For the purposes of this fic, we have to pretend that in the Captain America comic books that clearly exist in Pete's world there was no mention of SHIELD, the Hydra weapons, the Cosmic Cube, or any of the other characters that are in our comics. Also: I don't know anything about hacking, and it's frustrating to write a crossover where two people are named Steve. Huh.
This was written for shinealightonme for the xover_exchange over at LJ. Originally posted at the LJ comm, on AO3, and my LJ in February/March. Thank you to perdiccas (and aurilly) for being GREAT exchange hosts and looking over my fic before posting, and Mizzy for not going crazy with how long I can ramble without punctuation. Betas are AWESOME. (and any remaining mistakes are all mine.)
Pete was bouncing like a child, though that wasn't really out of the ordinary. Still, the concept that he was actually going to meet a real, bonifide superhero was something that Myka was going to have to work on letting him accept before they actually met said superheroes, and trying to stifle his excitement now? Well, it was probably better to let him get it out of system.
However painful it may be.
"Do you think that Captain America would sign my collection?" Pete asked Artie. He was obviously doing everything in his power to stay on topic, but this particular topic had Steve and Claudia spiralling too, and Myka knew she could only sit back and watch.
"No!" Artie sputtered out. "This is a mission, not a stalking expedition. Snag it, bag it, and tag it, or is that something that you've decided that you don't need to do?"
"I'll do all that," Claudia added eagerly. "Snag, bag, tag, dress up in drag, throw a red flag, and try them at the Hague if it means I can check out one of the Stark R&D labs, puh-lease, Artie, can I go?" she whined. It almost looked like it was going to work too before Myka watched his gaze turn to Steve – who was trying to copy Claudia's puppy dog eyes.
How had Steve still not figured out that his puppy dog eyes yielded the opposite result?
Artie passed out the folders to Myka and Pete (who was now wondering out-loud which issue Captain America would be most likely to sign), and Myka dove into it eagerly. Sure, she wasn't as into all the superhero stuff as it seemed that, well, the rest of her co-workers were, but she did remember the appeal it held when she got to pretend for those few minutes when they were after Charles Atlas's Workout Trunks.
Who was she kidding? That kicked ass.
And even though she wasn't bouncing in her spot like Pete, she did know how important this crop of superheroes was to the world's history. She remembered being young in her parents' bookstore, poring over the ancient books and wondering what great acts in her lifetime would be the ones to show up in the history books in the future.
The Battle of New York? That was definitely one of them.
"Artie," Myka drew out as she went through the pages as Pete was now getting Claudia and Steve to take part in some sort of re-enactment involving punching someone in the face. "There's not actually any information here about any type of an artefact, just reports from New York. What are we looking for?"
"Ah, well, yes, that's the interesting part of the assignment. Legend tells us that there was an energy source that disappeared around a thousand years ago. Now, the Warehouse at that time was in the area that's now Cambodia, so they didn't have the resources to track what was going on during the Viking age in Scandinavia and Northern Europe."
Myka smiled as Artie got increasingly excited, his arms waving and his voice rising, and for once Pete didn't interrupt him. She chimed in. "It was a bloody time in that area. The Vikings were focused on exploration, adventure, and trade and the other civilizations viewed them as barbarians. Wars broke out; conquests were made."
"Yes! And a small part of the Norse mythology says that the wars on Earth matched the ones in the sky as the Gods fought beings from one of the other realms, and during the war a treasure was lost." He picked up a book from his desk and brought it over to the table where Myka was, stepping around Steve and Claudia's impromptu can-can line as Pete stood in front of them, his hands on his hips. "Now, notes from my predecessors during World War II chronicled the destruction of a city in Norway in 1942 that held absolutely no strategic or tactical advantage, but the Regents and agents were so focused on protecting knowledge of this Warehouse that they didn't follow up. I think that lost treasure was connected to that city."
