His head felt full and stuffed with cotton, drugged, and with the good stuff, Steve could barely feel his toes. The weekly baddies weren’t pulling punches this week, doing their research on how to take down Captain America. His eyes felt heavy and gooey which meant nothing good. The horse tranqs they (whoever they were) used must have knocked him into next week.
That was when Steve heard a groan, a familiar groan, and he forced his eyes open. Steve yanked himself upwards but found himself only able to sit up halfway with a metallic clatter ringing in his ears. The room was dull gray cement, the miserable cube no doubt miles underground. As he the thought passed Steve could feel the claustrophobia sinking in, being underground in confined places was not an ideal situation. He was shackled to the wall in what looked like industrial handcuffs, thick and most likely not metal. By the distinct clang Steve guessed Adamantium handcuffs.
The room was bare except for another man across the small cube, passed out, he was wearing a pressed suit, neatly fitted on the man’s body. Steve would have immediately assumed it was Tony Stark, if it wasn’t for the head of curly hair. The figure shifted and then sat up, Bruce Banner was locked in the cube with him.
Now he was really feeling claustrophobic.
Dylan could admit on occasion that, yes he had made a few enemies what with his tendency to turn around and stab his associates in the back. In his defense though he was doing the stabbing before they could do it first, and before this stab-y metaphor gets out of hand, let it be known that said stabbing was Dylan in fact just roughly pulling the rug out from under his associates feet. So if anyone was doing the stabbing it was the people his associate had pissed off.
What Dylan couldn’t wrap his mind around was when Harrah’s had gotten such good security, last time he checked and that was last week, he wasn’t down on his game. Harrah’s couldn’t catch a card counter worth a damn. Dylan had already raked in over a thousand and was working up to the next thousand when the casino’s shit security came marching toward him, which was exactly when he ran.
Chairs, waiters, and kids, knocked down and thrown in the way for good measure. Except the security wasn’t security and it certainly wasn’t shit. Dylan wasn’t sure if Harrah’s had stepped up their game and hired help (which seemed like a bit of over kill) or the FBI had finally caught up or this was something entirely new.
He was fucked either way because the security that wasn’t shit security was on his ass and his trail of destruction wasn’t going to hold them back forever. Dylan just managed to jump a Blackjack table when he felt the prick at his neck, and it was all over. Passing out in the middle of a game of Blackjack, this is how the great Dylan Rhodes goes down.
“Bruce, uh, can you hear me?” Steve waited for a second the Doctor seemed really out of it, but not rage-y which was good. Steve had a decent amount of fear and worry, swirling around his stomach, to be honest the soldier was freaking out. They had put him in a confined space miles underground with the hulk, he was as good as dead.
There was another groan from across the room, it sounded kind of drunk, not out of the ordinary they both had been drugged. Steve was willing to bet elephant tranqs had been used on the Doctor. Steve tried to rouse the Doctor again.
“Bruce, are you awake, can you hear me?” There was another groan, it sounded sort of aggravated like Steve was interrupting the man’s evening nap, which was strange. Steve decided to ignore it, he was probably being paranoid.
He felt a pang of sympathy at the slumped man though, he had not been deposited on the floor carefully, at all. He was slumped sideways, head falling limp in his lap, but it was arm that was chained to the wall that must have hurt. Twisted oddly, and turning a very ugly red. Steve had already adjusted his position to relieve the pain and aggravation but would soon have to re-adjust again.
Finally, Bruce started to stir, free arm twitching, legs kicking slightly before his head lifted slowly. Bruce stared at Steve blankly for what felt like a minute, but was probably a second.
“Uh, Bruce, are you ok?” Steve tried for nonchalance, not wanting the Doctor to interpret his anxiety, this really was not an ideal situation. He suspected the Doctor would see right through him anyway.
Bruce’s eyes narrowed slightly, still not having moved to fix his twisted arm, and for one fearful second Steve entertained the thought of Bruce hulking out because he thought Steve betrayed him to the military, and he’d been captured as well. A little farfetched but not something that the mysterious organization that captured them wouldn’t think of.
“Fine.” Bruce answered, calm and succinct. The Doctor eyes quickly scanned the small grey cube, only one equally gray door, in the room. Steve caught a frown on the Doctor’s face, probably at the futility of getting out.
Then he sat up, finally re-adjusting his arm, rolling his shoulders at the relief. Steve, watched awkwardly as the Doctor kicked off his black oxford shoes and with his toes pulled them toward his free arm, face contorted into concentration.
Dylan was feeling kind of insulted, yet at the same time giddy and excited. The asshats who interrupted his thousand dollar streak (like it was hard) considered him along the same level of kidnapping difficulty as Captain America. Which honestly warmed the cockles of his heart.
