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Promise

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Aria held the coffee in her hands, warm on her freezing fingers after spending way too long locked in a cold freezer when a mission went FUBAR. Goddamn, sometimes she hated her job. And her coworkers. And her boss. She really hated her boss. She hated pretty much pretty much everyone she worked with and interacted with on a daily basis, because she didn’t have the same ideologies as them. Which was why she was now sitting in an interrogation room, stirring the stick still in her coffee, despite it being black and strong, just like she had asked for it.

She leaned back in the chair and felt it stop her from leaning too far back and where it was bolted to the floor. She had a cuff on one hand that held her right hand to the leg of her chair, while her free right hand wasn’t letting go of the delicious, wonderful coffee. She sipped it again and hummed inwardly as it sailed down her throat, silky and warm. She licked her lips and knew that her guards were watching her, looking in and she knew at least one of them had to be turned on. She had that effect on men, and she loved the power it gave her, a way to get back at all the men that had hurt her.

Puberty had been kind to her, giving her piercing, unique blue eyes that had a ring around the outside of the iris in a deep ocean blue, the rest of her iris was a pale, icy blue. Her figure had filled out decently, though not as full as the Black Widow, whom she had seen on the news a few times since the Battle of New York. But she could appreciate the female body too, and understood the work that went into looking that good all the time. As a spy, she had to look a certain way too. Her body was more of that of a gymnast, compact with enough cleavage to get looks, and a very nice ass, she knew it to be true. At 5’6”, she was the perfect size and height to get into small spaces that her male counterparts couldn’t.

Aria looked up as the hidden door opened inwards and two men stepped in, one carrying a box, the other wearing a scowl on his face. She smiled sweetly at them, sipping her coffee nonchalantly, unconcerned about the men. She could take them both out now problem, and get out of the room, she had already figured out how the first 30 seconds since entering the room, well before she got her coffee, but hadn’t bothered to. It would just create a problem, and there was always an easier way to get out.

One of the men she knew from the base she had been stationed in, and his injuries were healing well, covered where the cuts had been deep, but the rest were exposed to the air to heal properly. She had been the one to dress them, and she didn’t make mistakes when it came to people’s health. She guessed from the rate of his healing, she had been caught 72 hours ago, maybe 75. She looked to the man wearing the scowl on his face and knew who he was immediately. Director Nick Fury, in all his leather-clad blade-runner glory.

“Director Fury. I’m honored.” Aria smirked at the tall black man, not intimidated, but impressed with him all the same. She looked over to the other agent, who was taking things out of the simple white copy-paper box. All the weapons she had on her, the necklace her mother had given her as a final birthday present, about two dozen knives and other slicing tools, small vials of poison and other unmentionable substances, an epi-pen that contained something else entirely, and her favorite gun, which wouldn’t work unless she made it work, since she had removed all the ammo and was hiding it. At the bottom of a lake. Yeah, that wasn’t being found ever again.

Fury eyed her with his one eye, and she could feel the anger and disdain coming off him, but she didn’t care, she’d dealt with that since her father found out about her, and her genius abilities. She was immune to that look now. She looked at him until she got bored and looked to the young man she had been trapped with on that tits-up mission. He had stopped pulling things from the box, and set the empty box on the floor, then put the things in neat piles, looking each one over, carefully, until he came to the necklace.

Aria looked hard at him, daring him to try something with it; her glare was simple, it would be the last thing he or Fury ever did if anything happened to that necklace. The agent looked it over, scanning it an EMF detector to look for trackers or anything else, then placed it on the table in front of her, next to her coffee. She waited until he was on the other side of the table before putting it on her neck, feeling like everything was better now, it was at peace. She felt naked without the necklace.

The necklace was a medium-weight chain of silver and stainless steel, with a purple stone pendant in the center. It had hung low on her when her mother had given it to her, but now it was close to her neck. The pendant had been in the family for a long time, her great-grandmother’s mother’s wedding present. The chain had been broken many times over, but the pendant remained unharmed through the years.

Aria looked to the agent, a young man named James Bond of all things, yes that was his real name, there had been so many jokes aimed at him between missions from their crew. He went by Jay, but it was a lot of fun to use his real name and get the reactions of people that hadn’t known, priceless. Only one person hadn’t gotten the reference, but she couldn’t hold it against the poor man, he had spent most of his life sleeping.

