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Hands Too Cold, but Heart of Gold

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“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-“

“Yes, Captain?”

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?’

“Still copy?”

“Yep.”

“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 needs to take down drug rings and smaller things that escape your notice,” he replied wryly and you sighed.

“You think we don’t see that?”

“Press harder.”

“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.”



Chapter Text

If someone was watching, they probably thought they were high and hallucinating. The quinjet basically landed on water, opening precisely for you to just leave the pier and enter the ramp lash entrance without faltering in your steps. You walked in, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen on your tail, the tension in his shoulders obvious.

“Hi, Elsa. Looking good as ever. DD, good to see you again,” sounded Tony’s voice, confirming your suspicion. Everyone was now here, probably. Wonderful.

“Mr. Stark,” Daredevil acknowledged him with a nod.

You, on the other hand, ignored the greeting. If he was starting with Elsa, you were not about to speak to him unless necessary, even when he told you that you looked good – hell, it had been like an hour since he had seen you. Jerk.

“Wow, look at you, kiddo. Good job. Daredevil, we haven’t met yet-“ Clint stood up from his seat, hand extended.

“Meaning you haven’t stalked me and tried to get me to join your team?”

Clint wasn’t surprised or concerned about the distance the masked man kept, retreating his hand easily. “Yep. Name’s Clint Barton.”

The Devil just nodded again, not giving up his own name. Shocker.

“Daredevil. Welcome on board. Hey, our new recruitment expert.” Tasha gave you a significant look saying ‘brace yourself’. You picked up on it immediately.

“Hey, Natasha. Is Steve mad?” you asked innocently despite knowing the answer for sure.

“Yes,” sounded from behind you quietly as the man in question appeared, his footsteps heavy and angry.

“You are in so much trouble, missy!”

You made a face. “Steve, do not call me ‘missy’. It’s the at the top of the bad words list, seriously, who the fuck taught you that?” you teased him lightly, the humour leaving you when you found yourself under his strict gaze. Not just strict; worried. Hurt. “I’m not sorry for turning it off. You weren’t exactly helping.”

“I appreciated it,” Daredevil supported you unexpectedly and you eyed him, supressing a smile, unable to resist the warmth of satisfaction in your chest.

“Yeah, well, the job is done. Congratulation. Now turn it on again, or so help me god, I’ll cuff you with powers-restrictors and you’re sitting this mission out,” he grumbled, spinning on his heels, returning to the cockpit without another word.

You blinked in surprise at the harshness, heavy guilt settling in your stomach. Surely it wasn’t such a big deal? No, there hadn’t even been a real danger; Steve wouldn’t be so pissed about something like this, not normally. Something was wrong. You left Daredevil’s side, making your way after Steve.

“Leave him. He’s just a grumpy old man,” Tony hummed, drinking some energy drink through a straw. You ignored him. This wasn’t grumpiness, this was anxiety. Steve was anxious about something and it wasn’t you turning off your comms.

You entered the cockpit, hearing Clint trying to socialize with the Devil while Natasha interjected with the plan so the Devil would be brought up to speed.

“I don’t want to talk to you right now, Anderson,” he growled, pretending to be perfectly focused on piloting a plane that could just easily run on autopilot. The tendons in his forearms were so tightened he could cut something with them.

You gulped. Anderson. The spy name you were given by S.H.I.E.L.D. after your real persona had to die. No one on team called you that. Ever. Crap. This is bad.

You sat down next to him.

“That’s too bad. Because-“

“I don’t care about apologies.”

You scoffed. “Good, ‘cause you’re not getting one.”

His statue posture shifted and his eyes glanced at you for a fraction of a second before returning to staring ahead blankly, pretending to see what was in front of them. He didn’t say a word.

You bit your lip, covering his right hand with yours gently. His fingers twitched, but otherwise he didn’t react to your gesture. You ran your thumb over his knuckles.

“Wanna tell me what’s going on? And don’t try that bullshit about being angry because of me cutting you off. You knew it was a good move. Talk to me, Steve,” you whispered, observing his hard expression, wondering what he was hiding behind it. Steve had always been good at perceiving your emotions – and thanks to the way he had opened to you, it went both ways. But now, he was closing off and you hated it. “Please.”

Steve remained silent. It might seem he didn’t even listen to you, but you could tell he was struggling with something. Steve was… a sweetheart. A kick-ass serum-powered stubborn reckless sweetheart. He cared for people. He worried. And he thought the serum  had not only made him the most famous American hero, but also transformed him into Atlas – he believed he needed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and protect everyone else. You knew that this was why your crush was pointless – he would always saw you as the newbie, as the little sister who needed protection and couldn’t bare the weight of what he was carrying – like for example right now.

“There’s something out of place,” he said quietly and you supressed the rush of joy into your abdomen at his honesty. And silenced the ‘you mean beside the fact the daughter of the Secretary of the Treasury was kidnapped from her private school together with three other girls, taken by a human trafficking ring?’, knowing now was not the time. The Secretary was out of his mind. This would be a STRIKE team mission, but he demanded Captain America and the Avengers. “Something just doesn’t feel right. Maybe paranoia is getting to me-”

The Secretary demanded the Avengers; for some reason, Steve didn’t think it was enough and wanted the Devil on it too, because he had a bad feeling about this. It all made sense now. You squeezed his hand and he turned it up to catch your hand in his and reciprocate the gesture, not caring he let go of the controller – the plane was still on autopilot then. He really had been sitting here only for show. You mentally rolled your eyes.

“Well, you’re old enough for that, but I don’t think it’s paranoia, Steve.” His blue eyes met yours, allowing you to glimpse at the unsettling uneasiness inside of him. “You have good instincts and you have every right to trust them. I know I do.”

His posture slightly relaxed, the corners of his lips rising just inconspicuously. “Thank you.”

“I’ll keep the irresponsibility to minimum. Even smaller minimum than usual. I promise. I’ll be on the highest alert,” you reassured him softly, sensing his stiffness resolving completely. Oh dear god, this man worried for others so much. He needed something light in his life.

You squeezed his hand one more time, rising to your feet and patting his shoulder, determined to light up the mood by quoting him. “If they hurt me, I’ll hurt them back. And I’ll walk it off if they kill-“

“Don’t say it.” 

His hand shoot up to your wrist, stopping you before you could finish and leave. You met his eyes once more, curling your fingers around his own wrist.

“I’ll be careful, Steve. I promise. Just try to do the same, okay?”

He smiled at the open display of care; it was nothing rare, yet, he would probably always find it precious. He was Captain America, he was meant to worry about others; you could understand why he was moved by someone else taking the role of the concerned friend.

“Go meet the Devil properly. You’re paired with him.”

You blinked in surprise, tilting your head to side. “Why me?”

“ ’Cause he seems to trust you enough to join the mission,” Steve stated, sounding as if it was obvious.

Oh. Okay, you could see his point.

“Are you saying the others don’t trust me then?” you demanded, pretending to be wounded. Maybe not completely pretending. You were the newbie after all, you would understand if they would be reluctant to do so even after the missions you had had together.

“Oh come on, Snowflake. You know we do.”

---

You entered the larger space only to find Daredevil in the company of Clint and Tony. Tasha had probably run him through the basics of the mission and now was getting ready, while the guys were trying to interrogate him.

The Devil shot you a brief smile as you appeared and the other men noticed you too.

“But seriously. Is it Lucifer? Or is something like Raphael, like the archangel, and you’re trolling everyone?” Tony demanded and you snorted, the corners of Devil’s lips rising higher.

“No, Mr. Stark. It’s neither. Give up.”

You pated the billionaire’s shoulder. “You should suit up. We’re almost there. Plus I need to talk strategy with my partner.”

Clint grinned at Tony’s shocked expression. The man to be Iron Man gaped at Daredevil, pointing at him accusingly. “That’s not fair! Why do you get to be with the cool one?”

You rolled your eyes at the lame pun while Clint just snickered, getting up to prepare his gear.

“No, seriously. I bet I’m paired with the old man again.”

Daredevil shrugged. “Birds of feather flock together.”

You burst out laughing at the daring man who pointed out Tony’s age.

“Motherf-“

“Language!” you called out, your voice supported by three more, including one from the cockpit. Tony raised his chin, his hand imitating an offended diva gesture, which somehow activated his suit that started wrapping around him.

“Savages, all of you.” He turned your back to you and you approached the Devil, sitting next to him.

“That okay? You being paired with me?” you asked quietly.

“Of course. I get to be with the cool one. Can I ask what your abilities are exactly? Just to know-“

“Sure. Though you pretty much experienced it. I can create and manipulate ice, lower temperature of anything to almost absolute zero. It… can get nasty, but I’m trying to avoid that.”

“Understand. I don’t kill either.”

“I know.” He huffed out a laugh, less wry than you would expect from someone who just found out you had done a lot of reading on them. “You have a very good hearing and you kick ass. Anything else?”

He licked his lips, wavering. “Pretty much everything is amplified. Not just my hearing.”

Your eyes went wide in surprise. What? How— as in everything? Like his vision, touch, smell, taste too? “I’m not sure-“

“Would you like a demonstration?” You nodded without thinking. “Alright. Uhm… your heartbeat-“ just stopped, you wanted to say, because what the fuck- “is slower than average. You’re using a shampoo with… lilac, but there’s something I can’t really place. It’s adding to your aura, which is somehow colder – not because of the temperature, that’s normal, I guess maybe the device under your right ribs has something to with that – but… something cold, fresh.”

You felt your mouth fall open. Holy shit. He… how the hell did he perceive all that? Including the device that kept your body temperature in check?

He extended his hand and hovered over yours on your thigh. You wanted to ask what was he doing, but the answer came too soon.

“Your hands, they are a bit colder and I can feel them… bursting with energy even when you’re not doing anything. It’s— I’m sorry. I’m scaring you. I didn’t want to-“

“It’s okay,” you blurted out, your voice unnaturally high and in stark contrast to his quiet and measured. He was scaring you a little, okay, but you had practically asked him. And you lived with a bunch of strange people, this shouldn’t freak you out, and it didn’t, it was just… “Surprising. But okay. Shocking, maybe. Fascinating. Terrible – how do you live like this? Knowing so much about people?”

You were glad he didn’t mention he could probably see every pore on your skin and- “Jesus, wait, you don’t have an x-ray vision too, do you?”

He chuckled, relaxing as he realized you weren’t scared or offended. “No. No, I don’t have an x-ray vision. And I promise I wouldn’t peek… without your permission.”

You let out incredulous laugh. Did he just… flirt with you?

“Good to know you’re a gentleman, Daredevil.”

“What do I call you?” he asked softly, tilting his head curiously. It was incredibly cute.

“Hm?”

“I know you heard me.”

You shrugged and settled with honesty and light joking. “Anything you want, I guess. Frostbite. Snow Queen. Really, there are number of options.”

“But not Snowflake,” he suspected, his voice falling even lower, sending your heart racing.

“No… uhm, I would rather if you didn’t call me that, yeah. It’s…”

“Too personal. I understand. Anderson?”

“Fake last name. Agent Anderson. What I became after I… died. You can go with that,” you offered, pushing down the unpleasant feeling it gave you.

“You don’t like it.”

“I don’t,” you confirmed with a shrug. Then you offered him to call you your first name, because that made the most sense really.

He just smiled, a boyish smile you wouldn’t expect on a face of man who beat up people in back alleys on regular basis. Then again, you really should know better by now, considering who you worked with.

“I’ll think about it.” 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Alright, guys. We’re clear about everything? I’m coming in first, opening the door for you. Natasha, you’re with Clint, you’re going after Vasiliev and intel. Frosty and Daredevil are onto the girls and their guards. Tony, try to get to the basement level, I’ll join you as soon as possible. Questions?”

“Won’t Secretary Davis be pissed about Frostbite coming to save his daughter instead of Captain America?” you noted, a bit annoyed that you actually had to ask that question. You couldn’t care less and you were actually fine with your task, but… sadly, this was politics too, not just a rescue mission.

Steve sighed. “I’m the leader of the mission. I’ll be everywhere, that has to be enough.”

“What’s in the basement?” Clint questioned and you could see a shadow of worry covering Steve’s face as he put on his helmet.

“I don’t know. And I don’t like it. That’s why I’m sending the least vulnerable people here.”

You gulped, chill running down your spine. You didn’t like they should be going there just the two of them. “You should wait for us.”

Steve shook his head. “Can’t do. If there are weapons the guards can use against you, we need to secure them.”

“Goddammit, Steve! You told me-“

“You have your orders, Frosty. Follow them. You know this distribution of resources makes sense as it is,” he shut you down, his blue eyes piercing yours in a warning. You knew he had told you something he didn’t want to tell the others and you shouldn’t have pulled it out. But you trusted his instincts and you felt like this was the source of his concerns and the others should know that.

You raised your chin, crossing the short distance between you and the Captain.

“You don’t go there alone. You stay with Tony.” He escaped you gaze and you grabbed his forearm. “Steve.”

He looked back at you, his eyes burning with honesty. “Same goes to you, Snowflake. Everyone. Don’t do anything on your own. We’re a team. Don’t forget that.”

As if someone could ever forget being a teammate to any of you – you were all a bit too special for that. But you could see what he meant. The team nodded in agreement, gradually leaving the jet. They ‘parked’ it about a mile from the building Tony had located the girls in, nothing but woods around you. You kinda envied Tony his suit – what you wouldn’t give for a flying suit to avoid the running right now. Or any time, really.

 Alright, stop whining. Let’s do this.

---

You hated Steve sneaking in alone, but he was your best shot – he could be the most subtle apart from Natasha, who lacked the super-strength needed for breaking the locks. You could have frozen the locks, made them fragile and broken them easily, but Steve was better at hand-to-hand combat, which allowed him to get rid of the guards. Also, his body was less vulnerable. You agreed with Steve being the best choice; however, that didn’t mean you liked it.

When he opened the back entrance for you, you couldn’t supress the wave of relief; he seemed unharmed. It was ridiculous, because the mission barely started, but you hoped that from now on, he wouldn’t be alone.

“The hostages are in the west wing of the building,” Tony’s voice sounded in your ear and you nodded, glancing at Steve one more time. He smiled at you warmly before taking off.

“Stay safe,” you murmured as if he could hear you.

“Let’s go,” the Devil encouraged you softly and you both broke into a jog. Time to save some sorry asses.

The Devil turned out to be a good partner in crime – he always stopped you before taking a turn, warning you when someone was close, which gave you enough time to prepare yourself and won you the element of surprise. Also, he totally kicked ass; so far you had had the opportunity to see him in action once, because your own opponent had already been knocked out, and if you would say you hadn’t forgotten how to breathe when seeing his quick sharp blows, you would be lying through your teeth.

