cookies..."

He smiled and showed her the now-empty cookie tin, carefully cleaned of crumbs and containing her letters inside. She looked into his eyes again and put her hand over the glass near his face.

"Thor has told me you've been behaving yourself, you've made me so happy, you've no idea."

Cami's back stiffened as Coulson entered. Her eyes never left her beautiful green-eyed boy. "What do you want, Coulson?" Her voice was harsh.

He didn't answer her, but came over to the cell, showing his eye to the retinal scanner and opening a small door generally used to pass objects back and forth. "Camilla, I am sorry I couldn't answer your calls. Hopefully this will make up for that, slightly. You have 20 minutes."

He left, the door still open. Her eyes met Loki's for an instant before they were both at the opening, clutching hands together and pulling each other's fingers close for kisses.

Cami gasped, the sensations so intense they bordered on pain.

Loki noticed. "Are you alright, my Lady?" His long, cool fingers brushed against her cheek and she nuzzled against his touch.

She nodded and looked at him, her eyes half-dazed. She stroked his face. "I love you, Loki."

His eyes glittered with emotion. "And I you."

They sat like that for a few minutes, the soft sound of the doors opening letting them know they were no longer alone. Thor came to the cell and kneeled so he would not be towering over his brother and Camilla.

He sat in silence for long moments, transfixed by his brother's expression. It was so intimately familiar, but he just couldn't place it. Then Camilla smiled, brushing the hair from Loki's face. He smiled back at her. And suddenly they were children again, and he was gazing into the familiar features of his quiet, shy little brother.

Cami looked at Thor, then, with a tender gaze, and ran her fingers softly through his hair. And in an instant he was a boy again, in Asgard, his mother soothing him back to sleep after an especially vivid nightmare. He closed his eyes and purred at her touch.

The three of them stayed in that world of safety and comfort and peace and innocence , cuddling, singing songs, telling stories. Camilla gave Loki the package of books she had brought him and he gave her a drawing he had done of her, one of a dozen detailed studies of her face drawn completely from memory.

Coulson entered and let them know it was time to close the opening. Cami frowned at him and Thor kept a comforting hand on her arm as Coulson sealed the small door. He left the three as quickly as he could.

They spent a while longer chatting, and she gave each brother a no-nonsense look, and told them to talk to each other. Nicely. The two gods of Asgard nodded solemnly at this tiny Midgardian woman, and she heard them starting to talk politely as she left the room.

 

Arizona

Cami made sure the door closed behind her and she went to find Coulson. She stood before him, her arms crossed. He looked at her.

"I'm sorry about not answering your calls, Reed. You had us all worried sick."

"I'm sorry I was so angry with you. I've dealt with this my entire life, Coulson. I've been so many different people, and I've always found myself again. Always. You..." She thought of Steve. "You ALL should have trusted me. I am not a shy person. If I need something I will tell you. I don't need to be protected, Phil."

He looked away, lost in thought. After several heartbeats he looked at her again. "We were under the impression you didn't remember Arizona."

She began to chew on the inside of her cheeks and she couldn't bring herself to look at him.

"Camilla, when did you remember?" She was silent. "You never forgot... did you?" His voice was measured and quiet. She shook her head. He enveloped her in his arms, his chin on the top of her head. "Cami, you should have told us... We could have done something..."

She pulled away from him. "Like what? Medication? You know it just makes it worse. Talk therapy? I just mirror the doctor. Shock therapy like Bucky had?"

"No, Reed. No. You know me, you know Fury. You know we wouldn't allow you to be hurt like that... But you still should have told us. Told someone."

"I Steve. Some of it, not everything. I told him I made those men hurt themselves. I didn't tell him I made them all commit suicide in front of me."

Coulson looked at her. "They were terrorists and you saved your teammates."

"I used my abilities to convince eight men to stab themselves. There was so much blood... Anyway, that should convince you even more that I can handle Loki. Who I am with Loki. I got through Arizona, I can get through anything."

Coulson considered this, and nodded. "I won't put this in my report. I won't tell Fury you remember. But you need to tell Steve. You need to tell him everything."

 

And the Tony Goes To...

Thor's energy was like sunshine on the way back. Cami's, however, was like frozen needles. She was anxious and dreading the thought of spilling to her perfect hero boyfriend the worst thing she'd ever done.

Back at the tower she couldn't bring herself to go to their apartment, and she found herself outside Tony's rooms instead, without really remembering how she got there. She was about to turn around and go face the star-spangled music when Tony wrenched his door open.

"Hey, short stack."

She turned to look at him nervously. "How did you know I was here?"

He rolled his eyes. "I'm a tech guru superhero and you're standing at my door... Plus..." He shrugged. "I told J.A.R.V.I.S. to let me know if and when you ever came onto my floor. What's up, tiny toon?"

She wiped her damp palms on her jeans. "Um..."

He stepped inside, sweeping his arm in a gesture of invitation. She entered his rooms, nervously looking around. "I don't really know why I'm here..."

He closed the door behind her and went to the wet bar. "You're obviously here for a drink. Sit anywhere."

He poured them both a glass and she perched herself stiffly on the edge of the couch, waves of dread rolling off of her. He handed her her drink, careful not to touch her fingers and sat in an armchair. They were both silent for a time, sipping at their glasses.

She finally put her half-empty glass on the coffee table and looked at Tony.

"Tony, I'm so sorry."

"For what? Not using a coaster?" He tossed her a cardboard coaster and she rolled her eyes and slipped it under her glass. She was quiet for a while.

"...Have you heard of Arizona?"

"Yeah. It's hot. Dry. Full of retired people."

"Tony!" She admonished him.

He sat quietly for a minute. "Yeah, kid... I read the redacted version. When you came to the tower. I read everything I could about you." This was only a tiny lie. When she moved into the tower he had just read Fury's and Coulson's initial reports. After their first intimate confrontation was when he went digging.

She grabbed her glass and drained it in one swallow.

"Hey, Reed... Whatever kind of twisted this is..." He gestured between them. "It's not that. You understand me?" She bit her lip and nodded, not looking at him.

He stood and went over to the couch, sitting next to her. He took her empty glass and set it on the end table, not bothering to find a coaster. "Reed, look at me." She did. "You haven't hurt me." She rolled her eyes. "I mean... You've bit me and slapped me and choked me and made me cry like a girl scout with broken cookies. But you've never hurt me. Everything we've done... I've wanted it. All of it."

She looked at him then. "But how can you trust me not to go too far? Knowing what I did to them..."

He shrugged. "I'm part of your team. Those douche canoes in Arizona... They were hurting your team. I was there when you went all mama bear on those guards at Loki's bunker. They were hurting your kid, basically. Unless I go bonkers and start offing my fellow Avengers, you won't hurt me." His voice, eyes, his entire demeanor was utterly certain.

She twisted her fingers together, studying her hands intently. "I have to tell Steve. Coulson found out I remember Arizona. He basically ordered me to tell Steve... Tell him everything. Even the redacted stuff. How can I tell him what I did? He's Captain frikking America. He'll never understand."

"Honestly, Reed... I've never known anybody who loved anybody as much as Cap loves you. He'll understand."

She nodded, glancing at him. "Thank you, Tony."

"Any time, kid. You know, you're a decent conversationalist when you're not spewing insults and profanity at me."

She blushed and laughed. "Maybe I'll do that next time."

"Promise?" He smiled. "Go talk to him. You'll feel better."

She nodded and stood up, waving awkwardly at him, knowing if she touched him, even just a fist-bump, she would become someone else. He seemed to know this too, and he didn't push it.

 

Discourse

Cami slipped inside their rooms, listening for Steve and hearing him singing in the shower. She smiled and took off her shoes and jacket, placing them in the entry closet. She sat on the bed, waiting for him to come out.

He was soon done, and he came into their bedroom wearing a towel, seeing her and smiling. "Hey, Doll. How did things go today?" He dropped a kiss on her head and went to his dresser to put on boxers. She was so nervous she didn't even try to enjoy the view.

"Loki is doing better. I had words with Coulson for not calling me back, we worked it out, mostly."

"That's good." He smiled, pulling on a t-shirt.

"He said it wasn't totally his decision, ignoring my calls."

"Oh?" Steve sat on the bed beside her, half knowing what was coming.

"No, he said it was kind of a consensus between him, Fury... and you."

Steve went very still and didn't look at her.

"Yeah... Apparently they were under the impression I didn't remember Arizona. So no one was sure if I could bounce back from roughing those guys up for Loki."

He stood before her and sank to his knees. "They found out you remember Arizona?"

She nodded. "How much do you know?"

"Not everything. Just what you told me and what was in the official redacted report. I know you hurt some bad people, it's why you quit being a spy... Millie, I'm so sorry about Loki. I should have talked to you, I just..."

"Yeah, Steve." She interrupted him. "You should have talked to me. I wish one of the three of you had talked to me, but especially you."

"I was scared. I didn't know if you'd come back from it."

"All the more reason to fucking talk to me!" He winced at the profanity, but was not about to scold her. "And as for Arizona... I didn't hurt bad guys, Steve. I didn't even touch them. It was so much worse than that. I took their biggest needs, insecurities, fears. I TALKED them into stabbing themselves. All eight men, all at once. One guy cut his own throat. One stabbed himself in the stomach. The rest were..." She closed her eyes briefly, opening them again almost immediately when she realized it just made the grisly memory more vivid. "The rest were so much worse."

"Oh, Millie..." He dropped his head on her lap, heartbroken for her.

"My point is, I came back from that. That was before you even met me, when I was a field agent, a spy. Everyone says I did it to protect my team, and I did... But..."

He looked into her eyes. "You didn't know you were capable of that."

She shook her head.

Her voice was deadly calm. "Don't you ever... EVER... go behind my back like that again. Or I'm done. We're done."

He nodded solemnly. She reached for him and the moment his arms were around her she burst into tears, his scent and familiar warmth making it possible for her to let go of her anger, to become his sweet Millie again. He moved them onto the bed and held her until she cried herself to sleep.

Chapter Text

Level Up

"Cam, why the hell are we playing this?"

Cami laughed and nudged Clint gently with her elbow. Truthfully, she couldn't handle their regular blood-and-gore games right now. Clint was staying in the tower for a while, and they were playing on one of Tony's consoles in the media room.

"What? I thought you loved Star Wars."

"This is Lego Star Wars! My kids play this!"

"You're just mad cause you're losing."

Clint lost another life and dropped the controller in frustration. "I'm gonna go get another beer."

He went to the kitchenette and Natasha took his spot, grabbing the controller and starting the game again, owning it like she'd helped design the damn thing, but in reality never having played it before.

"What's up?" She asked casually as she easily defeated legions of storm troopers.

Cami just tried to keep up as player two. "I'm good. Things are good."

Nat didn't look away from the screen, but arched one perfectly sculpted brow.

"Ok, fine... I wasn't doing so well for a while, but I'm... I'm better now."

"Shoulda told me, Cami. I'm your best friend for a reason."

Cami nodded. "I know. Maybe we can go for drinks later. I guess it wouldn't hurt to talk about it some more."

Natasha smiled as she won the level. She stood and dropped a kiss on Cami's head. "It's a date."

She left the room and Clint came back, very confused about how he beat a level while getting a beer.

 

What's for Lunch?

Camilla knocked on Bruce's door exactly on time. He opened the door and smiled at her. She grinned back at him, so happy he was in a good mood.

"Hey, Camilla. Come on in."

"Hi Bruce, you look really good."

"Thank you." He led her into his dining area where the table was set.

"It smells amazing." She inhaled the scent of chicken cooking. "Do you need any help?"

"No, thank you. Please sit. I wanted to treat you to lunch today for a change." He fidgeted around busily in the kitchen and brought a platter laden with chicken, rice and peas to the table. He left again briefly and came back with a gravy boat full of a yummy smelling sauce and a pitcher of water.

When they were both seated and had eaten a few bites Cami put her hand on Bruce's arm gently. "Did something good happen, Bruce? I love seeing you so content."

He smiled at her. "I cracked it. The formula I've been working on."

She grinned. "That's wonderful, congratulations!" She clinked their glasses of water together in celebration. "That is such good news." He had been torturing himself with that damn formula for months.

He nodded and poked his fork at his chicken. Something else was bothering him.

"Do you wanna tell me what else is going on?" She asked gently, not wanting to push him, but knowing he wasn't so on edge she couldn't ask.

"It's been four months since I let him out, except for a couple jobs..." He went quiet.

"I know.... But I wasn't going to say anything. Not today. Today is a celebration." When they first started having lunches together Cami had suggested he try letting Hulk out on purpose about once a month, just to play. It had been working quite well for a while, Bruce felt more in control and even Hulk was much calmer whenever he did come out. He knew he wouldn't be stuck inside indefinitely and it made him more willing to go dormant after jobs.

He nodded. "I know, but I can't stop thinking about it... I just want to get it over with. But I wanted to ask you..."

"You can ask me anything, Bruce. You know that."

"I wanted to know... if you would mind if I asked Tasha to be there this time... instead."

Cami grinned. "I think that's a wonderful idea. I've seen her with him and he really responds to her. The big guy won't hurt her." She ducked her head, trying to catch his eye. "I've seen you really respond to her too."

He blushed. "Do you think she'll say yes?"

"I can almost guarantee it."

He studied his food again. "It doesn't... I mean... I still want you to come for lunches and spend time together. Is that okay?" He winced.

Cami walked around behind him and hugged him close. "Bruce, this is so okay. With me and with Nat. She knows about us, she's seen us snuggling in the media room watching Disney movies. She knows it's innocent and she's completely fine with it. And I am so excited about you being happy with someone, especially her."

She kissed the top of his head. "The beauty of our relationship is that there's comfort without anxiety. We don't owe each other anything. It's so simple. I don't ever want you to worry about me judging you or being possessive or anything like that. It's contrary to the whole purpose of our arrangement. And... I need the comfort of spending time together as much as you do. So I don't want to mess this up. Okay?"

He nodded and hugged her arms tightly to his chest. She leaned her cheek on his head and just held him close until her chicken was cold.

 

Bucky Opens Up

"Millie, I know him, ok? He'll come out when he's ready." Steve tried to walk away, but Cami pushed against his chest and he came to a stop. Truth be told, he could break her in half with one hand, and he was also her dominant and could order her to back off and she probably would. But honestly, she had him wrapped around her fingers.

"You KNEW him, Steve. You don't know him anymore. He's been tortured and conditioned for decades. Last time I got him to talk to me he could only give me one-word answers. Now, you've been avoiding this long enough. He needs you." She couldn't believe she had had to finally drag him here like a child. But now that she had him here there was no way in hell she was letting him leave without at least trying to see Bucky.

She pushed on his shoulder and he turned to face the door. He grumbled unhappily. He hesitated so she reached around him and rapped sharply on the door for him. He gave her a dark look and she just smiled cheekily at him.

"Hey... Buck... It's Steve. Could we talk, please? Millie's here too, if you wanna talk to her." She smacked his arm. "Ow! What was that for?" He whispered at her.

"I've been trying to get him to talk to me since the day after I met him, he won't see me." She whispered back.

"You think I haven't been trying to get him to see me? He won't see anyone!" Steve whispered a bit louder.

"That doesn't mean you stop trying!" Cami was cut off by the low sound of what could best be described as a growl.

Steve and Cami both looked over and saw Bucky standing in the open doorway. They immediately stopped bickering and all three of them stared at each other. Bucky turned and walked into his rooms, but he left the door open. Steve and Cami glanced at each other for before following him inside.

 

Bucky's rooms were a catastrophe. Everything was broken, gouges were scratched into the walls and floor. The furniture was torn to shreds, stuffing from cushions strewn about. The television had a lamp through it, both were smashed to bits. Every step crunched with broken glass. The fridge door was hanging by one hinge and food was smeared and rotting all over the kitchenette. If the external windows hadn't been reinforced they would be gone too.

Bucky himself wasn't much better. His hair was unwashed and stringy and he wore nothing but jeans and boots. The fingers of his flesh hand were filthy and he had been scratching at the scars where his skin met his metal arm. His chest was smeared with blood.

"Um... Hey, Buck... Why don't you come back to our rooms for a while? Get cleaned up, something to eat." Steve tried.

