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The Thunder

Chapter Text

April 27, 2015

 

Steve Rogers sighed looking at the glass of whiskey in his hand. He sipped the golden liquid and he regretted, for what seemed like the millionth time, that he couldn't get drunk.

 

The Captain looked around to see his colleagues and friends drinking and laughing. They had just come back from destroying another HYDRA base somewhere. He didn't even remember where it was, not that he cared at all. He just wanted them to disappear so no more civilians got hurt because of the terrorist orgnatitation.

 

He heard Thor booming, as loud as he was right next to him, although he was at the opposite of the room. The laughs of Jane, Thor's girlfriend, their friend Darcy and Pepper. He turned around, seeing Bruce talking lively with Sam and Rhodey, the last one looking like he was about to shoot himself if the other two didn't shut up, what made him smile a little.

 

And then he felt a hand on his shoulder, patting his back. Steve swallowed the sigh that rose from his throat and looked up to his friend.

 

"Hey, Capsicle!" Tony gave him a wide smile; his brown eyes twinkling with a childish shine.

 

"Hi, Tony," Steve replied, raising his glass.

 

"Are you having a good time?"

 

The Captain glared at him. He didn't even know how in Hell he had let Tony to drag him there. But, after discussing with Stark for almost an hour and being harassed by Natasha and Clint, he had finally given in and there they were now, in a bar in the heart of Brooklin, with lots of other people around.

 

He had to admit it was an extraordinary, unreal place, tho.

 

In first place, they weren't being disturbed by fangirls and fanboys. Although he always tried to be friendly, sometimes it was a bit tiring. He had seen some badges and regulate guns, so he wondered absently if it was a "cop bar". That could be the reason why they didn't say anything; they were exhausted of fighting crime, and, just as The Avengers, just wanted a break.

 

In second, the walls were all covered with posters of rock bands, some even of his day (and he wasn't referring only to the bands, also to the posters themselves, that seemed to be able to be reduced to nothing but ashes if anyone dared to touch them), and unknown songwriters who smiled at the camera from the shelves.

 

Despite the festive atmosphere, he would rather be in his apartment. But he wouldn't say that to Tony, it wouldn't be polite, and for once, the man seemed to be legitimate just trying to cheer them all up.

 

"C'mon Stark," he heard Natasha at his other side. "You can't just ask supersoldiers from War World II if they're having a good time since we're not showing patriotism and singing gospel. That's not polite."

 

Tony snorted and Steve glanced at Natasha, who was standing there with a beer in hand and a bright, though fierce, smile.

 

"Hilarious," Steve replied, trying to look angry. Which, of course, he failed.

 

"How are you doing, Rogers?" The Widow asked looking right into his deep, blue eyes to make sure he wouldn't lie to her.

 

"Good, I guess," Steve shrugged. He really didn't want to talk to them about the nightmares he was having since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Specially about Bucky. Despite the help Sam had provided, he had found nothing about his best friend. It was as if he had vanished, again. And that was driving him crazy.

 

"BEEEEP" Tony said, imitating an alarm. "The polygraph says that your nose will grow, Capsicle." There was a moment of silence while the Captain looked at him with a blank expression. "What?" Tony blurted out. "You didn't get that reference?"

 

Natasha laughed at the comment and Steve rolled his eyes.

 

"You know what would make you good?" Natasha intervened.

 

Don't say it. Please, don't say it. Steve thought, closing his eyes.

 

"A date".

 

She has said it.

 

"Nat..."

 

"Why don't you ask Sharon out?" the redhead asked innocently.

 

Steve sighed. Despite what everyone believed, including Sharon herself for what it seemed, he didn't see anything more than a colleague, another agent, and the granddaughter of the woman he had come to love 70 years ago. Of course she attracted him, but it was for her resemblance to Peggy Carter. No more no less. And he didn't want that in a relationship. He wanted love, true love, not an attraction created by the ghosts of the past.

 

"Hey, wait a moment," Tony interjected, rasing an eyebrown and looking at him with a smirk. "How I didn't know about that? You lucky bastard!" Tony pointed then to Natasha, who seemed more than pleased with herself. "Nat, you've gotta tell me everything!"

 

And that moment, the Captain's glass almost overflowed. He tried to calm himself down and looked at his two friends.

 

"I haven't told you anything, Tony, because there's nothing to tell," both gave him the 'I-don't-believe-a-single-word-you-are-saying' look. Steve sighed, again. It was gonna be a really long night. "Listen, I just don't-"

 

Steve's dialogue was abruptly cut off by the sound of what he recognized as country music (or at least, for what it looked to him as country from what he had listened. At his time, it wasn't called that. Just music from the South.) He looked up and saw a stunning, beautiful girl that left him breathless. She seemed to be very young, even more than him. He was just on his mid 20s, but maybe she hardly reached them.

 

She had big, bright, (c/e) eyes shining with joy, (h/l) (h/c) hair and soft (s/c) skin. She was wearing a white strapless dress that ended just above her knees and a dark blue acoustic guitar in her hands.

 

The instrumental of the song seemed to come from speakers on stage, since no one else was up there with her, at least it seemed to him like that; it was hard to say, because the back was completely dark.

 

The sound of the guitar that she was carrying began to ring around the bar, and then… then he heard her voice. A sweet, melodic voice which sang with feeling.

 

The song was about having hope and fight till the end, about never giving up. And Steve just could stare at her, completely mesmerized by her. He was briefly aware of Tony calling him, shaking him by the shoulders, but he put a hand up, asking his friend to leave him alone while the song lasted.

 

At the end of the song, she changed the lyrics: while she had been singing all the way in 'present' tense, then she started to do it in 'past'. And then she was claiming about how the battle the song talked of had been won.

 

While the music faded off, a girl with wavy golden hair and blue bright eyes went up the stage and hugged her. Everyone who was in the bar started clapping like crazy, Steve stronger than anyone, cheering her with a huge smile.

 

Natasha, who hadn't lost sight of him while the young woman sang, noticed the excitement in the eyes of the Captain. That was not the way he looked at Shannon. It was ... it was almost like the way she looked at Clint when no one was present. She smiled to herself and moved, no one noticing her slipping away.

 

Steve followed her with his eyes when he saw her get off the stage, but suddenly she disappeared into the crowd of the bar. He frowned and sighed looking at his hands, out of his trance.

 

"She's pretty," a voice said next to him. Steve almost choked on his whiskey and Sam burst out laughing, patting the back of his friend.

 

"I-I wansn't- I just- Can't- I mean, I didn't-" Steve stammered, her cheeks turning into a light shade of pink.

 

"Hey, man," Sam whispered. 'It's okay if you think she's pretty. That's not illegal, you know? And... Wow!' Sam raised his eyebrows in an incredulous gesture as he took his bottle to his lips. "What a voice".

 

"It's good you two think that, because she's right here."

 

Both friends turned around to see Natasha with a hand on the girl's shoulder, a broad smile on her face. Steve's jaw dropped slightly before he came out of his stupor.

 

"I'm Steve, Steve Rogers, ma'am," the Captain said, standing and putting out a hand.

 

She shook his hand, smiling as she looked straight into his blue eyes, as deep as the sea.

 

"I'm (y/n), (y/n) (l/n)".

 

Steve smiled. Little did he know that three days later he would have to face Ultron, but always with her presence in the back of his mind.

 

At least, until the final battle with the evil A.I., when everything changed again.

Chapter Text

NOTES: As said previewsly: AU for A:AoU -Clint's not married. Sorrynotsorry.

 

Before being riddled with bullets, Clint Barton was already having a bad day.

Well, actually, that was an understatement. He wished it had been just a day. The last moment of rest he had experienced was when they had spent the night at the bar, three days before that madness had begun, when the Captain had known that girl he kept thinking about.

While they all had been on the run, going after Ultron, they had made a break at the house of his sister, Laura, and his nephews on the farm that had belonged to their grandparents back in the day, in the middle of nowhere. That made him think of having a family, about Natasha and their strange relationship as partners... And that in turn had only served to lower further his mood, as if going after a killer robot was not enough.

Then Natasha had been abducted because he hadn't been where he should've at the right time.

Steve had arrived followed by the Maximoffs... and he'd wanted to scream.

They had worked for HYDRA, then for Ultron, and they had hurt not only Nat, but the rest of the Avengers, AND STEVE 'I-HAVE-ALWAYS-TO-TURN-THE-OTHER-CHEEK' ROGERS BROUGHT THEM ON BOARD? Sometimes he wanted to punch his teeth out.

And the best: after rescuing Nat, he had been asked to take care of the twins, Weird Kid I and Weird Kid II (also known as Speedy Gonzales), and everything got even worse. Something he didn't think it was possible.

Yeah, both of the twins had joined them at the final battle along with Vision. That would be good, if it wasn't for the fact that the Avengers were now increased in three members and, still, they were losing.

So there he was, hugging that little boy who couldn't be more than 10, just like Cooper, his oldest nephew, trying to protect him. When Clint had seen the child's mother crying, he hadn't doubted: he had to go back the city and take him back to her.

And now he was going to die.

He closed his eyes, protecting the child with his body... and then he heard the shots.


Ever since he was little, Pietro Maximoff had loved running. He could never sit still, and the feeling of going that fast his feet barely touched the ground, as if flying, was indescribable.

After their parents died, hatred had accumulated inside of him. And when years later he had presented with his sister before HYDRA, so Strucker experimented on them, he hadn't really been surprised to discover what powers he had been granted with. He was fast.

The difference between the moment they had been able to go out of the experiment's room (only about two weeks ago) and now, was that he knew what he had to use them for. He was with the good guys. Because he wasn't the villain... He didn't want to either.

He wanted to be a hero.

And so, when he saw that the first Avenger he had met in person, Hawkeye, had come down from SHIELD's Helicarrier to save that child and was about to get killed by Ultron, he knew he couldn't allow it. He had to save them, he could not let them die.

Pietro could not let him die, for the sister he had heard the others talk about. Just the way Clint wouldn't let him die, for Wanda.

And he wouldn't.

He heard the bullets and ran faster than he had ever done before, feeling the friction against his skin, the wind in his face. He used the potential energy generated for his fast movements and transformed it into mechanical, applying it to send a car in front of Clint and that little kid. Then he was aware that he wouldn't have enough time for getting out of the bullets' way; Pietro felt a hollow dull pain in the heart. He didn't want to die, not so young and not so... soon. But there was nothing he could do about it. Giving up, he embraced his destiny and closed his eyes.

'Forgive me, Wanda' Pietro thought, clenching his jaw and waiting for the pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it never came.

'Am I dead?'

After a minute, he opened his eyes and saw Clint looking from the car to him a couple of times, slowly releasing the child from his embrace.

As they took in their surroundings, a dark skinned, strong build S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with brown eyes came running toward them. He was shaved and had a little beard; he was 100% in alert, and his eyes were suspicious, looking around nervously. The kind of look that Clint, Nat and Steve had for some time after the fall of SHIELD, after discovering that for years they had worked with traitors, people who were loyal to HYDRA. The difference was that, in them, little by little, it had gone missing; in that man, still remained.

He looked at Clint and showed him his badge: Agent Mackenzie. It was a new kind of badge, it hadn't the level the agent belonged to and Hawkeye wondered when that had changed. How S.H.I.E.L.D. had had time to make new IDs? The organization, for all the Avengers knew, had pretty much sank like the Titanic because of HYDRA, and they hadn't regrouped till now... Right?

After a moment, Clint handed the child to Mackenzie, knowing he had to find the others but the boy needed to be safe.

"Take him to the Helicarrier, please."

The agent nodded, putting the child in his arms.

"That's done."

Mackenzie gave Hawkeye one last look that made the hairs on Pietro's neck put on edge. He hadn't liked it. And Clint hadn't either.

He wanted to ask who was the head of his team, but before the archer could open his mouth, the piece of Earth they were standing shook and the agent had left off. How many time had passed while everything happened, a minute?

Shaking his head, Clint came from behind the car and looked at Pietro.

"You shouldn't have done that, Speedy." Hawkeye frowned. "Don't get me wrong but... why aren't you dead?"

In other circumstances, Pietro would've been offended, but the fact is that he was wondering the same question.

"I don't know."

"I think I do." Natasha's voice echoed among the collapsed buildings of the city. They turned around to see good part of the Avengers: the Black Widow, who had managed to get there that fast being carried by the Hulk (which made Clint frown a little), Captain America, Falcon and War Machine. They all had come from different places and in different ways, but all with the same incredulous face when they saw the scene.

After hearing Wanda's agonized cry, they thought Pietro was dead. To make matters worse, Clint was nowhere to be seen. But even if that was the case, if they two were dead, they had to find their bodies.

Wanda had gone after Ultron, followed after a few moments by Vision; and Tony and Thor were trying to keep the city a few minutes more up in the sky while their friends were rescued and the Helicarriers took in the civilians.

"I think it's because of her," Natasha nodded forward and both Pietro and Clint turned their heads at once as they realized they weren't the reasons of the looks in their peers' faces.


Steve was barely aware of what Natasha said. He was too focused on the vision before him.

A few hundred meters away, on the rubble of one of the buildings, there was a female figure. She still had outstretched hands when they saw her for the first time, with some sparks coming off the fingertips of her small, delicate hands.

When she lowered them, Steve could get a better view of her.

She was wearing black high combat boots, ripped jeans with a gun at her waist hanging on a belt of studs and a dark jacket with two blood red arrows on the shoulders, pointing down. At the front of the jacket, at heart level, there were the letters CS, the same color as the arrows on the shoulders. Despite its appearance almost normal, Steve was certain that the jacket was as strong as a bulletproof vest.

Her face was covered till her nose with a mask, similar to which Bucky had worn as the Winter Soldier; her head was covered by a hood that only left out a few strands of hair. However, being so far he couldn't discern the color.

Steve found himself admiring the way that clothes fit every curve of her body, and, when he realized of it, felt ashamed for thinking that way about a woman, especially with (y/n)'s image in his mind, a blush rising fast to his cheeks.

"VWho are you?" Pietro asked, his accent becoming more prominent in his state of confusion. The girl looked at him. Didn't bother to reply his question, and turned around.

But Steve knew that Pietro wouldn't let her go. Oh, no. She had saved his life, he would want at least to know why.

In the blink of an eye, Pietro was in front of the young woman. He picked her up and headed back to the Avengers, stopping to less than twenty meters from them, all in seconds. He gave her a lopsided grin without releasing her yet, and Steve felt some kind of rage inside, wanting to wipe the smile in Pietro's face.

Another earthquake, even stronger, shook the ground, but the Maximoff boy ignored it.

"I bet you didn't see t-"

Before he could finish his sentence or say anything else, there was a sound similar to when there is a short circuit and Pietro had flown about 100 meters, slamming against a wall. The jaws of everyone present could've scratched the floor, and it was a miracle that some eyes didn't change their role in life for rolling on the ground like golf balls, because they were bulging.

After that last quake, Wanda had passed over them in the arms of Vision, both of them going to a safe place. The young heroine was there in time to see how his brother was beaten and felt a murderous rage rising inside of her chest.

"PIETRO!" she shouted, trying to leave the arms of her companion; Vision stopped his flying, but didn't come down. This was not time for another fight.

"I fear that Tony and Thor will not hold much, my friends. We must leave while we still have time-"

"TIME? THAT GIRL HAS ATTACKED MY VBROTHER" Wanda shouted, her hands glowing red.

"Actually, she saved his and Clint's lives," Sam intervened, pulling down the glasses of his suit and bowing his head to one side as he studied her, still incredulous, trying to decipher how she had done... everything.

Wanda frowned then, the red in her hands fading away as she remembered that after reading his brother's thoughts and see what he saw, she had thought he would die.

"Really? And vwhy...?"

"He lifted her off her feet," Rhodey replied.

"And then he flirted with her." Clint shook his head, but with a half smile on his face. That girl, whoever she was, had saved their lives and knocked out Pietro. She'd earned his respect, and very nearly his eternal love. "She didn't like it much, it seems."

Wanda rolled her eyes and glared at his brother, who was getting up from the ground, his eyes still blurred and confused.

"You're an idiot, Pietro."

"I JUST VWANTED TO THANK HER!" Pietro complained, rubbing his neck and grimacing. "That vwas hard."