“You okay?” he had asked you then and you had just shaken your head to snap from the fascinated trance and beckoned to him to move.

And then there was the door. The door, because Daredevil tilted his head to side, his hand on your forearm to pull you closer.

“Fifteen heartbeats. Four of them younger and scared. That’s our girls,” he whispered almost soundlessly into your ear and you bit your lip, nodding in acknowledgement.

“Weapons?”

“Riffles.” His jaw tightened. “Probably knives, it’s hard to tell. There is no wood or water in the room as far as I can tell, but there’s lots of metal, the sound is bouncing off it – I think the girls are on the floor, leaning their backs against it.”

You stared, awe-struck, forgetting to try to imagine the picture he was drawing for you; instead, you were watching him as he had a look of the highest concentration on his half-face.

“You okay?”

You blinked, waking up once more. Jesus, get a hold of yourself, loser. “Yeah, sorry. Just… it’s incredible.” He seemed puzzled. “What you can do.”

A brief smile raised the corners of his lips. “Thanks. Not too bad yourself. Work your magic.”

You obeyed, touching the round doorknob, its metal immediately covering in a layer of ice and spreading to the whole door – its temperature dropped enough for the molecular structure to change. Daredevil spared one more glance at you and the two of you simultaneously kicked out; the door shattered as if it was made of thin glass.

All hell broke loose. You barely managed to disarm two shooters by icing their weapons before a spray of bullets rained your way and you had to take cover behind one of the metal cabinets, the Devil throwing his billy clubs and disarming two others while knocking one out.

“I’m icing the main alley, you okay with that?” you hissed over the distance and he immediately nodded. Your hand hit the floor, sending a thick belt of ice down the route – to you satisfaction, you could hear the gunmen curse and few of them went down with a thud and blind gunfire to the ceiling as they slipped.

A second later, the path was clear of ice, the distraction allowing you to attack again while the Devil sneaked into one of the smaller alleys, surprising the men from behind. 

Freezing their hands was the priority – the weapons fell on the ground one after another. Unfortunately, that also meant the men went after you and they were really pissed. The ones who could still handle to carry some kind of a weapon switched to blades; Daredevil had been right.

You did your best to fight off everyone who came at you, using an icicle through their limbs when necessary. It was a method far from your favourite, but it was efficient when needed.

The floor was quickly covering in a layer of bodies of unconscious men. It took them a while to realize that their buddies were being attacked from behind by Daredevil – idiots, lots of them.

Receiving a kick to you lower back sending you into a cabinet, making your belly meet the edge, put you into the category of idiots too. Shit, how had you missed this one? You quickly turned, still leaning onto the cabinet and blocked his lunge by kicking his stomach, making him stumble backwards. Next thing he knew, he was frozen to the wall and you punched him unconscious. You spun on your heels to look for another opponent, ducking on instinct – a second later, a knife was sticking out of the wall in the same level your head had been.

A crack echoed in the room, followed by an agonized scream. Your gaze shot in that direction immediately, seeing the Devil cracking the guy’s wrist and dislocating his shoulder. You winced. With the man being the last one standing, you only guessed he had been the one to throw the knife. And Daredevil just elbowed his face, his own teeth barred in a savage grin that only a fool would call a smile. The man fell to the ground.

“Remind me to not to piss you off. Ever,” you panted, approaching Daredevil’s masked figure. His hands were clenched in fists, his chest rising and falling rapidly, but he seemed fine. He snapped his head higher to face you better, his posture relaxing just slightly.

“Same goes to you,” he beckoned to one of the bastards who had their thigh stabbed with an icicle, impressively big even for you.

“Didn’t have the time to be gentle.”

“Incoming. Six more men. Fair sharing? Four for me, two for you?”

You gaped at him, not sure if he was kidding or not. The smug was so evident even on his half-face and you just couldn’t-

“Wipe that smirk off!” you hissed at him, laughing, spinning to the girl who didn’t get the memo and hadn’t hid yet. “Go to the corner, take cover. Things might get messy again. Anyone hurt?”

You took the zero response as a no. Devil confirmed your theory. Because of course he would know. He knew fucking everything.

“Which door?”

Daredevil beckoned to the one that were still in place. You grinned, creating a layer of black ice right away. They deserved a proper welcome. Daredevil gathered his weapons and prepared himself too.

Three fingers on Devil’s hand raised.

Two.

Now you could hear the gunmen too.

One.

You hit the ground with your palm once more and let the black ice spread under edge of the door too – they threw the open with their balance already shitty. You and your partner used the advantage immediately. They were disarmed before they even realized what was happening.

The Devil was right in the end – you only got stuck with two opponents, the thugs probably assuming you were the lesser problem. Sweet summer children… the winter is coming, bitches.

By the time you were done with yours, Daredevil was still fighting two of his own, one of them just throwing himself on the armoured figure; you quickly created ice for his feet to be stuck in. He almost lost his balance from the momentum and with his feet suddenly disabled. The Devil sent the other man down with a powerful hook, soon elbowing the one standing pretty much frozen behind him to his face. The man lost consciousness immediately, his body going limp; you released his feet.

“Thanks,” the Devil called out and you spent one precious moment shooting him a smile. A second later, his billy club flew inches from your face, successfully taking down a guy behind you that you apparently hadn’t knocked out properly.

“Thanks,” you parroted, your smile faltering. Sloppy.

“That’s why we’re partners, right?”

For a second, you lost yourself in the lopsided grin he gave you. Shit. Your heart. His smile widened.

“Get a room,” one of the girls whined and you snapped from your trance, squatting to her to untie her hands. “Thanks.”

“Fuck,” Natasha cursed in your earpiece and you tensed. Had not everything gone as smooth as with you and DD? “Steve, get out of there. NOW.”

Your heart must have stopped that second; she sounded as if she was panicking. Natasha Romanov never panicked.

“What is it, Romanov?” Steve asked lowly, a little out of breath. You could hear him fighting and your feet itched to get to the basement. But someone had to stay with the hostages.

“I’ll go,” Devil whispered, brushing your arm and you wordlessly pleaded him to rush. He disappeared in the door.

“Just get out! It’s a set up. They’re experimenting, developing an antidote to the serum that-”

She was cut off by gunshot and you sprang to the door as well.

“Stay in position, Gerda! I’m heading his direction,” Devil’s voice sounded in your ear and you had no doubt he was talking to you. You forced your feet to stop, gritting your teeth. If you weren’t so on edge, you might appreciate the nickname he had come up with.

“Steve, run,” you ordered adamantly, silently praying and absently checking on the four girls in the room. They were just bait. Vasiliev knew that taking Secretary’s daughter was a way to get Captain America here. Fucking shit.

Come on, Steve, don’t be a dick, don’t play hero and just get your ass out of there. It’s over anyw-

Three more men burst into your room. Shit. So much for things being over.

You didn’t worry about getting them seriously hurt now. You froze their guns first, their shocked screams echoing in the room as the icy metal gave them an immediate frostbite. Then you created a layer of black ice under their feet, their lunges in your direction ending up in their limbs tangled together. Some of them were frozen to the floor by hands, some of them by their feet, sides. You didn’t give a fuck. You knocked out all of them, stabbing one of the other goons who came back into consciousness with icicle through his forearm. He roared in agony and passed out again.

A different scream made your blood run cold.

You never heard that sound before, but you were sure as hell to whom it belonged. It was Steve’s. Steve was in pain. And in horrible pain, because you had never heard him scream.

“Shit!” Tony cursed through the comms and the sound of his repulsors came next. “Romanov, get the documents on that substance and head to the jet. I’m bringing him in and calling Banner right now.”

You barely heard him over Steve’s cries, though they were falling silent. You didn’t think that was a good sign. And then they died out completely.

For a second, the world stopped. Everything froze as if you had blasted your energy, yet nothing went cold. No, the time itself must have frozen.

“Get out of your asses!” you yelled after the girls, startling them all. You were coming to the jet right now, all of you, because you couldn’t leave them here, but you wouldn’t worry about the goons. Others would take care of them or the clean-up squad of agents coming after. You needed to see Steve. Now. “NOW!”

The girls shrieked, but complied, stumbling to their feet.

“Move it,” you hissed. “Down the corridor, stay close so I can protect you, but for fuck’s sake move.”

You barely heard them muttering something under their breath, your pulse too loud in your ears. Steve was hurt. Steve was probably injected with some fucking anti-serum and— you blinked away your tears. Not now. You would see him first and then came to catastrophic conclusions. Not now, not now…

The way out of the building was endless. “Faster!”

The girls immediately did as you ordered. They were probably scared of you; you couldn’t care less. Your friend was in unbearable pain. And shit, you felt cold all over your body. You hadn’t felt that for a while.

Tony had cut himself off, so you couldn’t hear him until you stumbled into the quinjet, seeing his figure hovering over Steve’s lying unconscious on the improvised bed. There was a hologram of Bruce’s face, Natasha flipping pages for him; at your incoming, she handed the file to Tony and went to help you with the hostages.

“Stay here,” you hissed at the girls, pacing to the bed.

Steve’s back arched, his body in spasm and you gasped, reaching for him.

“Don’t touch him now, let it be.”

“You’re kidding right?!”

“He’s right, convulsing person shouldn’t be held down-“

“Read you fucking files, Bruce!” you shot back, but clenched your hands in fists to stop yourself from touching Steve. You vision blurred.

“Hey, cool it, Elsa!” Tony snapped at you, trying to make a sense of the files as well. “We’re trying! You have a Ph.D. you haven’t mentioned ye-“

“That’s it,” Bruce called out, astonished. “She needs to cool him down until you get him to me!”

Glares of everyone in the room locked you in. You tensed, horrified at the suggestion.

“You want me to WHAT?!”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Are you insane?!” you rephrased, because what the fuck did he just say?!

“Yes. No! Listen – he was injected into his calf. We need to prevent it from spreading further-“ Bruce started, his expression almost delighted as if his friend wasn’t lying there, metal clinking as he was writhing in pain and resembling a person with epilepsy.

Shit. Had Steve had epilepsy before getting boosted by the serum? You knew he had several conditions, but you couldn’t remember all of them, definitely not now.  Was the antiserum working that fast?! You shook of the thought for the sake you own mental health.

“Did you notice that everyone I used my power on got a frostbite or lost a part of his body completely? You could as well cut his leg off!” you shouted back.

“Too radical-“

“Then apply a fucking tourniquet!” you yelled at him, not caring if you had an audience.

“His metabolism is too fast, Anderson!” The fake last name didn’t help you to snap from the hysteria building in your chest. “It already is spread, but you can cool him down-“

“I can’t do that!”

“Why couldn’t you?” Tony interjected and you turned to him, incredulous.

“Because they fucking call me FROSTBITE, not COLDBITE!”

“Come on-“

“He’s calling me Frosty,” you sobbed into your palm, your world swimming in front of your eyes as you were drowning in tears. “Fuck, fuck, fucking shit-“

Everyone fell silent, the only sound created by Steve’s body falling back onto the bed, then arching again.

“Haven’t you tried it before?” Natasha questioned and you didn’t even look at her, your gaze glued to Steve’s body fighting the antiserum. You had never seen anything scarier and you had seen what your powers could do.

“No! Don’t you get it?! I fucking hurt him the first time I met him! I’m-”

“First time for everything,” sounded calmly behind you, gloved hand suddenly resting on your forearm. You followed the lines of the arm in disbelief, meeting Devil’s half-covered face. It was ridiculous how unfazed he was by all this. Then again, why would he be? He didn’t care about Steve, hell, he- “He trusts you.”

“Yeah, he has before and gave him a frostbite-”

“You can stand in a distance, cooling the air. Can’t you handle that?” he offered slowly, his head bowing down slightly. You swallowed loudly, wondering how he could think of your abilities with such ease without knowing a thing and why the hell hadn’t you shaken off his hand yet. “He has a reason to trust you, everyone on your team does. And… he was right. I trust you too.”

You drew in a sharp breath, filling your lungs, expanding your aching ribcage. Did he just say-

“I trust you, kiddo,” Tony shrugged, still rather calm about the fact that his friend was lying there unconscious, occasionally spasming and de-seruming, because of some experimental shit. People experimenting on people. You would freeze their fingers off and their too intelligent brain would follow.  

“He’s right. We all do. And you’re the only hope he has.”

You glanced at Natasha and she gave you a reassuring nod. You threw away that stupid eye-mask of yours before your shaking hands went to hover over your closest friend. This was insane. They all belonged to a mad house.

“Then he’s screwed,” you muttered darkly, closing your eyes, releasing more tears.

You felt the gloved hand squeezing your forearm with the lightest pressure, fingers running lower, thumb caressing the back of your hand.  No one dared to comment the gesture and the fact the Devil was touching you with such ease. You had no idea what the fuck was happening, but you had to backburn the issue. Steve. You needed to focus on Steve and on summoning your powers on such a low level you had never managed to.

“Just around zero. More as if you wanted to put him in ice, not cold-dry him, okay?”

“Stark, shut up, I can’t focus my hearing when someone’s talking bullshit,” the Devil snapped and to everyone’s surprise, the billionaire actually fell silent. You mentally thank the man in Devil’s mask; Tony was not helping. The hand on yours caressed you again before only moving to the back and soft voice sounded in your ear. “I’m gonna tap on your hand in the rhythm of his heart, alright? Everyone will see the frequency and you’ll be able to feel it – you can keep your eyes closed. It’ll be just like a heart monitor, but without the annoying beeping.”

You could feel the air shift as your powers started their work. Cool him down. Do not completely freeze him. Gently. As gently as the man tapped on the back of your hand. He was standing few inches from you, the heat radiating from his body enwrapping you, his chest almost touching you. His presence was… comforting.

The noise faded away – Steve’s body stopped spasming with one dull thud. Before you could panic, Daredevil’s voice soothed you again.

“You’re doing great. The convulsions stopped. But that’s a good thing; you can still feel his heartbeat, can’t you?”

Truth to his words, the Devil kept tapping, slower now. You trusted him and the others to handle it if you would have gone too far. You mustn’t go too far; that was your only task now, the rest was on them. Team work. Cooperation. Just like Steve liked.

Your hands started shaking harder at the thought. Another hand caught your right wrist this time – fingers free of gloves, smaller hand too. Natasha.

“Hey, you’re good and he’s getting better. Banner’s gesturing to keep the temperature now. Can you do that for me?”

You didn’t respond, inhaling through your mouth. Honestly, you were getting tired, intrusive headache building in the back of your head, shooting down your spine. Keeping the temperature sounded even more difficult, requiring more control. You gulped and tried.