Bucky said nothing, just stood with his back to a corner and stared at them, like a wild animal. Steve looked desperately at Cami, who was trying to center herself. She knew the disaster around her was a pale reflection of the mind of the man who was responsible for it. She had never even tried to help someone so damaged, so primal and she knew it would be intense, and take everything she had.

"Steve..." The moment she spoke Bucky's eyes shot to her and didn't look away. "Tell him about our arrangement. Our rules. He needs to hear it from you. I think it's why he never opened the door for me, he didn't want to overstep."

Steve looked between his girlfriend and his best friend, their eyes were locked on each other. He swallowed anxiously. "Buck, whatever you need from her. I'm good." Bucky's eyes flicked to Steve for an instant before returning to Cami. He stared at her like she were prey. "Just... Just don't hurt her. Please."

"He won't hurt me." Cami said. She wished she were actually as confident about that as she sounded.

Steve paused tensely before coming to a decision. He nodded and took a step toward Cami. A low and feral growl came from Bucky's chest. Steve looked at his friend, bewildered.

"Steve, please... We'll be fine." Cami didn't dare look away from the predator that had her pinned in place with only his piercing blue gaze.

Steve looked at her, not moving until she glanced back at him. "Tell J.A.R.V.I.S. if you need anything. I'll be here in ten seconds flat. You got me?" He said in a soft voice.

She nodded. He gave them each one last lingering look, then reluctantly left the room.

 

Taking Care of Bucky

The moment Steve left the room fell eerily quiet. Cami and Bucky just stared at each other for the longest time. Cami felt rivers of desperate need from the soldier. She knew he didn't want to hurt her, but she also knew how very dangerous he was. She took a single step toward the kitchenette. He mirrored her movement.

"Are you hungry, James?" He tilted his head at the sound of her voice but gave no indication that her words held any meaning for him. She took a deep breath and walked slowly to the kitchen. He matched her step for step and stayed in the entryway, content to watch her as she rummaged through the freezer, the cupboards, the remains of the demolished refrigerator.

She managed to scrounge up a pudding cup and a box of cookies. The silverware drawer contained a few twisted bits of metal that she assumed used to be cutlery, the remainder of the flatware in a similar state all over the floor. And the only cup that wasn't smashed to shards was a plastic one with cartoon characters on it. She filled the cup with water and stepped closer to him, carrying the snack she had gathered.

"Can you eat for me, James?" He just looked at her. She opened the pudding, it was butterscotch, and scooped it up with one of the mini chocolate chip cookies. She stepped closer to him and brought the food to his mouth. "Open, please." He obeyed silently, his eyes never leaving hers, his mouth dropping open. She put the cookie in his mouth, and he closed his jaw and began to chew.

She smiled softly at him and he mimicked her expression, though it didn't reach his eyes. She fed him like this until the pudding was all gone. Then she put the cup of water to his mouth and he drank it all in two long swallows. She refilled the cup twice more before he finally slowed down to sips.

Her heart bled for him. He reminded her of a baby, helpless and desperate to be taken care of. She set down the empty pudding cup, water glass and box of cookies and reached for his flesh hand, holding it gently in her own and pulling him toward the bathroom.

She was dreading the state the bathroom might be in, but compared to the rest of his place it was pristine. She turned on the water in the shower and adjusted the temperature. She helped him out of his boots and jeans and stripped off her own clothes down to her underwear and bra. She led him into the shower, and asked him softly to kneel. He complied without hesitation. She used the shampoo she found to scrub and rinse his hair three times.

She was about to put the shampoo back when he grabbed her arm and spun her around, pushing her against the wall, her back facing him. She gasped but stayed very still, exactly where he put her. She heard him stand and felt the warm water from the detachable shower head run down her head and back and then his hands were in her hair, very gently massaging shampoo into her scalp. Cami leaned her head back against him and he used the shower head to rinse the suds out. She sighed happily and he purred.

He let her take the shower head back and stood motionless as she washed the rest of him. They got out of the shower. She found a toothbrush and added some paste. She gave it to him to use and dug out some towels that were tucked away in the bottom of the linen closet. She dried them both off, and once they were dry he picked her up, drawing a squeak of surprise from her. He went into the bedroom, which was even cleaner than the bathroom, and put her on his bed.

Her heart was pounding, her own anxiety at her sudden vulnerable position so great she was blinded to what he needed from her. To her surprise he climbed into the bed and snuggled up beside her, pulling a comforter over them both, and promptly fell asleep. She lay wide awake in still-damp bra and panties, willing her breathing and heart rate to slow, his metal arm circled possessively around her stomach and his face buried in her hair.

"J.A.R.V.I.S?" She whispered into the room.

"Yes, Miss Reed?" The A.I. answered quietly.

"Could you tell Steve I'm ok, and I'm going to be spending the night here?"

"Of course, Miss Reed. Good night."

"Good night, J.A.R.V.I.S."

 

Bucky Found

When Cami woke in the morning she was alone. Bucky was gone. She felt a cold panic in the pit of her stomach, where was he? Was he hurt? Lost? Afraid? Alone?

"James!" She called but there was no answer. Her clothes were folded neatly at the foot of the bed and she hurriedly put them on and went looking for him. He wasn't in any of his rooms, and she barely noticed that they had been cleaned to a spotless shine.

The panic inside her grew. Where was he? Did he need her? Was someone hurting him?

"J.A.R.V.I.S!!" She screamed.

"Yes, Miss Reed?" The A.I. answered in his usual, calm tone.

"Where is James?" Her voice sounded like she was being choked.

"Mr. Barnes is with Mr. Rogers in your apartment, ma'am. Would you like me to give him a message?"

She ignored the computer and ran into the elevator, punching buttons and willing it to go faster. When it opened on her level she ran to the door and used her handprint to open it. She sprinted inside and saw James on the couch. She ran to him and collapsed into his lap, throwing her arms around him and trying not to cry.

"Are you ok? You were gone, I was so scared..." His flesh arm circled around her.

He answered in his usual soft, low voice. "I'm ok. Thanks to you. I'm so much better." He buried his face in her neck, breathing her in. Steve came out of the kitchen, holding two glasses of orange juice. He noticed the two of them embracing on the couch. He paused for a moment and then he came and sat on the unoccupied side of the couch.

The slight thunk of Steve setting the glasses down got their attention. Cami smiled at him.

He smiled softly at her. "Hey, baby."

She scooted over so she was between the guys and cuddled up to her boyfriend, glad they were all close enough so she could still feel Bucky against her leg, finding she needed the physical connection after being so scared for him.

"So, I was telling Steve about how you helped me." Bucky had picked up his juice and was staring into the glass.

"James, that's so personal. You don't have to..." She started.

"I want to." He looked at the couple. "I was... open... last night. Ready for programming. It's kind of... My default. They would torture me, sometimes for days, until I got to that place. That blank, open place."

Steve rubbed his face, he couldn't even imagine. He didn't want to. "God, Buck..."

Bucky shook his head, wanting to finish. "But instead of programming, instead of giving me a mission... Cami just took care of me. She fed me and cleaned me up and then let me hold her while I fell asleep. It was so nice. I've never had anything like that. Well, not for a long time."

Cami hugged Bucky close, pulling his head against her chest, his ear over her heart. She stroked his hair, murmuring sweet words of affection against his head. Steve watched their embrace. It was intimate, extremely so, but he was surprised to find he felt no jealousy at all. Bucky needed her. And she needed to take care of him.

"Thank you for telling me, Buck." He smiled at Cami. "Millie would never have told me, she's very serious about keeping confidences." Steve cleared his throat. "I was wondering... Uh... We have an extra room here, and I haven't talked to Millie about it, but..." He was cut off by Cami's gentle voice, he should have known she would pick up his meaning instantly.

"Move in with us, James. Please. We need you to be close. In case you need us."

The two best friends looked at each other, and Steve nodded. "I would love to." Bucky smiled and hugged her tighter.

 

Besties Therapy

They told the guys they were going to the local bar. They actually went to the local bar. Nat was on her third vodka and Cami was nursing her second light beer. Neither of them were being bothered by anyone nor paying for their drinks, and Cami was pretty sure it was mostly due to Natasha looking irresistible and deadly at the same time.

Nat finished her drink. "Ok, out with it."

Cami fidgeted for a minute, trying to think of something safe to talk about and then she smiled. "A little birdie told me you and Bruce have been getting pretty close."

Nat rolled her eyes. "Come on, Cami. I told you about that. That's not what I was asking and you know it."

"Um..." She thought some more, wanting desperately to avoid the real topic, even if just for a few more moments. "Bucky is moving in with us."

"That's... interesting and we're definitely talking about that later. But I know you and I know you're holding out. So spill."

Cami grabbed one of the two shots some random bar dudes had just sent over for Natasha and downed it. Nat's eyes widened a bit but she remained silent.

Cami stared into her empty glass and sighed, resigning herself to her fate. "So... There's this thing that happened... in Arizona." She was so focused on getting the words out she didn't realize Nat had suddenly gone very, very still. "Everyone I guess thought I blocked it out, except Steve, because I told him some of it. But then I let slip to Coulson that I did remember and he said he wouldn't tell Fury if I told Steve everything." She looked at Nat. "Please don't tell Fury. He'll make me try drugs and therapy and who knows what else. Please, Nat."

The two friends looked at each other.

"I know about Arizona." Nat said quietly.

"You read the report too? Has frikking everyone read it?" Cami downed Nat's other shot.

Natasha studied the wall behind the bar. "No, Cam... I wrote it."

Chapter Text

"I know about Arizona." Nat said quietly.

"You read the report too? Has frikking everyone read it?" Cami downed Nat's other shot.

Natasha studied the wall behind the bar. "No, Cam... I wrote it."

 

What Really Happened

Cami stilled and looked at her best friend. "Excuse me... What?"

"I wrote the report. I was there. Clint and I were. We were the backup team. Fury sent us in once things got sticky. Clint was covering the hostages and I was covering the enemy, both from vertical vantage points. I listened as those pieces of shit talked about what they were going to do to you, awful, sick things, because you were the only woman there. They were so excited about it. Two of them dragged you out of the back room..."

"...Yeah. I remember the rest. I talked them into stabbing themselves." Cami tipped the glass up and tried to get another drop of vodka onto her tongue. Natasha put her arm on Cami's, causing her friend to lower the glass and look at her.

"No, Cam... You've never read my report, have you?"

Cami shook her head. Nat reached into her jacket and brought out an unredacted file. She placed it on the bar and slid it to Camilla.

"Read it if you want. I saw what happened. Usually when you... link... with someone you become like... yin to their yang. You fill in what they're missing. You give them what they need. But these guys were so twisted... Their needs were so sick... I watched you look at each one of those bastards and... it's hard to explain, but... you turned into them. Each one of them. Their body language, their facial expressions, their... energy. You became them and you just stared at them, one by one, until they had to look away. And when you were done, you said a single word... 'now'. And they all ended themselves. They took the blades they were going to put inside you and they used them on themselves. The only thing you showed those wastes of skin was a mirror, and it was enough to destroy them."

Camilla buried her head in her arms, unsure how to feel.

"It was right after that I asked you for drinks, remember? That's when we got to know each other, became friends." Cami nodded into her arms. "I was going to recommend Fury keep you in the field, I mean, damn. What a valuable asset. Then I got to know you and I saw what it did to you. I saw how hard you fought to not let it break you. And I changed my recommendation."

Cami lifted her head, surprised to find she wasn't feeling upset. She was actually kind of relieved. "I've always been so scared of hurting myself or other people... Like the first time I met Loki, I was petrified. I thought his only desire was death and blood and I was so afraid I was going to give it to him. I honestly wasn't sure I would survive meeting him.

"My whole life I've worried... What if I met someone whose greatest need was to destroy me? I've had nightmares about it. For as long as I can remember. Hurting myself, killing myself... Just because some random psycho on the subway wants me to.

"And at the same time I just thought... These guys were kind of bad, probably just answering to a boss or something and I made them all kill themselves... I've been so scared ever since of losing control and murdering an innocent person, doing the same thing I did in Arizona. Just because someone screwed up my coffee order or something."

"No, Cami. No. Those guys... They were pure evil. They were going to make you beg for death before they killed you, and they would have gotten off on it. You just took what was already there and you used it to protect yourself and your team. If they weren't a threat you wouldn't have been able to hurt them."

Cami hugged Nat fiercely and Nat hugged her back. After a few minutes Cami backed up enough to look at Natasha. "Nat... Why were you carrying around this file?"

Nat smirked at her. "I'm a super spy and you're my best friend. Get used to it."

 

Tony Time

Cam stood before Tony's door. He had hacked her computer and scheduled himself a time slot in her calendar. She had come into her office in the morning and checked her schedule and noticed a good chunk of time blocked out and labeled "Tony Time". She was amused but not surprised. He was a computer wizard, after all.

She lifted her hand to knock just as he opened the door. He smiled tightly. He was so tense she could almost taste it in the air.

"Come in. Sit. Do you want anything?" He uttered the sentences in rapid succession. He was manic again, flitting around like a spider monkey on his eighth espresso. He had multiple computer projections open and he was splitting his attention between all of them and a strong drink.

She felt herself filling with self-righteous indignation at his ignoring her and she realized she had just become someone else. It was amazing to her how easily she slipped into this role now that she wasn't afraid of seriously damaging or killing him.

She cleared her throat but he ignored her.

She came up very close to him, grabbed his drink, and threw it in his face, careful to aim away from his computer equipment. His fidgeting energy suddenly stilled, like a jumping flame extinguished. His eyes met hers. He didn't dare wipe the booze off his face.

"Bend." She commanded and he complied. She grabbed his ear to pull him closer and licked long stripes up his face, tasting the alcohol. "Mm..." She purred at him and he shivered. She tugged his ear close to her mouth and he gasped in pain. She whispered- "Turn off your computers, Anthony." He shuddered and the second she let him go he hurried to obey.

She went to his armchair and draped herself over it, studying her nails and patiently waiting for him to finish. When he was done he came and kneeled before her, hands on his thighs, eager to please her. She stroked his cheek. "Good boy."

He whimpered.

"Now, we're going to talk about some things and you're going to listen. You will answer me with 'yes, ma'am' or 'no, ma'am'. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am." He answered, breathlessly.

She smiled. "Very good. Now, you know that I have unique abilities and can tell when you like things and when you don't, but I would feel more comfortable... playing with you..." She ruffled his hair aggressively. "If we had a signal. What to do if things get too intense or you have to pee, or whatever. I want you to tap me three times. Do it now if you understand." He tapped his hand on her leg three times.

She tightened her hand in his hair and growled into his ear. "Good boy. Now, I am here for you. It may not seem like it when I am using you, taking whatever I want from you. But I am. It's my role. And in order to fulfill my role effectively I need to know what you want and need from me. In detail. I have some homework for you. I need you to email me, text me, write it on sticky notes, however you're comfortable. I need to know what your darkest desires are for the two of us. It can be anything. I won't judge you. I won't be shocked." She placed her lips on his ear. "I've seen your soul, Anthony. There is nothing you could do or tell me that would harm this. Do you understand me?"

He nodded and she yanked his hair painfully. "I said... Do. You. Understand. Me."

He gasped. "Yes, ma'am." She smiled and licked his cheek before releasing his hair.

"Good boy. Tell me, how would you like to spend the remainder of our time today?"

 

She spent the next hour making herself tea, reading a magazine, snacking on some carrot sticks, and basically just hanging out in his apartment, making herself at home. The only thing an outsider may have thought was strange was the fact that Tony Stark was wearing only boxers and socks and was being led around, everywhere she went, on his hands and knees, by his necktie. When she sat on the couch to read her magazine he kneeled beside her, his head resting against her leg as she pet his hair.

She glanced at him a few times, surprised at the difference in his energy from when she first came in. He was calm now, relaxed. And his eyes watched her as if she were his favorite drug. She fed him a piece of a carrot stick from her hand and he took it gratefully with his mouth.

When his eyes started to droop she patted the couch beside her and he climbed up and curled into a ball. She pet his head and he fell asleep. She vaguely wondered if he normally had trouble sleeping. Probably, judging by his usual vibe. Tense, profoundly unhappy, anxious, self loathing, hostility wrapped in dry wit. It was so different when they were together like this. He was calm, content. When she praised him she knew he felt it to his toes, his self loathing abated for a few precious moments.

She kissed his head and read her magazine, letting him sleep.

