Steve Rogers shut his office door carefully. As if on cue the, REM’s “Closing time” drifted out of the speakers of the coffee shop. It was a nightly ritual to him, cashing out for the day and putting the money into the safe in his office. The staff were gone for the night, so it was just him tucked away in the closed store. This was his favorite time of the night, were he could still smell the lingering rich scent of crushed coffee grounds as he listened to a great classic. He kept the lights low, working under the muted glow of a lamp.
Never mind what Bucky said about his taste in music, Steve just rolled his eyes and kept listening to REM.
The money bag was full, a good day for Stark Coffee House.
He put the bag of money down on his desk and sat down. His feet ached after a day of running around managing the store but he loved his job and the health care plan was a gift for a kid from Brooklyn with asthma issues.
Steve closed his eyes and tucked his hands behind his head, as he leaned back in his chair. This was a good kind of tired but he couldn’t wait to get to the apartment that he shared with his friend Sam Wilson. They were planning on Chinese for dinner.
“Can you pass over the money bag please?” A feminine voice suddenly broke his calm. “Let’s make this easy and I won’t have to hurt you.”
Steve’s eyes snapped open and he shoved his chair away from his desk. His feet scrambled for purchase.
He could only stare in shock at the woman who was apparently robbing him. She held a gun in her hand, a hand that was wobbling wildly as if she was nervous. His mouth opened as he took in the tumbling chocolate curls that fell over her shoulders and her blue eyes that held fire in them.
He swallowed thickly and held his hands up in surrender. “You don’t have to do this. Crime is not the answer, miss.”
“You don’t know anything, mister bigshot coffee guy. You with your fancy skinny jeans and suspenders that probably cost a month’s rent.” She snarled as she waved the gun to indicate his clothes and he had to resist the urge to grab her weapon.
“You’re right,” he offered in a soft tone. “But there must be a better way for you to get the money you need.”
She lowered her hand, looking almost defeated. She stared at him, her eyes flicking to his name tag. “There is no other way, Steve. If only we could have found a way, don’t think we didn’t try and we have some of the brightest minds the world will ever see in our group. We’ve sold everything that we all had, we begged for help.” Her jaw tightened. “We went to Tony Stark for help but he didn’t even want to see us. We need this money more than you will ever know.”
“What’s it for?” he asked. He couldn’t help but feel for this girl who looked so lost. The street light from outside fell over her, casting shadows across her face.
She smiled sadly, “I’m trying to save my best friends life. Don’t you have someone like that Steve? Someone who you’ll burn the world down to save?”
He thought of Bucky, back from the war. Poor damaged Bucky. “I’d go to the end of the line for my friend.” He offered grimly.
She nodded, “That’s good for them.”
The door to his office was slammed against the wall, making them both jump.
“Time to go, D.” A striking redhead spoke to the woman who was holding him at gunpoint. “We cleared out the muffin section.”
“Jane does love her baked goods,” the brunette said. She kept the gun trained on him as the redhead snatched the money bag.
“Time to go, or did you make a friend?” the newcomer asked glancing between them. Her green eyes held a spark of undeniable mischief. “Don’t get involved with the mark, D.”
The brunette sighed and walked backwards, gun still trained on him. “Gotta go, Steve. Thanks for not trying to fight me. I would’ve hated having to actually shoot you. You’re too pretty to die young.”
“Leave the shooting to me,” the redhead smirked as she made her way into the hallway with the stolen money.
Steve watched them leave, watched this angry avenging angel leave his office. “You’re far too breathtaking to die young.” The words slipped from his lips before he could stop himself but the rising blush that dusted her cheeks warmed his heart.
“Gosh, Steve you’re gonna make me fall for you.” The words were a whisper in the wind and then she was gone.
He stood there, lowering his hands to reach for the phone in his back pocket. “Sam, I think I was just robbed. I think I liked it though.” He frowned, he'd never claimed to be normal and Sam knew that.
The answering choking sound brought him back to reality a little.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
I'm keeping Jane's illness super vague because I don't want to trigger anyone. Illness of any kind is horrible, so Jane's illness doesn't even have a name.
It gets cured, happy endings all round I promise.
Darcy followed Natasha to the getaway van. Not that anyone was chasing them. It was a short distance to the alley where the rest of the group waited for them. The sound of their shoes smacking against the ground was loud to her ears.
“Get in, get in,” Helen Cho said as she held the door open for them. She waved her hands dramatically and Darcy felt the adrenalin surge through her veins as Nat all but tossed her into the van and got in herself.
Helen shut the door and banged on the roof of the van, that was Betty’s cue to speed off with the smell of burning rubber and clouds of exhaust smoke in their wake. The van was old but it moved fast.
Darcy slumped in her seat, her hair now wet with perspiration against her damp neck. It was a cool night but she felt like she had run a marathon under the blazing sun.
She looked over at Nat who had already opened the bag. Helen was making her way through the bills, trying to count as the van jostled about.
“You guys ok?” Betty Ross asked. She peered at them through the rearview mirror.
“Darcy made a friend,” Natasha ratted her out without batting an eyelash.
“Traitor.” She flailed about the rubber seats trying to sit up.
“Wait, you had time to flirt with the guy that manages the place?” Helen looked up from the cash.
“Didn’t know you had it in you Darce,” Betty chuckled as she navigated a tricky turn.
Darcy rolled her eyes, “He was nice.”
“See what a life of crime gets you?” Nat asked, as she shook the last of the money out. “Crime will turn a good girl bad.”
“It wasn’t like we had a choice.” Helen’s voice was quiet and the buoyant mood in the van went out the window as they all remembered the reason why they were here.
Darcy looked out into the dark night.
Betty put the radio on to fill the silence. Her fingers drummed against the steering wheel as she drove.
They’d been on the path to fame and brilliance, Darcy thought. Not her, she was just a friend the girls had picked up at Culver. But Jane was going to discover new worlds, new galaxies, Helen was a medical genius, Natasha had her career as a ballerina ahead of her and Betty was going to find a cure for anything and everything.
But Betty couldn’t find a cure for Jane. They’d all been at Culver, gifted with scholarships. Even Darcy had a political science grant. They didn’t have money to spare when Jane got sick, so they’d asked every institution that they could think of for help.
They decided on asking Tony Stark, the man who had given Jane her scholarship. He had more foundations than anyone on the planet but the girls had been blocked at every turn. The man had more money than he needed. Betty had made attempts to contact her father but the group had refused to let her contact the General.
So, that was why after they had sold all their worldly belongings, begged money off their families and they had nowhere left to turn to, they had decided to rob the man.
They’d left Culver and they headed to New York, all scholarships lost in the face of a sick friend. It hadn’t been a choice for any of them. They’d never turn their backs on each other.
Betty had made sure that Jane was comfortable in a small apartment that that no one could trace back to them and Natasha had pulled out a map and proceeded to plan the robberies.
Darcy was brought back to the present as they stopped in front of their building.
“He sure was cute though,” she confessed as they got out.