Into the New World
The whole building shook with the force of the explosion. Hawkeye dropped his plate to keep Natasha from falling over.
Steve Rogers braced himself against the wall with one arm.
"What the hell was that?" Steve asked.
Alarms of all kinds started going off.
"SHIELD agents and Avengers team members, we are under attack," Fury said over the blaring of the alarms.
As if they weren't already on edge with the alarms, Fury's announcement caused everyone in the immediate kitchen area to start moving.
Rushing for weapons, Steve, Natasha and Hawkeye found Bruce Banner.
He was wringing his hands nervously, his glasses sideways on his face.
"Have you seen Amanda or Stark?" Natasha asked.
He shook his head. The alarms and the surprise of the explosion was playing havoc with his nerves. A thin sheen of sweat was visible on the man's forehead; Banner was only seconds away from losing his cool once again.
"Doctor Banner," Steve said calmly. The Captain was going to try to keep Banner from losing it. The man before him turned his head in Steve's direction, but it was too late.
The doctor's skin turned green and his clothes began to rip as he grew larger and larger. There would be no stopping him now.
"Move!" Hawkeye yelled.
"Shit!" Natasha yelled. "Go, go, go!"
The Hulk roared, baring his arms and large green chest. He was shaking in his anger, unable to control it.
"You need to get him to focus his anger on the attackers," Steve shouted at Hawkeye.
Everyone around them ran, leaving a wide perimeter around the raging Hulk.
"Where are you going?" Hawkeye yelled back at Steve; he was running in the opposite direction as the others.
"I have to find Amanda. Her family is here, too," Steve said.
"We're going to head up to figure out who's attacking the house. Meet us up there once you get Manda," Natasha said.
"We'll try to take the good doctor with us," Hawkeye replied dryly. "But I'm not making any promises."
… … … … …
Downstairs, Amanda and Tony were rushing down the hallway, away from Amanda's family that was in the room with Peggy Carter. So far, they were doing as they were told and were staying put in the room with her.
"JARVIS!" Tony yelled. "Close the emergency doors to the medical facility!"
Tony and Amanda were running as the alarms were blaring in their end of the house.
Behind them, Amanda could hear the large security doors coming down from the ceilings.
"You just happened to build those?" Amanda asked.
Tony shrugged as they continued to run. "They're going to keep your family safe, so I wouldn't question it, MandyAnn. We can discuss their necessity later, when my house isn't on fire."
Amanda understood why he was annoyed.
She and Tony were about to dash up the stairs when they heard a muffled call.
"What was that?" Tony asked.
Amanda shook her head. "I don't know."
"Aunt Mandy!" the voice half-called and half-sobbed.
Amanda turned. Her oldest niece was cowering in the corner.
"Ashley?" Amanda asked, almost speechless that this was happening. "Why aren't you with the rest of the family?"
"My mom sent me out here for making rude comments," the girl cried. "What's happening?"
"A bit of an emergency, honey," Amanda said, lying to the young girl. She didn't want to worry her and make her panic even more than she already was. "Tony, get JARVIS to open the fire doors again. Ash needs to be in there."
"Doctor Carter, I unfortunately cannot do that until the all-clear is sounded," JARVIS announced. "And judging by the last blast to the southern wall, I would say that it's going to be a while before I am able to complete that task."
"What?" Amanda yelled. "You have to. Override it, Tony!"
"I can't override it," Tony said. "It's a fail-safe."
"You programmed the system, Tony," Amanda said back to him.
Tony shrugged at her.
"I can't just leave her down here. We have to take her with us," Amanda said.
"Where are we going? Are they evacuating the house?" Ashley asked. "Why is everyone else staying down here?"
"Listen, Ash, this is a really big deal. You need to do every single thing I tell you. If you don't, I can't keep you safe. You do everything, you hear me?" Amanda said into the girl's face.
Amanda knew this girl was barely fifteen years old and this was going to be a lot to handle, but it was vital that she followed all instructions. Amanda didn't know what they were going to be running into, but she had a sinking feeling that it was Sin and Crossbones making another appearance.
Ashley nodded her head furiously. She still looked like she was going to cry again; her lip quivered with anxiety, but she Ashley tried to look as assertive as possible. She wasn't sure why her aunt, a doctor, was talking like this, but she felt better knowing that they were going with Iron Man. Ashley also couldn't figure out why someone would want to blow up part of Iron Man's house.
