“No, no way. I’m not doing it,” you exclaimed resolutely, spinning on your heels.
Heavy, yet somewhat gentle hand fell on your shoulder, turning you back. You bit your lip and looked up at your boss and closest friend in one person.
His eyebrow was raised. “Are disobeying your orders?”
You could hear his light teasing just like the serious note in his tone. And of course, Captain America’s authoritative voice was unmistakable. You just gaped.
“It’s a waste of time, St— Captain,” you bit back wryly and he made a disapproving face.
“Don’t pull that out, you know I-“
His expression turned annoyed at the interruption and your snarky tone. You knew you were being cranky, but trying to convince Daredevil, freaking Daredevil, the patron not-exactly-saint of Hell’s Kitchen, was not on your I’d-love-to-do-this list. More like the opposite. That guy was very obviously a lone wolf who loved playing on his own playground and you were not judgemental of that – he was dedicated to his home and that was fine. His way of saying no to joining the Avengers might be a bit rude, but given how many people – well, people – had been trying to convince him to step up to the plate and think on a larger scale than ten blocks, you couldn’t really blame him.
Steve’s hands caressed your shoulders and you bit your lip harder. His baby blue eyes were staring at the bottom of your soul, making you shiver. He had beautiful eyes, serious most of the time, getting incredibly charming when a spark of mischievousness appeared; and make no mistake, Captain America had a lot of mischief in himself despite the righteousness radiating from him to miles.
You blinked, trying to escape his gaze. It was annoying how it always sent your heart racing.
“Just give it a try. No one will be angry with you if you fail. I won’t either. But I believe in you,” he pronounced softly, making you swallow embarrassingly loudly when his thumbs caressed your shoulders.
Jeez, you were such a sucker for his ‘I believe in you’.
Of course, you had a good reason. His speech had been the one that inspired you to join the team. To stop pitying yourself and woman up – yes, that was exactly the term he had used later, because his love for strong women was infinite –, to use your accidently gained powers to do some good. He had been the one to find you almost five months ago in the completely frozen lab – your work, not that you had intended it –, shaking, but not from cold. You had been scared to death – you had killed people. You had killed the people who had been trying to help you-- and he had come to you, slowly, putting his shield away despite your warnings and offered you a literal helping hand, promising he hadn’t been there to harm you and he had believed you wouldn’t have hurt him. That he had believed in you.
You fought tears at the memory – you always had. You had hurt him in the end – just a little frostbite really, nothing his super-soldier’s body couldn’t have handled – and yet, you had felt almost as sorry as for taking the other people’s lives. But Steve Rogers hadn’t been mad at you. He had stuck around, helped you to get a hold of your powers and you two had become colleagues slash friends. Very close friends, actually. Also, you had a bit of a crush on him, but who hadn’t.
“Goddammit, Steve,” you whined silently and his face lit up as he realized he had won. Not from his boss position, no; he had won the way he always had, as a friend of yours.
“I knew I could count on you, Frosty,” he whispered, enclosing you in a short gentle hug.
You rolled your eyes. “You know, Rogers, for someone who napped for about seventy years in ice, you really are pushing your luck.”
Secretly, you loved that nickname he gave you. People called you Frostbite, but Steve never had, aware what kind of a painful reminder of what you had done to him and everyone else the first time using your uncontrollable powers it was. No, he called you Frosty or Snowflake, because he was a sweetheart. Tony, on the other hand, was a dick, calling you Elsa. The others called you either your first name, or your last name. And then there was Thor, calling you the Lady of Ice. You loved your team. It was a delight to work with them. Very exhausting delight.
“Nah, you like me too much.”
You scoffed. He was perfectly on point of course. “I still don’t understand why it’s not you coming, Captain Righteousness. I’m sure you would handle him, oh Star Spangled Man with a Plan.”
He let go of you, ruffling your hair to show how much he was still cranky about Clint showing you the videos, both old and rather recent ones. To be fair, you deserved that; but you couldn’t help but tease him about it; some of them were cute, while the others were just hilarious.
“Careful, you still have a problem for saying a bad word.” You rolled your eyes. You had said ‘goddammit.’ Wuss. “And I do have a plan.”
You expectantly raised your eyebrows, curious. He winked.
“I have you.”
‘This is ridiculous. I’m tracking a man in a Devil suit in, myself in an icily blue catsuit, Captain America’s voice in my ear. What is my life?’
“He’s around the Piers 42/44, heading North.”
“Rogers that,” you mumbled, not fighting the smirk that always found a way to your lips when talking to Steve via comms, saying ‘Rogers that’ instead of just ‘Roger’. It was just too funny and you needed funny in your life. You could basically hear him rolling his eyes at that. Rude.
You created an ice slide, rising and falling to help you to move faster. Tony had designed special shoes for you to move easily on it, while not giving yourself a shiner – it had taken quite a lot of tries and lots of black-eyes plus one broken radius, but hell if it hadn’t been worth it. Ha, hell.
Never mind. You had a task to complete.