"GUYS, SORRY FOR BEING A KILLJOY, BUT YOU'VE GOTTA REACH THE HELICARRIERS. NOW." Tony shouted through the intercoms.

The Captain took a hand to his earpiece and nodded.

"We are carrying someone else with us, Stark".

"WHATEVER, BUT NOW."

They all set off to the Helicarrier, a couple of hundreds of metres away, just a quick run, except Natasha and Pietro, still on ground, and Wanda and Vision, who weren't in several danger since Vision was flying. They were waiting for Steve as he approached the girl.

Pietro stayed because of the girl, who had pretty much fascinated him; Wanda, because of her brother, and that added Vision too. And the Black Widow... Natasha knew she was in danger for not going back with the Hulk, but that girl had saved his partner's life, and she paid her debts. She wouldn't leave her there to die. She had made sure Clint left to the Helicarrier with the others, tho. She didn't want him to be away of anyone's sight until she knew he wasn't hurt.

When Steve was beside the young woman, he raised his hands to show he did not want to hurt her, but the girl seemed more than relaxed, studying the situation as it wasn't the first time she dealt with something like that.

"Thank you for saving my mates. You've got great skills there." She just stared at him, not saying a word. Steve hesitated. "You're in danger here, ma'am. I shall ask you to come with us."

Still, there was no response.

"Do you speak my language, ma'am?"

There was a huge explosion before them, and Wanda and Vision started to move to the Helicarriers.

"WE CAN'T WAIT ANYMORE, CAPTAIN. TONY GAVE US BARELY FIVE MINUTES, WE HAVE 30 SECONDS LEFT."

Pietro hesitated, his hands almost on Black Widow's waist, just in case he had to take her to the Helicarrier.

"Steve?" Nat asked him in an apparently indifferent tone.

But he was frozen, paralyzed. After the explosion right before them, the girl had stumbled down towards him. He had grabbed her by the arms (not missing the gunshot wound at her elbow's lower crease), avoiding her fall, and he had seen her eyes, taking his breath away.

Beautiful, big, deep, bright, (e/c) eyes.

He knew that eyes from somewhere, but couldn't exactly remember from where. She put a hand almost in his chest, there was a spark and then he was flying through the air, reaching the place where his friends stood. Pietro's and Nat's arms caught him.

The girl said something in another language, to which surprisingly Nat burst out laughing, and then had disappeared running.


Once they all were back at the Helicarrier, the four of them explained to the rest of the team what had happened.

Thor had no ever heard of that kind of powers, so there went the option of her being an Asgardian.

Tony, meanwhile, was delighted with the idea of a young girl kicking Sonic and Capsicle's asses.

Wanda just felt enormously grateful.

"She has savved my brother, I don't care about anything else," she stated, giving a look around, making sure Fury wasn't listening. The last she wanted was to get that girl in trouble.

Then an idea struck the Captain's mind and he turned to face at the group from the window where he was.

"Nat, what did she say that make you laugh that much? I mean, before we headed to the Helicarrier."

Bruce, back on himself, raised an eyebrow looking at the cup of tea in his hands.

"You mean after she made you fly through the air like a rag doll?"

Pietro chuckled at Bruce's audacity.

"Oh, shut your mouth Pietro," Wanda snapped with a wave of her hand. "She almost left you unconscious."

Steve sighed, holding the bridge of his nose.

"Let's go back to the topic," Tony intervened, raising his hands. "I have a question, why the rest didn't understand her?"

"They didn't understand her because she spoke in Latin," Natasha said with a huge smile. At that, Tony snorted. He had almost forgotten that Latin was within the languages spoken by Natasha, at least according to her false curriculum when she started to work for him as 'Natalie'.

'I don't care the language she spoke in,' Steve frowned. 'I want to know what she said.'

Natasha gave him a grin.

'She said: You didn't see that coming?'

Chapter Text

You ran as fast as you could, feeling the ground shaking beneath your feet. Pieces of the surrounding buildings were falling down while you were trying to avoid them or stop them with a wave of hand. You had seen in his eyes he remembered yours, but he hadn't tied up loose ends, had he?

"Lots of people have (e/c) eyes, right?" you muttered under your breath for yourself, raising both hands in front of you at once, opening a hole in the wall that held you back and moving forward.

'So what if he did?' said a voice in your head. 'Like I care... They're the Avengers, they're... S.H.I.E.L.D.'

Before this last thought you couldn't avoid grimacing, despite your mask. That made you think of how angry James would be if he discovered his old mask was gone. Not because he had any love for the damn thing (quite the opposite, actually), but because he was smart enough to find out where it was. That wouldn't be good, and you liked your head where it was, thanks very much.

You stopped in your track, hearing an explosion at your back, and you thought that one probably had the ability to get to the core of the Earth. You turned around, seeing the farthest buildings begin to fall one after another while an energy wave swallowed them.

You swallowed hard, feeling as if your heart was going to leave your chest.

"Fuck my life," you stated loudly.

"Not yet," a voice screamed from your right side.

Smiling a little, you started to run again in said direction as a pale boy with curly brown hair, brown eyes and a sweaty face ran towards you. Thank God he had realized something was going wrong. The buildings four streets away collapsed, sending quakes through the road where you were, and you still had fifty metres left from the spot he was on.

The buildings two streets away fell too. Twenty metres. Just a little more of effort. Your friend reached out a hand in your direction and, while the energy's wave reached your position, you jumped and grabbed him with all your strength.

You felt a sharp pain in your side but then the world around you dissolved, feeling your insides strangely compressing and then returning to its initial state as both of you fell hard on your backs in a very different place.

You could feel the burning in your ribs, but that mattered very little right now. Both of you had come out alive. And that was great. You let out a shaky laugh, which caused him to look up at you as if you were crazy -which, you had to admit, wasn't entirely untrue.

"Never so glad to see you, Dave."

"Love you too, (y/n)".

You started to sit up but the pain in your ribs left you breathless, causing you to fall on your back again. You tried to keep a blank face, but Dave had heard your gasp and was immediately next to you, wrapping an arm around your waist and helping you up.

"I don't need your help, Merlin." You told your friend with a teasing note in your voice towards the nickname, at which he snorted. "Where are we, by the way?"

"Just look around," he replied, a note of nervousness vibrating in the air.

A little confused, you did. And then you froze, looking straight in the blue eyes of a very, very angry young woman with long, wavy, golden hair.

"Dave, you know what I said before?"

"Yeah?"

"I take it back," you snapped at him in a hard, emotionless voice.

A throat clearing redirected your attention, and you sighed, looking at her. She looked at you back with her arms crossed over her chest, waiting for an explanation.

You tried to smile weakly.

"Hey, Gwen..." you started, looking at your best friend since you... had been able to be you, who looked angrier than ever. "I promise, it's a really fun story."


"You should've seen yourself up there, you've been amazing!" Gwen had exclaimed as she descended the stairs of the stage with you, one of her arms around your shoulders. While then, the people at the bar congratulated you for your performance, giving you pats on the back. You faked a smile as Carisi cheered you, sending you a wink.

"Remind me again why I let you talk me into this," your muttered under your breath.

"Because I have great capacities of conviction, it's my birthday and you love me," she said.

You gave her a glare.

"Try again."

"Oh c'mon (y/n)!" she exclaimed in exasperation. "You're so happy every time you play, it's like everything around you just disappears... I wanted to see you like that again."

Your lips curled slightly at the corners, showing the shy ghost of a real smile.

"I don't say this very often, but I love you, Gwen."

"I know," she had whispered, squeezing your shoulder gently. Her blue eyes sparkled with humor then. "I mean, it's me after..." The blonde paled slightly and her voice trailed off as she looked over your shoulder, "all" she finished.

You turned on your heels, following the direction of her gaze, meeting directly with a pair of piercing green eyes drilling yours. The woman had medium-length, fire red hair that danced over her neck, as the flames of a bonfire. She was clearly in shape and had a fierce and confident smile.

"Hello," she greeted with a voice that sounded strong and firm. "My name is Natasha Romanoff."

You almost snorted. You knew her. Of course you did. The Black Widow, ex-KGB agent, agent of SHIELD, Avenger. She was lethal.

And you knew that because you were too.

After all, you had been trained to be like her. Something you knew you couldn't even dream to reach, she was the most deadly assassin ever existed.

She gave you a little smile. It seemed genuine. But you didn't believed it was, after all spies are trained for that sort of thing.

"I've got some friends there," she continued jerking her thumb over her shoulder at a group of people. The Avengers. Everyone of them. Even their friends and colleagues, you knew about because of the files you've collected over the years, were there. Fuck. "We loved your song and I think they would actually like to meet you."

You blinked a few times, really surprised at the unexpected compliment.

"Oh" you breathed. Way to go, (Y/n). "I- Well, I would, but-".

"SHE WOULD LOVE TO!" Gwen said, grinning from ear to ear.

In shock, you turned your head around, looking at her with an almost homicidal expression.

"I would?"

"Of course!" she cheered again, excited. Man, you were so going to kill her. She grabbed one arm of yours and pulled you in that direction, both followed by a very amused Natasha. The redhead put a hand on your shoulder and led you where two young men were sat, giving their backs to you, one pale and blond, the other with tanned skin and dark hair, while Gwen shouted 'Enjoy!' from behind you and you thought you'd get your revenge somehow.

Natasha introduced you and you tried to smile sweetly. You didn't need to pretend it before the Captain tho, who seemed to be kinda lost in time with that old fashioned manners. You wondered if he would feel out of place very often.

Before you knew it, you found yourself alone with Steve. But you barely noticed it, and you didn't care. Perhaps the night would not be so bad after all.


Being in front of Gwen in just your bra would have made you being ashamed if not for a) the fact that your body, since childhood, had been exposed to strangers and b) at least with Gwen you knew each other and you trusted her.

If you had got used to these strange people looking at you (when not doing other things much, much worse), how could you be bothered by her doing so, especially when it was only to help?

Gwen tapped lightly with a roll of gauze over your wound and you let go a hiss, clenching jaws.

"Be still," your blonde friend commanded.

You breathed heavily, a thin layer of sweat upon your (s/c) skin.

"That's easy to say, huh?"

Gwen sent you a glare and you snorted, but nodded, letting her know you'd behave. She took a bandage then, wrapping it around your ribs carefully, with slow, almost sweet movements. You could tell she was worried, and you felt slightly guilty.

"That's what you get when you stick your nose into other people's business," she stated.

You elevated your eyebrows in disbelief, slightly amused by her outburst.

"That's for real? Need I remind you how we came to this?" You pointed to you with your thumbs. "You know who your best friend is, right? Not to mention your boyf-"

"AAAH OKAY OKAY OKAY," she interrupted you, her eyes softening a little when you called her 'your best friend'. "So... tell me," she stormed towards her closet and began rummaging. After a couple of jeans and a hoodie that ended up on the floor, she threw to you a large cotton shirt that you put on. "What on Earth were you doing there?"

"What can I say?" you shrugged. "I have great social skills."

Gwen's face poked out from behind the door, giving you the 'do not give me that crap' look, so typical of all of the members of the Stacy family. You've always thought it should come with the DNA, along with the blond hair.

"Yeah," she answered, the irony evident on her voice. "And back in high school Flash was the most pleasant person you'd ever meet."

You took one hand to your chest in an offended gesture, looking "hurt".

"How rude!"

She left out a small laugh while returning to your side and sat down in front of you. The tension was palpable, so thick you could cut it with a knife.

"Are you going to say something?" You asked when you couldn't stand the silence and her searching look anymore. "I will come out gray here."

"Can you tell me how the hell did you manage to convince Dave to take you there? And why did you do it? I thought we said that, if we did intervene, we would only at the last moment, if the Avengers couldn't handle it. And I thought I specifically asked you to stay here."

"You did, but I hate being told what to do, so I ignored you," you pointed out. "And it was a last moment situation," you replied.

Gwen sighed. She stroked her own temples with her eyes closed, as if she was trying to mitigate a very bad migraine.

"They're S.H.I.E.L.D., (y/n)" she reminded you softly. "You're the first one who's never wanted to get involved with them."

You bit your bottom lip, nodding.

"I know," you said with low voice. "I just couldn't let Ultron hurt that people. I had a bad feeling, so I asked Dave to take me there... I've saved lives today, Gwen. Like we always do."

Your friend pursed her lips in a thin line, now looking at you without anger. She never could be mad at you, especially in that kind of situations.

"Let's change the subject, okay?" She threw herself on the bed, bouncing over the mattress, and then looked at you with a devilish grin. She rested her chin on her palm and blinked repeatedly, as if she were a high school's freshman instead of a student who had just finished the first year of college. "Won't you like the almighty Captain America?"

You looked at her blankly, frowning in confusion, after almost choke on your own spit.

"Excuse me?"

She burst out laughing.

"Didn't you hear me?" she teased you. "You know, that strong, tall, nice, blond and blue-eyed man, whose name is Steve Rogers. You know, that other night at the bar. After he heard you sing. And play guitar." She sighed happily. "I can't imagine anything more romantic."

You raised both eyebrows at once.

"You've gotta be kidding me."

She sent you a glare and smiled for herself, giggling.

"Whatever you say," she said with a sing-song voice before a pillow ended up on her face. When it fell, she fulminated you, blowing her golden hair out of her face. "That wasn't funny."

"May I remind you, you are the one who dragged me to the damn site-"

"After Olivia's command".

"And then to the damn stage because you made sure of carrying my freaking guitar? You even went up to hug me in front of everyone!" you exclaimed, counting with your fingers. "And after that, when the redhead-"

"The Black Widow, Natasha," Gwen interrupted you again, but you just rolled your eyes and ignored her.

"The redhead," you repeated, "came, you almost made me go with her at gunpoint! What was I supposed to do?"

"Say what you want, but to me, it seems promising," she declared, taking her cell phone out and starting to text to God knows who. "I mean, you've risked your life for his team today."

"One, I did it for the civilians. And two, you've seen too many Jennifer Aniston's movies," you commented as you walked out the door and into the bathroom, ending that nonsense conversation.

Maybe it was your imagination, but you thought you heard Gwen mumble something like: "I won't deny it, just hope that the end is like those movies."


A week after the final battle against Ultron, at the 'Real' S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters

The surroundings of what was left of the city of Sokovia, shown on television under the title 'Crisis averted', were completely in ruins: crumbling buildings, cracks several meters thick and deep in the pavement, death everywhere...

'Cleanup crews work hard in Sokovia, trying to get back to normal,' commented the reporter with the flat voice of those who hadn't had to deal with such tragedies in first person, the ones who told these kinds of things to the viewers everyday.

But for Phil Coulson, director of SHIELD, every tragedy was lived in first person, and the acceptable number of casualties was zero. Unfortunately, lately it seems they were never getting that box filled in the requirements file.

Turning away from television, Coulson threw the card of the Theta protocol, attached to a dark blue SHIELD band, on the large metal table in the center of the room. The eyes of agent Gonzales, Oliver and Weaver focused on it, while Bobbi's and May's looked at him.

"The cards on the table," Phil commented as calm as ever, though his blue eyes were piercing the agents before him.

"Clearly Fury and you have been entertained," Gonzales replied deadly serious.

Agent Coulson couldn't help smiling. Unknowingly, Robert could not have been more correct. A helicarrier wasn't an easy thing to hide from the world.

"What am I going to say?" He shrugged. "I am a loyal man. With the fall of SHIELD, Fury felt we needed a fail-safe. Something completely off the books, a 'break in case of emergency' type of thing".

"Well, it seems you have broken it," Agent Weaver intervened with a tone charged with arrogance, raising a delicate eyebrow.

Bobbi turned her head in her direction so fast that her blond hair almost hit Gonzales.

"To save many people," she reminded her sharply, where upon the expression of Weaver changed, looking a little embarrassed.

The dark-skinned woman glanced down while Agent Oliver addressed to Morse a sharp look, but said nothing.

"Last week difficult things happened, I know. I'm aware of that." Coulson chuckled, looking guiltily to May, who stared back from the wall where she was leaning. "When I found out that this ship hadn't succumbed to the attack of HYDRA, and still had that cargo on board..." Phil shook his head, his eyes wandering from one agent to another. "That you had put spies in my base, that I couldn't guarantee the safety of my team!" Coulson took a deep breath before continuing. "I felt I had failed as a director."