"Where are we going?" Ashley asked.
"Out to the south wall," Amanda said.
"Isn't that where they started bombing?" Ashley asked.
"Yes," Amanda said. "Come on."
She grabbed the teenager by the upper arm and started pulling her up the stairs. Amanda needed to keep the girl moving; it was apparent that the teenager had picked 'flight' instead of 'fight' in this particular situation.
The three of them started running for Tony's lab. He needed his suit.
Once they reached the room, Ashley stared at the suits in wonder. "You made all of these?"
"Yes, but we don't have time for a tour right now," Tony said.
He stepped into the right spot and the suit started to build itself around him. Mere seconds later, he was Iron Man.
"I'm going to check out the damage. See you out there, Carter," Iron Man said before firing up the jets and zooming straight through the glass of the lab's wall.
"Aren't you just a doctor? What are you going to do?" Ashley asked.
"I'm not just a doctor, Ash. I'll tell you about this later," Amanda replied. "I gotta change really quickly."
Amanda emerged a minute later in one of the suits that Tony had created for her.
"You look hot," Ashley said, looking her aunt over. "Grandma's going to be mad at you."
Amanda laughed. "Doesn't matter; just remember to do what I tell you."
She pulled on Ashley's hand and they ran from the room.
… … … … …
"Where is she?" Steve said out loud.
He'd been through the whole house and still hadn't caught up with her.
A rumbling sound caught his attention and something fast came blasting through a wall.
Amanda couldn't be that far behind.
Steve continued in the direction that Tony Stark had just come from and seconds later almost ran full on into Amanda.
He'd taken a minute to put his suit on; he wasn't sure what kind of battle they were going into, so he thought having the extra protection his suit allowed would be a good idea. His shield was hooked over his shoulders.
"Steve!" Amanda said.
Steve clutched her to him, to keep her from falling after their impact, but also in relief of finding her. It didn't click immediately that there was someone else with her.
"You're all right?" Steve asked.
"Yes," she said.
"Okay, we need to join the other Avengers up at the blast site," Steve said.
"Well, that's slightly more complicated," Amanda said, pointing back at her niece.
The teenager was staring up at the captain with wide eyes. He was a good-looking man, not to mention terribly tall and broad-shouldered. And she instantly recognized him as Captain America. She was just learning about him and his part in World War II in her history class.
"Who is that?" Steve asked, confused. The young girl looked a little like Amanda; she had to be a relative of hers.
"My niece," Amanda said. "She got locked out of the emergency fire doors down by the medical facility."
"Well, then we're just going to have to improvise a bit more. I'm Steve," he said, trying his best to reassure her with a smile, despite the circumstances.
"Ashley," she said tentatively.
"Let's move," Steve said.
They took off running, Steve in the lead and Ashley bringing up the rear. She wasn't in any hurry to get to the source of all the explosions.
The entire south wing of Tony's house was destroyed as they approached it.
"Listen, find a corner, take cover," Amanda said.
"Is she going to be okay back there?" Steve said.
"Why did you bring her?" Natasha asked.
Nat and Hawkeye were in full gear by the time they were out there.
"I would have preferred to not bring her along," Amanda said. "It was a split-second decision."
SHIELD agents were firing at the offending army. Scanning the New York street that had become a battlefield, Natasha saw another red-headed woman smiling and laughing manically in the center of it all.
"Well, the question of who would be stupid enough to attack the house has been answered," Tony said, joining them. "Where's Banner?" he asked. "We could use him."
"They were still trying to get him to come this way," Hawkeye said.
"Where's Fury?" Amanda yelled.
"I think that's him with the bazooka," Natasha replied.
Natasha pointed back past Amanda, and Fury was aiming a giant bazooka at one of the large vehicles that the soldiers were riding in. He fired and with a tremendously loud boom, the tank exploded in a reign of fire and metal shrapnel. Fury smiled in pride and then moved to start firing another round. There were more tanks and more soldiers.
The HYDRA soldiers that Synthea Schmitt and Crossbones had bought were more vicious than the last ones they'd fought. They were definitely more of what Steve had been used to. They were definitely stronger than the last ones they'd all fought; they weren't going to give up easily.
