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Not Afraid Anymore

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And touch me like you never.

2012

You were there the day he was thawed out.

Watching as Agent Coulson fanboyed out over the life-size Ken doll.

Fury rolling his one good eye makes you hide a smirk.

You bet Coulson fifty bucks that he wouldn’t fall for the elaborate set-up S.H.I.E.L.D. had created to try and convince him it was still 1945.

Phil took the bet.

There is no hiding the smug smile from your face when Coulson’s beloved Captain America goes feral, knocking out agents, busting through the wall, and running out of the facility.

You watch from the backseat of the black SUV as Fury approaches Rogers. The man standing in the middle of Time Square looks like a lost puppy with his wide, innocent blue eyes and short blonde hair.

“Are you going to tell him?” Phil questions from the driver’s seat. “Who your –”

“No,” you interrupt him. “I think he’s got enough to process for a while.”

Nick speaks with him for a few moments, then he begins walking the science experiment back to your SUV. Fury had ridden with you and Coulson. Which means – the rear passenger door opens and you’re not sure why you feel nervous as Steve Rogers climbs onto the bench seat beside you.

“Hi,” he looks surprised by your presence and the word comes out uneasy as Fury climbs into the passenger seat.

“Captain, this is Agent Coulson,” Fury introduces your superior first, which is customary, before he gives the man your name.

“Nice to meet you,” Steve gives a nod, eyes narrowing slightly. Something about you is familiar, but he can’t place it and you see the questions written on his face.

You feel awful for him.

This wouldn’t be easy for anyone.

Waking up to find everyone and everything you knew is gone.

Later, you stand outside Fury’s office, watching him and Coulson.Steve Rogers sits in front of Fury’s desk, looking more rattled than he did in Times Square. Nick Fury’s eyes land on you through the glass partition and he raises his hand, motioning for you to come inside.

“Sir?” you question him as you enter, closing the door behind you.

“I’m going to need you to help Captain Rogers adjust,” Fury states, his gaze shifting over to the Captain. “A lot has changed in seventy years.”

“What?” the request shocks you. You glance to Coulson and he gives you a nod of reassurance.

Of course. Why would they assign someone else to him when you’re here?

Only Coulson and Fury know who you really are.

“Agent Coulson’s already cleared you,” Fury comments and you look over to the man in the chair.

A big, blonde, blue-eyed, lost puppy.

You had joined S.H.I.E.L.D. to make a difference.

For the thrill of missions and secrecy.

Yet, here you are, baby-sitter to Captain America himself.

So, for months you help him – teach him – things that he should know.

The Internet. Cell phones. Computers.

A checking account. Debit card.

Shopping. Driving, although he’s more comfortable on a motorcycle.

Microwaves.

Pizza Rolls.

Nutella.

You introduce him to Star Wars and the two of you start doing movie nights to get him caught up on cultural references.

Rogers tells you about life before the serum, about Bucky, Dr. Erskine, Howard, and Peggy. You hear about his team, The Howling Commandos and their raids on Hydra.

He’s lost so much, and you see a side of him that no one else sees.

The golden boy is broken.

“Thank you,” he says sincerely, as the two of you approach your car one night. He always insists on walking out with you when you leave his apartment.

“For?” you question, shoving your hands in your jacket pockets as you smile, hitting the unlock button on the key fob there, because he’s already reaching for your car door.

So old-fashioned.

“I know you didn’t want me as an assignment,” he says, pulling open the driver’s door. “But you’ve helped me – a lot. I mean, I don’t really have anyone, so thank you, for being a friend.”

Little lost puppy.

You give him a warm smile, “Well, you have me now and I’m pretty awesome.” He laughs as you smirk. “I’ll always be your friend, Rogers. I promise.”

“Oh, that’s a promise?” he says it questioningly, and you pull your right hand from your pocket. Fist clenched tightly, only your pinky finger extending from it.

“Pinky swear,” you say simply, and a smile plays at the corners of his mouth as he lifts his left hand to wrap his pinky finger around yours.

“Okay,” he remarks. “Pinky swear it is.”

Friends.

Always.

You keep your promise, even when Loki gets inside your head later that year. On the carrier, you come face to face with Steve and for a moment, you hesitate. Unable to fight him as the Asgardian had instructed you to do. Natasha lands a hard, right hook to your jaw, knowing it had worked on Clint.

When you wake up, Fury’s there. He tells you about Coulson and your heart shatters, but you keep your emotions in check. You follow him to a conference table where he gives a speech to what’s left of the team.

Everyone’s in their own head.

Defeated, but determined.

He doesn’t come to you until later, when you’re sitting on the steps, adjusting the leather gloves of your uniform as you wait for the fight that’s coming.

“You good?” there’s concern in his tone.

You nod, “I’m – I’m sorry.”

“It wasn’t you,” he states. “We’re okay.”

Your eyes shift up to him. The red, white, and blue uniform making him look every bit the hero that Coulson would fanboy over. You lift your fist to him, extending your pinky finger. He gives a smile, his finger twisting around yours tightly.

2014

You keep your promise, even when the Hydra trained assassin The Winter Soldier tries to kill you, and Steve tells you that the man is Bucky Barnes. You’re not convinced – until you are – as you watch The Winter Soldier pull an unconscious Captain America from the river.

Sam tells you he’s awake and when you enter the hospital room, he tries to give you a smile. It pains you to see him so beaten and bruised.

Little lost puppy.

Broken again.

“I saw him,” you say quietly, standing beside the edge of the bed. “I saw him pull you from the river.”

“It’s Bucky,” he states, the sadness in his voice is heartbreaking.

You lay your hand on top of his, a small comfort, “I should have believed you. I’m sorry.”