You saw him now, the Devil. He slowed down visibly, which surprised you. He had actually managed to disappear to Tony in the sewers once. He had walked away in the middle of Cap’s recruitment speech, ignorant. Sure, he hadn’t shaken Natasha off, but hadn’t agreed either. Thor and Clint hadn’t tried yet. You wondered what Devil’s strategy was this time.
He stopped completely then and you landed few steps from him, a bit wary. You had done your reading on the Devil; he was fast, effective and didn’t hesitate to break a bone or two. Or six. To be fair, you read about why he did it, on what occasions and you truly weren’t judgemental.
“Wasn’t expecting any black ice tonight. It’s only September,” he commented nonchalantly, his voice deep. Not necessarily hostile though – you took that as a win. Perhaps Steve knew what he was doing, sending you – you weren’t as notoriously famous as the others who had actually been present during The Battle of New York were, so maybe the Devil found it refreshing or something.
You wordlessly let your icy toboggan-bridge disappear. “Daredevil.”
“Why are you here? Have your teammates not got the message yet? Did you draw the shortest straw today?”
“Something like that.”
“The answer is still no.”
“Why?” you asked, guessing the answer. Because he belonged in the Hell’s Kitchen. Because he was a vigilante, not a hero, not an Avenger.
“I don’t really feel like fighting aliens. And someone need to take down drug rings and smaller things that escapes your notice,” he replied wryly and you sighed.
“You think we don’t see that?”
“Sounds like you don’t, given what your friend is saying,” he noted and you closed your eyes in defeat.
Steve’s voice was quiet, for you only, but it wasn’t news the Devil had extraordinary hearing. You couldn’t quite blame him for not liking you came alone and not alone at all. You reached to your ear, turning your communicator off. Daredevil tilted his head, seeming a bit confused.
“You think they don’t see that?” you corrected yourself, letting out the doubts you had despite the warm (ha) welcome the Avengers gave you. “You’re needed here. What you do matters, which is why they are letting you.”
“Why are you saying ‘them’?”
“Do I look like an Avenger to you?”
“You sure call yourself that.”
“Well, I don’t feel like one. But I let them talk me down. I’m a destroyer, yet, they convinced me I can help. And maybe I found a calling. Maybe I found a way to possibly redeem myself,” you whispered, being sure the Devil would hear you. He heard everything.
“I am answering a calling. By doing what I do,” he replied, aiming for firm, but failing. Could he tell the emotion behind your voice, the way you opened unexpectedly (to your own surprise too)? Could he hear the regret? Did he imagine what had caused it? Did it move him?
“And I understand that. Actually, kudos for aiming for achievable goal of managing ten blocks of Manhattan and not letting your ego get in the way too much. I mean, these guys are trying to save the world, talk about unrealistic goals,” you noted, lightening up the mood a little.
You imagined the man behind the mask frowned. “I’m sorry, I’m confused now. Are you still trying to get me to join, or…?”
You chuckled. “Doesn’t look like it, huh? I guess that’s fair.”
The corner of his lips quirked in an approximation of a smile. Your heart skipped a beat. You bet neither of your Avenging friends managed to do that. Not that this was a competition or a manipulation – you were being completely honest. Painfully so.
“I… I’m gonna be honest with you. Steve wants you on this one. And frankly, I have no idea why-“ you paused, realizing how it sounded. “I mean— I know why, we can always use some help saving the world and stuff, but... yeah. So just once for now, let’s team up. No strings attached.”
“That was quite a direct strike. Didn’t see that coming,” he chuckled and you blinked, your eyelashes brushing your eye-mask.
Did he just chuckle? Did he laugh at you? Not that he didn’t have the right, but it was still a bit incredible. His face returned to the mask of seriousness. For some reason, it seemed softer now. “It was… Steve, wasn’t it? You say they convinced you, but you mean Steve Rogers.”
You escaped his gaze – or you thought so. Escaped the way the glassy eye-covers of his helmet burned through you. Whatever.
“Yes,” you whispered. He didn’t comment on that. But you would swear he relaxed.
“How did you get your powers?”
You froze almost literally at the direct question. Well, he sure wasn’t beating around the bush. What was it to him? Was it a test? Did he want to know you before saying no? Was he considering a yes? Did he trust you?
You licked your lips, fighting a shiver.
“Untested treatment. I had a rare liver disease and they tested a treatment with some chitauri crap on me. I always had troubles with thermoregulation. The meds messed it up on a completely different level.”
“I’m sorry.” And he genuinely sounded as if he was, his voice dropping.
“I didn’t ask for this. I hurt people. I’m paying my debt, because I think it’s the only thing I can do apart from creating icicles and toboggans for kids and do some cold-drying of fruit for missions,” you said seriously and his shoulders slightly shook with laughter. You found yourself smiling too. Dammit, how did you switch from misery to joking so fast in one sentence?
“No strings attached?” he asked slowly and your mouth literally fell open. Did he just-
“Did you just-?”
“Yeah. How bad it can be? Plus, your friend is approaching with the jet, I guess he didn’t like you turning your comms off.”
“Oh I’m gonna be on detention for like a week. Or until they need another cold-drying.”
The Devil chuckled once more before a cute smile settled on his lips. He took several steps closer to you. “I’m sure it’s delicious.”