That last sentence made May lift her head and look up to her friend; it was true that he had hidden things from them, but the last thing Melinda ever wanted for Phil was for him to feel that way. It felt so wrong...

"And the truth ... is that." Phil let out a bitter laugh. "The command coup makes you think so. I tried to do everything alone," and this time, Melinda knew he was speaking specifically for her, it was his way of apologizing, acknowledging that he was wrong as a director before all the 'other S.H.I.E.L.D.' directive. "And it was a mistake. Even Fury had a World Council to ensure him, advising him."

And, of course, Gonzales hadn't ignored what Phil had highlighted.

"What are you suggesting?"

"A SHIELD where I operate as Director," said Coulson, looking at them. "Under your supervision."

Bobbi masked her look of surprise quickly, glancing at Gonzales, who in turn was scrutinizing the reaction of all the agents in the room.

"We would have a good clandestine base... and a ship," Coulson stated with his typical condescending tone.

After a moment, the old gray-haired man glanced at Phil.

"It's hard to argue with a man who prevented Ultron from killing thousands of people," Gonzales replied, quietly acceding to the request of Phil. "But there are many battles to win," he frowned with concern, leaning on the dark wood cane he had to be used ever since the attack of HYDRA. "And closer to home, I fear. Ones an Helicarrier will not solve."

Phil sighed audibly.

"Are you talking about Skye or about the Inhumans?" Coulson asked, turning to the table and taking a remote control, pointing to the TV. He played a few buttons and in the screen appeared a blur that had been recorded by the Helicarrier in Sokovia. Once they had seen it, Hill had sent them to him inmediatly.

"Who cares, Coulson?" Weaver replied. "That protected girl of yours..."

"Skye is one of us," Bobbi snarled, her blue eyes nailing Weaver on the site.

Weaver was about to reply, but May gave her a look that silenced her immediately.

"I was talking about the Inhumans, Coulson," Gonzales intervened, trying to cool the mood. "But I don't see how that matters."

Coulson pressed the 'advance button', noting the time when Pietro tried to save the life of Clint. The bursts of gunfire raised a cloud of dust that made impossible to see anything and there were several murmurs.

An Avenger had died in battle? No, they were all alive.

Had Fury resuscitated someone again?

However, when the smoke cleared, both Pietro and Clint (and the boy in his arms) were perfectly fine, which was impossible. Coulson paused the video, going back again.

He pressed the zoom and the full SHIELD directive watched as a figure raised their hands, making the bullets bounced or diverted its path before reaching Clint and Pietro.

"It matters because it seems we have an 0-8-4, there's another human with powers out there," Coulson retorted. Before the expressions of astonishment, he smiled with joy. "It's like New Mexico all over again."

Chapter Text

"So, vwhere are vwe going?" Pietro asked while he walked through the New York streets, Wanda by his side, with the rest of the Avengers.  

 

"Oh, you'll see Speedy, you'll see," Tony replied, a childish smile on his face. "It's a place Capsicle over there loves with all his heart, right, soldier?"

 

That made them all laugh, except Steve for obvious reasons, Pietro and Vision. After a moment, Wanda had read Stark's mind and couldn't help but giggle. She just couldn't imagine the almighty Captain America, the head, the leader of the Avengers, Earth Mightiest Heroes, being that embarrassed for the mere fact of being next to a girl. It was so cute.

 

From Tony's point of view, the Scarlet Witch had been able to see the Captain's face all red, stammering but someway relaxed next to a young, pretty girl. But from Steve's, she saw a girl that couldn't be considered anything other than purely beautiful. Specially when it came to the eyes, the part of that girl Steve thought most of.

 

She thought that it indeed made sense. The eyes are the mirrors of the soul, after all, and if she had to judge yours from the look in your eyes, she bet her powers it was as beautiful as you.

 

The sokovian girl moved closer to Natasha, who had turned out to be a great colleague after a few weeks of training as an Avenger and a giant apology for what she had done to her back in Wakanda. Wanda had been feeling truly guilty lately, and she knew she deserved it. No one of them, even Stark himself, had deserved to see what they did. She had the feeling the Black Widow didn't trust her completely, but she doubted she did with someone, except Clint and maybe the Captain.  

 

However, she wanted to be trusted. She had never had friends, since both of the siblings hadn't stayed around a place long enough to get to know someone, and when that had happened they closed themselves up, so when they eventually had to move, didn't get hurt. The saddest fact is, that lack of relations in her past, now weighed on her shoulders: She wanted to make friends, specially with Nat since she was the any other girl in the team, but Wanda didn't know how. And to be honest, she was a little scared of being rejected.

 

"VWhat's going on vwith the (h/c) haired girl?" she asked in a whisper.

 

The redhead gave her a look, keeping her face blank, and Wanda raised her hands in front of her like an act of defense.

 

"I saw her in your minds," she clarified to the expert assassin.

 

"Why do you want to know?" Natasha said in return, giving her a glare that made the Scarlet Witch flinch a little. However, Wanda was brave, and she wouldn't shrink back.

 

"I regret vwhat I did," she said in a very low tone while Pietro gave them a very suspicious look from his place next to Thor, who had just come back the day before from his father's realm, to which he had departed right after the fight against Ultron was won. He hadn't told them anything about it yet; instead, there he was, smiling and moving his large arm as if he was waving Mjölnir, thundering about some battle back in Asgard. "I saw that girl vwhen I... vwell, you know. She vwas there, seeing Cap and that other girl dancing. He felt happy vwith her, but then he saw this girl and things... changed... in his mind, I mean. Is she important to him?"

 

After a moment, Natasha gave her a tiny smile that made her red lips curl up a little.

 

"She could be if we do things right," she admitted. Wanda's eyes lighted up.

 

"Count me in".

 


 

 

While Thor kept telling them his battles, completely ignoring the hints Stark was shooting him about his trip to Asgard, Pietro looked at the two women. He didn't like anything to be left out of a conversation, and when he saw Wanda's shudder, the speedster was about to intervene, until he heard the voice of Clint.

 

"I wouldn't go for it, kid." Pietro looked at him curiously and the archer made a gesture with his eyebrows at Natasha. "First, you do NOT know what she is capable of. Second, believe me: I have seen Nat threatening people, and they're just talking. And third," with a mischievous smile that sent a chill on Pietro's back, Clint cracked his knuckles while winking at him, "in the unlikely event that you got to approach her, you'd have an arrow on each knee before you even see them out of my quiver."

 

Pietro paled a little, as he swallowed hard, but then snorted, recovering his usual attitude.

 

"I vwould like to see you try," replied Quicksilver. Clint's expression completely changed in an instant, laughing and slapping him on the back.

 

"You know what? I'm starting to get used to you," Hawkeye joked. Then, Sam said something about 'the parental instinct of Clint surfacing' and agent Barton frowned, going straight to Falcon, who, of course, had said that to divert Tony's attention from his friend, the Captain.

 

"Ignore them," Bruce intervened and Pietro looked at him curiously. Except that one time on the plane, back from Sokovia, when he had teased Steve, the scientist had been silent, keeping himself to one side, working on his lab or reading. It was hard to understand how he and his sister could have believed for a moment that someone like Bruce, all quiet and shy, was a threat... until 'the Big Guy' appeared, of course. "Sometimes they can be kinda annoying... but you learn to love them -or tolerate them, at least".

 

Pietro nodded thoughtfully.

 

"I think you're right. And guess vwhat? I'm enjoying New York. And the Avengers. It's nice to have a place to stay and enjoy life," then his face broke into a dazzling smile. "And most of the girls here love superheroes!"

 

Bruce chuckled, shaking his head and thinking that the group had won another Casanova. He could take the place of Tony, who was madly in love with Pepper, something no one could deny, even when Stark kept calling himself a playboy.

 

They kept walking, stopping occasionally when someone screamed their names or came to ask for an autograph or photo. The Avengers responded delighted when this happened; and they tried to ignore it when the opposite happened: people watching them suspiciously, hiding their children with their bodies as if at any moment Steve was going to throw his shield or Natasha would shoot them.

After all the times they had gone into action, all the lives that they had saved, many people used to cheer them before, now detested them. Or what was worse: feared them. Being a hero who wants to help and receive in exchange hatred was a truly nightmare.

 

After the press conferences of the past few weeks and all the rejection they were getting since the disaster with Ultron, the Avengers were touched. Each member dealt thereby in different ways, but it was really affecting them although they didn't show it.

 

One example of many was Clint with his nephews, whom he had been found out crying a day that he had gone to visit them because their classmates said that 'Hawkeye and his companions were bad people'; or Bruce, who had been yelled down the street 'MONSTER' among other not nice things while the poor scientist dedicated himself to lower his head and went away. Nobody deserved that.

 

The least affected should technically be the Maximoffs and Vision, being the new additions to the team (Rhodey and Sam had just been appointed Avengers, but they had helped them in the past and people used to recognize if they were in the scene); however, it wasn't like that at all.


Several videos were leaked, including one where Pietro and Wanda attacked the heroes of New York. That had made them win the title of villains. Wanda had to hear their thoughts, which made everything worse, and Pietro could not do anything to stop it ... The worst thing was knowing that, in part, it was deserved after what the twins had done.

 

But the team... they didn't deserve any of this.

 

While Pietro was deep in thought, he heard a cry that made him look up at once. Only three words, spoken by a woman's voice: 'leave me alone'. He looked at his companions. They also had heard her, like the few people on the street that was crowding at the entrance of one of the alleys of Bay Parkway -ones with amused looks on their faces, others with worried ones- keeping a safe distance from whatever was happening but without intervening.

 

Pietro sped up over there immediately, not daring to make a run in front of all those people but going considerably faster than his peers. Upon reaching the alley, he stared at the alley's area which faced another street, where a girl who should be in her early twenties demanded to the man in front of her with a trembling voice to stop following her. The man, a muscular idiot around his thirties with black hair, simply laughed at her.

 

"Don't be like that, sweetie!" he exclaimed, trying to take her by the waist. "I'm a friend of Ian and he has told us everything about you two... You and I could get a little fun, huh? That dress of yours is not simply to stroll around, don't you think?"

 

Pietro felt his insides boiling and closed his hands into fists, ready to break the jaw of that asshole. He could be drunk, drugged or God knows what, or maybe he was just like that (and dumb enough to do something like that in public), he did not care. He wouldn't let anybody to be treated that way, let alone a woman.

 

Steve, the second to arrive, must have thought so too because he raised his voice when he saw the scene before them.

 

"Hey!" cried the Captain, as several people turned to him and started whispering. Man, why people was so... cliché these days? Why they didn't move? He took a few steps forward, not daring to go straight to them, fearing he maybe would hurt her. "Leave the miss alone. Now."

 

The man raised his eyebrows at him, amused.

 

"And who's going to make me, posh kid?"

 

How high is this guy to not recognize Captain America? Pietro thought, raising an eyebrow.

 

"Myself," Natasha replied, crossing her arms over her chest. Pietro hadn't even noticed her, but he was getting used to that. She was the spy, after all. The Black Widow gave him a smirk. "I could kill you in ten different ways with my pinky."

 

There was a heavy silence as the man looked at the trio in front of him, the rest of the Avengers keeping their distance, not wanting to put on a show. Three of them was enough, although after hearing him talk, every one of them wanted to rip that pure excuse of a man to shreds. The silence was cut when the girl, who had tried to back away, stumbled and almost lost her balance. He turned to her at once.

 

"How? Are you going to go before the party?" The Pig-guy (Pietro could not call him otherwise) received a slap straight in the face on the part of the girl when he had attempted to come closer. His face turned red and raised a fist, growling. "HOW DARE YOU!?"

 

Then several things happened at once:

 

Natasha took out a taser gun from her belt, aiming at him.

 

A very angry Steve shouted: LEAVE HER!

 

And the guy's hand was stopped in the air with one that grabbed his wrist tightly, preventing it from moving.

 

"I think the young lady here has said to leave her alone," said a girl -a woman- a little younger than Pietro.

 

He was gladly surprised someone had intervened from the other street, which seconds ago seemed pretty dessert, instead of just stare at the poor girl, as if it was a TV reality. After a moment, he really looked at her: (s/c) skin, (h/c) hair, (e/c) eyes. She was dressed in black ripped jeans, cobalt blue converse and a tank top of a group called 'The Sex Pistols'.

 

Pietro thought she was very beautiful, but then he heard the Captain heard whispering something and he couldn't help turning his head towards him in confusion.

 

"(Y/n)...?"

 


 

You were at the park with some of your friends: Gwen, Peter, Quentin and ... well, although you hated to admit it, Flash. Yes, the same Flash Thompson had bullied you and Peter at school. The twists and turns of life. When Gwen had defended Peter, he had begun to behave better; which it had been definitive after Uncle Ben's death.

 

He had called Peter to inform him that he was on leave from Service for a few days, and you all had agreed to meet with him to talk about life and that sort of things.

 

The boys were playing basketball. You had united them you for awhile, until you decided that was enough and wanted something to drink. You drove off down the street, to a grocery store where you usually bought the drinks. You were about to pay a large bottle of orange soda when you started to hear the tumult that was forming in the street. Sticking your head to the window, you saw a girl backing toward the wall while a high-built man approached her.


You went over there right away, watching as the man was getting more and more violent. You felt anger, you had never supported the cowards who used their strength against those who couldn't defend themselves. Who did he think he was?

 

Before thinking about what you were doing, your hand shot out and grabbed his wrist.

 

"I think the young lady here has said to leave her alone," you indicated in a calm voice.

 

"(Y/n)...?" When you heard that whisper, you moved your view of the enormous idiot in front of you and saw sky blue eyes and golden hair.

 

"Steve?"

 

Leveraging you were distracted, the man tried to stick a fist in your side and you answered using his strength against him, twisting his arm behind his back and raising his whole body over your hip, making him spin in the air and fall to the ground on his back with a blow that even made you shudder. You gave a nod to the girl, who moved to where the Captain was, ipso facto.

 

"What are you doing here?" You put yourself upright as if nothing had happened and gave a couple of steps toward him; he looked at you with wide eyes and mouth slightly open. You were both amused by his reaction and frustrated because it seemed that fate worked against you. That's when you noticed his two companions, and a little behind them, the rest of the Avengers (of who you could recite off memory the greatest achievements of their lives), scattering the few people who remained.

 

"There's nothing here to do!" You heard a man screaming as he pulled a government badge (possibly SHIELD). He had dark blond, spiked hair, blue vibrant eyes and hard features, but the spark in his eyes said he could be a funny guy, not just dangerous. He was Clint Barton aka Hawkeye.

 

You could list each of them, from the billionaire and eccentric Iron Man to, despite his  green and red skin was camouflaged (who knows if by Wanda's magic or any invention of Banner), the creature that had emerged from Stark's laboratory (you didn't know how... yet, but you'd figured it out), Vision.

 

"What a movement..." Natasha muttered, blinking a few times, as she realized what she had just seen. "Where...?"

 

Natasha was cut when you turned suddenly at feeling a hand on your knee, giving the man a kick to the solar plexus, leaving him breathless. Then you took his hand and fore-arm, twisting it roughly after his back until a crack was heard, indicating with his cry that the shoulder had been put out from its place. He fell to the ground, his face against the asphalt and you on his back, with a knee between the shoulders. Everything happened in just 5-6 seconds, each movement burned into your muscle memory.

 

The man began to whine for help. The stench of alcohol made you wince.

 

"Gym and martial arts for ten years," you answered her not ended question, breathing heavily. You got the phone from the back pocket of his jeans.

 

"Good afternoon. Are agent Carisi or Tutuola there? A man tried to attack a girl... No, no. I've dislocated his shoulder.

...

Aha.

...

Aha.

...

Bay Parkway with the 67th.

...

Finn asks how is he?"

 

You tilted your head to one side to see the man's face, which was congested. You came back on the phone with a small smile. "The sexist pig is moaning like a little bitch against the road." You heard a powerful laugh followed by someone trying to hide a giggle and you could not help but smile too, if only a little. "Okay. Thank you."

 

Hung up and looked at them. Natasha came saying a "I got it" and you raised yourself from above the man, pulling your neck and shoulder muscles.

 

Steve was there, looking like a fool. It was one of the new, one of the twins, who broke the silence.

 

"VWow. That vwas incredible," the silver-blonde haired guy said with a beaming smile that made his blue eyes glisten. Then he winked. "And I don't mean just your movements".

