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All Things Marvel One Shots and Imagines

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Cynthia Jones was a Terran who couldn't remember her home. All her memories were of space, spaceships and various planets. A mercenary group raised her and as soon as she was able she went her own way. Sometimes she worked alone, sometimes she didn't, whichever was the most likely to keep her alive and her pockets lined.

Currently, she'd just collected a finder's fee for locating an object stolen by someone else. It wasn't really her thing, but it paid well. She glanced around the market deciding what to purchase when her eyes fell on an old partner. An old partner that owed her a lot of money. She wove through the crowd, heading in his direction.

"Rocket," she snapped when she was within snatching distance of the augmented raccoon.

He spun, arms out to his sides as he looked for the threat. His snarl fell and his features softened when his eyes fell on her. "C-cyn?"

She fisted her hand into the front of his clothes and lifted him into the air. "Don't you Cyn me, fur ball."

"Woah, easy there." A smooth voice interrupted her and a hand grasped the arm she held Rocket with. Her eyes darted to the man and looked him over. She had to admit he was handsome. And...Terran? She didn't see many of her own kind out here. "Put the raccoon down and step away."

Rocket's hands came forward to rest on hers, drawing her attention back to him. "This is Quill. Groot and I work with him now." His voice was low, calm. They'd been friends long enough that he knew how to talk to her when she was upset. She was surprised to see a sheen of tears in his eyes.  

Opening her hand, she let him fall. He stood up and dusted himself off.

"Now, what's this about?" Quill asked.

"He owes me money."

Rocket looked up in surprise. "That's it. That's all you have to say?"

"You owe me a lot of money. Is that better?"

He stepped forward and fisted his hands at his sides. "That's all you care about is money?"

"It wasn't until my best friends left me alone on some planet so they could keep my share of the bounty," she said through clenched teeth.

Rocket's face fell again and his eyes got wide as he shook his head.

"Let's take this back to the ship, guys. We're drawing a crowd," Quill said. She noticed immediately that he was right and nodded her head in agreement.

They were silent on the way to the ship though Rocket kept looking back over his shoulder with a sorrowful expression. It tugged at Cyn's heart, but she did her best to ignore it.

***

(Quill's POV)

Peter stepped back to let Rocket and his "friend" enter first. His eyes darted down to check out her ass and he cocked his head to the side in appreciation. Damn. And he'd thought she looked hot from the front. Drax, Gamora and Groot were all waiting for them as they stepped onto the ship.

Groot sat on Gamora's shoulder and his mouth dropped open as he saw the woman Rocket had called Cyn.

"What the hell did you do to Groot?" she asked, gesturing angrily at the tree creature.

Rocket threw his hands up in the air. "Why is it always my fault?"

"Have you met you?" she snapped back.

Peter coughed to cover his laugh. "Sorry," he said as Rocket and the woman both turned to glare at him. He took a step back.

Groot tugged on Gamora's hair and pointed in the direction of the newcomer. "I am Groot. I am Groot."

"I don't care if you are super adorable now, I am still mad at you. You left me," Cyn said and crossed her arms over her chest.

Groot shook his head. "I am Groot."

Her arms dropped and she looked between the treeling and the raccoon. Rocket was staring at the floor of the ship. "What do you mean I was dead?"

"Wait," Peter piped up. "You understand what he's saying?"

She glanced over at him with a look of disdain on her face. "You don't? How long have you been travelling together? It's not that hard, Terran."

He scratched the back of his neck. "Damn. It was simple question. Calm down, lady."

She rolled her eyes and took Groot off Gamora's shoulder and put him on her own.

"I'm sorry, who is this?" Gamora asked, with a tone in her voice. He hated when she got the tone.

"Cynthia Jones. Jack of all trades. Former associate of the tree and the rodent. And you are?"

"My name is Gamora." That was all she offered, but it didn't seem to faze the other woman any.

"And the brick wall over here?" Cyn asked.

"I am not a wall. I am Drax the Destroyer." Peter barely resisted the urge to facepalm.

"And what about you, flyboy?" she asked as she glanced over her shoulder at him.

Flyboy. He liked that. "Peter Quill, but people call me Starlord. This is my ship."

"I am Groot."

Cyn and Rocket both laughed.

***

(Cyn's POV)

"What? What did he say?" Peter asked.

She grinned at him. "He said that you're the only one that calls you that."

Gamora and Drax both joined in the laughter. "It's funny because it's true," Drax added in his booming voice which made everyone laugh harder.

"Come on, guys! That's not cool."

She dropped down to sit cross-legged on the floor of the ship. Plucking Groot from her shoulder, she placed him next to her then motioned for Rocket to sit down. "All right, you two. Start talking."

Rocket shrugged. "The building you were in blew up. We thought you were dead."

"I am Groot."

It was sad," Rocket agreed with a nod of his head.

She raked a hand through her hair and sighed. "Rocket, how many jobs did we go on together?"

"A lot."

"And how many of those jobs did I die on?"

"It would be kind of creepy if you died more than once," Peter said from behind her.

"Fair enough." She glanced at the floor before looking back up at her two friends. "Damn it, Rocket. You know I get myself out of impossible situations all the time. Why didn't you wait for me? I was the one that blew up the damn building. It was a distraction while I stole their stuff."

Rocket and Groot both watched her with wide eyes.

"I came out and saw you two flying off ten minutes early. I thought you just wanted my cut." Her gaze shifted to her hands tangled together in her lap. "That hurt. You were my family."

Rocket hesitated a moment before crawling onto her lap. Groot climbed on Rocket until he was where he could lean against her chest as well. "We are your family," Rocket said.

"I am Groot," the treeling agreed.

"I'm really glad you're not dead," said Rocket softly.

"I'm really glad I don't have to kill you," she said and a burst of laughter came from beside them. Cyn lifted her head and looked over to see the other three sniffing with shiny eyes.

Peter walked over and held out a hand. "So, you ever thought about guarding the galaxy?"

Chapter Text

It had been a long night. I sat on my stool at the bar, tapping the toes of my shoes against the surface in front of me as I downed another shot. A pleasant numbness seeped through me and I smiled, knowing I was going to need it to get through the rest of the party.

My friend, Tony Stark, had insisted on my presence this evening though I didn't know why. He'd greeted me when I arrived and I hadn't seen him since. This was typical of his parties and was why I made it a habit to rarely come. Earlier I'd kept myself occupied by talking to Dr. Banner but he'd left long ago. Lucky bastard.

A presence came up behind me, hovering far too close for my liking but I did my best to ignore it. "Hey, sweetheart. Can I get you a drink?"

I didn't turn to look at him. "It's an open bar. Pretty sure I can get my own."

A large moist hand landed on the part of my back that was exposed by the cut of my dress. I clenched my teeth together and twisted my head to the side as I tried to rein in your temper. Tony didn't like it when I made a scene. "Please don't touch me."

"Why are you pretty gals always such bitches?" His hand slid down to my ass and he moved half a step closer.

I turned my head to take in his sneer. With one deft movement, I grabbed his arm and twisted it while driving my other hand into his face. He didn't even have time to make a sound before he was on the floor. I turned back to the bartender and motioned for another drink. The man pulled himself to his feet and stumbled off through the crowd.

After a few minutes, another presence came to stand beside me but this one was familiar, warm. My lips twitched into a smile.

"Hello, Amber."

"Hello, Tony."

"So the oddest thing just happened. The deputy mayor just hurried out of here with blood pouring from his nose. I don't suppose you know anything about what might have caused that?"

I smirked but didn't look at my friend. "He's an idiot."

"Last I checked that didn't cause spontaneous bleeding." He motioned the bartender for a drink.

Shrugging my shoulders, I turned to face him. "Don't know what you want me to tell you, Tony."

He shook his head and lifted his glass to me in a toast. "Well, I'm sorry you had to deal with him but I'm fairly certain half the females in the room are eternally grateful to you for doing so."

"If you know he's handsy why didn't you deal with it?"

Tony's gaze sharpened. "What do you mean by handsy?"

I arched a brow at his tone. Surely, this wasn't news to him given what he'd just said. "Well, first he touched my back with his sweaty palm. When I complained, he moved south to my ass."

He slammed his glass down on the bar. "I'll kill him."

I put a hand on his arm to stop him as he started to storm off. "Calm down, Iron Man. I think he got the point already."

His furious scowl turned on me. "No one touches my girl but me."

"Your girl? Since when?"

He ducked his head and his cheeks flushed. After a moment his eyes darted up to meet mine. "Since always, Amber. Don't tell me you haven't noticed how I am around you."

A thrill went through me at his declaration. I've had a crush on him since the day I met him, but I was still confused. "Notice what? That you invite me to parties and ignore me all evening? Yeah, I noticed that."

He stepped closer and pressed his forehead against mine. "Actually I was referring to the fact that I haven't brought another woman home in months. That I don't even look at anyone else when you're around. You're it for me."

I sucked in a breath as butterflies fluttered around in my belly. Tony Stark liked me. Things were certainly starting to look up. Before I could think too much about it, I pressed my lips to his. The kiss started gently at first as we found our rhythm but quickly progressed into something much hungrier, needier.

Finally, I broke away and looked at Tony with wide eyes while I caught my breath.

His eyes stayed locked on mine. "All right. Parties over. Everyone out," he yelled.

He left Pepper to make sure everyone left as he took my hand and led me down the hall to his bedroom. It was late the next day before either of us emerged.

Chapter Text

When Sarah left high school, she thought the bullying and feeling like an outsider would stop. Not so much. Currently she worked as an admin in an office while taking art classes in the evening and on the occasional weekend. Her coworkers, unfortunately, liked to gossip. When she started working there they'd been friendly enough, but once they realized that she wouldn't join in, they'd started to exclude her or even be downright rude.

This morning she wandered into the breakroom to get her coffee only to have three of her coworkers stop talking as she entered the room. Once she had added her two creamers and packet of sweetener, she turned to leave. They began whispering and laughing as she walked off.

She sighed as she sat at her desk and turned on the computer to check her email.

"Hey, Sarah. What's up?" a bright voice interrupted and she turned with a smile.

Bridget leaned against the wall of the cube, sipping her coffee. She was the only one that had bothered to get to know Sarah and they were now best friends both inside and outside of the office. Bridget was the only one that understood what Sarah was going through with the others. She'd shared just enough with the others that they left her alone. But Sarah wouldn't, and couldn't, do that.

"Hey, Bridge," Tommy, one of the supervisors, said as he passed by. "Drinks at Lester's tonight. You coming?"

"Yeah, sure we'd love to," she said with a smirk.

Tommy's eyes darted between the two women. He at least had the decency to look embarrassed when he said, "Oh, I'm sorry Sarah there's only room for ten of us and we're all full this time. Maybe next time, yeah?"

He left before she could respond and she shook your head at her friend. "You do that every time."

"Well, it's so damn rude. I had a good mind to tell them what we were actually doing tonight."

Sarah's face heated as she turned back to her computer. They had been invited to a party at the Avenger's tower by her boyfriend. Bridget kept begging her to tell everyone at the office if only to shut them up but she wasn't going to do that. And Bridget wouldn't without permission.

"Come on, Sarah. You know I won't say anything."

She nodded. "I know that. I get tempted myself sometimes."

She put a hand on Sarah's shoulder. "Have you told Steve about any of this yet?"

"No. It would only worry him and what can he do about it?" Steve Rogers was genuinely the sweetest human being on the planet. Sarah had been drawing in the park one day when he approached her and that was that, as they say. They'd been together ever since. The only problem was, Steve wanted to fix everything. And when he couldn't he got depressed. There were some things being a superhero just couldn't solve; like office politics.

"Oh, good Smith you're here. I'm going to need you to work this weekend," Mr. Garrett their boss said, stepping up to Sarah's cubical.

"I'm going to go," Bridget said, giving her friend's shoulder a squeeze. Her seat was directly across the aisle so it wasn't like she wouldn't be listening anyway.

Sarah clenched her teeth together to keep from saying anything vulgar and turned to face her nemesis. "Sorry, Mr. Garrett but I can't. I have plans this weekend."

He frowned. "I've got to tell you that I'm very disappointed in this attitude. You don't have a significant other. You should be more flexible. I'm afraid if you don't work this weekend I'll have to take it under serious consideration whether you are a good fit for this company or not."

She blinked at him. "I'm afraid my private life is none of your business and if you try to use it as an excuse to force me to work again, I'll have to take it under serious consideration whether to report you to the labor board or not."

His face turned red and he stormed off without another word. She glanced at Bridget to see what she thought but she was on her phone and not even looking in her direction. Following her example, Sarah got busy on her work.

Fortunately, lunchtime came quickly. Sarah was just about to shut down her computer when the front desk beeped her phone. "Yes?" she answered.

"Miss Smith? You have v-v-visitors."

"Send them back." She frowned at the phone as she hung up. Who could possibly be here to see her and since when did Margie call her Miss anything?

Suddenly, the volume in the office increased significantly. And was that…a fangirl scream?

Sarah stood and glanced over the top of the cubes. Her hand flew up to cover her mouth as her gaze came to rest on her boyfriend and Tony Stark walking in her direction. They were attempting to be polite but they didn't stop moving. Steve's face lit up as he saw her and he started to walk a little bit faster.

When he reached her, his lips collided with hers and he picked her up by the waist and spun her in a circle. "There's my girl," he said louder than necessary. He was either making a point or he was spending too much time with Thor.

"What are you doing here, Steve?" she asked under her breath.

"Taking you to lunch, doll. Why else would I be here?"

He was so full of it, but she grabbed his face in her hands and kissed him soundly. Tony cleared his throat and she smiled at him. Stepping away from Steve, she gave Tony a hug. "And what are you doing here, Stark?"

He hitched a thumb in Bridget's direction and grinned. "Taking her to lunch."

Sarah looked at her friend with wide eyes but she looked just as stunned. She gave Sarah a shrug and a smile.

"Oh, one more thing," Tony said, holding up a finger and rocking back on his heels. "Get your stuff. Both of you."

The women exchanged another look then grabbed their purses and jackets.

Tony shook his head. "No. No. All your stuff. You're coming to work for me."

Sarah's heart skipped a beat then raced along. "Are you serious?"

He leaned toward her and looked at her over the top of his sunglasses. "Sweetheart, I would have had you in an office ages ago if you'd just told me what was going on. What's the point of having friends in high places if you don't take advantage of it?" His volume dropped. "And I'm extraordinarily pissed I had to hear about it from Bridget instead of you."

Her eyes shot to Bridget and she smiled. "Sorry, Sarah. I just couldn't take it anymore. I called Steve this morning while Garrett was talking to you."

Her glance darted back to Steve and he just gave a little nod. Though he was still smiling, she could see the concern in his eyes. She guessed there was something he could do to fix it.

"Hey could you get these two some boxes? That would be great," Tony said, interrupting her thoughts.

She turned to see who he was talking to only to see Garrett standing there gaping at the four of them. She covered your mouth as she giggled. "Sir, I quit," she told him.

"You can't do that, Sarah. You're one of our best employees," he insisted.

"Is that why you threatened to fire her if she didn't work the weekend?" Steve asked, narrowing his eyes at Sarah's former employer.

"Besides, I find it unlikely you can compete with Stark Industries compensation plan," Tony added.

"I quit, too," Bridget said with a little wave. Neither one of them had many personal belongings. Just a couple of pictures and knickknacks.

Steve looped an arm around Sarah's waist to lead her out and Tony did the same to Bridget though as far as Sarah knew that was more for show. Tony wasn't interested in Bridget. Was he?

Tommy stood at the front desk, watching them leave. Sarah tugged on Steve's arm and pulled him to a stop. "Oh, Tommy. Bridget and I are going to have to pass on drinks. We've got a party at Avenger's tower tonight. Maybe next time?"

Bridget burst out laughing and Sarah quickly joined. As they stepped out into the sun Sarah put her arms around two of her favorite men and her best friend. "My heroes."

Chapter Text

You walked into your apartment and tossed your keys on the table by the door.

"(Y/N)! You're home!" a familiar voice said and you turned in surprise to find Wade Wilson aka Deadpool waving at you. As usual, he was in his suit.

On the other end of the couch sat Logan Howlett aka Wolverine. As usual, he was not in his suit. You groaned and grabbed a bottle of beer from the fridge before walking into your living room and dropping onto the seat between them. "To what do I owe this fresh hell?" you ask.

"Aww, (y/n). You say the sweetest things." Wade laid his head on your shoulder as he ran his hand down your arm like he was petting you.

You rolled your eyes and glanced at Logan. He grunted and took the beer from your hands to open it for you. You nod in thanks when he hands it back and you take a long sip. "Okay, seriously why are you guys here? Together?" Another thought occurs to you. "And how did you get in?" You turn a glare on Wade. "Did you break anything?"

"F--I mean Damn, why you gotta be like that girl?" Wade says then starts to bop his head to some rhythm only he could hear.

"I notice you didn't answer the question. Any of them actually."

"Wilson didn't let us in. I did. Charles gave me the key," Logan finally took pity on you enough to explain.

Well, that explained how they got in but it didn't explain why no one texted or called to say they were coming. You might run an unofficial safehouse for mutants and superheroes but you still appreciated some warning. And you really preferred they not come in when you aren't home.

Sighing, you pinched the bridge of your nose. "Okay, I'm going to ask one question at a time so hopefully even Wade can keep up."

"What the fu--frickity frack, (y/n)? That was just mean."

You glanced at him out the side of your eye wondering why he kept himself from cussing. That wasn't like him at all. Deciding trying to figure out why Wade did anything was a worthless pursuit, you turned your attention back to Logan. "Why are you here?"

"I'm tracking a mutant for the professor. Asshole spotted me and has been following me around ever since."

"Where's this asshole, Wolvie? I'll take care of him for you," Wade said from beside you, turning his head to look around the apartment.

You couldn't help but smile as you patted him on the shoulder. Poor Wade. He was like an overgrown, insane puppy.

"You do like me," he said in a happy voice before leaning sideways and putting his head in your lap. "You're comfy."

"Get off her," Logan growled from beside you while you just looked between the two of them. Honestly you were used to Wade, he hung out a lot, but Logan was not. When Wade didn't move, Logan thunked him on the head. "Move."

Wade snapped up rubbing his head. "What the fu--dgeballs did you do that for?"

You held up your hands. "Okay, I'm sorry, Wade but I have to know, what is with you tonight? You've kept yourself from saying fu--" You were cut off when Wade covered your mouth with his hand.

"You can only use that word once or we get bumped from a PG-13 rating to an R and severely limit our audience. I'm waiting for the right moment." He moved his hand and you just blinked wide eyes at him.

Logan shifted behind you. Wilson, what the fuck are you talking about?"

"Nooooooooooooooooo!" Wade dropped his head in his hands and began to cry.

Chapter Text

You had recently moved back to New York and connected with one of your old friends, Karen Page. She had been bugging you for weeks now to meet her boyfriend and his best friend who also happened to be her boss. She thought you would be perfect for him. You weren't interested at all until Karen told you their names.

So, now it was a Friday evening and you shrugged out of your jacket as you walked into Josie's bar. Your eyes quickly found the group at a table toward the back. Stopping at the bar, you ordered a beer then made your way to the table.

Karen smiled as she stepped up and waved. “Y/N!" Karen gave you a hug then pulled back to introduce the two men. "This is my boyfriend Foggy and my boss Matt." Foggy looked at you with wide eyes and you just smirked and shook your head. Not yet, Nelson.

You dropped into the empty chair. "I know this was supposed to be a blind date, Karen, but this is a little ridiculous."

Foggy's lips twitched and he took a sip of his beer as he tried not to laugh. Matt's head jerked up as soon as you started talking and Karen's jaw dropped open.

She stared at you in wide-eyed horror. "What are you doing? You can't say things like that?"

"She has a point, babe. You really shouldn't have blind-sided her with something like this," Foggy said to Karen.

You slammed a hand over your mouth to keep from snorting a laugh. Karen was now darting glances between the two of you and Matt was smiling. "It was a little unsightly of you," Matt added and again, you fought back a laugh.

"What the hell is going on? Are you all crazy?" Karen said.

"You should already know the answer to that," you said as you leaned back in your chair. Your gaze darted over to Matt. "Karen says you're attorneys?"

"Yes, we are," the men said in unison. 

You sipped your beer. "So, if I get arrested can I call you to braille me out?"

Both of their lips were twitching and Karen was glaring at you as if she were contemplating your demise. You sat your beer on the table. "Okay, okay, Karen. I'm sorry. I'll stop with the blind jokes. I don't really see their point anyway."

"Oh my God," she yelled in exasperation and both of the men broke out laughing. 

You jumped up from your seat and did a little victory dance then turned back to the table and pointed at the two men. "You lose. Ha!"

Matt scooted back from the table and held his arms open. You wasted no time rushing over to him and throwing your arms around him for a hug. You went to hug Foggy but Matt pulled you to sit sideways in his lap before you could. His arms looped around your waist holding you in place.

Karen looked completely lost and Foggy took pity on her. "Natalie went to law school with us. We used her to pass our classes. It was disgusting really."

Karen turned to look at you in surprise. "Wait. This was the Matt you dated in college?"

You grinned. "Small world, huh? We were the inseparable trio."

"Until she broke my heart," Matt piped up. 

Your face heated and you dropped your head forward. He rubbed a hand on your back. "When I went to California to take care of my dad, Matt wanted to keep dating, but I refused. I thought a long distance relationship would be too distracting for him while he went to school."

"Yeah, like him moping around for six months wasn't distracting," Foggy muttered into his glass.

"Foggy," Matt snapped.

"What?" he protested. "It's the truth."

Your gaze darted to Karen as she opened her mouth. "Don't you dare," You said, pointing a finger at your friend.

"What?" Matt asked. "What is it Karen?"

You tried to get up and he tugged you back down. This happened a couple of times before he leaned forward and pressed his lips next to your ear. "Stay." His voice sent a shiver down your spine just as it always had. 

He ran one of his hands under the hem of your shirt and laid his palm flat against your stomach. Tugging you back against him, you had no choice but to lay on his chest. He pinned you in place with his arms. "Now, Karen, what was that you were going to say?"

"No. No. No." You were cut off from saying anything further when Matt put a hand over your mouth. 

"Behave," he hissed in your ear and you stopped trying to get away from him. 

"When I first tried to set her up with you, she didn't know who you were and she said no because she was still in love with her college boyfriend and was thinking of trying to find him." Karen said the words all strung together and super fast. 

You slumped in defeat. Damn Karen. Your cheeks heated as Matt went completely still beneath you.

There was a long uncomfortable silence then Foggy spoke up. "Let's leave these two alone to catch up, huh?" He drained his beer then stood and offered his hand to Karen. She took it and they left with one last wave.

Matt's arms loosened their hold on you and you moved to the seat next to him that Karen had just vacated.

When he didn't say anything, you spoke up. "I'm sorry, Matt. I wish she wouldn't have said anything. Maybe I shouldn't have come."

He tilted his head. "Why not?"

You ran your hands along the legs of your jeans. What had you been thinking coming here? You’d just wanted to see him again. Even if it was only one more time. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable or stir things up for you. I just...wanted to see you."

When he didn't say anything else, tears welled in your eyes. You angrily swiped them away. This was your own fault. You were the one that broke up with him. Even if you regretted it from the moment the words left your mouth, you had no reason to expect him to take you back.

"Y/N." He said your name softly. When you didn't respond he said it a little louder, a little more demanding. "Y/N."

You cleared your throat and looked at him. "Yeah?"

He leaned forward and cupped the side of your face with his hand. You closed your eyes and leaned into his touch. "Did you mean it when you told Karen you were still in love with me?"

A tear dripped from your eye and splashed against his hand even as you smiled. "Who says I was talking about you?"

"You're cute. Very cute," he said and leaned forward. His lips found yours and gave you a soft kiss. 

You leaned your forehead against his. "I never stopped loving you, Matt. I thought letting you go would be better for both of us."

"Well, even you have to be wrong every once in a while," he teased then kissed you again, harder this time. 

You hooked a hand around his wrist and kept hold even when you broke away again. 

"So, Y/N, you want to help a poor blind man find his way home," he asked.

"I would love to."

 

 

Chapter Text

You had officially been an Avenger for less than two months, but you'd been a SHIELD agent for years. Tony had recently talked you into moving into the tower. You liked the convenience of being on hand but truth be told you weren't much of a people person. You weren't shy necessarily, you were just delightfully anti-social. 

Unfortunately you were also one of those people that would do anything for the friends you did have. So, when Tony begged you to come to one of his many parties you finally said yes. That was how you ended up sitting on a barstool and looking out over the crowd. Tony was slightly disgruntled that you wore jeans and a nice shirt instead of a dress but he couldn't have everything he wanted. 

Your eyes moved around the room finding the rest of your team. Thor and Cap were sitting on the sofa trying some sort of concoction Thor had brought with him from Asgard while Sam sat nearby shaking his head. Tony was making his rounds of the room, occasionally glaring at you when he realized you hadn't moved all night. Last you knew Banner was in the lab. Finally your eyes fell on Barton and Natasha on the other side of the room. They would look around the room and then go back to their conversation. 

Fortunately for you, their conversation was being held in sign language which you just happened to be fluent in. [italics indicate sign language]

It's not a good idea, Clint signed.

Natasha shook her head. You keep saying that but I don't understand why. You should be the one working with her. 

Why?   Clint looked irritated.

Because she's a climber like you and she uses that stupid crossbow thing. Bolts, arrows what's the difference?

You sat a little straighter as you realized they were talking about you. And you were greatly interested in Clint's response as you'd been wondering why he wasn't the one working with you as well. You assumed he just didn't want to. 

Clint dropped his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. He glanced around the room as he looked up and you lowered your gaze so he wouldn't catch you staring.

Because I like her. I won't be as tough on her as she needs.

Your heart stuttered a bit in your chest. He liked you? You must have misunderstood. You'd had a crush on Clint Barton since your first week at SHIELD that had only gotten worse when you went on a couple of assignments with him and Natasha. There was no way he liked you back.

They both started to look in your direction and you turned your head. You already noticed earlier that the two assassins were reflected in a large mirror on another wall. You now watched the reflected conversation as they both continued to cast glances in your direction.

 So you seriously like her? Natasha asked with a smile.

Clint nodded. 

How long?

Long enough, he signed back.

Natasha smacked him on the back of the head and you took a sip of your drink to keep them from seeing your grin. 

Ask her out already , Natasha told him. 

He shook his head. Too risky. I think she likes Tony.

Seriously? Tony? You huffed a sigh. After finishing your drink, you stood and wove your way through the crowd toward Clint and Nat. "Hello, you two," you said as you appeared in front of them. They had been busy talking to each other and hadn't noticed you until you spoke.

Nat smirked and Clint's cheeks turned red. "Hello, y/n," Natasha said.

You glanced at the floor and rubbed a hand along the back of your neck. "Um..."

"What is it, Y/n?" Clint asked. 

You looked up. I overheard your conversation, you signed.

Clint's eyes went wide and Natasha threw her head back as she laughed. She patted Clint's shoulder and walked away still laughing.

Clint sighed. "You know sign language?"

"Yep," you said, popping the p.

"Since when?" 

It was your turn to blush. You turned your gaze away so you were no longer looking in his eyes. "After our first mission together. I thought I should learn, just in case." Clint had hearing aids but there was always the possibility they would quit working. He could also read lips but sign language was easier obviously. Plus you could use it over a distance.

He placed a hand on your chin and turned you back to meet his gaze. "Why didn't you say anything?" he asked quietly.

You gave him a small smile. Because I like you too, you signed. "We weren't close. I didn't want you to think it was weird that I learned."

He grinned which made you grin in response. He leaned forward and captured your lips with his. The kiss started out soft and slow but quickly escalated. He turned the two of you and pushed you back against the wall, so his body hid you from the room. He pulled away and you opened your eyes. Your gazes locked. 

"Who had Barton and y/l/n kissing by tonight in the betting pool?" you heard Tony shout. 

You rolled your eyes and Clint flashed a sign to the room that even Tony was sure to understand.

Chapter Text

You were sitting at the bar having a beer when you felt them. Two mutants had walked in. You didn't turn to look. It wasn't your business and it didn't affect you. 

Well, it didn't until one sat on each side of you. You didn't look at them as you took a reading from them, knowing instantly what their powers were. These two were interesting. "Frustrating isn't it?" you said after another sip of your beer. 

"What is?" a deep voice said from your left and you took the chance to glance over. He had the good looks to match the voice with dark hair and blue eyes. "Well, hello handsome," you said earning a smirk from him as he looked you over. "But I wasn't talking to you."

You glanced at his friend and smiled. This one was cute, too but you liked your men a little rougher around the edges. You'd stick with Handsome. "Aren't you two a pair?" His eyes narrowed as he continued to attempt to read your mind. That won't work unless I want it to.

His eyes went wide and he shot a look at his companion. 

You finished your beer and pushed the bottle away from you. "Perhaps we should discuss this elsewhere?" you asked as you stood. 

Handsome was quick to pull out some cash and throw it on the bar to pay for your drink. You flashed him a smile. "Thanks."

You followed them out of the building and around the corner to the alley. "What can I do for the two of you?"

"We would like to offer you a job," the cute one said. 

You crossed your arms over your chest. "First, I don't make a habit of working for people I don't know. Second, why would you offer me a job when you don't even know what I can do."

He frowned. "I thought..." he trailed off and pointed to his head. 

You arched a brow. "Name?"

He cleared his throat. "Charles Xavier."

"And you, handsome?"

"Erik Lehnsherr."

"My...abilities are a little more specialized than that."

"Such as?" Erik asked. 

You studied both men. "I don't know you well enough to tell you that." Your power could get you killed if the wrong people discovered what you were capable of. You knew that and had always been overly cautious about reveling too much about yourself.

Erik draped an arm around your shoulders. "Perhaps we should get to know each other then."