Aria looked from one man to another and then Fury looked ready to say something, or start something, but Jay interrupted him.

“He’s gone, Aria. The Winter Soldier vanished.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Captain America was pacing back and forth on the helicarrier. It had been just a few short days since he learned that Hydra was alive and well in the world and had infiltrated SHIELD so thoroughly, but at least the highest rankers had been taken out. But Bucky, his best friend, his secret lover. He was alive and he had been for 70 years, held by HYDRA and forced to do so many terrible things. Stark had found that Fury had him shortly before HYDRA fell, and him being taken in with another high-ranking agent that wanted out had been the reason SHEIDL had survived and Hydra was now a mess, but now he was gone. Bucky was gone and Steve, his best friend was afraid he would be taken back by HYDRA. They might gain some power back if they got back their very own supersoldier.

Stark was hacking the SHIELD computers again again, who knows how many times he had done it since the Battle of New York, hoping to find some trace of the missing man, and to prevent him from getting into the hands of HYDRA or any of the other innumerable people and governments and organizations that would love to get their hands on him. JARVIS was running facial recognition but hadn’t had any luck.

“Sir, urgent call from Director Fury.” JARVIs put it through before anyone had a chance to stop him.

“Captain Rogers. There has been an incident here.” Steve rounded on the hologram of the eyepatched man before him and snarled. He was pissed that someone was just telling him now about his best friend escaping, after Stark had already hacked in and found out for him.

“We already know about Sergeant Barnes. You really gotta up your game, Bladerunner.” Fury snarled over at Stark, who was still typing on a computer terminal and looking smug as hell about it. Fury’s form turned back to the supersoldier and shook his head, a man in the background looking sheepish, but unrepentant. The young man suddenly shouted at Fury as he was pulled away, “she’ll find him. She won’t let HYDRA take him back.”

Fury just looked more pissed as the man was taken away in chains and Steve understood. Someone else had escaped someone tied to his best friend, to his Bucky. They had them both and now both were gone. Steve punched the wall beside him and his fist went through the reinforced drywall and alarms started to sound as wiring was suddenly exposed. “Captain Rogers, I must insist you stop breaking the walls, unless you wish to be electrocuted.” Steve looked up at the ceiling, a habit that Stark laughed at all the time, and nodded to the invisible force that watched the house.

“We will find them both soon, Captain, don’t worry.” Fury didn’t wait for a response before clicking off the call and Steve was gone, getting his things and to talk to Clint and Natasha, who would surely help him track his best friend, and this missing woman.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aria looked down into the warehouse, at the huddle man in the rafters and her heart swelled with pain and empathy for him. She knew him better than anyone in HYDRA, not on a trained assassin level, but on a personal level. He was an interesting man underneath it all, though his memory was fucked due to the years of torture. The man looked up and gray eyes pierced into her blue ones and he glared hard at her, then looked down, nodding slightly and she slid next to him, thighs touching.

Aria placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and he leaned into it, letting the warmth of her body warm him, despite always being a few degrees hotter than most people. Her presence reassured him, helped him, because nothing bad every happened when she was around, nothing that she didn’t try to protect him from. She had even taken a few shots and punishments for him, claiming something was her fault when it had been his, because she knew what they would do to him, and she could stand to see or hear it.

Aria rest her head on his metal shoulder and it felt so nice to feel her pressure there, the only comfort he had ever gotten for as long as he could remember. Her hand drifted upwards and stroked his hair gently, then she leaned up and kissed his forehead and something in him broke.

He clutched her tight to his body, burying his face in her breasts, soft and warm, heartbeat sure and consistent underneath. She wrapped her hands low on his waist and he licked her soft flesh, growing hard. She was always there, always there and it was so good.

Aria let her hands wander down to the front of his pants and slowly drew the zipper down, holding his length in her hands and slowly stroking up and down, hand wet with spit and his precum. She pumped him slow at first, then picked up the pace, her finger tracing the head just like he wanted, his face deep in her chest, his breath hot and fast against her warm body and he seized up a bit, growling and biting her hard enough to bruise, hands tightening on her body as he came hard, spilling into her hands.

Aria smiled at him and stroked some hair from face; he looked so much better now, less stressed, and now maybe he would listen to her, because the longer they were out here, the more they were at risk. But SHIELD had people everywhere, and power to take them in and might never see one another again. And Jason, the name she had given the Winter Soldier long ago, (funny story, another time) needed someone to help him recover, to get to where he needed to be. He couldn’t ever be who he was once, there was no going back, but they could forward.