 

Steve turned to him immediately, with visibly darkened eyes and clenched jaw. You raised your eyebrows, stunned. Was he angry because the boy was flirting with a civilian?

 

"Pietro...," began the other Maximoff, his sister Wanda. If you remembered correctly, her thing was neuro-electric interfacing, telekinesis and mental manipulation. She was called the Scarlet Witch. Her brother, Quicksilver. He had increased metabolism and improved homeostasis, which translate into superhuman speed, something you could already tell from Sokovia.

 

"Are you still going to the gym?" he kept going and you just nodded. He nodded too with a confident expression. "Brilliant. VWe could go together. Today I touch biceps and back."

 

"And the face when, Casanova?" The smile faded from the Pietro's face and he frowned. This time, you were able to identify the roaring laughter: Thor and Tony. Soon, Clint also laughed, and who else who least escaped a smile, including the Captain, trying to press his lips so no one noticed.

 

Pietro seemed to go to speak, but was cut by Natasha returning. You realized that she must've left the guy somewhere for safekeeping.

 

The girl seemed to be just about to faint. You thought it was due to be surrounded by so many superheroes, but her eyes hadn't left you for a moment, and before you knew it, she had thrown herself on you, hugging you.

 

"Thank you," she whispered in your ear. You returned the hug as you could and smiled.

 

"You're welcome," you whispered back. "Now, I think you should get something to eat. You could go into shock. Can someone take you?" The girl nodded vigorously saying a friend of hers worked down the street on a Restaurant, the place she was going to before. You replied by giving her a number -Olivia's number- and telling her to call there if she wanted to go further with this. She dedicated you an aqueous but cheerful smile.

 

"Hope to see you again," she replied, walking towards one of the main streets and turning to lend a glance over her shoulder. You said goodbye to her with a wave of the hand and then you turned to the picturesque group.

 

Before any of you could say anything, Thor made the first movement, putting one knee on the ground and taking your hand in his.

 

"You are a brave woman, Lady (Y/n). We saw only once, and were not formally presented. Let me do it now: I am Thor Odinson, from Asgard, son of Odin. And I feel very honored to meet in person someone of your caliber," after his speech, he kissed your hand and everyone looked at him with wide eyes and then look at you, who tried to hide her laughter. What made it even funnier is that Thor was not armored, but with blue jeans and a white shirt, so there was just the trick as a knight of the Round Table. Would you think he was just a crazy man that looked like a Viking?

 

"Yes, well. As you all know, I'm (y/n) (l / n). From New York, daughter of... my father, I guess," you couldn't help but to grimace a little. "Nice to meet you, mate," you stated before giving him a couple of friendly pats on the arm. Thor smiled brightly and rose from the ground, tilting his head again.

 

Shaking your head, you made a nod toward Natasha and you decided you didn't want more shows, especially with the new ones. And more with Pietro. Thanks, but no, thanks.

 

"So tell me Steve, what is the Scooby Doo gang doing around here?" Steve smiled faintly at you, rubbing the back of his neck.

"We were going to... well, the bar," he finally admitted. "I thought maybe you'd play again".

 

"You thought wrong, then," you said, shrugging, and his face fell. "I told you I'd maybe play again that next week, but you guys didn't come." Thank God you added to you. "It's been over a month, Steve."

 

"I, I know..." he stummered, but was interrupted by Tony.

 

"Honey, don't you watch TV? We were busy saving the world." And ladies and gentlemen, there was IronAss, being a pain as he usually was.

 

You faked a confused expression, then your eyes lit up as if suddenly you recognized who they were, something they all believed, judging by the reproached looks Stark was getting (mainly from Natasha. If looks could kill...), the cocky ones (cough cough Pietro cough cough), uncomfortable ones (Dr. Banner, Vision) or sadness mixed with anger ones, which was the case with Steve. He seemed a little hurt that someone had blown his cover in front of you. There were people who still didn't know who the Avengers were, and your card was playing to be one of them, even tho you had to admit people who didn't know about them should be living under a rock.

 

"Of course. Steve Rogers..." you muttered under your breath, closing your eyes and biting your bottom lip. Avoid eye-contact made easier to pretend. "Or should I call you Captain?"

 

"I..."

 

"I can't believe I know the Avengers... that I'm with the Avengers." You shook your head with a disbelieving look plastered on your face. "Wow".

 

"Hey," began Sam, aka the Falcon, stepping forward, "I know you're talking to him and you won't probably give a shit about this, but I'm saying it because I'm sure you've heard a lot about us and that's not the truth at all ".

 

"You're right," you agreed with him. He seemed to relax a little.

 

"For real?"

 

"Yes, but the point is: I don't care," you ran a hand through your hair, a gesture designed to appear nervous, but somehow you felt a little guilty at seeing the face of Steve; something that never had happened to you, except with Gwen that time... You sighed, trying to concentrate. "Look, my friends are waiting for me, makes enough that I've gone and..."

 

"(Y/N)!!!!" You turned your head in time to see a tall, handsome guy crossing the street, running towards the group. He had messy brown hair, brown eyes and pale skin. His muscles were well defined and it was obvious that he was agile.

 

Damn, you thought, it wasn't precisely a good time for him to appear.

 

He arrived at your side, still sweaty from the match, and ignored the people you were with.

 

"Hey (y/n), what the hell have happened? You left your phone, you've been gone for like 20 minutes just to buy a drink?" he asked, looking for any kind of threat in your (e/c) eyes.

 

"It's okay, Peter, I just found myself in a little fight-"

 

"Wait, what!?" he cut you off right there. "Are you okay? Are you- are you hurt?"

 

"She's okay," Steve stated with a calm, nice tone but Peter turned his body to him, a serious expression on his face.

 

"Excuse me, was I talking to you, huh?" he said, his brown eyes located on the blue ones of the Captain. "No, I think not".

"Well, don't take this out of place kiddo. We know her. We were just talking," Clint interjected then, taking a step ahead to support Steve.

 

Peter snorted.

 

"Yeah EagleMan, you mean like with that killer robot that almost destroys the whole damn world?"

 

Tony closed his hands into fists, but Rhodey put a hand on his chest, asking him quietly to keep himself in place. You took one of your friend's hands and squeezed it lightly. He turned his gaze to you and you make a move with your head towards the zone where the park was.

 

"Let's go back, Pete," you said, walking away with him by your side. He turned his head and screamed to Clint: "By the way, the name's Peter Parker, not kiddo!"

 

"Leave them alone," you retorted him, walking a little faster and pulling him with you.


The Captain hoped you would look back at least one last time before going, just so he could see your eyes, to see the same girl he had met... He waited. He hoped .


But you... you didn't.

Chapter Text

"What's up, Sparky?" Quentin said, siting beside you on the bleachers.

 

You looked up at him, reparing on his sweaty face. Your friend was a dark-skined, strong-built man in his early twenties who had already been at war. He had a friendly face, with high cheekbones, long lashes, bright brown eyes which sometimes seem able to look right through you and an always permanent smile. He was two years and a half older than you, and had quit school when you were fourteen to go to a Military boarding school. After that, he had enrolled the Army. He just came back not even a year ago, just eight months ago.

 

"You've been very thoughtful since you came back with Peter," he stated like a matter of a fact. "And he was quite agitated."

 

You shrugged.

 

"He's always like that".

 

"No, he's not," your friend replied, smiling slightly to himself. He knew you pretty well (he liked to think so at least) and knew better than to pressure you... unless he would want an electric shock, and he didn't. "If you don't want to talk, that's right. Just know I'm here for you".

 

"I know Q," you whispered back. "As I am."

 

Quentin's eyes widened, and his jaw droppred slightly, with a childish bright on the eye.

 

"Oh my God! The Ice Queen has feelings!" he exclaimed with his breath shaking, earning a glare and a hit on the shoulder that made him chuckle.

 

He then extended his hand, making impossible for everyone but you two to see. The water on the atmosphere condensed, flowing from the tips of his fingers, forming an ice rose in his hand with its cold-glass petals shining. He winked at you then, leaving the rose in your lap.

 

He stood up then, resting his right hand on the back of your neck for a moment with the other patting your head.

 

"I'll be your Ice King, pretty girl," he said, giving you the lightest of grips before parting away, walking down the bleachers toward your friends. "Don't forget that."

 


 

 

Natasha looked at Steve, who was with his shoulders hunched, elbows on knees, and found herself in a particular sour mood.

 

It was not unusual to see Steve this tucked into his thoughts. Since she had known him, Captain Rogers had amply demonstrated why him, and not any other, had received the super-soldier serum. Steve was someone who pondered his actions and wasn't swayed by emotions, as that could suppose casualties.

 

However, what was unusual was to see him... defeated. He looked so... sad, kind of broken... rejected. Because that was what he had been: that girl had rejected him, and was not subtle at all.

 

Steve wasn't in love, of course -she didn't even believe in love, less in love at first sight. But that girl had impressed him. She had a nice voice, almost as much as her herself, and it was all sweetness and light. To see them talk at the bar that night, Natasha had assumed that at least they would enter into friendship, and that was something. After all, she was the first person who wasn't an agent of SHIELD or an Avenger for whom Steve had shown any real interest in a long time.

Steve had explained very excited that the girl used to live near Brooklyin, that she was in college and played guitar since she was twelve because someone close to her had taught her. Also that she would play again in that little bar in about a week, and that she had only played that time because of her blonde friend, the one who had helped Natasha to fulfill her purpose of introducing (Y/n) and Steve to each other.

 

And Natasha was unable to stop the smile that crept into her face. Not her typical scathing smirk, but a smile for real... the Captain seemed genuinely delighted with her, and the Widow couldn't help but to be proud of her skills as a matchmaker.

 

But then things had been terribly twisted with 'the Ultron issue'... and everything had been ruined. Later they had to train the newbies, plus Fury had asked her -ordered her- to pull up any information about the girl who had saved the life of Clint and Pietro in Sokovia. As in Fury's case, something told her she was alive. And although she didn't like to track her, knowing that she owed her one, she had obeyed.

 

Natasha was a spy -a master in her field- but not a detective. She could search for information, of course, as she had done with the Winter Soldier, who had proved to be Steve's best friend, but track him was more complicated.

 

However, it seemed a breeze compared to this girl. There was nothing in the files of SHIELD or the CIA, or the FBI. Nothing at all. She had found a pair of alleged sightings of a dark figure in some files of the NYPD, a figure that could be her as good as any other, but all the evidence of such -photos sightings, videos- had been eliminated. The girl was a real ghost... like Bucky in the last year.

 

When Thor was back, Fury had decided to give them a rest. And then Steve had suggested with a smile go to 'drink to celebrate', to that 'bar that Tony took us all before this'.

 

And everything had become a twist again...

 

Although Natasha could not help but respect the young woman for standing up to that piece of an idiot, she had a difficult time controlling her expression, and being who she was, that was saying something.

 

The sweet girl of the bar had disappeared to be replaced by a fierce and rebellious young woman with sarcastic comments and sharp tongue.

 

Had she not read her well when they met for the first time? It was impossible for anyone to stick such a radical change in a month. And yet, she wasn't able to discern whether the girl had faked her attitude, the first time or the second.

 

She felt her intuition surfacing, saying something was wrong, but she didn't know why. Natasha moved toward her room, her heels clicking on the floor of the Avengers Tower (Or it was again Stark Tower?) and, still walking, she took the phone from the back pocket of her black jeans as she entered the elevator .

 

"FRIDAY, turn off the cameras and microphones while I'm inside," the readhead beauty commanded in a monotone voice as she dialed on the phone.

 

"Of course, Miss Romanoff," replied the new Tony's AI immediately as the metal doors closed.

 

Natasha put the phone to her ear and it didn't reach the second ring before the other person answered on the other line.

 

"Agent Romanoff".

 

"I need to ask you for a personal favor," Natasha replied immediately, her voice as emotionless as ever.

 

There was a moment of silence before Maria Hill answered.

 

"What is it about?".

 

Natasha knew Maria knew it was not a what. It was a who.

 

"Look for our best Hacker. I need everything you have on (Y / n) (L / n)".

 


 

Skye dropped her head on the desk. She couldn't believe that something like that was happening to her.

 

The last few weeks had been a real madness...

 

She had had to deal with a lot of things, like most members of her team... of her family.

 

Tripp... Tripp was gone. He had died trying to save her, and that was something that haunted her every day and every night ... in the shadows and in her dreams.

 

 

Coulson had lost an arm to save Mack and Fitz from becoming stone...
petrifying himself in change; Mack had prevented his death -Skye couldn't help the shiver that went through her at the thought of losing the only person who had been like a father to her- by cutting his arm off with an ax before the infection could spread through his whole body.

 

Bobbi was recovering after the torture Ward had put her through. She had gone to see her a few times, and the blonde agent had apologized to her. Skye didn't know if it was because of the morphine, but in those days they had a couple of much more honest conversations than in the nearly ten months they had known each other. And Hunter... Hunter seemed like a complete different person, seeing Bobbi so hurt and helpless.

 

And that scared Skye. She didn't know if he would ever be himself again, if any of them would be.

 

May was the one who had taken the best part, in her opinion. She had decided to take a well deserved holiday with her ex-husband, who may be her future-husband in a few years. A girl can dream, right?

 

Fitz... had finally gotten a date with Simmons, who otherwise seemed to have finally accepted Skye for who she was and what she was.

 

That would be good, if it weren't for the fact that shortly after Jemma had disappeared without a trace.

And Skye... Skye couldn't take it anymore. Her powers, After Life, Ward, HYDRA, the alleged betrayal of her team, the Inhumans, her mad, villain of a mother, her not-so-bad-parent-after-all-but-still-crazy dad who now didn't know who she was anymore, Lincoln, almost losing Coulson...

 

She hadn't been able to find anything about Jemma, although those who were still standing were moving heaven and earth to find her.

 

She had to deal with forming a new team of people with powers, something that was not proving being easy. Who could be trusted, who couldn't? Who was a threat? Who had a useful power to become part of that kind of... 'School of Avengers'? And who simply had to learn to control their powers to not hurt anyone or themselves on the way?

 

And now... this.

 

Coulson had assigned her to find information about someone named (Y / n) (L / n). And, until about a year and a half ago, there was nothing. NOTHING.

 

That girl was a ghost. There was not even a fucking birth certificate. Or if she went to school. There was no family nearby.

 

The only information is that the girl was in college, with honors, and lived with the family of a dead police officer. Nothing else.

 

Frustrated, she groaned aloud. And then she felt a hand on her shoulder.

 

"What do you have?" Coulson asked giving her a squeeze.

 

Skye groaned again, without opening her eyes.

 

"Agent Johnson ..." AC began with a scolding tone, and Skye stood up.

 

"Sorry, Director," the girl half-apologized snorting, at what Coulson gave her a glare. Skye sighed. "I have nothing".

 

Coulson blinked.

 

"What? What do you mean, nothing?"

 

Skye put her hands to the sky, standing at once, frustrated.

 

"I mean nothing! No records of parents, schools, anything. Until a year ago, that girl didn't exist..." she crossed her arms, looking worried. "I don't know why she is important, but she or someone else is really, really good. Even I wasn't able to do something like that being so young."

 

Coulson looked thoughtful, tight lips into a thin line. Skye knew then something was up; she knew that look too well.

 

"What happens AC?"

 

Coulson was so deep in thought that he did not even react to that she didn't call her 'Sir' or 'Director'.

 

"I think we need to visit some old friends of mine," Phil replied, pulling out his cell phone and calling Hill to ask for a Quinjet.

 

Skye frowned slightly at that.

 

"What do you mean?"

 

Coulson then smiled, looking amused.

 

"I know you said you only did it once, but I hope you don't care you have to go there a second. Call Fitz and Mack. We're heading to the Stark Tower."

 


 

Tony leaned against the bar of his living room, laughing to himself as the Captain faced him with clenched fists.

 

"Does it seem funny, Stark?" Steve rebuked him, his blue eyes darkening slightly.

 

The Avengers were gathered in the living room, looking at them in silence:

 

Bruce seemed fearful that a fight had place and he lost the nerves, sitting on one of the sofas and wringing her hands nervously, adjusting his glasses every few minutes.

 

Natasha looked at them without emotion, though prepared to intervene if necessary, with folded arms and the shoulder against the wall. Clint, a few steps away from her, played with one of his arrows, rotating it between his fingers as if it was a drum stick, with his sharp eyes following every movement in the room.