***

Erik and Charles took you with them on their recruiting mission once you revealed you knew what a mutant's powers were as soon as they were in your proximity. You'd been traveling with them now for almost three weeks. A couple of promising mutants had been found but there were others whose mutations didn't affect their lives or were simply too young and you'd convinced the men to leave them be. 

Currently the three of you were eating at a table in their hotel suite. You sipped at your beer as you watched Charles finish eating. You took a breath as you looked between them. It was time. "I know I asked you this before, but I'm going to ask you again. I need you to think about the answer. It's important," you said and both men gave you their full attention.

"Are you sure about these people? I  mean like really sure? Because if I get into the wrong hands, if I think I'm working for the good guys but I'm wrong, the results could be devastating."

They exchanged a look and Erik leaned back in his chair. "Don't take this the wrong way, sweetheart, but being able to pick mutants out of a room they're in and know what their powers are isn't apocalyptic."

"That's not all I can do."

Charles gave a little laugh. "What are you talking about, y/n?"

You reached out a hand and laid it over his on the table. All it took was a thought and his powers were muted. His eyes grew wide. "That's remarkable. How do you do that?" he asked. He smiled and you could tell he was fascinated by your ability.

Having no idea how your powers worked, you shrugged. 

"How does she do what?" Erik asked, darting his gaze between the two of you. 

"Show him." Charles jerked his head in his friend's direction.

You took your hand from him and laid the other on Erik's. "Move something," you told him. 

He frowned but attempted to do as you asked. You knew the moment he realized what you were doing as he jerked his hand from beneath yours and pushed his chair back. Where Charles's expression had been one of amazement and wonder, Erik's face showed fear and disgust. 

You dropped your hands into your lap and looked down. Idiot. Why had you thought they'd understand? That they'd still want you around? "I'm going to go," you said softly.

"Hey, y/n," Charles said. "That's not necessary. Erik was just surprised is all."

You chanced a glance up before jerking your eyes back down. He wasn't surprised. He was angry.  Scooting your chair back, you stood to leave. "I'll talk to you later. Bye."

Charles snapped at Erik but Erik didn't respond. "y/n!" Charles suddenly yelled and you spun to see a fork from the table flying in your direction. You moved your eyes from it to Erik and locked your gaze on his. You did nothing to dodge the utensil or stop it, you didn't have to. Your powers took care of that for you.

Once the fork was a foot away, it fell to the ground. "Go ahead. Try them all," you said, now angry yourself. Erik took you at your word and sent every metal utensil straight at you. Again, your eyes never left his and all the projectiles just fell to the floor. 

Hot tears pooled in your eyes and you gave a small bitter smile. "That's my secret, boys. I am the anti-mutant. I not only know your abilities, my power immediately finds a way to negate them." You grabbed one of the knives off the floor and tossed it back to them. Charles grabbed it from the floor where it landed.

He looked at you in surprise before handing it to Erik.

"Plastic," he said after he'd examined it. 

"If I tried, if I looked hard enough inside, I could find a way to use it to kill you." You glanced between the two of them once more. Even Charles looked a little afraid of you now. A tear escaped to trace a path down your cheek. "You don't have to say anything. I get it. I'll be out of your hair first thing in the morning."

You left the room in utter silence and never once looked back. 

***

Deciding you might as well leave now, your packed bag was on the bed beside you. You sat on the edge, head buried in your hands while you silently cried. This was your own fault. You let yourself get attached to them when you knew better. No one wanted you to stick around for long. You were used to it, didn't let it bother you. Until that handsome bastard and his friend had walked into your life. That disgusted look he gave you flashed through your head again.

After letting out a growl of frustration, you angrily swiped the tears from your eyes. Getting to your feet, you took one last look around then grabbed your bag.  You swung the door open only to see Erik on the other side. He'd apparently been getting ready to knock. He glanced between you and your bag and frowned. 

"Where are you going?"

"I'm leaving."

He stepped into your space, causing you to walk backward back into the room. He shut the door and locked it once you were both inside. After taking the bag from your hand, he tossed it on the bed. 

"What are you doing, Erik?" you asked.

He paced the floor in front of you. "I should kill you. Eliminate the threat. That would be the smart thing to do."

A shiver of fear went through you but you didn't say anything. Instead, you just kept watching this man you'd thought was your friend as he waged a mental battle with himself over whether you should live or die. 

He stopped and turned to face you. "Why didn't you tell us sooner?"

"I'm not a fool, Erik. I know the easiest course of action would be to kill me. Like you said it's the smart move. I get it. I wasn't about to tell you until I trusted you."

He took a step closer. "You trust me?"

"I did until you sent a fork flying at my head," you told him. 

The corner of his mouth kicked up in a smirk. "I was testing you, sweetheart. There were knives on that table after all."

You arched a brow, not really believing him. He moved even closer until there was only the smallest of spaces between you. You had to tilt your head back to look into his eyes. "You hate me," you whispered, surprising yourself. 

"Never," he answered, his eyes darting between your eyes and your lips. 

You nervously licked your lips and he followed the movement with his gaze. "You were disgusted by me. Afraid of me. I saw it."

He shook his head. "Charles was right. I was surprised. I was angry you hadn't told me sooner. I was afraid that someone would find out. I was terrified of what might happen to you."

"I don't believe you. You said you should kill me, Erik."

He hummed in agreement and smiled. "It would be smart. Fortunately I've always been a bit of an idiot." He leaned forward and captured your lips with his. 

Chapter Text

You hadn't been an Avenger for long so you didn't know the rest of the team very well. I mean, you liked them and you thought they liked you, but you were painfully shy. Tony thought it was hilarious that you could kick ass in the field with no hesitation but you jumped whenever anyone tried to talk to you. 

Fortunately they were being patient with you and giving you the time you needed to be relaxed with them. Just yesterday you'd joined them for lunch. You hadn't said anything, but it was the first time you'd agreed to even go. You were making a concentrated effort to be more relaxed around them. It was slow going but you were making progress.

"You sure you don't want to come, y/n?" Steve asked from behind you causing you to startle. You turned to face him quickly with wide eyes and shook your head. They were all going to see some movie and you wanted to just stay at the tower. You had a plan you wanted to implement while they were gone.

Remembering your new found effort to get closer to the others you cleared your throat. "No thank you Steve. I'm not much of a movie person." Your cheeks heated when Steve grinned at you, obviously thrilled you'd spoken to him.

"All right. Call if you need anything." 

You gave him a little wave as he walked off. You waited several minutes before asking JARVIS if everyone was gone. "Indeed, Miss Y/L/N. Given the distance of the theater and the movie they have chosen to see you should have approximately 3 hours and 43 minutes before their return."

"Thank you, JARVIS. Please play my workout playlist."

"Certainly."

Music piped through the speakers as you began to clean the common areas. Tony didn't like anyone he didn't personally know in the Avengers living area so you all did most of your own cleaning. While the areas weren't dirty, they were overdue for a cleaning. You'd decided a couple of days ago to take the opportunity the next time your teammates were gone to clean everything as a thank you for them accepting you despite your shyness.

You sang and danced along with the music as you placed everyone's things that had been left laying around in front of their rooms. Once that was finished you put in a load of your laundry and began to vacuum and dust. You were pleased with your work and the only room left for you to tackle was the kitchen. 

You finished cleaning the fridge and shut the door, turning to find most of the Avengers gaping at you. Everyone except Tony, who was smirking. "I had no idea you were that kinky, Y/L/N."

Your cheeks flamed and you frowned as you tried to figure out what he was talking about. Steve's face was a deep shade of red as he gestured above his head. Finally it sunk in what song was currently playing. Closer by Nine Inch Nails. Oh God. 

"JARVIS! Music off." The room immediately went silent. Your face burned and you pressed your lips together. This was so embarrassing but the look on Steve's face was priceless. Finally, you couldn't help it and you started to laugh. "Breathe, Steve," you managed to get out between giggles. 

Tears blurred your vision as you continued to laugh. It didn't take long for the others to join in. You sat on the floor and leaned your back against the cabinet behind you as you caught your breath. You pressed your hand against your stomach to try to stave off the ache from your hysterics. 

You wiped the remnants of tears from your eyes. "Oh, I needed that."

"Steve's face, though," Bucky said, triggering another round of laughter.

Steve, who was naturally the only one not laughing, came over to you, a look of concern on his face. He looked around then squatted in front of you, lowering his voice so no one else could hear. "Y/N, that's not the music you listen to in your headphones when we're training is it?"

You nodded then dissolved into another fit of giggles at the horrified expression on his face. You slid sideways until you laid on the floor, arms wrapped tightly around your stomach. Poor Steve.  

Chapter Text

"Okay, do you think you understand everything?" Pepper asked.

You blinked at her with wide eyes. You'd been hired the day before to be Tony Stark's new assistant and she'd been going over what was expected of you. For four hours.

"Well, it's all notated in here," she said handing you a thick booklet. "Read through it and let me know if you have any questions."

You flipped through the book. "This is 48 pages."

"Yes. It covers everything you need to know about what Tony will expect of you on this trip. The books covering his responsibilities as an Avenger and with Stark industries have been placed with your bags on the plane."

"Ms. Potts," you said after a moment's hesitation, "there seems to be some mistake here. I'm a damn good personal assistant but this is ridiculous."

Pepper studied you for a moment before smiling. "I'm sure you and Tony will find your own routine, y/n. Good luck.

*** 

You sat across from your new employer on the plane as you went over his schedule for the next six days, sending texts and emails to confirm appointments, appearances and lunches. A throat cleared and you jerked your gaze up to find Tony Stark giving you an expectant look through tinted lenses and shaking his empty glass in your direction. You looked between him and the glass before turning your attention back to the schedule in front of you.

"I'm your assistant, Mr. Stark, not a waitress. If you want another drink, I'm sure you can manage. Though I would suggest against it given your schedule for the afternoon."

"Did you read the book?" Tony asked. 

You glanced at him briefly as you sent another text. "Ms. Potts went over it in some detail. I believe I'm familiar with its contents."

"Did you bring it with you? Maybe you should read it again," he suggested as he rose from his seat to refill his drink.

You laid your phone in your lap to give him your full attention. "I filed it."

He arched a brow. "You filed it?"

"Yes. As soon as I got on the plane in fact." You gestured to the small trashcan which sat near the bar, the 48 page booklet sticking out of the top.

"Well, before you filed it did you happen to read the section pertaining to my libations?" He returned to his seat as he scowled at you.

"I am quite aware that you don't like your glass empty during the flight and that you forbid comments on your drinking habits." 

"So you knew and chose to ignore it?"

"Mr. Stark, I am very good at my job. My job is being your personal assistant. If you allow me to do my job I assure you that I will streamline your schedule and improve your day-to-day functionality. I will not pander to you, though I assure you, if you wish to drink yourself into a state of constant oblivion that is your choice. However, Mr. Reynolds is picking us up from the airport so you two can discuss him financing your new medical research project. He is extremely conservative and frowns on any type of alcohol consumption, never mind drinking to excess. I suggest you hold off drinking any more until after your meeting."

He narrowed his eyes and sighed as he sat his drink down. Crossing his arms over his chest he looked you over from head to toe. "I'm not sure this is going to work out, Ms. Y/L/N."

"I'm certain you're right, Mr. Stark."

***

(three months later)

"Good morning," you said as you took a seat at the long table to eat breakfast with the Avengers.

A chorus of greetings answered you as you sipped your coffee. You joined in the general chit chat as you ate your eggs and bacon. When you were almost finished you glanced at the clock then looked over at Tony. "Tony, we have to leave in ninety minutes for your interview. Your clothes are already prepped at the front of your closet."

He nodded in answer as he continued to eat. You pulled up your notes on your tablet. "Steve, that file you wanted is on my desk in the blue folder. Fury requests you return it to him when you're finished."

"Thank you, y/n," Steve replied.

"Natasha did you get that article I sent?"

She leaned back in her seat and crossed her legs. "Yes. Could you order me two of those?"

You smiled over the edge of your cup. "Already done." You looked down and scrolled through your notes. "Oh, Bruce, your order should be in today."

He grinned. "Fantastic."

"You all do realize that she's my assistant, not yours right?" Tony grumbled.

"Just keeping everything running efficiently," you replied with a smirk.

He frowned at you. "I'm not sure this is going to work out, Ms. Y/L/N."

"I'm certain you're right, Mr. Stark."

***

(two months later) 

You moved around the lab clearing away some of the clutter. Wads of paper went in the bin to be shredded and recycled. Old dishes went in the tub to be washed. Anything you couldn't identify you left where it was. Bruce and Tony didn't pay you any mind as they were used to this by now. 

Once you'd straightened everything to your satisfaction, you went over to the sack holding the lunch you'd had delivered. You sat Bruce's on the edge of his table and he gave you a small smile. "Thank you, y/n."

You replaced Tony's half drunk glass of bourbon with a cup of coffee without him even realizing you'd done it. You took the gadget he was fiddling with out of his hand, removed the pen from his mouth and put a sandwich in his hand.

Tony blinked a couple of times before shrugging and taking a bite of his lunch. You were already out the door by the time he took a drink of the coffee that he expected to be bourbon. He spit it back into the cup and frowned at it. "I'm not sure this is going to work out, Ms. Y/L/N," he called after you.

"I'm certain you're right, Mr. Stark," you yelled back, knowing his lips curled into a smile even if you weren't there to see it.

***

(four months later)

Tony smiled as he twirled you around the dance floor at some gala or another. Most of them you didn't even refer to by name anymore as Tony didn't care. It was just gala one, gala two, etc. You'd been accompanying him as his plus one for the past several months, him claiming it was too much effort to find a date. 

You weren't sure how much you believed that, but you did believe that it was a security risk for him to bring random women home to the tower. You used to book him a hotel suite on gala nights, but he'd quit using them so you didn't bother anymore. 

"Enjoying yourself?" Tony asked.

"I am overwhelmed with excitement as always, Tony."

He laughed and you did your best to ignore the tingles the sound caused. You had no intention of ending up another conquest of Tony Stark. Besides, you liked your job and intended to keep it for as long as possible.

"Have I mentioned how stunning you look this evening?" he asked. 

Heat flushed your cheeks and you ducked your head so he wouldn't see. "Thank you."

The hand on your back slid down until it was resting on the upper part of your ass. You moved his arm up. "Hands above the waist, Tony."

He pouted. There really was no other word for it. "I'm not sure this is going to work out, Ms. Y/l/N."

"I'm certain you're right, Mr. Stark."

***

(six months later)

You spun around the dance floor in Steve's arms with your head tilted back as you laughed. "Any regrets, y/n?" he asked.

"Not yet, Cap," you answered with a grin.

"Well, keep me on speed dial, okay, doll?" He winked at you and twirled you until you faced the other direction and your new husband.

Tony narrowed his eyes at you. "Are you flirting with another man on our wedding day?" he said in a teasing tone. 

"Are you?" you shot back. "I saw you and Bruce with your heads together in the corner."

"Science waits for no man, y/n."

"Well, it better wait for your woman because if you disappear into that lab tonight I will be a widow by morning."

Tony laughed. 

"I'm not kidding, Stark."

"You're very violent. I'm not sure this is going to work out, Mrs. Stark."

You rolled your eyes and shook your head. "I'm certain you're right, Mr. Stark."

He grinned and pressed his lips to yours.

Chapter Text

You had worked for SHIELD for years. You'd started the day after you graduated from college with your doctorate at 17. You weren't a field agent. In fact you were pretty sure you would injure yourself if you tried to fire a gun. You were however a brilliant scientist. Your time was spent in a lab surrounded by calculations and beakers. 

Living the life you did, you were also painfully shy. You'd always been younger than your classmates and your job at SHIELD was a fairly isolated one. Currently you were observing a chemical reaction between two formulas you'd created. You peered through your reading glasses to read the temperature and jotted it in your notebook. You heard the door open and held up a finger to let them know you'd be right with them.

You finished recording your observations and turned to your visitor assuming it was one of the lab assistants. To your surprise, none other than Nick Fury himself stood in your lab. Heat flooded your face and you were certain you were as red as the chemical you'd just been experimenting with. "D-director. What can I do for you?" your voice was soft but the lab was quiet so he heard you.

"I have an assignment for you, Dr. Y/L/N."

Your eyes widened as your heart pounded in your chest. "Me?" You didn't leave your lab. You just didn't. If you could get away with having a bed in there you would.

Fury chuckled. "Don't panic. It's an environment you'll be comfortable in. Stark and Banner have been working on a serum to speed healing. The goal being to get agents back in the field faster. They're stuck and need a fresh perspective. You're it."

Tony Stark and Bruce Banner were two of the greatest minds in the world and Fury thought you'd be comfortable working with them? You took a breath and did the only thing you could. "When do I start, sir?"

***

You stood in front of the tower and stared up at it before going inside. It was huge and imposing. You clutched your bag more tightly in front of you and stepped up to the front desk. Fury had given you a letter that simply stated you had an appointment with Stark to get you past reception. 

"Welcome, Ma'am," the woman said. "The elevator you need is there. Just enter and ask to be taken to Mr. Stark."

You frowned and took the letter back wondering exactly how this was supposed to work. You pushed the button for the elevator, stepping in when it arrived. The doors slid closed behind you and you glanced toward the ceiling. "Um...Mr. Stark, please."

"Mr. Stark has asked not to be disturbed. Is he expecting you?" a crisply accented voice answered causing you to startle a bit.

"Nick Fury sent me."

"Of course, Miss. Mr. Stark is in the lab. We will arrive at that level presently."

The elevator's motion was so smooth you barely felt it move. When it stopped, the door slid open and you stepped into a dimly lit hallway. "Please continue down the hall and you will see the lab on your left. I will ensure the door is unlocked for you." The voice from the elevator had followed you into the hall. Interesting. 

You followed the instructions and quickly found the lab. You knocked on the door as you opened it. The two men within didn't even notice your arrival, which wasn't surprising given the volume of the music playing through the speakers. Tony Stark was easily recognizable from his many magazine appearances and the arc reactor glowing under his shirt. He looked a little worn and you wondered how long it had been since he slept. 

Your gaze shifted from him to Dr. Banner. He sat at a table, his shoulders slightly hunched forward, fingers buried in his messy black hair. He took off his glasses and tossed them onto the table in front of him. The music suddenly cut out and both men looked up. 

"Sir, Director Fury's scientist is here," that accented voice said and the men turned their attention to the door. 

Your face heated and you gave them a little wave. Tony immediately came over to with a grin. "Tony Stark but I'm sure you know that. That's Bruce. And you are?"

"Y/N," you managed to get out but he cut you off before you could say anything else. 

"Fury says you're a genius, but this is Fury we're talking about. His standards might be a little low. You look too young to be a doctor. You must be a lab assistant. What can you do?" he asked. He spoke quickly and his eyes moved the whole time he was talking. 

Frankly, you were a little overwhelmed. "I-I'm sorry?" You didn't quite understand what he meant.

"What can you do? What's your specialty? Nuclear weapons? Viruses? Gamma radiation?" He glanced at Dr. Banner as he said the last. 

Banner stepped forward and nudged Stark aside. "You're freaking her out, Tony. Knock it off. Sorry about that. I'm sure you'll do fine. I set you up a workstation so you can review what we've done so far. When you're done we can talk about any ideas you might have." He gave you a small smile and your face heated at the attention.

You nodded. "That would be great. Thank you."

***

The area that had been set up for you was toward the back of the lab, away from Banner and Stark's workspaces. You were perfectly fine with that however. You'd been reading over notes and looking at formulas all morning. 

"Y/N, we're going to grab some lunch. You want something?" Stark asked. 

You glanced up in surprise before shaking your head and holding up your bag. You'd brought a sandwich with you. Stark just shook his head and Banner frowned but they shuffled out leaving you to it. 

As soon as you were certain they were gone, you hurried over to their tables and looked over their current notes. Stark had scribbled a couple of worthless formulas and drawn sketches of several mini Iron Men. That was completely unhelpful.

Banner, however, was onto something. Your eyes flew over the formula he was working on, your mind calculating and deciphering what the final result would be. It wasn't what Fury was looking for but with a little tweaking it was a big step in the right direction. You erased a couple of figures and replaced them with others. You read back through the work and nodded once in satisfaction. 

By the time the other two returned, you were completely caught up on what they'd tried and what they hadn't tried. Besides Bruce's formula, you had a couple of other ideas to run by them. You sat on your stool eating your sandwich. Stark rolled his eyes and Banner gave you a small smile before they went back to work. 

"Tony! Why didn't you tell me?" Banner suddenly shouted. You jerked in your seat and nearly choked on your food. 

Stark looked bored, just lifting one eyebrow as he looked at his friend. "Tell you what?"

"That you fixed the formula. This is brilliant. And so simple. Why didn't we see it before?" Banner was beaming in his excitement as he bounced a little in his seat.

Stark frowned and moved over to his science bro. "I didn't fix anything, Banner."

Your face flushed and you cursed your tendency to blush over every little thing. 

"Then who..." he trailed off and both men turned to look at you.

You smiled and gave them a little wave. 

Banner narrowed his eyes. "Maybe we should start over. Who are you exactly?"

"Dr. Y/N Y/L/N."

His eyes grew wide. "The Y/N Y/L/N? The one who's research we've been using as a basis for our own."

You smiled and shrugged. "Yes?"

Banner smacked Stark in the back of the head. "Lab assistant, Tony? Really?"

Chapter Text

Rhodey POV:

I trotted up the steps at Tony's place, flipping through the file in my hand. I hated coming here and doing this with him. Why he couldn't function like every other normal human being on the planet I had no idea. He'd only gotten worse with the whole Iron Man thing.

I raised my hand to knock when the door opened. A woman came rushing out, looking behind her as she did. "I'll see you, Tony. Behave yourself," was all she managed to get out before she plowed right into me. 

The bag she'd been carrying dropped to the ground and spilled as I lost my grip on the file. She gaped at me in surprise. She was stunning. Her H/C hair blew in the wind and her big E/C eyes stared at me. "Are you all right?" I finally found my voice to ask her. 

She nodded slowly then seemed to shake herself out of her shock. "I am so sorry." She started to scramble to grab my papers as well as the stuff from her bag. I did my best to help. "I am such a klutz."

I chuckled. "You're fine. I wasn't paying attention like I should have been either or I would have gotten out of your way." 

Once all of our stuff was picked up, she hopped to her feet and hurried down the stairs. She waved over her shoulder. "Thanks. Nice to meet you."

But we hadn't actually met. I still had no idea who she was. Undoubtedly Tony's latest conquest. The thought made me sigh, he always got the gorgeous ones. 

I knocked on the door, opening it as I did so. "Tony!" I yelled after I shut the door behind me.

"Mr. Stark is in the lab," JARVIS informed me so I headed in that direction.

I used my code to let myself into the lab and tossed the file on the table near Tony. He eyed the papers sticking out in every which direction. "What did you do to it?" he asked.

"Your girlfriend ran into me and I dropped it."

"Girlfriend?" he asked with an arched brow. Realization crossed his features. "Oh, you mean Y/N. She's not my girlfriend." He continued to fiddle with the device in his hands. 

I barely resisted the urge to roll my eyes. "Of course she's not. You don't do girlfriends. How could I forget?"

"You sound bitter, Rhodes." He smirked. "You like her or something?"

"How can I like her, I just met her?" I dodged.

"What does that have to do with anything? You either like her or you don't. I could set you up if you want," he suggested with a shrug. His phone buzzed and he frowned down at it before chuckling and setting it back on the table. 

Irritation flared through me. "No offense, Tony, but I don't need you passing along your women. I can get a date on my own."

"You could, but you don't." He crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed his eyes. "And Y/N is my cousin."

"Cousin?" Of everything I thought he might say, that hadn't even made the list. 

He nodded and went back to fiddling with the device. He pulled up his messages on his phone and slid it toward me. 

Is your friend single? He's cute. -Y/N

I grinned. "Could I maybe get her number?" 

"Sure but only because she might hurt me if I said no. She scares me."

I would have laughed if Tony didn't look so serious.

Chapter Text

Ten years ago, when you were sixteen, your ability to manipulate air manifested. At first you thought it kind of stupid to be able to make it windy or not. Then SHIELD found you and trained you. It didn't take long for you to realize that air manipulation meant you could remove all the air from a room, you could put a bubble around your head and breathe under water, and with the right actions, you could even fly. 

Unfortunately part of your power was being hyper aware of the air around you and its movement. This left you attuned to the pressure systems which meant you got migraines all the time. Every time the pressure system shifted you got another headache. Even minor shifts. You had medicine you could take. It didn't used to work very well but Bruce and Tony had tweaked it and it was much more effective.

It got rid of the pain but knocked you on your ass for the next three days. You hated taking it unless you absolutely had to. You'd rather pop a couple of over the counter pain relievers and try to get rid of it with darkness and cold. Even when you used the pills it took a while for them to kick in so you spent a lot of time being fairly miserable.

 That was true until Bucky came anyway. James Buchanan Barnes was rather stand-offish when he first arrived at the tower. You'd been friendly to him and were typically rewarded with a smile or a nod of the head. He still wouldn't stay in a room alone with you, but he didn't do that with anyone but Steve.

About six weeks after his arrival you were curled up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket with your eyes closed as you listened to the TV. You had a particularly sharp migraine. Everyone but Bucky was gone on a mission. 

"Y/N, doll, you awake?" Bucky asked in a low tone. 

"Yeah, Buck. Just resting. What's up?" You cracked open your eyes briefly to see him standing over you, a worried look on his face. You tried to give him a reassuring smile but weren't sure if you were successful or not. 

"Steve said to keep an eye on you because you weren't feeling well." He laid a cool hand on your head making you moan a little in relief. The icepack you'd been using had long ago grown warm but it seemed like too much effort to get a new one. 

He started to move his hand and you grasped his wrist to hold it in place. "Horrible headache, Buck. Your hand is cool, it feels good."

"Give me a second, Y/N. I'll be right back."

You reluctantly released him. It wasn't long till someone lifted your shoulders. "What are you doing?" you grumbled. 

"Just trust me, doll," he assured you. When he settled you back down, your head was laying on a super soft pillow. He shifted you so you were on your back instead of your side and you felt something super cold lay against your head. 

Your eyes flew open. It only took you a minute to realize you were laying with your head on Bucky's lap and his metal hand was on your forehead. You were touched by this gesture even more with the knowledge that Bucky was self conscious about his arm. You closed your eyes and snuggled down. "Thank you, Bucky."

"You're welcome, Y/N."

The cold started to take some of the sharpness away. You'd almost dozed off when the fingers of his other hand started playing with your hair. You smiled as you drifted to sleep. 

When  you woke, you laid still and silent as was your habit before opening your eyes. 

"Would you guys can it? You're going to wake her up," you heard Nat say.

You resisted the urge to groan at the knowledge everyone was home. 

"But look at 'em, Nat. They're so cute," Clint said and Bucky shifted uneasily beneath you. 

"We leave them alone for one mission and Barnes makes a move. Didn't see that coming," Tony said. 

"Knock it off, Stark," Steve replied immediately. "Leave him alone."

"Oh, come on, capsicle. Don't tell me--"

"Will all of you kindly shut up?" you said interrupting him. With Bucky's help you moved into a sitting position. 

"Told you, you were going to wake her up," Nat said and crossed her arms over her chest. 

"Listen. Bucky went way out of his comfort zone to take care of me when I had one of my bad headaches. I couldn't even move off the couch. Don't be coming in here and giving him shit for helping me out."

"Language, Y/N," Steve said automatically.

"Rogers, I swear to all that is holy--"

Bucky put a hand on your back and you calmed down a bit.

"If your head hurt that bad, why didn't you take one of the pills?" Bruce asked.

"Because I feel like crap for three days after I take one."

"Why didn't you tell us? We could work on that," Bruce said and you turned your head to stare at Tony. You'd told him multiple times. "Oh, I see. Never mind."

You stood up, relieved to find your headache mostly gone at this point. You held a hand out to Bucky. "Come on, Buck. Let's go watch a movie."

He gave you a small smile. "Sure thing, Doll."

***

After that, you and Bucky started spending time together every day. He spent almost as much time with you as he spent with Steve. And it wasn't just when you had a headache though he did make sure he was always around when you hurt. He'd even been researching migraines and had bought you peppermint oil, heating pads, more ice packs and anything else that he thought might help. 

You had taken to calling him your favorite Avenger which irritated Stark to no end. Once you'd seen how much it bothered the billionaire you'd bought Buck a shirt that said "Y/N's favorite Avenger." He wore it all the time. 

A couple of months later, Bruce and Tony perfected their pain pill. Now, it made you a little light headed when it kicked in but it almost always got rid of the headache with few side effects. It certainly didn't put you out of commission for three days. The first time it worked, you'd all had a little party to celebrate. 

It didn't take you long after that day to realize that Bucky was avoiding you. Just like he used to. Your heart sped when you walked into the living room and found him on the couch. You dropped onto the seat beside him and smiled. "Hey, Buck."

"Oh, hey, Y/N," he responded without really looking at you. The smile slid off your face as he stood suddenly. "Sorry, I forgot about some stuff I need to get done." He walked off and you slumped down, staring at the TV but not really seeing it. 

Someone sat beside you and your eyes darted over to see Steve. "Hey Cap."

"Hey Y/N." There was a long pause before he said anything else. "What's going on with you and Buck?"

You shrugged without saying anything. You had no idea how to answer him because you had no idea what you'd done. You must have done something. Why else would your best friend just quit talking to you? "I don't think he likes me anymore, Steve," you said, finally voicing your biggest fear. 

"I find that hard to believe. If anything, you have no idea just how much he likes you."

That brought back your smile. You'd been hoping for more than a friendship with Bucky for weeks now. 

"Do you want me to talk to him?" Steve asked.

You stood and shook your head. "I'll talk to him later, Cap. I promise."

***

That night you laid in your bed staring at the ceiling in the dark. You'd seen a light in the vents earlier and sent a rush of air through to be rewarded with some colorful cursing from Clint. Since then, it had been quiet. Finally about two in the morning, you tossed your covers aside and hopped out of the bed. You grabbed your fluffy blanket and wrapped it around your shoulders. 