“Atta girl,” Natasha whispered encouragingly.

You clenched your jaw to bite the bullet. You would be fine. It was just a headache. You could walk that off. Steve on the other hand? Not so much.

“Ease up,” velvet voice pleaded lowly and you felt a dread in your stomach – were you hurting Steve now? Did you lose your focus due to the pain? “No, not because of him. For you. You’re hurting.”

Oh. You didn’t count on the distress display not going unnoticed. You ignored the plea.

“Don’t make me tap out your heartbeat for them too. They wouldn’t like it.”

“Go to hell,” you strained through your teeth, pushing the pounding headache that spread into your temples as well to the back of your mind.

Keep fucking going. This is Steve’s life in your hands now. You mustn’t let him down.

“What’s going on?” Tony questioned. You didn’t have the energy to reply to him. You settled for reciprocating the Devil’s threat.

“Say a word and I swear to God himself I’m gonna freeze off parts of your body one by one, starting with your dick,” you whispered soundlessly, only for the most sensitive ears in the room.

You could hear his breath catch.

“I’m not afraid of you.” His lips touched your ear, his quiet voice almost challenging.

You squeezed your eyes tighter, white spots dancing behind your eyelids. You switched tactics.

“Please. He’s family.”

His lips parted and he sucked a breath in, putting some distance between you two. While Steve’s heartbeat was slow and steady on your skin, you would swear that at the moment, your own heart stopped – could the Devil hear it? Did he know it was a lie and that it wasn’t?

“I can hear-“ Please. “-the blood flow redistributing. Centralizing. The area that was hit isn’t supplied much. I guess I was distracting her by telling her. I’m sorry.”

You thanked God and the Devil himself as well. He didn’t tell them.

“ETA 2 minutes,” Tony informed you, relieved smile in his voice. When had you taken off? You hadn’t even noticed.

The white spots in front of your eyes merged into one and grew despite the euphoria that should have helped you catch your breath and bring new wave of energy into your veins. Your whole head felt like it was about to explode any moment and a burning shiver ran down your spine.

The tapping on your hand disappeared – instead, two arms locked around your waist, pulling you away.

“Okay, that’s enough, Gerda,” you heard a voice, but you suddenly couldn’t place it. You were angry with it, but you couldn’t remember why. You aimed your icy powers towards the source, pushing them towards completely different levels to get rid of him.

And then there was darkness.

---

You blinked your eyes open, only to see nothing but white. For a moment, you were sure that you were dead – that this was the light at the end of the tunnel. You shielded your eyes from the brightness that was hurting you. You squinted.

It wasn’t white everywhere. There was blue too – the sky. The sun was shining so bright the snow was reflecting the light.

It was snowing. Snowflakes silently fell, helping to build huge snowdrifts. When you brushed the snow with your gloveless hand, the snow flew – it was light as feather, the lovely powder snow you loved watching from your window as a kid.

You looked around to find where you were, but the very same moment, pair of warm hands covered your eyes from behind.

“Guess who?” male voice asked, boyish laughter in his voice.

Your lips spread in a smile automatically, your hands covering his.

“Someone blond and blue-eyed?” you guessed playfully and a groan sounded from behind you.

“How do you always know, Snowflake?”

His hands fell lower and you turned around, taking in his handsome face. He seemed fine. His cheeks were red from cold, just like his nose, but his eyes were shining with life, smiling.

“You’re the only one who does that,” you whispered, fascinated. Did it mean you saved him? Where were you, how had you got here? You definitely weren’t in New York now—but that wasn’t important. Steve was here – alive and well. “Did I save you?”

His lips touched your forehead lightly and you closed your eyes at the display of affection, you throat suddenly tight. Please, say yes. I don’t care if you’re just a dream, just say yes.

“You did, Snowflake. You kept me alive and the rest was taken care of.”

You searched on his face for any hint of a lie when he withdrew. You found none, his eyes examining your expression. His thumb brushed away a tear you didn’t realized had escaped you. He seemed worried now.

“What is it, Steve? Are you okay?”

“I am. You saved my life, but-“

“But what?” you whispered, horrified. His expression turned sad, his voice heavy with sorrow.

“But it won’t be for free.”

You screamed at the sudden pain that stabbed your right side, curling up in a ball as if it could help. Tears sprouted from your eyes at the burning sensation, your cry dying in your throat as you continued to scream soundlessly, no air in your lungs left.

“Sorry, kiddo. This is gonna hurt,” another voice joined, but you couldn’t open your eyes to look at the source. Your mind was blank apart from one single thought.

Agony.

“Come on, give her more, you won’t do shit if her body won’t relax-“

“One vial-“

“Aspirator, now-“

“Sorry, kid.”

“You’re going to be fine, Snowflake. You’ll handle this. I believe in you-“

Just as Steve’s voice whispered the encouragement, indescribable agony cut through you spine, making you let out another silent cry. Pain, pain, pain, everywhere— was this how having your spine yanked out felt like?

Pain, pain, pain… dulling. Floating away. You breathed in furiously, your body throbbing with something you couldn’t place.

Gentle hands squeezed yours once again and you opened your eyes just to be blinded by the white once more.

Warm brown eyes appeared in front of you, soothing the strange feeling.

“Hey, Gerda,” the man – Kai, you figured, if you were Gerda, he had to be Kai – said softly, his fingers caressing the back of your hand. “You’re gonna be okay.”

Kai was supposed to be your best friend. So you trusted him and allowed your eyelids to fall again.



Chapter Text

The first thing you were sure of was that life sucked. It was truly the very first thought that popped up in your mind. Before thoughts, there had been only your brain rebooting, already overwhelmed with receiving signals of dull pain from different parts of your body, which had resulted in one messy signal alerting you your whole body ached; hence the original thought.

“Jesus shit,” somehow escaped your lips without you being in control, but the moment you got a hold of them, you were tempted to say it again.

A noise near your head startled you – rustling and an unpleasant squeak, soon followed by a male voice.

“You’re awake. Hey,” he whispered, sounding delighted. Probably. You were still a bit to groggy to recognize that the emotion.

You slowly opened your eyes, figuring out how to turn your head to the source of the voice – as you evaluated before –, a man. You squinted at the figure wearing black sneakers and a light blue shirt with no tie. You finally examined his face and— and realized you had no idea who he was. His brown irises felt a little familiar – a memory (a dream?) of snowy winter hit you, warm brown eyes ensuring you, Gerda, that you would be okay. Other than that, you memory was blank – you had no clue who the brunet was.

“I’m… sorry. Do I— do I know you?” you asked shyly, slightly embarrassed. Did you have amnesia? Was he your fiancée or something? Was this a stupid rom-com?

The stranger smiled inconspicuously and went to help you as you tried to straighten in your bed – and whoa, okay, OUCH, not so great idea.

“You shouldn’t move too much. You have a fair share of stitches,” he announced, seemingly worried about you. His eyes watched you almost absently, focusing somewhere around your chin. Okay, this was getting weird. He didn’t answer the question. “And my name is Matt.”

Your heart stopped until it kicked in again and started sprinting. You couldn’t recall knowing any Matt unless knowing who Matt Damon was counted. Shit.

His brows furrowed. “But you wouldn’t know that. You know me as Daredevil.”

You lips parted, your brain finally catching up with the events. Mission. Kidnapping. Daredevil. Steve.

“Steve,” you breathed, horrible realization striking you. “Is Steve okay? Where is he? Why am I in a hospital— no forget that one, tell me about Steve.”

The man carefully touched your arm that had found its way from under the covers as you had tried to sit up again. He smiled mildly.

“He’s okay, Gerda. He’s down the hall. He woke up yesterday and apart from being worn to a bone, he seems fine.”

You took a deep breath, your ribs hurting like hell at the action, but the feeling of relief was so overwhelming you didn’t care.

“Oh thank god-“

“Thank you. You saved him,” he corrected you gently and you were very much not ready for the rush of anger into your veins, suddenly remembering very clearly it wasn’t the truth.

Daredevil must have picked up on that, because his smile faltered.

“Really? Good for me, ‘cause I remember someone stopping me,” you hissed like a cat, climbing up into a sitting position, biting your cheek at the pain that shot up from the base of your fucking spine to its tip. Christ. You distantly remembered wanting to stop the person who had pulled you away, but he seemed just fine now, so you didn’t care.

“I didn’t really have another option. Your own body was shutting down. The device under your ribs short-circuited, unable to bare the intensity of your powers. You almost killed yourself.”

You froze at the revelation. Oh. Oh. Fuck. That was… not what you expected to hear from the guy. The fact he couldn’t even look into your eyes when telling you that was kinda irritating though. He continued.

“I know you’re mad and I’m sorry. But I had to believe he would make it with what you had done so far. I… know it wasn’t my choice to make. Maybe it wasn’t Captain Rogers’ either, but I was sure he wouldn’t wish for you endanger your life for his sake. We both decided to save you – not that anyone else tried to stop me.”

You felt the pools of energy settling in your muscles, your rapidly beating heart quickly waking your body up properly – the fact that with the more he said the more your adrenalin was spiking probably helped. You understood. You understood pretty well. You stared into his eyes murderously and suddenly realized why he couldn’t reciprocate the gesture. He was blind. You spent about two seconds being overwhelmed by that big revelation before coming to conclusion that it was the last thing that bothered you right now.

“You’re right,” you whispered, clearing your throat so your voice wouldn’t sound so pathetically weak. “You’re goddamn right it wasn’t your choice.” And it sure as hell wasn’t your place to assume what Steve would want.

You clenched your teeth as you swung your legs over the edge of your bed.

“You really shouldn’t get-“

“Yeah, I don’t care,” you shot back, ignoring the pleading and regretful eyes almost watching you. Blind. Duh. Talk about surprises.

“Look-“

“No, you look, Matt. You joining the mission? It was nice. Thanks for the assist. But you were a complete stranger and you had no fucking right to make a decision like that. I don’t care if we were paired or something, I’m sure you understand prioritization. Steve? He’s Captain freaking America. He’s at the top of the priority list. And not that it’s any of your business, but he’s also at the top of my list. And it was not your call to stop me just because your super-senses sniffed I was passing out or whatever,” you paused, catching you breath.

You pushed yourself up with a whimper, hoping your feet would hold you. His arms went to support you, possibly recognizing he had no chance – or right – to stop you. At least he was catching up fast. Not that it mollified you. You snatched his hands away as soon as you felt at least a little sure. He quickly retreated, a shadow of hurt in his eyes.

“I’m gonna see him now and when I’m back here, I would really appreciate if you were gone.” Yeah, okay, now he definitely seemed wounded. You tried to shush the voice of sympathy whispering in your head. “It was good to meet you Devil. But once was enough.”

You gritted your teeth and shuffled to the door, taking as shallow breaths you could. Everything, fucking everything hurt.

Daredevil was silent, until he wasn’t.

“You love him,” he whispered, his voice heavy with something that made your heart skip a beat.

You turned back to the man who had gave up trying to stop you and just stood in the middle of your room, watching you. Once again, you didn’t see how that was any of his business, but you had no reason to lie.

“You bet your ass I do. I told you – he’s family.”

And with those words, you reached for the handle and stumbled out of your hospital room. You looked around, searching for clues. Daredevil had said Steve was down the hall – which way down the hall? You were pretty much in the middle.

“Shit,” you cursed under your breath, half-tempted to turn around and ask him for clarification. Instead, you closed the door cowardly and started walking where the hall seemed less busy. Steve would be there, right?

A woman that was definitely giving away a nurse vibe noticed you and looked you up in horror. Yeah, okay, you got it, you looked terrible, you had a fucking hospital gown and thank god, some underwear and you were supporting yourself onto a wall. Yeah, you were sure you looked peachy.

“Madam, I don’t-“

“Why don’t you tell me where I can find Captain Rogers?” you offered, attempting your best smile, probably failing epically. “I would really like to see him now.”

“You shouldn’t be out of bed,” she shrieked and you rolled your eyes.

“Yeah, tell me something I don’t know. But given how far I’ve got, it would be mean to drag me back without my reward, wouldn’t it?”

The nurse eyed you, her glare saying ‘I am so fired for this’, but she actually approached you, supporting some of your weight and led you to a door guarded by two soldiers. Of course. You should have figured – and noticed them in the first place; you were in a truly crappy shape if you missed them.

She knocked and you gestured at her that you could make the rest of your path alone. The soldiers shot you a strange look, but you were used to that.

You entered the room, your gaze immediately landing on the lying figure. He was squinting at you sleepily, the part of his bed under his torso and head slightly raised. You smiled widely. He was awake. He was alive.

“Snowflake?” he mumbled and you reached for the nearest chair to support yourself as your knees suddenly felt even weaker.

“Hey, Steve,” you whispered back, your voice too raspy and heavy with emotion.

“What are you-“ He blinked his eyes wide open, straightening on the bed with surprising speed. He seemed perfectly awake now. “Holy hell, Snowflake, what are you doing here?! You should be in bed!”

“Didn’t sit with me well.”

His bright eyes watched you in horror as you shuffled to his bed, falling heavily on the chair next to it with a hiss.

“Also, you cursed, Cap.”

“You-“

You took his hand without permission, resting your forehead against his shoulder, hearing and feeling his sharp intake of breath. His free arm embraced you resignedly, pulling you closer, so you assumed you were doing okay with being affectionate. You barely registered you started crying, too busy with supressing the pain caused by moving around – Steve’s presence helped with that.

“What do I do with you? You’re terrible at following orders lately,” he whispered, his lips in your hair. You snuggled to him completely, as much as your positions allowed you.

“You can ground me. I will happily sit at home for a while.”

His arm caressed your back at the word ‘home’ – wary of touching your spine as if he knew it hurt – and a pool of warmth blossomed around your heart.

“How do you feel, Snowflake?”

“How do you?” you murmured back, soaking his gown wet with your tears. God, you loved his strong arm around you. His chest rising periodically. His heart beating strongly against your cheek.

“I got my blood cleaned. You spend hours in surgery having your body cut open in several places. I think my question needs to be answered first.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You fried the device. You were lucky Tony had one to replace it,” Steve whispered, his voice shaking inconspicuously. “Two days after the first surgery, Tony added a fail-safe. The doctors implanted a new part into your spine – the next time you’ll reach your limit, it will just shut your powers down.”

Your breath caught in your throat and you retreated quickly. “Are you kidding me? What the hell?!”

What the fuck– how did they dare to do something like that? Something restricting your powers?! Now? Now, when you finally did some good with them? They could have blocked them completely then!