"You all look like you could use some help," Bucky said, running out with the Hulk hot on his heels.
The protective covering that he'd had on his robotic arm was missing; the metal reflected the flames of the fires that burned all around them. Bucky picked up a soldier coming at him by the throat and tossed him easily. The soldier went flying and crashed into three more soldiers behind him.
The Hulk also wasted no time. He was picking HYDRA soldiers up and tossing them like ragdolls. They yelled and screamed as they were thrown this way and that. The destruction that the Hulk was causing was actually going to help them, despite the fact that it looked like the house was rapidly getting to be classified is in disrepair.
HYDRA was still using the cube to power their weapons. Steve was using his shield to block the blue blasts and reflect them back at the shooters. He saw that Amanda was holding back. She was trying to keep an eye on her niece and keep the soldiers from getting anywhere near her. So far she was succeeding by firing her own weapon at them, but who knows how long that was going to last.
However, there were some soldiers that were there weren't backing away from Amanda. They were not afraid of the flimsy gun she was holding and firing and the soldiers started advancing on her and the teenager.
Amanda had a gun and took down one of the men after her, but three more were on her. She kicked out, her leg impossibly high and fast, and connected with the first one's head.
She continued to fight the other two men while the others fought their own opponents. Her punches were fast and furious as Amanda felled the two that were after her and turned to check on Ashley.
"Are you still okay?" she asked. "Make sure you stay down."
Ashley nodded. She couldn't believe her aunt was doing this. Up until ten minutes ago, she thought that her aunt was just a nerdy doctor; her other nieces and nephews weren't going to believe this. She felt safe with these people around her, despite the destruction that was actually occurring.
Amanda spun back around to join the rest of the Avengers fighting. Hawkeye was firing arrow after arrow and Black Widow was taking soldier after soldier out with her blasters on her wrists. Thor was swinging the hammer, taking three and four soldiers out at a time. They just seemed to keep coming, urged on by Crossbones.
Sufficiently distracted, Sin took her opportunity and snuck past Amanda and got to Ashley.
She pressed the barrel of the gun to the girl's head while Ashley screamed.
Amanda turned, distracted by the girl's cry and was knocked down by the soldier she'd been locked in another fight with.
"Ashley," she yelled as the soldier aimed his blaster at Amanda in her vulnerable state.
He fired the blaster but the shot missed, Steve's shield flew past her, just in time.
The shield connected with its intended target and Cap knocked out the man in front of him that he was fighting and turned back to Amanda.
"Are you okay?" he said, helping her up.
"Yes, thank you," Amanda said, grasping his forearm. "But Sin's got Ashley," she said.
They both turned in the direction of the cackling woman. She had a death grip on Ashley and Steve saw all the color in Ashley's face draining away. The girl looked like she was going to pass out.
"Let her go!" Amanda said. "She has absolutely nothing to do with this."
"I don't think so," Sin shouted. "You ruined my plan before, Carter; I'm going to get my revenge now."
"Schmitt, she's just a kid," Steve tried. He was trying to remain calm; for both Ashley and Amanda. "Just let her go; fight us."
"If your little girlfriend over there would have died like she was supposed to, we wouldn't be at this point. The old lady hasn't even died yet," Sin said. "I'm not going to let you all ruin yet another plan of mine."
"That's my aunt you're calling an old lady," Amanda said, trying to advance on Sin and her niece, her gun leveled at Sin's head.
"Oh, no, no, no," Sin laughed. "She's going to die if you take one more step."
Amanda stopped, gun still trained on the redhead.
"Your fight is with me, not Ashley," Amanda said. "Let's have a fair fight."
"Fine," Sin sneered. She pushed the teen away and aimed her laser blaster at Amanda instead. They were probably only ten feet from one another. One shot at that distance would kill Amanda.
Sin fired in Amanda's direction and she braced herself for the impact.
Steve came to her aid just in time again. He came running, shield first and blocked most of the blast. What missed the shield connected with Steve's side. Steve collapsed on the ground, holding his side. It was a bloody mess, but at least he was still currently alive.
Amanda had had it. Sin was still recovering from having the blast come back at her. She was unprepared when Amanda charged the evil woman before her and kicked the blaster from her hands. Amanda had brought down the woman only a minute later, SHIELD agents rushing in to take her into custody.