Just a bit, he wasn’t getting gooey. And that was only because Captain America was goody. Dylan made a living off of ripping off every other person he met. Okay, and occasionally when he pick pocketed those poor bastards on Wall Street but those dicks probably had it coming and the cash went to the first vagrant he met. So all love and fair, or whatever.
Captain America was asking him something about his health, except he sounded really anxious like he knew he was dangerous, which was worrying. But not enough to put him on edge, because the Captain fucked his name up (any of them) he’d never used Bruce as an alias.
So he just answered. “Fine.”
Then Dylan got down to casing the really depressing cell he was trapped in. Four walls, cement, underground most likely, one exit. Simple stupidly simple. Did these dipshits really kidnap, for this.
All he had on him was some scarves (for street scams, kids love it, the parents not so much after they find their wallets empty), three trick decks, dice, cuffs, and rings. And that was all in his jacket. He had a pack of marbles, cigarettes (trick?), lighter (trick??), pen, and paper. That was about it. Mostly useless for escapism.
His shoes were the most important. Dylan wiggled them off, tugging them toward himself with his toes, he thanked the gods for his dexterity as he one handed pulled out the bottom of the black oxfords.
Dylan heard the Captain make a small gasp, and smirked inwardly. Too bad he couldn’t see the inside of his jacket. The hero would be doing more than gasping. The heel of the right oxford held a small space for cuff keys, and a lock kit. The left shoe held more mundane things such as credit card, identification, and knife. Just in case.
Today he needed the right foot. The lock kit was multipurpose and he really hoped it would work on this mother of a handcuff. It was nothing like he’d ever seen, and he was holding out hope that these kidnappers weren’t too imaginative in the lock business.
Dylan lifted himself to his knees and began on the lock, listening intently to the sounds the strange metal made.
Steve watched as Bruce popped the back of his shoe open, taking out what looked like standard cuff keys (that would never work) and then a lock kit. Steve was understandably surprised, and couldn’t hold back his gasp. He didn’t think Bruce would be this prepared for a situation like this, but as he thought about it, it made sense.
Bruce was more likely to face these situations and would prepare for it, learning lock picking being one them. Steve remained silent as Bruce positioned himself to properly get to the lock on his cuff. But Steve watched in anticipation as Bruce worked, wondering if he’d break the lock or not.
After several tense minutes Bruce sighed, plopping down, dropping the lock pick.
Steve fought a frown, Bruce had tried. “It’s okay, Bruce, you tried.”
What was with that name? Dylan had no idea who the hell Bruce was, but he had the distinct feeling he’d hate the guy’s guts. He sounded like an asshole.
Dylan smiled weakly, because Bruce sounded like the guy to smile weakly. Captain America looked reassured, god this guy was easy. He was also blind as a bat.
Dylan had popped the monster handcuffs like a cherry. Confirming his theory that the goons who kidnapped him were indeed idiots of the highest caliber. He still couldn’t figure out what some second (first) rate nappers were doing snatching Captain America and him at the same time.
Probably not something he wanted to know. Or it was just more fodder for these asshats stupidity. Mistaken Identity? Like that incident in Calcutta, what a nightmare. Although he felt the greatest satisfaction in giving that redhead a run for her money.
After this though he sort of wanted to meet the bastard who looked so much like him. And then punch him in the face. Which probably meant pretending to be a weak, asshat, who has crazy homicidal redheads chasing him and apparently knows Captain America.
Dylan was going to have fun punching this twat in the face. For now he was going to keep his eyes on the ceiling like a man condemned and pretend him and the Captain are both doomed.
Four hours, it took four hours before a guard checked on them. Although it was more like the standard roughing up, a punch or two and yelling in the face. Cap, took it well, although he got scary pale when the guard rounded on Dylan, demanding for a second punching, weird.
Dylan wasn’t complaining, more punching to you. Dylan wiggled a bit seeing this as his chance, he coughed all wretched and horrible like he was dying. Even throwing in a groan or two.
“Hey, stop that!” Goon guard said, his red face all intimidating. Dylan made sure to look extra intimidated.
“Sorry, man haven’t had a smoke in hours.” Dylan wiggled his hips. “Could ya.” He gave the guard a ‘could-ya-do-a-dead-man-walking-a-solid,’ smile. The guard took it and slipped his hand into Dylan’s pocket. Fucking sucker.
The guard was kneeled right between his legs, and before the poor kid knew it he was caught between Dylan’s thighs. Dylan yanked his cuffed hand free, the guard struggled at the metal clang. Too late. Dylan twisted grabbing the guards struggling hand that had been in his pocket (best way to find the dominate hand) and slapped the cuff around it.
Dylan got out from under the guard and kneed the red faced guard for good measure. Fucking amateur.
Oops. Guess that might have given him away. Bruce probably isn’t much of a gymnast or lock picker. Captain America was looking a bit pale, definitely like he knew ‘Bruce’ wasn’t his friend.
Time to scram.