You padded through the halls until you got to Bucky's room. You knocked lightly on the door, not wanting to wake him up if he was in a deep sleep. He answered quickly, his eyes widening as he saw you. "Can I talk to you?" you asked.

He frowned but nodded and stepped back. "Come on in, doll." He sounded and looked tired and you were almost certain he hadn't slept either. 

He sat on his bed and you sat beside him with one leg under you so you were turned in his direction. "Did I do something to make you angry?" you asked before you lost your nerve.

"No, Y/N. Not at all," he was quick to say.

"Then why are you avoiding me?"

He raked a hand through his hair but didn't answer. 

You dropped your head to stare at your hands that were tangled together in your lap. "It hurts, Buck. I thought we were friends."

His hand cupped your chin and lifted your head. "We are friends."

"Then why?"

He sighed. "You don't need me anymore," he finally admitted, his voice just barely loud enough for you to hear.

"Why would you ever think that?" you asked in genuine disbelief.

He shrugged. "You've got your pill now."

You studied him for a minute and the sad look on his face tugged at your heart. Deciding you might as well just go for it all, you leaned forward and pressed your lips to his. He froze beneath you and after a moment you pulled back, your face flaming. "The headache thing was just an added bonus, Buck. That has nothing to do with why you're my favorite Avenger."

He stared at you a moment longer, his eyes wide. 

You tilted your head to the side. "Are you o--"

Bucky darted forward, cupping your face in his hands and kissing you soundly. You didn't hesitate to return it. After a long moment, you pulled away so you could breathe. Your foreheads were pressed together as you both beamed with happiness. "Guess this means I'm your favorite Avenger, too, huh?" you asked with a chuckle.

"Oh, doll, you have no idea," he said and moved forward to kiss you again.

Chapter Text

You drained the last of the beer from your glass then pushed it across the counter toward the bartender. You shrugged on your leather jacket and headed out into the cold. The crisp early winter air stole your breath and you sucked in a deep breath before turning in the direction of your apartment. 

It had been a long day. Matt and Foggy were taking another deadbeat landlord to court and you'd been questioning tenants all day. Some of their stories just broke your heart. And some of the conditions they lived in were awful. But thanks to some vigilant individuals you now had in your possession calendars, letters, emails, photos, and all kinds of things that were going make that landlord very unhappy. You were fairly certain there was even enough there for some criminal charges.

Working with the attorneys didn't pay at all, but you felt better about yourself at the end of the day than you had in a long time. And, truth was, you had enough stashed away to get you by for a long while yet. Foggy kept assuring you they'd pay you when they could while Matt would just sit there with a smirk playing on his lips. You had a feeling he knew you didn't care if you got paid or not.

The first clue you had that you should have been paying more attention to your surroundings and less thinking about your employers was the tip of the gun pressed against your ribs. You were calculating your odds of disarming the assailant without getting shot when two more men stepped from the shadows in front of you, also holding weapons. Well, shit. 

A sleek black car pulled up beside you and you were shoved inside. A man grinned at you. "Hello, Y/N. We have so much to talk about." He pushed a needle into your arm before you could respond and moments later, everything went black.

***

When you woke, you found yourself in a chair in the middle of a half-empty warehouse with your hands tied behind the back. The grinning man sat across from you. "Ah, there you are."

"Here I am," you responded. "Now, what the fuck do you want?"

He clicked his tongue at you. "That's no way for a lady to talk."

"When I see a lady, I'll let her know." Okay, so maybe antagonizing the person who'd abducted you wasn't the smartest idea, but you were furious. "Is there a reason you sent three armed men to grab a woman off the street?"

He narrowed his eyes. "Word gets around. You want people to think you're some weak female you should perhaps quit beating everyone up."

You gave him a half smile but didn't say anything. Before meeting Matt and Foggy you hadn't exactly been the most upstanding citizen. You still used your old skills in your new job when the situation called for it, though you tried to keep it mostly under the radar. Apparently you hadn't been doing a very good job of it.

A flash of movement caught your eye and you watched as one of the men on the far side of the warehouse got pulled behind a stack of boxes. You smirked. "So what exactly is it you want?" you asked, speaking a little louder than necessary in an attempt to keep the man in front of you distracted. 

"It has come to our attention that you have obtained certain...items which would show my employer in a poor light. We would like these items returned to us." He sounded so reasonable as if you were discussing some business deal rather than him threatening you to get what he wanted.

You'd caught glimpses of a man in a dark red suit as he approached. Daredevil. Intending to continue the distraction you locked your gaze on the other man. "Say I give you what you want, what's in it for me?"

The man smiled, obviously thinking you'd actually sell those people out for some fast cash. Asshole. "Ten thousand dollars."

You laughed. "Ten thousand? You must be joking. I mean, yeah, my boss doesn't pay me shit. I mean he literally doesn't pay me, but ten thousand?"

He pursed his lips. "Fifty."

"A hundred."

"Done," he said and smiled again. 

"Seriously? Damn. Should have asked for two," you grumbled. You looked past him to Daredevil who was now standing behind the other man. "You going to take care of this asshole or what?"

He tilted his head then knocked your captor out. He moved to you, but instead of untying you, he stood in front of you with a scowl on his face. "Perhaps I should tell your employer how eager you were to sell out innocent people." His voice was heavy with disappointment.

"It was a distraction. Perhaps you've heard of those. Now, how about you untie me, hero?"

He grunted in reply but moved behind you and quickly undid the rope. You stood and rubbed at your raw wrists.

"Are you okay? Did they hurt you?" he asked.

You shook your head and took a step closer to him. "It would take a lot more than those idiots to hurt me. But you should know that."

He frowned. "I'm sorry. I'm not sure what you're getting at."

"I've been open enough about my past that you have undoubtedly put the pieces together. You're a smart man after all." You had inched ever closer as you spoke. "It's one of the things I find most attractive about you." Hooking a hand around the back of his neck you tugged him toward you and pressed your lips against his. His hands settled on your waist as he closed the little distance that was left between the two of you and returned the kiss. 

Finally, he pulled back and ran his tongue over his lips. "That was unexpected. Perhaps we should try that again."

"What's in it for me?" you asked as you smirked and stepped away from him. As you headed toward the door, you left him standing there, gaping after you. Before stepping outside you looked at him over your shoulder. "See you tomorrow, Matt."

As the door shut behind you, you heard him yell after you, "Wait a minute. Y/N get back here."

You chuckled and continued home. The hero of Hell's Kitchen could always find you later.

Chapter Text

Clint Barton started his day like he did every morning. After a shower, he poured black coffee into a travel cup and headed to the shooting range. It was always empty in the early morning hours and he liked the peace. He froze when he walked through the door on this particular morning. A stunning woman stood before him frowning at the bow in her hands. 

His eyes ran over her from head to toe and the corner of his mouth curled up in a smile. "Can I help you with that?" he asked, pleased when his voice held none of the nervousness he felt at talking to the beautiful woman. 

Her head jerked up. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung open a bit. He had obviously surprised her. She tilted her head as she looked him over before smiling wide. Clint felt that smile like a punch to the gut. He'd thought her beautiful before, but that didn't touch her now with that radiant smile on her face. Focus, Clint, he told himself. Pull yourself together man.

"That would be wonderful," she said. "Thank you so much."

He nodded as he closed the distance between them. "No problem at all. That's kind of what I do around here. I'm the resident archery expert. Clint Barton. And you are?"

"Y/N Y/L/N. I'm new in case you couldn't guess, Hawkeye."

He smirked, puffing out his chest a bit at the thought she already knew who he was. "I see my reputation precedes me."

"So it does," she said with a light laugh. "Now, where do we start?"

She turned to face the target and Clint came up behind her. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves before settling his hands on her hips. "All right. Turn just a bit. There, just like that. Now aim." She lifted the bow and he used his hands to adjust her arms. "Very good." He was standing much closer than necessary but she wasn't complaining. In fact, if the way her breath quickened was any indication she was enjoying it as much as him. 

"Now pull," he ordered, moving her elbow up slightly. "And release." The arrow flew true, missing the bullseye by only a couple of inches. 

Y/N jumped in excitement, a wide smile on her face. She threw her arms around his neck. "I hit it. Thank you so much." He returned the hug and grinned back. Her excitement was contagious. "Let's do it again."

Clint continued to 'help' her for the next hour, both of them enjoying the time immensely. Only when the door opened to admit someone else did they step away from each other. They both turned to find Natasha glancing between the two of them with narrowed eyes and a frown. 

"Hey, Nat," Clint said as his cheeks heated. He rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. 

"Clint. Y/N," she said in return. 

He glanced at Y/N to find her smirking. His brow furrowed. He was missing something. As usual.

"Thank for the lesson, Clint," Y/N said with a hand on his shoulder before walking out of the room. His gaze followed her as she left and he couldn't help but smile when she glanced back to give him a little wave.

"What was that about?" Natasha asked and Clint put his attention back on her. Her arms were crossed over her chest and one brow was arched. Her lips were pursed in amusement. 

"I was just giving her a few lessons in using a bow, that's all."

"That's all, huh?" Laughter was heavy in her voice and Clint frowned at her. 

"Is there something you'd like to share with the class, Nat?" he asked, getting the distinct feeling she was making fun of him. 

"That was Y/N Y/L/N. I was part of her intake team. She already knows how to shoot a bow."

Clint scratched his head with a frown. "Oh."

Natasha stepped closer to him. "In fact, she was part of the US Olympic archery team."

His scowl deepened. She certainly hadn't acted like she already knew what she was doing. Was she making fun of him, too?

Natasha stopped right in front of him and put her hands on his shoulders. He locked gazes with her to find her smiling at him. "She acted like she didn't know what she was doing so you would offer to help her. So she could get closer to you."

There was silence as Clint processed what his best friend was telling him. Suddenly it dawned on him. "Oh," he said again, only this time with wide eyes. Natasha continued to hold on to his shoulders as she tilted her head in the direction of the door.

"Oh!" he exclaimed this time and darted to the door, throwing it open. "Y/N, wait up!" he yelled down the hall as he jogged toward the elevators. 

Natasha watched him until he was out of sight then shook her head. "Bird brain."

Chapter Text

Other than curled up with a good book and a warm drink on the window seat in your apartment, your favorite place to be in the city was in your diner, Nick's. Nick was your father and when he passed, you inherited the diner you'd worked in your entire life. You'd upgraded the equipment and decor over the years, but kept the classic styling. It was one of the things that made people come back. That and your homemade pies and awesome coffee. 

This particular day had been relatively slow as rain poured down outside and you'd taken the opportunity to do some overdo deep cleaning. The bell over the front door went off and you glanced up to see two men hurry inside. You greeted them with a smile. "You gentlemen can sit wherever you'd like. Would you like some hot coffee?"

One of the men raked a hand through his blonde hair trying to tame it a bit from the weather. He smiled, showing off straight white teeth, looking like the poster child for good dental hygiene. "That would be fantastic, Ma'am. Thank you," he said sincerely as gratitude flashed through his bright blue eyes.

You nodded and glanced to his friend. He had a baseball cap pulled low on his head so you couldn't see much aside from the long dark hair. You grabbed two mugs and the pot of coffee you'd brewed half an hour ago. On your way by the counter you grabbed two clean dish towels from underneath and draped them on your shoulder. 

After setting the mugs in front of them, you filled them with the rich dark coffee. Then you laid the towels on their table. "They aren't much but it'll at least help dry your heads off. They're clean."

The blonde smiled at you again. A since of familiarity shot through you but you brushed it aside. He'd probably just been in before. "Thank you. That's very thoughtful of you."

"No problem. Can I get you anything to eat or cream for the coffee?"

"A friend of mine said you have the best pie in the city."

You grinned at that. You made all the pies yourself and were insanely proud of them. "I hate to brag, but yes, we do."

"Doesn't sound like you hate it," the dark haired man muttered. 

His friend looked appalled at the forwardness but you laughed. "You're right. I don't. Not at all. Now, do you like fruit, cream or custard pies?"

"Yes," the blonde said.

You laughed again. "I'll be right back."

You moved behind the counter to the pie cooler and pulled them out one at a time and lined them up on the low counter so you could dish them up. You had six kinds today and cut them a piece of each, knowing you weren't going to sell much today with the crappy weather. You sat the saucers on a tray and grabbed two forks and a can of whip cream before carrying them over to the table. 

"You get the rainy day special. Six slices for the price of one," you announced and began setting saucers on the table. "Banana cream, coconut cream, chocolate cream, apple custard, cherry, and triple berry." You gave them their forks and sat the whip cream on the table. "Enjoy."

The dark haired man took his hat off and sat it aside before he began to eat. You couldn't help but run your eyes over his features. His chin was covered in a thin coat of stubble and he had the most intense dark eyes you'd ever seen. Your heart skipped a beat as you sucked in a breath. Wow. 

Jerking your gaze away before he caught you staring, you went to grab the pot to refill their coffee. They were leaned toward each other talking in a low tones, but paused when you approached the table. You topped off their mugs with a smile, noticing half the pie was already gone. "I take it the pie meets with your approval."

The blonde jerked his head toward you while looking at his friend who glared at him before quickly glancing up at you. "It's good. Thank you."

You started to turn away from the table but paused. "I'm sorry. I don't normally do this, but you two look really familiar. Have you been in here before?"

The blonde looked down as if slightly embarrassed before glancing back to you. "Steve Rogers, ma'am. Pleasure to meet you and this is--"

"Bucky Barnes," you finished for him as you realized where you'd seen them before. "Now I feel like an idiot. And Clint must have been the one that told you about my pie." The archer came in at least three times a week if he was in town.

"Yes, Ma'am," Steve said with a smirk.

"Y/N, please," you said pointing at your name tag. "Ma'am makes me feel old."

"Join the club," Bucky muttered. 

"Can I get the two of you anything else?"

They shook their heads and went back to the pie. Moving behind the counter you grabbed a couple of pie boxes and filled two tins with a variety of all the flavors. You occasionally glanced over to the table as you worked making sure you didn't miss it if they needed anything. Every time you looked up, Bucky had his eyes on you. Your face heated and you glanced away. 

After you finished boxing up the pie, you went over to the door, flipped the sign to closed and locked the door to keep anyone else from coming in. 

"Are we keeping you?" Steve asked, sounding concerned.

"Oh, no," you said as you waved a hand through the air in dismissal. "People are used to us closing early in crappy weather or whenever. You two are the only ones I've seen since noon."

You opened the same time every morning but closing was a question mark and the regulars knew it. Breakfast was your big rush, followed by lunch. You stayed open for dinner if you wanted, or sometimes until the wee hours of morning for special events. You always posted on all your social media and people knew to check before heading your way after two o'clock. 

"Well, I think we're about finished anyway," Steve said, sounding reluctant. 

"Can I get you some coffee to go?" you asked as you went back to your spot behind the counter. 

When they didn't answer you glanced over to see them whispering intensely. You arched a brow. "Gentlemen," you said to get their attention and they both turned to you. Bucky's cheeks flushed red and he quickly broke eye contact. "Coffee?" You held up one of your to go cups. 

"That would be great. Thank you." Once again it was Steve who answered but you didn't miss the glare he shot in Bucky's direction.

You poured two cups of coffee. Before you could lose your nerve, you grabbed a marker and scribbled on the cups. They came over to the counter and Steve pulled out his wallet. 

"What do we owe you?"

"Ten bucks?" you said and shrugged. 

He looked between you and the table they'd just left. 

"Superhero discount," you told him. You put the pie boxes in a large bag and sat it on the counter. "Take that with you. Share with your friends. If it stays here, it's going to go to waste."

Steve slid two twenties across the counter. "Keep the change."

"Well, thank you, Captain," you said with a smile. You didn't miss the muscle that twitched in Bucky's cheek or the way he turned away abruptly. 

You handed them their cups. Steve glanced at his to see his name written on it. "Didn't want you two getting confused," you told him and glanced at Bucky. He didn't even glance at his or look at you beyond giving you a quick nod of thanks. 

You walked them to the door and let them out, locking it behind them. The rain seemed to have slowed down some. You watched them walk away for a moment then turned with a sigh and began putting chairs on tables so you could clean the floor before you went home. 

Someone pounded on the door behind you and you jumped before turning in surprise. Bucky was looking in at you. You hurried over and let him in. "What's wrong?" you asked. "Did you forget something?"

"This is my cup," he said holding it up so you could see it.

"Yes, it is." You hoped you didn't sound as confused as you felt.

He glanced between the cup and you before turning it in his hand so you could see where you'd written: Fri? 7?  followed by your phone number.  

Suddenly you understood. "I knew whose cup I was writing that on, Bucky," you assured him as your face heated. You shifted your gaze to the floor. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable."

"Friday sounds great," he said. 

You jerked your head up in surprise to find him grinning at you. 

He looked around. "Now, how about if I walk you home, doll?"

Chapter Text

For approximately the tenth time that day, Clint Barton contemplated exactly how he was going to kill Fury and whatever agent had provided the intel that the Hydra facility he had infiltrated was all but empty. He was sent in on his own to see if anything had been left behind SHIELD could use. 

"Two or three agents tops, my ass," he muttered to himself as he hid behind a low wall while bullets sprayed the other side. Comms had gone down shortly after he entered the building so he couldn't even radio for help. He'd been counting rounds and when a break came, he aimed over the wall and took out the man reloading his weapon before dropping quickly back down behind his coverage. 

Staying crouched he hurried for the nearby door. He needed to get out of here and call for some backup. He sucked in a breath of fresh air as he left the dark confines of the building, but his relief was short lived. Bullets sprayed the ground around him as he dived behind a car. Pressing his back against the side, he contemplated his next move. He couldn't stay here forever.

"You're lucky I got here when I did or they would have had you," an amused voice said and he jerked his head toward the sound. 

His eyes widened as he took in the completely unfamiliar woman. Her hair was pulled back from her face and she had a gun in her hand. She was stunning. "Do I know you?" he finally managed to ask.

"Nope. I know you though. Hawkeye. You and your friends are always putting holes in my city." She leaned back to glance over the trunk of the car. She dropped back down quickly when more shots rang out. Her jaw got tight and she tilted her head in irritation before looking back to him. Her E/C eyes bore into his. "Y/N Y/L/N. Detective. Responding to another call when I heard the shots."

Clint nodded once. "Pleasure to meet you, officer. I don't suppose you had a chance to call for backup?"

"First thing I did, bird boy. Think you can manage a brief distraction?" she asked.

"Yeah, I can manage that." He pulled one of his exploding arrows and nocked it. He glanced at Y/N. "Ready?"

She nodded. "Three...two...one." On one, they both moved from their hiding spots. Clint came around the front of the car and fired the arrow. In the explosion that followed, he heard five distinct shots. His eyes widened in surprise as one of the men fell off the roof and he realized none of the others were firing.

As they returned to their previous positions, she glanced over at him. "That should take care of the shooters outside if you want to use the radio to call your own people."

***

SHIELD was already in position by the time the local PD responded. To be fair, Tony and Natasha had already been on their way after Jarvis heard Y/N's dispatch call for that address. 

The agents had locked down the area and let no one in, including the detective's colleagues. She leaned against the side of her bullet ridden car and sipped a cup of coffee someone had given her. Clint went over and leaned beside her. She glanced at him before turning her attention back to the chaos around them. 

"My chief is going to be pissed," she said. 

"About which part?" he asked, his lips twisting into a smile.

He was rewarded with a small laugh. "All of it. The car. The complete shut down of information."

Clint shrugged one shoulder. "Look at it this way. At least you won't have to fill out the paperwork."

"Detective, we're ready for you," an agent called from nearby. 

"That would be my cue." She drained her coffee and handed him the empty cup. "Maybe I'll see you around, Hawkeye."

His eyes followed her as she walked away. Maybe she would. Just maybe.

Chapter Text

"Nice, Y/N," Steven Rogers exclaimed as you finished the round of punches onto the bag he was holding. "Great improvement. I can tell you've been practicing." He beamed like a proud parent and it made you chuckle. 

"Thanks, Cap. Once more?" you asked as you bounced on your feet.

"Absolutely." 

He braced himself and you started punching again. You were new to the team, well, a couple of months new anyway. You'd been recruited because you had the ability to pause time. Briefly. But the skill did you no good if the bad guy killed you before you could use it. So you were training. Steve worked with you on technique pretty much every day. Natasha worked with you on firearms and hand-to-hand. Clint helped. He'd originally tried to teach you archery but you were horrible at it. He vowed to try again when you'd built up your arm strength. Tony and Bruce were helping you hone your powers, trying to make them more effective. Everyone else lent a hand where and when they could. Or, more precisely, where Steve told them to.

You stepped back from the bag and wiped the back of your hand across your forehead.

"That's enough for today, Y/N/N. Great work." 

You nodded and grabbed your bottle of water to take a long swallow. "Thanks," you finally managed to get out as you lowered yourself to the floor by the wall. You needed to rest but you could stretch while you caught your breath. 

Steve sat next to you. "Everyone's really impressed with the progress you're making. I don't think it will be long before you're joining us on missions."

"Really?" The thought both terrified and excited you. But, you knew Steve wouldn't let you go unless he was absolutely certain you were ready. 

Before he could say anything in response, the gym door opened and Bucky walked in. He was wearing black workout gear and had his hair pulled back in a small ponytail. You felt a little tug at your heart as you always did when he was around. You had it bad and you knew it. You also didn't care. The man was gorgeous. It would be a crime not to appreciate it.

You smiled. "Hey, Buck."

He looked over in surprise obviously having missed the two of you sitting on the floor. He gave you a small smile and a little wave. "Hey, Y/N. Steve." He changed direction to come over to the two of you and sat cross legged on the mat in front of you. "Done training?"

You nodded. Bucky was a man of few words, but he said more to you than most of the other Avengers. Except Steve of course. Steve said it was because you were always in good spirits and Bucky needed that in his life. You had no idea if that was true or not, but you did your best to always make him feel comfortable around you. 

"Since you're both here, I should tell you that everyone else is taking off on you later today or in the morning," Steve said. "Bruce is going to some convention. Natasha and Clint have a SHIELD mission and the rest of us are heading to Austria to chase a lead."

"But, Steve..." Bucky started with wide eyes then trailed off. 

Steve gave a smile but the skin around his eyes was tight with worry. "It'll be okay, Buck. Y/N will be here. Communication will be open if you need to contact us. You're all right staying with Y/N, aren't you?"

Bucky's gaze darted between the two of you for a moment before his tongue darted out to moisten his dry lips. "Yeah. We'll be okay."

"Sure we will," you agreed with a bright smile.

***

You woke early, as was your habit. You stepped into your bunny slippers (yes, you had actual bunny slippers) and padded into the hallway. The heavenly aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air. You followed your nose to the kitchen to find Bucky sitting at the small bar sipping his coffee. 

He glanced at you as your slippers slapped against the floor. "Plenty for you too, doll."

You ran your hand across his back as you passed behind him. "You are a saint, Barnes."

He snorted and coughed as he choked on his coffee. You patted him on the back until you were certain he was breathing again. "I'm pretty sure no one in my entire history has ever called me a saint before."

Walking over to the counter, you grabbed your favorite mug and filled it, inhaling the rich aroma before taking a careful sip. "Maybe you should make them coffee, Buck. Coffee fixes everything."

"I thought that was bacon?" he said, a teasing tone in his voice. You liked this Bucky. He was far more relaxed than normal. It had to be because everyone else was gone. 

"Mmm. Bacon." After setting your cup down, you wandered over to the fridge and peered inside. Eggs. Bacon. Cheese. What more did you need? You glanced back at him. "You eat yet?"

He shook his head. 

"Bacon it is," you said with a smile as you pulled out everything you needed to make breakfast for the two of you.

***

It had not taken long at all for you and Bucky to decide to take full advantage of the rest of the team being gone. Instead of training, you spent the day introducing Bucky to things he'd missed over the years. As long as it could be done from the comfort of the tower as neither of you felt like getting dressed beyond sweats and tees. 

And since Steve wasn't here to give you his disapproving frown, you ordered all the best junk food and had it delivered. You and Buck had subsequently spent the day sprawled around the theater room having Jarvis stream things and filling up on completely unhealthy snacks. When the pizza you ordered for dinner arrived, you moved to the living room to eat.

"All right, Buck. What do you want to watch now?"

He shrugged and took a bite of his pizza. "You pick, doll."

You grinned as an idea came to you. "Jarvis, play the Philadelphia Story, please."

"Excellent choice, Miss Y/L/N," Jarvis replied.

Bucky turned to you with wide eyes. "Like the Philadelphia Story?"

"Only one I know of," you said. "One of the best movies ever made."

"Have to say I agree with you there, doll." He shifted in excitement and you were glad you'd made the decision to watch something he would be familiar with.

***

You woke from a dream where Carey Grant was kissing Jimmy Stewart with a start. It took you a moment to realize you were still in the living room. You must have fallen asleep watching the movie. The TV was off and the lights were dimmed as you raised your head and glanced around trying to figure out what had wakened you. 

"No. Don't. Stop."

You glanced at the other end of the couch where Bucky had evidently fallen asleep as well. His head tossed and his brow furrowed as he whimpered. The sound tore at your heart. 

"No!" he suddenly yelled and kicked his foot out, hitting you in the leg. 

You hissed. That would bruise for sure. You hurried to shift your position as he continued to thrash and protest against whatever was happening in his dream. Deciding you didn't feel like a face full of metal fist, you wrapped your hands around his wrists and crossed his arms over his chest. 

You laid across the top of him, to keep his arms pinned. He still didn't wake. "Bucky! Wake up!" you called.

Nothing.

"James Buchanan Barnes, wake up!"

A twitch at the full name but otherwise he just thrashed interspersed with the occasional shout. 

How could you get him to wake without risking injury to him or you? Suddenly you got an idea. It was worth a shot. "Buck, it's me, Y/N. Please wake up. I need you."

He gasped as his eyes flew open. His eyes immediately found your face and your gazes locked. He panted beneath you as he struggled to recover from the nightmare and you studied his face to make certain he was okay. 

"Um...doll?" he said after a moment.

"Yeah, Buck?"

"Not that I mind, but why are you laying on me?"

It suddenly dawned on you how intimate this position actually was and you scrambled off him while your face burned in embarrassment. "Sorry. You were having a nightmare. I wanted to make sure neither of us got hurt while I woke you up."

Tension flowed from him and he nodded his head. "Good thinking. Thank you."

"It's not a problem, Bucky. We're friends. We look out for each other."

He sat up. His gaze locked with yours again, but you couldn't hold it long before your face heated again and you turned away. You cleared your throat and held out a hand. "Come on, Buck. We should get to bed."

He didn't say anything as he took your hand so you could help him to his feet and led him down the hall. Your room was first and you paused outside the door. "Night, Buck," you said with a smile in his direction. When you realized he wasn't letting go of your hand you tilted your head and looked at him in question.

He rubbed his metal hand across the back of his neck as he looked at the floor then back up at you. "Would you...I mean..." He huffed out a sigh. "I don't like being alone after I have the dreams. Steve usually stays with me. Would you mind?"

Ordinarily you would hesitate to share a bed with a man you had only known for a couple of months and weren't dating, but this was Bucky. And it was easy to tell his words were sincere. "Of course, Bucky. I don't like being alone in my room when the tower is mostly empty anyway. It's creepy." You didn't actually mind the solitude, but you hoped it might make Bucky feel better if he thought he wasn't the only one that needed someone. "Let me change into my pj's and I'll be in."

One side of his mouth curled up in a smile. "Thanks, doll." He hurried down the hall to his own room as you stepped into yours. 

You dug through the drawer where you kept your pajamas and settled on a pair of shorts with a matching tank. After brushing your hair and teeth, you made your way to Bucky's room, pillow in hand, and tapped on the door. 

The door opened a second later and he gestured for you to enter his room. He shut it behind you. "Hey, Y/N/N. I wasn't thinking earlier. If you want me to sleep on the floor or something..."

You held up a hand to stop him before he could go any further. "I trust you, Bucky."

You tossed back the blankets on the bed and threw your pillow on the opposite side. You crawled in and got settled before patting the empty space beside you. "Come on. I'm tired."

He nodded once and climbed into the bed, pulling the blankets over both of you. "Goodnight, doll. Goodnight Jarvis."

"Goodnight, sir," the AI responded and the lights went off as the click of the lock on the door was heard. You smiled at the fact Bucky's nighttime protocol was the same as yours. 

"Night, Buck." You laid in the dark for a long time, your back turned to Bucky as you stared at the inky wall across from you. It was evident he was trying hard not to move so he didn't disturb you. You bit your lip and gathered your nerve before flipping over. 

His head turned to you in the dark. "You okay? Did I bother you?"

You laughed. "Yes. Your complete lack of movement bothered me."

"Oh, sorry."

"It was a joke, Barnes. I'm going to try something. If it bothers you just say so, okay?"

"Okay?" he said sounding completely unsure.

You slid closer to him and settled against his side with your head on his shoulder. Your hand laid on his chest. You'd always been a cuddler. Bucky remained stiff for a moment longer then relaxed and curled around you. His flesh arm wrapped around you and his hand settled on your hip. "Is this okay?"

"Yeah. This is just fine, doll." It didn't take long for you both to fall into a peaceful sleep.

You woke in the morning feeling rested and warm. A heavy weight lay on your back and your eyes fluttered open. It didn't take long for you to realize you had shifted in your sleep so you were sprawled more fully across Bucky's chest. A quick glance showed the weight was his metal arm wrapped around you while his other hand settled on your lower back, under your tank top.

Your face heated at the intimate contact but you didn't try to move. You were far too comfortable. Instead, you nuzzled against his chest and tried to go back to sleep. Your eyes shot open as Bucky's chest moved beneath you and you realized he was chuckling.

"Sorry," you mumbled, but found yourself unable to move as his hands held you in place.

