"I need a dress for Tony's party tonight, Steve."
Steve blinked. "Okay…" he trailed off, puzzled by her actions.
"And Clint's not here and you're not doing anything, so you're going to help me decide."
Steve smiled uncertainly, "I am?"
Natasha grabbed his forearm and tugged him towards the elevator. "You can't be mute around women all the time, Steve. Besides, this is a womanly decision that needs a manly opinion."
"I thought the feminist Natasha Romanoff didn't care about men or their opinions," Steve mused, thinking of one of Clint's alcohol fueled rants about the Black Widow.
Natasha shrugged. "Oh, I don't. But I don't mind you, Steve. And I figure you need something to do besides eating and running." The elevator bell announces their arrival to her floor, and she pulled Steve to the armchair facing the walk-in closet and pushed him down on it. "Wait here."
The first time she stepped out in an intricate black number that had holes in surprising places, Steve simply blushed and told her she looked wonderful. This happened five more times before she put her hands on her hips and sternly said, "Steve Rogers, if you don't give me an honest answer next time, you won't find a single piece of paper or a pencil for the next week."
Steve blinked. "Okay."
An hour later saw Steve nodding his head with disapproval.
"Too blue. It contrasts with your hair."
"Too tight, to be honest."
"Why are you wearing a fishing net?"
"Is that legal to walk around in?"
"Why are you wearing a belt? You aren't wearing pants."
Natasha stepped out in her last dress.
"You look like a cat."
Natasha laughed and kissed Steve lightly on the cheek. "I've quite enjoyed your company, Mr. Rogers."
Steve smiled shyly. "Me, too."
Clint was in a bad situation. This was very bad.
They took his bow.
Now, Clint was a pretty stable person. He had to be if he wanted to succeed in this profession. He was very good at adapting to a situation. He analyzed, adjusted, and attacked. Only this time that wasn't going to work. It definitely wasn't going to work, because they disarmed him.
They took his fucking bow.
One of the bad guys forced him to his knees, pulled back his hair, and Clint was left in a rather demeaning position, but it was easy to see the second floor walkway that went around the warehouse. It was easy to see the guy holding his bow drop like a rock, disappear from view, and watch a tan arm pluck his weapon from midair.
His temporary captor didn't like that and tightened his grip on his hair. Well, sucks for them—he had fucking Captain America about to Matrix their asses. He watched the circle of men around him start to fall like flies from the sky. The guy holding him barely had a chance to duck before the last arrow took him out. Clint shook his head, hair follicles protesting their rough treatment, and climbed to his feet, just in time to see Steve land nimbly in front of him.
"I love you."
Steve laughed and tossed Clint his bow.
"That was the most kick ass thing I've ever seen."
Steve threw him his quiver.
"Will you marry me?"
Steve started heading towards the exit like nothing happened. Clint jumped and started following him. Captain America patted his shoulder. "We need to glue that thing to your hand. And that's a no on the marriage proposal."
"But, Steve! I'll make you omelets in bed! Love me!"
Thor squared his shoulders and knocked on the door. He waited a beat, became impatient, and knocked again. He heard a disgruntled mumble, heavy footsteps, and then the entrance swung open. Well, this was odd. He had not expected to see his captain appearing like this.
Rogers was dressed in flannel sleep pants, a loose white shirt, normally immaculate hair in disarray, contusions lining his jaw, and all-in-all looked very human. The captain leaned against the doorway, blinking slowly. "Yes, Thor?" he croaked.
Thor held out the string in his hand. "I do not know how to knot this."
Captain looked at his wrist. "You're going on a date at… Well, I guess it is only eight." He slapped the tie out of Thor's hand. "Come on in, then. I assume you're going out with Jane?" he asked. Thor went to sit and he stopped him with, "No, no, no. Stay standing."
As Rogers threw the fabric around Thor's neck, the god eyed him carefully. "You appear very bruised, Captain. And very sleepy."
"I just got back from a mission. So, Jane? How is she?"
Thor tried to look down at what Rogers was doing, but his chin was tapped, and he instead stared at the lamp in the corner of the room.
"She is beautiful." Thor frowned, noting the bags underneath blue eyes. "Captain, you should sleep more."
Rogers smiled, and it looked like a very tired expression, absurdly sad for a muscle contraction that humans considered a portrayal of happiness.
"It's just been a rough week, Thor." He pulled the tie tight, and patted Thor's chest. "I'll be fine. Go have fun, huh?"
Thor conceded and looked down at the perfectly knotted tie. "I suppose I should learn how to do this."
"I don't mind doing it, Thor."
"I'm sorry, Steve," Bruce blurted out, pulse racing, heart skittering like a race horse.