“It’s for your own safety, Snowflake,” he explained gently, seeing you were utterly pissed. His blue eyes were soft, glimmering with sadness. “You almost died. You need to realize that-”

“I don’t care!”

You covered your mouth the second after the words left your lips. Steve’s gaze hardened.

“Well, I do. While I didn’t get a say in that one, the others did and made the right choice. Believe it or not, we all care. I’m— Snowflake, I’m so grateful for what you did. I am. But…” he exhaled shakily, looking away before locking his eyes with yours, not allowing you to escape the intensity of his gaze. “…but when I woke up and you were just finishing your second surgery and I heard about everything what happened… and I imagined what could have happened… Snowflake, you know how much I care about you. I don’t want to lose you. You can’t… you can’t even imagine what it felt like-“

“Oh, you mean my friend being an inch from dying? How could I even imagine what it feels like, almost losing my best friend, huh?” you bit back, your voice more poisonous than you intended. But god, you were getting sick of people doing your choices for you and assuming.

“It wouldn’t be the first time I lost someone who was as close to me as my family,” he replied with the same tone and guilt stabbed your insides instantly. Oh. Oh. Now you were being a bitch. To be fair, he wasn’t being a saint either.

“I’m sorry. That was mean. But I had a point.”

Steve’s baby-blues softened and he reached for your hand again. “I’m sorry too. I’m really glad you’re okay enough to let your stubbornness overdrive your body and drag it here.”

Your lips spread into a smile involuntarily. There was nothing and no one who would have stopped me from getting here. “I’m glad you’re okay too.”

Silence fell for several moments and you didn’t feel like breaking it. You just wanted to snuggle to his side and never leave his warm embrace.

“You know… when you told me I was pushing it and you basically threatened me with freezing my ass off for another seventy years, I thought you were exaggerating,” he noted playfully, the famous spark of mischief lighting up his eyes.

You inhaled sharply, completely at loss of words. Did he just-

Then he squeezed your hand. “Dumb joke, sorry. Thank you, Snowflake. You saved my life.”

“I-“

“And I’m really proud of you for what you managed to do. You controlled yourself perfectly.”

You felt a blush colouring you cheeks in red, lowering your gaze. Steve shifted in his bed, moving to side, patting the newly created space next to him.

“Come here.”

You didn’t hesitate. You two did cuddling; usually, there were more clothes between your bodies, but it wasn’t unusual for you to fall asleep in his embrace during team movie nights. Plus, you couldn’t refuse an offer like that. You climbed in the bed, his arm around your shoulders to keep you close and you nuzzled your cheek in his chest, throwing your arm around his waist. He kissed your temple tenderly.

“Rest, Snowflake… I love you,” he whispered and you snuggled closer at the words, the warmest feeling settling in your chest.

You… didn’t think he meant romantically. He said you were like family. And you were okay with that as if the near death experience – both yours and his – finally gave you complete peace. You didn’t think the crush would go away, but… this felt right. This was enough.

“I… never thought I’ll have a brother. And here we are,” you murmured, his muscles tensing, before he relaxed completely, burying his face into your hair, his body almost merging with yours. “I love you too, Steve.“

Neither of you said more. His chest was rising and falling slowly under your cheek, his breath warm on your scalp, his free had wrapped around your wrist, his fingertips on your pulse point. His own heart sounded as a lullaby in your ear and at some point, you drifted off to sleep.

Due to that, you nearly missed the team stumbling into Steve’s room. Natasha quickly put her index finger over her lips to shush everyone and pulled out her phone to snap a picture of the cuddling pair.

“Oh-ho, this is precious. This is a perfect blackmail material. Good job, Tasha,” Clint praised her and she winked at him.

“I don’t know, this looks too cute for a blackmail material,” Bruce questioned and Natasha giggled, not trying to disagree. It was the giggle that disturbed your dreamless sleep, your eyelids too heavy and your position too comfortable to make even the smallest movement though.

“These two sweet children. Can we just put them in ice like this?” Tony whispered and you managed to raise a finger at him, causing the team to laugh silently. “Snap a pic of that too. We’ll report her to Cap. This is even worse than swearing, I mean, she’s literally showing-“

Gradually, his voice was trailing off and then you could hear the door close shut.

Steve hummed sleepily and you just ran your fingers over his side soothingly, melting into his sleeping form once more.

 

 

Chapter Text

Steve Rogers was a lucky man.

You knew that wasn’t entirely true, but momentarily, you envied him enormously. The serum kicked in and within two days, he was perfectly fine, if not a little out of shape. You, on the other hand, were still healing like the regular human being you were, being lucky enough to have your stitches removed after only six days. Of course, something hurt all the time.

Yet, there was a bright side; when Steve had visited your hospital room the day of his release and heard you whining about lying in a hospital alone, he had convinced everyone you had been good to go, he would take care of you and he would make sure you would rest. He hadn’t been lying (because he was always honest); the workout he had started with when returning to the tower had been body-lifting. Your body-lifting to be precise. You had laughed so hard as he had carried you to your room that you had almost pulled some of your stitches. He was the sweetest guy to ever walk the Earth. And a very handsome nurse.

You believed that being in the company of your friends slash family helped you heal faster too. A little over a week after your release, you were heading to the gym for the first time, Steve by your side. He seemed tired, which meant something, coming from you.

“You sure you should be getting back into your full training mode, Steve? I mean-“ you started, only to be cut off by his slightly amused smile.

“Sounds rich coming from you.”

“Touché. But seriously, I’m just starting and you-“ He stopped in his tracks, his hand covering your bare arm, his thumb caressing the skin.

“Snowflake, stop worrying about me,” he demanded, his voice too soft for you to take it as an order. You didn’t quite believe him anyway – you suspected he liked when you were worried about him, proving that you cared, just like you liked when he did.

“I demand an easier task, Captain.”

The corner of his lips twitched. “Request denied, soldier.”

“Go to hell, Rogers.”

“Language.”

It made you burst out laughing – the note with his eyebrows raised suggestively, knowing exactly what he would cause. “Oh, you’re definitely better, okay. Let’s go punch something.”

---

To your surprise, punching sent your thoughts to places you not only hadn’t seen coming, but also hated. Your body remembered the last time you were hitting something – or someone. Your mind wandered to the mission and the outcome, and given the fact Steve was living and kicking just few feet from you, your mind got occupied with another man who had been present. The man in the Devil suit.

You hadn’t talk to Matt ever since you had… practically kicked him out of your hospital room, where he had apparently spent about four days straight, waiting for you to wake up. He hadn’t visited again and it made your insides twist in guilt. Because he had been nice and supportive and while he might have made a decision for you, it had been a perfectly valid one. He had been just trying to protect you from sabotaging your own body and your only response to that had been being an utter bitch.

“You should talk to him, you know,” Steve hummed after you placed particularly powerful hook to the punching bag. You were definitely pushing yourself. You didn’t care. The lying around and doing nothing thing had become old very quickly. Even with Steve carrying you.

“To who?” you played dumb, placing another blow, mindful of not going with your full strength.

Frosty.”

Steve.”

“You know, they told me what he did. I’m gonna talk to him for sure. He played a big part in saving my life by keeping you calm and focused.

You punched the bag with unnecessary force again. You knew that. You also knew you had been an ass and the man had been just trying to save your life and you had been dramatic. You also knew you would feel very differently if the outcome would be worse for Steve, but it wasn’t and now you were truly embarrassed about walking out on Matt and barely looking back.

“And he kept you alive. That’s not something I take lightly.”

You met Steve’s genuine eyes, disturbed and caring gaze watching your face closely. You would drown in the sea of blue; and for some reason, you were slowly realizing that you wanted to find out if maybe you could drown in brown pools with golden edges too. Which was making things even worse.

You hit the bag again. “It wasn’t his call. He didn’t have the right-“

“He’s a vigilante, Frosty. He was trying to save your life. He’s a hero. How could you expect anything less from him?”

“Wasn’t. His. Call,” you repeated like a broken record, hiding the tears of shame. Steve caught your wrists, reading you like an open book.

You looked up, pressing your lips together to bury the flood of emotions. Embarrassment. Anger. Sympathy. Gratitude. Fear. God, still so much fear of what could have happened.

You gave in as Steve’s strong arms pulled you against his warm chest, wrapping you in a comforting embrace. You didn’t care you were sweaty, just hoping he didn’t mind either and you buried your face into his t-shirt. He cradled your tangled bodies lightly, pressing a soft kiss to your hair.

“Hey, hey, I got you…. You did it, you saved me, shh… we’re okay.”

Of course he knew exactly where your had thoughts gone. You sobbed like a freaking child, only to be rewarded by him squeezing you tighter, his big hand caressing your back in soothing motions.

“I’m sorry,” you mumbled, your embarrassment reaching a new level.

It wasn’t the first time you were crying in front of Steve – god no, this was the guy who had found you freaked out by your powers more than once as well as the good friend who handed you a handkerchief when you got ridiculously emotional about a movie –, but in the past few days, you were just pathetic.

His body shook with shushed gentle laughter. “Nothing to be sorry about, Snowflake. That’s why I’m here.”

“To be my shoulder to cry on? Wow, you really got the worst job ever.”

He retreated a little and you barely supressed a whine when he did so. You received a kiss to your forehead instead though, your eyes falling shut at the tender gesture, tears escaping from under your eyelids.

“I can be your shoulder to cry on if that’s what you need at the moment. I’m here for you, okay?”

Your heart fluttered at that, melting in a way you almost forgot was possible. You wrapped your arms around him properly, hugging him as tightly as you managed, wishing to just merge with him. He let out a surprised huff, but his hand rubbed your back again.

“Thank you, Steve.”

“Of course.”

You stood in the embrace for what could be seconds or minutes as well as hours. You weren’t in a rush to end it or break the silence, but in the end, it was you.

“I don’t want to talk to him. I’m— I’m ashamed,” you admitted tentatively, loosening the hug and finally letting Steve breathe in.

“I know, Snowflake. But you can’t avoid him forever.”

“Watch me.”

He chuckled, his chest shaking with the quiet sound. “You want me to escort you?”

“God, no. That would make me not only a bitch, but also a coward.”

“Language.”

“Oh, shut up, Steve,” you let go of him completely in favour to smack his arm.

“He stayed in the hospital to be sure you would make it. You should pay him a visit.”

“I know. Can we drop it now, please? I promise I’ll go see him.”

Someday, you added mentally.

---

You went at night. It only made sense, because you didn’t want to stalk Matt via Tony’s database to find him and confront him in his home or God forbid, his work place, wherever that was. You were nervous like a student getting called into the director’s office, trying to convince yourself that the sooner you would be over with it the better.

Daredevil was relatively easy to find – Hell’s Kitchen wasn’t really that big. Plus, he was hanging around rather shady places.

“Thought you didn’t want to see me,” he greeted you flatly and you honestly wanted to spin on your heels and run. You felt like your heart was in your throat instead of your chest. It was really hard to talk.

“You’re right, I probably don’t, good talk,” you exclaimed, spinning on your heels to complete your plan of escape. Stupid, stupid, why were you even here-

“Wait! Wait, I’m sorry, that was mean-“

You tilted your head back, facing the sky and whimpered. That was even worse than him being hostile. You turned to him once again, coming a little closer. A small curious smile played on his lips.

“You have nothing to be sorry about, Matt. I really hope you know that, because if I actually did make you feel guilty for doing what you did, I’m officially Queen B.”

He opened his mouth and closed it again. He titled his head to side, looking a bit confused. “Queen B?”

“Queen Bitch. Crowned Bitch. The Original Mean Girl. Take your pick,” you supplied helpfully and this time it was him who shortened the distance, now standing only two steps from you.

“You’re not… that.”

“I really am, Matt. I’m sorry. I was being incredibly mean to you and all you did was being helpful, having my back, making sure I wouldn’t die and then you apparently guarded my bedside for days. It’s… thank you for that. And I’m really sorry. I know I don’t deserve you to even accept the apology, but-“

“I forgive you,” he pronounced with a soft smile and you stopped in the middle of your speech, too shocked to continue or even remember what you were saying.

“What?”

His smile grew wider. “I forgive you. I understand. You were worried, you were in pain and I know I crossed a line I probably didn’t have the right to cross. It was just… I couldn’t let you die – and if I’m being honest, I should have stopped you sooner, but you seemed so desperate to help him…”

You licked your lips, suddenly feeling even worse. Great. Now he also blamed himself for letting things go so far. As if it was his fault. Jesus.

“Wow, I really need to stop hanging out around people who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.”

Daredevil chuckled, hesitantly taking your wrist. “That would be a shame.”

You almost had a heart attack, remembering how tactile he had been during the mission – especially during Steve’s stabilization. Had it been for your sake or his own?

“Are you always this tactile?”

The question left you mouth without consulting with your brain. You instantly wanted to take it back, especially when he retreated his hand – you caught it with your own. The action baffled him.

“I… I’m just curious. Sorry. I was wondering if it was a thing, because… because… I’m sorry, there’s really no subtle way to say it, because of your blindness? ‘Cause I was wondering a lot, okay? I had plenty of time to process the fact Daredevil was blind and I can’t really say I wrapped my head around it,” you admitted and his fingers caressed your wrist again.

“There’s really not much to wonder about. It is what it is. And you don’t need to… try to figure out a way of watching your tongue around me. I’m not sensitive about the matter – I had enough time to adjust and I’m actually not too happy with people who are treating me like glass.”

“Well… I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just… yeah. How does that work?”

He shrugged as if it was nothing, as if it was perfectly normal for a blind person to be a freaking ninja vigilante. “Everything else is so amplified that I have a mental picture precise enough to do what I do. I still need a braille reader for work, because reading regular prints is too hard and few more things, but… I go by.”

You stared at him, amazed. “That’s incredible. What… what do you for living?”

He smirked. “Lawyer.”

You burst out laughing. “No. No way! You’re pulling my leg! You are a lawyer and a vigilante? Isn’t that-“

“Ironic? Not really. What the law can’t do, the vigilante can.”

“…that’s a fair point actually. I can see why you are a lawyer.”

The smile that had appeared a while ago hadn’t disappeared since. You felt its warm washing over you. Your breath hitched when his free hand followed his right one, both of them enclosing yours.

“As for one of your previous questions… no. Not really. I’m very sensitive to touch and trust me, taking a subway in the morning can be much worse than you already think it is. But… with Foggy and Karen – those are my closest friends – it’s okay. I am pretty tactile with people I like,” he lowered his voice and your heart started pounding at that.

Did he just… did he-?

“Oh.”

“That okay?” he asked almost shyly and you found yourself wishing to take off that stupid helmet of his and examine his expression.

Was it okay?

“Yeah. Yeah, I would say it’s pretty okay, Matt.”