 

Miscommunication

Over the next few days she found sticky notes absolutely everywhere. She found one inside the bottom of her coffee cup, one in the pocket of her slacks. There were half a dozen on the screen of her office computer. She shouldn't have been surprised, really, that he found a way to hide them all unseen. He was Tony Stark after all.

Most of the notes contained a single word or phrase "gag", "spank me", "wear heels". But several contained graphic and detailed sketches of various submissive poses and activities. She smiled, rolled her eyes and corralled them all in a file folder tucked in with her paper records.

 

Steve took out his laptop and settled on the couch to do some work while eating his lunch. He opened the screen and was surprised to see a few sticky notes on the keyboard. One said "hand cuffs", the other said "blind fold" and the third said "flogger". He was so shocked he could barely breathe.

He and Millie had a power exchange relationship, true, but it was mostly just him telling her what to do her and her submitting to him. He had held her down from time to time, making sure she was okay with it and keeping a keen ear out for if she said their safe word. But they had never tried the kinds of things on the notes. She had never even expressed any interest in them. But if that's what she needed from him... There was nothing he wouldn't do for her.

 

Camilla was exhausted. She had cleared her schedule of all appointments today except for Bruce and Natasha so she could "facilitate communications" with them. Basically she sat between them while they argued and kept track of when he was in danger of Hulking out, telling them when to take breaks.

It has taken hours, but Natasha finally understood that he kept her at arm's length because he was scared of Hulk hurting her and Bruce finally realized she wasn't scared one bit because, honestly, she could take Hulk. She was damn good.

Cami entered her apartment quietly and slipped off her heels. It was late and she had missed dinner with her guys but she wasn't hungry. Bruce had been pouring his nervous energy into cooking now that his formula was solved. Cooking was basically chemistry anyway. Right up his alley. He had fed all three of them and even sent her home with a large container of leftovers. She figured the guys would enjoy them.

 

When she had put the leftovers away and brewed and finished drinking a cup of tea she made her way to the bedroom. She slipped in quietly, not wanting to wake Steve. She needn't have worried. He was sitting up in bed reading about the early '90's. He smiled gently at her.

"Long day, doll?"

She nodded and began to strip off her work clothes. "Yeah. It was intense."

"Did Bruce and Nat work it out?" He smirked when she gaped at him, wondering how he knew. He shrugged. "Banner told me they were having problems, and the three of you were no-shows all day."

Cami rolled her eyes at him. "I cannot confirm nor deny any of that. But my anonymous clients did come to a mutually beneficial resolution. It was a long day, but it was good." She peeled off her stockings and wiggled her bare toes in the soft carpet.

"I know you're tired, baby, but I was wondering..." He gave her a steamy look. "Would you like me to help you relax?"

She smiled and came over to him in just her underthings. "What did you have in mind, Captain?"

Steve blushed slightly. "Oh... something new I thought we could try."

She started to climb his body, starting at his feet and crawling her way up. "Sounds... interesting."

When she got to his head she kissed him deeply, settling herself on his lap and drawing a groan from his chest.

He easily flipped her over and before she realized what was happening her wrists were cuffed to the bed. Steve looked into her eyes. "This okay?"

She nodded. It was new for them, but she trusted him and this was a little exciting. He smiled and kissed her softly as he pulled out one of his ties and slipped it around her eyes. She wriggled beneath him pleasantly and he was reassured by her giggle.

"Ready, baby?" He whispered against her mouth.

"Yes, Captain." She licked his bottom lip and he moaned.

"I'm gonna take care of you tonight. Just relax."

She couldn't wait. Wait... Where was he going? She was confused when he got off the bed, but maybe he was putting on music or someth....

Her thoughts were brought to an abrupt end as a burning pain exploded on her thigh.

"Steve! Eagle! What the fuck!?!" She screamed at him. At the sound of their safe word he stopped immediately, tore away the blindfold and ripped apart the cuffs with his bare hands.

"What?" He was confused and a little scared.

"What the hell do you mean, what?" She yelled at him in a loud whisper, not wanting to wake Bucky. She rubbed the slightly red mark on her thigh. Truth be told, it hadn't hurt much, but it was totally unexpected and a big shock to her system.

"I... I thought..."

"Steve, we've never even talked about that! And I can feel your emotions, remember? You weren't getting off on it. So I repeat, what the fuck was that about?"

"I found your notes."

The hand on her thigh stilled, she was so confused. "Um... What notes?"

He reached for his book on the nightstand and showed her the three sticky notes he had stuck inside the cover. She buried her hands in her face, completely mortified.

"...Honey... Those notes aren't from me. They're to me."

His brow crinkled as he puzzled out her meaning. "Uh... Do I need to know who they're from?"

She sighed. "You know I can't tell you that."

"They were in the apartment. On my computer. Is it Bucky?"

"No, Steve! I would never hurt him. Even if he asked. He's been through enough."

"So not Bucky. Banner?"

She rolled her eyes and responded in fluent sarcasm. "Yes, because everyone knows it's such a great idea to beat the crap out of the guy who turns into the frikking Hulk."

He thought a bit more and looked at her in surprise. "Natasha?" He grinned a bit in spite of himself.

"That is enough guessing. You know I can't tell you. Is this a problem for you? I mean, we talked about this. You're the one who told me..."

"I know, Millie. I'm just surprised is all. I didn't picture you as the type who would enjoy... Doing this kind of stuff to someone."

"I'm not. Not with you, anyway. With you I like to be told what to do. I like it when you pin me down. I like to be teased until I beg. And... honestly, the cuffs were kind of hot." He smiled at her. She had scooted closer and closer to him on the bed until she was nuzzling her face against his cheek. She suddenly fisted a hand around his hair, pulling hard. He gasped. "But don't you ever fucking hit me without some serious ass negotiations first. Got it?"

"Yeah, baby. Got it." He breathed. She let him go and nuzzled and kissed his neck.

"You know, I can actually see the appeal. You're kind of sexy when you're scary." He wrapped his arms around her as she giggled against him.

Chapter Text

The Gala

Cami had never been so nervous. The whole team was invited to a press gala, and Fury had decided it would be a good idea for their approval rating if they all went and mingled. It was pretty much Camilla's worst nightmare.

She liked to structure her time with people strategically, finding it much easier to surround herself with a small number of people, all of whom had similar or at least compatible vibes. She hated big parties, gatherings, galas. Anything where she was sure to be surrounded by hundreds of people with countless varieties of personalities and desires. It made her feel like she was the ball in a pinball machine.

She turned side to side and scrutinized her dress in the full-length mirror on the back of her bedroom door. She wasn't used to dressing anywhere near this fancy. Business-casual was as dressy as she usually got. She was wearing a gown of silver sequins that clung to her like a lover would. Her hair was up in a fancy twisted bun that was carefully messy. Nat helped her with her makeup and it was so elaborate she barely recognized herself in the mirror. She was in silver strappy heels and her nails were painted silver, shined to a reflective finish. She felt vaguely like a short, slightly curvy disco ball.

Steve walked in, seeking help straightening his bow tie and he stopped in his tracks, staring at her.

"Wow..." He breathed.

She smiled at him and grabbed his tie, working on making it perfect to go with the perfect body, perfect face and perfectly tailored tux of her wonderful, perfect boyfriend. When she was satisfied with the state of his tie she smoothed his lapels and he brought his hands up gently to hold hers.

He looked her up and down slowly. "It would be... A national travesty... But we could always send our regrets." He knew tonight would be hard for her.

"We can't, Steve. You are Captain America and I am your date. You have to go and there's no way I'm letting you go alone."

He smirked. "You jealous, Millie?"

She grinned. "Not at all, Captain. But I know you have a problem being rude and a lot of the women there tonight won't take nice for an answer."

He wrapped his arms around her waist. "I'm so glad you'll be there to protect me."

She smiled and they kissed. They were interrupted by a tentative knock on the door. Cami opened it to see a devastatingly handsome Bucky losing a fight with his bow tie.

She gently pushed his hands away from the tangle of knots and undid the tie, doing it up again efficiently, laying it tight and straight against his throat. She gazed softly at his tense, perpetually wounded eyes and put her hand on his cheek. He nuzzled into her touch. His long hair was tied back at the nape of his neck, he wasn't comfortable with the thought of cutting it. Cami thought it made him look dashing.

His breath came out in a shudder and she wrapped her arms around him, pulling him close. "Stay close to me tonight if you need to... Ok?"

He nodded and wrapped her in a tight hug, burying his face in her neck.

Steve came out of the bedroom and embraced both of them. Cami giggled and Bucky gave a soft chuckle.

"Come on, let's get this over with." Steve grinned, his bright blue eyes twinkling.

 

The three arrived at the gala via stretch limo, and dodged countless bulb flashes while traversing the red carpet entering the building. Cami felt Bucky tense up at the flashes of light and she gripped his hand tightly, his anxiety easing a bit. They passed Clint on the way in and shared a brief greeting.

They slipped inside without major incident and Cami was instantly emotionally overwhelmed. Steve was nervous. Bucky was trying very hard not to be terrified. One of the waiters was being crushed by depression but was pushing through with a brave face. A very wealthy older woman wearing way too much makeup was desperately lonely. A young woman was terrified of an intoxicated older man who was being much too aggressive with her.

Without conscious thought Cami grabbed a glass of chilled champagne as a server passed with a tray and upturned the glass into the neck of the offending older man's tuxedo. He spun, pissed, but the second she caught his eye she was a sex kitten. With one look, a nibble on her lip, and a small gesture of one finger she had him following her. She took him around a corner and kneed him so hard at the juncture of his thighs he wouldn't be assaulting anyone with that particular organ for at least a week. She disregarded his response, if any, as a wave of familiar and dangerous rage beckoned her from the other end of the party.

She moved quickly, her heart racing. People were about to get hurt if she didn't hurry. She saw Nat and Bruce in a heated, slightly drunken (on Bruce's end) exchange. Ugh, perfect. She elbowed her way to them and slipped between the two. Bruce put his arms around her and breathed in her shampoo. She took her lip gloss from her clutch and gave him the whole thing. He started inhaling it and she turned to Natasha. "Take a walk, Nat, or its gonna get messy."

Natasha glared at Bruce but listened to her friend and gave them some space. Cami's heart was suddenly ripped into pieces and her knees nearly buckled. She was pulled away from Bruce by the desperate energy, leaving her lip gloss with him, and she found Thor at the bar, deeply drunk and dripping with heartache.

She grabbed his hand and took him into an alcove where he collapsed into her arms sobbing. She barely kept herself upright, propping up the giant Asgardian. She whispered acknowledgements of his prowess in battle and his worth as a man. She assured him he would be alright, whether with Jane or with one of the thousands of other women who would love to throw themselves at him. He gradually calmed and in a firm tone she told him to "Go. Home. Now." She was relieved to see him move toward the rear exit, along with Bruce and Nat, who were still tense but seemed to have mostly made up.

She finally took a breath, shaking, bone-weary and unsure how to feel. Endless emotions sifted past her, brushing against her. She closed her eyes and worked on tuning them out. She felt a hand on her bare arm and suddenly everything quieted down, the clamor of energies still there but no longer deafening.

She smiled. "Hi, Coulson." She said just before opening her eyes. He looked as strained as she figured she did, him being sensitive to energies as well. They clung to each other in the ocean of people.

"How are you, Reed?"

She laughed bitterly. "Peachy. You?"

"Been better. Whose brilliant idea was this again?"

"Fury!" She said, startled as the big man himself stepped up to them. "How are you, Sir?"

He nodded a greeting at them.

"Reed, I need you to come with me." Fury wasn't pleased. "We have a bit of a situation."

Camilla nodded, her back straight and her face neutral. "Yes, Sir."

She followed his directions to a back room where the obscenely wealthy and powerful revelers seemed to have congregated. In the center, unsurprisingly, was Tony Stark. He was drunk off his ass and he had three women in front of him that were taking turns getting their tonsils checked. With his tongue. Most of the other party goers were trying to ignore his display. A few members of the press were snapping photos. She noticed three very angry men, obviously boyfriends or husbands, advancing toward him, aggression and violent intent pushing before them through the crowd.

She used her small stature to wriggle her way into the center of the milling group. She grabbed Tony's arm in a claw like grip, her nails digging into him. He gasped and she pulled him away from the women and away from the crowd, stopping a few guests and a couple of reporters from following with a single look.

She dragged him up some stairs and into an empty conference room, where she slapped him. Hard.

"NO, Tony. That was very bad!" She growled as quietly as she could through her teeth, not wanting to draw any attention to them.

He hung his head. "Yes, ma'am."

"You will take the back entrance, get a ride, go home and go to bed. We'll deal with the consequences of your behavior tomorrow when you're sober. Do you understand everything I just said? Repeat it back to me."

His words were slurred and jumbled together. He was no light weight, he must have tried hard to get this drunk. "Yes, ma'am. I will go out the back and get a ride home. Straight to bed. We'll deal with this tomorrow."

"Good. Go now." She pushed him toward the door, suddenly very aware that she had ditched her dates. She made sure Tony found his way down the back steps and she went in search of Steve and Bucky.

 

Steve was easy to find. She just looked for the giant congregation of loose-looking women. She shouldered her way into the center of the throng, finding him in the exact position she had warned him about. He had several women draped over him and a few press photographers were snapping pictures. She heard him very politely telling the women he wasn't interested. No, he wasn't going to come back to their hotel room. No, thank you, he wouldn't be signing their bare breasts. No, he didn't want their number. Yes, he had a girlfriend.

Camilla sidled up next to him and started gently easing the women away from him. Until one particular hussy decided she would grab his groin. Steve shifted away from her and said "Excuse me!" but, sadly, it was too late for the stupid whore. Cami gently but firmly grabbed her arm, stared into her eyes, and spoke in a low voice, just for the woman to hear.

"You think your body will get you everything you want. Attention, love, a family. But inside you're rotten. Any man worth a thing wouldn't wipe his shoes on you. I'm real sorry your daddy wasn't there for you, but sexual assault is never the answer. You touch any man without his consent again, I will Hunt. You. Down." Cami let the now hysterically sobbing woman go and she snuggled up against Steve's arm, smiling for the cameras.

 

The attention around Steve eventually died down enough for Cami to slip away to look for Bucky. All of the women who had seen her and Steve together, especially those who saw her verbally destroy the slutty chick in seconds, kept a respectful distance and there were enough of them surrounding him to keep other, pushier women away.

Bucky was tricky to find. When looking for someone she would normally try to sniff out their pheromones first, but the gala was so crowded with perfume, longing, sex and sorrow she couldn't hope to pick out his scent. She closed her eyes and pictured every detail about him. His eyes, the feel of his metal and flesh arms around her, the softness of his clean hair, the scent of his fear. She figured wherever he was he would be afraid.

When she opened her eyes again she was seeing things as her tortured soldier might.

Open space is bad. Too many people. No. Unpredictable. Threat.
Bathroom is bad too. No escape.
Elevator equals trap.
No. Outside is loud. Cameras and people. Bad. Bright flashes. Too many tall buildings with too many windows.
Get away, hide. Less people is good.
Stairs are good. A door on every floor. Escape.
Yes. Keep going. Higher is good. Harder to shoot you from below. Height equals sight. See all around. See danger coming. Yes.
Up. Go up.
End of stairs.
Last door... No. Bad.
Feels like a trap. No more stairs.
No. Down is worse.
Door. Yes. Open the door. Yes.
Roof. Sky. Nothing above but sky.
Can see everything. No people. No walls. Good. This is good.

She felt like she could breathe again, the terror and anxiety lessening its grip on her lungs. She looked across the roof and saw him. He was leaning over the railing at the edge of the roof, looking down over the city. She went to him and put her arms around his waist, cuddling close.

"I'm sorry. I should have stayed with you." She spoke quietly.

He put his arms around her. "You were busy."

They stood silently for a while, both enjoying the quiet. The lack of the pulsing crowd. She soothed his hair out of his face with one hand.

"You let your hair down."

"Feels safer. Like... hiding."

She snuggled closer to him, catching a tiny chill from the breeze. "I like it."

He smiled and put his chin on her head, holding her close and looking out at the night.

Chapter Text

 

Morning After

The next morning Cami woke in a warm bed and wrapped in a muscular arm. She snuggled against a soft t-shirt stretched across a broad chest. She felt a gentle tap on her shoulder and looked behind her, smiling at Steve standing with a cup of coffee for her.

