I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night
Steve was growing restless. New York was in shambles, and while he was doing his best to aid the recovery effort, it wasn't enough to curb his deep sense of unease. To him, it was almost as if a thin film of ice still clung to his emotions; like it had once encased his body--and it was only now beginning to thaw, trickling lines of grief into his veins for a past he couldn't return to. He saw Peggy in the crimson-tinted curve of every woman's lips, Bucky in the cocksure grin of the Brooklyn boys strutting down the street--and the memories ached in ways he wasn't able to pronounce. So when Fury summoned him for a mission, Steve was glad for the distraction.
Tony, however, wasn't pleased.
"Listen here, pirate patch," he sniped at Fury, who sighed at the predictable insult. "It's been weeks since I've seen Pepper, I'm beginning to hate the sight of New York, and I'm not your metal suited pet monkey that you can just send off anywhere to do your bidding!"
Steve rolled his eyes, half-expecting Tony to stamp his foot too while he was at it.
"What's the mission?" Steve asked, crossing his arms and ignoring the still griping Stark.
"You have to find someone for me," Nick replied, swiping his fingers across the holo-screen. "A girl by the name of Cerise Solange."
"Looking for a wife, Fury?" Tony pursed his lips as he cast an eye over the photo. "Bit young for you, isn't she?"
"Why do you want her?" Steve stared at the picture-- she certainly seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary.
"My operatives have reported strange occurrences around her--the people she comes into contact with--something happens to them." Nick seemed disquieted, and Steve narrowed his eyes.
"What happens?" Tony echoed Steve's thoughts.
"That's the thing, we don't know. The accounts I receive are disjointed and inconclusive--the agents I've sent into the field after her come back disoriented with their memories scrambled. As far as I can tell, she's not vicious or violent--but she's clearly not in control of whatever powers she possesses, and that makes her a flight risk. Public opinion on the Avengers is still divided--some may consider you heroes for saving New York, but there are many others who haven't forgotten you trashed the city in the process. We don't need this spreading out to the masses."
"Yes, yes, fine," Tony waved his hand dismissively. "But why does it have to be us? Specifically, why me ? Last I checked, I wasn't on babysitting duty."
Fury pinched the bridge of his nose, clearly aggravated. "Thor is off world, we can't risk Bruce turning into the Hulk, and Natasha and Clint aren't exactly what you call friendly. I don't want to use force to bring her in--or risk setting off whatever it is that she can do. She needs to feel safe."
"Oh, so this old man and I seem real cute and cuddly to you, huh Nick?" Tony said bitingly, slinging an arm around Steve. "Look at that, Cap. We're 'safe'. Guess I better amp up my bitchface from now on, I'm losing my touch."
"You're heroes," Fury corrected, unamused. "Tony, you're Iron Man. She's probably watched you on the news for years, saving lives. Steve, you're a living legend, a war hero. If she's going to trust anyone, it will be you two."
"I don't like this, it feels like I'm your errand boy," Tony said mulishly.
Steve groaned, finally tired of Tony's snark. "Come on, Stark. It's a simple mission. We'll be back in no time."
Tony scowled, unconvinced.
"Look, if you do this, I'll give you six months off," Fury gave in, evidently hoping a bribe would work. "Just bring her in. She can stay at the compound, maybe we can find someone to train her. Who knows, she could become enough of an asset to join the Avengers. Whatever the case, she can't be left to herself."
Tony cocked an eyebrow. "You mean that about the vacation bit?"
Fury flashed a rare grin. "No, but you can tell yourself I did if it makes you feel any better."
Steve laughed as he watched Tony stomp out of the room. It wasn't everyday someone got the better of Stark.
Two Days Later
Steve had said it would be simple, but it was proving to be anything but. He and Tony had already scoured the locations Fury had told them the girl was last seen, but she was nowhere to be found.
He supposed it was to be expected. One had to have had some skill to avoid S.H.I.E.L.D operatives for this long.
"I need a drink," Tony groused, flinging open the door to the dingy bar they were standing in front of.
Steve followed with trepidation--alcohol did nothing for him now, and he didn't much want to tolerate a drunk Tony Stark.
The faint strains of song sifted through the dusty air of the room, growing stronger as they approached the bartender.
Steve could make out the slender silhouette of the woman performing in a shadowy corner of the room.
He joined Tony, slumped against the bar, and gradually allowed himself to sink into the syrup-slick sensation of the singer's verses.
She had a voice like pulled taffy, sticky-sweet and golden-smooth--it settled languorously into Steve's senses like sun-warmed wine, reminding him of the songs of his time--simpler, purer, sweeter.
Steve closed his eyes, letting the words weave themselves into his memory.
"There used to be a graying tower alone on the sea,
You became the light on the dark side of me,
Love remained a drug that's the high and not the pill,
But did you know,
I wish a gust of wind would bring me home,
You know that I love to live with you,
But you make me forget so very much,
I forget to pray for the angels,
And then the angels forget to pray for us,
So dance me to your beauty with a burning violin,
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in,
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove,
Dance me, dance me to the end of love...
A shaft of light hit Steve in the face, and his eyes flew open, catching the gaze of the now-silent singer.
A long spill of ravensilk hair, eyes the color of maple leaves in the morning light and skin like sunlit honey--this was the girl from the photo Nick had shown them.
Steve gave Tony a sharp jab in the chest. "Tony it's her, the singer."
He snapped to attention, but it was too late.
Solange had taken one look at Steve and fled.
They raced after her, careening into the damp, dimly lit alley behind the bar.
"Damn it, we're losing her," Steve panted, Tony quickly losing ground behind him without his suit.
"STAY AWAY FROM ME!" They heard a scream, and Steve cursed as he saw a homeless man stagger his way onto Solange's path.
She was backing away from him, hands outstretched. "No- no, you don't understand, I'll hurt you, just stay away, don't touch me--DON'T TOUCH ME--"
But it was too late.
He barreled into her, trying to grab at her clothes.
And then went flying ten feet into the air, landing with an enormous crash and an ominous cracking noise--without Solange moving a single muscle.