"Like I said last night, doll, I have no complaints if you want to lay on me." The fingers on your back rubbed small circles against your skin and you bit back a groan.

Damn it, Barnes. If the man had any idea what he did to you, he'd probably be mortified. He was just engaging in some friendly flirting and you were having to resist the urge to slam your lips onto his. You pushed against his chest and he released you so you could roll over. You rolled again so you were off the bed and on your feet. "It's your turn to make breakfast," you said and hurried off to your room before he could see how red your cheeks were.

***

After you'd cleaned up your mess from the day before, Bucky insisted you two spend the day training to make up for the junk food fest. He had not been amused when you called him a fun sucker.

By the time you made it to bed that night you were completely drained. You fell into the bed and were asleep within seconds. So you were understandably surprised when you found yourself wide awake in the middle of the night. You sat up in the bed uncertain why you were no longer sleeping.

A shout tore through the darkness and you sucked in a breath. Bucky. The desperate sound tore at your heart. You scrambled out of the bed. "Jarvis--" you started.

"Mr. Barnes' door is already unlocked and the lights dimmed in anticipation of your arrival, Miss Y/L/N. Should I attempt to wake him?" the AI said, cutting you off.

You could only imagine what the AI would do to poor Bucky. "Let me try first," you said even as you opened the door to Buck's room. You rushed to the side of the bed and hesitated as you tried to figure out the best way to go about it. His movements were more violent than they'd been the night before and there was no way for you to safely restrict them. Bucky would never forgive you or himself if he managed to hurt you while you woke him.

Finally, you resorted to taking a step back and trying to wake him with your voice. "Bucky! Bucky, wake up! It's okay. You're not there. You're here with me. Wake up."

He sat up with a gasp and looked around the room. His shoulders slumped as his gaze settled on you and he ran a hand down his face. "Damn it, Y/N. I'm sorry."

You closed the distance between you and pushed his hair back from his face with your fingers. "It's fine, Buck. It's not like you can help it. Can I get you some water or something?"

A small smile curved his lips. "Yeah, that would be great, doll. Thanks. There's a glass in the bathroom."

Once he'd had his drink, you put the glass away then came back into the room. You shut the door and locked it before making your way back to Bucky's side. "Scoot," you ordered.

"You don't have to stay, Y/N. I'll be okay," he insisted though he moved over just the same.

"I'm sure you will," you answered as you crawled into his bed and pulled the covers up over the two of you. You were on the side with his metal arm and he stiffened as you curled up against him. When he continued to lay that way you sighed and reached over your back to grab his arm and pull it around you. "You won't hurt me, Buck and I'm cold."

"Okay, doll," he said softly and within minutes you were both sleeping once more.

***

The third night you didn't even let him go to sleep before showing up at his door. He opened the door to your knock and his eyes went wide at the sight of you in pajamas clutching your pillow to your chest.

You shrugged. "I figured maybe this would be easier for both of us."

His dark eyes looked you over as if he wanted to say something but wasn't certain how to put it. Finally, he simply nodded once and stepped back to let you in.

For the first time since Steve left, you both slept peacefully through the night. You woke in the morning with a smile once you realized that the sun was up. Once again, the two of you had cuddled while you slept. You tilted your head back to look at Buck's face. He looked so peaceful. Your smile only widened as you took him in. It was so rare to see him at rest. You snuggled against him and drifted back to sleep.

***

It was sometime during the fifth day that you realized how ridiculously happy you were. As you were the only two in the tower, you and Buck spent pretty much every moment together even when you weren't sleeping. With everyone else gone, he was funny and flirty and even smiled. You both found stupid reasons to keep touching each other. And when he pulled you against his side as you watched a movie, you weren't about to complain. Maybe, just maybe, Bucky cared for you as much as you cared for him.

It was the seventh day when it all came crashing down. Bucky held a pad while he coached you on your kicks. He tilted his head to the side and grimaced as you landed a solid blow. "You've got to get that foot turned, doll, or you're going to break something."

You nodded and shifted your stance to try again when the door to the gym opened. A glance in that direction showed Steve had returned. He grinned when he saw the two of you. "I looked everywhere before I remembered to ask Jarvis. I figured you two would have taken the week off with me not here to monitor you."

Buck grinned at the sight of his friend. "We would never do any such thing."

Steve arched a brow. "I've known you for decades, Bucky. Try it with someone who will believe it."

They shook hands with a laugh and Steve nodded in your direction. "How's she doing? How'd you do without me?"

Buck glanced at you before turning back to his friend. "She's doing great as always. Listens well, makes changes based on what you tell her. And she was the perfect Steve while you were gone. I almost expected her to don red, white and blue and sing God Bless America."

Steve laughed and you smiled despite the tug you felt at your heart. Was that all you had been to Buck? A replacement? They kept talking, not even really acknowledging your presence. "I'm going to hit the shower," you said.

They both gave you a smile and went back to their conversation. Once you were out of their view your own smile slid from your face as you crossed your arms over your chest and your shoulders dropped. You tried to reason with yourself that Buck was just happy to see Steve, that things would go back to the way they had been. You had a feeling they wouldn't though. You should have admitted to Bucky how you felt about him before everyone got back.

But nothing said you couldn't do it now.

***

You tried to talk to him several times throughout the day only for him to brush you off. Once, you found your way to the living room where he and Steve were talking. "Hey, guys," you said as you dropped into one of the empty seats.

Steve gave you a tight smile. "Is there something we can help you with, Y/N? This is kind of a private conversation."

"Oh, sorry. No problem," you'd said with a smile and headed to your room. You shut the door behind you and laid on your bed. Tears ran down your face and you swiped them away only for them to be quickly replaced.

"Don't be stupid, Y/N," you told yourself. "You've spent your whole life without Bucky Barnes in it. You can continue to do so." But your heart twisted and you wondered if you could keep doing this. To be the replacement for his best friend when Steve was on a mission, only to go back to second rate status when he returned.

"Miss Y/L/N, dinner is ready," Jarvis said softly as if afraid to startle you.

"Thanks, J. I'll be along in a moment," you said as you sat up. You needed to wash your face and compose yourself. You were the happy one, the cheery one and damn it, you weren't about to let Bucky Barnes change that.

"Of course," the AI responded.

After you laughed and smiled your way through the meal, you had all piled in front of the TV to watch a movie together. You hoped no one asked you any questions because your mind wasn't on the film at all. Half way through you gave up and decided a good night's rest might do you a world of good.

"Night all," you announced as you stood. "See you tomorrow."

There were mumbled goodnights from the others as they watched their movie. You couldn't help one last glance at Bucky only to find him watching you as well. You locked gazes for a moment then he shifted focus back to the screen. You brushed it off and went to your room.

You were sitting in bed attempting to read when there was a knock on your door. You sat your book aside with a sigh and padded over to the door. You swung it open to find Bucky on the other side. You frowned and waited for him to speak.

He rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. "I, uh...I went to my room and you weren't there. I came to make sure you were all right."

You huffed a laugh and hoped the tears stinging your eyes wouldn't make an appearance. "I have my own room, Buck. And you hardly need me anymore. Steve's back. You don't need his stand in."

His eyes were wide. "Don't need you?" He raked his hand through his hair and shook his head. "Well, obviously I've screwed this up."

He took a step forward and you looked up at him.

"Look, Steve's my best friend. Has been since we were kids. He's helped me remember who I was and figure out who I am. And yes, he's helped me with the dreams. But, Y/N/N, he's not you. I have never once had the desire to curl up with him even with the worst dreams. His mere presence has never given me peace the way you have." He sighed and glanced at the floor before looking back up and meeting your eyes.

Hope swelled within you but you did your best to keep it reined in. "I tried all day to spend a moment with you, Buck, but you were always too busy. And it's fine," you said with a shrug. "I get it. It's different when everyone else is home. I was just kind of hoping it wouldn't be."

His hands found your arms and he pulled you closer to him. "I thought you might not want the others to know how close we'd gotten. I ached to touch you all day, but I wanted to talk to you first. When I got to my room and you weren't there, I realized you had no reason to be but I was really hoping you would be." He shifted his grip so one arm wrapped around you and his other hand cradled your cheek. There was almost no space between you. "I've been in awe of you since the moment Steve introduced us. Be mine, doll. Let me love you."

You stood on your toes to kiss him and stopped a breath away. "Only if you let me love you back." His lips capturing yours were answer enough. You wrapped your arms around his neck and tangled your fingers in his hair.

"All right, Barnes. Get some," a voice interrupted.

You broke away from Buck and peered around his side to glare at the billionaire. "Thank you for your impeccable timing as always, Stark."

"No problem, Rabbit," he said with a smirk. He started calling you that after the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland who was obsessed with time. He thought he was hilarious. "Now get some sleep. You're training with me in the morning."

You watched him saunter down the hall and turned your attention back to Buck. He smiled at you. "I should let you go to bed," he said as he ran his eyes over your face.

"Get your fine ass in here, Barnes," you ordered and tugged him into your room, making sure the door was locked behind him.

Chapter Text

"Our target is Benjamin Kruze. He is an assassin responsible for the deaths of many high profile targets. There are almost no photographs of him and he goes by several aliases," Fury said from his spot at the head of the table. Clint, Natasha, Coulson and Maria Hill were all present. At the far end of the table, your boyfriend Steve Rogers sat beside you, a frown on his handsome face. 

"How are we supposed to retrieve him if we don't know what he looks like?" he asked.

"We have intel that puts him at an event in London tonight using the alias Nick Lucas," Natasha said as she pushed a button. A picture of a tattoo flashed up on the screen behind Fury. A black and gray Japanese dragon that covered the front of one shoulder and curved around to the arm and back. "This is the only way we have to positively identify our target."

"I assume that he'll have that covered so how are we supposed to get a look at it. What kind of event is it anyway?" Steve pointed out as he shifted his weight. He was annoyed your date had been interrupted for this meeting. You ran your eyes over him, taking in your favorite blue shirt. He only wore it for you.  

You said nothing and leaned back in your seat, arms crossed over your chest. You knew where this was going and Cap was not going to be getting any happier any time soon.

Natasha cleared her throat and laced her fingers together on the table. "It is a black tie event for charity. The hotel has already been scoped. Someone will have to get close enough to our target to get a view of the tattoo. Once we have visual confirmation, our team will close in and make the arrest."

"And I suppose that someone is you?" Steve asked.

Natasha shook her head. "I'm no good for undercover work. We have no idea if he knows about me or not. We need someone with a low profile. And we know that Kruze has a type. (Height) women with h/c hair and e/c eyes," she answered with a smirk. All eyes in the room turned to you.

"Oh, come on." Steve leaned back in his seat and tossed his pen on the table.  His gaze darted over to you then back to Fury. "Isn't there anyone else?"

You placed your hand on his arm. "It's my job, Steve."

He opened his mouth to say something but thought better of it and snapped it closed. "Fine. But I'm there for backup."

"Wouldn't have it any other way, Rogers," Fury insisted.

***

There was no time to lose so you headed immediately for the jet taking you to London. A team was onboard to get you ready for the assignment. While they primped and prepped, you studied the few photos there were of the target and his tattoo.  

When the team finished, you stepped back into the main area of the jet. Natasha let out a low whistle. "Lookin' good, Y/N/N."

Steve turned from where he'd been talking to the pilot and looked you over. His mouth dropped open slightly and heat flooded his eyes. You did your best to hide your smirk at his reaction. 

"You look stunning," he said as he came over to you. 

"Why thank you, Mr. Rogers," you teased. 

His warm hand settled on your waist and he pressed his forehead against yours. "Be careful tonight, sweetheart."

"I'm always careful."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. I'll be right there in your ear if you need me," he assured you.

You arched a brow. "And how exactly am I supposed to flirt if my boyfriend is complaining in my ear all evening?"

He gave you a little smirk. "Cute. Very cute."

***

As Natasha said, the event was a charity function in the large ballroom of an extremely fancy hotel. The bar gave you the best view of the room so you found a seat and people watched. 

"You don't look very happy to be here," a rich voice said from beside you and you turned prepared to send him away as you had every other man that evening. They either looked nothing like the target or gave you a different name than the one he was using.

You smiled at the stranger as you realized he was the right height and build for the target. "Is it that obvious?" you gave a fake laugh. "My boss made the donation and sent me to the event so he didn't have to come."

He smiled flashing white teeth. "Not a bad job I would think. Where can I apply?"

You laughed again turning fully toward him. "Not bad, no. But he wouldn't even let me bring a date. These things are torture when you're alone."

He pursed his lips, dark eyes looking you over. "Boyfriend at home then? Husband?" He ran his fingertips over the skin of your thigh that was exposed through the slit in the dress.

"Well, that would make this incredibly awkward, wouldn't it?" you teased as you rested your fingers on the wrist of his hand. "But no, I'm single."

His hand turned to lay more fully against your thigh. "Well, then, can I buy you a drink?"

You downed the one in your hand. "That would be lovely."

He motioned for the bartender and got you both refills. 

"Vodka and Sprite," you said as if reminding the bartender. In reality you'd only been drinking Sprite up this point. You didn't want to tip off the target by the distinct lack of alcohol on your breath.

"You better find out if this is our guy or not," Natasha said in your ear. "Steve's having a coronary."

Considering the cameras hidden in the room would have allowed him to see everything, you were quite certain he was. 

"I didn't catch your name, handsome," you said and held out your hand. "Hannah Stewart." Your codename didn't suit you at all, but it was better than giving out your real one. (If your name is really Hannah Stewart well...I don't know what to tell you)

He took your hand and pressed a kiss on the back of it. "Nicholas Lucas, but please call me Nick."

"Jackpot," Natasha said. "Team be ready to move once Agent Y/L/N has confirmation on the target's identity. "

Your heart sped in anticipation. Now you had to figure out how you were going to get a look at his shoulder. "Well, Nick. As interesting as this event is, I can't help but think you and I could have more fun on our own."

His smirk widened into a smile. "As it happens, I took the liberty of reserving myself a room upstairs. Would you care to join me for another drink?"

You nodded and he stood, offering you his hand. His fingers linked with yours as he led you to the elevators. 

"Don't you dare, Y/L/N," Steve growled in your ear. "We don't have eyes anywhere else."

As soon as the door slid shut on the elevator, Kruze pushed the button for his floor and turned to you. He pressed you back against the wall and you lifted a hand to play with the hair at the nape of his neck. His lips found yours and you did your best to feign enjoyment. You moved your hands so they laid against his chest and you loosened his tie. 

He grasped your hand in his and chuckled. "My, my, you are eager, aren't you?" He kissed the tips of your fingers. "Patience."

You pouted playfully and resisted the urge to roll your eyes. Barely. "Damn it, Y/N," Steve growled in your ear and you could only imagine the conversation you'd be having later. The elevator arrived at Kruze's floor and he pulled you down the hall to his room. 

"1307?" you said when you paused in front of the door. "Thirteen and seven are my lucky numbers," you said as he gestured for you to enter.

He shut the door and locked it as his dark eyes ran over you. "I think they're about to be mine, too," he grinned.

You let him wrap his arms around you and kiss down your throat as you tossed away his tie and made quick work of his buttons. Once you had enough undone, you pushed his shirt away from his chest and smiled. "What an amazing tattoo," you said, letting the others know this was your man. "Wherever did you get it?"

You stepped back and he reached for you with a frown. You swept your dress aside and removed the gun you had strapped to your inner thigh on the leg opposite the slit. 

"What the hell is this?" he demanded with a narrowed gaze as you backed toward the door. "If you changed your mind sweetheart all you had to do was say so. I like my tramps willing."

You sighed and shook your head. "You shouldn't have said that," you said as you unlocked the door and opened it. Agents swarmed into the room, Steve in the midst of them. He glanced at you only long enough to look you over for injuries before striding over to Kruze and decking him. Without pause, he turned and walked from the room, grasping you by the arm on his way by.

He pulled you into the hall and scowled at you. "What the hell were you thinking?"

You arched a brow at his tone. "I was doing my job, Steve." 

"Your job was to mark the target, not accompany him to his room." He raked a hand through his hair. "He could have killed you in the time it took me to find you."

You rolled your eyes and swept your dress aside to put your gun away. When you looked up, Steve and two other agents were all gaping at you. Steve shook his head as if to clear it and glared at the other two men. They scurried off. 

Natasha walked by, handing you a room key. "Have fun, Y/L/N." 

"What's that?" your boyfriend asked with a frown. 

"Well, Steve, here's the thing. I get that you're jealous and protective. In fact I love that side of you, but you don't get to lecture me for doing my job. Yes, sometimes there will be danger involved. If there wasn't, I would be bored out of my skull. If you are through trying to prove you're the alpha male, I would love to go upstairs to the room I had Natasha get for us and use an entire bottle of mouthwash. And as beautiful as it is, I would love to get out of this dress."

He sighed and ran a hand down his face. "Of course, Y/N/N. I just worry about you." He leaned forward and kissed your cheek before leading you down the hall with his hand on your back. As you stepped on the elevator, you leaned over and hit the button for the penthouse. Steve was frowning again. "We left straight from SHIELD. When did you have time to pack for us?"

"I didn't," you answered with a smirk.

"Oh." He nodded but still looked confused. He followed you to one of the only two doors on the top floor. "But I thought you said you wanted to get out of your dress."

You turned to him as you opened the door. He was still very stuck in the forties sometimes. "I do." You stepped inside and let the strap fall from your shoulder.

His eyes went wide as realization hit him and he followed you into the room. 

Chapter Text

You didn't have the closest relationship with your father. 

Don't get me wrong, you loved him and he loved you. He went out of his way to make certain that your mother had the support check in full on the first day of the month. On top of that, he made sure that you wanted for little. He even took it upon himself to set up a trust fund for you that you were currently using to pay for college. All of that was brilliant and you knew you were lucky.

No, your problem was that despite all that, you hardly ever saw your father. Now that you were older with a more flexible schedule, you saw him more often but it was still a long time between visits. After all, why would the world renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange have time for his only child? There was always another procedure, another award, or another conference that took precedence. 

Not that you were bitter or anything. You huffed out a breath and rolled your eyes as you strolled into the hospital. Your dad had vanished. He'd been in a horrible accident that ruined his hands and his future as a surgeon. You'd been spending time with him, helping out as much as he'd let you but you'd gone by his apartment to find him gone. Along with the few possessions he hadn't sold. You'd been trying to reach him for over a week now with no luck. The only thing you had left to try was seeing if Christine, his ex-girlfriend knew anything about where he might have gone. 

Luckily for you she was in the hall and spotted you as soon as you walked in. She smiled as she walked toward you but you could see the confusion on her face. "Y/N? what are you doing here?"

"I'm looking for my dad," you told her. 

She grasped your arm and pulled you into an empty room. "Didn't he tell you?" she asked.

You shook your head, certain from her tone you weren't going to like whatever came next. 

She sighed. "He's gone. He heard about some miracle cure in Asia and is trying to find it."

Your heart broke a little at the news. You'd been getting along so well lately you'd forgotten just how little he considered your feelings. You nodded to let her know you heard and dropped your head.

"I'm sorry, Y/N," Christine said.

You didn't say anything as you turned and walked out of the hospital.

***

It was now several months later and you still hadn't heard from your dad. You had no idea if he'd found what he was looking for or if he was dead in a ditch somewhere. You sighed at the thought, wrapping your arms more tightly around you as you walked toward your apartment. Tuesdays were the only night you had to stay late on campus as your last class didn't finish until six. Fortunately your apartment was only a fifteen minute walk. You had just pulled your keys from your bag when someone grabbed you from behind. You managed a muffled scream before everything went black. 

You woke with a groan and looked around. You were tied to a chair in the middle of an otherwise empty room. The room was small and windowless. Panic flooded through you and your heart raced. Who had brought you here and why?

It didn't take long for at least part of your question to be answered. The door opened and a man in a robe entered. His hands were behind his back as he looked down at you with a tilt of his head. He had long hair pulled back in a ponytail and an angular face. He might have been attractive once upon a time, but right now all you could focus on was whatever horrible disease was rotting the skin around his eyes. It was almost like the skin was broken to show something underneath. What the hell was wrong with this guy?

When he just continued to stare at you without saying anything, you broke the silence. You cleared your throat. "I don't mean to alarm you, but there's something wrong with your face," you said.

The man's lips pursed then spread into a smile. "You take after your father," he said, his voice rough and low.

That got your attention. "You know my dad?" How had your dad met this guy?

"I have had the occasion to meet him yes. He has something I need. Which he will give me in exchange for you." He undid your restraints and helped you to your feet. "Come," he ordered and walked from the room. 

You briefly considered not obeying just to piss him off but decided that wouldn't get you anywhere. You followed behind, freezing in the doorway when the man moved his hands and a portal of some sort opened in the air before him. He stepped through and turned back to look at you, obviously waiting for you to follow.

None of this could be real. Maybe you hit your head and were in a coma somewhere. This was all a dream. Yeah, that made about as much sense as a portal opening in midair.

The man's face grew pinched and he began to step back through to fetch you. Not able to imagine what he would do to you then, you swallowed past the lump in your throat and followed him to the other side. The portal closed behind you. 

You looked around finding yourself on a vibrant green hill, no signs of civilization anywhere around you. After a few moments another portal opened in the air not far from where you stood. A man stepped through, gray coloring the hair at his temples. He had a neatly trimmed goatee and was dressed in odd clothing. Including a...was that a cape? Once you got past all that, you sucked in a breath as you realized the man before you was Dr. Stephen Strange. Your father.

"Dad?" you said.

His gaze locked on you and you could tell he was checking you over for injuries. He didn't say anything to you as he looked at the man that had taken you. "Let her go, Kaecilius," he demanded. "She has nothing to do with this." He shifted his position and held out his hands, two discs of light appearing in front of them. 

You blinked your eyes several times, trying to comprehend what was going on in front of you. The man mirrored your father's actions. "She has everything to do with it, Strange. You give me what I want and she's yours."

"You do realize that's not much of a deal when you're going to destroy the world, don't you?" your father asked and shook his head. You knew whatever was going on that he would do what he thought was right, but you wished he'd look at you. Hot tears ran down your cheeks as you watched the two men fight.  Their actions were so fast you had trouble following them. In fact, you were getting a headache trying to.

You closed your eyes and dropped your head as you listened to the battle and hoped your dad would be okay. Suddenly you gasped as a hand landed on your shoulder and jerked you backward. Something sharp pressed against the skin of your throat. "Times up, Strange."

You kept your eyes tightly closed. You didn't want your father to see the fear in them. You had no idea what was going on, but he obviously needed to worry about the asshole behind you and not you. 

You sucked in a breath as the skin of your throat was pierced and blood ran from the wound. Your heart raced in your chest and you found it hard to breathe. Your father was some sort of wizard, who was fighting other wizards, which you guess explained why he disappeared, kind of, he still could have called you and now you were going to die and never get the chance to even yell at him for disappearing and making you worry and the asshole that took you...

Hands on your arms caught your attention and you sucked in a breath as you realized you were freaking out. 

"Y/N," your father said. "It's okay. He's gone. Can you open your eyes?" 

You ignored him as you focused on breathing. Besides you knew if you looked at him right now, you'd start bawling and wouldn't that just be the topper on your shitty day. 

His hand hooked around the side of your neck and his thumb rubbed in a soothing gesture. "Come on, sweetheart. Look at me. I need to know you're okay, Y/N."

It was the worry in his voice that was your undoing. You opened your eyes to find your father in front of you, his eyes searching your face. You surged forward, wrapped your arms around his neck and sobbed against his chest. His arms immediately encircled you as he made sounds of comfort. 

Once you'd calmed down, you pushed away from him. You angrily wiped the tears from your cheeks and scowled at him. "What the hell, dad? What the hell is going on? And where the hell have you been?" Your volume was just short of a scream. 

He stepped forward carefully and put a hand on your arm. "I'll explain everything but first I need to make sure you don't have any injuries that I can't see."

You shook your head angrily. "I'm not injured. I'm pissed. You just left me. You disappeared for months without even saying goodbye. Then some guy snatches me off the street and you show up to rescue me looking like some comic book character. Which, what even is that?" you yelled, gesturing at all of him. A pat on your shoulder had your gaze jerking in that direction. You jumped back when you realized your father's cape was trying to comfort you. You rubbed a hand across your forehead.

Your father jerked the edge of the cape back and frowned at it. "Not now," he hissed.

"This is a lot of weird, dad. Even for me," you told him.

He gave you a soft smile. With a gesture he opened another one of those portals. "You have no idea, Y/N. Come with me and I'll explain everything while I tend to your wound."

He held a hand out to you and you looked between him and the portal behind him. Maybe you were going crazy. Maybe this was all a dream. But for the moment your father was here with you and you weren't ready to give him up just yet. You took his hand and he pulled you through to a whole new life.

Chapter Text

You raked a hand through your hair and yawned as you made your way to the kitchen in the tower. You'd been an Avenger for six months and had fallen into your own routine. Part of that routine was that you rose early and went to the kitchen to have a cup of coffee before the hooligans got up. By that you meant specifically Tony and Clint. And Pietro, man could that guy be annoying. No, at this hour you could savor your morning coffee and your breakfast. If anyone joined you it was usually Steve, Bucky or Natasha. All of whom were content to just enjoy the peace of the morning. Sometimes if you were feeling generous you made food for everyone. Usually you weren't that nice.

Your steps stuttered briefly as the kitchen came into view and your mouth curled up in a smile. Steve Rogers was at the stove making breakfast. You took a moment to run your eyes over him while no one was here to catch you. Even before you'd joined the Avengers, you'd had a soft spot for Captain America. But now that you lived with him and interacted with him on a daily basis, you had a whole new appreciation for the star spangled man with a plan.

Truth be told, you had more than a slight crush on your fearless leader. You might even go so far as to say you were in love with him. Not to him of course. You'd never admit that to him. No, instead you flirted and grinned when you made him blush. He was so cute when he did that. You bit back a sigh. And just to make sure that he didn't realize you were flirting with him because you liked him, you teased and taunted and kept it as light as possible. You could take on Hydra without blinking but couldn't tell your crush you loved him. You had issues.

Shaking your head to bring yourself out of your wanton admiration of your favorite super hero, you cleared your throat to get his attention. You grinned at Steve when he glanced up and he smiled back. "Need some help with that, Captain?" The last word left you in a throaty purr out of habit. You weren't certain you could even say it in a normal tone anymore. 

Steve's cheeks flared red and he rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. "Sure, if you want."

You hummed and moved over to stand behind him. You didn't touch him but you leaned close enough you could feel the heat that radiated from him body. You peeked at the stove to see he was making pancakes. Your gaze darted up to see his face was even more red than it had been. A smirk covered your face as you turned to the fridge. You dug around before glancing over your shoulder taking the opportunity for a quick look at his ass before speaking. 

"Kisses?" you asked. 

He spun, his eyebrows shooting up into his hairline. "I'm sorry?"

"Kisses," you repeated innocently as you showed him the bag of mini chocolate kisses someone had left in the fridge. 

His eyes darted between your face and the bag in your hand. Finally, he nodded even as his tongue darted out to lick his lips. "Yeah. That sounds good."

Before you could make another flirty response, Bucky walked into view. "Good morning," he muttered as he shuffled to the coffee pot. 

Your eyes stayed locked with Steve's for a moment longer before you turned your attention to his best friend. "Hey, Buck. How'd you sleep?"

***

After breakfast, you always headed to the gym. You liked to spend thirty to forty minutes working by yourself before your actual training started. Today you wrapped your hands and set to work on one of the punching bags. When the door opened half an hour later you turned to see Steve. You smiled at him as you stepped away from the bag and grabbed your water. 

Today was your day to train with the Captain. "How are we working up a sweat today, Steve?" you asked innocently, though your tone was anything but. 

He blushed again before he set his jaw and cleared his throat. "We're sparring today, Y/N. Remember?"

You bit back a groan. Sparring with Steve was always exhausting. Physically because he was a super soldier and emotionally because you spent the whole session in close proximity with him. The two of you squared up to one another, exchanging jabs and blocking punches. You couldn't help but feel a little proud that Steve had to try harder to keep up with you. When you'd first started training, he barely broke a sweat.

Steve took advantage of your mind being elsewhere to pin you to the mat. "Damn it," you said and smacked the mat with your palm. You hated when your partner got the better of you. Steve tilted his head and grinned. "Keep your head in the fight, Y/L/N. If I was the enemy, you'd be dead."

He hopped to his feet and grabbed your hand to pull you to yours. As he was prone to do, he forgot his own strength and pulled you too far, causing you to stumble into his chest. You sucked in a breath and looked up at him before grinning. "Well, now that you have me here, soldier, whatever are you going to do with me?"

Steve grunted and moved away as his face flared that familiar shade of red once more. He raked an angry hand through his hair. "Why do you do that, Y/N? You're always flirting, making innuendos. Don't you think--"

You grabbed his face in your hands and surged forward to press your lips to his. Steve froze beneath your onslaught. It took you longer than you liked to realize he wasn't kissing you back. He wasn't reaching for you. He was just standing there as if waiting for you to finish.

You pulled back slowly to find him staring at you, his mouth gaped open. You swore you could almost hear your heart shatter. What had you done? You sucked in a breath to keep from sobbing and ran from the room, ignoring Steve when he called your name. 

***

You'd asked Jarvis to keep your location a secret as you moved around the building. He'd done one better and warned you when someone appeared to be approaching your location. You didn't stay anyplace very long, not wanting to be found. Not today. You knew you would have to face Steve eventually but today you just wanted to wallow in your self pity. Maybe tomorrow you would be able to put on a smile and pretend that kiss had all been part of the game. Right now, you just wanted to be left alone.

You pulled your knees up to your chest and stared out at the city. You had always loved the view from the roof.  It was peaceful to see the life around you but not be able to hear most of it. You leaned your head against the wall behind you and glanced over when you heard the door open, quickly shifting your gaze back to the view. The only problem with being out here is there was no way for Jarvis to warn you of an impending visitor.