He squeezed your hand a little tighter.

“Okay enough for me to ask you to dinner?”

Your mouth fell open. You were sure you looked like an idiot, but that was a piece of information stuffed in the darkest corner of your mind now. Matt just asked you out. Matt, Daredevil, the very same man you had been an actual Queen B around, liked you and asked you out.

“I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. It’s okay to say no.”

You shook you head, snapping from your shock.

“No! I mean— yes. I-“ you let out an incredulous laugh, covering one of his hands with your free one. “Yes. It’s just… did you hit your head? Did I hit your head when on the jet? Because… I was… really awful to you, Matt-“

“You weren’t at your best, I’m not gonna lie-“

You laughed again, taken aback by the blunt note, but not actually offended, because it was the truth. “Is that so? Wow, Matt, smooth, you know how to get the girl fall for you…”

He pressed his lips together, the corners of his mouth twitching.

“Is it working?” he teased you and you just giggled at the ridiculous situation you were taking part in. “What I mean is that you weren’t at your best and I still kinda liked you. I would be really happy to know the girl behind Frostbite’s mask better, hopefully when she’s not stressed enough to get a heart attack any second.”

And just like that, the laughter in your throat softened and you melted. Yeah, okay. That actually was pretty smooth. When he held out an old phone in your direction, you entered your number without hesitation.

“You’re free on Friday night?”

“Yep. I should be,” you agreed, returning the phone. He slipped it back into his pocket with silent thanks.

“Great. I’ll text you the details.”

“Good. Looking forward to it…. You should probably come back to patrolling your streets, huh? Sorry to keep you.”

“Are you joking? This was the best patrol night I had in a very long time,” he said warmly, but took several steps back. “Wanna join me?”

You chuckled, shaking your head as you started walking backwards too. “Nope. I’m still not in a top shape – I just wanted to talk to you.”

“Really? Am I that special?”

“Hey, don’t get too full of yourself! I can still change my mind about Friday!”

He raised his hands in a gesture of surrender, but he was still grinning. “Please don’t.”

“I’ll see,” you called after him and began to create your path home. You waved at him the last time, hoping he could perceive it with his senses and then your ways separated.

You were leaving with one single thought.

Shit. I have a date.

 

 

Chapter Text

You entered the Tower in high spirit, a bit incredulous. You had no idea when or how that happened, but yeah, if Matt wanted to go out on a date, you were all in. God knew your fingertips were tingling at the idea. You stuffed the thought of Matt helping you to finally break your ridiculous crush on your teammate to the back of your mind.

“Evening,” you sing-sang as you helped yourself with a glass of water before going to your room to get some needed sleep; using your powers wore you off more than expected. On the other hand, you weren’t sure you would fall asleep now. Your body was buzzing.

Natasha and Steve were sitting at the bar stools, talking quietly.

“I take it the talk went well?” Natasha asked with a very suggestive smile and you didn’t feel the need to correct her.

“Yep. Much better than expected. See you in the morning.”

You leaned to Steve, kissing his cheek for his advice to get your head out of your ass and approach Matt and you left the room.

Steve sighed, watching you disappear; were you really blushing when saying it went better than expected?

“You think she figured it out before or that she only realized when it punched her in her face?” Natasha questioned and Steve startled before he realized what she was talking about; it wasn’t too hard to see Daredevil found your attention pleasant.

Steve got his expression under control, pushing the ugly feeling in his stomach away.

“The latter. I mean, him agreeing to come with us was one thing, but I saw the footage from the jet and that was a huge hint. Plus, he came up with a cute heroine nickname and spent four days in a hospital, sleeping on a chair by her bed – if there wasn’t for his friend, he wouldn’t have left for a second. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so oblivious as her.”

“Well, she has a lot of practice in being oblivious to someone else’s feelings,” Natasha hummed, sipping from her wine glass. “The romantic kind.”

“Huh?”

“Really, Steve? That’s how you wanna play it?”

Steve met her eyes shortly, quickly looking away to escape her knowing gaze, unpleasant knot clutching his stomach. She knew. How? Who else knew? He had been careful. Unlike someone who wore a helmet with horns, he was subtle.

Apparently not enough. There was no point in denying in front of Natasha, was it? She seemed pretty confident.

He cleared his throat. “Well. This is better for her. You know it is. With him, there is a chance-“

“That she will what? Settle down?” the redhead scoffed, putting her glass down. “She an Avenger herself, Steve.”

“And I’m Captain America.”

“Yeah, exactly.“

“It would compromise our missions. Relationship with a teammate is never a good idea,” he whispered exasperatedly, repeating something he had told himself over a million times. Trying to convince himself rather than Natasha that it was better this way. That they should only stay friends, no matter how close. A family. He had been there for her when she had been vulnerable the most and their bond only grew stronger with time, but even if he would have tried to confess his feelings and she would say she reciprocated them, they sure would have been just plain gratitude. He didn’t want that.

“And you wanna tell me that now it won’t? You know happens next, right? Now, he’ll be joining the missions and you’ll be watching her compromised, him compromised and you will not only compromised the same way, but also jealous.”

Steve set his jaw tight, his right hand on the counter curling up in a fist. “Frosty’s good on her own. I’ll assign her to different missions than myself.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it.”

His fist hit the counter and he rose to his feet. Natasha watched him like a hawk, unfazed by his outburst and Steve hated her for it. He hated how easily she read everyone on the team.

“What do you want me to do, Natasha?! Tell her I love her? I did that. And here we are!”

Her eyes widened. “When did that happen? What did she say?”

“Nothing! I mean-“ he paused, running his fingers through his hair. He licked his lips, remembering the feeling of pleasurable warmth in his chest when had she told him the same, his heart stubbornly ignoring the first part of the announcement. He lowered his voice. “She told me the same.”

“Steve! That’s am-“

“Like a brother, Romanov. She told me she never thought she would have a brother and now she had. There’s nothing romantic-“

“Bull-shit!” she protested, rising from her chair too. “Tell me what you said and did she. And when.”

Steve sighed. Maybe he needed to get it out of his chest. And Natasha had kept his feelings secret so far – she was good with secrets.

“In the hospital. I told her… how I felt when I found out about what happened. How I thought that once again I would lose someone as close to me as my family-“

Natasha smacked his chest, furious.

“Goddammit, Steve! And then you told her you loved her? What else did you expect after that?! Of course she would tell you she loved you like a brother then! Bozhe moy, Rogers!”

His expression hardened, his glare turning icy. “Well, I’m sorry I’m no expert in love declarations, Romanov! The last time I loved someone, I barely had a chance to ask her out, only to wake up seventy years later!”

She took a calming breath, her voice softer in contrast to his. “I’m sorry, Steve. I didn’t… I didn’t want to prob. It’s just...”

“I know you mean well, Natasha. But who I do or do not love is none of your business. I promise I won’t let it compromise our missions. Goodnight,” he whispered, walking away.

“You’re going to the gym, aren’t you?”

“Yeah.”

She slowly followed his tracks and he stopped with an exhausted sigh. “What?”

“Then tell me again, Steve. One more time. Get it out, because punching itself won’t help and next time you see her – especially for a training –, it will suffocate you. Say it,” she pleaded lowly, her soft green eyes full of sympathy meeting his sky-blue ones.

“I love her, Natasha. I love her for a while, but I’ll never tell her, especially not now when she has a chance to have something. She deserves better. She deserves to be happy and if it means I’ll watch her fall in love with someone else to accomplish that, then so be it.”

Heavy silence fell between them, heavier than anything Steve had ever carried.

“Better?”

“No. But it will be.” With those words, he left the room, walking down the hall to change into workout clothes.

Natasha stood in the empty space for several seconds, waiting until the door clicked behind Steve and only then allowed herself to smile. Her hand slipped into her pocket to turn off the recorder that had been on since the moment she had decided to confront brooding-blankly-ahead-staring Steve sitting in the kitchen.

“It will, Rogers… you have no idea how better it will get.”    

 

 

Chapter Text

“I honestly don’t know why I’m freaking out about my outfit. He won’t even be able to see it! Why am I freaking out, Tasha?” you asked her on a verge of desperation, smoothening your dress for the millionth time.

As you got to the hem of the dress, all you wanted to do was to pull it over your head and change. Again. You stared at your reflection in the mirror, honestly considering it.

Natasha, standing behind you, put her hands on your shoulders to keep you on place and raised her eyebrow.

“Hey. You have every right to be nervous. How long has it been since your last date?” she asked gently, surprisingly so for a super-spy.

You bit your lip guiltily – of course, she found the root of the trouble. It had been too freaking long. The fact you were going out with Matt – an amazing human being – was not helping to sooth your nerves either.

“Almost two years.”

“Well. I think you’re entitled. But you’re gonna be fine,” she reassured you and you caught her honest gaze in the mirror. She squeezed your shoulders. “That guy? He fell hard – I hope you figured that out already. Just be yourself and you’ll be fine.”

You took a deep breath. “Thanks, Tasha. I really should go or I’ll be late. The taxi might even be here already.”

You picked up your coat, leaving the dresses you didn’t even want to count – Natasha had supplied you with too many of hers and still, you took the only dress you owned yourself – and grabbed your purse on the way.

You were insanely grateful to Natasha for her help – yet, your heart was fluttering nervously and ached a little. You wished Steve was here too, but you understood this was more of a ladies thing. You were sure he wished you the best for your date even if you hadn’t heard him say it.

You opened the door only to meet with Steve’s surprised face. His eyes measured you from head to toe and you fought the urge to hide – god knew why. That was until his gaze returned to your face and smile appeared on his lips.

“You look beautiful, Snowflake,” he whispered, checking you out shamelessly once more. “He’s a lucky guy.”

You bit your lip, feeling the rush of heat colouring your cheeks. You lowered your gaze, examining your shoes; they had heels, you were about to kill yourself in them, why were you wearing them again…?

Steve chuckled at your reaction. You couldn’t help but feel like there was something foreign in that supposedly happy sound, something you couldn’t decode.

A hand appeared under your chin, fingers tucking a strand of your hair that fell in your face behind your ear. He kissed you forehead lovingly and you inhaled deeply, trying to calm down your rapidly beating heart. You knew he was trying to help, but it didn’t really work.

“Hey, Snowflake. Hold your head high, you look wonderful. It’s gonna be fine. If he upsets you, you not only can let him go, but you have five– no, six pissed off friends actually, I’m sure Thor would stop by for that – to punch Matt in his face. Understood?”

That finally made you relax and the tension in your shoulders eased with a huffed laughter. Steve’s eyes twinkled for a moment and you couldn’t help but laugh again.

“Did you just say ‘pissed off’?” you asked incredulously and Steve shrugged it off – except a hint of a blush appeared in his cheeks too and hell, you could not miss that. You feasted your eyes on his embarrassment and only then gave Captain Language a proper hug, which was reciprocated tightly.

“I guess I’m nervous for you that much,” he murmured over your shoulder and the statement melted your heart.

“Thank you, Steve.”

He squeezed your waist once more, caressed your back and released you from his embrace, uneasy smile on his lips.

“Go. We wouldn’t want you to be late.”

You just nodded and made your way to the elevator. You sparred one more glance at Natasha, who joined Steve in the hallway, couple of dressed folder over her forearm. She grinned at you.

“Not to make you nervous, Frosty, but just because he won’t be able to see you with his eyes, it doesn’t mean he won’t appreciate your appearance! And other stuff! Considering all of his senses are heightened!” she called after you and you felt you face turning into a mask of horror.

All of his senses. Shit. What perfume did you use? How much could he— would he be able to tell you hugged-- did Steve just hug you to make Matt jealous and possibly make him think you were wanted, so he would value the fact you were going out with him more?

No, wait, you were the one who hugged Steve, which--- this was so going to be a disaster. You whined and slid into your coat, hoping it would make you invisible. And undetectable in any other way. This evening started swimmingly…

With you going down in the elevator, Natasha and Steve were left alone.

“Smooth, Rogers. Very subtle,” the spy exclaimed, patting his arm patronizingly. Steve shot her an unreadable glare.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“About the fact Mr. Hot and Devilish wouldn’t even have to make her unhappy. It’s him making her happy that you want to punch him in the face for.”

Steve grinded his teeth, his look turning murderous. “That’s not true. I want them to get together.”

“Sure,” she agreed, shrugging. “That’s why you marked your territory like a goddamned dog.”

The rush of irritation and shame at being caught hit him stronger than excepted. Natasha knew exactly how to push his buttons and it drove him crazy.

“I didn’t-“ he protested lamely, only to realize he indeed hadn’t. “She was the one who hugged me.”

“Yeah. Keep yourself telling that. She did hug you, but what happened before that, that was on you. I’m surprised you didn’t kiss her on her mouth. I don’t understand how one can be so blind— eh, sorry-”

Steve’s hands curled into fists and he paced to his room to change into something more suitable for workout. He needed to punch something and as much as he was pissed at Natasha for mocking him, he liked her too much to hurt her – the punching bags would have to suffice. Bags, definitely plural, because he would tear some today, no doubt.

“Have a good workout, big guy!” she shouted after him almost cheerily and he slammed the door with such force that dust of plastering snowed down around the doorway.

Snowed down. Fuck. That would be more than one ruined bag today.

---

Entering the restaurant was one of the scariest things you had ever done. But the friendly space welcomed you, soft lights illuminating the room, white clothing on the tables, each with a candle on it, several people talking rather lowly. You gulped looking around – probably forgetting everything  Natasha had taught you about subtle observation, because the hostess spotted you immediately and walked to you, assuming you were completely lost.

“Good evening. Do you have a reservation, madam? Are you meeting anyone here? Or I am going to look for a table for one?” she asked politely, professionalism never leaving her face.

You gulped. “Uhm… meeting someone actually. There should be a reservation for seven o’clock under the name Murdock?”

“Of course. Mr. Murdock is waiting for you. Follow me.”

‘Waiting for you?’ You were five minutes early! You were kinda hoping you would have time to calm your nerves-

Matt probably knew about you the second you entered the restaurant – still, it surprised you when he rose as you approached the table and pulled out your chair for you to sit down before helping you from your coat.

“Hi, Matt,” you greeted him unsurely, obediently sitting down. “Thank you.”

If he wouldn’t have stood up, you wouldn’t have recognized him – or at least it would take you a while. He wore a nice-fitting black suit with white shirt and crimson tie – not something you were used to; the only outfit you had seen him in was either his armour or the shirt he wore in the hospital, where you hadn’t really paid attention.