"Hi, baby." She said quietly, not wanting to wake Bucky.

Steve bent and kissed her. "Hey, doll. How did you guys sleep?"

She shifted in Bucky's strong arm until she could prop herself up and accept the steaming mug of coffee, gratefully sipping it. "A few nightmares. For both of us. But we got back to sleep pretty easily. It was a good idea, having James and I sleep together after that fiasco."

Steve smiled at them. "I'm just glad it worked and you guys got some rest. I came in because your alarm was going off on your night stand." He touched her cheek and she leaned into his hand. "How are you, after last night?"

She sighed happily against his palm. "Better than I thought I would be." She sat up taller and rolled her eyes. "Now I just have to deal with the aftermath. It's gonna be a busy few days."

She finished her coffee and Steve left the room. She woke Bucky with a gentle brush of his cheek and a whisper of his name. His eyes were blank when they opened, lost and dangerous until he saw her. She realized she woke him in the middle of a nightmare. He crushed her to his chest and she hugged him back.

"You're safe, James. You're home." He buried his face in her hair and whimpered. She held him close until he stopped trembling.

 

Fury is Miffed

Cami made it to her office only a little late. She opened her emails and winced at the one from Fury. She guessed he wasn't thrilled with how their big "Impress the Press" gala had gone. She opened the email and was surprised that it wasn't written entirely in caps.

He was not pleased. Apparently Camilla had inflicted a groin injury on a prominent CEO and caused an incident with the governor's slutty daughter. Stark managed to get on the bad side three of the most powerful investment bankers in the state. Thor, Banner and Romanoff were all reported to be heavily intoxicated and emotionally unstable. It was a mess.

Only Clint, Steve and (by virtue of his disappearance to the roof) Bucky had escaped the festivities unscathed. Fury had ordered a meeting with her and the entire team the next day. The very thought filled her with dread. She decided the best course of action would be to stay busy.

 

Consequences

Camilla rapped sharply on Tony's door. She heard him groan from inside. He opened up and winced at her, still in pajama pants and a t-shirt, his eyes red and his hair a mess. He was very obviously hungover. She brushed past him and began making coffee. She got a water bottle from the fridge and cracked it open.

"Come on in." He muttered, closing the door again.

"Sit." She ordered, pointing to the breakfast nook. He sat grumpily. "You may be interested to find out I got an email from Fury this morning." She set the open water bottle in front of him forcefully.

"I bet that was fun." He mumbled before chugging some water.

She scowled at him. "He seems to think I should somehow be held at least partially responsible for the behavior of every member of this team. And since that's his belief, I think I should actually get some say in how this team operates." She poured him some black coffee and thunked it down in front of him.

He didn't really like where this was going. "So... What are you going to do, Smallville? Best behavior boot camp? Miss Manners 101?"

She grabbed a giant black trash bag from under the sink. "The way I see it... The people who got out of hand last night... Well, except for me... had all been drinking." She walked over to his liquor cabinet and used her forearm to sweep the entirety into the garbage sack. "So the tower, from this point on, is a dry zone." She smiled at him.

Tony's mouth was hanging open, he was horrified at her proposal. "We'll be good, Miss Hannigan. I swear."

Cami rolled her eyes. "This is not an orphanage and you sure as hell aren't Annie. And if we walk into that team meeting tomorrow having done nothing but sit on our thumbs Fury is going to lose it."

"I wasn't the only one drinking!" Tony said, slightly panicked. She set the bag down and came back to the kitchen, picking up his untouched coffee and handing it to him.

"I took everyone else's booze already. Thor was fine with it, he apologized for his public inebriation. Nat... Might speak to me again someday. And Bruce didn't have any alcohol in his rooms. He usually doesn't drink and I think it's why it effected him so strongly yesterday."

"What about your little Three's Company?"

She shrugged. "We usually have one glass on Saturday night. Giving up the alcohol wasn't a big tragedy and my guys didn't throw a fit." She looked pointedly at Tony and he rolled his eyes as he sipped the coffee.

"This is completely ridiculous, you know that, right? It's our thing. Beer and shawarma. A highball after a mission."

"So now you can drink tea or chocolate milk. Anyway, that's beside the point. What are your thoughts about your own behavior last night? Tonsil hockey with three married women. Married to powerful investment bankers, no less." She crossed her arms and gave him a stern look.

"My thoughts? Um... I'm damn good. I still got it. I'm a stud muffin. Shall I go on?" He arched a brow at her, a challenge.

She became very still, calm and focused. He knew he was in for it. She smiled sweetly. "Do you want to know what I think?"

He swallowed. "Not really but I have a feeling I don't have a choice..."

She cut him off. "...I think you wanted to be punished and you didn't care how you got it or who you hurt. There were hundreds of women there last night and you chose Three. Married. Women." She walked around to stand in front of his stool. "I saw you when you realized their husbands were coming at you. I saw your eyes. And you know what I saw in them?"

"I'm sure you're going to tell me..."

She pressed her thumb against his lips, cutting him off again. "You were more excited about the husbands than the wives. You wanted a fight." She nuzzled his neck and breathed into his ear. "Did you want to get hurt, baby?"

She released her thumb from his mouth and he licked his lips nervously. "Maybe."

"Do you remember what I told you, when I caught you with the razor blade?"

He trembled with pleasure at the potent memory. "You said..." He had to clear his throat. "You said when I wanted pain I should come to you."

Without warning Camilla bit into the shell of his ear, not quite hard enough to draw blood but enough to draw a hissing gasp from him. And she didn't let go. He started to whimper slightly, his breath coming in shorter and faster gasps. He released a sob and that's when she opened her jaws. He clung to his ear and frowned at her.

"I am going to punish you now. For causing a public incident, for getting me in trouble with Fury, but especially for not coming to me when you needed to. Do you remember your signal?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Show me."

He tapped her knee three times. She purred into his bruised ear and ran her fingers through his hair. "Good boy."


She left Tony's rooms over an hour later. She left him bathed, fed, cuddled and tucked into his bed. He was covered in bruises, exhausted and completely content.

 

The Meeting

The next morning Camilla was first into the conference room. She made sure they were well stocked with fruit and water, knowing this meeting would be stressful and they may need to take short breaks.

Steve and Bucky came in first, and they sandwiched her in a warm hug. They knew she was very nervous about the meeting. They took their seats as Bruce and Nat came in. Cami busied herself with her notes and was surprised to feel two slender arms wrap around her. Nat hugged her tight.

"I'm sorry." Natasha whispered.

"Me too." Cami hugged her back.

Thor came in a few minutes later, followed by Clint. They found seats without preamble.

They had barely five minutes before the meeting was supposed to start when Tony finally slipped in, carrying his laptop and an inflatable donut. Cami hid a smirk when she saw.

He settled gingerly on the donut. Steve looked at him curiously and Tony muttered, "Hemorrhoids." which was actually much less humiliating than telling Captain America his girlfriend had spent almost an hour yesterday beating Tony's bare ass with a riding crop while he rested on his elbows and knees and begged her for more.

They all sat in silence for a few minutes.

"So... Tiny tot... If this goes well will we be allowed to get drunk again? Because that would be fantastic."

Camilla ignored him and continued skimming her notes.

Exactly on time the door opened and Fury swept in, suddenly and wordlessly taking command of the entire room. Everyone sat up tall and gave him their attention, even Tony. Camilla stood, back straight, face neutral and ready for orders.

Fury nodded his greeting at them all, and then specifically at Cami. "Reed."

She inclined her head at him. "Sir."

He sat and she followed his lead.

He steepled his fingers on the table in front of him. "I assume you all know why we're here." He stared them down, one at a time. "Anyone want to take a guess?"

"Our behavior was shameful and we brought disgrace to our cause." Thor said, barely able to look up from his clenched hands on the table.

"Bingo. Somebody get the man a cookie." Fury's voice was deceptively calm. "And who has an idea for how to start digging us out of this clusterfuck?"

He was met with uncomfortable silence.

"Little Nurse Ratched here decided to steal all of our booze, so there's that." Tony piped up.

"That's great for helping prevent this kind of three-ring circus in the future, but what do we do about this?" Fury took out his phone and flicked hologram images of newspapers and websites into the center of the conference table, one by one, the front pages of each graced with unflattering likenesses of them.

"Sir..." Natasha spoke up this time. Fury nodded for her to proceed. "If I can be frank... Publicity isn't our strong suit. Saving people is. So if we can find something to do to help people... That could get us some good press. Make people forget about..." She nodded at the images. "All of this."

He nodded. "That's what I was thinking." He pulled a file from inside his jacket and fanned out a stack of photos on the table. There were a few surveillance shots of a skinny, tall, pale, perfectly bald man in a dark suit. There was a close-up of the guy's face, sharp and cold. And the remainder of the photos were of crime scenes, so bloody and grisly Camilla was infinitely grateful they were all in black and white. There was a printed report too, which Steve picked up and began silently reading.

Fury spoke. "His name is Callum Joseph Rivers. He's also known as 'Slenderman'."

"Like the video game?" Clint piped up.

"Yeah. Except real. And more deadly."

"What's his weapon of choice?" Natasha asked.

Fury clenched his jaw for a moment, finding it difficult to answer. Steve looked up from the report and answered for him, pale, wide-eyed and haunted.

"He doesn't use weapons..." Everyone looked at Steve, confused. He glanced at Cami before looking down and answering. "He's an adaptive empath... He talks people into suicide."

Chapter Text

Put Me In, Coach!

Fury dismissed the team but Camilla stayed behind, taking her time packing up her papers. He finished packing up his own file, and patiently waited for her to finish.

She cleared her throat. "Sir..."

He looked at her and when she didn't say anything else he pulled out a chair and motioned for her to sit. They both sat and turned toward each other so they could talk.

"I... I remember Arizona. I actually never forgot." She maintained eye contact, though just barely.

Fury took a breath. "I kind of figured."

She looked at him incredulously. "Sir, why... Why didn't you make me go to therapy or take medication?"

"Would any of that have helped?"

She shook her head and looked at her hands in her lap.

"CJ..." She looked at him again. "Why are you telling me this now?"

She steeled her spine and looked him properly in the eye. "I wanna work this mission, Sir."

He sighed deeply. "I'm not convinced that's the best idea."

She nodded. "I understand what you're saying... But... Every person on this team is vulnerable. Every military officer or cop who tries to stop this guy is vulnerable. If they find him, if they even look at him long enough to recognize him... That's all he needs to twist their thoughts against them. I think I might be the only person alive who stands a chance against this guy."

Fury drummed his fingers on the table for a moment, carefully considering the situation. He finally regarded her with a stern look. "I am not comfortable sending you after Rivers alone."

She nodded. "Yes, sir. I'll have to give it some more thought, but my knee-jerk response is that I want to take Barnes and Banner."

He looked at her like she'd lost her mind. "You're serious? The Winter Soldier and the Hulk. Probably the two most unstable, unpredictable men on the planet."

She nodded and shrugged. "They have fail safes. Pressure release valves. They won't become self destructive. It's not in their nature. They'll lash out if pushed too far. Clint and Steve have too much on the line, they would be too easy to manipulate. Tony is barely hanging on as it is, all he'd need is a little nudge and he'd implode. And Tasha is usually cool as a cucumber but when she gets spooked it sticks. Same with Thor, they're usually invincible and they don't know how to handle it when they're not. The only other people I would trust with this psycho are Coulson and Loki."

"Not me?"

"No, Sir."

"Why not?"

She sighed and considered her words before answering. "You would be a distraction, Sir. Your personality is... Loud. Dominant. I would be stuck like this." She looked down at herself for a minute. "I'm a soldier around you. Always. I wouldn't be able to be flexible."

He nodded, then stared at her for long minutes and she stared back, perfectly neutral, a perfect soldier. "What do you think will happen when you come face to face with Rivers?"

She gave a dry half-smirk. "Honestly, Sir... I have no idea."

 

Dinner

"Millie, this is insane. You of all people should stay away from Rivers." Steve, Bucky and Cami were eating dinner.

"I might be the only person alive who can stand up to him. He's like me, which means his personality is fluid and he can see through people. No matter what strategy the team comes up with he will adapt. Besides, I'm not going in by myself."

"No, you're bringing Bucky and Bruce, two of the people you are most protective of out of anyone on the planet. How could that possibly go wrong?" Steve stabbed his salad a bit too forcefully and chipped the plate, wincing.

Cami sighed and put the plate shard in a napkin. "This guy... I've seen the surveillance video. His personality is so dominant I could almost feel it through the monitor. I'll be able to stay focused. Please trust me."

Steve grumbled under his breath and dragged a hand through his hair. He glanced across the table. "What do you think about all of this, Buck?"

Bucky thoughtfully chewed his steak before answering, his tone even and nonchalant. "I think Camilla knows what she's doing. And if I believe I have become a liability I will simply destroy myself and she can use that rage to defeat the enemy."

Steve and Cami both looked at him. He took no notice of them and continued to eat his dinner. No one else spoke for the rest of the meal.

 

Peace, Out! - Loki

Fury and Cami were on their way to the secret bunker where she was set to meet Coulson and release Loki. She was bursting with excitement but Fury's presence was tempering her response. They sat in silence as she drove them to the bunker.

"Reed..." He watched the scenery go by.

"Yes, Sir?"

"What are the chances releasing Loki is a mistake?"

"I've read him, Sir. He needs to be handled carefully but barring any unforeseen circumstances he should be trustworthy."

His silence stretched. "I sure hope you know what you're doing, kid."

"You and me both." She muttered.

 

Fury and Coulson waited outside the heavy doors leading to Loki's prison while Cami went in. When Loki saw her he beamed.

"Finally let you visit again, Darling?" He watched as she came close to his cell, her excitement infectious.

Her eyes danced with joy. "I'm not here to visit, Loki. I'm here to bring you home with me."

He stiffened and his face transformed into a mask of guarded confusion, not willing to believe this fantasy come true.

Cami punched in the code and opened his cell. She rushed into his arms and the instant he felt her body against his he knew it was real. He held her tightly and dropped his face to her hair, breathing her in.

 

The whole way back they didn't stop touching. Fury stayed at the bunker to finish up some work and Coulson drove them back to the helipad. Loki and Camilla sat in the back of the car, holding hands and occasionally Cami would caress his face.

Coulson gave them a quick briefing about Rivers, and Cami felt Loki stiffen.

"What's wrong?" She looked at him, concerned.

"You're not going on this mission." Loki said, quietly but with conviction.

She scowled at him. "That's not your decision. I'm needed on this one."

"Then I am coming with you. He will not touch you." He growled, his muscles tensing.

"You will be there, on the backup team. If Banner or Barnes are neutralized they will send you in." She nuzzled her face against his shoulder and whispered to him. "I will be protected, Loki. It will be alright."

He stroked and kissed her head, his face still pinched with worry.

 

Suit Up!

"The hell with this, Camilla. You are not doing this and that's final." Tony crossed his arms and glared at her. She sat on his couch sipping a glass of water and glaring back at him.

"You have no say in this, Tony. They need me on this one. I can save lives by stopping this guy. I'm going." She set her glass on a coaster on the coffee table. He dropped to his knees in front of her.

"Please, Reed..." He said very softly, his gaze searching hers.

"Why doesn't anyone have any faith in me or my abilities? I can do this. I can stop Rivers. I'm not weak and I'm not scared of him." She buried her head in her hands, frustrated.

Tony gripped her wrists very gently. "Everyone has faith in you, Reed. We all know how your powers work. We've all felt them." He pulled her hands away from her face slowly and caught her eye again. "That's why we're scared for you. This asshole has the same powers."

"I can fight him, Tony. I will fight him. And I'll win."

"I respect your confidence, but... What are you gonna wear?" He smirked and she quirked a brow at him, confused. "Because I've had some ideas."

He grabbed his tablet and sat next to her on the couch, opening a folder with her name on it and browsing through some image files. She gaped at a drawing of a red patent leather micro-mini dress with a plunging neckline and matching thigh-high stiletto boots, all of it dripping with black lace. Tony cleared his throat. "Yeah, we'll... Discuss that one later."

He kept flipping through until he pulled up a mock-up of a costume. It had a short skirt with leggings underneath, high-top sneakers, and a long sleeved hooded t-shirt with a vest on top. There was a mask that went from eyebrows to under the nose, covering the eyes too. All of it was silver, shiny and reflective.