"Jarvis finally gave me up, huh?" you asked as Steve sat beside you, stretching his long legs out in front of him.

"Clint saw you on the way to his nest," he answered, a hint of humor in his voice.

"Barton," you grunted. "Should have guessed."

The two of you sat in silence for a long time. Occasionally you felt Steve's eyes on you but every time you glanced over, he was looking at the view again.

"You did a good job of hiding," he said when he finally spoke. "I had everyone looking for you."

Your lips twisted into a smile. "Jarvis might have helped," you confessed.

Steve laughed, the rich sound rolling through you. "That's what had Tony so out of sorts, I guess."

You stretched your legs out next to Steve's and tangled your fingers together in your lap. You kept your eyes on your hands. "Listen, Steve. About that kiss. I'm really sorry. I know it--"

This time it was the Captain that cut you off. He grasped your chin and turned your face toward his before pressing his lips against yours. You sucked in a breath of surprise then kissed him back. 

When the two of you finally separated to get some much needed air, he pressed his forehead against yours. "That kiss was well overdue," he said. He grasped one of your hands in his own. "Listen, Y/N. I'm an idiot."

You pulled back to look at him only for him to hook a hand around the back of your neck and tug you forward into another kiss. "I went from a skinny kid that would probably faint if a girl sincerely gave him the time of day to fighting in a war to being frozen in the ice. I woke up and started saving the world. What I'm saying is you've been driving me nuts with all your flirting and I didn't know how to react. So I got uncomfortable and angry. Mainly because I fell in love with you sometime around our second mission together and didn't know what to do about it."

You sucked in a breath and your heart sped. "Did you just say you love me, Captain?"

He looked down before meeting your gaze again with a smile. "I believe I did, Miss Y/L/N."

You laid a hand along the side of his face as you closed the distance between you. When only a breath separated your lips you paused. "Well, that's a hell of a coincidence because I love you too, soldier."

Your lips met in another heated kiss and the two of you stayed where you were until the sun went down and long past. You kissed, and talked, and cuddled. The only interruption being when Clint came by with pizza and beer just as you two started getting hungry. 

From that day on, you were still a flirt with your Captain. As it turned out, however, you were usually the one left blushing after one of his heated kisses. And you didn't mind in the least.

Chapter Text

Of all days for you to run late it had to be today when Steve was introducing a new member to the team. His best friend to be exact. Tony wasn't exactly thrilled about the ex-hydra agent coming to live in the tower with the rest of you but you'd all talked him into it. Besides, as Tony kept reminding everyone, you had a hulk if you needed him.

You tapped your foot as the elevator took you to the correct floor. Why did it always feel like the elevator went slower the later you were running? Finally the door opened and you hurried out. You were watching your feet to make sure you didn't trip as the flooring shifted from tile to carpet. 

"Hey, there she is," you heard. 

You looked up just in time to see a broad back loom before you. You crashed into it. Hard. The person you'd run into turned as the two of you fell and wrapped his arms around you to cushion you from the blow. The two of you landed with a grunt. You looked down surprised to find yourself looking into a gorgeous pair of eyes. His handsome face was framed by long dark hair. Both of you just stared at each other.

"That was graceful," Tony said as he snorted a laugh. 

You grinned even as your face heated. "Guess you really fell for me, huh?" you said with a giggle.

The man's mouth dropped open in shock then he started laughing. The two of you scrambled to your feet and he held out a hand. "Bucky Barnes, doll."

"Y/N Y/L/N. Pleasure to meet you." You shook his hand and smiled. Your eyes slipped from him over to Steve to find Cap grinning as he looked between the two of you. You arched your brow in an unasked question and he merely shook his head. 

***

It was two months later now and you, Bucky and Steve were nearly inseparable. Well, to be more accurate, you and Bucky were nearly inseparable as were Bucky and Steve so you just kind of became a trio. 

You were sitting at the kitchen table scrolling through email when someone cleared their throat getting your attention. You glanced up in surprise, smiling when you saw Bucky standing in front of you rocking back and forth on his feet. 

"Hey, Buck. What's up?"

He rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. "Um...Steve said you would take me shopping. I've been borrowing his clothes and need some of my own."

You blinked a couple of times as you processed what he was telling you. "Sure, Bucky. No problem. You sure you want me to go with you?"

His eyes widened in surprise. "Of course. I trust you, doll."

That makes you smile. Bucky didn't trust anyone besides Steve as far as you knew so knowing he felt the same way about you made you happy. It was also the reason you hadn't mentioned your crush on one James Buchanan Barnes. He needed friends. Safe places to go. You burdening him with the knowledge you were pretty much head over heels for him, wouldn't help anyone. 

Your eyes darted from him to the side where you could see Steve and Tony trying to watch inconspicuously. "Let's go, Barnes. I haven't been shopping in ages and I have Stark's black card," you said as you jumped from your seat and held out a hand for the super solider. 

Stark opened his mouth undoubtedly to protest funding the shopping expedition but snapped it closed when Steve elbowed him in the side. 

As you stepped into the elevator with Bucky, his hand still clasped in yours you gave your two teammates a little wave. "We'll bring back dinner," you announced just before the doors slid closed.

***

You and Buck got done more quickly than you thought you would. Once you found the style he liked, the rest was easy. He hadn't even hesitated when you suggested a hair cut as well. And he looked pretty damned hot if you said so yourself. 

As you stepped off the elevator you were surprised to see everyone sitting in the shared living quarters. Then you remembered you'd promised food so it wasn't so odd after all. "Hello, all," you greeted. 

Most simply raised a hand without even glancing over. Steve was the first to look away from the TV. He froze, his mouth gaping slightly causing you to giggle. You glanced at Bucky to see a red tinge on his cheeks. That was when Clint glanced over. 

"Holy shit. What the hell did you do to Barnes, Y/N?" the archer said with his usual lack of a filter. 

You put a hand on Bucky's shoulder and leaned toward him. "You look good, Buck. Own it," you told him in a low voice so only he could hear. The corner of his mouth curled up and you took the shopping bags from his hands as you handed him the food. "I'll go put this stuff away. You go show off."

By now all the Avengers were looking in your direction, varying levels of shock on their faces. You shook your head with a smile. "Steve, give me a hand would you?" you asked as you turned back to the elevator that Jarvis was holding in place for you. Bags filled the floor of the car. Poor Tony.

"Well, I guess you got him set up," Steve said as he came over beside you and started gathering bags up. "Thanks for this, Y/N."

"It was fun, Steve," you assured him as the two of you headed down the hall to Bucky's room, your arms full of bags. "Besides, Buck is my friend. You don't need to thank me."

***

Bucky's voice trailed off as his eyes followed you and Steve as you disappeared down the hall. 

A hand dropped onto his shoulder pulling his attention back to the room. "You know, you could just tell her," Tony said. 

Bucky turned to him with a frown. "What are you talking about, Stark?"

"I think he's referring to the fact that you're in love with Y/N," Nat teased.

His cheeks flamed. "What--I don't know what you're talking about," he insisted.

"Save it, Barnes," Clint said as he dug through the Chinese food you'd brought back for dinner. "We all know. It's not as if you hide it very well."

Bucky groaned and ran a hand down his face. "Does she know?"

Tony popped a crunchy noodle in his mouth. "Not that I've seen. Which is odd because she's usually so observant." He shrugged and joined Clint in dishing up the food. 

Bucky slumped into one of the chairs and raked his hands through his new short hair. What was he going to do? Y/N was one of the only people he felt comfortable around. He didn't want to chase her off.

Natasha put a hand on his knee drawing his attention. She gave him a little smirk. "If it makes you feel any better, Barnes, I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual."

That thought had never even occurred to him and he felt a small thread of hope weave through him.

***

They were fifteen minutes into the movie Nat had picked before you and Steve came back. Steve went straight for the food while you went to try to find a place to sit. There wasn't much left except the floor but you were okay with that. Deciding the spot next to Bucky looked the most comfortable you headed over to him. As you moved past him to take your seat, his hands gripped your waist and pulled you down into his lap. 

You fell sideways and looked up at him in surprise while he smirked down at you. When he didn't say anything you scratched the top of your head. "I guess I fell for you this time?" you joked.

He grinned then and pressed his lips to yours, cupping the side of your face with his hand. You kissed back eagerly, your hands wrapping around the back of his neck. When you both needed to breathe, he pulled back and looked in your eyes. "You're wrong, doll. I've been falling since the day I met you." 

Your heart raced as he captured your lips with his own once more. You almost forgot you weren't alone in the room until your friends broke into applause and you moved apart, blushing. Bucky adjusted you on his lap before pulling you against his chest. It was evident that he had no intention of letting you go anytime soon. 

Tony cleared his throat. "You can thank me for this, Y/N. I'm the one that got him to confess. You're welcome." He sounded very full of himself and you looked at him with raised brows.

Before you could respond, your assassin best friend threw a pillow at him, hitting him right in the face. "Dumbass," Nat muttered and everyone began to laugh except her target. You didn't care. You were too busy getting kissed once more by the love of your life.

Chapter Text

You traveled to Wakanda with Steve and Bucky after the fight with Tony. Truth be told, you actually hadn't taken a side. You weren't an Avenger. You had no super powers. You were simply a SHIELD agent that helped out on occasion and a friend that tried to get everyone to see the other side of the argument. 

They all seemed to accept that--except for Tony. He felt as though you betrayed him simply by refusing to pick a side. Since you'd been living in their building for the three months before all that, things became rather awkward very quickly. You weren't sure if T'Challa was simply observant enough to pick up on your situation or if Steve had filled him in, but he was quick to extend an invitation to you as well. 

Wakanda was amazing. It was beautiful and there was always some new technology Shuri was showing off to you. And the people...No one had questioned you moving into the palace. In fact, you had become almost like one of the family. That was mainly thanks to Shuri. The two of you had become fast friends, your room just down the hall from hers. You even ate your meals with the family. Your life would be almost perfect if it wasn't for one thing. 

Nightmares. You'd always been prone to them, a therapist once telling you it was your mind's way of dealing with the things you didn't want to face when you were awake. But now you were happy and still had them almost nightly. Some of them nearly drifted into night terror territory. More than once you'd grabbed your knife to attack something before you realized it was all in your head. Lately, they'd taken a particularly sinister turn. Images of T'Challa, Shuri and even their mother dying while you failed to save them. Steve calling for your help while he was struck down. Tony's suit failing and him falling to the ground from several stories up. And the enemy was always different. Nature herself. The Chitauri. Killmonger. The worst dreams were when it was you that killed them. When you woke certain that their blood was on your hands. 

Lately you had been afraid to even sleep, making yourself stay awake until you finally crashed from pure exhaustion. It was almost two AM when you caught yourself nodding off. You sat your book aside and grabbed your robe from the back of the chair you were sitting on. You wrapped it around you to cover your pajamas and went to walk the halls of the palace as had become your habit on these nights. 

There was a particular balcony you were fond of as it had a spectacular view of Wakanda. Your bare feet padded quietly on the cool floor as you made your way there. When you reached it you sighed in contentment and leaned forward on the railing. 

"This view has always been amazing but tonight it's simply stunning," T'Challa's rich voice had you glancing over your shoulder with a warm smile.  

His casual clothes were white with black embroidery. His hands were clasped behind his back as he strolled in your direction. He returned your smile as he leaned on the railing beside you. His eyes ran over you and your cheeks heated. You turned your gaze back to the scene in front of you hoping he wouldn't notice how flustered he made you. 

You stood in silence for a long time until his voice once again broke the silence. "Why are you awake, Y/N?"

You shrugged. "Just couldn't sleep."

He made a sound of agreement. "And last night? And the night before that?"

You looked over to him in surprise. He turned his body so he was facing you instead of the view. He tilted his head. "Did you think that I would not notice? I notice everything about you."

You ducked your head, but he placed fingers beneath your chin and lifted until you were locked in his gaze. 

"What troubles you, Y/N?" He pursed his lips as he waited for you to answer. 

You knew him well enough by now to know that he wouldn't allow you to evade answering. Embarrassment had you turning from him with a sigh. "I've been having horrible nightmares. I've always been prone to them but lately..." You trailed off as you thought about some of your more recent dreams. 

T'Challa slid closer to you and pushed a loose strand of hair behind your ear. "Why did you not say anything? Did you think I would not understand? That I would not care?"

That made you laugh as you shook your head. "You're a king T'Challa. I don't think you need to add me to the list of things you have to worry about."

He grinned, showing you that perfect smile that always made your insides heat. "I already worry about you, Y/N. It is my nature to worry about those that I love."

You jerked your head in his direction as your eyes searched your friend's face. He seemed sincere. "L-love? Like you love Shuri, right?"

He stepped forward, still smiling as he closed the distance between the two of you. "No, Y/N. I do not love you like a sister."

Nerves fluttered in your belly as your heart raced. Surely, he did not feel the same for you as you felt for him. He was gorgeous. He was a king. And you were just...you. "A mother?"

He shook his head and closed the little distance that had remained. 

You swallowed. "An aunt?"

He shook his head again and cupped your cheek. You found yourself leaning into his hand. Your gaze locked on his as he leaned forward. "A second cousin?" you teased, unable to help yourself.

He flashed that grin again just before his lips met yours. The action was soft, hesitant at first but as you wrapped your arms around his neck and pulled him closer, it deepened. The kiss was now needy and desperate. Needing to breathe, you pulled back and rested your head against his chest as his arms held you to him. 

He hummed, a content sound. "I have been wishing to do that for some time."

"Me, too," you confessed then ruined the intimate moment with a large yawn. 

T'Challa chuckled and swept you up into his arms. "Come. You shall stay with me and I will chase away the nightmares."

You simply hummed in agreement and nuzzled against his chest. When you arrived in his room, you thought briefly of looking around, but decided you could do it tomorrow. Now, you were simply too tired. And the thought of sleeping in T'Challa's arms overrode any fear that you'd have another dream. You watched as he settled then opened his arms for you. You crawled into the bed and laid with your head on his chest, his arms immediately enveloping you. You couldn't remember the last time you felt so loved and at peace. It was a matter of minutes before you fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. 

Chapter Text

You didn’t let much get to you. Not that you let anyone see anyway. You brushed off lectures from Steve and Fury. You shrugged away injuries. The only time anyone had seen you even remotely upset was when Wanda had been knocked unconscious during a mission. As such, you were the one everyone in the tower came to when they needed to talk. Tony liked to call you the resident psychologist.

In reality you were another of Hydra’s experiments. A failure in their eyes as the only power you’d gained was an immunity to fire and heat. As usual you knew how to get the most from any situation though and insisted on being trained as an explosives expert along with the standard agent training. You’d joined the Avengers along with Wanda after Pietro had sacrificed himself to save Clint and the boy he was holding.

You hadn’t been the same since your last mission in France. Everyone could see it, but no one could pinpoint exactly what was different. Anytime they asked you, you told them you were fine. When they asked Tony and Steve who had been on the mission with you, they didn’t know either as the three of you had separated once you reached the Hydra facility. Once they thought about it though they realized you had acted odd on the jet home as well.

Now it was three weeks later. You just finished picking at your breakfast when a familiar delicate touch fell on your back. A small flinch was your immediate reaction before you steeled yourself. A glance over your shoulder showed Wanda standing behind you, worry in her eyes as she looked you over. “Are you all right, Y/N? You weren’t in bed when I woke again.”

You forced yourself to ignore the hurt in her voice and swallowed the lump in your throat. “I’m fine.” You laid your hand on top of hers and gave her a small smile. “Don’t worry about me, little witch.”

She nodded but you could see the doubt on her face as you stood and her hand fell away from you.

“I have to go train,” you told her and pressed a quick kiss to her cheek. Once you were safely ensconced in the elevator, you bit back a choked sob. You pressed the back of your hand against your lips as you struggled to rein in the sorrow that surrounded you like a fog. Tears rolled from your eyes and you quickly wiped them away as the elevator slid to a stop.

You could get through this. You had to. It was what you did. You had completely composed yourself by the time you stepped into the gym. Clint was leaning against the wall awaiting your arrival. It appeared as though your best friend was your sparring partner for the day. “Hey, birdbrain,” you said by way of greeting.

The corner of his mouth slid up in a smirk. “Hello yourself, y/n/n.” He straightened and ran his eyes over you. “How are you doing today?”

“I’m fine. The same as every day.” Your response was sharper than you’d intended but you were tired of being asked the same questions over and over again. If everyone would just leave you alone for awhile maybe you could pull yourself together. Realizing you were close to ranting verbally, you sucked in a deep breath and willed yourself to calm.

“I’m not sure that’s a good thing considering how you’ve been lately,” Clint observed with a narrowed gaze.

You leaned forward, pressing your hands against the floor as you stretched so you didn’t have to make eye contact any longer. “As I’ve told you and every one else a thousand times, I’m fine.”

“Come on, kiddo. Don’t pull that with me. We all know you’re not. Wanda’s worried sick about you.” He sounded tired, worn out.

Your head jerked up and you straightened. “Did she tell you that?”

Wanda was almost as private as you. If she talked to Clint about this it was bothering her more than she wanted you to know.

Clint closed the distance between the two of you and dropped a hand onto your shoulder. “She told me you aren’t sleeping or eating since your mission. She cried the entire time we talked. She doesn’t know how to help you. Frankly, neither do I if you won’t talk to us.”

“Shit.” You fisted your hands on your hips and let your head fall forward. You having trouble dealing with your issues was one thing. Wanda getting dragged down by them was quite another. “Maybe I should just leave for a while.” You’d said it low, talking more to yourself than him but he’d heard you just the same.

“That’s not going to help anything. What is going on with you, Y/N?” He squeezed your shoulder and you knew he wanted to demand an answer but was trying to give you the space you needed.

You sighed and turned away from him as you ran a hand through your hair. “When Hydra kidnapped me, the facility in France was where they first took me. Where they conducted their experiments. The things they did…”

You trailed off and a shudder racked your body. Hot tears ran down your cheeks again as memories flashed through your head and phantom pain flared.

Clint’s arms wrapped around you from behind and he held you against his chest. “FRIDAY get Wanda down here and tell everyone else the gym is off limits.”

“Of course,” the AI responded.

Your knees buckled and Clint lowered you to the floor following you down. He just continued to hold you while you finally broke. The door opened and you turned to see Wanda hurrying into the room.

“Oh, no,” she gasped and a hand covered her mouth as her gaze fell on you. She was by your side in an instant and Clint released you to the tender care of your girlfriend. Her hands cradled your face. “My sweet, beautiful girl. I’m here now.” She punctuated her words with soft kisses across your skin. “I’m here. I’m here.”

You closed your eyes and let yourself get lost in her comfort. Eventually the tears stopped and her delicate fingers wiped the remnants of them from your cheeks. You opened your eyes and met her gaze, overwhelmed by the love and care you saw there. She smiled and pushed your hair away from your face. “Do you want to talk about it?”

You cleared your throat. “No. But I need to.” You shifted your position so you were more comfortable and interlaced your fingers with Wanda’s. Clint was still there as well, but he was good at remaining silent and fading into the background. You kept your eyes locked on your hands as you started to talk, afraid you’d break again if you looked at either of them.

“When I found out where we were going for the mission, I wasn’t worried at all. That place was so long ago. I’d come so far since then I was certain it wouldn’t bother me any longer. And I was right for the most part.” You gave a little shrug. “The labs. The cells. The training rooms. None of it bothered me. I killed people that had brought me food. Broke the neck of the man that used to keep track of my vitals.”

You paused when your mind trying to pull you back into a darker memory. And for a moment you were there again. The room was dark with only one dim bulb for illumination. Your head swam and your vision blurred as you turned your head. They’d sedated you to keep you compliant. But you knew where they were taking you, what was in store for you and the screams in your head were deafening.

Wanda squeezed your hands pulling you back to the present. You twisted your head slightly but still didn’t look at either of them. You were unsurprised to find you were crying again. “Did I ever tell you how they discovered I was immune to heat and fire?”

“No, you didn’t.” Her soft voice broke on the last word. Her grip tightened but you didn’t mind. The sensation would keep you grounded, keep you from traveling back to that horrific day.

“They decided I was a failure. I failed every test they gave me. It was time to dispose of me. They sedated me and hauled me to the incinerator.” Your voice was flat as you said the words revealing nothing of the ache deep in your chest at the reminder.

Wanda made a strangled sound of pain.

“They burnt you alive?” Clint asked, his tone soft and horrified.

“They certainly tried anyway,” you responded. “I don’t think I ever mentioned that if the fire burns hot enough, it still hurts. And that was excruciating. They let me scream for ten minutes before they opened the door so I could climb out. My voice was gone for weeks.”

You let the silence stretch for a long moment. “I was fine until I walked into that room to set the charge. One look at the incinerator and I was right back in that moment. I guess I’ve had a hard time shaking it since I’ve been back.”

“Damn, Y/N/N,” Clint breathed. “I thought I had some shit to deal with.” You glanced at your friend and gave him a soft smile which seemed to chase some of the sorrow from his eyes.

Your gaze shifted to Wanda when she remained silent. She looked simply devastated. There was no other word for it. Her bottom lip trembled and a river of tears washed her face. “Oh, sweetheart.” You tugged her by the grip you still had on her hands. She propelled herself toward you and threw her arms around your neck. Her sobs had her shaking in your arms as she buried her face in your neck. “Hey, baby girl. It’s okay. I’m okay. Don’t cry for me.”

Clint laid a hand on her back and rubbed gently while she just continued to cling to you. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she finally said as she pulled away from you and smacked you lightly in the chest. “I could have helped you.”

You huffed a humorless laugh. “I was trying to keep you from carrying that shit, too. One of us was sufficient.”

“That’s not okay,” she insisted. “No one should have to live with something like that on their own.”

You leaned forward and cupped her face in your hands. You held her head so she had to meet your gaze. “You listen to me, Wanda Maximoff. Yeah, it was horrible. Obviously, it still haunts me. But they could have just as easily put a bullet in my brain. And if they’d done that, I would never have met you. Or birdbrain over here.”

She nodded to let you know she heard but you weren’t sure she was completely understanding what you were trying to tell her. You tilted your head to catch her gaze again. “Every minute, every second, hell every microsecond in that fire was worth it because it brought me to you. And you are the greatest thing that will ever happen to me. I love you.”

She leaned forward and captured your lips with hers. You gentled the hold you had on her as your eyes slipped shut and ran your fingers through her hair. You pulled her against you and held her against your chest.

“I love you,” she muttered as her arms slipped around your waist.

You looked over her shoulder and caught Clint’s gaze. Tears pooled in his eyes as he watched the two of you. You smirked. “Are you crying, Clint Barton?”

“Look at my babies,” he all but cooed and gestured at the two of you. “You’re so cute together.”

There was a pause and you all started to laugh. For the first time in weeks you truly were fine.

Chapter Text

“Hey, punk,” Bucky said as he stepped out of the house to find Steve sitting by himself.

The blond gave his friend a cockeyed grin as he took the cold beer he’s offered and slid over so Buck had somewhere to sit. They clinked the top of their bottles together. “Cheers,” Steve said then took a long swallow.

Bucky followed suit. The two of them sat quietly, just enjoying each other’s company. “I used to think she was nuts you know.”

Steve glanced at his friend and Buck gestured to the area around them. “Stark offered to let her live with the rest of us. She wouldn’t have had any bills to worry about, but she insisted on living here. I didn’t understand at first, but I’m glad she kept the house now,” Bucky said.

Cap nodded. Y/N was the newest member of the team, but everyone had instantly taken to her. The feeling was mutual and she had opened her little house in the middle of the city to all of them. It was somewhere for them to take a break from tower life while staying close to home. Tonight, they were all gathered there for a team dinner. None of them would dare say no to Y/N’s cooking if they could help it.

The curvy redhead from across the street waved at them with a smile as she grabbed her mail on the way to her car. Steve nudged Bucky’s side with an elbow. “Maybe you just like the scenery,” he suggested. That wasn’t the only attractive neighbor around.

Buck huffed a laugh. “I’m pretty sure that smile wasn’t for me, Rogers.”

“You’ve always been a ladies’ man, Barnes. That hasn’t changed much. Trust me. I’ve seen the looks you get. I used to be so jealous of you when we were kids. They never looked twice at my scrawny ass.”

He shook his head and sipped his beer. “Well, it’s not scrawny anymore. Besides, there was no reason for you to be jealous. You’re the only one between us that’s ever been in love.”

Steve couldn’t miss the wistful, uncertain note in his best friend’s voice. He turned his head and ran his eyes over Buck, taking in his red cheeks and the way he picked at the label on his bottle. Just as Steve was getting ready to say something, the front door opened and Y/N poked her head out.

“Hello, boys,” she said with a grin.

Bucky straightened in his seat and smiled. “Hey, doll.”

Steve’s lips twitched. He turned to greet his other teammate before Buck caught his amusement and punched him. “Hey, Y/N. What’s up?”

“Dinner will be ready in fifteen. Can I get you anything?”

“No. I think we’re good,” Steve said.

“Do you need any help?” Bucky asked.

She shook her head. “I got it. Just relax.” With that she disappeared as quick as she’d came.

Steve shifted his attention back to Buck to find his friend picking at the label on the bottle again. Only now a soft smile graced his features.

“You sure I’m the only one that’s been in love, Buck?” Steve asked quietly. It hadn’t escaped his notice the way his best friend had slowly fallen for Y/N. The way his gaze would find her in any room and follow her until she was out of sight. The way he would go out of his way to make certain there was nothing she needed, nothing he could get for her. Or the way he always kept her in sight on missions, quick to run to her assistance if needed.

Bucky’s face flamed red again as he ducked his head. His shoulders lifted as he tried to hide behind them. After a moment, Bucky glanced over and swallowed past the lump in his throat. Beyond the want in his eyes, Steve saw the true, genuine fear. “It seems like it hurts,” he said in a low tone.

Of course, he would think that. The two of them had just gone to visit Peggy’s grave the day before, to give Bucky the chance to pay his respects to Steve’s girl. Steve’s gaze became unfocused as memories ran through his mind.

***

Bucky watched Steve, waited for him to say something. But he didn’t rush him. Let him have his memories. There was part of Bucky, the cowardly part, that wanted Steve to tell him that love was horrible. That Bucky shouldn’t bother and that he was better on his own. That he should spare himself from the risk.

But the rest of him…Well, that was the part that watched Y/N dance in the sunlight with joy. The part that struggled to breathe when she turned a sweet smile in his direction. The part that longed to hear her laugh, that needed him to be the one to make her happy.

It was also the part that ached when she cried. That longed to hold her through the night when nightmares plagued them both. The part that needed to protect her and keep her safe.

And the thing was, as much as all of that terrified him, he wasn’t certain he could walk away anymore. Even if his best friend looked at him and begged him not to fall in love. To run while he had the chance, he didn’t think it was in him anymore. Y/N had intertwined herself into every aspect of his life and extricating her just might kill him.

It was several minutes later when a somber Steve turned back to look at Bucky. It was another minute before the smile covered his face. It was a sad smile, but Buck could see the hope there as well. “It’s more painful than you could ever imagine, Buck. But it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.”

Bucky’s heart lightened a little with Steve’s words and he returned his smile.

“You boys ready to eat?” Y/N asked as she stepped onto the porch and held the door open for them.

“Absolutely,” Steve answered and moved past her into the house. Buck trailed behind and stopped in front of Y/N. He looked at her for a moment, letting his gaze run over her features.

“What?” she asked.

He shook his head and pushed his hair back from his face before leaning forward and pressing a soft kiss to her cheek. When he pulled back, he grinned at her shocked expression. “Can I take you for ice cream later, Y/N?” he asked.

Her smile lit her entire face when she grinned in response. “I would love that, Buck.”

As he held the door so she could walk in before him, he couldn’t help but think Steve was right. It was going to be so worth it.

Chapter Text

The day you met James Buchanan Barnes it was raining. A steady non-ending deluge that had rivers running down the streets and people rushing to get inside. He stepped through the door of your tattoo shop, Ink Me Up. Once he was completely in and out of the rain, he threw back the hood on his jacket with one hand. Long dark hair hung in his face and you had the impression that was its natural state even without the rain. He seemed comfortable hiding behind it.

He peered at you through the wet strands giving you the impression of a curious gaze. You could see little beyond that. “Hi. I, uh, have an appointment?” His voice was low and rough, sounding almost unused. His right hand cradled his left arm and he kept that side of his body turned from you. The action was natural enough that you could tell he hadn’t done it with intention, it seemed to be routine for him at this point.

You tilted your head and gave him a small smile. “James Barnes?”

He used his right hand to tuck some hair behind his ear. “It’s Bucky, actually.”

You stood from your stool behind the counter and held out a hand. “Y/N Y/L/N. I’m the one you spoke to on the phone.”

He nodded and pushed the rest of his hair from his face as he gave you a weak smile. You clenched your teeth together to keep from physically gasping. The man was gorgeous. Sure, he was troubled. It was clear in his gaze and the dark circles under his eyes. He needed a haircut and a shave wouldn’t hurt, but he had that dark, rough look you were always drawn to. “You come highly recommended,” he said, pulling your attention back where it needed to be.

You obviously needed a date if you were drooling over the cliental. That wasn’t your usual MO. “Tony Stark, right?”

Once again, he nodded. While there were several talented artists that worked in your shop or visited on occasion, your personal specialty was covering scars.  After the billionaire Stark had been hurt in some sort of explosion, he had sought you out.  The rather nasty looking scar on his chest was now covered with a bio-mechanical tattoo. The bright blue you used in the center made it almost appear to glow. You were extremely happy with how that piece turned out.

And apparently so was he since he was sending his friends to you. You motioned to Bucky to follow you to the back and pulled a chair up next to your drawing table. You’d already come up with a quick sketch based on the brief conversation you’d had on the phone. It would need to be fleshed out for sure but you wanted to give him an idea of what you were thinking.