The Hulk and Hawkeye had brought Crossbones down and agents were putting the electro-cuffs on him. The remaining soldiers were being taken down by the rest of the Avengers.
Kneeling next to Steve, Amanda put her hands to his bleeding side. The blast had done a lot of damage.
"Steve," Amanda said. "Stay with me," she said trying to get him to focus on her. His eyes met hers.
"I'll be all right," he said, before slowly rising to his feet.
"We need to get this attended to," Amanda said, trying to pull him away from the battle scene.
He smiled. "It's just a scratch. Go check on Ashley."
The teenager was in a ball on the floor, shaking now. After all, she'd just had a gun to her head.
Amanda's white suit was covered in blood and dirt and ash.
"Ashley, come here," Amanda said.
Ashley didn't move.
Amanda sighed and sat down next to her niece.
"I know," Amanda said. "It's a lot to take in."
"How long have you been doing this?" Ashley asked. "Are you really a doctor? Or is that just a lie?"
"No, I'm really a doctor, too," Amanda said.
Tony landed next to them and his mask slid back.
"Is she all right?" he asked.
"It was so cool to watch you blast that guy," Ashley replied, starting to get her teenage confidence back.
Tony looked at Amanda. "Guess she's okay," he said.
"Are the fire doors opened up?" Amanda asked. "I should probably get her back to her mother."
"I'll take her down; you get Cap cleaned up," Tony said. "He looks a little worse for wear."
They looked over at Steve, who was being supported by Thor. He gave them a weak smile, but they both knew he was in a lot of pain.
"I should probably take her down to my family."
"I'll go with Tony," Ashley said. "I don't know if I want to be there when you have to explain why you're covered in blood."
"She's got a point," Tony replied. "Let's go."
"Can we fly?" Ashley asked.
"No," Tony replied.
Ashley looked disappointed, but started to follow behind Tony. Tony also looked disappointed, but Amanda figured it had to be because his house was destroyed.
Tony started to walk, the teenager asking a million questions as they went. Tony shot one final look back at Amanda and she just shrugged at her before walking with Ashley out of the burning space.
She didn't know what to say anymore.
SHIELD agents were all over getting the fires put out and assisting their wounded as well as making sure the blockade they had put up to keep the onlookers out wasn't being breached. Fury was escorting some agents and Sin and Crossbones to SHIELD vehicles. They were on their way to a maximum security prison to wait whatever fate the board decided to bestow on them.
Amanda walked over to Steve and Thor.
"Are you okay to walk?" she asked. "We can get a gurney or a wheelchair or something…" she rambled. Steve was looking down at her, but she wasn't looking back at him. Amanda was inspecting the wound in his side.
"Yes, I can walk," Steve said.
Amanda held herself ready to take the brunt of Steve's weight as he put his arm around her. Thor nodded at the two of them and they followed in the same direction that Tony and Ashley had left in.
They said nothing for the entire trip back downstairs.
The medical facility's emergency fire doors had been re-opened. Doctors and nurses employed by Tony were rushing in and out, only beginning to deal with the injuries sustained to the SHIELD team members.
Amanda and Steve found an open exam room and she helped him sit down on the exam table before turning around to rifle through the cabinets hanging on the wall.
Steve watched her for a second before deciding that taking off the remainder of the top half of his uniform would be helpful. The wound in his side hurt like hell, but if he hadn't done it, Amanda would be dead. The blast was unavoidable and he'd do it again in a heartbeat to protect her.
Amanda was operating on sheer adrenaline and she realized she was probably in shock. But she was going to do her damned best to keep herself steady. Steve needed to be fixed up and she was going to do it. After all, this was the man she'd fallen in love with.
She turned around, finding the suture kit she needed and looked at the shirtless man on the exam table. She said nothing, just opened up the kit. It was fine until a telltale tear rolled down her cheek and landed on Steve's abdomen.
"Hey," Steve said softly. "It's okay. I'm okay. You protected Ashley and she's okay. You…"
"I'm…thank you. You saved me and now you're hurt," she said.
"Put that down and come here," he said, motioning towards him.
Amanda put down the suture tools and walked to the other side of Steve. He wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. She buried her face into Steve's bare chest and neck.