His face was partly hidden behind a pair of round red-toned glasses, making you feel like you were meeting a completely different person. You had already met Daredevil, you had met Matt, you supposed, and now you were meeting Mr. Murdock. Though the colour of his tie and glasses was a hint, sending a vibe of familiarity towards you.

“Your waitress will be here shortly,” the hostess announced, barely noticed.

Matt smiled at you. “Hi. Glad you could make it.”

You inhaled sharply. Was your nervousness that evident?

“Yeah. Yeah, me too. It… it was… okay, uhm, I guess you can tell I got hugged profusely. By Steve. And Nat. I was… nervous. Sorry,” you mumbled, watching the flame of the candle flicker as you exhaled. “It’s been a while since I was… out.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, his tone surprisingly soothing. It worked for you, okay. “It’s been a while for me too.”

That made you snap your head up.

“Really?” you blurted out. “I mean… you just seem like a guy who…”

He tilted his head, his eyebrow rising in challenge. “…yes?”

“Oh god, no I didn’t mean like…” You whined silently. Now it sounded as if you were saying he was a manwhore.

“I’m waiting for you to finish that sentence. Are you suggesting something?” he teased you and it ignited the flame of banter-queen that had revealed herself while on the mission with the Devil.

“I’m suggesting that you seem like a guy who can’t complain about the lack of attention from women – possibly men. I don’t know where your train of thought headed…”

He grinned, impressed and possibly satisfied with himself; he had every right. You found the uneasy sensation in your stomach resolve as you stepped into a more familiar territory of teasing. And with him grinning, damn, he was a handsome little shit.

“Thanks. I do have a rich nightlife, but…”

“Right. I can understand that there are different kinds of nightlife.”

“Exactly. Sneaking from bed every night doesn’t work well. And loading every potential partner with why I do it… it’s not that easy.”

“I’m sorry,” you whispered and Matt just shook his head.

“It’s my choice. I’m glad you’re here and we have this part of our way.”

You bit your lip as he gave you yet another smile, this time softer. “I’m glad too. But are you suggesting there’s more?”

He chuckled dryly. “Well. Of course there is, but we can work with that later. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has some things that are important, yet not the best thing to discuss on the first date.”

The flutter of your heart caused by the mention of heavy baggage on your side turned into an excited one as you were reminded this was your first date – with a great man, who was as badass and cocky as he seemed understanding, sweet and gallant.

“Yeah. You think wine would help?”

“Absolutely.”

---

The wine did help. You two made it through why you hadn’t been on a date for a while, which featured your struggle with the disease and you ‘dying’ and joining the Avengers. To balance the heaviness, you mentioned few stunts your friends in the Tower had pulled so far.

Matt told you about his best friend finding about his nightlife, but also about the work they did in their little firm with big ambitions, throwing in stories from college.  

You laughed, your cheeks hurt and your belly too, your body was pleasantly buzzing and you hadn’t even noticed the restaurant was almost empty until Matt took off his glasses, toying with the earpiece of them.

“I like it better this way,” you noted deliberately and his fingers froze. “Uh-uh, no, leave them off, please. I really do like it better, if that’s okay with you.”

He sort-of looked at you shyly and you were welcomed by the warm of his brown irises, twinkling in the soft light of the candle.

“You sure?” he pried hesitantly and you nodded, hoping he could perceive that.

He resembled a lost but hopeful puppy and it was such a surreal look on his face – through the night, you had had an opportunity to know him a bit more, but this was… new. No matter what you had been discussing, there always had been confidence in him – more or less. You didn’t think he would be self-continuous about his eyes of all things, but it made sense. Your heart swelled.

“Yeah, Matt. I really am.”

Time flied and before you knew it, the waitress politely pointed out they were about to close the restaurant.

“Oh,” you let out intelligently, honestly taken aback. This time wary of being subtle, you checked the space – it was empty. Everyone was out. Oh.

“Of course. Bring me the check, please,” Matt asked, apparently unfazed. You could only wonder if he had been aware of their situation; given his abilities, he probably had. Huh. Guess he didn’t want to leave either – the thought warmed you heart.

He paid for you both, helping you with your coat again. Once you were outside, pleasantly cool air brushing your cheeks, he turned to you sheepishly.

“May I walk you home? Or do you prefer a cab?”

Your heels were killing you already; yet, the choice was clear, because you didn’t want the night to end.

“Walk?”

Your reward was his wide smile and silent request for your elbow. Damn the heels, this was worth it.

“Lead the way?” he asked as he folded his cane, his hand sliding under your arm.

You would be hesitant about the direction, but the Avengers tower was too much of a highlight to miss it. Still, you couldn’t help but tease him.

“Do you trust a woman with directions?”

He chuckled. “Well, I am blind, so I’m trusting anyone who can actually see where we’re going. Perhaps not any woman. I think we established a while ago that I trust you.”

Your heart skipped a beat at that, making Matt’s smile grow. Well, that wasn’t embarrassing at all, that he could read literally every reaction your body had. Not awkward at all.

“Thanks.”

You weren’t stupid enough to walk to the Tower. For all you knew, Tony had his eyes on everything within a half-mile radius at least and you didn’t want him to spy on you two. That man had no sense of privacy whatsoever.

“Well, I guess this is me,” you murmured, stopping in your tracks. Matt frowned and you cleared your throat. “Uhm… eyes and ears everywhere. I don’t want to…”

A flash of understanding appeared on his face and he laughed silently as he turned his whole body to you. He was close. Very close.

“That makes sense. Too bad it means we have to say goodbye now.”

“Technically, we don’t have to. Say it, that is,” you added at his confused expression. One corner of his lips rose higher, his free hand finding yours and running up your arm.

“Very true, Gerda.”

Your breath hitched as he used your nickname for the first time that night. His hands weren’t helping you to control your breathing either.

“We can always go with a goodnight.”

“Is a goodnight kiss too bold?” he whispered, leaning in just slightly, giving you a room to escape if you wanted to. You didn’t think you wanted to escape.

“Very bold…” His face fell, silent ‘oh’ escaping him. “But I’m okay with bold.”

“Mean woman,” he murmured, erasing the distance and meeting your lips. 

Your heart positively stopped the moment it happened and it felt like eternity before it kicked back in.

His lips were warm against yours, gentle and hesitant at first. Your own hand deliberately shot up to his face as you realized a response would be appropriate, but dammit it had been a while and his mouth on yours felt so fucking good. Your fingers found his nape, pulling him just a little closer as heat coiled in your abdomen, welcoming the butterflies fluttering their wings in your stomach. You felt the grip on your elbow tightening and Matt took your lower lip between his, fondling with more boldness indeed.

You sighed in appreciation, your heart hammering in your ribcage that suddenly felt too small, even for your breathing. You retreated just slightly, needing some air, but aching at the thought of creating a distance between you and him. He inhaled deeply too, his hand on your jaw, his thumb caressing your cheek.

“Goodnight?” he tried out silently and you couldn’t help but chuckle, enjoying the tickle of his breath as he did the same.

“Fight me, but that didn’t feel like a goodnight kiss.” You shortly met his lips again, unable to resist – but aiming for only a peck that wouldn’t leave your fingertips tingling like the previous kiss. “Goodnight?”

“Goodnight indeed.”

He kissed the corner of your mouth before letting go of you and you pretended you didn’t feel cold all of sudden. At least his warm eyes were still watching your chin.

“Stay safe,” you whispered and Matt gave you one more gorgeous smile.

“I’ll try. Take care.”

You nodded and forced your body to spin on your heels to go, because if you wouldn’t do it now, you might as well end up going home with him or taking him to the Tower, which something you weren’t really ready for.

You started walking, snuggling into your coat, crossing your arms on your chest to keep yourself warmer. You spared one more glance at Matt, who was still standing where you had left him, raising his hand in tiny wave as you looked over your shoulder. Your cheeks burned as you got caught; then again, he hadn’t move from his position, watching you as well, so you had no reason to be truly embarrassed.

Or you thought so, until you realized the air actually was unusually chilly for September and to make it perfect, a snowflake fell on your nose. You looked around, realizing it started snowing. Snowing. This wasn’t normal. Which meant… did you just…?

“Holy shit,” you muttered under your breath, unsure whether you should be horrified or not as you turned your palm up, catching few more snowflakes. You… you somehow did this. It was as terrifying as awesome.

In the end, you just giggled at what you had caused.

Let it snow.

---

Natasha was standing in her room, staring out of the window as snowflakes slowly descended. None of them stuck, melting as soon as they collided with the surface, but there was no denying it really was snowing. And given the fact that the temperature needed to drop significantly for this to happen, there was no doubt whose doing was that – deliberate or not.

“Hey, Steve. What are you still doing awake?” she heard your astonished voice from the hallway and she bit her lip. This was definitely your excited voice; the date went well. The snow was a good sign.

“Couldn’t sleep.”

Natasha’s heart ached for her friend, simultaneously wondering if you could hear the subtle hint of pain in his voice. She suddenly felt guilty for helping you to get ready for the date – but it felt like the right thing to do.

“So you went to a gym? It’s after midnight. You’re making us all look like couch potatoes.”

Natasha could easily imagine that the soldier ‘casually’ shrugged.  

“Felt like working out,” he explained easily. No shit. How many punching bags did he destroy this time?

“Is everything okay? I know it’s not the first time. Something troubling you? Talk to me, Steve,” you pleaded softly.

Natasha sighed. That would be you placing your hand on his forearm in comforting gesture, your eyes screaming ‘you can trust me’. You always did that, because it was the thing you two did and you two were so utterly hopeless it hurt.

“It’s nothing, Snowflake. Nothing you need to worry about. You look happy. I take it the date went well?”

His voice was strained and the spy had no doubt you could tell. Yet, you answered him, tiny chuckle bubbling in your throat. “Yeah. It did.”

“One more reason for you not to worry about me,” Steve offered kindly and Natasha just gritted her teeth. Rogers was such an ass. Noble, maybe, but bozhe, such a huge ass. “I’m happy for you, Snowflake.”

“Thank you. But we’re talking about you, soon. I need you to be happy too, Steve. You’re too important to me and too good not to be.”

Natasha agreed wholeheartedly, glancing at the flash drive on her nightstand. She had downloaded the conversation she had with Steve, him confessing his feelings for you, but now, it seemed worthless.

While she wished for you to be happy, she was hoping you could do that with the supersoldier who was head over heels for you. She had been sure you felt the same, but now she had doubts. You could easily fall in love with Daredevil, he was charming enough, and she had no right to interfere with your love-life.

“Okay. I promise I’ll tell you later.”

Natasha scoffed. Yeah, sure. On your deathbed, maybe.

“ ‘kay. Love you, Steve. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Snowflake.”

Natasha heard your footsteps trailing off and slowly went to open her door for a slit.

“Don’t say a word,” Steve warned her icily, heart-breaking crack in his voice.

“I was gonna offer you a drink, an ‘I’m sorry’ and a hug.”

She heard him inhale and exhale shakily and she stepped out to find him resting his forehead against the nearest wall. His eyes were squeezed shut and she would swear it wasn’t sweat what gleamed on his cheeks. She pressed her lips together, hesitantly bringing her palm to his arm. His Adam’s apple bobbed.

“I’m really sorry, Steve,” she whispered tentatively, surprised when he bounced off the wall, looking her straight in the eye. His own were indeed glassy, but he wasn’t crying.

“You don’t have to be. She deserves the win, I’m happy for her.”

He said it with such conviction that if she hadn’t known him well enough, she wouldn’t notice how fragile the façade he had hastily built up was.

“Good. But you should know you don’t have to be, macho man. It’s okay to be angry, not just with yourself, but also with her and especially with him. You can be sad and you can be hurt. I know I’m not exactly the most open person when it comes to emotions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel. And you can feel too.”

Steve escaped her gaze, but she could see his tiny nod. She took it as a victory and encouraged, she took his huge arm.

“Come on, Cap, let’s find out where Thor stocked the good booze.”

 

 

Chapter Text

You were sitting in your room, dully staring at your wall, the scene replaying in front of your eyes over and over again. Well, not really; you hadn’t seen much at the moment.

Everything had been great. You and Matt had gone to a date – a dinner date, the most classical date of all and he had been wonderful. He had been a gentleman, pulling out a chair for you, which had been a little ridiculous, given the fact that at least to untrained eyes, he had been the one that needed help, but you had thought it was sweet. The food had been good, the wine as well and the conversation flew surprisingly easily for two people who had recently beat up someone together as their first meeting.

Matt was nice, sweet, funny, smart and… very objectively attractive. When he had taken off his glasses as the restaurant had started to empty, you had been reminded that he was also objectively cute.

Then you had left the restaurant, the night air pleasantly refreshing, his hand on your elbow for guidance and possibly more and about a half of a block from the Tower – which you had considered a safe distance for avoiding Tony’s sniffing around – you had said your goodbyes and kissed goodnight.

Matt was a fucking amazing kisser. His lips were soft and as smart as his talk, perfectly balanced closed-mouthed kissing, nibbling and teasing and— and for some reason, it had left you completely unfazed.

It had been awkward. Incredibly so. You had kissed him back of course, but quickly had said goodnight once more and the only reason why your heart had been freaking out in your chest had been because you had thought you had been a total freak. You were spooked to death, trying not to run the last metres to your place. You had sneaked into your room, luckily not meeting a soul, locked the door and leaned your back onto it, sliding down.

What the fuck was wrong with you?

That had been two days ago. You practically refused to leave your room. Natasha had come to check up on you and so had Steve – twice. You cowardly hadn’t opened the door and had said you weren’t feeling very well. You hadn’t lied. You had barely slept, thousands of different thoughts in your mind, tiptoeing around one single topic.

For some reason, you hadn’t fallen for the incredibly charming man women and men would kill for. There simply must have been something terribly wrong with you.

You whined, burying your face into your pillow for the thousandth time in the past few hours.

A beep announced a received text. You whined louder, expecting it to be from Matt; every single one of people who had your number lived in the tower except him.

It was Matt indeed.

Can I call you?

“No,” you muttered, planning on throwing your SIM card away. Opening the phone, you realized what a ridiculous creature you were. Such a coward.

You took a deep calming breath with zero effect and dialled Matt’s number yourself. You could do this.

When you heard Matt saying your name through the speaker, you were positive that you couldn’t.

“Hey Matt,” you breathed to the phone, your quiet voice shaking.

“Are you okay? You sound… tired,” he noted with concern and you huffed out a laugh. That was one way to put it.

“Uhm… yeah, I am. A little. You? How are you, Matt?”

You found yourself genuinely caring about how he was. You cared for him. And when you thought back to the mission…. Why the hell did you feel the way you did? Or rather didn’t feel?

“Oh. Okay. I guess.”

“You guess?”