Aria kissed his forehead again and tucked him back in his pants before telling him her plan, and where they could go. They needed to be safe from both agencies, and it would be hard, but there was once place where she knew they would be safe, because the owner of the building was a good guy, but he didn’t trust SHIELD, no more than she did. And no HYDRA would get in either.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Aria was in the streets, blending into the crowds of people, surrounded by the noise and just being another face in the crowd. It was nice, sometimes to not stick out, to be just another person in a city of millions of people. Aria looked up at the sky and smiled at the tall tower that reached up to the sky, bright blue A near the top. She had been near it for two hours, and already had a way in past the security, and had found something that might by them a full hour at the tower before the AI alerted to the intrusion, making her and Jason invisible to the cameras. Aria stopped and wondered if she could still call him Jason anymore, since they all knew his real name, and now so did he.

Aria sighed and knew she was losing him when they walked in that door, and it hurt her deep in her soul, but it was for the best, for him. He could finally be free, be who he wanted to be for himself, rather than who he needed to be for other people. Aria had pointed that out when talking to Jason and it seemed to work. He was hanging back, in a blindspot, he was an amazing spy after all, and now she was just buying things for the trip in there. New clothes, some food, a bag for each of them, some toiletries. Just enough to take a nice long shower in the hour they had before the system caught up to them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tony noticed that something had happened to an outer camera and had JARVIS and Happy look into it, but nothing appeared to be wrong; a small piece of paper had slid under the door and was causing the sensors to go off. Happy sat in his office, watching some cameras, Tony was in his workshop, Bruce was in his lab and was not to be disturbed for the next three hours unless it was a full assemble, and the Spy Twins were with Capsicle in his hunt for his missing boyfriend and that HYDRA woman.

Several floors above and carefully planned and choreographed movements later, two former HYDRA agents had made it to a residential floor, and it looked to belong to Captain America, if the art supplies and sparse decorating was any indication. He had a spot for his shield when it wasn’t in use, same for his uniform, a chair next to a bookcase full of well-used books and a desk with a laptop charging on it, a TV on the wall that looked rarely used, and rather old-fashioned clothes in the drawers and closet. Aria was right to assume that no cameras were in the bedrooms and bathrooms, and found none. She and Jason could now sit and wait for the man to come back, that was the plan anyway.

Jason’s arm squeaked and squealed and made very unpleasant noises when he moved it now, it hadn’t been looked at properly in over a week, and needed to be maintained almost every day because it was so old. She could do some repairs on it, but perhaps it would be best to ask Stark to make a new one. She was sure the genius wouldn’t be able to refuse. She would head down to maintenance and ask for a screwdriver and some WD-40 later. Shower and food first.

Aria showered in the warm sprays for the first time in a long time, taking her sweet time, enjoying the feeling on her skin. It wasn’t long before Jason was behind her, feeling the water too, rubbing her back with the loofa she had bought earlier. She leaned back into his body and smiled at him, knowing this might be the last time they did this, but it was ok. She loved him more than she had ever loved any man before, and wanted what was best for him, even if that didn’t include her.

Aria rubbed him down, giving him a blowjob in the shower and delighting in the sounds he made for her, soft, growling sounds that he made only for her. She swallowed it all when he came down her throat and she looked up at him and smiled before pulling back and getting all the dirt off him.

Looking at him now, he looked so lost, so unsure. He had been told what to do, when to do it, and how hard for all the time he could remember, and now he was on his own for the first time with no directive, no mission.

Aria ran her hand down his face and smiled at the ample stubble there. She placed the shaving kit on the sink and told him to enjoy the shower as long as he wanted, and to maybe shave a bit, if he wanted to get rid of the bush growing on his face. She loved him when he had a that permanent five-o’clock shadow on her face, the way it rubbed on her skin, how it felt between her thighs, on her shoulders and neck, and how good he looked with it shaved, just long enough to give him that beautiful ruggedness that made her want to never let his face go.

Aria heard him using something in the shower as she left Captain America’s room, heading for the kitchen in the common area, using the device to make it seem like there was no one there, and making as little noise as she could. She pulled out some cereal and milk and ate it in a blindspot in the kitchen, enjoying the sweetness on her tongue from the frosted flakes before washing the dishes and putting them on the rack to dry. She could at least clean up after herself when she was eating the man’s food.