Dylan in all his heroicness kicked the lock pick toward Captain America. With a rough tug Dylan wrestled the guard’s gun away and with half assed salute, left the building, as it were.
The Captain’s boy band would be marching behind him soon.
And he guessed he wasn’t going to meet Bruce.
Steve swallowed, a huge gulp of fear slid down. Director Fury stared daggers at him (or past him, he wasn’t sure), Romanoff looked absolutely murderous, Barton looked murderous but that could just be his face, and Stark looked about two seconds from falling off his chair in laughter.
So Steve was understandably equal parts scared and confused. He’d told the Avengers what had happened and was promptly told that Bruce Banner was currently Brazil and had not moved location at all. Which only confused the soldier more.
Director Fury and Romanoff clearly knew something, which made Barton uneasy which made Stark curious which lead to him hacking SHIELD and thus his current amusement. Steve was still very much confused, Barton out of the loop and uneasy.
“So, how could Banner be there and not?” Steve was really, curious, and Stark’s shit eating grin was not helping.
The Director closed his eye, and then opened it, piercing Stark. Stark got the memo and displayed what was amusing him so much.
The same man Steve saw the other day was displayed. He had a SHIELD file, and a lot of information. Information about all of the federal crimes, bank robberies, international crimes, and petty thefts. None of the file actually had to do with the man Steve had met, except for the various alias the man himself used.
Bruce was now added to the list.
“Captain the man you met was not Bruce Banner, in fact were inclined to believe he is an aberration. He seems to travel across the world attempting –
“And succeeding” quipped Stark, a smirk on his face.
“Yes, Stark succeeding in near impossible heists, he does not seem to have a preference for banks or museums. Although he does appear to have a robin hood like goal in his choices, with a small bit of flair that is. If he attacks then the whole world will know why, embezzlement, drugs, and war mongering. You will know exactly where your money is going.”
The Director frowned minutely and then continued. “We haven’t had a reason to see Dylan Rhodes as a threat for that very reason, except for the fact that he tends to be mistaken for a certain Avenger at inopportune times.”
Steve would say this last time was quite opportune if he’d been with Doctor Banner in that cell things could certainly have been worse, except for the part where Rhodes had left him for dead.
“Assembling the Avengers was proved difficult when two Bruce Banners were in the same country and we managed to locate the wrong one, although we didn’t know it at the time. Rhodes put up quite the fight.”
Romanoff’s tone was icy as she told her side of the story and he could imagine her being quite angry about the look-alike besting her. With what he saw of Rhodes and his methods he wondered what kind of trick he used on Romanoff.
Romanoff’s expression was a near snarl as she growled. “Scarves.”
Stark fell out of his chair.
Director Fury told them to be on alert and to make sure they were speaking to Banner if he showed up. Not two weeks later Bruce is recalled back to New York on account of evil robots. The battle is a bit long winded and the mastermind even more longwinded, but the Hulk took care of that.
What took longer was the clean-up, homicidal robots are apparently more destructive than aliens. Banner is sitting slumped on the stone steps outside of the police station, talking to a paramedic who keeps bugging him about medical attention, and another person is hovering over them. Clint can tell their a reporter and he really wants to interrupt but leaves it, Banner can take care of himself, which he does but not in the way he imagines.
The paramedic wanders off, a bit put out. Which leaves the nagging reporter an opening. Banner’s standing now, wobbling back and forth. The reporter completely ignores it and plows on, and Clint can tell that Banner is having none of it by the crease between his brows and line of his lips. Clint is just waiting for him to tell the reporter to shove off.
Instead, Bruce falls on the reporter all sloppy and post-Hulk drunk. The reporter makes a show of it, yelling because a half-naked man fell on her, and now her thousand dollar suit is dirty, and assault. Clint wants to yell in her face for it.
And that’s when Clint sees it, nimble and smooth, Bruce’s fingers brush the loud reporter’s suit jacket. His fingers are swift and gone in no time. Clint’s no stranger to pick pocketing, having been desperate for food to do it himself, but he’s never seen it done so cleanly before. Then he remembers what Fury said about not-Bruce.
The reporter’s already made enough noise that Steve and Natasha are moving in, except they have no idea what Bruce just did. It’s almost laughable, the ease in which he did it, the distraction (falling), then the movement. By now the wallet is tucked in Bruce’s hoodie and Steve and Natasha are shooing away the reporter, while Bruce slumps down again with the wallet.
It’s so good that Clint doesn’t say anything. The reporter was out of line anyway.
The next day Clint plunks down on the coach, surfing through the daily news when he really gets it.
The news women from the other day is angrily denying having donated thousands of dollars to a Brazilian charity for youth in need. Her face getting redder and redder, she can’t take back the money because if she does it will ruin her, yet here she is denying involvement saying that she was robbed. Not only that, blaming the charity for robbing her and hacking her account.