Steve has become used to seeing familiar faces everywhere. The nature of the war means constant re-assignment, and the Howling Commandos tend to get around anyway. So it isn’t that strange when a man who Steve has seen at almost every other base he’s been at sits down next to him in his tent.
And frankly, even if it had been strange, Steve isn’t sure that he could find it in himself to care. What does it matter anymore? Bucky is gone, and it’s his fault. Nothing matters anymore. It’s been days now since he’s slept. That doesn’t matter either, the serum will keep him going. Peggy is worried, and normally that would be important, but-
“He doesn’t blame you.” The man next to him says, startling Steve from his thoughts.
“Bucky. He wanted you to know, he doesn’t blame you.” What right did this joker have to-
Steve punches him, not even bothering to adjust for his enhanced strength. The fist goes right through the figure, as though he isn’t even there. The man next to him sighs, and begins to glow softly.
“He gave me the right, Steve, when he asked me to come here.” The man reached out a hand to brush across Steve’s forehead, and this time he was actually there, soft, worn hands trailing down the side of his face. Suddenly Steve remembered why sleep was important: because Bucky would have wanted him to. Laying down on his cot, Steve allows himself to drift off in the man’s soft glow.
Bruce had spent the last week actually having an assistant who spoke English, which was nice, and not something he got very often, here in Brazil. Monica was a student from Ireland, on a backpacking trip through South America and, unlike most tourist types, had been happy to help around the clinic. It had been wonderful. Until the militia came. Until the Other Guy destroyed them. He’d been able to stop before the town was in ruins- how he didn’t know- but there was no guarantee he would be able to in the future.
Enough was enough. Enough of living on the run, never staying on one place any longer than it took for violence to break out (and in the third world countries he was forced to keep to, that wasn’t long). Enough of trying to help people only to put them in danger. Enough of trying.
Blinking back tears, Bruce loaded the gun that he had stolen carefully. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it right. Out of the night-darkened trees, a man appeared, looking out of place with the moonlight on his grey suit.
“Get out of here.” Bruce told him. When the man didn’t move, Bruce waved the gun in his direction, “Come on you bastard, just leave!” The man just stood there, looking sad. Bruce decided that if he wanted to see this, fine, that was up to him. It wouldn’t matter in a minute anyway.
Bruce jammed the gun into his mouth, aimed for his brain and pulled the trigger.
When he woke up, it was morning. His clothes were destroyed, but at least he was in the same place he had been. On the ground next to him was a neatly folded grey suit.
Barely a legal adult in most of the world, but already the Black Widow was a legend. Her grace and beauty made her targets overlook her more deadly skills, often as not. Men were so shallow, not able to see past a pretty face until she was slicing through their intestines like butter. The Black Widow didn’t have a sentimental or merciful bone in her body, but on occasion, Tasha did.
That was why, tonight, after her assignment was completed, she had gone out to a bar, picked up a nice, pretty man for no other reason than that he was kind and pretty. The Black Widow liked the fact that he looked at her face as he spoke, and Tasha liked the idea of getting herself a nice 18th birthday present. Leaving the club around midnight, the two walked down the lamp-lit street, Tasha allowing herself to laugh and cling to Andrew’s arm, enjoying the fact that they were both there because they wanted to be.
An arrow hit the ground directly in front of them, embedding itself in the concrete in a way that shouldn’t have been possible. The Black Widow was instantly on her guard, trying to look at the rooftops and at her date at the same time. Had this been a trap all along?
Her date smiled, a genuine smile with no malice behind it. “You won’t be needing me tonight.” He said, before turning and vanishing into the night. Tasha barely had time to contemplate it before another man appeared in front of her, a quiver slung across his back and a smirk on his face.
The memories of those first few days in Afghanistan were fuzzy, but there were times when Tony could swear that he wasn’t the only American in the caves. Out of the corners of his eyes, he kept seeing a man, completely out of place in their surroundings, wearing a formal suit and tie, always pristine. When Tony woke at least, there was a car battery attached to his chest, and the man was gone.
Almost three months later, Tony stood near the entrance to the cave, whole and strong, a force to be reckoned with. He knelt over the body of Yinsen, his only friend in this horrible place, as the man bled out, and told him not to waste his life. When Tony straightened up, that man was there again, holding up his hands in surrender, a sad smile on his face.
“It’s alright.” He said softly. “I’m here to take him to see his family. You’ve got another job to do.” Heedless of the blood and filth on the floor, the man knelt next to Yinsen, glowing briefly as he stroked a hand across his face. Blinking quickly, Tony turned to the cave entrance. His work was just beginning.
Fuck Budapest, Clint thought, carrying his partner over his shoulders. They had been outmanned and outgunned, but still managed to escape the firefight. And now command says that they can’t extract them for three days? Didn’t they understand when he told them that they didn’t have three days, that Tasha was dying?
The old warehouse he found was as good a shelter as any they were likely to find in this godforsaken hole. Clint set about making Tasha comfortable, frantically doing his best to stop the bleeding.
“It’s alright.” A voice behind him said. Clint was turned around with an arrow on his bow before they had even finished speaking. A man, dressed like a lawyer, glowing like some kind of Vegas showgirl. And damned if he didn’t look familiar…
“It’s alright.” He repeated, walking towards him, hands outstretched. “You can’t make a different call this time, Clint. It’s time for her to go home.”
Suddenly Clint knew where he’d seen the man. Seven years ago, Romania, the night he’d recruited Tasha. “Who the fuck are you?”
The glowing grew steadier “I’m an angel, Clint.” Sighing, the man added wryly, “an Angel of Death.”
Clint lined up his shot. “No. You can’t have her. She’s here, she’s mine, and I’m not done yet.”
The man sighed, taking a seat on a dented oil drum. “Then don’t let me distract you.”
Glaring at him for a moment longer, Clint turned his attention back to Tasha. Her shirt was already soaked through with blood, he needed to reapply the pressure, needed to- She hadn’t regained consciousness since he’d put her into that fireman’s carry. Hadn’t that been hours ago? And she was shaking now. His own thin jacket already lay across her legs, and she was still so cold. Of course she was, it was fucking freezing here, amazing there wasn’t snow on the ground, and-
The man appeared beside them, lifting Tasha’s shoulders gently, to wrap her in his suit jacket. Clint glared at him “I said I’m not finished.”
“Didn’t say you had to be.” Clint flinched away when the man put a hand on his shoulder, eyes widening when he was suddenly warm again.
“Why would you-?”
“I’m in no hurry.” Sitting back against the wall, the man smile. “I’m Andrew, by the way.”
A day later, their extraction team came. Coulson had gotten them a miracle after all. And three days later, in the infirmary, when Andrew finally left, Clint knew that everything would be alright.