 

That was the reason that sometimes he just couldn't stand Pietro, even his hawk eyes couldn't see him when the speedster put his whole being to run. He was on his feet, tapping a foot on the ground, so fast that it had formed a steady pace that almost seem like background music. Beside him, Wanda read the minds of the two men, trying to find something to avoid the incoming confrontation.

 

Vision watched silently, floating above the ground, glancing to all of them, Wanda the most, just in case he should protect her. Any other it would have caused the teasing of their peers, but now...

 

Rhodey and Sam were in silence, not wanting to take sides even though they were ready to separate them if necessary.

 

On his part, Thor seemed to agree with Steve, but he kept aside because if it was him instead of Rogers, he would not want another to take his place. No, he understood the anger of the Captain. He would have been like that to be the object of discussion his Jane.

 

"Well, yes," IronMan replied without thinking twice. "It's fun, in a twisted way, that you" he pointed to Steve's chest with a finger, "take sides for a girl you barely know instead of your team."

 

Steve raised his arms to the sky, frustrated.

 

"YOU CAN'T PRETEND ME TO AGREE ON YOU AFTER VIOLATING HER PRIVACY!" the blonde man growled.

 

Tony raised his brunette eyebrows at once.

 

"Really? Because for what I know, since you heard that mermaid-like girl and you fell for her voice as if you were a sailor drifting, you just wanted to know more about her," The philanthropist raised his glass in his direction just in time to see how the blood flowed to the Captain cheeks, adopting a pink tone that reached his ears. "You should learn how to clear the Search Internet History after searching on Google, Capsicle".

 

"Tony ..." Bruce began to say, in a tone that clearly meant 'Shut up'. But, after all, Tony was not going to stop just because his 'Science-Bro' asked him to- he could only possibly be silent if Pepper would be present... but she wasn't.

 

No, he was Tony Stark, and if there's one thing that he was really good at was getting people riled. Not that he wanted to make Steve angry (although that was pretty funny, indeed). He wanted someone to tell the truth, because he knew something was up since the cameras and microphones of the tower had being giving problems all damn day, and his guts told him it had something to do with that girl.

 

"The good thing is you doubt me, but not of the two spies?" Tony jerked his thumb to Clint and Natasha, to which Hawkeye rolled his eyes. The redhaired woman tightened. Stark was entering dangerous territory. "Do you really think by these hours SHIELD doesn't know everything about her?"

 

"GODDAMMIT STARK, I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU-!"

 

"Language."

 

And then the hands of the Captain had closed around the throat of Tony and this one hung a foot off the ground.

 

"CAPTAIN, LET HIM DOWN!" Clint shouted immediately, looking for his bow, which, of course, he didn't carried.

 

Rhodey made a move to call his suit, but Sam threw the remote across the room in a few movements. Wanda formed an energy shield between them before they could do something else.

 

"CAPTAIN ROGERS IS RIGHT!" Thor thundered, glaring at Clint. "THAT MIDGARDIAN GIRL HAS NOT DONE ANY HARM TO DESERVE SUCH A VIOLATION OF HER PRIVACY". Then he looked at Tony, who clung to the arm of Steve that kept him aloft. His eyes flashed like a storm under the golden fringe. "If you were in Asgard... Oh, we would teach you respect, Man of Iron".

 

There was a blur and Tony slammed into the bar, several bottles fell to the ground, breaking, and Pietro stood in front of Captain, who was breathing quickly as he looked at Stark.

 

Quicksilver raised his hands in a defensive gesture.

 

"Although no one vwould like more than me for you to break his face, I really don't think the solution is to kill him," stated the silver-blonde haired young man, without puting his hands down.

 

Tony stood up, rubbing the back of the his neck grimacing, but before the billionaire or any other said anything, the AI was heard throughout the tower.

 

"Mr. Stark, there are some agents of SHIELD at the door."

 

A screen slid from the roof and put out a hologram where two young agents who seemed to be in their twenties appeared. The woman had dark, shoulder lenght hair and almond, vibrant eyes; she dressed in black and was wearing leather gauntlets. The boy had dark curly blond hair and seemed lost, but also pleased as he looked around.

 

"Huh? Hello?" the girl took a couple of taps on the lens that was recording the images and all of them jumped. "I'm Daisy Johnson, SHIELD agent. And this is agent Leo Fitz" she added jerking her thumb at the other boy, who smiled absent.

 

Tony raised an eyebrow.

 

"Those two are SHIELD's agents? Really?"

 

Natasha gave him a look.

 

"That Fitz boy has developed at a young age many of our weapons, including a gun able to leave KO by nerve impulses from dendrotoxin and various types of arrows to Clint." The sneer of Stark gave way to an interest. That boy could serve in Stark Industries once he was done with SHIELD... "Do not underestimate them."

 

"Let them in, FRIDAY," Steve said then with a much more calm voice.

 

Within seconds, the doors of the elevator opened and that two appeared the two. Fitz put a gadget into the slot of the device, preventing the doors of closing again.

 

Skye smiled nervously at seeing them (because C'MON! Maybe now she had powers and all, but THE WERE THE FRICKING AVENGERS!), taking out her SHIELD badge, and Fitz stared at the holographic display.

 

"You like it?" Tony asked with a smile. The boy nodded, approaching the appliance.

 

"Of course, Mr. Stark," the blonde said enthusiastically. "We had some similar to this one in the HUB to... to..." Fitz closed his eyes, as the Avengers was left looking confused, and sighed after a moment. "Forget it."

 

Skye gave him a couple of pats to the back, squeezing his shoulder with a look of sympathy to the confused looks of the superhero team.

"Don't worry, Fitz, you're getting better," her gaze went then to the group before them, her eyes quickly wandering from one to another.

 

Instinctively, she tried to stay as far away from the Maximoff twins and Vision as she could. Perhaps it was her Inhuman part reacting to the genetics of these, but they didn't give her good vibrations. "Mmmm ... Well, hello".

 

There was a heavy silence, with confused looks and funny ones between them. When the time of silence reached in that while was absurd, Skye finally sighed and said aloud, "Look, I don't know who wanted information on such a (Y / n), but I've been sent me here and-"

 

"I KNEW IT!" Tony roared triumphally turning to the Captain, who blinked, his face blank. "See? I KNEW IT, ROGERS!" He shook his head. "It was better me than SHIELD."

 

Sam looked then at Natasha with hard eyes, feeling some kind of rage inside although he didn't exactly know why, while Bruce whispered a 'Not again' to himself.

 

All eyes, including Clint, had gone straight to Natasha, who advanced towards Skye.

 

"Nat..." Clint whispered, looking surprised. The Widow fought the overwhelming feeling of guilt she felt at his gaze, walking with arm extended toward Skye.

 

"You must be the Hacker. I asked for the best." Skye tried to hide her surprise as she shook hands with Natasha.

 

The best. The Black Widow had asked for the best, and they had chosen her.

 

Really Coulson's considered the best? Wow.

 

W-O-W.

 

"Uh, yeah. I guess I am." Skye scratched her head, tilting her neck to one side, without words. "As I was saying ..."

 

"I would prefer this to be private," replied Natasha, but the way she said it made it clear that was not an option.

 

However, a well-known voice made the original Avengers there remained stone and pale as death.

 

"If you don't mind, Natasha," intervened Phil Coulson, leaving the elevator where moments before were Skye and Fitz while he put in right place the sling where his now handless arm was, followed by Mack, who seemed really nervous to be among so many hostile people, "I'd rather that we discusse this together. "

 

 

 

 

 

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

...

 

 

 

 

 

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

...

 

 

 

 

 

Phil grinned at the looks of amazement and confusion around him, proud of himself.

"Sorry for the dramatic entrance, I couldn't help it," he replied while he put off his dark glasses and then point with his thumb toward the elevator, still open. "And Tony? Do not worry about the cameras, as soon as Skye clean the virus she got into the system, it will remain as new".

Chapter Text

Phil Coulson sat before the golden bar Stark had in the Avengers' Tower while Tony handed him bag of frozen peas for his bruised black eye. Even at that moment he could hear the rest of his crew and his old friends talking in other rooms, though a female voice was heard above them all. A shiver ran down his spine. He did not want to see that woman angry with him again in his life. Ever.

"Thank you, Tony," he murmured, taking the ice and placing it on his wound. He couldn't help a hiss of pain at the touch of the delicate flesh with the cold of the improvised remedy, followed by a sigh of relief. His swollen eye was grateful.

"It looks like it hurts, Agent," the philanthropist said, sitting down beside him at the bar.

"I didn't know that Pepper had such a right hand"

"It's not like you did not deserve it," Tony pointed out in a sour tone, and Coulson grimaced.

"You lied to us. They lied to us".

The director shook his head, pricking the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes tightly. That particular subject always caused him a headache and Phil was starting to get fed up.

"They didn't."

"Oh, come on!" Stark replied, throwing his arms into the air. "They said you were dead! And", Tony pointed at his friend's chest with a finger, "I do not know how you feel, but I see you very much alive."

"I was dead".

Stark's face became serious immediately at the tone Coulson had used. It was not an apology, nor an explanation, nor an excuse. It sounded simply to a fact, to something certain that is being exposed. His suspicions were confirmed when Phil added that it had not been minutes, or hours, but whole days. The rest was... "classified".

That wasn't a problem for Tony, who would later deal with hacking any files SHIELD had had about it. What supposed a problem was the mere fact that the agency seemed to have played chess with them, and with the lives of those around them. There was also the fact that until very recently SHIELD and HYDRA had been the same thing.

Now there was only one question left in mind: How many jobs would they have done for HYDRA... without them knowing?

 

---------------

"This is starting to feel ridiculous," you said, looking at your peers, your (h/c) locks falling over your eyes. "What is the probability that we have never crossed paths with the Avengers and suddenly we meet them three times in two months?"

"It's Peter's fault," Allison said automatically with a shrug, without taking her eyes off the computer in front of her. Suddenly, a red and blue figure fell from the ceiling. Peter turned on his heels then and looked at her, grimacing.

"Why?" the boy exclaimed as he finished squeezing into the tights, the mask still on his hand, while Gwen smiled slightly.

"Parker's luck."

Sighing, Peter pulled the mask up down his head to his neck, adjusting his lenses perfectly. And so, the young adult, scientist geek, Peter Parker, was gone and had given way to (the amazing) Spider-Man.

"Going to make a round," he said, walking to the window while mumbling things about how unfair life was and how bad the girls were with him.

"Did you say something?" Gwen asked, raising an eyebrow.

"..." There was a 'thwip' and Peter had left. Your two friends burst into laughter, but you could not help but shuffle uncomfortably, thinking (feeling) something was wrong.

 

---------

A teenage girl with fire-red hair and a yellow-and-green fighting suit hurried down the aisles of the huge mansion in Westchester, dodging her companions to go as fast as she could (a couple of wings around, a few horns there, a fire-spitting boy who almost broke a hole in her leg by sneezing... the usual thing) until she got at a tall dark wooden door and stood still. What should she do? Should she just enter the room? Should she keep waiting for her to be called? But it was an important subject. She had run all the houses' corridors for this! Why did she stop now?

"Do you need a push?" Though the voice was rough, the tone was sweet, and her stomach kinda twisted a little (as if it was full of... butterflies). Her green eyes met Logan's blues, following the straight nose, the dark sideburns, and the square jaw, until she looked at the other side in amazement of herself.

What the hell was wrong with her? Although her counterpart had felt something very strong for this man, she could not afford it again. First, he was much older than herself (although with his healing factor that would be no problem, since Logan was growing old much slower than any other person they knew, but still ...), and secondly, if she was there it was because he and Kitty had prevented certain future things from happening, creating that crossing of realities and as a consequence that she was now here, living the life of her other self.

Well, thinking about it all made her brains hurt from a big headache, but surely her case wasn't the only one that had gone through the alteration of its timeline throughout its existence at least to couple of times. And of course, that was the daily bread if you were a mutant...

Besides, it wasn't as if the fact that she was in the present time was the greatest of their concerns.

Before she knew it, Wolverine had turned the knob down and they had both entered a precious room with multitude of books, wooden shelves with beautiful reliefs, and a beautiful pine-colored desk.

"Professor?" the young mutant called, to be answered by a couple of voices to her right.

"Hello, Jean".

Yes, a couple of voices. One from a young man with crutches dressed in jeans and a shirt, the other from an elderly man in a wheelchair; both with their characteristic and affable smile on their faces.

And that, gentlemen, was one of the biggest complications of the events mentioned before. At least she was just one.

Sighing, Jean glanced at her mentors (or could she speak of him in the singular even if they were two since they were the same person?).

"Where's Magneto, Chuck?" Logan asked before she could even open her mouth, leaning against the table. "Didn't see him today in class".

"Erik is in a meeting with SHIELD" the young Xavier began, being cut by Wolverine right on the spot.

"I didn't mean your boyfrend, but the old bucket head, Chuckie," the Canadian stated, being answered by a metal ball that pierced the ground and hit him directly on the jaw. "This is what I get for worrying..." he murmured as he put his lower jaw in place again with a crack.

"Enough," Professor X said, looking at Jean, seeing what she had seen minutes before in her mind. She didn't even know how, but she had come to see something only SHIELD agents had witnessed. Maybe Erik had helped her somehow? She didn't know, but... Wow. "Amazing," he whispered, never taking his eyes off her.

The young Charles followed the example of his older version and a smile covered his face. Such power... and responsability to use it.

"I'll call Erik," he said then. "If that video is real ..."

"We could have another member for the X-Men," Jean completed, almost bouncing off the excitement. Another girl on the team? And she looked young! Maybe she was her age?. She would give anything to have anyone besides Kitty to talk...

"Yeah, well..." Logan cut in, pulling the claws out of one of his hands. He did not know who they were talking about, but he did know that person had powers, maybe was mutant, and that meant that HYDRA would be tracking her. He wasn't going to let them get there before him, not at all. "What if we first try to find her before others do it?"

Chapter Text

"Hey Rollins" the blonde woman gave you a reassuring smile as you walked in the Police Station, straight followed by another beauty with blue eyes and golden hair. Now that you thought about it, the quantity of blond people around you was unusually high and you wondered absently if you had developed another power... Lighten-Hair girl? " Oh no, please don't make us blond, we like dark hair-"

 

"Hi Name" your snapped out of it as Amanda walked up to meet you two, then pointed out to this woman. "Who's your friend?"

 

The woman took a hand out for her to shake, which Rollins did immediately, taking in how firm and full of authority it was.

 

"Agent Jennifer Jareau, BAU" she said with a smile. "But please, call me JJ, agent Rollins".

 

Amanda gave her a huge smile then, trying to suffocate the fact she was with a Federal agent in that moment for unknown reasons. She sent a glance towards Name. Was she in trouble? Well, apparently she wasn't arrested, and JJ looked friendly, but still...

 

Oh man, Liv is going to kill her...

 

"Okay" she said, letting her arms fall to her sides, still smiling somewhat nervous. "But then call me Amanda, or just Rollins".

 

"Rollins" JJ replied, a little and reassuring smile playing on her lips. Amanda felt her owns face softening; this woman seemed to be way too friendly as to be there because of something bad.

 

"Hey! See who's in here!" Amanda heard his partner behind her, coming along with a wide smile. She heard you chuckle. "How you doin', JJ? What's up with Will and lil' Henry?"

 

"Hi Finn. They're fine, thank you. I see you well"

 

Finn left out a short laugh.

 

"Indeed; i'm a sergeant now. And a grandpa'! ME!"

 

Amanda felt a little out of place in that moment. It was clear to everyone they knew each other, which was good, since that meant Name had done nothing wrong, but she hated the fact she was feeling like a newbie all over again.

 

Olivia came then, rushing in with a fold file on her left hand and a coffee (probably her second of the day) on the other one, but stopped dead on her track once she saw the group. A small smile curved her lips.

 

"Jennifer, I didn't expect you," she sent Name a look out of the corner of her eye, but she just ignored it, still talking with Finn.

 

"I'm sorry I couldn't  notify you Olivia, I was hoping to talk about a couple of things if you had a minute" JJ replied, this time with a serious tone. Finn and Rollins were the ones to exchange a look this time.

