1. (Antebellum, Vienna Teng)
("I know the border lines we drew between us...")
(I blame this partly on harmonyangel who pointed out this song to me. I also blame it equally on speculation on "Who will Wield the Shield?" and the suggestion of the book being nothing but two wartime buddies sitting and talking… strangely, I'd be okay with that.)
"So... it's good to have you back."
"Same. It's going to be a little weird."
"Especially since you're wearing my shield."
"If you want it back, you just have to say the word."
"I think you've more than earned it. My absence proved one thing. Captain America is still needed."
"More than ever, I'd say."
"So that means what... two Caps?"
"I like the sound of that."
"So do I."
"Speaking of names, do you still like to be called Bucky? Or is it James now?"
"Your girlfriend. Honestly, Bucky, of all the women you could have fallen for..."
"Oh hell, it's a long story, Cap."
"I've got plenty of time."
2. (Blame it on the Bossa Nova, Eydie Gorme)
("But it ended up a big romance...")
Bucky had been to his share of his dances and parties. Avengers parties were definitely unique. Watching superheroes trying to dance in spandex never ended well. Spider-man looked particularly ridiculous, but Bucky suspected that was whole point.
"So are you going to hide in the corner all night, James?"
"If I can help it, Natalia. I think I'll let the kids enjoy themselves."
"You sound like a grumpy old grandfather, scowling at the younger generation."
"And you make it sound like I've forgotten how to have fun."
"Prove me wrong then."
Bucky stretched out a hand. "How about we show these kids how to dance?" He twirled her around into his arms. Natalia moved so gracefully, he almost believed she had been a ballet dancer all these years ago. For awhile, he didn't notice anything around him, except her.
3. (Wannabe, Spice Girls)
("If you want my future forget my past...")
(Don't judge. It's on a fanmix, okay?)
"What do you see in him anyway, Tasha?"
"He makes me feel young."
"Isn't he only a few years older than you are?"
"That's not what I mean, Bobbi. He knew me when I was younger. In his eyes, I'm not the Black Widow who preys on every man she finds. I'm still the Natalia he trained with once. It's refreshing to have someone who still trusts me completely. It's all a matter of perspective."
"Do you miss the other Bucky? The one you knew before."
"Not even remotely. That wasn't the real Bucky. The Winter Soldier was just a shadow of his real self. Before, it'd be an effort to even get him to laugh or smile."
"Now you just have to walk into a room."
"Some things do change for the better."
4. ("Hit Me with Your Best Shot", Pat Benatar)
("Knock me down, it's all in vain. I'll get back on my feet again...")
The first time Bucky met Natalia Romanova, she threw him halfway across a room. He deserved it, though. He had dared her, just to see how good the Black Widows were. The Russian best against the American best – that had been Karpov's logic. Bucky just hadn't expected such a pretty girl to hit so hard. He never made that mistake again.
The second time he encountered Natalia, he thought he knew better. If he wanted to take Steve's shield back, he couldn't let his guard down. But he was still surprised. Natalia was even better than he remembered – faster and more nimble. She wasn't just a raw trainee anymore, she was a seasoned field operative with half a century of experience. She wasn't throwing random punches, she knew exactly what she was doing. No matter what he threw at her, she seemed to have an answer. Facing her was hard, but for Steve's sake, he had to fight harder.
That seemed to typify their relationship. They'd fight, they'd make up, they'd get knocked down, they'd try again – up and down, back and forth.
5. ("Red Carpet Massacre", Duran Duran)
("Applying your lipstick 'fore ding in public".)
"Are you sure about this, Natalia?" Bucky adjusted the tie on his tuxedo. "There has to be a better way to get to this creep."
"He loves the parties," Natasha applied dark red lipstick to her lips. The color wasn't the one she'd usually choose for herself, but she needed to play a part tonight. "He likes to think he's important. We have to play his game."
"So do I look halfway presentable?" Bucky asked. "I'm used to wearing something a little more casual." Truth be told, he felt a little naked going in without the shield or a sidearm. His arm had enough sensors to fool most metal detectors.
"You look like a Hollywood starlet's young boy toy," Natasha smiled. "Perfect."
"Boy toy?" Bucky frowned. "Is that a good thing?"
"No one will expect you to do much except smile and look handsome," Natasha said. "You'll be able to watch the crowds for anyone suspicious." She posed in front of the mirror. The little red dress would definitely stop people in their tracks.
"In that dress, I don't think anyone will notice me that much."
"That is the whole idea. Besides there's always... later?" Natasha smiled. "We could always use some time for ourselves."
