When Thor brings Loki down to earth as punishment, thus bringing the Avengers together again, Steve feels like the odd one out. When the team has to save him, he finds himself getting close to the resident genius and Thor outcast brother.
Steve jolted awake covered in a fine sheen of sweat, despite the fact he was freezing. Even the warm summer breeze coming through the window of the small hotel room did nothing to sooth him, and he could barely stifle the urge to shiver. He wanted to get up and run, to escape the horrid torrent of dreams that haunted him every night.
Steve hadn't had a full night's rest since SHIELD pulled him out of the ice all those months ago, and it was starting to take a toll on him physically and mentally.
He sighed, sitting back against the headboard, brushing his hands against his face in an attempt to wipe away the memories of Peggy, Bucky, and the icy cold darkness he'd been trapped in all those years. Instead, all he managed to accomplish was wiping a few beads of sweat away from his eyes.
Steve was used to feeling helpless, before the serum he'd been ninety pounds soaking wet and helplessness was his entire world. Not that that ever stopped him from taking on guys twice his size but back then he always knew Bucky would be there for him. But he didn't have Bucky anymore.
No, he was alone in this new world, and loneliness was something relatively new to him.
It didn't help that deep down he knew he didn't belong here, and he was pretty sure that his fellow Avengers and SHIELD knew it too. That was why after the incident in New York, when they'd parted ways, he'd taken off to tour the country. At least that's what he told Fury, and it wasn't exactly a lie, he just needed to see if he knew this place anymore.
He also hoped to find somewhere he belonged, like he used to belong with Bucky and the Howling Commandoes. Now that his trip was almost over, he couldn't help but feel more alone than when he'd first left.
He'd started on the East Coast, and went from there, just him and his motorcycle taking it all in. He found that the core spirit of the American people hadn't changed as much as he'd thought, and much to his surprise people seemed to know who he was everywhere he went.
They all seemed to appreciate what he'd done for the country; he got free meals and easy smiles, though he always made sure to tip more than enough to cover cost of the meal. Sometimes people even offered to let him stay in their homes, but he graciously declined. He didn't like the idea of imposing on anyone.
It became common place for mayors and governors to ask him to speak at events or to meet with people. He generally accepted, he figured it was the least he could do considering how kind people had been to him.
A few time's people had even given him tokens of appreciation, snacks for the roads, and even old memorabilia from WWII. For a few moments, Steve found that these events alleviated his pain, and gave him a sense of momentary connection to this new time.
Despite all that, there were shadows lurking everywhere he went, technology that went right over his head, jokes and references he wasn't sure he'd ever understand, and behavior that shocked him straight to the core.
All these things formed a barrier between him and the people he used to feel so close too. It was as if he was watching them all through the window as he drove by, and that hurt more than words could ever express.
He'd been so sure that by doing this he would be able to find himself again, to uncover all those things that Captain America stood for and all the things he thought he'd given his life for.
The disappointment was earth-shattering.
He couldn't deny he was a man out of time, and sometimes he couldn't help but wish he'd remained a "capsicle" as Tony had so kindly put it.
With a resolute shake of his head, Steve pushed the blankets off his body, and forced himself to get out of bed. He'd spent enough time wallowing in self-pity.
If Bucky could see him now; he'd be ashamed of him, the kid from Brooklyn who never gave up even when the odds were stacked against him. He'd tell Steve to pull his act together, and keep looking until he found what he was searching for.
Filled with a renewed vigor, he grabbed a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a flannel button up out of his duffle bag and headed into the bathroom to shower.
After he was finished, he stopped to look at himself in the mirror; it was still strange seeing himself because he always expected to see that scrawny kid from Brooklyn staring back at him. Instead he was greeted by Captain America, the buff, sculpted and haunted hero he'd become with the help of Dr. Erskine.
With one last sigh Steve strode out of the bathroom, throwing his old clothes into his bag, and hoisting it up over his shoulder. He grabbed the room key off the small bedside table, his eyes roaming the room for anything left behind.
"Thank you for staying with us, Captain Rogers. It was a pleasure having you. Should you ever find yourself in the area again, you know where to find us." The bubbly check-out clerk belted out, bending over the counter, her big green eyes roaming over his body.
"Thank you Ma'am." Steve replied flashing her one of his award winning smiles, "Have a nice day, and take care."
The girl practically swooned, "Thank you, Captain, hope to see you soon." She threw him a wink as he turned to leave, causing a small flush to color his cheeks.
Dames in this time were just so…so flirtatious, it made him rather uncomfortable. Just last week, he had a woman throw her under-garments at him, and another flash her chest at him. He derailed that train of thought as he stepped out of the hotel lobby and into the warm California morning, walking across the parking lot towards his motorcycle.
Boy, was she a beauty, a classic 1940's Harley Davidson with leather seats, and a red, white, and blue finish. Every part of her glittered, speaking to the love Steve put into the every inch of her. How could he not? She was one of the very few connections he still had to his own time, and he would never neglect her.
With once last appreciative glance at her, he climbed onto her seat, and tossed his bag on the seat behind him. Then with a roar he was off on the road again, letting his tires eat away at the miles, until the scenery was a blur and the crushing nightmares were miles behind him. God bless the wind on his face, and the engine underneath him, there was nothing that could ever replace this feeling in his book.
He'd been driving for some time now, just him and his bike on some random back-road he'd turned off on, when he heard something a few miles off that appeared a bit out of a place. The familiar whirl of an S.H.I.E.L.D. issue quinjet set his teeth on edge, and without further ado he slowed his bike to a stop and turned to face the incoming jet.