“I… I wanted to talk to you. It would probably be better in person, but… I want to give you an easy escape route,” he muttered nervously. You heart skipped a beat. Shit. Here it came.

“O-okay. What is it, Matt?” you asked, feeling bad for playing dumb.

“I… I wanted to— to say I really enjoyed our night out-“ WHAT?! “-it was great.”

You gulped, panicking even more than before. Oh fuck. Matt liked the date. Probably liked the kiss and everything. Oh fuck, fuck, fuck-

“You okay?”

“What?!” you shrieked, horrified you cursed out loud.

“That’s a no to the okay question then-“

“No! I mean-“ you blurted out, you fist hitting your forehead too lightly. God, you wished you could just bang your head against a wall and knock yourself unconscious. Come on, coward, out with it. “Matt, I gotta tell you something.”

“Alright. So tell me,” he encouraged you gently and you mentally screamed. He was so nice to you and you were about to be a total bitch. Again.

“I… I loved our date night. I did. You were so amazing, you are amazing and there must be something seriously wrong with me and I hate it, because I just don’t understand why— why-“

“Why the kiss felt like kissing your brother?” he offered silently and you whimpered out loud as he caught up. He didn’t sound mad, but of course Matt wouldn’t be mad, he was so fucking nice (and deadly as Daredevil) it hurt.

“Incredibly hot and skilful brother-“

“Skilful, huh?” he hummed, light teasing in his voice. Great, now he was being cocky, trying to cheer you up.

“Matt, I honestly doubt I’m the first person to tell you you’re an amazing kisser.”

“Touché. But thanks anyway.”

You would swear he understood what you were saying, but he would make you say it in plain English, wouldn’t he?

“I’m so sorry, Matt. Any woman would be lucky to have you, hell I swear I would be lucky to have you, it’s just… I don’t know. I swear I don’t know,” you whispered miserably, resisting the urge to hide you whole face in your hands.

“Hey, don’t worry about it-“ Excuse me? “That’s not something you can turn on and off— poor choice of words, sorry-“

You giggled involuntarily and absolutely inappropriately.

“You can’t control that, Gerda,” he said softly, the same tone he used when he was navigating you through keep-Steve-cold-and-alive mission. “It’s why I called. I… suspected you were torturing yourself with it a little.”

Wait, hold a sec-

“What do you mean you suspected-“ Oh fuck. OH FUCK. “You could tell. You could tell with your freaky senses, couldn’t you?”

Oh, wow, this was whole new level of awkward.

“Yeah, kinda.”

“Oh my god, someone just kill me already.”

“Gerda. Calm down. I’m not mad.”

“But I am! Jesus, I really should just dig myself a hole to crawl into and die-“

“Stop with the blasphemy and especially with the talk about dying,” he growled and you jumped at the threatening tone, immediately obeying.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, you already said that…. Do you think… do you think we can meet again? Not now, not this week, or yes, whenever you would want to. I like you, Gerda. If you let me, I would like to be your friend.”

You almost choked on your own spit. The idea was likeable for you in a way, but it would be incredibly unfair to him.

“You sure, Matt? I mean… that’s… I’m not being too full of myself, I swear, but…”

“But you know what it’s like to fall for someone and be by their side only as a friend?” he offered kindly and your jaw fell. Come again?

“What? I’m not sure-“

“Really, Snowflake?”

You blood ran cold at the addressing, your heart positively stopping this time. That wasn’t— wasn’t-

“You told me you loved him, Gerda.”

“Yes. And that he was family,” you added, panicking. Yeah, okay, so you had a stupid crush on Steve that was lasting embarrassingly long, but that would go away and— alright, you had no idea someone had noticed that.

“Yes. And you weren’t lying, I could tell. But I think we both know it wasn’t the whole truth.”

You turned into a statue with the loudest heartbeat on Earth. In the silence of your room, it felt like the sound was ricocheting off the walls, coming back to you. You loved Steve, that was no news, sure, but… but… never mind. It didn’t matter, because even if you did love him more than as a family, he didn’t, so— so that didn’t change a thing about the possibility of your inability to momentarily fall for another man.

You groaned loudly, falling back into your pillows.

“And finally, the blind man opens her eyes…”

“Shut up,” you muttered, caught between too many emotions to recognize either of them.

“Talk to him, Gerda. You deserve to be happy.”

“Excuse me?”

“…you know he loves you back, right?” Matt asked matter-of-factly and you wondered when the heck had you slipped in the shower to hit your head hard enough to come up with this craziness.

“Matt. You’re being really sweet, but please don’t make up stuff like that-“

“I’m not making up-“

You whined again, pulling the phone as far from your ear as you could. This was not something you needed to hear now. Or ever. False hope sucked.

Two loud knocks interrupted you misery.

“Hey, it’s Natasha, can I come in? You’re okay in there?”

“Matt, thank you for being so cool about all this, but I gotta go. I’ll call you – or you call me when you feel like it, it was good to talk to you, bye.” You hung up before he could say a word. For once, you welcomed the interruption and actually walked to the door, unlocking it.

Please, tell me we have a mission. Preferably without Steve, because right now I won’t be able to look him in the eye.

You met with Natasha’s worried gaze. “You okay? You sounded a bit…”

“I was on the phone,” you explained shortly, your tone indicating how much you didn’t want to talk about it.

“Okay. Uhm… are you ready to talk about you two days isolation? Are you sick? Because JARVIS can tell you weren’t sick.”

“Fucking AIs.”

“Sorry, madam,” the AI sounded from above and you yelped. Right.

“It’s fine, J.”

While you were talking to the AI, apologizing to someone who had no emotions thus probably couldn’t be offended, Natasha invited herself in and seated herself on your bed. For the first time, you noticed she had brought two glasses of red wine. You grimaced.

“Yeah, sure, come in, Tasha,” you noted sarcastically and she smiled innocently.

“Thanks. So… wanna talk about boys?”

You opened the door you had managed to close just before she asked that stupid question.

“Not really. Thanks for the visit. Door’s this way”

The spy rolled her eyes and sighed. “Come on. You were on a date and unless you were… taking care of yourself whole two days, too stunned to leave your room-“ Jesus, Tasha.. “-it didn’t go well. So. I’m all ears.”

You eyed her as if she just announced you were about to be a subject of torture. Which wasn’t exactly inaccurate. You closed the door again. “It was nice, okay?”

“Uh-huh. But?” she guessed and you let your shoulders slump, heavily seating yourself next to her. She offered you a glass and you just shook your head. You hadn’t really eaten in the past two days and drinking on empty stomach was never a good idea. She set the glass on your nightstand either for later or for herself. “Too much tongue?”

You looked at her deadly serious expression and you couldn’t help yourself. You just burst out laughing, the loud noise hurting your own ears after your time alone. The corners of her lips twitched.

“You really wanna know?” you checked and she wiggled her eyebrows. “No. Just the right amount of tongue. If I could take a guess, he took kissing as an elective in college.”

“Whoa, okay. So why are you making that face and why did you shut everyone down? Including Steve?”

You bit the inside of your cheek – it wasn’t exactly a secret you and Steve were really close, but… well. You really didn’t want to think about Steve now.

“I don’t know,” you said, realizing it wasn’t the truth. You knew. You were just having troubles to admit it and come to terms with it. “I… it just wasn’t there. I mean… Matt’s amazing. Like… I-would-pay-him-for-being-my-date-again amazing, but… the spark was missing. Which possibly means I’m frigid, but…”

Natasha covered your hand with hers – you didn’t even realize you were clutching the sheets.

“You know that’s not true, you’re not an actual Ice Queen,” she teased you lightly, but with the genuinely caring tone that made you realize that the whole team was already so much more than your team.

You had considered that before, but this very moment… you were paying more attention to your emotions than ever; which made you discover another thing. They were all your family. And family trusted each other.

“I guess I’m not.” She smiled at you, handing you the glass with no objections permitted. You chuckled and sipped the crimson liquid. “You know, you don’t need to get me drunk to make me spill all of my secrets. I told you about Matt rather willingly.”

Natasha grinned and sipped her wine too. “Oh, good. I need you sober.”

You narrowed your eyes suspiciously. “Why?”

“Later. Since you told me about Matt, is it time to tell me about Steve too?”

You choked on the next sip of the wine, utterly shocked at the words. Natasha’s reflexes saved you carpet when taking your glass away.

“What the hell, Romanov?!” you rasped, another cough fit hitting you. She wasn’t impressed.

“Please. You could as well have the ‘desperate pining’ and ‘clearly platonic cuddling’ signs above your head.”

You were speechless, staring at the redhead, tears from the coughing fit blurring your vision.

“Don’t look at me like that. So I know you love him, it’s not a big deal,” she exclaimed with a shrug as if she was saying what the weather was tonight.

“Why does everyone keep telling me that?!”

“Everyone?”

“Well… you’re only second today, not that it makes me feel any better,” you mumbled, running your hand down your face. Who else knew? Did Steve know too? The thought made you nauseous. What if he knew but never said anything, because he didn’t want things to be awkward between you two? Oh god, oh god…

“Huh. Gotta say that guy really is perceptive. I mean, he barely met you and Steve.” She sounded genuinely impressed. You hid your face in your palms, muffling another whimper that escaped your lips. “It’s not that obvious. I mean… I know about at least one person, who is perfectly oblivious. Otherwise he would have actually had the balls to tell you that he loves you back.”

Natasha’s tone was rather flat, informative, but you had learned to recognize the nuances in her voice. You could tell she was telling you something huge, yet, your mind was very slow with realizing what each of the words meant and what they meant together. Then you finally made some sense of the sentence. Except you didn’t. You looked up, baffled.

“I— I’m sorry. I think I already had too much wine. Could you repeat what you just said?”

Smug smile appeared on the spy’s lips as she pulled out a flash drive from her pocket. “Have a laptop lying around here somewhere, Snowflake? We need to process some evidence.”

 

 

Chapter Text

You were standing in front of the door, staring at it blankly. Once again, you were replaying something in your mind, unable to leave the loop.

Natasha had given you a recording. A recording of her conversation with Steve. An impossible recording.

“When— when did-- this happen?” you had asked her shakily, absolutely stunned and carefully guarding your heart so you wouldn’t let the hope in. This can’t be real.

“Can’t you tell? You were there in the beginning. It was the night you talked to Matt.”

“You— how-?”

“Honestly, you are both so pathetically oblivious it hurts. You really need to finally make out. I’m sure it will feel better than with Matt.”

You had had no words that could reply to that comment satisfactorily, so you had aimed for a different issue.

“He said that being with a teammate-“

“And you heard what I said back. Just take a fucking shower, brush your teeth and go talk to him, Frosty. And try to keep it quiet,” she had mumbled and you had looked at her, honestly clueless.

“Keep it— you think we’ll fight?”

“I think you’ll fuck, sestra.”

You were still blushing when standing in front of Steve’s door almost an hour later. You were a nervous wreck, still not quite accepting the possibility of the recording not being fake. Then again, there was this annoying hope sprouting in your heart and you totally blamed the sneaky Russian spy for that.

“Captain Rogers, I would like to inform you that your teammate known as Frostbite, or Snowflake as you like to call her, is standing in front of your door for exactly five minutes now,” a well-known British voice announced in Steve’s room, loud enough for you to hear it.

Oh, JARVIS, you sly AI.

“Frosty? Wanna come in?” he called out lightly and you released the breath you had been holding and knocked on the door uselessly. Steve humoured you, inviting you in once more.

You hesitantly opened the door, all your mental bravado flying out of the window. Not that there had been much to begin with in the first place, but it had been something.

You peeked into the room, finding Steve cosy on his bed, resting his back against the headboard, his knees bended. He switched to sitting cross-legged when you entered.

“Hey,” he greeted you softly, putting his sketchbook aside and you managed a half-hearted smile.

“Hi, Steve. Haven’t seen this baby for a while,” you noted, beckoning to the notebook. He smiled shyly, closing it.

“Yeah. I thought it needed revisiting so it wouldn’t feel neglected. Haven’t seen you for a while.”

You closed the door, pressing your lips together at the strike. ”Fair. I’m sorry, Steve. I didn’t want to ignore you. I… I just needed some time for myself.”

His baby-blues searched your face with a hint of worry.

“You look tired. Come sit?”

You couldn’t help but smile at the care. Yes, of course, Steve cared. Steve loved you even, but… but.

“Thanks.”

You approached the bed slowly; seating yourself on the bed felt like sealing a deal, as if there was no way out now. It was time to talk and possibly embarrass yourself for a lifetime. He moved a little closer, coy, but with a goal. He lightly caressed your bare arm, his honest eyes locked with yours. Shit you really could drown in that sea of blue.

“Feel better now? No need for more alone time?”

You closed your eyes, taking in his gentle touch. This was a great opportunity – he literally offered you a way to say it.

“I… I think I was alone for long enough,” you whispered, his soothing motion faltering. You opened your eyes slowly, worried about his reaction.

“Is it about the date? Did something happen?”

You observed his face wearing a strange expression you always interpreted as worry – this time, you couldn’t help feeling like there was something else, something you couldn’t put your finger on. His brow furrowed with anger too.

“He didn’t hurt you, did he?” he asked warily, his anger making sense to you now. But there was still something… “Snowflake? Did he-“

“No! No, Steve, Matt didn’t hurt me. He was… he was really nice to me, actually.”

“Oh. Good.”

Despite his words, something in his eyes darkened. It was such a tiny change, you wouldn’t have noticed it, but you were fascinated by his hypnotic gaze until he wasn’t looking into your eyes anymore. His hand fell too and his fingers started crumbling his sheets as if they couldn’t stay still. His lips formed a smile, but you didn’t believe it. You knew him too well.

“Where did you go? What was it like? Was he a gentleman?”

You licked you lips. His interest seemed genuine, but once again, there was hint of something poisonous. You couldn’t help feeling like you weren’t Gerda but Kai, suddenly poisoned by the Devil, seeing flaws everywhere. It was so ironic you barely held back a snort.

“Nice Italian restaurant, not too crowded. The food was really good. Uhm… and yes, he was a gentleman, but… I didn’t come here to talk about my date, Steve,” you said, your stupid brain finally making the connection – or you hoped so.

It was jealously. Steve was jealous. Forget Bible, this was a goddamned revelation.

“Oh. Sorry,” he smiled hastily, nervous. “I didn’t mean to pry-“

You had no idea where the bravado came from, but you took his hand he kept closed in a fist in his lap to yours. It worked greatly; he shut up.

“Steve, I— okay, maybe I need to say it, because I feel like I’m always telling you everything and it would be weird if I suddenly didn’t, so-- uhm. Okay.”