Steve flicked dangerous, cold-as-ice blue eyes towards Bruce.
"Calm down. I've got it under control. We'll get out of this."
Bruce absently pulled on the hair on the back of his neck. "I let my emotions get the best of me, and now we're surrounded, and Clint's—"
"Clint will be fine. You said so yourself." Steve stated, eyebrows furrowed as he tilted his head and followed the chest of the man below him with the tip of the arrow. He released the projectile and it entered the heart of the enemy.
"I didn't know you knew how to shoot a bow and arrow."
Steve turned away and spit, blood splattering on the rooftop floor. He slid another arrow out of Clint's quiver and notched it. "I don't."
Bruce Banner hadn't seen Steve like this. He'd never seen Captain America against the wall. Truth be told, it was intimidating. This was grounded, controlled, calculated, and ruthless. Steve was crouched behind the ledge of the roof, tensed and perfectly still. His uniform top was gone, a pillow for Clint's bleeding head where he was tucked in the corner, and one blue sleeve was ripped off, a pressure bandage for the archer's leg.
Bruce pressed his fingers on Clint's throat. Pulse was strong. He'd be alright.
Steve wasn't doing so well, either, not that anyone else would be able to tell. Coughing up blood wasn't good.
As Bruce, the failed experiment, observed Steve, the perfect one, he realized that the serum didn't make Captain America a hero, Steve Rogers did.
Steve shot one last arrow and faced Bruce.
"I've got a plan."
Bruce quirked a smile. "Of course you do."
"You are…the only person…who could get me into…these situations."
"This is totally not my fault," Tony retorted.
Steve paused, letting his head fall back on the plated chest of the Iron Man suit. "You should've…seen this coming."
Tony's eyes went wide. "How the hell was I supposed to know that there would be an earthquake?"
"Shoulda...shoulda figured it out," Steve mumbled. "You're Tony Stark." Steve seemed to melt into the ground, and his eyelids fluttered as he started to pass out.
Tony's heart jumped. He shouted, "Cap! Steve! Oh, no, you don't! There's no passing out while I'm still pinned to the ground like an ant! You wake up, right now!" He took a breath and wriggled his arms and legs in vain. He was stuck, and Steve was barely coherent. "Steven Rogers, you fucking coward! You have no pride whatsoever! Where's your dignity, you pussy?"
Steve twitched. "Shut up," he muttered.
Tony grinned with shaky relief. "Good boy. Now get me free."
"You're a dick," Steve cursed, eyes tight as he clumsily crawled up, using Tony's suit for leverage.
Tony chuckled. "So he swears when he's concussed. That's cute."
No, he wasn't looking at the blood smeared over his chest plate that wasn't his. Steve looked the Iron Man suit up and down, and then took a breath. "If I get an arm free can you do the rest? 'n can I sleep?"
"Yes and yes."
Steve blinked tiredly and then lunged across Tony, pushing the large boulder with everything he had left. It rolled off Tony's arm with a crash. He relaxed on the dirt, still sprawled over Tony.
"Hey! Wake up!" Tony shouted.
"You said I could sleep."
"I lied. I can't exactly let you fall into a coma right after you save my life. It's unethical."
He didn't know what was going on. He didn't know who he was, what he was, why he was, where he was, but most importantly, he didn't know when he was. It was all he cared about. He got caught between sometimes, trapped in the loophole that resided in his brain. There was a narrow rift in his memory. It was a sea of grays that separated the muted peace of his first home, and the vivid flashes of his second.
Steve drifted for a long time, swimming in a suspended state of awareness that refused to let him sink and prevented him from rising. Pain finally pulled him towards consciousness; it weaved a trail that he couldn't help but be dragged down.
Things came in flashes: bright lights, white uniforms, pinpricks, and tight constrictions.
Steve struggled and broke through.
People were touching him again. They were relentless and loud. Steve pushed, shrugging them away. There was not enough air where he was. Where was he? It didn't matter. All that mattered was when. He needed to find out when. There were flashlights and pristine coats and protesting voices. He had to get out. He had to find someone he knew. His team.
He didn't know who was a part of his team. They all mixed together, and he couldn't tell who to put where. He saw red and gold, green and blue, lightning and arrows, converging and scattering brown and black, mud and blood. They were everywhere and they were completely different and they were one in the same.
Space. That's what he needed. He needed to sort them out. He needed to find out what was going on, when was going.