Aria headed down the steps, unwilling to take the elevator when she knew there would be no hiding from the cameras in there, and able to scale the steps in no time. She found a maintenance closet, but not what she needed, so she figured she needed to go to Stark’s workshop and ask for the things she needed, or borrow them. But getting in, there was no way that she couldn’t get in without getting permission, unless…

Stark was sitting in his workshop, at a table where he was playing with floating blue holograms of some kind of prototype, and it was fascinating to watch, but she needed to get in and out as fast as she can. She looked from the vents where she was hiding out, knowing that it was something Hawkeye did and there probably weren’t any sensors in here except to detect pathogens or harmful chemicals. The spy was sure to notice that someone had been in the vents, if the secret wasn’t already out before they all got back.

Aria slid from the vent and down the wall, keeping out of sight of cameras and a bot lifted its long arm and looked at her, tilting its hand like it was its head, and Aria felt something in her heart. The bot was cute, like it was looking at her like a curious animal would, and it beeped at her with a questioning tone. She reached out and patted the metal arm, she couldn’t help it, she was a softy at heart. One reason she could never get behind HYDRA. That and all the murder and enslavement and horrible morals. She smiled as it beeped happily, there was no other word for the sounds it made, they were human emotions. Aria looked up at Stark, still completely unaware she was there, fascinated with the man. Perhaps she should reveal herself to him sooner, let him get to work on that new arm for Jason.
Barnes. He would be Barnes soon.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Aria found the screwdriver and WD-40 she had been looking for, and looked up to see that the same bot she had been petting had moved over and was now following her around. As she turned to head back for the vent, the bot knocked something over and Aria had to dive down and to the side as she heard Stark move around and start shouting at the bot. “Dummy, I will donate you to the community college,” Stark snapped at the poor bot and the little guy’s head fell and Aria couldn’t stop herself from patting it.

She slid back into the vent without someone seeing her, and made it back to Roger’s bedroom, where Jas…Barnes was out of the shower and sitting on the bed, looking sketches over. A lot of them were of him, but younger, brighter and happier. And he was looking confused now, looking at himself in the mirror and back at the sketches.

Aria gently took the sketches from his hands and set them down, and he looked at her again, still confused and this time looking more lost than before. He set the procured items to the side, knowing his eyes were following her hands and then into her own eyes, before she held his face in her hands, gently. He had shaved his face, only leaving a little bit of stubble behind, and a small cut on his chin that was already almost completely healed. She smiled at that and touched the small cut, placing a gentle kiss on it, and he sighed softly. She had done this whenever she could for him, trying to take away the pain, but HYDRA hadn’t liked the show of humanity to the Asset, whom they regarded as a weapon, a thing, and not a person.

Aria pulled the items into her lap and looked the arm over and realized that most of it would be useless in a few hours. Something in it had damaged the internal components badly, and the more he moved it, the more damaged it became. Guess they would need to see Stark sooner than expected. But first, Jas…Barnes needed to eat something.

In the kitchen, she made him a bowl of cereal too, and in a matter of ten minutes, he had eaten the rest of the box, the look on his face of happiness at the sweet taste, something in his stomach besides some water and supplements, something real, as real as sugary cereal could be anyway. He had never been allowed food before, and was often told to limit his water intake, because that would cause problems with his body when he was prepped for cryo, or on a mission. It was even worse if he had something in him and was placed in cryo, because when he came out, the pain of the frozen left behind food thawing and trying to move was excruciating, and had made him scream.