"It's over now," he said.
Steve held onto her for a moment while her tears stopped.
"Okay, let's get you fixed up, Captain," Amanda said, trying to make her voice calm and collected. She wasn't feeling calm and collected, but she was going to try.
Amanda was efficient at the sutures and quickly had Steve's side closed back up. Steve was pleased that these advances in medical science had taken place. The blasts from the HYDRA weapons weren't able to be healed as easily 70 years ago.
"What do we do now?" Amanda asked.
Steve grinned. "Well, you should first go tell your family the truth and make sure everyone is okay. Then maybe we should try a date."
"A date?" Amanda asked.
"I've never been on a real one," Steve said. "Sounds like something I would want to try with you."
Amanda sighed. This was definitely the man for her.
"I'll go with you to talk to your parents," Steve said, hoping that would make her less uneasy about telling them the truth.
"They aren't going to be happy," Amanda said. "I've been lying to them about this for a long time."
"I think they'll get over it," Steve said, sliding off of the exam table.
He felt remarkably good considering the size of the hole that had been in his side only moments ago.
"You don't have to do that," Amanda said. "Actually, you do need to stay and rest. Doctor's orders."
Steve laughed. When he decided he was going to do something, nothing stopped him.
"I should meet the rest of your family anyway," Steve said, pulling what was left of the top part of his uniform back on. "Your niece seemed to recognize me."
"She told me that she's studying you in her history class," Amanda said, making sure Steve was steady on his feet.
Steve cocked his head to the side. "I'm part of a history book? I'm just a kid from Brooklyn," he said as they walked into the hall.
"You're still calling yourself a kid?" Tony asked, still in his Iron Man suit. "Aren't you almost a hundred?"
Steve shrugged. "I guess."
"She's probably hoping that once she's old enough, she can date you," Amanda said. As much as she realized she loved the man standing next to her in the hall. There would only be so much time that they would have together. Every day she would continue to grow older, and Steve probably wouldn't.
"Don't worry, I'm working on something for you, honey," Tony whispered in her ear. "Your family is waiting for you."
Amanda closed her eyes and sighed. She would almost rather be fighting Sin again than having to tell her family the truth about her life.
"Go get 'em, tiger," Tony said, trying to be encouraging.
She stuck her tongue out at him and marched forward.
"Good work out there, Captain," Tony said.
"I'm sorry about your house," Steve replied.
Tony shook his head inside his helmet. "It doesn't matter; it's just a house. Besides, I've got plans to build a tower like you've never seen before."
Steve smiled again. He was beginning to like Stark. He was just like his father and it felt a little more like home now to Steve.
"I should go with her," Steve said.
"Probably," Tony said. "Keep her from maiming and injuring her various family members."
Tony started to walk back towards the stairs while Steve continued to Peggy's hospital room. Amanda was just outside the door as he walked up.
"What did I miss?"
"Nothing," Amanda said. "I can't go in there."
"That isn't a good enough answer," he replied. He reached around her and opened the door.
All of the faces in the room turned in their direction, taking in the bloody and dirty messes that stood before them.
"Hi everyone," Amanda said sheepishly. "Is everyone okay?"
No one said anything.
"Um, this is Captain Steve Rogers," Amanda said.
"Captain America?" one of her younger nephews asked as he rushed forward towards Steve.
"Yes," Steve said, slowly bending down to look the kid in the eye. It was painful, but he did it anyway.
"I'm Steve, what's your name?" he asked the child.
"I'm Steve, too!" the kid replied.
Cap ruffled the kid's hair.
"Can I see your shield?" he asked.
"I left it back in another exam room, but I'll show it to you later, okay?" he said.
"Are you going to explain what all this was about?" Sharon asked, looking at her mess of a daughter.
Steve stood back up and put his hand on Amanda's back, urging her to speak.
"Um, well, everyone, I work for an organization called SHIELD…" she started. It was going to be a long afternoon.
… … … … …
A/N: Okay, so that was a very, very long chapter. What's on your mind now that I've typed the words the end? Please let me know.
(PS. Should I work on a sequel with Cap and Amanda? Or just leave this alone?)
Thank you to everyone who has read this story. It's been so much fun to write. And I appreciate the following that it's received.