The promise of later almost made the party bearable. At least they didn't have to fake flirting.
6. ("Want to Get Beside You", Lynda Carter)
("Ooh baby, just want to get beside you, not get in your way...")
"You were an Avenger once," Bucky pointed out.
"And we saw how well that worked out," Natasha scowled. "Working with you is one thing, James. I know you, I know how you operate."
"You know them, too," Bucky said, "Better than I do, in some cases."
"Yes, I do," Natasha said, "think about that for a moment." She allowed him time to process that. "Just because I can work with a team doesn't mean I like to."
"Then why do you work with me?" Bucky asked.
Natasha shrugged. "I'm a contrary woman?" She added. "Besides, someone has to keep you out of trouble."
"Me?" Bucky grinned. "In this group, I'm practically the voice of reason."
"That's what worries me," Natasha said.
7. ("Interruptus", Intelligence soundtrack)
(I couldn't resist an Intelligence crossover. Canada does play a rather prominent role in Marvel Universe. Department H is the fictional section of the Canadian Department of Defense, responsible for the Alpha Flight team.)
"Where are you going looking all corporate this morning?" Bucky asked, noting Natasha's conservative dark suit and high heels. She looked like she was off to a high-powered office meeting, instead of a backroom espionage deal. At least she didn't have a bag packed this time.
"One of my private clients," Natasha said. "I'm doing a favor for an old friend. She's retiring soon. She wants to leave a tidy house, shall we say."
"Agency or SHIELD?" Bucky asked.
"CSIS actually." Natasha said. Bucky reappraised his assessment of Natasha's "old friend". Canada took their intelligence work very seriously. At least she didn't work for Department H. "She used to head up their Western branch for awhile. That's how I met her. She was running an operation in Vancouver that coincided with my interests. She switched to the private sector a few years ago."
"And now she wants to get out all together," Bucky said.
He didn't voice what they were both thinking. Old spies didn't retire. Even when they thought they were out of the game, something brought them back. And if the former branch chief of Canadian intelligence needed the Black Widow to check her background, there had to be something she was nervous about coming back to haunt her.
8. ("9 to 5" Dolly Parton)
(Tumble outta bed; And stumble to the kitchen; Pour myself a cup of ambition)
"Morning Tasha," Steve offered. He tried not to think about the fact she was coming downstairs from Bucky's bedroom. If his old partner wanted to get involved with the Widow, that was his business.
Natasha offered a slight smile. "Morning, Cap." Then she put her hands on her hips facing the kitchen area. "Stop where you are!" Natasha said. "Step away from the coffeemaker."
Bucky raised both hands in mock surrender. "Peace, Natalia, I haven't even started a pot yet."
"Thank god for small miracles," Natasha moved over to the coffee pot. "I shudder to think what coffee you're inflicting on poor Steve. James' idea of coffee is brown sludge covered by water."
"Army coffee," Steve said brightly. "No wonder it tasted so familiar."
Bucky laughed. "You don't notice how coffee tastes when your mouth is half frozen, Natalia. Something warm to drink was usually a vast improvement over the alternatives."
"Then maybe, what about now?" Natasha said.
"It's coffee, you don't question it, you just drink it," Steve replied.
"I'm living with a pair of heathens," Natasha said.
9. ("Imperfection", Saving Jane)
("You might call me damaged goods, but I'm one of a kind...")
People didn't know what to make of the two of them.
They assumed she had tried to change him, but all those changes were his doing, not hers. She encouraged and supported him, of course. She wasn't afraid to give him a piece of her mind when she thought he was being exceptionally stubborn. But in the end, it was always his decision. He wanted to be a different man. She just brought out new qualities in him.
Of course they thought he wanted her to change. They couldn't be more wrong. He had no delusions about her. He was just as much a part of her past as those other men in her life. What intrigued him most was seeing how the years had changed her – how the young Natalia he'd trained had evolved into the deadliest woman in the world.
They were both the sum of their pasts, the good and the bad. Why change that?
10. ("Sunday Mornings Here with You", Claire Martin)
("I cannot think of any place I'd rather… I'd rather be...")
Sunlight streamed into the Brooklyn house. Both people stirred in the quiet bedroom upstairs. Bucky rolled over, his good arm wrapped around the still-sleeping Natasha. He kissed her lightly on the cheek. Quiet lazy mornings like this one were rare occurrences and both of them wanted to savor it for a little longer. Usually Natasha would get some 3am phone call from Nick Fury sending her halfway across the world. Or the Avengers would keep Bucky out until ungodly hours. For a few scant hours this Sunday morning, this was the only place they'd rather be.