Now, he ate all he could handle, until the box was empty and he looked at Aria, unsure what to do next. “You don’t have to eat it all if you don’t have the room for it, Jason. You should eat when you’re hungry. Which I guess for your speedy metabolism, would be pretty often.” He looked at her, concerned and unsure again. “Don’t worry, Jason, you’ll figure it out, and I’ll help you.” She felt the tension leeching from his shoulders and she looked at the door to the stairs. She looked at the taller man, brown hair in his face making him look dark and foreboding if not for the look on his face that was once more unsure. “Let’s fix that arm, doll.” Jason -no Barnes- smiled slightly at her, knowing he had said that word a lot, before.

~~~~~~~~~

Stark was sitting in the same spot as before, completely oblivious to what was going on around him, but the adorable robots were aware when she slid into the workshop and the same one beeped at her again, waving its hand at her and she waved back, before patting it on the head, at least she figured it was the head. She looked up at the ceiling and then sighed, knowing this would unleash hell, and stood up and walked behind Stark, and asked, just out of reach of the wrench in his hand, “I hear you Starks are good with your hands.” At the same time, JARVIS alerted to her in the workshop, no doubt alerting the rest of the Avengers, lights went off all over the place, the armor was locked up securely and Aria had to stop the man from swinging the wrench at her and making Jason very nervous and very angry.

Stark panted at her and tried to yank his hand from her grip, but she held it still, her face still calm and unconcerned. A screen popped to life and the face of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, filled the screen and Aria heard curses from his end and two other people entered the frame, Black Widow and Captain America. Widow immediately told everyone present who she was and Aria rolled her eyes slightly, she was getting tired and was anxious now, because she was about to lose Jason…no, Barnes dammit, that was his name now… forever. It was best for him, yes, but that didn’t make ti hurt any less.

“Look, Stark, I could have killed you already if I wanted to, like half an hour ago.” She looked leisurely at the watch on Stark’s arm. “I’ve been here for 48 minutes already, and have already been in your workshop. Oh, shoot, I left everything upstairs.” Aria shook herself from her thoughts and looked back at Stark, who was just about an inch or so taller than her, and clearly working on little food and less sleep.

“Get back there, now!” Rogers shouted at Hawkeye, like he needed to be told to go there. Aria rubbed her eyes as she let Stark go and he looked at her, obviously confused. “So, you snuck in here for what? If you just wanted to see me, you can schedule an appointment, or bring coffee. And bring coffee. Just bring coffee, I’ll listen.” Aria smiled at his nervous banter and then looked behind her as the robot she had been touching earlier came out and tugged at her shirt.

She smiled at it and patted its head again. “I like these guys. They’re cute. How’d you get them to show such human emotion? Wait, no, I’m getting distracted.” Aria shook her head and motioned for Barnes to come out from his hiding spot. It took him several long moments, but he stood up from behind a shelving unit and past the beeping robots, who all tried to pet his metal arm, which Stark now saw and was gaping at.

“I tried to do some repairs for him, but it’s been unrepaired for the last week. It’ll be scrap in a few hours, and will start to really hurt in a few minutes. There’s also four trackers in there, and I can disable them without consequence, but I can’t get to them without triggering the fallbacks.” Stark looked like he might jizz in his pants as he looked the arm over, touching it and Barnes looked ready to deck him, tensing up enough that Stark noticed and pulled back. Aria rested her hand on his flesh shoulder and he relaxed his arm and let Stark look it over.

“What do you mean consequence?” Rogers was talking and Aria had almost forgotten that the video chat was still on. Aria looked from Barnes to the holographic faces and sighed. “It’s rather very complicated, but the short version is that there a lot of failsafes in the arm, some to track, some to disable him, and two that were meant as kill switches. I already disabled those, and I don’t think there is anyone left that has the codes to disable him, except the one that will trigger in three days.” Everyone looked horrified, except Barnes, who looked confused. “There is one failsafe that disables the arm and Jas…Barnes if it’s not deactivated after ten days. But I know where it is and how to deactivate it, so we just need to get to it. After we remove the trackers. It might be better and less painful to remove the arm and disintegrate it.” Aria looked at Barnes as she said this and he looked at her, hopeful.

“Do you want it destroyed, and get a new one?” Aria asked and everyone watched them interact, their easy banter and the familiarity of them, clearly showing history and trust. Barnes looked confused for a moment, unsure at begin asked what he wanted to do, then he looked at the arm and a look of hatred and anger came over his face and he looked at her, then at Stark, and nodded.

“Well, you heard the man. Let’s get this arm off. Let us know if it gets too painful, I won’t hurt you for it, I promise.” Everyone looked at her as she said this and the pained looked on Rogers’ face was gut-wrenching, but the worry then the release from Barnes, as if he expected punishment for saying something hurt and then believed what she said, was far worse.

“Well, let’s crack this open and see what evil science hath wroth.” Aria rolled her eyes but let a smile break through. Yeah, Barnes would be ok here, and he could recover in time with her help and eventually, with Rogers. She really hoped she could see them makeout someday, and be happy.

But until that day, she helped Stark carefully open the arm’s plates as the call cut out and the rest of the team raced back.