He tilted his head curiously, looking utterly confused. But his body relaxed, the stiffness you could see ever since you had started talking about the date resolving. Well. You would both have to suffer through it once more. You cleared your throat.

“I had a great time with Matt. He… he walked me home and kissed me-“

Steve gave you a tiny smile, obviously trying very hard to be supportive friend slash brother and squeezing your hand gently.

“-and there was nothing. Just… nothing. It was… weird. Really weird. Not that he wasn’t a good kis-“

You covered your mouth with your fist to shut yourself up before more verbal vomit would come out. This was going terribly. Yet, Steve patiently sat opposite to you, listening to your non-sense, because he was a sweetheart.

Your sweetheart.

“Well. Let’s say we didn’t click. I— I’m not going out with him again. It was… embarrassing for both of us. But… what I’m trying to say is, that… that I’m really glad I went out with him, because… because it helped me realize something,” you explained slowly, finally getting on the right track.

For some reason, Steve looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

“Steve?” you addressed him, worried.

Seriously, he looked so spooked for a moment it sent your heart racing; until he shook his head and moved a little closer to you, his free hand coming to caress your shoulder. You were utterly baffled by that development. Did he… did he do the math? Were you that obvious? Because so far you sounded to yourself like talking lots of crap.

“It’s okay, Snowflake,” he whispered with a reassuring smile. “You know you can tell me anything, right? You know I love you, nothing will change that.”

Your mouth fell opened and you just stared at him wide-eyed and endlessly relieved. “Oh thank god,” you breathed, “I love you too, Steve.”

His smile looked a little broken now, but perhaps it was the weight of the confession. His palm cupped your cheek and your eyelashes fluttered at the feeling, just like your heart.

“I know I’m from the times that were less tolerant, but I would never look at you differently, Snowflake.”

His words made you freeze. Hold on a sec. “Steve-“

“It’s okay. So you… like women, that’s not-“

You slipped from his gentle hands, burying your face in your own, whining miserably. “Oh my god, this isn’t happening.”

You felt like you got punched to your stomach by Iron Man. Or by Steve’s shield to make it more ironic. Oh, this was not happening. Steve just told you he loved you, loved you despite being gay, while you finally admitted you loved him and you fucking thought he had confessed to loving you too.

“Someone just kill me, please,” you muttered, your hands immediately ripped away with not much grace.

“Don’t even think about it, this is not end of the-“

“Jesus Christ, Steve!” you snapped, startling him. His hands immediately went away, raised in a harmless gesture. “I’m not telling you I’m gay! I’m not trying to come out to you or tell you that I want to— to kill myself over it!”

Though now it seems to be a likeable option.

He blinked in shock, his lips parted. He looked so fucking cute you just wanted to kiss the confusion away – which would be pretty self-explanatory, but maybe a bit harsh.

“So… what are you saying?”

“I’m pretty comfortable with my heterosexuality, thank you very much, but it’s good to know you’re tolerant, not that it’s surprising.”

“…okay?”

You took a deep breath, shaking your head with your eyes closed. You were going to say it. Right now. Everything. You didn’t have to look into his eyes while doing it, right? Instead, you played with your fingers in your lap, watching the digits meeting and parting again.

“What I’m saying is that when I thought you were gonna die, it was the scariest thing I ever felt,” you whispered, his sharp inhale too loud in the room. “That every time you show up in that uniform of yours, my heart is going crazy and it’s not just because I’m afraid of what will happen on the mission – I’m positive, because my pulse is doing the exactly same thing when you just walk around in one of your stupid blue shirts or white t-shirts, because seriously, I’m pretty sure that you wearing those should be illegal.”

You checked his expression quickly, but he seemed absolutely stunned. Well, at least he wasn’t running away yet; though this was his room, he had nowhere to run.  You lowered your gaze again.

“I’m saying that every time I’m falling asleep in your arms during a movie night, all I want is to wake up in them too. When we’re training and you… somehow end up on top of me, I wish for you to stay there a little longer. Every time you look at me with those ridiculously pretty eyes of yours, I’m not sure whether I should snuggle you or… or…” Shit, I am such a coward. “I-“

His fingers found a way to your cheek once more, sliding under your chin, light pressure making you look up. You heart was pounding in your ears – you couldn’t remember being scared like this, ever. This was a different kind of fear, the deep kind you hadn’t experienced in a long, long time.

“When I thought you wouldn’t make it…” he whispered, his gaze flickering across your face, looking as amazed as if he just found a relic. “It was the worst feeling I lived through since I crashed the plane into an icy ocean.”

Your breath hitched. Please, please, tell me you’re saying what I think you’re saying.

“Every time you show up, I wish you were wearing your smile, because it’s like sunshine.”

His thumb traced your lips slowly, cautious, and you pressed a little daring kiss on the finger, praying you weren’t crossing a line. His own lips spread in the softest smile you ever seen and honestly, all you wanted to do was to taste that smile, your abdomen burning at the idea.

“Whenever you’re falling asleep during a movie night… I wish I wouldn’t have to carry you to your room, but to mine instead, to keep you all night. When you happen to end up under me… I have to get up fast, because if I would stay a little longer…”

Alright, you were very distracted by where that thought would go, but holy sweet Jesus, Steve was really making a love confession and you couldn’t believe this was happening. It physically hurt you not to pinch yourself or to touch the adorable blush that appeared on his cheeks at the last exclaim.

“And when you look at me – the way only you do, I can’t even describe it, it’s like I matter, me, my bare soul, just-- all I want is to kiss you.”

You were positive you just changed into a puddle of love-sick jello. Definitely. You were absolutely putty and it took too much effort to ask him one simple question that burned on your tongue. You made sure to look into his eyes when asking it, the unknown feeling rushing through your veins, plucking up your courage,

“Then why don’t you?” you whispered, rewarded by his orbits lighting up, his smile widening. His gaze flickered to your lips and back.

“I don’t know. I guess I’ll just try.”

The distance of the few inches seemed infinite with how slowly he crossed it. But you were willing to wait for it, your eyes falling shut when his own got unbearably close and then finally his lips were there too.

For a fraction of second, your messy mind returned several nights back to a completely different kiss, the reason why it hadn’t felt right finally clicking into place. Because this was right. Steve’s lips gently pecking yours and retreating a little at instant, just to trace the texture with his thumb once more and drive the butterflies in your stomach crazier.

You met his gaze, drunk and a bit baffled. Why did he stop so soon? Was it bad?

“I wanted to do that for a very long time,” he breathed, his eyes burning with honesty and delight.

“Just that?”

“Considering that a slap could have come at this point-“

You raised your hand to his cheek and he must have seen it peripherally, because for the shortest moment, his eyes widened with horror. But you just laid your palm on his jaw, pulling him into another kiss, this time making sure it would last. Steve’s lips sunk into yours with more confidence, apparently not afraid of you slapping him anymore.

You let your fingers wander up his arm, heat coiling in your abdomen at the idea of that arm holding you down, drawing you close. It had happened before, but now you knew the meaning would be completely different and your toes curled at the thought. You sighed when he took your lower lip between his, sucking on it tenderly. Oh god, you couldn’t feel your own limbs now and the same arm you had caressed just a moment ago wrapped around your waist, indeed pulling you close, basically making you sit in his lap. Which was a little uncomfortable and straddling him wouldn’t, so you shifted in your position.

He sighed in appreciation at your thinking, the tip his tongue gently asking for a permission to go on. You let him in, the pool of warmth inside your body spreading just everywhere, always coming back to your lap.

You felt his fingers tighten in the fabric of your top, his lips leaving, his forehead resting against yours so you could both catch your breath. You massaged the back of his neck, unaware your hand had got there along the way.

“Can you open your beautiful eyes for me, Snowflake?” he pleaded lowly, his voice rougher than usual. With desire, you realized. Your heart might have stopped – had he always been saying the nickname with so much affection and you hadn’t noticed or did he finally let his feelings bubble into his voice now?

Your legs squeezed his hips tighter on instinct, drawing something between a chuckle and a whine from his lips. You obediently opened your eyes to meet his – this up close, you could see the subtle threads of green in the sea of blue.

Putting some distance between your faces, you couldn’t help but feast your eyes on him. His pupils were blown wide, his cheeks flushed, his mouth almost bloodily red. Yet, his expression was one of awed, astonished even, and indescribably tender.

“I love you,” he said softly, his eyes locked with yours to add severity to his declaration, the words finally meaning what you always wanted them to mean.

“And I love you, Steve.”

His lips parted, his gaze suddenly hesitant. “You said I was family.”

“So did you,” you noted and he gave you a lopsided smile which was something you wanted to kiss away. But no, your stupid mouth needed to say something else. “And technically, husband and wife are family too-“

His pupils went comically wide and you realized what you just implied.

“Not that I’m thinking about marriage already! I meant— I just-- I wanted to-“ you stuttered and the beautiful creature that had you in its arms pressed its lips together before smiling brilliantly and shutting you up with another kiss. You were all for returning it before you could say something even more stupid like wanting to his kids that would have his blond hair and his beautiful eyes.

You wriggled in his lap instead, earning a startled and very pleased sound from him, granting you access to his mouth, your tongues meeting. He pressed you against his broad chest in response, his hand moving a bit lower, running down your lower back and heading sideways; you were sure you were about to have a heart attack when he cupped your lower left cheek and you couldn’t think of a better way to go from this world.

“Steve,” you breathed to his mouth, rewarded by his grip tightening, his fingers digging into your flesh. Oh Jesus.

There was no better response than slipping your daring hand under his t-shirt on his back, feeling the muscles shifting as he kept pressing you closer. God, this man might have been an artist, but he himself was a work of art.

“Miss Anderson, Captain Rogers, Agent Romanov is asking me about how your conversation went,” JARVIS announced smoothly, sending you into a cardiac arrest and causing you to bit into Steve’s lips at the fright. “What shall I tell her?”

Steve shot you a puzzled look, licking on his wounded lip and you whimpered miserably, letting your forehead fall on his shoulder.

“Thanks, J. You can tell her that if she keeps interrupting like that, we definitely will keep it quiet tonight,” you whined and JARVIS, the friend he was, just said he would tell her exactly that.

You honestly didn’t know whether you should laugh or cry. What if Steve would be mad now?

“Natasha?” he asked quietly and you just whined louder before facing him.

“Yes. She might have convinced me to crawl from the hole of my room and misery and admit how I feel about you.”

“Really? That’s… oh. She actually tried to convince me too,” he admitted tentatively and you shrieked, having a pretty accurate idea of how that had gone. “What is it?”

“She might have… used some… pretty solid evidence to… encourage me.” Steve’s eyebrows shot up in silent question, worry darkening his features. “A recording… of your conversation few nights back from the kitchen and so.”

“Son of a-“

You looked at him, shocked, but he stopped himself before the actual curse left his mouth. His face was… priceless. Also, his lip seemed just fine, so didn’t hurt him that bad.

“I honestly don’t know if I want to kill her or hug her,” he noted, making you grin. He wasn’t mad. Just… taken back, which was an appropriate reaction.

“Well. We are here, right? Together?” Steve’s arm tightened around you on instinct. “So maybe we should rather send her a fruit basket or something?”

Steve’s face lighted up with a mischievous smile, a spark of something appearing in his eyes. Ah-oh. His lips moved to your ear, the touch and his low voice making you shiver.

“Or maybe we should buy her some earplugs… for when we won’t keep it quiet.”

You dug your fingers into the skin of his back, momentarily forgetting how to breathe. Now that was a whole new side of the mischievous Steve you just glimpsed. Jesus. You did not see that coming and you sure as hell didn’t expect the heat pooling in your lower abdomen at that note being set on fire.

His hands framed your face, forcing you to look at him. He suddenly seemed anxious.

“Too much? I didn’t mean tonight! I don’t want to rush it, I’m perfectly fine with just keeping you for tonight, or— or not-“

You couldn’t believe this guy honestly loved you, but somehow, it made sense. His sudden fright of crossing a line was adorable and the honesty in his words was something to cherish. He truly didn’t want to rush, willing to wait for you. He had a practice in that, after all. And so did you.

A little more waiting was fine with you, but you weren’t about to leave him thinking he spooked you or something. Oh no. You hoped he would live up to that suggestion. Possibly soon.

“Steve? Shut up and kiss me.”

A beautiful grin spread on his lips. “Yes, madam.”

---

Daredevil was on his nightly patrol, listening in for any disturbance of the relatively calm night when the air shifted, the temperature dropping suddenly. He couldn’t tell the precise figure, but it was close to freezing point now.

He thought of you immediately. Did something-

A snowflake fell on his lips, melting the very same moment it made contact. His breath caught in his throat. Almost soundlessly, other snowflakes fell, one after another, a symphony, the softest lullaby. It didn’t sound like crying; it sounded like happiness, the sounds lighting up the city, making his heart melt as well.

He smiled melancholically. Something did happen; you finally found love.

---

Natasha poured herself one more glass of wine, sitting down on the couch, which was where Clint found her few minutes later.

“Ladies night?” he teased and the Russian just grinned at him.

“You’re paying up, brat moy.”

Clint’s eyes widened when he realized what she was implying. “You’re joking.”

“JARVIS, replay what our special snowflake asked you to tell me.”

Your voice filled the common room, while Natasha just extended her hand in Barton’s direction. He pressed a twenty into her hand with no further protest.

“What’s the gathering here? Oh, money? I’m interested,” Tony hummed, stopping in his tracks and taking several steps backwards to the couch to find out what that was about.

“Nah, Barton’s just paying up for a bet we made ages ago.”

“Really? About?”

“JARVIS? Could you-“ Natasha just started and the record played again.

“Son of a bitch, I think the hell just froze over – which would actually explain the early snow. How did that finally happened?” Tony asked, astonished.

“I’m afraid Agent Romanov is quite a matchmaker, sir.”

Tony eyed the spy warily. “Dangerous woman. But you know it’s on you to buy us all earplugs now, right?”

“You think she’s a screamer? Or he is?”

“Ugh, I’m leaving,” Natasha exclaimed at Clint’s question, quickly jumping to her feet. She so didn’t need to be here for that. She still heard them as she was leaving.

“Dunno. I have a better question. How long until Rogers breaks a bed?”

She rolled her eyes and turned her glass bottoms up.

In the end, Stark won with his guess of five days, while Barton lost with his fifteen and Bruce with his guess of twenty, both losers naively hoping Steve would be more old-fashioned.

It took them six days to sleep together judging by the thin white frost with beautiful ornaments covering all windows of the Tower the seventh morning. The eighth night they broke a bed; and it happened at three a.m. Natasha swore she was never playing matchmaker again.