 

"Of course" Olivia nodded. "We'll talk about it right now," then her eyes darted towards Name, who grimaced. Rollins suppressed a laugh, but couldn't help snorting, to which Name pressed her lips together. "My office" Olivia said, leaving no room to any kind of excuse. "Now".

 

"Good luck, Name!" Finn said at her back, Name answering with a wave of hand.

 

"She's gonna need it" Rollins replied, talking a seat and continuing her reading.

 

-------------------------

 

JJ followed you to Olivia's office and closed the door once the three of you were in. Olivia left the archive on her table a little harder than necessary and you made a face. Man, she was pissed indeed...

 

Olivia remained in silence for a few more minutes; you kept looking awkwardly around, making contact with JJ's sympathetic gaze from time to time. A very similar scene but at the same time very different came to your mind then.

 

The lights in the small room where you found yourself were blinking again and again. You didn't like that. Absently you wondered what would happen if you made them burst, either with your powers, either with your fists. However, you wouldn't want to startle Aiden once he re-entered the room. And nobody was trustworthy. No one. Anyone could be with them, anyone could retaliate.

 

"What's your name, honey? I'm Riley".

 

You kept looking forward, showing no emotion or even having heard the man in front of you. He was sitting on the edge of a chair, leaning toward you.

 

"Come on, what's your name? We know the other one is Aiden."

 

He had fair skin, reddish brown hair, and dark, brown eyes. He was in shape, as you had already witnessed when they entered the base. He had taken upon you and your brother along with a couple of other soldiers, and now you were there. Well, there you were, at least until Aiden came through the door of the hand of a woman with a similar to the equipment of the man who was in front of you. Aiden smiled, his face smeared with something brown and sticky, and you frowned.

 

The soldier looked at the boy and then at you. It was the first emotional response I saw you, it was little... but it was something.

 

"Do you want to eat too?" The young man gave you a hesitant smile. "We have chocolate."

 

"What I want does not matter," you answered neutrally. The man shuddered at the tone you used. What the hell had they done to you?

 

You jumped when Olivia powerful voice startled you, the memory falling to pieces as you came back to the real world.

 

"MAY I KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU'VE BEEN THINKING!?" she demanded, her always kind yet firm gaze looking upon you. You pressed your lips together as she lectured you. She breathed in deeply then, before keep talking, now shouting a little less. "I know you are used to live on your own, I know you like spending time with the Stacys. And I know you've been through a lot of awful things no one your age should ever feel on their bones" she touched then abstenly the silver plate around her wrist. "But... we are supposed to be family; from here to Chicago, to Quantico, Name. I am your family, Calvin and Noah are your family. I don't know how you got into this but..." at that point you looked really confused.

 

"I thought I was being scolded because of almost not going to class this week?" you asked hesitantly.

 

Olivia gave JJ a look and you felt her delicate hand on your back as she sat next to you.

 

"In part" she admitted, "but also because we know the reason why that's happened".

 

Everything clicked and you swore mentally. You were going to kill Spencer Reid. Painfully.

 

"It was nothing," you managed to say through gritted teeth. Olivia raised an eyebrow, her glasses sliding down til the bridge of her nose.

 

"I wouldn't call two broken ribs, a partial concussion and a couple dozens of bruises nothing ", she took your hand into hers and gave it a squeeze. "I know I can't talk you out of being a hero, but I need you to come to me if... when something like this happens again".

 

"I'm not a hero," you replied right away and JJ's eyes saddened at the tone you had used. Liv seemed to be thinking for a moment before talking again to you.

 

"How many you saved from getting hurt when you ended like that?" was Olivia's respond. You stayed in silence for a minute before answering.

 

"At least 3".

 

"Then" she stated pointing at your chest "you are a hero. A heroine, to be exact. "In a gesture she almost could call her own, she clasped her hands together and took a deep breath. "Now... you're staying out of it for a couple of weeks".

 

Your head snapped right up. No no no.

 

" What ?"

 

"You heard me. No running around the city, no going on patrols, no getting in trouble... til your wounds are healed," you were wordless, even though you opened your mouth to reply. But she didn't let you. "Better the next words that come out from your mouth are " yes, Olivia, of course, Olivia " or else I don't want to hear it, am I clear?"

 

You breathed in deeply, looking from your aunt to your common blonde friend, both their looks firm. Closing your eyes, you nodded.

 

"As water".

 

"Great, now JJ and I have some things to discuss" Olivia gave Jennifer a stern look and you knew that was your cue to out the room.

 

You got up from your chair, leading to the door and debating between intervene or not. You hesitated for a moment.

 

"Is the team coming?" You said with a voice barely above a whisper, not turning around.

 

You heard JJ sigh.

 

"Probably".

 

You nodded to yourself and closed the door behind you, leaving the two woman alone.

 

-------------------------

 

"Steve..." Natasha began to speak, but her friend shook his head.

 

"I don’t want to hear it, Nat," he replied, his blue eyes fixed on the table in front of him and on his hands, on the hardness and cuts that made up his skin.

 

Natasha pursed her lips. She wasn’t the right one for these things. She could not even clear up herself, so how could she help Steve?

 

The subject of Coulson, the mutants, the inhumans... was driving them crazy. Bobbi was at hospital, Skye was M.I.A., Stark was still being a jerk. They didn’t stop going from one mission to another, each time with more problems with governments and international associations, and things didn’t seem to improve. If someone had told her that in the 21st century they would continue to fight against the Nazis, she would have laughed in their face. Although, on the other hand, after the alien invasion that was less far-fetched...

 

She didn’t understand this girl Name either. Yam. Even Hill hadn’t managed to find anything in SHIELD archives, so she was either not who she claimed to be or she had been hiding for a long time. Maybe she still was. But why? Witnesses protection program? An abusive father? Mafia?

 

Deep down, she had to admit that it hurt her to see Steve like this. It could be that in real time his age was that of an old man, but biologically and mentally it wasn’t like that. He had been given the serum of the supersoldier when he was 19 years old and had been “cryogenized” with 23 when he fell onto the ocean; so he was currently about 25. If she thought about it, he was somewhat of a boy, not much older than the girl they had been tracking. Just a kid of Brooklyn, like que he always said. He had lived a lot of bad situations, and he was a soldier, true, but he was still young and human.

 

"I'm sure you want to hear it" the superspy just put under his face a piece of paper with something written. It looked like a street, an address. Steve looked at her, confused.

 

"What is this?" he asked.

 

"The place where your friend studies" Steve went to open his mouth but she silenced him with a wave of her hand. "Don’t you dare to say no. I have had to resort to many favors - without getting anything - and in the end I chose to trace the other girl and ask her directly; your girl is really elusive." Nat tilted her head to one side, red hair stroking her face as a glow appeared in her green eyes.

 

"Nat, I- I don’t know- She-" Steve was speechless and Natasha could not help but chuckle.

 

"I hope you stop stuttering, because not everyone understands the Morse code, grandpa." Steve shook his head then, this time unable to avoid the smile that appeared on his lips. "Go and apologize, I think it's worth it to give it a try."

 

Steve got up ready to go out the door, but not before stopping for a moment and placing a hand on Natasha's shoulder.

 

"Thank you" the words were so full of feeling that Natasha was about to disrupt her perfect facade. Once she was sure he had left, she put her hand to her ear and tapped a couple of times.

 

"Part 1 completed".

 

"Well done, Romanoff," Coulson's voice congratulated her on the other side of the communicator, even tho he didn’t sound as this regarded him any kind of pleasure. Sure, she could understand that.  "You're still the best, even if with the Captain ... it doesn’t make me very happy."

 

The Widow sighed, knowing that Steve's confidence in her would vanish once he realized the plan behind all this.

"You tell me."

Chapter Text

"Why is it always me?" You growled to yourself as you heard Allison typing on the computer. Giving her a sideways look, you saw her face of concentration. Her brown eyes were focused on the bright screen, barely blinking as she moved her fingers at at lightning speed on the keyboard. A lock of vibrant dark hair fell carelessly on the side of her face, brushing against her creamy skin of her neck. Now, what was she looking for? No idea. She could either be from infiltrating Tony Stark's databases or stealing Rand Industries accounts, to doing a job she did not have to deliver until the next course- When Allison did things, she did them well.

"Aren't you supposed to be in class?" the brunette asked, ignoring your question deliberately and without looking away from the computer. This girl was so amazing with the technology that at one time you had asked if she was related in any way to Garcia. But it was not, as the DNA analysis that you had ordered had found -an analysis that perhaps hadn't been entirely legal... but that was another matter.

"I have that course at the NY Academy of Music," you acknowledged, shrugging. "Liv thinks it can help me, but technically it's not class."

This time, Allison's eyes did move toward you.

"And technically she can't kill you, but I'm certain she will if you don't move your ass. And, "she added distractedly, "it's not like you can do anything else."

"It's not like you can do anything else," you mimicked her tone mockingly. Your friend, again, ignored you. Sighing - and knowing she was right, whether you were going to admit it or not - you grabbed your backpack from behind the desk she was on and walked out the door closing behind you so hard that Allison took a small leap in her seat.

Cursing softly, she turned to the screen in time to see a series of numbers descending rapidly before the SHIELD symbol appeared in front of her. She smiled, proud of her job.

"Bingo".

 

"Why is it always me?", you growled for the second time that day when, when leaving class, you saw an incredibly familiar blond-haired man in a leather jacket and sunglasses just in the front of the Academy.

Of course, that wasn't what you had expected to find that morning after leaving that transitory prison of yours... Okay okay, maybe that was a little too much. You had to admit that you loved the time you spent there. The school was a large white building with marble capitals and golden touches in the right places that inspired grandiosity and calmness at the same time. And -why try to fool anyone?- you were in love with music almost from the exact moment Riley had turned on the radio all those years ago. And if you were talking about when you had a guitar in your hands... man, the feeling was indescribable.

Besides, it was the only thing you had now that the first year of college was over. It seemed like a lie... You had never even thought you were going to get to that point. You hadn't spent a minute thinking on the subject, if you were honest. Having a normal life didn't fit into your plans...

As you walked in the direction where Steve stood to find out what he was doing here (and how he had known where to go, although the truth is that you could imagine that one...), the glass door closed behind you with a little more force than necessary and you could see the Captain's smile starting to tremble a bit. The soldier ran his hands through the front of his pants, in a casual gesture that indicated you that he was at least as nervous as he appeared.

"What are you doing here?" You crossed your arms in front of your chest, raising an eyebrow. Steve gave you a hesitant smile and you felt your own lips curving up involuntary.

"I.. I wanted to apologize," he coughed with genuine nerviosism. "And tell you that it's okay if you don't want to talk to me again, it's not like I'm someone to have fun with, but.. I really enjoyed our meeting and I would very much like to know you and maybe... be friends". Sad blue eyes met yours and guilty crashed into you like a wave, washing away your determination and any sassy reply you had prepared. You had thought you were ready for anything he could say, but what you hadn't definitely expected was his mouth spilling out those words charged with sincerity.

After discussing with yourself for a microsecond, you made up your mind. Sighing, you moved your head toward the street.

"Would you mind if we talked while walking?" You inquired giving in and mentally cursing Gwen for softening you like this. "I've got some things to do".

Steve's face lit up with a brilliant smile that made your heart flutter. Okay, maybe he was attractive, as Gwen had made you notice since minute one, but why your heart had to choose that moment to start reacting as a normal one? Jesus.

"Of course," he agreed, his hands on his pockets as you two started to walk down the road. "So... it's a good day, isn't it?"

You laughed out loud at his statement and you would swear you saw his ears reddening.

"You wanted to talk about weather? Really?"

He cleared his throat and bited down his bottom lip to avoid his own smile.

"I was trying to break the ice".

"Now I understand why you were trapped in an iceberg for 70 years".
You giggled again at the Captain's shocked face, which looked way too funny with lips half parted and a look between scandalized and devilish, like a child.

"If I had had someone like you near, I probably would've scaped in two days".

He gave you a crooked grin and your laughter stopped instantly. Did he just call you hot or it was your mind that made up that conclusion? You almost choked as you started to cough due in part to you stopping laughing so promptly and in part so you didn't have to answer that. Steve's big hand went to your back then, asking you if you were okay, which you reassured nodding vigorously.

"Maybe we could start where we left it that night?" He offered in a half hopeful, half fearful tone. When you nodded, he smiled. "Great. Well, you told me about someone who taught you to play guitar; can I ask who?"

"My dad," you answered after a minute. "I loved playing with him, composing or just go around in his track listening new -well, new to me- music".

Steve seemed to notice something was a little off as he doubted to talk again.

"I think we would get along well. He seems like a great man".

His mouth went dry when you answered.

"He was," you said, a little of sadness filling your voice. "He died years ago".

"I'm.. Sorry, (Y/N)".

"It's okay," you breathed. "He was a soldier, too".

"My mother died too when I was a teen," Steve blurted out suddenly and you couldn't help but to eye him, kinda surprised you two were actually talking like... this. "It's hard. But I'm sure you'll get pass it".

"Yeah," you gave him a smile then and the Captain gave you one of his own back. "But stop with sad things. What else do you do besides avenging and stalk me?"

This time, your teasing tone didn't get him off guard and he just shrugged without losing the smile.

"I.. well, I go running every morning".

You blinked.

"By avenging I included trainment as well", you pointed out. The man in front of you shifted awkwardly. One of his hand went through his sandy hair, leaving a mess behind that you could only describe as precious, the sun making the gold of his hair shine in a thousand of shades.

"I used to draw, back in my day".

That... that was pleasantly nice, to be honest. You didn't know that behind the blue-eyed soldier, the so supposedly righteous man, there was an artist. Certainly, that made you curious, to say the least.

"Were you good?"

"I'd like to think so," a little, proud smile appeared on his lips. "I used to study in the Art Academy of Brooklyn. But then.. my mum died and I had to start working," he grimaced then, his brows coming together forming a somewhat sad face.

"And then came the War," you whispered to yourself, even tho he heard you nonetheless.

"And then came the War," this time, his eyes showed resignation. "And the rest is in the History books".

You snorted.

"I must say they didn't include the best part of the Captain".

"What? The artist part?" He inquired, sending a simpatizing look toward you. "That wasn't an important piece of the Captain America symbolism".

"No, but the 'Steve Rogers' part was -it still is," you shot back, pouring your heart in those words, even if you didn't even know where they had come from. Silent remained for about a minute or two before you started to mocking him again to try and get him out of his stupor. "On the other hand... here I was, thinking the the Star-Spangled-Man-With-A-Plan was a gentleman, yet haven't asked me to carry my pack for me," your teasing tone made him chuckle, realizing you probably were trying to "break the ice", as he himself had stated.

He shrugged as you approached the handle of the Police Station principal door.

"Thought you wouldn't like to," he admited, once again sincerity soaking every letter. "I don't want you to think that I didn't realize you were a pretty independent, strong woman".

That ... that had caught you completely off guard. You looked back at the Captain -no, Steve- realizing that you had really enjoyed that conversation and his company, and that maybe James was right about him after all.

However, you being you, and before you could say anything, fate chose that moment to make the door burst open, startling you both as you found yourself met with brown eyes.

"Hey, (y/n)," Olivia gave you a quick hug as a warm smile spread across her face. "Just in time to go eat with the gang."

"I told you I would come this time," you answered, not letting go the opportunity to prick her a bit. She chuckled in response.

"You sure did," she said. Then, her inquisitive gaze went to Steve, and her smile became a little less warm and a little more cordial. "And this handsome youngster is...?"

"Oh! Uh-mh, Steve Rogers, ma'am," he introduced himself right away, taking off his sunglasses and cap quickly and standing straight. The muscles around Olivia's eyes tightened slightly and without releasing you from her grasp, she extended a hand towards him.

"Nice to meet you, Captain," she replied as Steve's big hand closed over her, giving a firm shake. "Lieutenant Olivia Benson."

"No need to be so serious, you know," you intervened, trying to lighten the mood. "Liv, this is Steve, I met him at the bar where Carisi always tries to drag us -Steve, this is my aunt, Olivia."

"It's a pleasure, ma'am-sir-lieutenant-sorry." Steve stumbled with the words, a red tone covering his cheeks.

This time, Olivia's smile and yours were similar. This man was perhaps a condecorated soldier, but definitely his behavior was that of a perfectly normal young adult.