“Can I see?” you asked gesturing at his left arm.

He slid off his jacket and revealed the extensive scarring of his left arm. A car accident, he’d told you. Severe burns and skin grafts had left the tissue there mottled and rough. “How much feeling do you have in that arm? Are the nerves completely gone or…” you trailed off knowing he got the gist of what you were trying to ask.

“I don’t feel much. It’s almost like it’s not there sometimes.” His tone was near emotionless, but that wasn’t unusual. He probably was asked similar things all the time from friends and strangers alike.

“Like we talked about on the phone, scar tissue can hurt more or less. It’s hard to tell until we get started. The ink will most likely absorb unevenly and it will take several sessions to make sure we get it to look the best it can. Are you prepared to stick with me through all that?”

He nodded once, his hair falling back in his face with the movement. “Yes, ma’am.”

You grinned at him, happy to hear it. “Good. I was thinking something like this. Tell me what you think.” You slid a piece of paper in his direction and watched his eyes light up.

He glanced up at you with a real, genuine smile, the first you’d seen since he entered your shop. “It’s perfect. I love it.” He held the drawing of his future tattoo carefully, staring at it in awe. When you were finished his scars would be covered with black and gray ink and his arm would look as if it was made up of metal plates instead of marred skin. His eyes darted back over to meet your gaze. “Can you really do this?”

“I need to do a more accurate drawing taking your proportions into account, but I will make it look the best I can. I think you’ll be surprised when we’re finished.”

He grinned again. “Well, let’s get to it, doll. I’m ready to stick it out ‘til the end of the line.”

Chapter Text

Your eyes followed Steve as he strolled into the kitchen. When he glanced over and caught your gaze, he sent you a small smile which you returned. Heat flooded your face and you took a deep breath to calm your nerves. You saw the man every day, eventually this crush had to go away. Right?

“I made more of that fruit salad if you want some,” you told him when you noticed him studying the contents of the pantry.

His face lit up. “Thanks, Y/N/N.”

When Steve opened the fridge, you felt a nudge in your side. You glared at Sam who was grinning beside you. “Just ask him out already.”

Your eyes widened as you blinked at him. “What?” The word came out in a strangled gasp and you cleared your throat before repeating it.

“You like him. He likes you. Just ask him out.”

You shot a worried glance in Steve’s direction to make sure he hadn’t overheard. “Shh,” you chastised Sam. “He does not like me. And I can’t just ask him out. It would be too awkward.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Steve doesn’t like you at all,” he said in a flat voice. “And what’s awkward about it? This is the 21st century. Embrace your power. Women ask men out all the time now.”

“Thanks for the women’s power speech, Sammy, but I don’t just work with Steve. I train with him. I live with him. What is not awkward about that?”

“I’ll give you a hundred.” The statement had you and Sam both turning in surprise to where Bucky sat in a chair nearby. He was digging through a bag of sour gummies, picking out his favorite flavors. After a moment, probably when he realized there’d been no response, he looked at the two of you. “What?”

“Did you just say you’d give her a hundred dollars to ask Cap out on a date?” Sam hissed, obviously as surprised by the offer as you were.

A glance toward the kitchen showed Steve deep in conversation with Tony while he ate. You looked back to Buck. “Are you serious?”

Buck nodded and gave a little shrug. “Sure. Why not?”

You stared at him. “Damn it, Barnes,” you said with a sigh.

“What did I do?” he asked with a frown.

“I’d ask out Rumlow for a hundred bucks.” Barnes may have an overabundance of cash, but you were still paying off student loans. Tony had offered to pay them for you, but it was a pride thing.

“Seriously, Y/N?” Sam said, sounding completely disgusted.

You shrugged. You didn’t have to defend yourself. Money was money. Besides, this way you could ask Steve out with no repercussions. If he said no, you’d just tell him you only did it for the money.

Making your way across the room, you slid your hands into the back pockets of your jeans, hoping the casual position would help conceal some of your nervousness. Tony stopped talking and smiled when you reached them which prompted Steve to turn and face you.

“Hey, Y/N. What’s up?”

You shuffled your feet and swallowed past the lump in your throat. “I was wondering if you maybe wanted to come to my room tonight around 7 and we could watch a couple of those movies I told you about on Netflix?”

He smiled. “Sure. Wouldn’t it be easier to watch them in the theater room though? Then everyone could come.”

Your face heated again and nervous nausea rolled in your belly. You took a deep breath. You could do this. “Um…I was actually wanting it to be just us? You know. Like a date?” The unsure tone to your words had you holding back a grimace. Why were you so bad at this?

Steve’s smile fell and his eyes went wide. A tinge of red colored his cheeks as he just continued to gape at you.

“I mean if you don’t want to, that’s fine. No hard feelings,” you rushed to add when it seemed like he wasn’t going to respond.

He jerked forward on his seat a little as Tony nudged him in the side. “No,” Steve said hastily. “I mean…” He trailed off and looked down. His shoulders moved as he took a deep breath. When he looked back up, his smile had returned and he had a new light in his eyes. “That sounds fantastic, actually.”

You found yourself mirroring his grin before you could stop yourself. “Really?”

***

A knock sounded at your door at precisely seven o’clock. You’d spent your afternoon making a nest of pillows on your bed so you two could snuggle into them and watch the movies together. Popcorn was popped and a selection of candy you stole from Bucky and Clint littered the top of your desk. One last look around your room told you everything was as good as it was going to get.

You opened the door with a wide smile, enjoying the flutter of butterflies in your stomach. Steve stood in the hall, shifting on his feet. His gaze ran over you and he smiled as he took in your loungers and off the shoulder sweatshirt. “Hey.”

“Hello yourself, Captain,” you said as you stepped aside to let him in. His cheeks flushed again and you couldn’t help a low chuckle.

You grabbed the remote and took your position on the bed before patting the spot beside you. “Get comfy, Steve. Shaun of the Dead awaits you.”

He looked uncertain, but he settled into his spot. You frowned when you noticed he’d left quite a bit of space between the two of you but thought maybe he’d relax after a while. You two always cuddled when watching movies. It was one of the reasons you suggested it. Before long, you found yourself lost in the movie. Your hand found Steve’s thigh as you both laughed at something on the screen.

Steve cleared his throat and shifted away from you. You jerked your hand away. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine,” he said. His continued fidgeting told you otherwise. Only a few minutes had passed when he said, “I’m going to sit on the floor if that’s okay.”

Your heart sank a little but you simply nodded. Your eyes followed Steve as he grabbed a pillow from your bed and sat on the floor in front of the TV. He shoved the pillow behind his back and shifted until he was comfortable. As he got distracted by the film once more, you found yourself watching him more than the screen. This so wasn’t how you had imagined this night going.

You bit your lip as you contemplated what to do. Finally, you grabbed one of the pillows and laid on your belly across the bed using it to prop you up. Now at least your head was close him. He glanced over and smiled when he noticed you had moved but his attention quickly returned to the movie.

This situation wasn’t any better. “Popcorn?” you asked.

“Sure.”

You rolled off the bed to grab the bowl. When you turned back toward Steve, you looked between him and the bed. Making a decision, you sat on the floor beside him, pulling your pillow down to rest against. You placed the bowl between you and breathed out a soft sigh of relief when he didn’t move away from you.

Everything seemed to be going well until your fingers brushed against his when you both reached for popcorn at the same time. Steve yanked his hand from the bowl and slid a good foot in the other direction. Tears pricked your eyes as you paused the movie.

“Did I do something wrong?” you asked, your voice sounding small and unlike you.

Steve hopped to his feet. He raked a hand through his hair while his other hand perched on his hip. “I didn’t understand what you were asking when you invited me tonight. I can’t do this.”

Oh, that hurt. A physical ache deep in your chest. You didn’t look at him as you spoke, afraid he’d read it in your eyes. “I thought it was pretty clear it was date. I told you that you didn’t have to accept. No hard feelings. Why didn’t you just tell me that you don’t like me like that?” Your voice broke in the middle of the last sentence and a tear rolled down your face.

Your hope that Steve didn’t notice was lost when he dropped to his knees beside you and cradled your face in his hand. “Hey. Don’t do that, baby. Don’t cry. You’re killing me here.”

You shook your head and turned away from him. “Don’t call me that.” Your voice was hard though more hot tears trailed down your cheeks.

“But, Y/N—” he started but you cut him off.

“No, Steve.” Your humiliation and hurt was quickly morphing to anger. “I was fine. I mean, yeah, maybe I spent too much time thinking about you or watching you, but I might have gotten over it. Someday. But then you gave me hope. Now it’s so much worse. Why would you do that? Did you feel sorry for me?”

Steve studied you with wild eyed panic. Suddenly, he grasped your face in both hands and crashed his lips into yours. It only took a moment before you returned the gesture. Just before you became completely lost in Steve Rogers, you remembered he still had some questions to answer.

You placed your palms against his chest and pushed him back. “I’m really confused.” You didn’t know what else to say.

He sat on his heels and looked down at where his hands rested on his knees. “I like you, Y/N. I mean, I really like you. I have for a long time.”

You weren’t certain whether to believe him or not. It seemed impossible given how he’d been acting. “Why didn’t you say something?”

Glancing up, he gave you a crooked smile. “I’m the boss. I didn’t want you to feel pressured to be with me.”

Your heart melted a little at that. He was such a good man. “Let’s say I buy that. What is going on here? We cuddle all the time when we watch movies and now you’re acting like I’m diseased or something.”

He looked down and mumbled something you couldn’t understand.

“What was that?”

He heaved a full body sigh. “Tony explained what it really means when someone invites you over to watch Netflix. Netflix and chill, I think he called it?”

Oh. My. God. You were going to kill Tony Stark.

“I care about you too much to make this just about sex, Y/N.”

Painfully and slowly.

“Steve,” you managed to force through your clenched teeth. His head came up. If his widening eyes were any indication, you were doing a poor job of hiding your fury. “Tony is an idiot.”

“You mean…” he trailed off.

You nodded your head. “Candy, popcorn, movies and cuddles were all I had on the agenda.”

His face flared red again and you couldn’t help your smile at the sight. “I’m sorry, Y/N.”

“Let’s start over, huh?” You gestured to the nest you’d made on the bed.

The two of you settled onto the bed. You pressed against Steve’s side and laid your head on his chest. His arm wrapped around you to hold you close. As you continued the film, he pressed the occasional kiss to your head.

“Hey, Steve?” you said after a while.

“Yeah?”

“Maybe you should start checking with me before you believe anything Tony tells you,” you suggested.

His chest moved beneath you as he chuckled. “You can count on it, baby.”

Chapter Text

The only light in your living room came from the television. At this point it was just noise to cover the ticking of the clock that hung on the wall. Occasionally your eyes would dart to it, taking note of the time before going back to aimlessly staring at the screen while you twisted the ring on your finger.

Sam was on a mission with Cap and Bucky. “Easy, in and out. I’ll be back before you know it,” he’d said to you this morning as he kissed you goodbye.

“Come back to me,” you called after him as you always did.

He’d given you a smile and hurried out the door. You and Sam Wilson had been together long before he was The Falcon. His new “job” had been an adjustment for both of you. You were pretty certain you had it all down at this point. Except for the worrying.

You tried not to let Sam see it. He always seemed to take offense to it. It wasn’t that you didn’t think Sam could take care of his self. And you knew whoever he was with would have his back. No, it was the things he had no control over that bothered you, that kept you up all night when he was gone.

A sound had you turning to the front door, and jumping to your feet when it opened to show your favorite super hero. You hurried to him and barely waited for him to close the door before throwing your arms around his neck. He chuckled as he returned the embrace and nuzzled into the crook of your neck. “Hey, Baby. Miss me?”

You leaned back so you could see his face while you talked and his hands moved to settle on your hips. “Always. How was it?”

“It was fine. Easy, like I said.”

As his words washed over you, you frowned. It wasn’t what he said, rather the aroma of alcohol that came with them. You furrowed your brow, not quite able to process what that meant. “Have you been drinking?”

He gave a little shrug. “Yeah. Me and the guys had a couple to celebrate our success.”

You pushed against his chest, forcing him to release you. “I’ve been waiting for my phone to ring to tell me you were back safe, worried the whole time, and you were drinking with Cap and Bucky? Are you kidding me?”

He actually had the nerve to roll his eyes at you and you clenched your teeth together in irritation. “I told you it was an easy job, Y/N. There was no reason for you to be worried.”

You threw up your hands. “That’s not the point, Sam. You can’t control everything. Things happen every day that we have no control over. Hell, the jet could blow up on the way to your mission. My worrying has nothing to do with your abilities.” By the time you finished, you were full on yelling. The two of you’d had this conversation so many times and he never listened to you. He just didn’t get it.

“What do you want me to do, Y/N? Quit the team? Would that make you happy?” Sam responded at the same volume.

“Damn it. You know that’s not what I want. Quit trying to make me the bad guy here. A phone call would be nice. Just one call to let me know that you’re alive and I can quit sitting here waiting to see if you come back to me.” Your voice broke toward the end and you swallowed past the lump in your throat.

 “Well, according to you I could die on the way home so what difference does it make?”

Closing your eyes, you took a deep breath. God, he could be such an ass when he wanted to be. “I can’t do this right now, Sam. I’ll be back later.” You grabbed your purse and keys from the counter, slamming the door behind you on your way out.

***

An hour passed before Sam tried to call you. Hearing his ringtone coming from the kitchen, he frowned as he made his way into the other room. Your cellphone laid on the counter where you’d left it to charge. He didn’t like you being out without it. Especially at night. Anything could happen and he liked knowing you could at least call for help if you needed it.

Realizing his train of thought, he ran a hand down his face. He was an idiot. He was literally doing what he’d just gotten pissed at you for. He didn’t know why he always got so angry when you mentioned how much you worried when he was gone. It wasn’t a statement on his ability, he knew that, but he always seemed to take it that way.

Guilt was part of it, he supposed. It gnawed at him that you worried like you did. And yet he still did stupid shit like not calling to let you know he was okay. And the only reason he had for it was that Cap and Bucky didn’t have to check in with anyone so why should he. Yep, he was an idiot. With a fragile ego it seemed. He hoped you came back soon so he could admit to his stupidity and apologize profusely.

His stomach growled reminding him how long it had been since he ate. A glance in the fridge revealed the dinner you’d put away for him. He heated it up and sat at the table to eat. He’d just finished the last bite when a knock came at the door.

He chuckled as he jogged over to it. “Can’t find your house key again?” For some reason you insisted on keeping your keys separate and you’d lost the key to the house in the depths of your purse more than once. It was easier to just knock if you knew he was home.

Sam swung open the door with a smile on his face, glad you were home so he could beg forgiveness for being an insensitive asshole. When he realized it wasn’t you on the porch, the smile faded. As he took in the man’s uniform and somber expression, the heavy weight of fear settled in his belly. He swallowed. “Can I help you, officer?”

“Yes. Does a Y/N Y/L/N reside here?” he asked, his voice remained polite, giving nothing away.

The world around Sam slowed to a crawl. The clock in the living room ticked ominously marking the passage of each eternal second. “Yes, she’s my fiancée. Why?”

The officer’s gaze moved away from Sam’s, not far, but enough they weren’t looking each other in the eye anymore. “I’m terribly sorry to inform you…”

There were words after that. So many words, with only a few sinking through the fog he suddenly found himself in. Accident. Red light. Dead on impact.

His entire body trembled as he fought back the scream that rose in the back of his throat as his entire world crumbled around him. This wasn’t happening. He nodded when the officer finished speaking though he’d retained almost none of it. There was only one part that mattered anyway.

As he turned away from the door, he pulled his phone from his pocket. He didn’t even pull the number up, instead dialing it from memory.

It rang five times before voicemail picked up. Hey, it’s Y/N. I can’t get to my phone right now. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.

He was vaguely aware of the tears racing down his cheeks as he struggled with what to say. What message could possibly say everything that needed to be said? His eyes settled on a picture of the two of you holding onto each other as you laughed. Cap had taken it and you’d fallen in love with it instantly, blowing it up to hang on the wall. As his eyes studied that image of your face, the life and joy in your eyes, he let out a sob he could no longer hold back.

“Come back to me,” he managed to choke out before hanging up his phone. It was the perfect message you were never going to get.

Chapter Text

You were the first to realize something was wrong with Tony. It made sense you guessed, you were his girlfriend after all. You along with the rest of the Avengers were deep in battle at a Hydra weapons facility. The number of soldiers at the facility had been grossly underestimated by SHIELD intelligence. It wasn’t anything you couldn’t handle but it did make for a more intense fight than you’d anticipated.

“I’ve got an opening here,” you said into the earpiece as you discovered you had a straight shot into the facility from your location. You’d already noticed that Tony was quieter than usual but when he had no response to you being the one to set the explosive charges in the building, you knew something was wrong.

“Wait, I’m almost clear. We’ll go in together,” Nat responded.

You started to make your way to the building. “Anyone got eyes on Tony?” you asked, unable to dismiss the unease that had settled in your spine.

“Affirmative,” Cap responded. “He’s…what the hell is he doing?”

“Clarify, Cap,” you demanded.

“He’s hovering. I mean, he’s still shooting but he’s not moving. He’s making himself an easy target.”

“Shit. Nat?” you asked.

“I’ll take care of the building,” she answered.

“I’ll back her up,” Clint added.

You pressed on the pendant Tony gave you which called your own suit to you. You tried not to use it unless you had to. Heights weren’t exactly your favorite thing. As soon as you were encased in metal, you blasted into the air. “What’s going on, J?” you asked.

“All readings indicate that Mr. Stark is having a panic attack,” the AI answered.

Your eyes found him as soon as you were above the tree line. He spun in a circle as he continued to shoot blasts of energy from his palms. “Get him out of there, Jarvis.”

“I am unable to comply, Ms. Y/L/N. Mr. Stark overrode my safety protocols. I have been ordered to remain in the battle.” You could almost hear the annoyance in the AI’s tone.

That stubborn, stupid man. If you both survived this, you were going to kill him.

“How are we looking, Y/N/N?” Cap asked.

“Working on it, Cap,” you assured him. “Jarvis, initiate override Y/N knows best.”

“That protocol is for life threatening—” The AI was cut off as a shot from the ground hit Tony’s shoulder and sent him spinning. “Very well. The Ironman suit is now under your control, Ms. Y/L/N.”

“Damn right it is,” you muttered. “Turn off his blasters before he hits a friendly and get us both to a safe locale.” You no sooner got the words out of your mouth than you were jerked to the side as Jarvis took control of your suit to follow after Tony’s. You landed in a clearing close enough to the others that you could still hear gunfire, but far enough away that you should be safe for the moment.

“Get his helmet open, J,” you ordered even as you opened your own and strode the short distance to him.

Tony’s wide eyes darted around the clearing, though you knew he wasn’t seeing anything around him. And if his breathing got any more erratic, he was going to pass out. You got rid of your suit, sending it back to the jet. “Tony,” you said his name softly, but he still jerked.

You placed your hands inside the helmet and cupped his face, knowing your touch would help ground him. “Tony, baby, it’s me. Breathe.”

That frantic gaze focused on you. You took overexaggerated, slow breaths and he mimicked you as you knew he would. You’d been through enough of these with him, his body had started to respond to yours out of instinct.

“Four things you feel, Tony.”

He licked his lips. “The suit, my clothes, the sweat on my forehead, you.”

“Four things you see.”

“Trees, grass, sky, you.”

“Give me a status, Y/N.” Steve ordered. “We could use you both back in the fight.”

Tony gave you a small nod, though you knew the fight was the last place he needed to be right now. “Suit malfunction, Captain. Almost fixed.”

“Understood.”

A half-hearted smirk covered your boyfriend’s face. “Suit malfunction?”

You shook your head. “You’re not done grounding yet, Stark. Four things you love.”

“You, science, blowing things up, you.”

“You said me twice,” you informed him.

“Did I?” His grin widened though you could still see the anxiety on his face.

You pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “All right, Iron Man. Get me back in there so I can kick some ass. You stay on the perimeter.”

“Ten-four, gorgeous.”

He grasped the handle on the back of the harness you wore specifically for this purpose. He dropped you next to Steve and Bucky while he flew off to another area. You took out three Hydra soldiers before glancing over. “Hello, Cap.”

He gave you a nod.  “Nice to have you back.”

***

Once Nat and Clint got the explosives in place, the battle ended quickly. Other than some scrapes and bruises, everyone was in pretty good shape. You sat by yourself toward the back, waiting for Tony to join you. It didn’t take him long to take the seat beside you with a sigh. Exhaustion hung heavy on him and you immediately took his hand in yours before giving it a squeeze.

“How you holding up, Iron Man?”

“Thanks for taking care of me.” His voice was low and you doubted anyone else would be able to hear him over the hum of the engines.

You pressed yourself into his side. “I’ll always take care of you, Tony. You know that.”

“You shouldn’t have to. I really fucked up today.”

“Hey.” You laid your hand on the side of his face and turned him to face you. “That wasn’t your fault. Shit happens. People have good days and bad days. Today was just one of your bad days. You’re okay and we’ll work through it together.”

Tony gave a small smile and kissed your forehead. He pulled you to him and tucked you against his side so you couldn’t see him when he spoke. “I spent a good portion of my life throwing my money and power around trying to make my bad days into good ones. I let things bother me that I shouldn’t have. And I lived with this constant fear that I was going to be the screw up my father always thought I was.”

You started to pull away to argue with him and he held you in place. “Just let me finish,” he said. “When I met you, I thought there was no way you’d ever want a messed up old man like me. But you surprised me. And you’ve been surprising me ever since. But I realized something today out there in that clearing. I’m not searching for good days anymore. I already found them.”

You looked up at him. “What are you trying to say, Tony?”

You are my good days, Y/N. I don’t worry about the things I used to because you’re always right there beside me. Take pity on me and stay there forever. Please?”

It took you a moment to realize that he was holding a ring in the palm of his free hand. You glanced between it and him several times as your heart pounded in your chest. “Tony? Are you serious?”

“For once in my life, yeah.” He flashed that smirk that always made you weak in the knees but you could see the fear behind it. The worry you wouldn’t want to marry him.

“Sometimes you’re really stupid, Stark,” you said before hooking your hand around his neck and pulling him to your lips for a kiss. When the two of you finally pulled away from each other you grinned at him. “Of course, I’ll marry you.”

He slid the ring on your finger and lifted your hand to kiss the back of it.

“How long have you had that ring anyway?” you asked as you admired it.

He scratched the back of his head. “Second date.”

You shook your head in disbelief though part of you wasn’t really surprised. “I love you, Tony Stark.”

“And I love you soon to be, Y/N Stark.”

Chapter Text

Your cloak kept the cool air from the prison level of the palace from chilling your skin. And the hood allowed you to ignore the curious eyes of the inhabitants. You weren’t supposed to be down here. That had been made clear to you by nearly everyone in the palace. And you had assured everyone that you understood. But you needed to see him. You didn’t believe he was alive. You couldn’t. Because that would mean that he’d left you. That he’d made the choice to forget you.

You recognized him the moment your gaze fell on that head of dark hair. His hair obscured your view of his face but you’d know him anywhere. You sucked in a mouth full of air as your chest grew tight. You stepped back so his prison was no longer visible, so there was no risk he would see you. Tears flooded your eyes and spilled over to trace salty lines down your face. You hadn’t thought this would hurt so bad. That it would be worse than the endless grieving.

“I know you’re there.”

His voice tore through you. Shredded your heart. Even a week ago you would have given anything to hear that voice again. Just for a moment. And now, part of you hoped to never hear it again.

“You might as well come out and gape at me in the open. It’s not as if I’m unused to it.”

You swallowed past the lump in your throat and wiped your tears away with your cloak before stepping out to greet your dark prince. “Hello, Loki,” you greeted as you pushed back your hood so he might see you clearly.

He shot to his feet. “Y/N?”

His eyes were wide as he took you in and you ignored the moisture that pooled there. You had no sympathy for him. He didn’t deserve it.

“Come closer. Please.” His voice cracked.

You halved the distance to his cell, unwilling to get closer. “You’re alive.”

He cleared his throat and put his hands behind his back. “I am.”

“And you went to Midgard instead of coming home?”

He tilted his head as he pressed his lips together. “You must understand—”

You cut him off. “You went to Midgard instead of coming home to me.” It wasn’t a question this time and you didn’t attempt to stop the tears that began to fall again.

“I wanted a kingdom. For us. Somewhere we could rule together,” he insisted. He’d always hated to see you cry.

“I don’t want a kingdom, Loki. I never did. I only wanted you.” You swiped the tears away and did your best to memorize him in this moment as you didn’t intend to see him ever again.

“And you have me, Y/N. I’m here.”

You shook your head and clenched your teeth together, trying to hold yourself together. “No. I have nothing.”

He fell to his knees then, maybe realizing you meant the words. That this was goodbye. “Please.” Tears ran freely down his face as his lips trembled. “Forgive me, my love. We could start again. Just give me the chance.”

“I can’t, Loki. I would not survive you a second time.

You pulled your hood up and turned your back on the man you still loved with your whole heart. As each step carried you further away, you ignored him calling your name, pleading for you to come back to him. It was only fair he received the same answer he’d given you when you thought him dead. Silence.

Chapter Text

You never saw it coming.

That was so cliché. How many times had you heard someone say that in your life? But it was true. You didn’t see a thing.

As the last opponent fell, you turned to Thor with a happy smile. His gaze immediately found you as was his habit after any battle. His joyful expression mirrored your own for a brief moment. By the time you registered his smile slipping away and the panic in his eyes it was too late.  

White hot pain seared through you. You gasped and fell to your knees, the impact sending another wave of agony ripping across your middle. Thor yelled your name, the agony in it making your heart break. You ached to respond, to call for him in return but the pain… Your hands clutched your belly, hot sticky blood covering them in moments.

An angry rain began to fall nipping at your skin as you collapsed to the ground. Your god yelled and screamed in his fury. Lightning crashed from the sky striking the man that would dare take you from him. Thor lifted you from the ground and cradled you in his lap. Tears mixed with the rain to run down his face.

Trembling fingers wiped the blood from your lips. “You’ll be all right, my love. Just stay with me, Y/N.”

You lifted a hand and laid it on his. “It’s okay, Thor. You’ll be fine without me. I promise.”

“No, no, no. Please.” His hands ran over you looking for a way to hold you, to fix you. He was full on sobbing now and you wished there was something you could do to make this easier for him.

“Kiss me.”

Trembling lips brushed against yours. “I love you.”

You smiled against his mouth. “And I love you, my prince.” Your eyelids fluttered closed as you enjoyed the feel of one last kiss from your god.

Chapter Text

The Avengers. The name alone was enough to have most people cowering in fear these days. After the chaos that Ultron had caused, the world had turned on the heroes. They blamed them for deaths and property damage and anything else they could. Even Tony’s money couldn’t smooth things over this time.

Rather than licking their wounds and trying to smooth things over, the Avengers struck back. Their thirst for power corrupted them. They went on the attack, yielding weapons and dark power no one had ever seen before. At least that’s how the press reported it. In between the news stories of the team’s current whereabouts and what areas had already fallen.

You had a front row seat for the fall of the Avengers. And it was so much worse than people thought. The Avengers weren’t going to come back. They weren’t going to one day come to their senses and fix what they’d done. The Avengers no longer existed, not as they once did. And no one knew that better than you.

You slid into an alley and crouched beside a dumpster that reeked of rotten vegetables and ammonia. You struggled to slow your breathing, to keep from being overheard by the men chasing you. You’d been on the run for months, nearly a year. You hadn’t been able to stay anywhere for more than a couple of days at a time.

Tony Stark was looking for you and what Mr. Stark wanted, Mr. Stark got. Your pictured was plastered everywhere in the dark zones where the Avengers ruled. At first, you’d attempted to hide in free areas, but he always seemed to know where you were, where you’d ran off to. That would inevitably be the next place to fall. The third time it happened you were certain it could no longer be a coincidence. After that, you stayed in the dark zones. You weren’t going to add to the suffering if you could help it.

This group had spotted you scrounging for food in the back alley of a grocery store and given chase. You weren’t without your own talents and managed to evade them. Now the trick was outlasting them. Experience had taught you to just keep moving and they would eventually give up.

After several minutes had passed with no further sound from your pursuers, you peered around the dumpster. Nothing. You pulled your hood up, shoved your hands in your pockets and hurried from the alley. You made it only a couple of blocks before someone stepped in front of you. “Excuse me,” you said.

When they didn’t move or respond in anyway, you looked up. And right into the familiar face of Bucky Barnes. You swallowed past the lump in your throat. “Hey, Buck. Long time no see.” Your heart pounded in your chest.

He made a sound of agreement. “Someone will be very happy to see you.”

Before you could respond, Bucky’s metal arm laid a hard punch to your jaw and knocked you out cold.

***

When you woke you were in a chair with your hands tied behind your back. You tried to move you hands to see how tight the restraints were but it didn’t do much good. Your hands were already tingling. You opened your mouth slowly and cringed at the pain that flared through it from where Buck punched you. Bastard.

“Well, well, well. Look what the super soldier dragged in.”

Tony’s familiar voice flowed through you. God how you wished it was your Tony. You’d give anything for it to be him again, but you weren’t certain that was even possible anymore.

As he strolled around so he stood in front of you, you had to admit he looked good. Why wouldn’t he? Since he was a complete and utter asshole now, there was no worry, no fear, no guilt. You were fairly certain this creature in front of you wasn’t even capable of remorse or empathy. “What do you want?”

He gripped your chin hard enough to bruise. “You, Y/N. You belong to me.”

“I belonged to Tony. You’re not him so kindly fuck off.” You spat at his feet.

His dark eyes studied you. Finally, he tilted his head. “If I am not Tony, who am I?”

“You’re a thing. A virus. A fungus. Alien.” The team had taken a mission that took them to space. When they’d all come down with flu-like symptoms, Banner had looked for a cause. They were already gone by the time his cultures and research yielded any results. Alien parasites was the closest comparison. They infected and took over the host. SHIELD was looking for a cure. Not that it was going to do you any good here.