"No gloves, in case you need to feel someone's skin. The mask is kind of like mine, it responds to your voice and can enhance visual, audio or olfactory stimuli or, at your command, dampen it depending on your needs. Reflective fabric makes it so you can hide more easily in any environment. Hood can be pulled up over your head to aid in camouflage or to dampen audio and peripheral visual input. I call it 'The Chameleon'."

She was speechless for a moment. "This is incredible, Tony." She gave him a look of pride and approval. "I love this."

He smirked, sat the tablet on the table and stood, going into his bedroom, raising his voice so he could still be heard. "I'm really glad you said that. Because..." He came out, a silvery fabric draped over one arm, sneakers and a mask held in the other hand. "I went ahead and whipped one up for you."

His breath left him in a puff as she slammed into him, giving him a fierce hug. "Thank you so much, I love this!" He smiled and she looked up at him. "You had faith in me the whole time, huh?"

He looked affectionately down at her. "Of course I did, Small Fry. You're a badass mofo and any man would be crazy to screw with you. Trust me, I know." He gave her a half-smile. "But I still had to do what I do best to make sure you're protected."

She stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek, giving him one more rib-crushing hug.

Chapter Text

Hurry Up and Wait

A few weeks went by without a single peep from Slenderman. The team was ready, all they needed was a location. Loki had made himself at home in an unoccupied floor of the tower, taking his meals there and seeing no one but Thor and Cami. Coulson had claimed a small suite of rooms for himself and had assimilated easily into the group, which came as no surprise to Camilla. He was a skilled empath, after all.

Steve and Tony stayed busy frantically scouring various online sources for any sign of Slenderman, but so far had come up dry. Clint and Nat were their eyes on the ground, hopping from location to location following leads. So far no one had turned up a single trace of the psycho.

Cami was becoming more and more frustrated with the waiting. She trained daily with Thor and visited Bruce at lunch time, letting him comfort her edgy nerves for a change.

 

Today she was in Banner's living room, pleasantly full from a lunch of chicken salad sandwiches and sweet potato fries. She was laying on his couch, her head on his lap and they were watching Moana. It wasn't one of Bruce's favorites, he preferred classic Disney. And he really didn't understand why this was her favorite movie when it made her cry like a baby Every. Single. Time.

But she loved every minute of it. She would turn it on and from the first scene it would sweep her away, the different emotions pure and intense, uncomplicated. Each of them consuming her before melting into the next. Longing, frustration, love, loss, hope, guilt, anger, greed, relief. And the climactic scene always resonated so profoundly with her. Moana used extreme empathy to understand what the "bad guy" needed and literally saved the world by providing it. The film had never once failed to leave Camilla in tears.

Bruce played with her hair while they watched Maui dance and listened to The Rock sing "You're Welcome" when JARVIS interrupted the playback. "Miss Reed, Mister Banner, I apologize for the interruption. You are both immediately required in the situation room."

 

It's On

Cami and Bruce entered the secured conference room no more than five minutes later. Loki, Coulson, Bucky, Steve and Tony were seated around the table. Natasha, Clint and Fury were visible via individual webcams on a large monitor. Cami and Bruce took their seats.

"Alright, we're all here. Rogers and Stark, you want to brief the team?" Fury easily took command of the room even without a physical presence.

"We're getting reports of a rash of crimes in a small community in South Dakota. People are finding themselves being talked out of money, cars. Women have been waking up injured with no memory of what happened. Security cameras have been picking up a tall, thin bald man in a black suit." Steve began the briefing.

"And that's where it starts to get bad. This guy is a sick twisted puppy, folks." Tony tossed the print outs on the table and Steve instantly scooped them back up.

"Do we really need the visuals, Sir?" He asked.

Fury sighed. "Stark, could you give a sanitized cliffs notes version?"

"Uh, I can try. So... Baldy here gets his kicks making people hurt and kill themselves and also making them hurt and kill loved ones. All with a... cannibalistic flair. He likes to make it last, too. He has no conscience, no soul. Nothing is sacred to him and no one is safe. We're talking the family pet, people. Grandmas, little kids... babies."

"I think we get the idea." Cami interrupted Tony and he shot her a look of pure gratitude. He really hadn't wanted to continue explaining this bastard's atrocities. "When do we leave?"

 

The Mission

Barnes, Banner, Coulson and Loki were loaded into the aircraft. They were all prepared for battle. Banner and Coulson were wearing their normal clothes, Barnes was in his soldier getup and Loki was in form-fitting armor. No one was speaking, they were all nervous about what they could be walking into.

Camilla dressed in her Chameleon suit, kissed Steve in a lingering goodbye, and boarded the hover jet. She strapped herself in to her seat, gave Coulson a thumbs up and he piloted them away.

Before they knew it they were landing. Cami breathed deeply and focused on Coulson's level energy to try and calm herself down. When they had come to a complete stop she stood and addressed the guys.

She knew everyone was aware of their strategy, but she felt the need to go over it again in an attempt to mitigate her nerves. "Alright... We're here. The plan is, I'm going in with Bruce and James and if something happens to one of us Loki comes in, followed by Coulson if necessary. Do we know where this bastard is at the moment?"

Coulson nodded. "He's holding court at a local pizza place. Been there about two days. We have someone seeing him enter, but we don't have eyes inside. He's ,disabled the security cameras. We're sending you in there blind, so be careful, Reed."

She nodded. She moved to stand at the ramp of the hover jet and Bruce and Bucky stood on either side of her, slightly behind. The ramp opened and they disembarked, walking the few blocks to the pizza place.

Cami stopped them at the door. "I want you guys to wait until I call you before coming in."

"That's not part of the plan, Camilla." Bruce gave her a disapproving glare.

"I know. I can't totally explain it, but my gut says he'll be more receptive to my intervention if I don't bust in with backup right away." Bucky nodded, instinctively submitting to her will. Bruce gritted his teeth and sighed, but eventually agreed. Coulson's voice came over her suit's audio system, but she cut him off. "Sir, I'm going in there right now. Alone. If you'd like to distract me, you have every right. But might I suggest letting me work? Bruce and James are right outside the door if I need them."

There was a very long pause. "Fine, Reed. But if you get yourself killed..."

She smirked. "If I screw this up you have my permission to kick my ass, Sir."

Her audio went silent and she gave the two guys with her a reassuring smile she didn't fully feel. She was terrified. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Loki..." She whispered into her mic, even though she knew they all could hear her.

"I'm right here, Darling." His voice invaded her senses. She suddenly remembered the feeling of desperate fear the first time she went to see him, and she channeled the state of mind that allowed her to finally push past that fear and walk up to his cell. She was going to save lives. That's what mattered.

"Thank you. I just needed your voice." She clung to the feeling of bravery and muted her speakers with a simple command. She couldn't afford to be distracted by stray chatter. She opened her eyes and stepped into the restaurant.

Chapter Text

Once Upon a Nightmare

The carpet squelched under her high tops. She didn't look down. Didn't have to. Everything smelled like pennies and she knew the floor was soaked in blood. Occasional piles of buzzing, fly-riddled meat threatened to catch her eye, but she forced herself to remain focused on her target.

The main restaurant was deserted, but she could hear noise (she didn't let herself think of it as screams, whimpers, sobbing... it was 'noise') coming from the private party room. She moved very slowly, not in an attempt to hide, but in an attempt to acclimate herself to this hellish environment. She felt fleeting urges to run, once or twice she got light headed with panic. Her animal instincts were letting her know this was a dangerous place. This was the lair of a predator.

She ignored her base urges and instead gathered up the minuscule clues the enemy had unknowingly left behind. There was a bone, glistening with saliva. She used the olfactory capabilities of her suit to magnify and take in the details of the drool. Now she knew the taste of his hunger.

She saw footprints in the carpet. Most were rushed and panicked, but there was one set that was slow, calm. Self assured. Now she knew how he walked, his attitude.

She used the suit's processor to block the coppery smell of blood and she breathed deeply, his scent was powerful and unlike any she had experienced before. A part of her wanted to lay down at his feet and let him do as he wished with her. The rest of her was an angry she-wolf, and snapped and bit at this submissive urge, forcing its tail between its legs. Now she knew he expected obedience.

She creeped up to the double doors of the party room. They were open a bit. She braced herself and peeked quickly around them, taking in the scene in an instant and ducking back behind the door to digest the impact. She knew he was aware of her presence. His silver eyes had been fixed on her own and his teeth were bared in a feral grin.

He was seated at the head of the center table and there were at least a dozen people in the room with him, most seated around the smaller tables with party hats on their heads, motionless, whimpering, tear-streaked and bloody. They shared a terror so raw it was like uncooked steak in her mouth.

On his lap there were two women, one uninjured and absolutely still but panicked blind. The other clothed in nothing but blood with bites missing from her arms and shoulders. This one was strange, however. She was the only person out of all of them who was not afraid. On the contrary, she was supplicant and heady with need. The need to be consumed by him.

Camilla tried to focus on what she had picked up from him, but it was so odd. Disconcerting. Like being invisible while looking into a mirror.

She steeled herself and walked slowly into the room, splitting her focus and her energy. To him she projected nothing but quiet confidence and a mild curiosity. To the terrorized people sitting at the tables she breathed out comfort, hope and peace. She saw several of them visibly relax. She knew he saw it too, but at the moment he was more interested in observing her than pressing his dominance.

She made her way to the head table and slipped into a chair to his left, leaning back, crossing her arms and staring into his eyes. She focused on being open, taking in whatever he had to give her. So did he. It was like a game of chicken, each waiting for the other to flinch.

He finally got bored and bent to lick at one of the needy woman's wounds before addressing Camilla. "I've heard of you." His voice was gentle and soothing, like a priest at a funeral, in direct and striking contrast to the carnage he had delightfully wrought all around them. He nibbled at the woman a little more, coaxing a sigh of ecstasy from her when he bit down hard enough to draw blood.

The other woman on his lap rolled her wide eyes at Camilla in a silent plea. She was unfettered, simply perched on his lap, but under his iron control she was as still as a statue. Cami didn't allow her attention to linger on the woman, however. Callum was her focus right now. The survivors would come later.

She lazily brought her eyes back to his and let an unhurried smirk play at her lips. "And what did you hear about me?"

He mirrored her expression. "That you're like me."

She smiled a little wider. "Perhaps."

He lowered his gaze to the bleeding woman, seeming to take solace in the wounds he had inflicted. If she didn't know better Cami would have labeled his affect... Shy. "I have thought about meeting you."

Camilla remained exactly as she was. "Oh? And what did you think about?"

She felt the spike in his energy and was able to keep her face blank and her limbs motionless when his eyes flicked up to hers and he flung away the women on his lap, both of them landing like dolls on the floor, him standing tall.

His voice remained soft, but his words now dripped with a harsh, furious sting. "I thought about bending you to my will and making you cower. I thought about ripping open your chest and eating your heart as it continued to beat." He paused and tilted his head in an almost reptilian gesture of fascination. "And then I thought about keeping you. Either as a pet or... a partner."

She remained in her reclining position. She knew if she stood it would illustrate their height difference and make her appear vulnerable but if she remained sitting it would highlight the fact that she did not fear him.

She very slowly let her smile widen. He had let his hand show and she knew him now. She was suddenly completely comfortable in such close proximity to him. She grew up with him. She was raised by him. He was her father and her older brother. He was her mother and later her jail guard. He was a petulant child who would never grow up. He was impotent in most aspects of his life and the only pleasure he could ever hope to achieve was watching the suffering he caused and the aftermath of his destruction. He was what her family would have been if they had had her abilities.

And whereas he used his power to take and steal and desperately try and fill a sucking void, an endless hunger that could never be sated... She used her power to give of herself. Her heart was full and the more she gave the more she had.

She began to laugh softly. His eyes blazed at her, the rage inside him threatening to explode. "Explain yourself!" He snapped at her. She was compelled to stop laughing but easily fought off the urge to submit to his demand.

She smiled sadly at him. "You poor thing... You never stood a chance against me." And then she stood, her energy so powerful it was sparking, and he took a step back in spite of his massive height advantage. And then she opened herself to him, and began to pour everything she had into his starving soul.

At first he flinched and stood there, confused. He had never been given anything. Everything he ever had he had to take with force. She flicked on the audio in her suit and told her team to come in, all of them, with blankets and without guns.

The guys all stormed in and evacuated every soul except Camilla and Callum. She used the energy she naturally got from men in her team to redouble her efforts, gathering her affection for them and shoving it down his throat. He dropped into his seat, gasping. She didn't stop.

"What... What are you..." He gritted his teeth and screamed wordlessly at her, but she remained steadfast, anticipating his response. "What the fuck are you doing to me?" His muscles were tense with aggression and terror. And before she was aware of it he had moved impossibly fast and had her pinned against the nearest wall, her feet dangling, one strong hand on her throat.

She chose to ignore the fact that she could no longer breathe and took his physical contact as permission to touch him back. She stared fixedly into his eyes and touched his cheek. He shuddered violently and she smoothed her other hand through his hair. He leaned in to bite her face and she pressed herself as close to him as she could. She wrapped her legs around his waist and tugged him closer so she was nuzzling against his neck. His teeth closed with a snap directly beside her face.

And at once he was gone and she could breathe again. Coughing and gasping, she was lifted by huge green muscles and caught a glimpse of Barnes and Loki holding Rivers down and beating the ever-loving shit out of him while Coulson tried to pry them off.

Hulk clutched her gently and ran with her. Before he could get too terribly far she started petting him and whispering to him. "Good. You did so good, Hulk. You saved me. I'm safe now, because of you. You are wonderful." Her soft touches and constant stream of praise caused him to slow and eventually stop and then he took them back to the hover jet.

By the time they got inside the aircraft Bruce had changed back to himself, still carrying her. She had told him she was uninjured and could walk herself, but he couldn't bring himself to let her go until he knew for certain she was safe. He settled Cami into her seat and even buckled her up before doing the same for himself.

Camilla spotted Rivers. He was in a wheelchair, his wrists and ankles fastened securely to the frame, mittens on his hands and a hood on his head. He would pose no risk to anyone else, at least for now.

Chapter Text

It had been two weeks since they had captured Rivers. The day after the team got back she had packed a small bag, kissed Steve on the mouth and Bucky on the head, assured them both she would come back, and disappeared.

Since then she had cancelled everything on her agenda, not keeping any of her appointments. Steve found out through JARVIS she was on Loki's floor, and every few days he would knock on the door and try to see her, but she refused to see anyone.

Nat, Bruce, Bucky, and at one point Fury even came and tried to see her. Nothing worked. Finally Tony had had enough. He overrode JARVIS' locking mechanisms and waltzed right in to Loki's rooms. Loki was sitting on the couch reading and Camilla was nowhere in sight.

"Hey, April Fools, where's Tiny Tot?"

Loki barely glanced up before returning his gaze to his book. "She does not wish to see you."

"Tough cookies. Where is she?" Tony started opening random doors and peeking in the rooms.

Loki sighed and gestured to a door Tony hadn't yet tried. "I'm warning you now, she would prefer solitude at this time."

"Like I said, not gonna happen, Mardi Gras." He opened the door and blinked into the complete darkness of the room. "JARVIS, quarter illumination." A dim light rose in the room. Tony could just make out a lump in the bed. He went over and sat gently beside it, the size and warmth telling him the shape belonged to Cami. His voice was soft. "Hey, Short Stack."

"Go away, Tony." She muttered from under the blankets, but there was no compulsion to her words. They were flat and empty. He had never seen her like this. He slipped off his shoes and laid down beside her, not touching her, just being there with her.

After letting the silence stretch for a while he spoke again. "Everyone is pretty worried about you."

She sighed and shifted a bit under the covers.

"I read the report, listened to the audio. You did good, you saved all those people. No one got hurt after you showed up, Reed. Do you know how huge that is?"

She remained perfectly still.

"So, my question is... What the hell happened that we don't know about?"

"Go away... please..." She whispered.

He didn't say anything else but he didn't move either, content to lay beside her and look up at the ceiling.

After what seemed like hours she suddenly sat up. He glanced at her and tried not to wince. She looked like hell. Dark circles under her bloodshot eyes, her face pale and drawn, hair a mess, dried tears on her cheeks. She hugged her knees to her chest.