Steve heard the people shouting at him, yelling at him, trying to hold him down. Now he needed to get out. He had to go. He had to help. He had to see Bucky and Tony and he didn't know who was what. He fought out of their grip. They couldn't have him. He didn't want to have them. He didn't want to miss everything again. He couldn't miss everything again, because if he did than he wouldn't be able to get up again. He wouldn't be able to withstand it. Everything would be new, and everyone would be dead, and he would finally snap. He would give up like he had been putting off for a very long time.
And he didn't when this was, but he was running. There was a horrible pain in his stomach. He was tearing. His skin was tearing. That couldn't be good. What did they do to his body? That hurt. It hurt. He should be healing. He didn't feel like he was healing. He liked the healing part. He didn't like being in pain.
Apparently his body agreed with him, because he had to stop. His vision, blinking in and out like a bad phone call connection, rested on a door. Maybe they wouldn't find him there. He went through it. There was a wall on the far end, away from the entrance, and he limped over to it, and slid down, cradling his side.
He was in bad shape. He could barely breathe. He didn't know when this was. When. When. 1943. 2012. Who was who?
Steve heard a very out of breath voice. "Damn, you really got far this time."
He jerked his head up, pressing against the wall in an action of self-defense. The person frowned and ran a hand through their hair. They were blonde, whoever they were. He saw arrows and black and laughter and partners. The man gave him a lingering look and stuck his head outside the door.
"I found him, guys."
Rushing footsteps clunked on the metal floor. Another two men swung into the room. The rumpled looking one slowly advanced toward Steve.
"Do you know where you are?" he asked gently.
There was a soft snort. The one in a dress shirt and pants stepped in front of—Green, serum, friend—and crouched beside him. "It's 2012, Steve."
Steve blinked. "Are…are you sure?"
Stark, Howard, Tony nodded. "Positive. Brilliance this good-looking is impossible to find in the '40s."
For some really strange reason, Steve was incredibly comforted by the arrogant statement. He reached out poked him in the jaw. "Tony?"
Tony captured his forefinger with one hand, and grimaced at the red smeared on his palm. "The one and only. Banner, I think he tore stitches."
This realization was not expected, so Steve forgot about Tony and fumbled with the bandage over his ribs. An arm intercepted and slapped him away. "Why don't you let me look at that, okay?" said a warm voice. Steve let his hand fall away and took a heavy breath.
Someone patted his bare foot. "Yup." That was Clint. It was. He remembered now.
There was a particularly painful prod at the wound in his side, and he sent what he hoped was a lethal glare toward the source of the problem. Apparently that didn't work, because Banner just chuckled. "We need to get him on a bed. He ripped open the wound again. It's not too serious, but needs to be looked after."
Clint gestured for Bruce to step back, and wrapped his hand around Steve's arm. "Alright, big guy. You ready to stand up?" Steve nodded in return, and Clint and Tony hauled him to his feet.
Steve groaned as they dragged him to a bed, and guided him to lie down. "That hurt," he muttered moodily.
"Yeah, well, don't run around while you're stitched up like Chucky, and this won't happen," Tony retorted.
Clint sat by Steve's feet. "Weren't you supposed to be in the room, anyway?" he asked. He sounded kind of angry. Steve wondered why. "The same thing happens every time. You know what's coming."
"I had to pee! How was I supposed to know he'd wake up the moment I left?" Tony paused and looked at Steve. "I take offense to that, by the way." A sharp pain shot up his side, and he halfheartedly went to smack it, except Tony caught his hand. "Quit that, would you?" he said, annoyed. "You're already holey enough."
He stared up at the ceiling.
Tony patted his chest. "We've been over this."
Clint flicked his knee. "Why don't you go back to sleep? It'll be better when you wake up."
Well, that was an awfully nice thing to say. Nobody had told Steve that phrase since his mother passed away. It was kind of comforting in a way. His eyelids were really heavy, so he shut them. He wished he had a pillow. He dragged the hand that wasn't trapped by something up, and wiggled his forearm underneath his cheek. "I guess 2012's alright," he sighed.
There was a strange beat of silence, which Steve spent sliding into sleep. Everything went hushed after that, or maybe they were whispering, or maybe he just dreamed the rest up.
"Never heard him say that before."
"It's about time."
Maybe it was.
So, I have this thing about bros tying other bros' ties. I just think it's fuckin' cute.
AND I WROTE A NEW STORY THAT YOU SHOULD REALLY READ. Because I'm an insecure spoiled brat that gets confused when something doesn't have double digit reviews. You guys spoiled me, okay? You created a monster.
Um, if this entices you, I hurt Steve lots. And it has more than one chapter.
Review this one too. I made every scene involving another Avenger exactly 300 words. Because I wanted to. And yes, Steve's out of character in the first one. It was too absurdly funny for me to delete.
Thank you for your time!