His eyes narrowed. “You do know things you shouldn’t. This host says you’re smart. Brilliant even. Do you think you could take us down knowing what you do, Y/N?”

“Not my area of expertise I’m afraid.” You hid the disgust and sorrow that swamped you when he mentioned Tony’s thoughts. Was Tony aware of everything this creature was doing as him?

“Tell me something. Before we came along did you honestly think this tortured soul and you would be happy together forever?”

The corner of your mouth kicked up in a smile. “Something like that.”

A muscle in his jaw ticked as he wrapped a hand around your throat and squeezed. You instantly struggled to breath and everything felt tight. He leaned closer until his face was only inches from yours. “There is no happy ending here, Y/N.”

He closed the distance between you then and pressed his lips to yours. Your heart ached but this wasn’t your Tony. When his tongue slid across your lip requesting entrance, you kept your mouth tightly shut.

Drawing your bottom lip between his teeth, he bit down hard enough that you bled. You gasped at the sudden pain, and he took advantage. You expected his tongue to invade your mouth in an unwelcome intimacy. Instead something thick and putrid flowed from him to you. You choked on it as it slid down your throat and spread through your chest. Your head swam and suddenly you felt very small, insignificant. Almost as if you didn’t exist at all.

Chapter Text

“I don’t know, Gamora.” You propped your feet up on the table and leaned back in your chair as you studied your old friend.

“Come on, Y/N. It will be fun. Just like old times,” she practically begged. She never begged.

You arched a brow. “Old times? You mean when we ran around causing trouble while evading Thanos’s minions. Those old times?”

“Exactly.” Her smile did nothing to ease your worries.

You dropped your feet to the floor and leaned toward her. “What’s really going on here, Gamora? Be honest with me and I might just say yes.”

She pursed her lips as she considered her words. Finally, she nodded. “Have you heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy?”

“Pretty sure everyone has at this point. Ronan was bad news. Don’t know anyone that’s sad to see him go.”

“That was me. Us. I’m part of the Guardians.”

You ran your eyes over her, searching for any deception. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

She nodded once. “Look, we get along well enough but honestly I’m going a little insane. Drax is loud and takes everything literally. And I mean everything. Rocket is an angry ball of fur. Groot is a twig. And Peter is…difficult.”

“Difficult how?”

She gave a little shrug. “He’s flirtatious. With everyone. He usually does really stupid things but for really good reasons. He owns the ship so I suppose he is our leader. Don’t tell him I said that.”

You blinked at her. “And for some reason you think I should join this ragtag group?”

 She grasped your arm. “Yes! Please save my sanity, Y/N.”

You chuckled. “I guess I do owe you.”

***

The truth was you had nothing better to do at the moment. If nothing else, tagging along would at least get you off this rock. You could always part ways at the next station. Gamora told you more about the crew as she led you through the streets to the Milano.

By the time you arrived, you felt as though you already knew them. You froze as you really took in the ship in front of you. No. It couldn’t be possible. “Hold this,” you said as you thrust your bag toward your friend. A quick look around and you easily found something you could climb. Ignoring Gamora shouting after you, you climbed up a scaffold. When you reached the top, you turned around to look over the ship as a whole.

Your forearm began to itch and you pushed up your sleeve to scowl at the half-finished tattoo that sat there. A faded, sketch of this ship with a wrench behind it. A ship you had never seen before this moment. Your soul mark. Maybe travelling with Gamora wasn’t such a great idea.

Your eyes found her in the crowd below. She was staring up at you while a man stood beside her. You couldn’t get a good view of him from this height, but you were willing to bet this was Peter. And you were also willing to bet he was your soulmate. As long as you kept your mark covered and didn’t touch him, it would be fine. The tattoos wouldn’t complete if the two of you didn’t touch and he never had to know who you were to him.

Yeah, that would work, you thought and rolled your eyes. You took a breath and jumped, waiting until you had almost reached the ground before using the boosters on your boots to keep you from crashing.

Gamora smirked and shook her head at your antics which she was well used to by now.

“Holy shit. Don’t do that,” the man beside her exclaimed and you turned your attention to him.

You couldn’t help but suck in a breath at the sight of him. He was just your type with dark hair and the scruff of a beard. Damn it. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.”

He frowned. “You didn’t scare me. I was just slightly concerned is all.”

You made a sound of agreement and took your bag from Gamora. “Whatever you say, Starlord.” You walked around the two of them to head into the ship.

“Oh. I like her,” you heard him say behind you and couldn’t stop the smile that came to your lips.

***

You’d been traveling with the Guardians for almost two months now. It hadn’t taken you long to become part of their rhythm and routines. The fact you were an excellent mechanic had made that easy. It had also eased the way for you to form a quick friendship with Rocket.

At first you had attempted to keep your distance from Quill, but honestly, the ship wasn’t that big and despite your best intentions, you found yourself falling for him as the two of you spent more time together. The two of you had actually developed a sort of routine. When he was piloting the ship by himself while everyone else slept, you would often join him in the cockpit.

You would bring him a coffee and take the seat beside him while you drank your own. The two of you would talk about everything or nothing, depending on the night. It was another one of those times and you sipped at your coffee as you stared out at the stars.

“You ever find your soulmate?” he asked suddenly and you almost choked on your drink.

“That’s an odd question to ask out of the blue,” you replied instead of answering him.

He shrugged. “I was just curious. I’ve been thinking about it lately.”

“You find yours?”

He darted a glance at you before looking back out the window. “No.” His hand rubbed absently at his chest and you figured that must be where his own mark was.

It was on the tip of your tongue to confess everything, but you resisted the urge. Barely. You ran your finger around the edge of your mug before deciding to make a confession of a different sort. “My father Cyril was a playboy. Always had a different girl on his arm. Sometimes he couldn’t even remember their names. When he met my mom, he tried one of his typical moves and she smacked him across the face. You can imagine her displeasure when her soul mark completed at that moment.”

Peter chuckled a little. “Yeah, I bet. What about your old man?”

Your gaze darted up to find him watching you with curiosity so you gave him a soft smile. “He was in shock, actually. He’d started to think the whole soulmate thing a myth. After all he’d been with a lot of women, surely he should have found her by then, right?”

His brow furrowed and he looked troubled so you cleared your throat and continued the story. “Mom obviously decided to give him a chance despite their rocky first meeting and she fell hard. She thought he had too. Then I came along. The day she found out she was pregnant, she rushed home to tell him and found him in bed with the neighbor.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah. As it would turn out, he’d been in bed with several of the neighbors. She was heartbroken. He was indifferent. She never recovered from that.” You let the silence linger as you thought of your mother and the misery that had plagued her your entire life. “Growing up I was convinced soulmates were for suckers. The universe’s cosmic joke on the lovelorn.”

“And now?”

You turned your attention back to him. “What?”

“The way you said that made it sound like your opinion has changed. Has it?” His gaze never left yours, as if the answer were important to him.

“I think we have soulmates, but we have to find them. I don’t trust fate to know who will make me happy.” You shrugged. “Sometimes it gets it right, sometimes not. But you can’t change who you are just because you find your other half.”

He cleared his throat and turned his head back to the front. “I’m glad you said that, ‘cause I have a theory. See, I think that we can spend our whole lives looking for our soulmate, dismissing the other people we come across. But what if the point is the journey? What if we’re supposed to look for our other half as you put it so we can find the actual love of our lives?”

You smiled into your mug before taking another sip. “That seems pretty deep for you, Quill. You doing okay?”

“No, I’m not, damn it.”

You arched your brows as you waited for him to continue.

He raked his hands through his hair then turned his chair toward you and pulled up his shirt. This time you did choke on your coffee. “I’ve had this mark since I was twelve years old. Everywhere I went I would find myself looking for its match. Everywhere. Every day.”

It was, of course, a perfect match for yours. Just as you’d thought. The reminder had you rubbing at your forearm again where the mark was hidden under the wide bracers you wore. 

“I realized at the last port that I’m not looking anymore, Y/N.”

You frowned. “Why not?”

“I found you. That’s why. You’re my soulmate. I don’t need some stupid tattoo to confirm it. I’m in love with you. Have been pretty much since you gave me a heart attack the day I met you.” By this point he was almost yelling in his agitation.

 Then you did the thing he least expected. You laughed. It started low in your belly and rolled through you, taking all your hesitation and worry with it. You’d spent your life worried you’d end up like your mother—heartbroken and mourning a soulmate that didn’t deserve you. Instead, the two of you fell in love despite the mark, not because of it. You couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.

“If you don’t feel the same way, I get it,” Peter said, “but I’d appreciate it if you stopped laughing at me.”

You shook your head and struggled to get your laughter under control. “It’s not that, Peter. I love you, too.”

He straightened in his seat and gaped at you. “You do?”

You nodded as your laughter began to fade away. You grinned at him.

“Then why are you laughing?”

You loosened your bracer and slid it off before turning your arm so Peter could see your mark. His eyes went wide as he looked between it and your face.

“Is this a joke?” he finally asked. “Did Gamora put you up to this?”

You arched a brow. “Has she had many occasions to see your soul mark?”

His face went red. “No! I mean, she might have seen it once or twice but not like that.”

You stood and closed the small distance between you. Placing your hands on his armrests you leaned into him. Your gaze ran over his face and you smiled when he swallowed hard. “It’s not a joke, Starlord.”

Closing the remaining distance, you pressed your lips to his. He returned the kiss with no hesitation. His hands settled on either side of your head and his fingers threaded into your hair. You noticed a slight burning on your forearm but chose to ignore it. Finally, you pulled away needing to breathe.

Peter grasped your arm in his hands and turned it so he had a better view of the mark. The color was now vibrant. The lines solid and no longer sketchy. It was just how you imagined it would look.

What surprised you was the addition of two shooting stars arching over the ship, their tails tangling together into one. Yeah, that felt right. Leaning forward, you kissed your soulmate again.

Chapter Text

The autumn wind whipped around you, tearing at your dress with its biting claws. It whistled as it wove through the trees and ran across the river. Your hands ached as the cold bit into them. When you’d left your cottage this morning, the weather had been temperate and the sun was shining. Now, thick, gray clouds rolled in darkening the sky much earlier than normal.

If you hadn’t been in such a hurry this morning, you would have remembered to bring your cloak and you’d be warm as you rushed home.

“Y/N!” The call came as you passed a farm.

Your eyes ran over the woman standing in the doorway and the man hurrying toward the fence. Hilda and William. You had kept their son Rikkard from succumbing to a fever last winter. Good people. You paused in your hurry long enough to speak with them.

William opened the gate as you approached. “You should come in, Y/N. It is not safe out here.”

You smiled softly, grateful that they cared enough to worry over you. “I will be fine. Do not worry over me. There is time yet for me to find my way home.”

“Y/N,” Hilda called from the house. “The Hunt is coming. You must come inside. Please.”

You placed your hand on top of the farmer’s. “Go, William. Get inside. Cover the windows. All will be right in the morn.”

He looked as though he wished to argue, but even if you did not fear the dark, he did. He shook his head before slamming the gate to and rushing back to his wife. You gave them one final nod before continuing on your path. The Wild Hunt was indeed coming. All the signs and portents had been pointing to it with increasing regularity. And while your neighbors would cower beneath their beds, you intended to embrace it with open arms.

In due time, you reached your home. It looked cold and lonely with its windows that would never again see the light of a fire. At least not one of yours. You grabbed your cloak from the hook beside the door and slipped it on. Before leaving again, you took a moment to say goodbye to your cottage. It had served its purpose well these many years but it was time to return to your real home.

You picked up the basket with the herbs you had spent the day collecting, and hurried toward the field that stretched beside your house. Setting the basket in the middle, you began to lay the plants out in a very specific pattern. If you failed to weave your spell correctly who knew how many years would pass before you could try again.

The baying of a pack of hunting dogs drifted to you on the wind. You froze for a moment as you listened, tried to calculate just how far away they were and just how much time you had. Not much if you were correct. Increasing your speed, you finished the symbol on the ground and tossed the basket aside.

Full dark had arrived and with it, the Hunt. A sickly green glow colored the clouds in the distance, looking like some sort of ethereal lightning. You stood in the midst of the symbol you’d made and watched as the Hunt moved ever closer. As it approached, you began to see the outline of the hounds and the horsemen against the glow. The riders were looking for any in need of judgement that were stupid enough to be out in the dark. That failed to heed their call.

Once they were close enough that you could see the horned helmet of the master of the Hunt, you closed your eyes and chanted an old spell beneath your breath. You opened your eyes and leaned forward to breathe out over the herbs and they immediately began to burn. The flames raced around the symbol, leaving you with a burning beacon. Despite the month-long dry spell, the fire did not leave the space which you had allowed it.

Your heart raced in your chest as you waited for them to answer your summons. Your eyes traced the shapes in the clouds, watching as the master veered off from the rest of the hunt, his dogs nipping at his heels. They bayed as their paws touched the earth and they leapt in your direction only to find that they could not pass your flames.

They paced the ground outside your spell and growled. The master watched you, though you knew he could not see you properly through the flames. He dismounted and came to the edge with the hounds. His expression was pinched as he stared you down. “Who are you that you dare call me from the hunt? That you would dare use this symbol? It does not belong to you.”

You swallowed past the lump in your throat and lifted your head. “Does it not? Then tell me, master, who does it belong to?”

“Someone I lost many years ago.” His voice had a softer edge as he said the words, as if he were remembering something better left forgotten.

You tilted your head to study him. “Someone you left behind, you mean?”

His spine straightened and he took a step forward only for your flames to burn that much brighter. “I would never—who are you?”

A wave of your hand through the air and the flames disappeared. Another and a ball of light appeared to float beside you. “Hello, Loki.”

His eyes went wide and his helmet faded away. “Y/N?” His voice broke on your name and his tongue darted out to lick his lips. He eased forward a step, the dogs weaving around him as he moved.

You smiled even as tears flooded your eyes. “It is I.”

He closed the distance between you in three long strides, his hands cupping your cheeks. His eyes looked into yours searching for any deception. Apparently being satisfied with what he saw, he leaned forward and captured your lips with his own.

“I don’t understand,” he muttered when he pulled away. “When we battled the ice witch you were struck down. I watched you fade away.” A tear ran down his cheek and you brushed it away with your thumb. Loki closed his eyes at your touch and leaned into your hand.

“Not killed. Transported. Some spell the witch cast brought me here—hale and hearty but missing you.” He grabbed you and pulled you against his chest, wrapping his arms around you. You nuzzled into the side of his neck as you held him tightly. “I have been waiting for you, my love. I knew you would ride someday.”

His hold tightened and he pressed light kisses along the top of your head. “I am so glad I found you, my love. My world has been dark without you in it.”

You smiled against his chest. “And I am so glad to be found.”

Chapter Text

Bucky woke slowly, the sheet tangled around his legs but the blanket pulled up to his chin. You’d obviously made sure he was covered when you got out of the bed as the blankets were just as likely to end up on the floor when he was left to his own devices. His gaze went immediately to the corner that housed your favorite chair.

And there you were. Curled up with a book, your legs tucked underneath you and a blanket across your lap. Your hair was still sleep tousled and you’d put on your favorite pajamas. They were his favorite too if he was honest. He didn’t know what the material was but it was so soft it brought a smile to his lips every time he touched it. You loved them because they were warm, so warm you actually didn’t complain at all about being cold when you wore them. And you were always cold. Especially in the compound.

You were engrossed in your reading and weren’t even aware that he had woken yet. He took the opportunity to watch you as he seldom had a chance. You were always moving. Running from one task to another. Morning light streaming through the window offered the only light in the room. The hazy illumination framed you, looking like a halo. The thought made him smile. You were his angel maybe, but otherwise he was pretty sure you didn’t qualify.

As he ran his eyes over you only one word came to mind. Soft. And I wasn’t your pajamas or your blanket or even the light that brought it to mind. It was you. It was the way you spoke to him. It was the way you looked at him. They way you touched him.

“Y/N.” His voice was still rough with sleep.

You glanced up from your book, brows lifted. And there it was. That look. Love filled your eyes as you realized he was watching you and your lips curled into a smile. You marked the page in your book and set it aside.

He lifted the blankets so you could crawl back under the covers with him. And crawl you did. Until you were pressed tightly against his side, your head on his shoulder and arm across his belly. He made sure the bedding covered you as he placed a kiss to the top of your head.

“Good Morning, Buck.”

“Mornin’.”

You giggled. He had never woken as easily as you. He pulled you more tightly against him, enjoying the way the soft fabric of your pajamas felt against his bare skin. His fingers slid under the bottom of your top to rub little circles on the skin at your waist. “I missed you,” he mumbled against your hair.

“You were sleeping, baby. How could you miss me?”

“Just did. Always miss you.”

You tilted your head back to look at him and he smiled at you. You laid a hand on his cheek as you stretched to kiss him. Soft kisses across his lips that he loved but longed to deepen. When you pulled away, he kissed your forehead. “I love you, Y/N.”

“I love you, Bucky.” And the way you said it. Soft. Like his heart was for you.

Chapter Text

Clint sighed in relief as he stepped out of the jet he’d ‘borrowed’ to come home for a visit. He liked flying, but the trip home always seemed the longest. His brow furrowed as he approached the house and took in the area around it. The backhoe was out of the barn and near the garden. You’d obviously been doing some digging. And the fact you didn’t come out to meet him was unusual. He hoped everything was all right.

“Y/N?” he called as he opened the door of the house.

“In the bedroom,” you yelled back.

He followed the sound of your voice to your room, stopping in the doorway to just appreciate the view. You were laid diagonally across the bed on your stomach, arms folded under your head. Your eyes were closed but you smiled as he leaned against the doorframe.

“You okay, babe?” His eyes ran over you looking for any sign of injury.

You hummed low in your throat. “Just tired.”

He tilted his head and the corner of his mouth kicked up in a smile. He loved the sleepy, sedentary version of you. Hell, he loved every version of you but this was one of the few where he was offered the opportunity to just enjoy looking at you. “Sweetheart,” he finally said breaking the silence, “did you bury something in the garden?”

You cracked open an eye to glare at him as you scrunched up your face. “A body.”

He scowled and pushed himself out of the doorway to settle on the bed near your head. “Again?”

Rolling over onto your back, you huffed out a sigh. “I’m not real happy with Nick Fury at the moment, Barton.”

Clint’s lips twitched as he pushed some loose hair away from your face, his fingers ghosting over your skin. He paused as he caught sight of the bruising near your right temple. Taking your chin in his hand, he turned your head to the side. Worried eyes took in the injury and you couldn’t help but smile. “What’s this?”

“That would be a bruise from where I got kicked in the head.”

“Damn it, Y/N. Have you at least had that looked at?”

He ran his fingers over the injury and you couldn’t help but wince slightly from the light pain. “I can’t get Fury’s cleaners out here and you think the doc made it? Not likely.”

He scowled as he pulled out his phone and dialed Fury’s direct line. He put it on speaker phone.

“Barton. What can I do for you?” Fury’s deep voice came over the line.

Clint leaned forward with his elbow on his knee and the phone out in front of him. “When I left my new house and my new wife, you assured me that I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.”

“And what exactly has you concerned, Agent?”

“Y/N has called for cleaners twice—”

“Three times,” you corrected him and he narrowed his eyes in question. He was certain he’d only been told of one incident other than this one. You gave him a cockeyed grin and little shrug.

He shook his head and returned to his call. “Okay. Three times. They never show.”

There was a long pause. “Are you certain?”

“If we put any more bodies in our garden, it’s going to have to be reclassified as a cemetery, Fury,” you piped up.

“Motherfuckers.” His voice was little more than a growl and you pressed the back of your hand against your mouth to keep from snickering. “Give me a minute.”

You could hear him pounding away on the keys in the background. “Holy shit. How many people do have buried in there? It looks like eleven? And two, no three, dogs?”

Apparently, he had redirected a thermal satellite to check out your property. “Probably more dogs than that. The second group had a pack with them it felt like.”

“What the hell is going on out there in the middle of nowhere, Barton?” Fury demanded. “I thought you said it was peaceful.”

“It is when people aren’t trying to kill my wife.” Clint raked a hand through his hair. You had most assuredly not told him about the dogs.

“I’m looking in the system right now. It records three call outs to your location and cleaners being dispatched all three times.”

“I’m telling you, no one ever showed up.”

He sighed. “Looks like it was the same crew all three times. Let me pull up the notes. Responded to 1347 Buchanan. No agent or bodies present. Cleaned large amount of blood and bodily fluids from kitchen surfaces. Almost verbatim for the following two responses. Is there a reason you kill everyone in your kitchen, Y/N?”

Clint glanced at you to find your eyes covered with your hand while you laughed quietly. “You want to repeat that address?” you finally managed to ask.

Clint’s eyes widened in realization. “We’re 1337,” he told Fury.

The director went off on a tirade that was crude even for him. “I’ll get it taken care of,” he finally barked and ended the call.

Clint tossed the phone beside him on the bed. He laid down so his head was toward your feet and vice versa. A large hand settled on your thigh making you smile. The two of you laid that for several minutes before he spoke. “You didn’t tell me about the dogs.”

“That was while you were in Buhdapest. With everything that happened I forgot by the time you came back.”

He grunted in understanding and you fell back into silence, just enjoying each other’s company. Finally, though you couldn’t ignore your thoughts any longer. “Clint?”

“Yeah, babe?”

“Why do you suppose our neighbor’s kitchen is always covered in blood?”

He sighed. “We should probably look into that, huh?”

“Probably,” you agreed.

Another few minutes passed and the bed began to shake as Clint laughed.

“What?”

“Can you imagine them coming back from wherever they’d been and the kitchen being spotless with no other sign of anyone having been there?”

You took a moment to picture the scene in your head before joining your husband in his laughter.

Chapter Text

The ringing of steel as swords clashed together filled your ears and had you grinning. It had been a long time since you’d seen any sort of real battle and you were the type that thrived on it. The creatures you fought had multiple eyes which allowed them to see anyone flanking them without having to turn their head. And they used their extra arm to their advantage by equipping multiple weapons.

It might have struck fear into a weaker army, but you were one of the warriors of Asgard. All it meant for you was that the battle might last a little longer. As you lopped an arm off your opponent, Sif jumped on his back and drove her sword into his skull. She hopped off and grinned. “Your boyfriend’s running late.”

You arched a brow and scoffed. “He is not my anything. We have discussed this.” You stepped past her to block the blow from a three hammer wielding foe. The weapons bounced off your shield and you shoved it forward to put more space between the two of you. You thrust your blade forward, smiling in satisfaction when it slipped into the flesh at his side.

Sif spun to slice into the side of another foe’s knee. It howled as it dropped to the ground, unable to support itself on its remaining good leg. “And I have told you that Thor is smitten with you.”

A sound of disbelief came from you as you removed your opponent’s head from his shoulders. “That’s why he won’t shut up about that Midgard scientist.”

Sif raised her sword to pierce the heart of the creature on the ground when electricity shot amongst the enemy, dropping most of them where they stood. You sheathed your sword and turned to find Thor and Loki walking across the far side of the field. “He always ruins all our fun,” you murmur.

Sif’s laugh drew the attention of both princes. Thor’s face lit with a smile as he shifted to head in your direction. “Told you,” your friend teased before making herself scarce.

“Lady Y/N,” his voice boomed as he came to a stop in front of you. “A battle well fought as always.”

“Thor.”

His smile faded at your mild reception, though it was so subtle you would have missed it had you not known him so well.

“We were beginning to think you weren’t going to make it,” you said when the silence stretched too long for your liking.

“I was on Midgard when Heimdell summoned me. I came as soon as I could.”

You hummed and walked toward where the others were gathered. “You were with your lady then?” You don’t know why you ask other than you like to constantly remind yourself he’s not yours.

He falls into step beside you and his hand wraps around your wrist to pull you to a stop. You glance up to find his blue gaze studying you. “There is only one lady I wish to call mine and she most certainly was not on Midgard.”

“Oh.” Your heart races and you consider asking if he means you or someone else but you’re afraid of the answer.

“For Odin’s sake, just kiss her already.” Sif’s shout comes from too far away and your face heats at the thought of everyone hearing her.

Thor’s smile widens into the carefree grin you love so much. “Who am I to deny the lady Sif?” he asks and before you can respond, his lips are on yours.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Where is she?” Wanda yelled as she used her power to toss the Hydra agents against the side of the hallway they were in.

“I don’t know.” Bucky’s voice was clipped and full of the worry he felt at that moment. He shot two of the agents Wanda had thrown to ensure they stayed down.  “I haven’t seen her since we entered the building.”

“She’s not responding on the comms.”

Bucky flicked a glance over to see Wanda’s eyes blown wide with fear. “I know. I know she’s not.” He all but growled the response and grabbed the nearest agent to take out some of his aggression. After another flurry of action, everything was suddenly very still and quiet. As he panted and tried to catch his breath, he pressed on the comm in his ear. “Does anyone have eyes on Y/N?”

Wanda moved to his side and wrapped her arms around his waist as she pressed her face into his shirt. She trembled against him and he put one arm around her to keep her close. Another couple of minutes and everyone had responded in the negative as to your whereabouts.

Bucky clenched his teeth together causing a muscle to tic in his jaw. This wasn’t like you. Sure, you did your own thing, but you never went silent. And you always let someone know where you were. You also normally stayed close to him or Wanda. No, he didn’t like this at all.

Wanda was a mess and Bucky didn’t know what state she would have been in had he not been there. Truth was, he wasn’t sure he was much better off but he was better at hiding it. “What’s our play here, Steve?”

There was a stretch of silence. “Let’s regroup outside at the rendezvous point. If she’s not there, we’ll coordinate a search. Odds are she’s just having an issue with her comms, so let’s keep our heads until there’s a reason to panic.”

“Yes, sir.” Steve’s words might have been addressed to the entire team but Bucky knew they were intended for him and Wanda. The two of them moved toward the entrance, shifting position so they were holding hands. He kept glancing over and would occasionally squeeze her hand when the look in her eyes became too painful.

His heart sank when they arrived at the meeting point and there was no sign of Y/N. He heard a gasp from Wanda and saw tears welling in her eyes. Tugging her toward him, he tucked her into his side. “Tell us what to do, Steve. I need to find our girl.”

Sympathy flooded Steve’s eyes, but Bucky didn’t want sympathy. He wanted his Y/N. Cap started to divide the team up and give them different areas to search. He’d only just begun when an explosion tore through the base, making them all rock on their feet. He spun taking Wanda with him and fell to his knees as the sheer enormity of the devastation overwhelmed him. No one could survive something like that.

His vision swam as tears flooded his eyes. Beside him, Wanda screamed—a haunting sound none of them was likely to forget any time soon. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly hoping she could find some sort of comfort from him, but he had little to give.

The two of them rocked in their pain. This was supposed to be a simple mission. In and out they’d been told. Instead, their Y/N was gone forever. Without Wanda by his side, there was no way he’d be able to survive this. Given the deep grief they so obviously shared, they just may perish together at any rate.

“Bucky.” Steve’s voice was soft, nudging for his attention. Bucky ignored it. He didn’t want the comfort of his oldest friend right now. He didn’t deserve it. He should never have left the facility without her.

“Bucky.” He was louder this time, more firm. Bucky still ignored him.

Suddenly, Steve’s big ape hand was on his head and turning it so he faced a different direction. A silhouette framed against the flames moved in their direction. He’d know that stride anywhere. A relieved laugh escaped him and he scrambled to his feet.

Wanda fell away from him in confusion until she followed the trajectory he was on. This time her gasp was a happy one and her tears were full of joy.

You were grinning by the time Bucky reached you and swept you up into his arms. The motion made you grunt and he quickly put you back on your feet. His eyes ran over you checking for injury. Blood ran down the side of your face, but the cut on your forehead appeared to be mostly superficial. You pressed a hand against your side. “Ribs.”

Wanda reached the two of you before he could respond and threw her arms around you, causing you to grunt again. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she exclaimed and started to pull away.

Your arms wrapped around her back to stop her. “You’re fine. Just don’t squeeze too hard.” Your eyes found his. “You too, Barnes. Get over here.”

The three of you just held each other for a long moment, silently acknowledging how different things could have ended.  Finally, you separated to head back to the others. You walked in the middle, their hands entangled with yours. “Hey, Cap,” you said by way of greeting when you stopped in front of Steve.

“Y/N. Good to see you.” The corner of his mouth kicked up. “Thought we’d lost you there for a second.”

Your nose scrunched up as if you’d smelled something bad. “Comms blew. I could hear you guys but no one could hear me. I completed my mission.”

He took in the burning rubble behind you. “I see that. Good job, Y/L/N. Load up, you three. Your can finish your reunion on the jet.”

“Please don’t,” Tony said and you turned to look at him with an arched brow. “I am young and impressionable, Y/N. There are some things I won’t be able to unsee.”

You snorted a laugh and Bucky rolled his eyes before sweeping you up into his arms to carry you the rest of the way. You’d complain but you were acutely aware of how much you’d scared him. Both of them. Wanda kept her grip on your hand. You took your seats at the back of the jet. Tony took a seat directly across from you and Bucky looked at him as he placed his hand on your thigh. “You want to keep that unsullied mind of yours, Stark, I suggest you find somewhere else to sit.”

Chapter Text

There were few chores that you despised more than grocery shopping. It wasn’t so bad when it was just for you, but you lived with the Avengers. Most of the time you ordered the groceries and picked them up but you’d returned early from a mission and the fridge and cupboards were nearly bare.

When you headed out to the store, you’d intended to shop for your apartment only. That was enough of a task when you lived with two super soldiers and their increased metabolism. Once your teammates heard where you were going, you’d had one request after another until you were shopping for everyone. You’d agreed on the condition that Tony foot the bill. You could have covered it on your own, but that was beside the point. Being a superhero paid surprisingly well and your boys both had more money than they knew what to do with after receiving compensation from the government thanks to Tony’s well-paid attorneys.