"You can call me Olivia, Captain," your aunt assured him then. Releasing his hand, she smiled at both of you.

"Well, I guess it's time for me to leave," Steve commented, a slight smile on his face as he eyed you. "I hope you have a good time."

Steve's sincerity seemed to make Olivia decide to extend to helping hand.

"Why don’t you come to eat with us?," your face turned so fast in her direction that you would swear you almost heard your neck protest, even if that did matter little to you now. Had she said what you thought she had said?

Realizing your reaction, Steve quickly raised his hands and shook his head. He didn't seem hurt at all, but rather to understand that it was a private matter - and thank God, because if you had to endure the jokes of Derek and Rossi after this, you would throw yourself out of a building. Without web-shooters this time.

Olivia shrugged. "On another occasion, then."

Smiling at both of you and assuring that he would accept the next time, Steve said goodbye, placing his baseball cap over his head and turning to leave. Olivia linked her arm with yours giving you a suggestive look and you dedicated yourself to roll your eyes.

"It's nothing," you murmured, although you knew her playful gaze was more for making you mad than because she thought you might be interested in the soldier.

"(Y/n), wait!" Immediately you turned around to see Steve again, who had run back to you and had a piece of paper in his hand. Taking it feeling kinda confused, you couldn't prevent your eyebrows from shooting up when you saw a neatly annotated number. "In case you feel like talking again someday."

Before you could answer, Steve had already ran off in the other direction, waving goodbye in yours, before getting lost in the crowd.

"Sure, 'nothing', of course," Olivia commented, smiling briefly before taking your hand again, not without first noticing with amazement how you kept the note in your pocket.

Chapter Text

Tony left the senator's office feeling like he had aged at least ten years suddenly. Bringing his right hand to the side of his sunglasses and ordering F.R.I.D.A.Y. to call Steve again and again until the soldier picked up, he began to absent-mindedly unbutton the tie that he wore around his neck and that now seemed like a rope.

 

Why was it so hot in there? And why suddenly the suit felt as it was two or three sizes smaller than it should be?

 

"Captain Rogers is still not answering, sir."

 

"Keep trying," the philanthropist growled as he walked toward the fire escape exit. He needed air. And he needed it now. Why did he seem to be the only one who could not breathe in there? Jesus.

 

When Steve's answering machine jumped an eighth time, Tony decided to leave a message for the blond soldier, feeling all of his frustrations bubbling in his blood:

 

"Captain, I know you're not very familiar with 21st century technology, but for future reference, having my name appear again and again on that bright little screen indicates that you have to get the damn phone." After hearing the whistle that followed his agitated speech, Tony let himself slide down the wall until he was sitting on the ground, breathing hard while holding the bridge of his nose between two fingers, noticing the calloused fingertips resulting from all those years working on the laboratory against the soft skin of the face.

 

How the hell was everything going so fast down the drain? Weren't they also humans? Dammit, could not they make mistakes!? They had saved the world countless times. And even so...

 

"Self-pity does not fit with someone like you, Mr. Stark," said a hoarse, deep voice behind him, making him jump. Tony took a microsecond to recover from where he was now, lying on his back, looking at the brick wall in surprise to realize automatically that the sound could not come from behind him, unless Harry Potter really existed, but Above him. . Looking up, Iron Man lowered his glasses in disbelief at the vision in front of him.

 

Crouched on the roof, just above him, was a man dressed in a demon suit - literally. Tony noted that the armor must've been made of some kind of bulletproof material, flexible enough to be formed into a cloth that allows to cut it and sew it together. It had a tone between crimson and wine, similar to that of dried blood -Had he chosen that color on purpose?- at which black protections were added to the chest, shoulders and knees, and Tony was betting that it would have a similar pattern in the back. Dark boots covered his legs and shins, with a pattern similar to the gloves, also wine-colored and with black reinforcements on the knuckles. On his belt he wore a kind of extendable double cane that reminded him of what a blind man would use, only it was thicker and clearly much more dangerous. A dark mesh covered the neck and part of the face, of which only a square jaw with a thin beard could be discerned -it should have 2, 3 days maximum- that surrounded a crooked mouth in a sarcastic smile, the lower lip broken, although without bleeding, and the curve of a sharp nose that was lost at the beginning of the mask with horns and red lenses that completed his costume.

 

"The Devil of Hell's Kitchen, I suppose," Stark commented, still agitated. The vigilante gave him another smirk. It was no surprise that the millionaire had heard of him. Newspaper headlines across the city had filled up with his picture after getting Wilson Fisk into jail.

 

"I see that presentations aren't needed," he commented again in that deep voice that had so frightened the millionaire the first time, catching him off guard.

 

"Yeah, well..." Tony sighed, fiddling with glasses in his hands. "You see, I'm not at my best, but if we open auditions to enter the Avengers, you can be sure I'll move some strings, 'kay?"

 

The devil chuckled. What an occurrence...

 

"Is that why you think I'm here?" he asked in a funny tone. Tony raised his eyebrows. Wasn't it? "No, thanks, I prefer to protect my city." Daredevil jumped then from the roof, falling noiselessly next to Tony and leaning towards him to speak in his ear in a very low tone, barely above a whisper. "I know what's happening; you have to stop it."

 

In the last part Tony heard a hint of danger in his voice, barely contained, but not as if he was threatening him. More as if that danger was what he wanted to warn him about.

 

"What have you heard exactly?" Stark inquired, uncomfortable with such proximity but unable to do anything to avoid his curiosity.

 

"The walls have eyes and ears," replied the man in the demon suit. "You can not let the Agreements go ahead, there's someone behind this, Mr. Stark, and it's not the Government."

 

The man moved away from him and went straight to the edge of the roof while undoing the gravel of his pants, releasing the red canes. Tony had been paralyzed by this. Was it true? Was someone tampering with the threads again? Tampering him? But was the watchman trustworthy? He was just an outlaw who solved his problems with punches, like that Luke Cage in Harlem, but of course... the Avengers too, even if it was on a larger scale.

 

"We're not alone, Mr. Stark. Look it up: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans. New York."

 

The mention of the latter left Tony perplexed. Of course, New York was an important focus in all that, but he already knew. Him and the whole world. Or was there something - someone - that had escaped public scrutiny and security radars? But that wasn't possible…

 

"What do you mean with...?" But the devil was gone. Tony sighed, wanting to bang his head against the wall. So immersed had he been in his thoughts that he had given him time to disappear, as if he could travel with the breeze.

 

His phone rang at that precise moment, and he almost sighed with joy at seeing who it was.

 

"Agent Coulson, I was just thinking of calling you ..."


 

"So," Rossi started as he raised his spaghetti full-charged fork towards his mouth, "how is everything going, (Y/n)?"

 

You shrugged distractedly looking at the man before you, spotting on his grey hair and nice smile as well as his inquiring eyes, sensing -knowing- he was analyzing your behaviour. Not that he had something against you, quite the opposite actually, but some habits were hard to break.

 

"Heard you finished your first year of College," Morgan intervened, a wide smile on his face, white teeth making a spectacular contrast with his dark silky skin.

 

"Not only that, she got pretty good grades". You felt a wave of warm toward Olivia, whose adoring tone was the one of a mother proud of their child.

 

"I saw your expedient," Reid talked then, and your eyes moved to him. "It's quite brilliant, actually. I still think you should apply to the Academy once you finish".

 

"So you can keep a closer eye on me and tell everyone? No thanks," you replied dryly and Olivia sighed as Derek howled at your barking.

 

"Pretty boy, if I were you, I'd stay out of her way for a while," Morgan laughed, glass in hand.

 

"She had a concussion, broken bones and multiple wounds all over her, so I regret nothing about telling Olivia and I would do it again," your eyebrows shot up, not knowing if you felt anger or gratitude toward the doctor.

 

"What!?" Penelope cried a 5th note about her usual pitch, which indicated she was probably a little more tipsy than she should have. "That happened!?" She demanded to JJ, who was sat at her right. When the blonde nodded, mouth still full with her food, García slammed a fist on the table, making her yelp. "When!? How!?" She turned toward Derek then, whining. "Why no one ever tells me anything!?" The huge man gave her a half funny, half apologetic look, but her eyes were already dancing from one agent to another until they finally casted over you as she pointed at your chest with her index finger. "HE HAD TO TELL HER!" was her final statement, referring to Reid, making your eyebrows shot up immediately.

 

"I agree," Hotch commined, his always serious tone a little out of place now he was dressed in a so normal outfit (a simple light blue t-shirt and jeans, far different from his usual dark suit).

 

"Of course you do, you're always on Liv's side," Prentiss laughed as she winked at you,  holding up a cup of red wine she brought to her lips.

 

"Have you seen her angry? 'Cause I have. He's being a smart one, trust me," Rossi joked and Olivia hitted him playfully, looking somewhere between offended and funny. He then looked at you, a knowing shade covering his eyes. "I'm still waiting for an answer here".

 

You breathed in before shrugging once again.

 

"College is fine. I'm trying to take every class I can so I can catch up with Gwen and the rest," you let your fork dance between the pieces of your meal, that was nothing else than Rossi's best recipe. You had to admit you loved this man. "Still writing music. Still causing trouble. You know, nothing new".

 

Prentiss seemed to doubt as she opened her mouth to close it right after, then opening it again.

 

"Have you had any... interferences lately?"

 

You shook your head and the tension that have been building up in the atmosphere lightened a little.

 

"But you do have cross paths with S.H.I.E.L.D.," Hotch pointed out and you nodded. "García has already started to erase any trace that had anything to do with you and your friends".

 

You gave her a grateful smile.

 

"Thank you," you whispered and Penelope's face lighted up as a Christmas tree. She couldn't help herself; you were always a sassy one, even at showing you cared, not a tender teddy bear, so whenever you gave away a little of sweetness her heart melted. To be fair, it was a very welcomed change, since usually her heart ached for you due to your old life.

 

"It's no problem, at all!" Garcia replied eagerly with her blonde curls jumping one over another. "Allison's being helping, ya know? That girl is a genius! - I mean, I know you're all far intelligent, but it's like she could be my blood". Seeing your smirk, she gasped, clapping her right hand over over her mouth as his left grasped Morgan's right biceps with so much force she even made him flinch. "WHAT IF SHE IS, DEREK!? SHE COULD BE MY DAUGHTER".

 

JJ tried to muffle her laugh as Reid seemed very much confused.

 

"García, you haven't been pregnant," he reminded her, but she waved it off.

 

"AS IF THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS!"

 

You all started laughing out loud at her outburst. On the other hand, Derek took Penelope's glass away from her, making her pout.

 

"I think you had enough of this two glasses ago, pretty girl," he answered to her not-spoken question, and her pout only grew.

 

"Killjoy".

 

"He is, indeed," Prentiss said under her breath, making you giggle as Olivia tried to hide her own smile.

 

"She also met this guy at the bar where Carisi convinced her to play" Olivia sang and blood rushed toward your cheeks against your will. You gave her a glare from the corner of your eyes, but her smile only grew, clearly pleased with herself.  You knew it shouldn't make you this angry -you had talked with Steve as you did with Peter, Quentin or even Flash, so what was the problem?- but somehow it did. And also a little embarrassed. And besides everything, you also felt gratitude toward Liv, because you also knew she wouldn't tell them who he was -which after realizing it, made you feel confused: why were you relieved by that? They already knew you had crossed paths with S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

"(Y/n)? (Y/n)!" a hand moved in front of your eyes, making you jump and look at Morgan, who was shaking it trying to catch your attention. You blinked as you took in your surroundings.

 

"Sorry, what?"

 

JJ raised her blonde eyebrows with a funny expression, sparks flying in her light blue eyes -the same tone of sea's waves when they came to die at coast, crushing on the sand of the beach.

 

"Wow, he must've really knocked you out your feet".

 

Your blush grew even wider as they all laughed and you whined.

 

"JJ, IT'S NOT THAT!" you all but screamed, resulting in them laughing harder and JJ putting her hands up as if she was telling you she surrendered, even tho her expression said quite the opposite, making you groan. "I was just thinking and got lost..."

 

"In a beautiful pair of eyes?" Prentiss retorted. More wood thrown into the fire, that’s it.

 

"In my thoughts, Emily, in my thoughts!" you groaned once again, trying to be heard over the laughter of the agents.

 

"Does he know mother bear over here is a cop?" Rossi inquired, that playful smile of him making him look a lot younger than he was.

 

"He does," Olivia assured him. Then she put on a thoughtful expression. "Not sure if he knows I've got 3 guns tho".

 

Jesus.

 

You looked at Hotch with a silent plea, but he just shook his head seeing his team and friend acting like children, laughing to himself.

 

"Does he know you're part of a family of FBI agents?" was Derek's turn, earning for himself a chorus of howls and agreements between the team.

 

"Does he know I'll shoot him if he ever does a wrong move?" JJ quiped and Emily nodded in a serious manner.

 

"Amen to that, sister".

 

You looked up at the ceiling.

 

"Somebody shoots me," you muttered, which resulted in Olivia elbowing your ribs in a soft way, just to let you know she had heard you and she didn't like it, what made you to grimace in return. In that moment you heard the front door opening and your heart fluttered on your chest. "Saved by the bell!" You exclaimed as you got up the table just in time for Noah to launch at you laughing. You took him in your arms, squeezing him tightly as he laughed under your fingertips.

 

"MOM!" Noah called then, you letting him down so she could ran at Olivia this time, eager to hug her as Calvin made his way to you after closing the door.

 

"Hey.." he greeted the team shyly and they all gave him polite smiles, except for Penelope, who was.. well, Penelope, waving with energy. Then his brown eyes fell on you and a huge smile broke on his face, making you feel all warm toward the teen. You opened your arms for him and he gave you a big hug, which you gave back placing your chin just over the top of his head.

 

"Wow," you said then,  taking a step back and giving him a look.

 

"What?" he asked and you smiled.

 

"You've grown again! Now my chin touch your head, didn't you notice?"

 

Calvin touched the top of his head and a smile even bigger appeared.

 

"I'M TALLER! I'M TALLER, MUM!" he called over to Olivia, whose expression was one of pure devotion as she saw all three of you.

 

"Congrats, pal!" Derek exclaimed, towering up from his chair and extending a hand in his direction. Calvin didn't even doubt as he gave him five, laughing.

 

"What a wonderful young man you're becoming," Emily said with fervour and Calvin blushed, still smiling through it all.

 

“How old are you already? 20?” Hotch joked and Calvin laughed.

 

“I’m 15, old man,” he answered back in the same tone, making Olivia say “Calvin!” in an awe-struck manner. “He started it!” Calvin responded quickly, making her just shook her head.

 

Olivia's phone started ringing then and the smile almost fell from her face. In a fluid movement she already had it in her ear, trapped between her head and shoulder, as she passed Noah into Garcia's arms.

 

"Benson."

 

She didn't even have time to keep talking when Hotch and Prentiss' phones did the same, followed closed by Rossi's.

 

"Hotch."

 

"Prentiss."

 

"Rossi."

 

As they got up to disperse around the house so they could listen better, their mates exchanged glances. That wasn't good at all.

 

"I thought you were on leave?" asked Calvin, who had only been living with Olivia for 3 months after the death of his paternal grandparents and after a judge decided that his biological mother was not in a position to raise him. Of course, the fact that her own son didn't want to go back to her, but with Detective Benson - now Lieutenant Benson- was also a very important point in favor of the decision he'd finally made on his custody.

 

"And we are, Calvin," Spencer replied with a serious face. "But also... we had a couple of issues to resolve and it looks like something has happened related to it."

 

Calvin nodded thoughtfully. He didn't seem angry, just a little downcast, but the boy understood. Derek gave him a squeeze on the shoulder. Hotch returned to the room with a serious look.

 

"JJ, would you mind taking the boys out?" JJ nodded, already knowing the subject the calls were about if it was her they didn't need there. After all, she had been talking about the subject in question with Olivia since a couple of weeks ago, let alone that same morning.

 

"What do you think about going to have an ice cream and do some Skype so you can talk to Henry?" Noah's face brightened at the thought and Calvin gave the blonde a warm smile when she winked at him.

 

"You too, (y/n)," Olivia interjected. Giving her a look, but without saying anything, you nodded and got up from the chair one more time, fixing the leather jacket you were wearing.