His hand shifts under yours and you feel his pinky finger intertwine with yours.

A reminder.

2015

Tony Stark brings you in full time at the tower after the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. because Fury left him a note explaining who you really are.

Stark is surprised to say the least, but happy, and he promises to keep it a secret. You haven’t told Rogers yet, but you will – at some point.

Ultron happens and Tony moves you upstate to the new facility and suddenly you’re spending more time with him than before when not on missions.

You overhear him and Sam in the kitchen one night.

“What’s the deal with you two?” Wilson questions.

“Sam,” Steve sounds exasperated. “She’s a friend. It’s easy to be around her – she knows me.”

“Uh huh,” Sam remarks. “Pretty sure they have another word for that.”

“Sam,” his tone is reprimanding.

“Okay,” Wilson replies. “But weren’t you the one giving Banner advice on not waiting too long?”

You’d be lying if you said the thought’s never crossed your mind.

You’re human.

But he’s always been that lost puppy in the middle of Times Square.

The broken hero in need of a friend.

You enter the kitchen, surprising Sam more than Steve. He smiles at you warmly, a small glint in his blue eyes and it reminds you that as long as he needs you to be that – you will.

His friend.

Always.

2016

Nigeria happens and everyone’s hit hard. The night you all return, he stops by your room. Leaning against your doorframe, still looking like the blonde haired, blue-eyed puppy you were assigned, just a bit older – refined.

“You okay?” you question him as you continue to unpack your duffel.

“No,” he responds quietly. “But I have to be.”

Closing the drawer on your dresser you sigh, before turning around to face him, “Heavy is the head, Cap.” You move back toward your bed. “It’s not your fault.”

“I know,” he folds his arms across his chest. “Hey, I – I – know it’s not the best time.” When he stumbles over the words, you glance at him. He’s all nerves. “But do you want to get dinner this weekend – with me?”

Your brows furrow curiously at his question, “Dinner?”

“Yea,” he responds with a slight nod. “Dinner.”

A smile slowly spreads across your face and you watch it reciprocate on his as you say, “Sure.”

“Ok then,” the puppy is still in there, because you see him. “Good.”

The two of you never make it to dinner though.

Ross shows up the next day with the Accords and turns your world upside down. When the lines get drawn, you find yourself standing across from Steve Rogers. The wounded look in his eyes is enough to shatter you.

For the first time, you are part of the reason he’s a little more broken.

Your heart is ripped from your chest when Tony returns from Siberia, tossing the vibranium shield on the floor in front of you. You see the anger and heartache in the older man’s face, but he doesn’t tell you what happened.

Only that Steve is alive.

2018

Two years.

It’s not that long, but it feels like an eternity.

The pardon had gone into effect and they were finally coming home.

Your friends – family really.

Although, after the fight in Germany, you’re not sure if Steve even wants to see you.

Keeping yourself busy as a distraction in the lab, you aren’t aware someone’s standing in the doorway watching as you run tests on an artifact Parker had come across. He finally clears his throat to gain your attention and you turn around slowly.

The man standing in the doorway of the lab, makes the Steve Rogers you met the day he woke up after being in the ice look like a boy. A thick, dark beard lines his jaw, his once short, bright, blonde hair, now darker, longer. You have the sudden urge to run your fingers through it, and you realize you’re staring at him – not breathing.

“Steve,” you say his name as if it’s foreign to you.

“Hey,” his voice is even a little deeper.

His eyes are the same though. A beautiful pain stricken blue.

You can’t imagine what he’s been through the past two years. The fallout with Tony was bad enough, but the things he’s done since then.

The person he had to become.

Still the broken hero.

But how many times can a broken thing break?

“I missed you,” he finally says softly, and you smile as you bring your fist in front of you, pinky extended.

A reminder.

There’s a ghost of smile on his lips as his long legs close the distance between you in a couple strides. His finger hooking yours tightly. “I needed you.” He whispers, eyes taking in your features before his soft, plush lips crash against yours. He moves his hand to encompass the side of your face, his tongue dipping into your mouth for a taste.

This wasn’t the reunion you had expected.

No objections though.

His broad shoulders seem to tower over you as he pushes you against the lab table behind you. A glass beaker falls victim to the collision and shatters against the floor. Steve Rogers may still be broken, but this is a side of him you’ve never seen.

He’s filled with desire and want, spreading it to you with every lick and dip of his tongue.

An all-consuming need.

Wet.

Hot.

Desperate.

You’re arching into him, feeling the length of him press into your hip – hard. Your fingers are in his hair, pulling him closer to you. His mouth moves to your jaw, before working his way down your neck. You feel the graze of his teeth at the vein there, nipping and sucking.

You didn't know you wanted this.

Needed this.

You've never needed anything more than him in this moment.

That little lost puppy – a full-grown wolf – who knows exactly what he wants.

You.

“Steve,” his name comes out in a breathy moan against his ear and you feel him press harder against you. The moan from his chest feels more like a growl and your right leg hooks around him. You need to feel him there and his fingers grip your thigh tightly as he grinds into you. His mouth captures yours again a little softer this time – affectionately. You press against him, heat radiating through your jeans, an aching, slick beneath and you need him to know what he's doing to you.

Begging for him to take you.

To devour you like the animal he's become.

You will help fix your broken boy.

Protect him.

His shield.

“Cap,” Tony’s voice is cold and stern from the doorway. His lips leave yours, blue eyes staring down at you mischievously at being caught. The next words fall from Stark’s lips and you watch as the realization crosses Steve’s rugged features.

The familiarity of you the first day in the SUV.

Fury assigning you to him.

It all made sense.

After all, Howard had admired Steve Rogers.

“Get your fucking hands off my sister.”