"I don't think about my parents a lot. Or ever, really. I think it's because I'm an empath. I can feel what others feel so I don't have to focus on what I feel." She shrugged and picked at a thread on the blanket. He stayed perfectly quiet and just let her talk.

"Rivers... He reminded me so much of them. And I was fine, I really was. I was confident. And then he put his hands on me... And once I was on my way back and the adrenaline had worn off... I realized..." She buried her face against her knees and let out a wrenching sob. "I can't... can't feel anything. Anyone. It's just gone... My abilities are gone."

Chapter Text

Their Turn

Tony just held her for a while and when she fell asleep he had it out with Loki.

"She's in pain and this was what you thought would be best? Letting her isolate herself from everyone who cares about her?"

Loki bared his teeth. "Watch your tongue, mortal. I care about her."

"Great way to show it. Has she eaten anything? Showered? Slept? It's been two damn weeks, Loki." He must have been a lot more upset than he thought, no smart ass nickname. "Leave your door unlocked or I'll have it removed. This is my tower and I'll be damned if I'm going to let her just waste away."

Loki clenched his jaw but his eyes betrayed his worry for her. He nodded.

 

Steve came as soon as Tony told him what was up. He barely registered Loki as he swept past him and knocked on her door. "Baby?... It's Steve." When he got no response he entered quietly, shutting the door behind himself.

He frowned when her only response to his presence was turning away from him and pulling the blanket over her head. He came and sat beside her. "Camilla..." He whispered, gently pulling back the blanket so he could see her. "Look at me?" He made it a request, not a command.

She slowly turned and looked at him. Her normally sparkling eyes were flat and dull. "Oh, Honey..." He reached out to touch her and she flinched away. He let his hand drop again. "Why didn't you come to me, Baby?"

She closed her eyes tight and fresh tears streaked down her face. "I can't feel you. I can't be what you need."

He scooped her into his arms, tucking her head under his chin and holding her tight. "You've gotta be terrified right now. It must be like suddenly going blind. But you've gotta know, Baby, I don't love you because of what you can give me. I love you for who you are. All of us do." He kissed her temple and whispered, "It's our turn to be who you need for once."

 

Steve stayed with her to make sure she showered, brushed her teeth and got dressed in clean clothes. He brushed her hair for her and Bucky came in and fed her some soup.

Bucky took her hand and led her to the media room, turning on a Marx brothers movie and snuggling her close on the couch. They sat and watched the comedy legends, neither of them cracking a smile once.

Before the end of the second movie Natasha was cuddled up to Camilla's other side, head resting against her shoulder, never having said a word.

 

Enough is Enough

Three weeks later Coulson sat quietly and just stared at Camilla from across the conference table. She was doing better, she was showered and fed... but she was still numb. She didn't look at him and she didn't break the silence. He seemed to sense her reluctance to talk, and he was careful not to ask her any questions.

"I've been talking to the team." He just put it out there, not expecting any sort of response. "They said you think your abilities are gone. Not only that, you think your emotions are gone. Like you're completely empty, like someone took a melon baller to your soul. And they say you've been doing nothing but pouting and moping around ever since the mission."

Her eyes flicked up to his for an instant, then back to the table. He smirked.

"You know me, Camilla. You know I don't sugar coat things. I would tell you if I didn't sense anything from you. But guess what... I do."

She looked at him properly then.

"I think your motherboard got overloaded and now you're rebooting. Or... Some less-nerdy analogy. I feel you inside there, even if you don't. But you have to know hiding and whining are not going to fix this."

She sighed and finally spoke, her voice quiet and scratchy from disuse. "Then what will?"

He leaned back in his chair and looked at her. "You need to get back to work. You need to help someone."

She scoffed. "Who could I possibly help like this?"

He sat and considered his next words carefully. "When is the last time you saw Tony Stark?"

 

Recovery

The last time she saw Tony was the day he sought her out in Loki's guest bedroom, in fact. She hadn't seen or heard a peep from him since then, and that was unlike him. Coulson convinced her to just go see him, even in her current state. She figured it couldn't hurt.

She knocked on his door.

"Go the hell away!" He yelled.

She knocked again. "Tony?"

He instantly opened his door and crushed her in a bear hug. She smelled the booze on his clothes. She had told him no more alcohol in the tower... She had thrown all of his booze away... He had to have gone out and willfully disobeyed her. She felt a tiny flame of indignation spark inside her and then immediately fizzle out.

He pulled her inside and closed the door behind them both. "Do you want some... Uh..." He picked up several bottles, finding each of them empty until holding one aloft triumphantly. "Would you like some vodka? I think I stole this from Nat..."

"No thank you." She sat on the couch and folded her hands in her lap.

He sat in the armchair across from her and watched her sit there. She looked at her hands.

"How are you doing, Fun Size?" He sounded sober. She wondered if all of the empty bottles were from the weeks spent isolating himself in his rooms.

With a rush like ears popping on an airplane her scent receptors blinked back on full-bore. He scented his confusion and despair. She scented the alcohol on his person, about half a day old. She scented the blood... Blood?

Her eyes went to his, but her visual cortex was still dulled. She couldn't decipher his pupils or pulse or sweat or body temperature. But her nose worked and she definitely smelled blood.

"Show me." Her voice took on the slightest hint of an edge.

He blinked at her. "Show you what?"

She narrowed her eyes slightly. "You know what."

He looked down and let his breath out in a whoosh. "Camilla, I didn't know if you'd come back or not. I panicked..."

She interrupted him, her voice very soft. "Show. Me. Now."

He stood, lifted his shirt and pulled the waistband of his pants down, not meeting her eyes as he exposed several straight, parallel cuts across his lower abdomen.

"Show me the rest." She had no idea how she knew he was hiding more, but she did.

He looked half ashamed at what he had done and half cautiously hopeful that she might not be permanently lost to him. He pushed his pants off entirely and spread his legs slightly to expose his inner thighs. Dozens more cuts littered the crease between his thighs and his groin.

"Look at me." He obeyed without hesitation. "If something ever happens where I am not able to take care of this for you... You will go to Steve."

He snorted and yanked up his pants. "Like hell I will."

She blinked once and was confused to find her fist gripping his jaw tightly. "That wasn't a question. And it wasn't a request. You will go to Steve. Am I understood?"

His eyes locked onto her own, remembering how she once told him eye contact was an important part of power exchange for her. "Yes, ma'am." He whispered.

She blinked one more time and abruptly had to throw her arms over her face, it was like someone flicking on a light switch after your eyes had adjusted to the dark. Just like a switch being flipped, her visual reception was back, full bore.

She slowly uncovered her eyes and took in Tony as if she'd never seen him before.

Pinpoint pupils, covered in a sheen of sweat, slight, intermittent tremors. Bruising under both bloodshot eyes, pulse thready and fast.

She took a leap of faith, leaned close and licked his neck. He gasped but didn't dare move.

She tasted low electrolyte levels in his sweat, but no trace of drugs. He was clearly detoxing from something but there was nothing in his system.

She leaned back and looked into his eyes. In a soft but strict voice she gave him a command. "On your knees. Now."

His pupils dilated and his heart rate spiked before becoming steady. His tremors stopped. He knelt before her, calm, open, ready.

He was jonesing for her. Specifically for her dominance. And the reason she knew that was because most of her senses were back. This fact should have excited her, or at least brought a measure of relief.

She could once again receive and analyze external input. The only thing she was missing was her internal sensors. She was cold inside, empty, numb.

But this man needed her. And she had all she needed to help him.

 

Tony was naked, on his knees, arms chained above his head, his body bearing a variety of red welts from where Camilla was striking him with the belt. He still wouldn't break for her. He spit venom at her, cursed her name, lashed out in all manner of ways, but he wouldn't let go. Not yet. He needed more.

She patted him on the cheek twice, hard enough to almost be considered a slap, crouched before him and gazed into his eyes.

"What do you need, Tony? Do you want more pain? Humiliation? Do you want me to do awful things to your body? Or play twisted games with your mind?" She nuzzled her mouth against his ear and the words spilled from her, unbidden. "Do you want to know what I need?" She ran her hands over the stinging flesh of his back before bringing her hands to settle on his chest. She rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm cold inside... empty... I need you to feel for me, baby."

That was all it took. He sunk against the chains, letting himself feel the desperation, panic, grief, guilt. Everything he'd kept locked away since her mission.

Hot tears ran down his face... And down his shoulder? She clung to him and shuddered, having borrowed his emotions as a kind of map to find her own.

He gave their signal and she unchained him, her body shuddering and trembling the whole time. The second he was free he picked her up and settled them both, cuddled close on his bed.

He was there to hold her as she fell apart. And there to greet her when she found herself again.

Chapter Text

Boundaries

It took Cami a while to find her equilibrium, but everyone was so patient with her.

One side effect from being sense-blind for so long was the stripping away of her carefully constructed boundaries. As an empath she knew her barriers were vitally important, but they were like a muscle. If she didn't use them they atrophied.

The result of weak barriers was the inability to discern others' emotions from her own. She was a mess.

Irritable Tony? Bitchy Cami. Stressed Bruce? Angsty Cami. Lovesick Thor? Weepy Cami.

At one point Nat had got fed up with Loki, who was starting to actually spend time with the team and delighted in tormenting the beautiful assassin. Cami huffed right up to him and would have slapped him if his Asgardian strength and speed hadn't stopped her hand mid-swing. He had asked her why she tried to hit him and she found she had absolutely no idea. The emotion was there, and it was strong, but it didn't belong to her.

But slowly she was rebuilding her emotional guards. She had even started her rounds again.

She and Nat were hanging out, she and Bruce were doing lunch and Disney again, she was sparring with Thor and gaming with Clint. She and Tony had started regular sessions again. The only place she still felt lost was at home.

Steve was trying to give her space. He slept on the couch. She felt a sinking pit in her stomach whenever she was around him and she couldn't tell if it was because she was upset he was being distant or if she was feeling his insecure emotions. She was a little scared to find out.

And Bucky refused to come out of his bedroom at all.

Her home was the most uncomfortable place in the world for her right now. So she decided to start by talking to her boyfriend at a 'neutral' location.

 

Back to You 

Steve entered the gym exactly on time and dressed in workout clothes. He sipped some water and waited for Camilla. Just as he started wandering around the gym, a weight landed on his back and there were small arms around his neck. He did a twisting move to grab the person, swung them in front of him and pinned them against the nearest padded wall. Legs went around his waist and he ripped away the black mask.

"Hey, Doll." He smiled a little at a breathless Millie.

She desperately wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face against him and clinging fast. "...I miss you..." She whispered.

He held her up with strong hands under her thighs. He closed his eyes tight and pressed his face to her shoulder. "Oh, Baby, I miss you too."

She shoved his shoulders back, legs still wrapped around him, a little scowl on her face. "Then why the hell are you sleeping on the couch?"

He blinked at her. "I... I didn't want to push you. You've been through so much. I didn't want to make it worse."

"So you thought making me think you didn't want me anymore was the best answer." She frowned harder at him.

He looked chagrined. "I never thought of it like that, Millie. I'm so sorry." He kissed her tenderly. "Of course I still want you."

She closed her eyes and pressed her forehead to his. "Then stop avoiding me. Sleep in our bed again. Please."

He sighed deeply, happily, and she felt relief flood her system, originating from both of them. She realized he had been just as insecure about her feelings as she had been about his.

They kissed slowly at first, getting reacquainted with one another, and ended up, bodies twisted together on the floor of the gym, something profound mended between them and feeling closer than ever before.

 

Bucked

Half of her problem at home was taken care of. Steve came back to their bed and she felt more like herself than she had in a while. Now it was time to face the other half. Two days later when Bucky still hadn't come out of his room despite her begging and knocking for hours she decided to take things a step further.

She got Tony to unlock the door. She was terrified as to what she would find. She kept thinking back to the last time he had isolated himself. She knocked one more time. "James... Tony got JARVIS to unlock your door. I'm coming in." She opened the door and braced herself before entering the room.

His room was spotless. She breathed a sigh of relief. He was sitting on his bed with a novel, reading. He didn't look up at her. "You should leave." He said in his deep, achingly soft voice. His hair and clothes were clean and he was shaven. His eyes were clear and sharp and focused on his book.

"What's going on, James? Please talk to me." She took one step closer to him and his blue eyes snapped to hers.

"You can feel more now. That's what I heard. You don't just know what someone needs from you, you feel what they feel. No matter how deep they've hidden it, you feel it like it's yours. Is that true?" His voice was even and calm, but she could tell there was anxiety under the surface.

"Yes. I'm working on reestablishing my internal boundaries." She frowned in confusion. "Why is that a problem, James?"

He set down his book and looked at her fully. "Come here and find out." His voice was dark, a challenge, and she was suddenly weak and shivering.

She wet her lips and took another step closer to him. His eyes flared and heat flooded through her from scalp to toes, coming to pool between her lower stomach and upper thighs. She moaned and he half-rose from the bed.

"I figure the only reason we couldn't feel this before was because I was holding so tight to the all the guilt." He flashed a sad half-smile. "I had so much guilt about the awful things I'd done that this, the guilt of wanting my best friend's girl..." He shrugged. "Drop in the ocean. But thanks to you I've realized they used me against my will. I've been able to forgive myself for a lot of it."

Cami swallowed and Bucky stood up fully, much too close. "I can't hide this from myself anymore. And I definitely can't hide it from you... This is one thing I'll never forgive myself for." He whispered. She glanced into his eyes and it was over. The fight was lost, just like that. And neither of them particularly cared that they hadn't won. The desire pooled between them, tighter and tighter, drawing them closer together. And then his hands were on her face and hers were on his hips and they were tasting, breathing, grinding, moaning. Their hands switched places, hers going to his hair and his going to her waist, pulling her flush against his muscled body.

Her fingers ran over his metal arm and his breath shuddered. He hoisted her up, legs around his waist, and buried his face in her chest, growling softly. She tugged his hair and he slammed her back against the wall, pinning her.

Cami gasped and was violently reminded of Steve pinning her like this in the gym. She felt a piece of her boundaries snap back into place, and then another and another, like dominoes falling in reverse. She stroked Bucky's face and whispered to him. "We have to stop. Bucky, please. Stop."

He dropped her instantly and stepped back. She could feel how very much he didn't want to let her go, but he knew she was right, and he needed her level head and her gentle commands to do the right thing.

He stood perfectly still, eyes locked on her shoulder, hands in fists, struggling to catch his breath. She badly wanted to hug him, to pet his hair and tell him he was a good man and that he had done well by listening to her. But everything was too raw. And she knew he wanted her touch, but not like that.

She swallowed and unconsciously mirrored his actions, her eyes not quite meeting his, her breath slowing, her hands clenched by her sides, aching to touch him. "Thank you, James."

With that she turned and left his room, closing the door behind her.

 

 

A few days later she was in her office checking her email. Fury kept sending her articles saying how awesome she did neutralizing Rivers and how she was now a famous superhero in her own right. She especially enjoyed stories about the recovery of the victims and how grateful their families were. She was reading about the little girl of the woman she had saved, the unharmed but terrified victim she had met on Rivers' lap. The little girl was so grateful to have her mommy back. Suddenly her door burst open and Steve stormed in.

She looked at him in surprise. "Hey... What's going on?" She could taste his rage.

"It's Bucky..." Cami winced, wondering how much Steve knew about what had happened between them. "...He's gone. Hydra has him."

Chapter Text

Kidnapped

A few days later she was in her office checking her email. Fury kept sending her articles saying how awesome she did neutralizing Rivers and how she was now a famous superhero in her own right. She especially enjoyed stories about the recovery of the victims and how grateful their families were. She was reading about the little girl of the woman she had saved, the unharmed but terrified victim she had met on Rivers' lap. The little girl was so grateful to have her mommy back. Suddenly her door burst open and Steve stormed in.

She looked at him in surprise. "Hey... What's going on?" She could taste his rage.

"It's Bucky..." Cami winced, wondering how much Steve knew about what had happened between them. "...He's gone. Hydra has him."

She stood up, confusion battling with rage for dominance inside her. "What..." Her voice was deceptively calm.

"They took him." Steve was pacing, looking around for something to punch.

"How the hell did they get him? I thought the tower was the most secure place there is!" The rage began to seep into her tone.

"It is, but he wasn't in the tower. Apparently he took off. Best we can tell they snatched him on the subway."

"How do you know they have him?"

