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fresh wounds (old friends)

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“So how is your new team adjusting?”

Steve grimaced as Diana removed the last piece of shrapnel from his arm, rotating it once just to make sure there weren’t any more stray pieces. He sat perched at the foot of the motel bed, while Diana rested in a chair in front of him, having carefully extracted several pieces of jagged metal from his flesh.

Tonight’s operation had been a tad more chaotic than he planned, and he’d regretted going in it alone - but considering who happened on the scene...maybe it was for the best.

“Oh, they’re...adjusting. Wanda and Vision are the least experienced, but quick learners. Wanda though...she has a lot of anger.” 

Setting the metal bin aside, Diana began removing her bracelets. “She still mourns her brother, her twin no less. On Themyscira, some of my fellow Amazons had twins, and for one to lose the other...it was to lose a piece of their soul.”

A silence fell over the two as Diana started cleaning herself up. She always had a way with words that revealed her true age and often gave Steve pause. True, Thor was nearly as old (he wasn’t sure which of the two was older, and he had no intentions on asking) but whereas Thor was loud and passionate, Diana was focused, calm, and soft despite a steely resolve. Silk wrapped around a dagger, but that silk had grown worn over countless lifetimes. 

His thoughts were interrupted by Diana breaking the quiet spell between them. “On the subject of lost souls, I’ve seen him.”

Steve perked up at the mention of Bucky. He hadn’t seen him since getting pulled from the river when Hydra was thwarted.  “You have?”

She nodded. “Budapest. He’s moving through parts of Europe, staying out of sight. I passed him by train from sheer luck. I would have followed, but I could tell he was being hunted.” There was a subtle enunciation on ‘was’ that most wouldn’t pick up on. Steve wasn’t most, and immediately understood her meaning.

“Bad news for them,” Steve replied, a slight humor to his tone before he grew quiet once more. “...thank you, Diana.”

The smile that Diana gave him was so warm and soft that it seemed almost fake, but Steve knew better. “You’re welcome.”

“I mean it...we could use you. Natasha would love to meet you.”

A playful laugh escaped Diana. “And I would love to meet her.”

“I hope there’s no jealousy-” Steve started to tease, but Diana put a swift end to it with a finger to his lips.

“Hush, Steve. Jealousy has no place in my life.”

She held her hand there for a moment before pulling it back, and Steve failed to contain the brief shudder that raced through him, already feeling the loss of her warm hand. And then, he asked a question that had weighed on his mind for some time.

“You always turn down my invite, which I always expect...but you never give me an answer as to why.”

Diana grew quiet at that, her eyes downcast. A somber expression fell over her face that - to Steve - revealed her in her purest form. An old soul with the face of a goddess.

When she spoke again, her voice was soft, haunted even. “...my brother was Ares, the God of War. When I first came to the world of Man, I believed that he was the source of all evil and death among men, and if I killed him, it would end the war...he told me he planted ideas for weapons in the minds of mankind, but…”

“But humanity doesn’t need a War Deity to do horrible things.”

“No,” Diana replied, meeting Steve’s eyes as she answered. Her gaze was somehow harder and softer at the same time. She wore that combination of world-weary and gentle to an almost disturbing degree. It threw Steve for a loop every time they crossed paths.

“I will always fight for mankind, Steve. But I don’t always trust mankind.”

Steve nodded his head, eyes downcast before shrugging, not blaming her at all for her answer. “Yeah, well, feeling’s mutual.”

A sudden playful smirk creeped across Diana’s features as she reached forward, cupping his face. “Perhaps we should feel something else then.”

For a moment, Steve watched her, basking in the comfort of her hand against his cheek, before a soft smile tugged at his lips. “I like that.” He leaned in then, eagerly accepting her kiss, no more words passing between them that night.