Bucky and Steve had taken pity on you and come with you to do the shopping and you’d divided the list up so you could get done faster. You were in the produce aisle as you didn’t trust anyone else to make quality choices. You were comparing the list to your cart to see what other fruits and vegetables you needed when someone interrupted.

“That’s a lot of produce you’ve got there.”

You glanced to the man that had spoken and gave him a tight smile. “Well, it’s meant to feed a lot of people.”

“Do you own a restaurant or something? I bet you do. You look like a chef.” You blinked a couple of times at that. Just what did a chef look like, you wondered.

“Nope. Not a chef.” You shook your head once to emphasize your point and went back to checking your list.

“You look very familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?”

You suppressed a sigh and looked back to the man. He was handsome enough you supposed with close cropped blonde hair and the shadow of a beard on a square jaw, but you didn’t recognize him. “I don’t think so, sorry.”

“No. I’m sure I know you,” he insisted and stepped closer to you.

You arched a brow and pressed your lips into a thin line. This guy couldn’t take a hint. “Perhaps you do, but I don’t know you and I have shopping to do. If you’ll excuse me.” Being an Avenger meant you were a public figure whether you liked it or not so you tried to be polite whenever possible, but this guy was annoying you.

You turned your back to him as you counted apples and oranges. A hand grasped your elbow and you froze. No way was this guy that stupid. But as you turned slowly, you saw it was indeed the same man. “Did you just touch me?” You pitched your voice so it was louder than it had been, but not so loud you’d be overheard. Unless you happened to be shopping with a couple of super soldiers that were attuned to the sound of your voice, that is.

The man in front of you frowned. “I’m just trying to get your attention that’s all. It’s rude to turn your back on someone when they’re talking to you.”

“It’s also rude to force someone to talk to you when they clearly don’t want to. I think perhaps you need a refresher course in manners.” You crossed your arms over your chest and arched a brow as you spoke to him.

He laughed, a deep rumbling sound that rolled up from his belly. He evidently found you amusing. “And who’s going to give it to me? You?”

“Ordinarily, yes. But as I said I have shopping to do.” You shifted your gaze from him to the men behind him. “This man needs to learn to leave a lady alone when she’s not interested.”

“That so?” Steve said, his blue eyes sparking with anger. He knew you were fully capable of handling yourself, which made it that much more satisfying when you let him do it for you.

Hearing Steve’s deep voice, the man turned and his eyes went wide as he took in your soldiers. “Now listen fellas—”

“I don’t think he wants to talk to us, Steve. Perhaps we should escort him outside and have a discussion about boundaries.” The wicked grin that accompanied Buck’s statement had you smiling.

“I think that’s a great idea.” Steve tossed an arm around the man’s shoulders to steer him toward the door. They wouldn’t actually hurt him, but they’d scare him enough that he might think twice about the way he treats women.

“Hurry back, boys. We’ve got shopping to finish,” you instructed as you grabbed the front of the cart they’d left behind and pulled it after you so you could keep filling both of them.

“Yes, dear,” came in unison as they headed outside with their new friend.

“That was…fantastic,” a voice said, catching your attention. You glanced up to find a petite woman staring between you and the front of the store with wide eyes. “That guy’s a jerk. He’s always bothering me when I come in here.”

You grinned at her. “I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that any more by the time the boys are finished.”

She nodded as if still in a bit of a daze. “Are they both with you? I mean are you with them? I mean—I’m sorry, that’s probably none of my business.”

You heard Steve and Buck talking and laughing as they came back into the store and you turned to smile at them. Catching your eye, they both smiled back and your insides went warm as they always did when they turned that attention on you. “Yeah, they’re mine,” you said as you turned back to her. “They were just so pretty I couldn’t decide so I kept them both.” You gave a little shrug of your shoulders.

She returned your smile as the boys reclaimed their cart. Arms wrapped around you from behind and you knew without checking that it was Bucky. By this point, you could tell them apart blindfolded. You knew this for a fact after they got bored one night and decided to test you. He nestled his face into your neck and pressed a kiss just below your ear. “Making friends, doll?”

“Actually, the guy you got rid of has been harassing her as well,” you explained.

Steve pushed his cart up until it was even with yours and he leaned over to give you a kiss. When he pulled away, he turned his attention to the other woman. “I don’t think you’ll need to be worrying about him anymore.”

“Sorry to hurry off, but we have ice cream,” Bucky said nudging you forward.

You turned to look at him. “I told you to get that last so it’s not all melty. I hate that.”

He shrugged. “I didn’t get ours yet. Just Clint’s and Sam’s.”

You chuckled as you shook your head. Of course. You glanced between the carts. While you hadn’t gotten everything on the list, you had enough here to last for a couple of days. “Go grab ours then let’s get out of here before you guys cause any more trouble.”

Bucky took over pushing your cart and huffed a laugh. “Yeah, we’re the ones causing trouble.”

Steve grinned at you as he followed behind Buck. “You do realize that we chase guys off from you nearly every time we go out?”

You shrugged as you grasped his arm and leaned your head against it while you walked. “What can I say? I’m a catch.”

Both men laughed and Steve was still chuckling as he leaned over to kiss the top of your head. “That you are, doll.”

As you slid into a line, Bucky turned and motioned for you to come to him. You did, resting your head against his chest as his arms wrapped around you. “Thanks for keeping us, Y/N.”

Your face heated slightly and you turned so you were buried more tightly against his chest. “Heard that, did you?”

There was a sound of agreement from both men. “I don’t know how I feel about being called pretty,” Steve admitted.

You shrugged. “Then I suppose you should have tried harder to be ugly.”

Their laughter surrounded you. And there, in the middle of the afternoon, as you waited in line at the supermarket, you were with the men you loved and you couldn’t have been happier.

Chapter Text

There was a moment—little more than half a second, really—where everything was perfect. An infinitesimal measure of time when you were simply his and he was yours. Lives didn’t hang in the balance. There was no evil in the world and the good guys always won. A moment that slipped from his grasp almost before he knew it was there.

It was a funny thing, time. The way it raced when he wanted it to crawl as he danced in the rain with the love of his life. How it sped by with a laugh or skipped forward with a dance. And the way it twisted around him in a swirl of colors and cacophony until his head spun with it.

Oh, and the way it stretched—malevolent like a prowling beast creeping in the shadows. The way it teased and played with its prey. Gave that whisper of hope he could stop the inevitable. That he could circumvent fate. In reality, all he had was wide eyes and a desperation that ran so deep it thrummed through his veins.

One, single piece of lead flew through the air. He wasn’t even certain how he saw it. He only knew that his body turned with it, tracked it as it passed by him. It moved so slowly as the world ground to a halt. Surely, you’d see it too. Surely, you’d shift from its destructive path.

And then there it was. The impact brutal and bloody. Your gasp as a tear ran from your eye. His need to reach you was a physical ache but time, stupid time, wouldn’t release him from its hold. And just when he thought he would go insane, it happened.

Everything snapped back into its place with the rhythms of the world. Your body arched and flew backward. His feet pounded on the pavement as he made his way to you before you even realized you’d been hit, his arms pumping as he ran. He wanted to meet your eye and silently order you to stay with him, but he found himself unable to look at anything but the splash of crimson across gray concrete.

His knees collided with the pavement as he reached you, needing to get as close to you as quickly as possible. His always steady hands shook as his fingers worked over the surface of your uniform, searching for a way to turn back time. To keep everything in place. To grasp that brief moment of protection.

Your hand hooked around his arm and drew his attention. His chest was hollow as he took in your furrowed brow and the utter confusion in your eyes. “You were shot.” His deceitful voice sounded sure, calm. He swore he’d never lie to you, but every word uttered in that tone gave you false hope.

It didn’t take long for his hands to grow slick with your blood as he covered the wound. He pleaded with gods he didn’t believe in for mercy then cursed them when his miracle didn’t come. His gaze stayed locked on his hands unwilling and unable to watch your light leak away with your blood. His battered, scarred hands that held no purpose if not to cradle your face or wipe away your tears. What good were his fingers if they no longer threaded through your hair in the morning or carried on private conversations with you in rooms full of people?

Water splashed against the back of his hands and he wondered if it was rain before he felt the tears on his cheeks. He pressed more tightly on the wound as if he gave it just enough pressure, all the life on the ground would find its way back where it belonged. He licked his lips and chanced a glance at your eyes.

All the words you wanted to say to him were written there for him to read and he shook his head. Once. Angrily. A denial of what he saw there. His jaw clenched and a muscle ticked in his jaw. “Don’t you do that to me, Y/N. Don’t you say goodbye. I can’t live in this world if you’re not in it.”

And then there was a breath—a shuddering gasp, really—when his life came to an end. A small moment when he just simply ceased to exist. When your life faded with a sigh and nothing good existed in the hell that surrounded him. A breath that slipped past your lips and into the air to mingle with his cries.

Chapter Text

Bucky’s eyes followed you as moved around the kitchen looking for something to snack on. After a couple of minutes, a sharp jab in his side tried to claim his attention, but he shook it off. “I know,” he said without looking. There was no need as he already knew it was Steve telling him he was staring again. 

The truth was you’d had his attention for some time. At first it was your friendly personality that drew him in. After a bit of time, he realized that while you were friends with everyone, you tended to be hesitant to get too close. It reminded him of himself if he were honest.

So, he’d taken to watching you. And the more he watched, the more he noticed. Everyday it seemed there was something else that made him like you more. One day it was your natural beauty. Another it was the way you subtly moved to the music you were listening to. Just yesterday it had been the way you jumped when startled by something in the movie you were watching.

And today…well, today it would have to be the way you stood on your tiptoes trying to reach the box someone had placed on the top shelf of the cabinet. Bucky grinned as he watched you stretch, the hem of your t-shirt riding up ever so slightly. He slid off his stool and came up behind you, his hands finding your waist. “Need some help?”

You froze, uncertain if Bucky was just being friendly or if he was being friendly. You kept your eyes focused on the box that was just out of your reach, afraid if you turned to look at him you’d make a fool of yourself. You swallowed past the lump in your throat. “That would be great. Thanks.”

He easily snatched the box from the shelf and placed it on the counter in front of you. “I’ll be happy to help you out anytime, doll. All you have to do is ask.”

Chapter Text

You were the only team member left in the tower. Everyone was scattered to a variety of meetings or missions except for you. It felt odd to be alone where you were typically surrounded by chaos and noise. You kind of missed it. You lasted all of an hour before asking Jarvis to play the soundtrack to your favorite musical since no one was around to complain as they normally would. You might as well make the best of the situation.

You found yourself humming along or swinging your hips a bit as you caught up with your chores. Once your room was straightened and your laundry put away, you decided to make dinner for everyone. Now you were on your second soundtrack of the day while you worked on making a simple dinner for everyone. You hummed as you set aside the knife you’d been using on the vegetables. As soon as it left your grip, hands ran across the exposed skin at your stomach as arms wrapped around you from behind.

Startled, you jumped before realizing it was your boyfriend. He chuckled as his nose nuzzled into your neck and he pressed a kiss there. You turned in his arms and smacked him playfully on the chest. “Damn it, Sam. You scared me.”

He kissed your lips softly. “There was a reason I waited until you put the knife down, Y/N.” 

You narrowed your eyes. “You could have just announced your presence, you know. Some thanks I get for doing your laundry for you.” You turned back to the vegetables to scoop them into the pot. 

 

“You did my laundry, baby? Man, I love you.”

Your heart raced a bit at the words though you knew he didn’t mean anything by them. He said it often, even to the rest of the team. It was just his things. “I love you too, Wilson.”

His hand settled on your arm and turned you when you’d finished what you were doing. He placed a hand against your cheek and searched your eyes. “No. I really love you, Y/N. Have for awhile, just couldn’t work up the nerve to say it.” 

You grinned so wide your cheeks hurt. “I love you, too, Sam.”

He kissed you, long and slow. When you separated you laid your head against his chest. His hands ran up and down your back as he held you. After a moment you laughed. “What?” he asked.

“Wait until I tell Steve and Bucky that ‘Man, I love you’ was your first I love you.”

Chapter Text

Bruce fell in love with you slowly. He’d tried not to, after all what good could come from a relationship with him. As it turned out, you were impossible not to love. The care and love you showed for those close to you, him included, drew him in and held him tight. 

Tony was having another party and Bruce had found a spot to observe from the edge of the room. His eyes followed you as you moved from group to group, talking to those you knew and meeting those you didn’t. He envied your easy going nature. Noticing your drink was empty, he headed to the bar to get you a new one. 

He made his way to your side, his eyes on you and not the people around you. He was certain he’s met them before but they weren’t important. “Y/N,” he said softly, getting you attention as he appeared beside you. 

You turned to him with a question in your eyes and a smile on your lips. He held out the fresh drink and your smile widened. He was always so sweet, doing little things for you. Taking care of you in small ways others didn’t think about. “Thank you,” you said as you took the glass and handed him your old one. 

Without thinking about it much, you leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. His face turned a lovely shade of pink and your own heated in response. You looped your arm with his and returned to the other side of the room with him, the two of you lost in quiet conversation and the people behind you forgotten completely.

 

 

Chapter Text

Bucky followed Steve’s gaze which was trained firmly on you. A soft smile sat on his lips and it was evident his mind was somewhere else. Bucky cleared his throat. “So, when did you know?”

Steve turned to him in surprise as he noticed his presence finally. “What?”

The corner of Buck’s mouth kicked up in a smirk. “When did you know you were in love with her?”

Steve’s gaze found you again as he licked his lips and considered his friend’s question. It could have been the first movie night after you joined the team when they all got to see your outgoing side after weeks of you being quiet and shy around them. It could have been Christmas when you knitted everyone a scarf in their favorite colors, or maybe the time you stuck up for Buck when Stark was giving him grief about being anti-social. 

Or maybe it was the morning he found you sitting in the early light of day with a book in your hand. You were wearing your favorite pajamas and were so engrossed in what you were reading that you didn’t even notice him enter the room. In fact, you didn’t acknowledge his presence until he slid a plate of breakfast onto the table beside you. You’d looked at him in surprise before laughing nervously and turning your gaze away. You sat the book aside and pulled the plate closer as he took the seat across from you. 

“Thank you, Steve.” Your voice was soft and you still didn’t meet his eyes. 

For some reason, he really wanted you to. “So, what’s your book about?” he asked in an attempt to start a conversation.

You looked up then, your gazes meeting as you excitedly explained the plot of the book you’d already read twice before. Truth be told he didn’t a hear a word of what you said, too busy watching the light in your eyes and falling head over heels in love with you.

Chapter Text

Clint Barton had been impressed with you from the moment he met you. You had such a joy for life and were always pursuing the things you loved. And people…you loved people. Clint wasn’t so much a people person, but he loved to watch you be a people person and that was kind of the same thing, right?

Natasha smacked him in the back of the head when he asked her that but what did she know anyway. When he asked you out, he couldn’t believe you said yes. He planned everything down to the last detail and then, as things are wont to do when Clint is involved, it all went horribly wrong. 

The two of you decided to walk and enjoy the evening but the two of you quickly encountered a group of kids searching for the dog. Clint couldn’t ignore them and asked you if you minded. You gave him a  smile and said, “Of course not,” but he didn’t know if you meant it or not. The delay made you miss the reservation Tony had gotten for him at some trendy restaurant. 

You pointed out a small diner just down the street. “Let’s eat there. I bet they have great food.” Clint nodded, certain you were just being nice to make him feel better. He had to admit the food was good, better than Tony’s choice would have been probably.

Then, as he walked you home, the sky opened up and it began to rain. You laughed and grabbed his hand to pull him down the street once it was obvious you weren’t going to get a cab. As the two of you reached your building and ducked into the lobby, you were still laughing. 

Clint gave you a sad smile, certain you were laughing at the absurdity of the night. He pushed your wet hair off your face only to be met with your fogged up glasses. His lips twitched and after a moment he started to laugh as well. What a night this had been. Taking off your glasses, you wiped a hand down your face to try to get rid of most of the water. 

Standing on your tiptoes, you pulled him toward you and kissed his lips. When you separated, you slid your glasses back on. Clint was looking at you with wide eyes and you grinned. “This was the best date ever, Clint Barton.”

It was then he knew. He was a goner.

Chapter Text

You opened the cabinet that housed the coffee mugs and frowned. Once again someone had moved your mug to the top shelf. You would think that eventually they’d grow tired of making fun of you for your height, but apparently not. 

You bit your lip to keep from letting loose the string of words that immediately came to mind. You were so sick of this shit. 

“Need a hand there, Y/N?” Tony said from the table. He was doing a piss poor job of concealing his laughter. 

“Actually, I think a foot would help her more,” Clint added. 

You kept your back to them. 

“Now, give her a little credit. Nine inches ought to suffice,” Tony said and the two morons burst into laughter. 

You spun to face them, arms crossed. “Why do you two always have to be such assholes? It would be great if I could get up and get my breakfast without being harassed by the likes of you two.”

Your words had no effect on them, as usual. 

“Hey, knuckleheads, why don’t you lay off for a while, huh?

The loud voice came from directly behind you making you jump. You’d been so busy chastising Clint and Tony you hadn’t even heard Bucky enter the room behind you. 

His hand appeared in your line of sight, your mug firmly in his grip. “Here you go, doll.”

You took it and turned to face him. “Thanks, Buck. At least someone around here gives a shit.”

He smiled at you as he reached out to tuck a piece of hair behind your ear. “I like you. That’s why I care.”

You couldn’t help but grin back. “You’re not so bad yourself, Barnes.”

Chapter Text

“Y/N? What are you doing?” 

You registered the voice. You mean, you heard it. Sure you did. But to acknowledge it would mean stopping what you were doing. And you wanted to get this finished.

For some reason that you chose not to examine too closely, Fury demanded paper copies of everything. The team’ s reports were a mess. To the point you’d offered to put everything together before it went to SHIELD. You hated paperwork, but you were good at it. And you liked things to be efficient. An hour spent doing this saved several answering Fury’s questions later.

A hand grasped your forearm and you jumped at the sudden contact. You turned with wide eyes to find Steve smiling down at you. “Hello, Y/N.”

“Steve,” you exclaimed before wrapping your arms around him in a hug. You hadn’t seen him since yesterday morning as he’d been on a mission. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too, doll but what is all this?” He leaned back so he could see your face as you answered. He tucked a strand of your hair behind your ear while he waited. 

“It’s the reports.” Your voice was low and your cheeks heated. 

“Y/N, we talked about this,” he chastised. “All this running around isn’t good for you. You need to slow down.”

“I know that I need to slow down, but there’s just so much to be done.”

He hummed and arched a brow as he reached a hand into his pocket. “Maybe this will slow you down.”

Your heart raced as your gaze fell on the two tickets he pulled from his pocket. He was taking you to a concert. The reports could definitely wait.

 

 

Chapter Text

It had been days. Or hours. Or weeks. Or minutes. He didn’t know any more. Time passed as he knelt on the floor of your shared bedroom. People came and went. They talked near him, around him, but he didn’t hear the words. Nat had smacked him once he thought but he couldn’t be sure. He felt nothing except the aching hole in his chest where you used to be.

He looked at his hands still covered in your blood. He couldn’t bring himself to wash it away. To rid himself of the last remnants of you. How had he failed you so utterly? From the moment he met you he knew that he had been born for one purpose. To protect you. To keep you safe.

The heels of his hands pressed against his eyes as a new wave of sorrow swamped him and the tears began to flow. His shoulders shook as he wept and the grief tore him to pieces inside. Like a bullet.

It had hit everything just right, Bruce said. It tore you apart, blasting through an artery as it went. Your death had been swift he’d said as if that should be comfort. As if Clint hadn’t been there as you faded away from him. As if he hadn’t lived every excruciating second of your last breath.

As if he hadn’t rocked you in his arms until they forced him to let you go. Until Steve pulled his arms open and Tony carried you away. Clint shoved his hands into his hair and tugged at the strands needing to feel something. Anything. He released a sound that was half-shout, half-plea for mercy and all pain.

“What are you doing, Clint?” Your voice wrapped around him, calling him like a siren.

His eyes shot open and he glanced frantically around the room, searching for any sign of you. Nothing. He was alone.

“Baby, what are you doing?”

He slammed his hands over his mouth to hold in a cry. You weren’t there. God, he knew you weren’t but he could hear you. Your soft voice a balm to his tattered soul. He swallowed the lump in his throat and peeled his hands away. He whispered your name like a prayer.

“You’re breaking my heart,” you answered.

He couldn’t stop the small sob that tore from him. “I am so sorry.” Hot tears leaked from his eyes.

And then he heard that laugh. The one you gave when you thought he’d said or done something completely stupid. And it hurt so much more than he ever dreamed possible. “How is any of this your fault, baby?"

“I was supposed to protect you. It was my job to keep you safe.”

He took your silence as agreement. Not that he needed you to confirm his failure. He would be reminded every day when he woke up without you beside him. He bowed his head and his shoulders slumped forward in defeat. “I can’t do this without you.” His voice was little more than a whisper.

Your voice came after a beat, sounding amused. “Who says you have to?”

His head jerked up. “What?”

Nothing.

“Y/N?”

Silence.

He pushed his hands through his hair again. For a moment…He shook his head harshly. He was an idiot. The door behind him flew open and banged against the wall. Clint spun only to find Tony panting in the doorway. “You better get out here, Katniss. Now.”

Unable to shake what had just happened, Clint pushed to his feet and followed the billionaire into the common area. The team was gathered, all their features contorted with grief. Coulson sat in the midst of them. He gave Clint a nod before opening the file laying in the middle of the table. “Have any of you been to Tahiti?”

Chapter Text

The first thing Frank noticed about you was your size. You were tiny. There really was no other word for it. Of course, he wasn’t exactly a small man so you just looked that much littler in comparison. Some guy had been hitting on you at a bar where he’d stopped to have a drink with Curtis. You just ignored the jackass no matter how persistent he was, but Frank’s protective instincts kicked into overdrive. Almost before he realized what he was doing, he was by your side and showing the asshole the door.

When he returned, he found you and a beer waiting at the table with Curtis. You smiled as your gaze fell on him and his heart sped. Just a little. Enough to remind him that he still had one. His steps faltered slightly but he recovered quickly. The two men fell into easy conversation with you. You were smart with a bright personality and a quick laugh. It was fair to say that Frank was smitten well before he walked you home that night.

The more time he spent with you, the more he found to admire. You owned your own business, though you just called it the shop, so Frank wasn’t sure what exactly you sold but he knew you worked hard and never complained about the time you put in. And when he’d found the courage last week to confess his real identity, you’d simply looked at him and said, “I know.”

Apparently, you’d known since the night you met him, but figured it was his secret to keep. And you’d still spent time with him and let him into your life despite knowing what he had done. You also seemed to understand him in a way that others did not. Unfortunately, he’d also discovered that you had some skills as a makeshift medic. When he’d asked you where you’d learned to make such clean sutures you’d simply smiled and said, “Around.”

The memory had the corner of his mouth curling up in a smirk as he sat in the dark. He was waiting along the path you took home from work. You also liked to keep your secrets and Frank had heard for the first time yesterday about the asshole that kept giving you shit on your walk home. He’d offered to walk you home on multiple occasions but you always turned him down. He scratched the back of his head as his smile slipped away.

There was something you were hiding from him and he was determined to discover it. You had let enough slip in the story last night that he knew the guy would come out to have a cigarette anytime you walked past the bar across the street. Frank had been in place for an hour, waiting for you to walk by so he could see this guy for himself and take care of him later.

Then he spotted you, that stride unmistakable. Sure enough, as you walked past the bar, a guy came outside and called after you. “Hey, sweetheart. Why you always in such a hurry?”

Frank rolled his eyes. He was ready for you to disappear around the corner of your next turn so he could have a talk with this guy. His brow shot up when you came to a stop and turned to face the moron. “You really want to know why I’m always in a hurry?”

Frank stood on the fire escape he’d been watching from and gripped the rail in front of him. What the hell were you doing? Were you trying to get yourself hurt? His knuckles turned white from the strength of his grip.

“See, I knew you’d talk to me eventually,” the douchebag said, putting his arms out to the side while he leaned back. As if he had anything worth putting on display. Frank’s eyes stayed glued to the idiot, reading his body language. Ready to intercede if he caught even a whisper of a threat.

Later he would figure that’s why he failed to notice you pulling anything from your jacket pocket. You tilted your head as you stared down the man. “I hurry past here because of you. Because every time I pass by here you have a comment to make. I don’t know you so what would make you think that I enjoy you calling me baby or sweetheart or doll?”

“Well, it’s not like you ever told me your name.” He took a step toward you.

Frank couldn’t wait any longer. He started down the stairs on the fire escape doing his best to keep you in sight as he went. He could no longer hear what was being said, but he did see the guy grab your arm and Frank picked up his pace. When his feet hit the pavement, he slid to a stop. With wide eyes he watched you bring a baton down on the man’s arm.

He howled in pain and released his hold on you. Before he could retaliate, or even get a word of complaint out, you brought his head down to meet your knee then hit him across the back with the baton. Another punch followed by another kick and Frank was pretty sure the asshole was down for the count. “What the fuck was that?”

The words came out louder than he’d meant for them to and your head jerked up. You sighed as you collapsed the baton and slipped it back into your jacket pocket. “Hello, Frank.” You moved toward him and he covered the space between you in several long strides. You kept your arms crossed over your chest and your gaze averted. He didn’t like the change in your usual confident demeanor.

“What the hell, Y/N?” he hissed.

“Come on,” you said with a jerk of your head and started back the way you’d come. “We might as well get this over with.” Frank fell into step beside you. He gazed at you several times, but the two of you were silent as you walked. You’d gone several blocks before you stopped in front of a building and placed your hand on the door.

Frank stepped back to look up at the sign. The Body Shop. His brow furrowed as he looked into the brightly lit building. It looked like a gym. She opened the door and motioned for him to step inside. She came in behind him. Frank was in awe as he took in the room around him. The building was large and had obviously been converted into a gym from something else.

You brushed by him. “You can lose the hood. No one in here cares.”

His brow furrowed as he looked down at you. How could you possibly know that? But he trusted you and he hated wearing the damn hood all the time. He pushed it back and tore his gaze from you. A couple of guys were sparring in the boxing ring in the corner. Others worked on punching bags or equipment scattered around the room. This wasn’t a trendy state of the art facility. No, this was one of those places that had been around for decades. Where people were family and came in as much for the company as the workout.

He turned to ask you what this place was to you when some pictures on the wall behind you caught his eye. You sighed as he moved past you to get a closer look. He didn’t have to look hard to see they were pictures from a deployment. Or multiple deployments if the change of scenery in the background was anything to go by. He’d been in enough of them to know one at a glance. What struck him about the photos is most of them had one figure that was so much smaller than the rest. “This is you.” It wasn’t a question but he wanted an answer just the same. You’d known each other for months and you’d never mentioned this place. And you’d certainly never mentioned serving.

“Yeah. Marines.” Your voice was quiet but proud.

He turned to face you and you met his gaze this time. The look in your eye was one he hadn’t seen before. You appeared almost…resigned. “And this place?”

The corner of your mouth curled up in a half-smile. “This is the shop.”

His eyes went wide. “This is the shop you own?”

“Yeah. Dad bought a garage that went under cheap and turned it into this. I grew up here. Boxed in that ring. Learned some dirty tricks from a couple of unsavory characters that my dad played poker with on Thursday nights.” You walked over and tapped one of the pictures. You were smiling in it, but it didn’t reach your eyes. No, you looked scared even if you were surrounded by your squad. “This was my last deployment. Bullet ripped through the muscle in my thigh. Time came up while I was in rehab. Decided it was a good time to get out.”

You perched on the edge of a desk that was probably yours. “Came home and helped dad with this place. Vets doing rehab get free access.” You gestured to the other side of the room. He turned and realized two of the men he’d thought were friends earlier were actually a trainer and a client, the latter of the two visibly scarred.

Frank was stunned that you had kept all this from him. He’d told you his biggest secrets and, if he were honest, it hurt a bit that you didn’t trust him enough to do the same. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

You shrugged. “Because I like you.”

He scratched his head. “Come again?”

You sighed and rubbed your palms along your thighs. “I attract a certain type of guy, Frank. I always have. I’m little. Guys think I need protection and they like that. It makes them feel manlier, I guess. I don’t know. What I do know is everyone I have ever dated has found a reason to leave when they realized I could take care of myself. That was never the reason they gave me, of course, but that didn’t make it any less true.”

Frank scoffed. “And you think I’d do that? I thought you knew me better than that.”

“I literally met you when you rescued me from an asshole. You protect. You get justice. That is who you are. And I get it, you know?” You scraped your shoe along the floor and focused your gaze on the movement. “I just…I really like you, Frank. If it meant I got to keep you, I was okay playing damsel in distress.”

The sorrow in your voice superseded any hurt he felt in the situation. You hadn’t intended to hurt him. You’d simply wanted him to stick around. He stepped forward and placed his hand under your chin to lift your face. Tears shone in your eyes and tugged at his heart. Leaning forward, he kissed your forehead before pulling you against his chest.

“Sweetheart, I’m not going anywhere. And I’m sorry a bunch of assholes made you feel that you couldn’t be your badass self around me.”

Your body shook as you laughed and he smiled in response. He leaned back and put his hands on your upper arms. He glanced around the building. “This place, this you, are cool as fuck. Given my past, I’m thrilled that you can protect yourself when I’m not around. You were amazing before and as far as I’m concerned, this just makes you fucking perfect.”

You blinked at him in stunned silence. “You’re not going to leave?”

Now it was his turn to laugh and he moved his hands up to cup your face. “Sweetheart, you’re never getting rid of me now.” And when he kissed you, he knew it was true. You’d been made for him and in his arms, in the middle of this gym, surrounded by your friends and pictures of your past was right where the two of you were meant to be.