---

She watched the video again. She had watched it seven times, beginning to end. It made her blood run cold every time. The video opened with two masked men with Hydra insignia on their uniforms, a third man with a sack over his head forced onto his knees between them. She could tell instantly it was Bucky.

They pulled the sack from his head and his face was totally blank, his eyes looked dead. It was a ransom video, and they made their demands clear. They promised not to hurt him if Camilla surrendered herself to their custody. They didn't promise to let him go, just not hurt him.

Her newfound fame had backfired, and now everyone was aware she existed and everyone knew what she was capable of. All Hydra would have to do is drop her in the White House, the Kremlin, the UN. She wouldn't even need a weapon. And suddenly the entire world would bend to her will. And if Hydra kept Bucky as leverage, she would bend to theirs.

She couldn't help but think about what he had said at dinner before their mission with Slenderman- if he thought he was a liability he would take himself out of the equation. She prayed he would hang on, just until she could get to him.

 

Obi Wan

Fury had no objections to her choosing her team. Or, if he did, he realized she was more than willing to disobey orders and just go alone, so he kept his arguments to himself. Nat was her first choice, followed by Tony and Steve. They all suited up and took off to the drop point where Hydra was planning on picking her up. She was bugged every way they could think of, so even if Hydra found and removed some of the devices they hopefully wouldn't find them all.

Camilla was filled with an icy cold rage that was entirely her own, but she could also sense the people around her acutely. It was like everyone's emotions were a raging ocean and she was skimming above it all.

They got to the drop point. Hydra was already there and they sent a man out to collect her. He frowned at the Avengers accompanying her.

"I believe we said to come alone." His voice carried a faint accent.

"No, you said you would take me alone. You never said I couldn't bring my friends to say goodbye." She answered, her words so calm it made the Hydra agent nervous.

"Fine then, say your goodbyes and come with me." He turned his attention to her team. "You needn't worry, she is of no use to us dead."

Cami stepped into the circle of her team.

"You got this." Nat said, quiet enough so the Hydra guy couldn't hear them.

"You're gonna get him out. You're gonna get both of you out." Steve assured her, giving her a crushing hug.

"If anything happens to you, Obi Wan..." Tony gritted his teeth and looked away, unable to finish his thought. Steve clapped him on the shoulder.

"No matter what happens... Hydra is going to be very, very sorry they fucked with us." She said, steeling her resolve and giving each of them a meaningful look before turning away and walking up to the agent.

"We need to check you for bugs..."

She interrupted him, in a no-nonsense commanding tone to rival Fury's. "No, you don't." She walked straight to the car and got in the back seat, the agent stunned and confused for a minute before getting in the driver's seat and taking off.

"See?" Tony said. "Obi Wan. She's got this." He sounded nonchalant but he was already tapping away at his forearm computer, making sure they could track her every move.

 

Hydra Will See You Now

The drive seemed to take forever, but Cami managed to stay calm and patient. Finally the car stopped in a parking garage and the agent opened her door. She smirked at him. "It's funny they sent you alone." She commented, climbing out of the vehicle.

He shrugged. "You can kill me if you'd like, but you'll never see Barnes again."

She nodded once in concession. He had a point. "Take me to him. Now."

The agent winced, wanting to obey but unable to. "It's not my call. I don't know where he is."

"Then get me to someone who does." Her tone left no room for argument. He led the way and she followed. They took an elevator to level 55. She thought it was sweet how they believed altitude would protect them. Iron Man could fly to frikking outer space. They thought a high rise would keep them safe?

The elevator stopped and the guy led her into an office waiting room. He mumbled something to the attractive receptionist and she paged someone in the back office.

"He'll be right with you." The receptionist said to Cami before continuing to flirt with the agent.

Cami bided her time. She could feel the emotions of the couple, complex, intense and fragile. It would have been too easy to play with them. But, for now, she had no reason to. So she waited.

After about thirty minutes the receptionist motioned to the heavy oak door. "He's ready for you." Cami nodded and went right into the room.

It was a conference room, a long oval table surrounded by squashy, comfy-looking office chairs, all of them empty except for the biggest, squashiest one, at the head of the table. It was occupied by a dark-haired, very handsome man about ten years older than Cami. His energy screamed 'BOSS'.

Camilla knew he was expecting her to choose a seat and he was fully prepared to judge her for her choice- right or left, how far away, how confidently would she choose? So she did the unexpected. She waltzed up and hopped up onto the table, sitting criss-cross right in front of him.

He had a good poker face. He hid his surprise and indignation well. Too bad she wasn't so easily fooled. She could sense his pulse skyrocket, his adrenaline peak. His color flushed just a bit on the apples of his cheeks and paled on his forehead. She could see a vein in his neck throbbing.

"Show me Barnes." She said, her tone neutral.

The man blinked at her. His blood pressure went even higher and his pupils went to pinpoints. She smirked at him, just a little. He was just now realizing how royally screwed he was. He had the perfect weapon within arm's reach, yes, but at the same time... She had him.

He cleared his throat. "My name is Steele Richards. I am head of this chapter of Hydra. We've been hearing so much about you, it certainly is a pleasure to meet you, Camilla." He gave her a calculated smile.

She kept her face carefully blank and let the silence stretch as long as she pleased, her eyes roaming over his skin slowly, reading everything about him like he was a magazine. She waited, perfectly content, until he twitched. Just a little flex of his cheek muscle, a tightening of his fingers.

"Barnes. Now." She brought her eyes to his and let them lock together. He swallowed hard.

"I can imagine it's been a long day for you, surely you'd like something to eat and some rest. This is your home now, we want you to be comfortable." He recited, as if finding his place in a script after fumbling briefly.

Camilla reached out and smoothed her fingers through his hair, a deliberate move. The work was well done, but she could tell he had had his hair reseeded. To his credit, he barely cringed away from her touch.

"Steely... I have asked twice to see Barnes. If I have to ask again you won't enjoy it, believe me..." She trailed off as if deep in thought. "I wonder if your second in command would be more willing to cooperate." She gave him a dangerous but very soft smile. He gulped.

"Give me a moment, I'll see what I can do." He stood and left the room, trying not to show how much he was hurrying to get the hell away from her.

 

Instead of Steele or Bucky, after several minutes a woman walked in, tall skinny heels to match her tall skinny frame. Hair in a severe bun. So... They thought she would go easier on a chick. Cute.

"I am Ms. Forester. It's nice to meet you, Camilla." The woman said stiffly. She offered a hand and Cami took it, turning it over and giving lingering kisses to the woman's knuckles, earning a look of complete bewilderment. The lady's eyes and mouth opened wide in perfect circles. Cami began to nibble and lick at her hand and Ms. Forester snatched it away, wiping her knuckles on her skirt. She cleared her throat and took a deep breath.

"I am head of human resources. Hydra has sent me to work out terms of your employment here."

Camilla barked out a laugh before succumbing to giggles and the woman arched a sculpted brow at her. "Something funny, Ms Reed?"

Her giggles slowly eased enough for her to talk. "You all seem to think I will cooperate just because you tell me to." She sighed, calming her fit of humor. "Here's how this is going to work." She sat up straight and rested her hands in her lap. "You are going to take me to Barnes or bring him here, don't care which. And until that happens, I will neither discuss nor agree to anything. Period. Got it, bitch?"

Ms. Forester simply blinked for a minute and then turned her head to the side. The sound of voices was barely perceptible coming from her ear. She was getting orders. She looked at Cami. "Very well."

The doors opened and two large buffoons came in dragging Bucky between them. His hands were bound behind him and there was a sack over his head, but she knew it was him. They hoisted him bodily onto the table in a heap and took up positions near the walls of the room.

Cami scampered over to him and pulled the sack as gently as she could off of his head, she could feel her terror but she also kept her focus on the three Hydra agents around the room. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw his face. He had very slight and random bruising but she knew it was from less-than-careful handling. He hadn't been beaten.

She ran her hand through his hair and her other hand went to her panic button, pressing it and letting her team know she had Bucky and they could come kill everyone now. He finally opened his eyes. The little smirk that touched his face was like a balm to her soul, and when he said, "Hey, Doll. Fancy seeing you here." She gathered him in her arms and held him tight.

She was vaguely aware of Tony smashing in through the window, Nat busting down from the ceiling and Steve crashing in through the doors. But at that moment nothing mattered but the man in her arms. She bent down and gave him a deep but tender kiss, the joy of having him safe and whole and here all but intoxicating. He kissed her back, bound hands and all.

They remained utterly lost in a series of increasingly passionate kisses until Cami felt Nat tapping her shoulder. She sat up and looked around, Steve and Tony quickly looking away. Oops. She wondered how long they had been staring. She heard a click and Bucky's hands were free, Nat had picked his cuffs.

The team turned to the door, but before they could make their escape the doorway was bursting with Hydra agents, all fully armed. Cami put herself between the agents and her team. They had tipped their hand. They needed her alive. They wouldn't shoot.

Except then they did. Darts from their guns hit their marks on every member of the team except Tony, his Iron Man suit deflecting them like raindrops. He took off like a rocket through the window, regrouping and keeping close watch via JARVIS on all of them.

The enemy may have temporarily gotten the upper hand, but Hydra was about to have the Worst. Day. Ever.

Chapter Text

Kicking Some Ass and Taking Some Names (But Mostly the Ass Kicking Thing)

She was alone. That was the first thing Camilla was aware of when she came to. There were no other energies in the room except hers. Then she noticed two things at once- she was stripped down to her underclothes, and she couldn't move. She opened her eyes and saw white, all around her. It was a hospital room and she was strapped to a table. She bit down on what felt like leather, she was gagged. Maybe Hydra was getting smarter. Would have been hard for them to get much stupider.

She glanced down her body and noticed bandages on her left shoulder and her right ankle. Apparently they found and removed two sub-dermal locators. Her neck wasn't sore, so that meant they hadn't yet taken the third.

Cami began to work her gag, trying to free her mouth. She wasn't afraid. She had been in this position before, bound and gagged multiple times as a child. She knew she still had tools to work with, but it had been a while.

The doors opened and a man walked in wheeling a tray of operating intstruments. She used her eyes first. She channeled memories of terror and pain and let them fill her gaze. She could sense this guy's energy. He was a doctor, not a torturer. She stared him down until his eyes finally met hers, only for a second, but it was enough. His sure, confident movements began to falter.

Next she used her autonomic responses. She pictured herself suffering, let herself experience every minute detail as if it were happening to her right then. The doctor started setting his tray up near her head, checking to make sure he had everything- scalpel, bandages, alcohol. When she felt the sensations build strong enough she let them flow through her body. Her skin broke out in goosebumps. Her muscles began trembling. Her pupils constricted. Her breathing became shallow and fast. She could smell the fear and desperation wafting off of her own skin.

The doctor went motionless for a moment and looked at her. He got out his stethoscope and checked her heart rate. She knew what he would find, it was dangerously fast. His brow creased. He was on the edge of stopping the procedure, he just needed a tiny push...

She whimpered softly around her gag. That did it. He reached into a drawer under her table and got a blanket, draping it over her. He covered the tray of instruments with a cloth and left the room.

The instant he was gone her body returned to normal. Cami redoubled her efforts on the gag, knowing they wouldn't just leave her here with a tracking device in her neck, they would send someone else. Someone who would be unaffected, or possibly even aroused by signs of distress.

Cami bit through the leather just as the door opened again. She held the ends in her mouth, not wanting to tip her hand too early. In walked the same doctor as before, followed by Ms. Forester, the HR lady.

"...If she's too anxious you can tranq her again, but we need that thing out of her before we move her to the secured location, or else more Avengers will just storm in on us there too." She snapped on a pair of purple nitrile gloves and sat on the chair by Cami's head that the doctor had left there.

Camilla's mind whirred as she debated her next move. There were two energies in the room now, the doctor and the woman. Maybe she could use them against each other. Her end game was to get them to release her hands. Or at least one hand. Her gag was secretly undone so she had the element of surprise on her side. The woman was probably trained to get information and cooperation from people, she didn't seem like the squeamish type. The doctor, on the other hand...

The woman prodded her fingers into Cami's neck, trying to locate the device under her skin. Camilla let herself wince at the touch, adding a tiny whine for effect. She felt the doctor stiffen. Forester rubbed some alcohol on Cami's neck.

"No anesthetic, ma'am?" The doctor's voice was audibly strained.

"The residual effects of the tranq should dull the pain. And if not... She can take it. She's an Avenger." Cami stared into her eyes as Forester gave her a small smile that was anything but friendly.

She took the scalpel and began by making a small cut. Cami squirmed as much as the binds would allow her to and squealed in 'agony'. It did hurt some, but she was also really playing it up. Forester put down the blade and picked up a pair of tweezers. She used some gauze to wipe up the blood and then poked the instrument into the wound, digging it around.

Now! Cami arched her back off the table and made a show of clenching her jaw until the gag "broke". She spit it out and cast her desperate gaze to the doctor. He looked a bit green already. She screamed bloody murder and then, gasping for breath, started begging him for help.

"Please, please stop her. She's hurting me. God, it hurts so much! Please help me. This isn't you, you don't torture people. You're a healer. A good man. God, help me!"

"Get her gagged!" Forester yelled, but it was too late.

The doctor grabbed a tranq hypo and jabbed it into Forester's neck, depressing the plunger. It took seconds for her to lose consciousness. Cami's screams changed to wracking sobs. He reached over and applied pressure with some gauze to her neck wound, taping it in place. She flinched away from him.

"Shh... I won't hurt you." He stroked her hair.

She sniffled and wept, breath still coming in gasps. "Please let me sit up. Please... I'm going to be sick."

She had him then. He unfastened both of her wrists and guided her to a sitting position with a strong, gentle hand on her back. She gazed into his eyes. Her stature was tiny, she knew. Physical strength wasn't her forte. So she would use what she knew worked best. She would manipulate the shit out of him.

"Do you know where my friends are?" She kept breathing hard and sniffing, scrunching down to make herself appear smaller, non-threatening even as she bent to unfasten her ankles. Her eyes never left his.

"Probably on the detention floor..." He was visibly befuddled, so she kept him talking so he wouldn't have a chance to clear his head.

"Do you know where my clothes are? It's so cold in here." She shivered to illustrate her words.

In minutes she was dressed in scrubs and slippers and the doctor, who introduced himself as Gus, was leading her down a hallway toward a set of elevators. He took her to the detention level, where she was unsurprised to find security roaming the halls.

She sagged against Gus and he held her up, his posture straightening and his hands tightening around her arms. She stumbled forward. Security now looked at them and instead of seeing a potential escape attempt, they saw the doctor, finished with his exhausted patient, and leading her back to her cell.

She saw Nat first. In a cell, which Hydra was stupid enough to design with bars instead of walls. Cami subtly tossed the scalpel she had palmed earlier into Nat's cell, aiming for the thin mattress so it wouldn't clang on the cement floor. Natasha had a blade now. People were going to die.

She passed by Steve's cell. He saw her, barely standing on her own, bloody. He slammed the bars so hard they bent. "You people are sick! Let her go!!!" He slammed the bars again and they began to buckle. She brought her gaze to his, her glazed-over eyes instantly clear and precise. She shook her head once, the movement so slight anyone else may have missed it. But not her boyfriend. He stilled immediately, continuing to seethe but not wanting to cause a flock of security to rain down on them either.

The next to the last cell contained Bucky. He was strapped to a chair, mouth gagged, expression livid. Cami stopped moving without really meaning to, Gus trying to get her to continue to the last cell but the sight of Bucky in that position cementing her to the floor.

"Let him go." She said softly.

"What?" Gus was confused. "They didn't hurt him. He wouldn't stop screaming or bashing himself against the walls..."

"Do you have the key?"

"No... I just have access to the medical areas."

"Too bad. Incapacitate him, don't kill him, he's a pawn."

Gus was utterly confused but only for an instant as in the next breath Natasha switched from about to stab him with the scalpel to hitting him hard at the base of his skull with her fist, knocking him unconscious. Nat grabbed Cami in a fierce hug and then held her at arm's length to evaluate her physical state.

"I'm fine. Looks worse than it is. They removed two of my sub dermal trackers."

Nat smirked and arched a brow. "Only two? Amateurs."

They shared an adrenaline-fueled grin and got to work. Cami helped Steve get out of his ruined cell with a minimal amount of noise, and Nat picked Bucky's cell door. She went over to him and untied him. He tore the gag from his own mouth. The four of them regrouped.