 

As you walked towards the door with the little ones and JJ, however, the hairs on the back of your neck stood on end. You didn't know what, but something very bad was about to happen...


 

Once in the police station, inside of one of their huge interrogation room, they all sat down diligently.

 

"Garcia?" Hotch asked and she nodded, always ready.

 

"During the last two months there have been a series of killings along the East Coast, covering the entire state of California," the blonde said while typing on her computer so that moments later the tablets of her companions began to whistle, indicating that they had received the information. "The modus operandi is reminiscent of the one used by convicted Cletus Kasady, with whom unfortunately our family in New York has already had to meet."

 

Olivia nodded, glancing at her team. Except for Amanda and Barba, most weren't there when it happened, but they would have read about it in the newspapers. Carisi went from one file to another, his expression more and more horrified by what he saw.

 

"It was the serial killer that the Unit helped trap about 4 years ago, right, Lieutenant?" Sonny asked and Olivia nodded.

 

"That's right, Carisi. Kasady is responsible for the death of 11 people in our state. He doesn't have a preference in gender, age or race... Women and... children... were brutally raped before being murdered, and he assaulted them again post mortem".

 

Finn had to suppress a shiver at Olivia's words. It wasn't the first time they had dealt with that kind of thing, but when it affected children... They couldn't always control their reactions.

 

"Kasady is an extremely sadistic killer," Reid then added. "All of the victims were abducted and he kept them by several days; they showed signs of torture, such as cuts, burns or strangulation marks, and the cause of death could not be completely clarified, as he smashed their victims with machetes, making it impossible to know what stab had been the fatal one".

 

"Besides sadistic, he is a narcissist and feels a total disregard for human life, since he doesn't find meaning in it, which makes him extremely dangerous," Hotch concluded.

 

Amanda settled back in her seat and pointed toward the panels.

 

"This is all too well, I guess, but Kasady is on the death row, and these murders have been committed in another state, isn't it possible that we have a copycat?" offered the blonde detective. Rossi and Prentiss exchanged a glance before Prentiss spoke.

 

"Kasady escaped from prison 8 weeks ago, leaving behind 5 dead guards and 3 other inmates," Amanda dropped her head in her hands while Finn let out a "son of a bitch" in a low voice. "It was not disclosed by order of Interpol in agreement with the FBI."

 

"Do we know anything about his life in prison before he left?" Barba asked then, who had so far remained silent at the back of the room.

 

"The last thing we knew about him was that he was visited by a journalist named Eddie Brock a week before he escaped..." Garcia commented, looking at his notes, "but we have not been able to contact him, nobody knows where he is".

 

The implacable prosecutor grimaced.

 

"Fantastic".

 

"In the last two months he has managed to kill 12 other people with nothing to connect them with each other," Rossi hesitated a second before continuing. "We think it is quite probable that his plan is to return to New York to organize a great massacre."

 

"This reminds me too much of William Lewis," Amanda murmured only to realize that her comment had been heard by everyone and they were exchanging looks between her and Olivia. Rollins opened his mouth like a fish out of water but not really knowing what to say. "Lieutenant, I-"

 

Olivia straightened her back and with a wave of her hand indicated that nothing was wrong.

 

"Amanda is right," Olivia said. "And that is why we must proceed with great care, we will help the FBI as much as we can and we will watch the streets of New York with more care than ever," she turned around, glanced at all his companions and pressed his lips in a thin line. "Something tells me that if we do not stop him this could end in a carnage."

Chapter Text

Ten years ago

Location unknown

 

Aiden ran up to you and you instinctively oriented your body so that it was between him and those strangers. Riley noticed each oh so over studied movement, each micro-expression, each slightly variation in your posture, and could not avoid the chill that went down his back, making his hair stand on end, identifying them as fitting to the same training to which he had been subjected, only that he had been much older and the decision of it was of own will.

 

War child. The concept appeared in his mind almost like a haze, remembering things her once upon friend from the FBI had told him about a terrorist group made up entirely of children and adolescents that a former ex police officer had formed, brainwashing and training them to die for his cause, so similar to those radical groups that their military forces had found back in the day in other places at war, such as China or Iran.

 

Was that what you were? His eyes strayed briefly to the small boy with big eyes who seemed to have bathed in chocolate. Did you protect him because he was your brother or because he was your platoon mate, another "ally" to the cause, whatever it was? Was he even your brother really?

 

"Whatever you want does matter," Riley whispered, looking into your eyes. Eyes that seemed empty, without hope or dreams, but neither fear nor hatred. As empty as your voice had sounded. "You can trust me. Tell me... something, anything. What about your parents?"

 

Silence.

 

"Do you remember them?" Another thought took shape in the back of his mind and he fought the disgusted grimaced to say it out loud. "Are they involved in this?"

 

Silence.

 

"Is it some kind of sect? Terrorist organization?"

 

"That's what you call them, I suppose," you retorted then, your eyes still toward a fixed and distant point, looking but not really seeing. Riley frowned. At least you had spoken.

 

"Who are they?"

 

Silence.

 

"Please. I want to help you, we want to help you," he added fastly jerking a thumb over his shoulder toward the woman who had taken Aiden along.

 

"It is better for you to not know," you said finally after a few moments of silence, giving in to his pleas, even if it was only so he would shut up. "They are everywhere."

 

The next thing he knew was that he was on the ground, and the grey ceiling seemed to be moving. His head felt like a drum and there was something hot and viscous staining his ear and part of his neck, running down his cheek. Leaning on his elbows, he brought a trembling hand to his temple, which hammered painfully with each heartbeat. The buzzing in his ears subsided as his vision cleared, watching a figure towering over him, weapon in hand. After a few seconds that seemed like hours, his brain seemed to work again and a growl, part pain, part confusion, left his lips.

 

"Smoak, the hell are ya doin'?" he croaked at the sight of his partner pointing at his head with the same gun she seemed to have used to knock him out of her way.

 

"You should have listened to the girl," she replied with a shrug. There was a click and Riley saw how his partner, in whom she had 100% trusted, pulled the hammer of the gun. "Hail HYD-"

 

There was a barely detectable hollow sound of wind and then... nothing. His partner fell to the floor with a tad sound, blood dripping from the hole in her head as blueish eyes stared into nowhere, glazed over. Riley looked up to see you holding a gun with a silencer he didn’t knew where it had come from, no expression at all in your face, as if you had done this lots of times before. A chill went down his spine once again when he realized you'd probably had.

 

"I told you," you said with your usual neutral tone. "They're everywhere".

 

"You've saved me," was all the young soldier managed to say between ragged breaths. You looked from the gun to him, as if that fact had just hit you.

 

"Guess so".

 

Riley started to get up from the ground, slowly. His bottom lip tasted like iron and he wondered briefly if it was broken before putting his attention back to you and your brother, who was now on the other side of the room, behind you. His partner was going to say hail HYDRA. As in HYDRA the antique nazi organization Captain America had taken down before dying? He clasped his teeth together.

 

Not the time, he told himself. He had two kids under his watch to bring to safety, and only two persons which he now could truly trust in.

 

"I can help you," he stated, trying again, but you moved your head no briefly. The right corner of your lips twitched ever so slightly out of some kind of emotion you shut down so fast he didn't have time to recognize.

 

"Going where? Social services?" You spat. "Told you. They're everywhere. They'll get to us".

 

This time Riley was the one who refused your words.

 

"They can't if you both don't enter the system," he stepped toward you, his hand out to get the pistol you were still holding. "I can protect you and your brother. Personally".

 

At this point Aiden couldn't hold himself back and Riley couldn't help but smile despite the situation. He was still a little, naive, innocent boy, it seemed. Whatever they had done to you, it hadn't reached out to him yet.

 

"Can you!?" Your brother looked up at you, pleadingly. "Can he, (F/n)? Can we stay with him?"

 

"I know someone in the FBI," he was closer now,  with his hand almost covering the gun. You kept frozen, debating whether to say yes or no after hearing the neededness in your little brother's voice. "Someone who's certainly not them. She has done this before. You both will be with me". Finally, his hand closed firmly around the gun you were still holding. "Trust me".

 

You let go of the pistol and his heart almost skip a beat. Thank God...

 

"If you've lied, I'll kill you".

 

He swallowed. He was certain you would if you felt like you had to, but the soldier wasn't one to break promises. He would get you to trust him and he would help you heal, no matter what.




Present day

 

"How about we try something different?" Clint inquired from his position on the lab couch. He had spent the last few days watching the geniuses of both his team and Coulson's new team -well, new to him- work and so far they had achieved... nothing at all.

 

He had to admit that despite everything that was happening - the post-Ultron disaster, Coulson's girl disappearing with her psychotic of a mother and the consequent fight against the Inhumans when they got aboard the Helicarrier where Phil had lost his hand, the New project of S.H.I.E.L.D.- Fitzsimmons and Sk-Daisy had done anything in their power to try and got back to New York to help them out whenever they could, and they were good. Like, really good. But there was no way they were close to Tony's level with computers, and Stark had his attention severely divided since he had met the Devil from Hell's Kitchen. Damn, Clint still couldn't believe he had missed that one. Despite not having witnessed the meeting, Barton could feel the discomfort in the pit of his stomach, scratching the walls in an attempt to get him out of the stupor he was in.

 

On the other hand, he didn't know if he should feel worried that they weren't advancing on their task or instead be happy about it. Because what they were dealing with was you. A young strong and determined woman who seemed to have come out of nowhere and with whom the Captain seemed to feel comfortable speaking, having met a couple times already, even if just for a walk, which seemed to be helping Steve to copple with basically everything. He hadn't seen the Soldier at ease like that ever before.

 

Your meetings weren't casual, that was for sure. Natasha liked to play  matchmaker with Steve, but this time it was all part of a larger plan that they only knew a small part of, although Clint would bet his best bow that you weren't the only one SHIELD wanted information of...

 

His mind wandered back to the girl who had saved them in Sokovia and laughed bitterly under his breath. Would she regret having saved their lives if she knew that she now had one of the largest National Security organizations looking for any trace she might have left? Clint imagined no.

 

Once again, you came to the front of his mind and the ex-former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent ran his hands over his face, elbows resting on his knees while rubbing hard the bridge of his nose. Man, he couldn't help feeling guilty. A part of him was screaming at him loudly that they should not be doing this. But another -even larger, much to his dismay- indicated that it was very casual that you had crossed paths with the Avengers twice by simple coincidence in a city as big as New York, even if the second time they were the ones who had moved to the neighborhood where you first met. And if you added to that the fact that there was no trace of you anywhere...

 

He knew that they had to do it. They must to. However, his gut told him they were wrong. That they should stop now and for good and just see how things developed.

 

"What do you mean, Agent Barton, sir?" Fitz inquired nervously. Clint rolled his eyes but didn't correct him. Two weeks of hard work trying to be called simply "Clint" had been unsuccessful to date, so the archer had decided to surrender in that regard.

 

"We are looking for her old files in any database in the country, right?" Simmons nodded at his affirmation.

 

"And using a rejuvenation software with the girl's photo in case we could place it among the files of missing children, Hawke-SIR," Daisy corrected quickly as she looked over the computer screen, the tips of her ears acquiring a bright pink tone. Clint couldn't hide the smirk that crossed his face; Daisy had no filter when it came to  speaking and had spent the S.H.I.E.L.D. training in an intensive course with Phil's team, so sometimes the discipline that everyone blamed on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, and to which she wasn't accustomed to, just went out the window without her being able to do anything to avoid it -much to the archer's amusement.



"So what if instead of looking for old files, we search for new ones and see who is leading you to? Who created them, who modified them, which servers it went through. That way-"

 

"-If we can not find anything related to her, maybe we can find someone or something who is related to her," Fitz completed aloud, a slow smile spreading across his face. "That's brilliant, sir."

 

Clint raised an eyebrow and stopped drumming his fingers on the arm of the sofa.

 

"It's good to know that I'm not just a pretty face."

 

Two laughs echoed his words, similar yet very different from each other. The first one came from the redhead dressed in black leather who had just passed through the door, back straight and file in hand, and more than a laugh it had been a slight chuckle. Still, it had made his heart ache a little.

 

The second had been a hearty laugh that the young Sokovian girl with wavy brown hair had let out when listening to him, entering just before Natasha and heading towards him, dropping by his side.

 

"I don't see the pretty face, old man," Wanda joked giving him a quick hug. Clint tried to fake he was offended moments before giving up and proceeding to ruffle her hair mercilessly, laughing at the squeak he had for an answer.

 

He could feel Natasha's eyes fixed on them, but at that moment he couldn't muster the courage to look back at his companion. He knew Nat was doing what she was supposed to do -but that was now. Why had she started her research at first? There was no reason for it and that was what had caused the current situation -she had made your figure call the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Overprotective instinct taking control, maybe? Steve could be a century-old super-soldier, but in many ways he was as innocent as a child despite the horrors of war.

 

Natasha handed the papers to Daisy, who took them with a nervous smile on her face as she exchanged glances between the two Avengers and their young pupil. With a nod, the Black Widow turned and walked toward Wanda and Clint, standing in front of them, not knowing how to handle the situation.

 

It was one of the few times that Hawkeye saw Natasha hesitate.

 

"Clint... it had to be done."

 

Clint sighed.

 

"If the Captain finds out... We're basically manipulating him to spy on on her -on them."

 

Wanda looked at both of them, biting her lip, the iris of her eyes shining at the edges with a vibrant crimson tone that quickly faded, not wanting to use her powers on her team mates.

 

"It's what must be done."

 

"That doesn't mean we should like it."

 

Natasha gave Wanda a sharp look when she saw that she was opening her mouth to intervene and the young Maximoff responded by pressing her lips in a thin line. Would it be so bad if she told Clint that despite her work, despite the searching, despite... everything, Natasha still wanted to bring them together?

 

"I know."

 



"What do you have there that was so important?"

 

They were in the middle of nowhere, on a road that would probably have been the wet dream of any serial killer to get rid of the bodies of their victims. The darkness of the night was only interrupted by the pair of security lights that stood on the verge every twenty or thirty meters, trimming the figures of two large dark-colored off-road jeep on the side of the road. The man who had just spoken had his face disfigured, almost like his skin had melted away, the scars following the neck until the skin disappeared from view, covered by a kevlar vest. The little light on had generated shadows and lights in a complicated pattern that made him look even more terrifying.

 

"Something to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. with, Brock," the ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. responded without taking off of his jeep, his face devoid of emotion in every moment. "HYDRA needs leaders, I thought it was time for two new heads to take over."

 

Rumlow's comrade snorted when he heard him speak and his dark eyes moved towards him, two black and unthinking pits perforating him.

 

"Whitehall, Strucker, List. Everyone has fallen. We're facing the Avengers here. What the hell makes you think you're worthy of giving the orders?" he asked in a threatening tone. He was a broad-shouldered guy with a shaved head; the vein on his forehead was beating hard and on it he had tattooed a black swastika with the characteristic HYDRA's skull in the center.

 

The man in the brown jacket smiled in a sarcastical, chill-boned way. Before the other realized, he had grabbed the back of his neck and stamped his head against the trunk of the car to then take him by the trachea, squeezing the life out of him.

 

"Do you understand who you're working for now?" Grant Ward asked without altering himself a bit. His face was so close that the man could smell the alcohol on his breath and almost felt the dark, dirty beard that covered his jaw. Finally, he let go and Rumlow chuckled.

 

"I see that Garrett's puppy has teeth," he shook his scar-covered head. "You could have taken them out before everything went to hell, you know?"

 

"Well, for someone who screwed up everything HYDRA have built in more than 7 decades within a week, you have a very big mouth," Ward said happily while holding out a pitch black leather suitcase. Leaning it back against his abdomen and using the car as a level point, he pulled it open. Rumlow's eyes filled up with some dark emotion at the sight of the ten vials with a viscous, whitish liquid, a mini-charge pack, a syringe and a dart pistol. Revengeful. That's how he was feeling, tasting it like the copper of his own blood after being punched too hard, rolling the flavor over his tongue.

 

"So?" Ward inquired giving him a stern and cruel smile.

 

"How much of this you have, Ward?"

 

"Enough to make ourselves an army, Rumlow," he answered, then extended his hand in his direction. "Deal?"

 

"Name's Crossbones now," the ex-leader of the STRIKE team replied, then shaking Ward's extended hand with a smile of his own taking over his face. "Hail HYDRA".