Guess expecting more than six months without some kind of incident was asking a little too much from the universe. And he would be lying if he tried to say he was surprised that Fury had eyes on him from the start. He barely knew the guy but he knew enough about him to know that if Fury hadn't been watching him something was up.
He raised his hand to wave just as the jet flew over-top of him, and a rope shot down from above. Followed rather quickly by one red headed assassin, who happened to be a former…or was it current teammate of his? Not that it really matter, and before he could finish that thought she was draped across the back of his motorcycle.
"Long time no see, Captain."
"What's the situation, Ma'am?" Steve asked, immediately switching into full Cap mode, he could catch up with her later. If they had time.
"I'll explain on the way, but right now we need to get you up there." She replied, her green eyes sparkling. "Oh, before I forget, don't call me Ma'am, its Natasha or Black Widow to you."
"Ma'-I mean, Natasha, how exactly do you intend to get me up there? Because, no disrespect meant, but I'm not leaving without my motorcycle," Steve did his best to keep his voice as polite as possible, he'd been raised to treat women with respect, and he wasn't about to let that change.
Black Widow just smirked and, as if answering his question, two industrial sized ropes fell down, a cargo hook hung at the end of each one.
"Guess that answers that," Steve said, ignoring the faint look of satisfaction lingering on Natasha's face. She seemed to enjoy knowing things other people didn't just a little too much.
"Alright, Captain, in a few seconds you and I are going to head up," She paused, grabbing the hooks and carefully fastening them to the motorcycle. "Here we go."
Steve felt a little jolt as they were lifted off the ground, the helicopter taking off in the general direction of New York, "Ma'-Bla-Natasha," he fumbled around with what he should call her, before settling on the safest bet: her name, "Natasha, does S.H.I.E.L.D. always think of everything?"
"It's what we do, Captain."
Steve couldn't argue with that statement, because, aside from the Council almost bombing New York city, Fury was on-top of everything.
The quinjet continued on its way, heading towards the East Coast, with Steve and Natasha dangling beneath its underbelly while they made the slow ascent upwards.
A few minutes later, Hawkeye was reaching his hand down to pull Steve into the bed of the helicopter along with Natasha-who in the time it took for Steve to get into the jet, had made her way to a seat, buckled up, and pulled out one of those mini-communication devices that Tony called I-cells or Cellular something or the other. Either way, Steve had to admit that, just like Peggy, Natasha got down to business without delay.
"How you been, spangles?" Clint asked, buckling himself into the seat next to Natasha, and gesturing for Steve to take the one across from them. "If I'm to go off your various fan-pages you've been roaming the country breaking hearts, inspiring the average Joe, and sleeping with every pretty lady that throws her undies at you."
Steve just groaned, flushing a deep red, apparently everyone had heard about the various pantie incidents, "Fan-pages?" He asked before shaking his head, "Never mind, I don't want to know. Anyway, I'm not sure about most of those, but I can tell you I haven't slept with any of the dames who've gifted me with their undergarments."
"But you have slept with the others, I see, Cap here's updating his way of thinking," Clint retorted, a mischievous smirk pulling at his lips. He and Tony must have been spending a lot of time together while he was gone, because they were like two peas in a pod now.
"No, I-I would never," He paused, catching the half-hidden up-turning of Natasha's lips; she was pretending to ignore their conversation, "Women deserve more respect than that, and I would never sleep with some random woman." He finished, trying to fight back the growing blush on his cheeks.
"Whatever you say, Cap. I'm sure we can find you a real woman to get you up to date."
Steve turned his head away from the two assassins, "I had a real woman, Hawkeye, but she's gone." The playful mood between them disintegrated.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring that up," Clint muttered, glancing between his feet, the Caps face, and the disappointed look Natasha was shooting him.
Steve forced a smile onto his face, and faced Clint again, "You couldn't have known, you were just pulling my leg. I didn't mean to ruin the mood," He trailed off, shifting his gaze to the metal wall of the copter, "So, anyone want to fill me in on the current situation?"
Natasha put down her phone, speaking before Clint could even open his mouth. "Thor is bringing Loki to New York City. Apparently his punishment is temporary banishment to Midgard," She paused glaring at Clint, who looked about ready to burst, his brown eyes overflowing with anger.
"As I was saying," She continued sending Clint a glare that could have stopped a herd of stampeding elephants in its tracks, "Thor has assured us that his magic is gone until further notice, and he's about as harmful as a newborn kitten."
Steve looked at them incredulously, "Am I the only one here who thinks Loki is trying to pull the wool over our eyes?"
"No, Captain. You're not alone." Clint replied, coughing awkwardly to try to cover up a laugh.
"I would think out of all of us, you'd be the last one to find this situation funny, Clint." Steve questioned, glancing at the man with wide eyes, his head tilted slightly to the left, and a question hanging off his lips.
Clint immediately sobered up, "It wasn't the situation, Cap, its just…people don't talk like that anymore," Clint frowned when he noticed the downcast looks that flashed across Steve's face, "It's a good thing, Cap, I promise, it just caught me by surprise. Anyways, back to the topic at hand, what are we going to do about the whole Loki thing? Thor basically told us Loki was coming no matter what we said. Fury thinks it'd be better to have him where we can see him, instead of letting him wonder around getting into who knows what. I happen to agree with him."
Steve nodded, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his right hand, "I can't disagree with that one, but I'm interested to see if his time in Asgard has given Loki time to think."
This time Natasha replied, her cool voice flowed in the air between them, "Thor is adamant that his brother is on his way to changing and that being around such 'Valiant Companions' will give him the final push he needs."
"Somehow I doubt Loki considers us 'Valiant Companions'," Clint interjected, the smirk returning to his face.