"Anyone know where we are?" Cami asked, putting her hand in Bucky's. She could tell how close he was to completely losing it.

"Same tower as before, underground." Steve answered.

"Stairs." Grumbled Bucky. Cami nodded.

"He's right. Elevators are basically traps on cables."

Nat took the lead. She efficiently killed every agent on their floor, using just the scalpel, and then weapons liberated from the bodies, all various forms of knives. Soon they all had at least one blade. They went up the stairs slowly, as quietly as possible. They made it up several floors, to subbasement 3 before the alarm sounded.

Suddenly the doors to the stairs above and below them burst open, Hydra agents streamed in. Dozens of them. Poor silly fools. If they had triple that number then, just maybe, it would have been a fair fight.

Nat went full-Black-Widow, using agents unabashedly as human shields, making them stab each other with one hand while slaughtering them in twos and threes with the other.

Steve used his super soldier strength, punching one agent and sending them slamming back into rows of other agents. The narrow stairs were good for lining them up, that was for sure. He grabbed a few and threw them bodily down the center of the stair well, aiming for the streams of agents on the lower levels.

Bucky let himself snap into Winter Soldier mode. At first he struggled to get there, but Cami allowed an agent to land a blow on her while he was looking, and that's all it took. He was instantly unhinged, deadly and unrelenting. A force of nature. Anyone that came within arm's reach had limbs torn from torsos, necks twisted around until they snapped, backs broken over his knee.

While admittedly not physically strong, Cami was fast and she could anticipate the enemy's moves. She used her abilities to flip, kick and shove the agents into the grasp of her team while dodging blades, fists and feet.

Suddenly it was quiet. The enemy was dead. The team sprinted all the way up to the ground level and Nat inched open the door before casting it wide. The level was crammed with agents, all holding guns, all trained right on them.

Cami slipped herself between her team and the guns. A familiar voice met her ears. "Don't shoot her." It was Ms. Forester. She stepped out from behind a line of Hydra people, flashing an icy smile at Cami. "What a wonderful demonstration of your assets, Camilla. Thank you."

Cami glared at her. "You're not HR."

Ms. Forester's icy smile widened. "Ooh, she's smart too. You are going to be such a valuable tool." She reached out and stroked Cami's cheek. All three of her team stiffened. Bucky growled. Ms. Forester pulled her hand back very slowly. "Now you have a choice, Camilla. You can come with me, willingly. All of you. Or we will slaughter your team and you will come with me by force. I'm in a generous mood, so I'll give you... ten seconds to decide."

Cami opened her senses wide, looking for a way out. But none of these Hydra agents were like the doctor had been. They were highly trained killers, every one of them. There would be no playing them off one another. Not this time.

That's when she heard it. Faint and far away, but she heard it clear as a bell. The ace up their sleeve. Their secret weapon. Tony.

"Reed, down!" He yelled from outside the building, her eyes flicking to his location let him know she had heard him. She grabbed Steve and Nat and dropped to the ground with them, ordering Bucky, "Down!" He obeyed her instantly and a split second later glass exploded all around followed immediately by sprays of blood. A few gunshots stuttered around them, but none hit their marks, dying reflexes without aimed precision.

By the time Tony had released the last of the tiny aimed rockets from his suit all of the agents on the ground floor were dead. Including Forester. Tony was there in moments and they all dragged each other out of the building and away as fast as they could go.

Tony relayed their location to SHIELD and as soon as the team was a safe distance away the building imploded, flattened neatly where it stood, the only effect to the surrounding buildings a thin layer of dust.

---

Tony piloted the hover jet, Nat acting as co-pilot. Bucky was passed out across several seats, his head in Cami's lap. Steve was sitting across from them, staring at Cami even as she tried her best to avoid his gaze.

Her abilities were strained from their escape and she was filled with so much of her own guilt she could barely sense him. All she could tell is that he was feeling frustrated, upset and betrayed.

About halfway into the flight he finally spoke. "Why didn't you tell me, Millie? Why didn't either of you tell me?" She glanced at him. His eyes kind but sad.

"Steve... It just happened. It was while my guards were down." She looked out the window, not even realizing her fingers were stroking Bucky's hair nervously. "It was only a second, I stopped it..."

"Which I appreciate. But why didn't you say anything? We could have worked this out, all three of us. He didn't have to run. None of this had to happen."

"We didn't want to hurt you." Her voice was tired.

"Well, you did. I thought I made it clear, you could tell me anything. I thought you trusted me."

"I do!" She glanced down at Bucky and lowered her voice. "We both do. We just... we both felt so terrible... ashamed. We love you so much, Steve... and we betrayed you."

"Look at me, Doll." His tone was gentle but commanding. She looked at him. "I feel betrayed that neither of you thought you could come to me with this. You've asked me not to keep things from you. I didn't think I had to say this, but I expect you to be honest and open with me too."

She nodded.

He leaned forward and stroked her face. She leaned into his touch. "We'll talk about this later, okay? We'll work this out. All three of us. Everything will be okay."

She gazed into his eyes, one of her hands pressing his palm to her cheek. "Okay. I love you."

He gave her his heart-melting, eye-twinkling smile. "Love you too, Baby."

Chapter Text

Back to Normal

Things quickly went back to normal. Normal being Bruce stressing about his latest formula, Tony being snarky, Thor delighting in regularly getting his ass kicked by Cami, Loki causing mischief, Clint online gaming, Nat being her usual awesome self, Steve being sweet... And Bucky locking himself in his room and refusing to see anyone. You know, like normal.

Cami was actually surprised how easily everyone seemed to shrug off their whole ordeal with Hydra. Maybe it was all part of being a superhero.

 

Clint and Loki

She was gaming online with Clint while Loki pretended to read beside her. Every time she would try to really concentrate he would reach over and tickle her ear.

"Loki, stop that!"

His mouth curled into a smirk. "Then pay attention to me."

"Hold on, Clint." She said into her mic. She looked at Loki. "I have twenty more minutes to game with Clint, and then you get a whole hour of my attention. Unless you want to keep interrupting me, then I take a nap for an hour. By myself."

Loki rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, but he waited semi-patiently for her to finish slaughtering zombies with Clint. She said her goodbyes, turned off the game and shifted her attention to Loki, her persona becoming gentler. "We have an hour. What would you like to do, Loki?" She brushed a lock of hair out of his emerald eyes and behind his ear. He leaned into her touch, gazing into her eyes.

"Read to me?"

Cami smiled and gently took his book. He laid his head on her lap and she read to him for the whole hour, running her fingers through his hair. He didn't fall asleep but at one point he did become so relaxed she could have sworn he was purring.

When their hour was up she cuddled him close and kissed his forehead. "I have to go, sweetheart. You be good, okay?" He nodded. She stood, gave his lips a little peck and whispered "I love you." before taking off to her next "appointment".

 

Nat

Today's time with Nat was all face masks, popcorn and a movie about male strippers. In between hunky dance numbers they chatted. Nat and Bruce were doing very well. She had recently helped him let Hulk out to play and it had gone flawlessly.

Cami told her about the Bucky situation.

"I can see why Steve was upset."

"What?" Cami looked at her friend, unused to Nat not being on her side. "Why?"

"Well... He basically gave you a green light and still you kept it from him."

"Yeah, but this was different. It was when my guards were down. And it was with his best friend. It wasn't like with a 'client'."

"Well, he said he wanted to talk, right? DAMN..." She trailed off so she could fully appreciate an especially steamy scene.

"Yes, he wants to talk about it. I kind of want to pretend it never happened."

"And how is that working for the three of you?" Nat asked, arching a brow and glancing at her, knowing Bucky was isolating again and it bothered Cami a great deal.

Cami sighed. "You know it's not working at all."

"So what could it hurt to talk about it? Steve might surprise you."

Cami stuffed a handful of popcorn into her mouth so she wouldn't have to answer.

 

Bruce

She brought turkey melt wraps to Bruce's rooms and they watched a series of old Donald Duck cartoons. They snuggled under an afghan and both ended up falling asleep.

Cami woke to her alarm, shushing a stirring Bruce softly and soothing him back down. "I have to be somewhere, but you can keep sleeping." She whispered, tucking him in on the couch and slipping his shoes off of him.

She petted his hair. "Everything is alright, Bruce. Just sleep a little more." She kissed his head, knowing this might be the only sleep he would get for a while, his insomnia became debilitating when he was working on a problem. She slipped quietly out of his door.

 

Thor

She stopped by her office long enough to change into her black fight suit. She also grabbed a little surprise she had obtained just to try in case it was what Thor needed.

He had been on a downward spiral since his break-up with Jane. Cami realized over their last couple of sessions he was actually allowing her to hit him. He wanted the pain. Damn alpha males and their inability to emote without bleeding.

She wasn't willing to stab him or knock him out, so she got him a little present. She would have never, ever used it on a mortal, it was too risky, but he was a 'god'. She hid the object inside her sleeve and went to meet him.

When she got to the gym he was waiting and ready, practicing a series of movements. She silently parkoured her way over various pieces of gym equipment and ended up dangling from the ceiling vent. She dropped behind him, careful not to touch him, and dug the taser into his lower back, holding down the button.

He roared and dropped to his knees. "Camilla! What in Hel's name are you playing at, woman!?"

She grinned at him. "God of Thunder... Meet my Lightning Rod stun gun!"

She brandished it at him and when he lunged at her she hopped easily away. He still broadcasted his moves, though he was getting a little better.

He growled at her. "That is an entirely unpleasant sensation!"

She laughed. "Then don't let me touch you, Blondie. Simple." She darted under his flying fist and jammed the taser into his ribs, jolting him again.

He growled. "Shall I summon Mjolnir and show you what real lightning is, mortal?" He sounded furious, but she could feel his blood singing. He was feeling alive, challenged, and best of all, he wasn't moping for five frikking minutes!

She slipped into shadows as he blindly lunged, leaning down from her perch on top of a tackling dummy, right next to his ear. "You can try..." She whispered, jabbing him with the taser in quick succession, his shoulder, his back and his hip, before jumping away.

He allowed himself a roar of rage before taking a deep breath and working to still his mind. He heard her in the corner of the room and he pretended to start after her. She moved immediately and he switched direction, grabbing her around the waist. She shrieked in surprise.

"Do you surrender, tiny mortal?" He hissed at her.

She pretended to think about it for a second. "Umm... No thanks, I'm good." She dropped to her knees, his grip tightening on thin air. She moved away just enough so she was no longer touching him and shoved the taser into his stomach, holding down the button and giving him a particularly vicious jolt.

He screamed and collapsed onto the mat, his howls of pain and fury transforming into a deep belly laugh. Cami slipped off her hood, switched off the taser and tossed it to him. He caught it easily.

"What do you think?" She grinned at him.

"I think you are a genius of such caliber it is a wonder you are not ruler of all Midgard, my devious, clever little mortal."

She burst into happy laughter.

 

Tony

Her next visit was with Tony. Everyone in the tower had been behaving so she relaxed the 'no alcohol' rule slightly. They were allowed beer now. He offered her one and sat across from her, sipping his own. She sat back on the couch and studied him.

His color was good. He was getting enough food and he was well hydrated. He had slight bags under his eyes but he had always fought insomnia, she was honestly pleased the bags weren't worse. Best of all, his eyes twinkled genuinely now, instead of as a desperate mask over an ocean of pain. His hormone levels were evening out, he wasn't running on pure adrenaline at the moment.

"You look good, Tony." She smiled at him.

"I feel good, Munchkin. Don't totally understand why, but I'm not complaining." He sipped his beer.

"Are you doing okay after... the Hydra tower?" She asked gently.

"Yeah." He looked a little confused. "I thought I wouldn't, you know, since I killed basically an entire building full of people..." He shrugged.

"You saved us, though. If you hadn't done what you did we would still be captive. Or worse." She leaned forward to look into his eyes, putting her hand on his chin. "You know me, Tony. And you know I don't pull my punches. Ever. Not with you. When you're being a fucking coward or a little pussy I tell you." She smirked at him and he rolled his eyes at her, stifling a little smile. "What you did... You're a hero, baby. I'm so proud of you." She stroked his face and he pressed his cheek into her hand, gazing at her adoringly.

After a moment like this he grabbed her hand and kissed it before letting it go. He moved over to the couch beside her, sipping his beer. "How about you, Shortcake? How are you dealing after that whole thing?"

"I'm okay..."

He just gave her an arched brow.

"Sort of..." She sighed. "I've been avoiding going home except to sleep."

"Why?"

She took a long drink of her beer before answering. "In Hydra's conference room... After they brought Bucky in..."

"Yeah... The lip lock...What was that about? And also, why didn't Capsicle punch something?"

"I don't know... To either question. But Steve doesn't strike me as a really jealous type person."

Tony smirked. "Right. The uh... Sticky note mix-up." He tried very hard not to laugh. He only partially succeeded. And once Cami snickered he broke down in belly laughs.

"Yeah... You weren't giggling when you were on the receiving end of that one." She winked at him.

His chortles finally eased enough for him to talk again. "Can I level with you, kid?" He didn't wait for an answer. "You need to lock yourself in your rooms and not come out until the three of you hash this out. You all love each other, right? It looks like it's even more complicated than a love triangle, it's like a big, semi-freaky... love-pyramid. So go work it out."

 

Steve and Bucky

Steve was furious. Tony had JARVIS seal their door, and no amount of pounding or kicking would budge it.

"For the love of country, Millie, let me out! I have gym time scheduled!"

She crossed her arms and sighed. "I told you, it's not opening until the three of us work this out."

He balled his fists and glared at her, striding toward her aggressively. She would have winced if she had been anyone else, but she could sense him and she felt no personal threat from him.

He stormed past her and slammed his fist on Bucky's door. "Buck! Get your butt out here! Now!" He punched the door again, hard as he could.

He glanced over his shoulder at her. "Millie, get behind the couch. I'm ending this. Now." He ordered, his tone just this side of a snarl.

His voice held no room for argument, and it spoke directly to her submissive side. Against her better judgement she obeyed him.

Once she was behind the cover of the sofa he reared back his leg and kicked the door once, twice... it crumpled and exploded inward, shards of wood flying in all directions. Bucky deflected the edge of the flying door with his metal arm.

"What the hell, man!?" He was sitting on the bed but was instantly on his feet. He stalked toward Steve, angry. "You could have killed her!"

Steve rolled his eyes. "I'm not an idiot. She's behind the couch."

They both went silent and shared a look. "Couch is off-limits. Got it." Bucky said, deceptively calm, just before he punched Steve as hard as he could with his flesh hand. Steve stumbled back and held his jaw, pinning his dangerous gaze on Bucky.

Steve threw the next punch and it was as if someone had un-paused them, mid-fight scene. They started hitting, kicking, growling, landing vicious elbows and knees. Cami watched in rapt fascination. It was clear to her they were beyond coherent thought. They were animals now and she wasn't a big enough threat to make them submit.

Soon blood was flying from both sides. Steve's mouth was bloody and one of Bucky's eyes was swelling shut. Steve finally got Bucky pinned, a knee on the back of his neck, gripping his flesh arm tight and twisted behind him. Bucky's metal arm remained limp at his side, almost like he didn't want to fight anymore.

"Tell me." Steve growled, twisting the arm in his grip a fraction.

"Tell you what?" Bucky snarled against the carpet.

Arm twisted further, Steve yelled down at his best friend. "You know what! Tell me the truth! Tell me why you ran!"

Bucky stayed silent until the pain of his arm and shoulder tore the reluctant words from his throat. "I kissed her!"

Steve growled and put more weight on his knee, twisting Bucky's arm until Buck called out in pain. "I know that part, tell me the rest!" His voice went suddenly soft, though his grip did not. "...Buck, please..."

Bucky gritted his teeth for just another instant before the truth was torn from him.

"I love her, okay? Is that what you want to hear?... I'm in love with your girlfriend... have been since the day she took care of me..."

The room stilled. After a beat Steve released Bucky. They sat apart but facing one another, breathing hard. Bucky wouldn't look at Steve and Steve wouldn't look away.

"Why didn't you say anything?" Steve asked.

Bucky looked at him then, his gaze intense. "Because it's wrong."

"...Says who?" Steve whispered.

They looked at each other in silence, Cami crouched, frozen and momentarily forgotten behind the couch.