Natasha was, of course, the first one to realize how deep of a hole they'd dug themselves.
T'Challa had offered Bucky shelter, but he could not (would not, realistically), take in the rest of the fugitive Avengers. Possibly she could have changed his mind, but then again, he hadn't shown any interest in her at their first meeting...and Wanda's and Steve's puppy dog eyes had had no impact, from what they said.
She'd met up with them after they left Wakanda. The Wakandans had loaned them a jet to fly to a safehouse Barton and she had in Mexico. The jet was programmed to return to Birnin Zana once they disembarked. Nat would have dearly loved to have kept it, but she didn't have the skills to hack into that sophisticated a computer system without more advance preparation. She watched it fly away, muttering softly in Russian.
They had shelter, food, a small cache of money, and fake IDs stashed away that could be modified to let each of them relocate.
Steve had tried to insist that they all remain together as a team.
Barton flatly refused, as did Lang. They'd promised not to rat out their teammates, but they had children who needed their fathers. And anyway, disguises would only go so far if they stuck together.
Wanda had opted to go to Europe, feeling that she would blend in better there.
Nat, Steve, and Sam would return to the United States under assumed identities.
The 'cookie jar' of cash was divided equally among the four of them who would be staying off-grid.
Steve frowned as he took his share. "This won't cover a plane fare..."
"...what?" from both Wanda and Nat.
"Well, how else would we get back to New York?" he asked reasonably. "We don't have a car."
Silence. Now even Sam was eying their fearless leader.
"Speaking for myself I don't intend to go anywhere near New York," Nat answered after a too-long moment. "And we've discussed this, Steve. I thought you understood the plan. We're going our separate ways. It's up to you if you seriously want to walk into the lion's den, but I'm out."
"No, Steve. "
"If we just talked to Tony--"
"STEVE. NO." From all six of them this time.
He subsided, though he was still frowning.
Barton and Lang left the next morning, to turn themselves in to the police in New Mexico.
Natasha waited a week to be sure the trail had gone mostly cold before she left one night, unannounced.
By that night, she was ready to beat down Sam or Steve himself if they. didn't. stop. WHINING.
She'd insisted that everyone ditch their weapons, or leave them at the safehouse. Ditto for their 'uniforms' and anything Stark had given them.
" 'Little guys from Brooklyn' don't walk around in Kevlar or EXO-7 flightsuits, Steve!"
"No, we can't sell them! Not even to the black market--"
"We *are* criminals, Wilson. We've managed to piss off half of the Northern Hemisphere. Off the grid means OFF. Our location would be worth a hell of a lot more to somebody like Ross than Stark's tech would be to the 'bad guys'."
She had dyed her hair a soft blond, and cut it short, almost a bob, with some help from Wanda.
Natasha Romanoff became Kim Ellis, a dancer at a 'gentleman's bar' in Seattle. It was the kind of job that paid well, no one thought twice about her request to be paid strictly in cash, and no one actually looked and saw her. Even the ones who paid enough for a private dance weren't interested in getting to know her in any sense but the physical. It worked out well enough for all concerned.
She rented a studio apartment near the workplace, close enough that she could walk to work every night. She wasn't rich, but she wasn't hungry, she had what she needed. It'd do until she had the opportunity to try for something better.
She trained during her off-duty times, watched the news, kept alert and did her best to be invisible.
She was used to starting over, after all.
Nat did wonder how the others were doing. They had each taken a burner phone "in case of Doomsday", but none of them ever called her...
And she was a bit surprised to realize how little interest she had in calling any of them.
* * *
Wanda glared at her employer.
The old man smirked. "If you don't like the job, there's plenty of people out there who'd be happy to take your place," he
"But I thought--I'd be helping the families, or keeping the books. Not..."
"What? Too good to get your hands dirty, princess?" He handed her a pair of work gloves and a shovel.
She resisted the urge to levitate the desk in his office and throw it at him.
No. Stay out of trouble. It's only six hours til the shift ends.
She could use her powers inconspicuously to make the heavy lifting easier, at least.
She took her equipment and trudged back outside, walking to the Glasgow cemetery's northernmost corner.
* * *
Sam wiped sweat off his forehead. He was used to hot, he'd spent plenty of time outdoors while in the service. And flying the Falcon suit had let him build up some serious muscle, even if he wasn't in super-soldier league.
But yeeeehs, the smell!
Grass slid under his feet as he crossed the field, toting a basketful of grain.
The sheep had begun to recognize him, after the last several days.
"BAAA!" they greeted him joyfully, rushing over for their meal.
"You're a natural with them," the Virginia farm's owner had told him last night. "Fit right in."
He'd already fed the chickens (and gotten the eggs), so once he was done here, he wouldn't have to shovel any more shit for
He'd settled in West Virginia, taking a seasonal job as a farm hand. He'd done that sort of work before as a teenager, before enlisting.
Busy, useful, and wouldn't raise too many questions if he had to take off for parts unknown suddenly.
He had room and board as part of the deal, which he wasn't going to argue with...
I'mma still gonna wring that rooster's neck the day I leave, he promised himself. Who the hell wants to wake up at 5 a.m.????
* * *
Steve stared at the crowd of people in front of him, wishing for his shield.
He chased that thought away. This wasn't like Bucharest, or Leipzig, these were all civilians.
They couldn't know who he was. He'd grown a beard and spent time outdoors, enough to have a tan, instead of sunburning the way he always used to as a kid.
Despite Nat's advice, he'd headed to New York state. Really, it was hiding in plain sight...who'd expect him to hide out here?
He'd be nearby when Tony and the rest finally admitted they needed the other Avengers back, he wouldn't have to keep them waiting and worrying.
In the meantime, this might be good. He'd have a chance to make friends, maybe give his side of the story to the American people directly in the near future.
Best get to work for now.
He smiled, stepping up to the counter. Took the first customer's order, typing it in deftly.
"Do you want fries with that, miss?"