"Wait, Artie, I remember something about..." Myka felt a thrill course through her body, one that only comes when she's solving puzzles or putting together theories, and she could barely hold her excitement. "I read in the archives that when the Regents were thinking of moving the Warehouse to India, they felt that they could leave Europe because there was another... family, or – or – society that was protecting other dangerous materials outside of the Warehouse that had the trust of the Regents. The Nazi's must have figured them out and gone after them!"
Artie slapped his hand on the book in excitement again. "And right after that city was destroyed, Agents were sent into Germany to find the source of strange deaths, where the people had seemingly exploded, and there was nothing left of them." Artie sat down and lowered his voice, the way he did when he was truly excited about something. "The same power signature from Germany at that time was observed during the invasion a few months ago. It took some time to analyze, but both Mrs. Frederic and I believe that the same device that opened the portal in the sky was the same one that created the weapons in the forties, and the same one that the legends talked about during the greatest war in Norse history."
Myka considered this silently while the others' voices still carried on around her. "Artie, we need to get that artefact."
He clapped his hands together. "Yes," he almost whispered, seemingly becoming aware again of Pete, Claudia, and Steve, who were now apparently letting Steve have his turn playing the superhero, while Pete played... was he pretending to be Hitler?
Artie's impatience was beginning to rise, but before he could truly get mad at them, Myka turned his attention back to the sheets in front of her. "The battle was waged not just by Captain America and Tony Stark, but it looks like someone from the legends that we were just talking about." She pointed to an included photo of a tall man with long reddish blond hair who happened to be clutching a hammer. She lowered her voice. "Is this really Thor?"
Of course, when she wanted to hide something from Pete lest he get more excited, that was when he started paying attention. "Wait, Thor?" he asked with the giddy anticipation it seemed that only Pete was capable of and it seemed like he was about to actually pay attention – but in a moment that was worthy of the Three Stooges (and probably should not have been funny, but totally was), Steve continued with their play-acting and managed to connect his fist with Pete's jaw.
A moment of stunned silence permeated the room and it looked like Steve was about to apologize before Pete broke out into a huge smile. "Did you see that? That was awe-some," he pseudo sang, sticking out his tongue and raising his fingers up in the air. "Just like they used to do on the stages with the real Captain."
And as everyone burst into laughter, whatever that moment was where Pete had found his concentration was lost.
After Steve had accidentally (well, he can't say for certain that there wasn't a moment where he could've pulled back, but damn was that kind of fun) punched Pete, Artie managed to somehow pull them all back onto task. (Yet, even through all the grumbles, Steve knew there was a genuine smile behind them. Somewhere.)
Steve had paid just enough attention to Artie and Myka talking though to keep up, but was still a little surprised to hear Myka say, "if we're looking into the energy source for these strange weapons, shouldn't we have the guy from ATF with us? And we're going to be talking with people who won't want to give us any information, I presume. Having Steve would be a great help."
He looked up hopefully at Artie, who grumbled again. "No. We need his weapons' experience elsewhere." Steve accepted the folder that Artie was handing to him. "Steve, you and Claudia are going to investigate a number of bank robberies that happened a few weeks ago."
"A few weeks ago?" Claudia interjected. "Why are we just getting this now?"
Artie shrugged. "Sometimes these things take time. Look, I don't know if it's one of ours, but they're using some type of a gun that I've never seen before. There's security footage on my computer, info in the folders."
It was silent as the two of them looked through their folders, and Steve caught the anomaly first. "It says that there's another agency investigating, but there are no notes on which one."
"Well, yes." Artie replied, this time looking a little put out. "Mrs. Frederic came and saw me when I got the ping. She said – she said to tread carefully here, that there may be some other parties involved that we don't want to uh... anger. Or, really know about us." Artie turned to Myka and Pete. "That goes for you guys too."
It was as if a chorus of voices started, all asking the same question just slightly out of sync. "What does that mean, Artie?"
"How do we know who were are supposed to be staying away from –"
"You're a little vague on the details, there, and you're obviously leaving something out –"
"Yeah, right, good advice: don't anger the ones with the scary guns. What's that even supposed to mean –"
"SILENCE!" Artie cried, and they all obliged. "Now, don't you all have packing to do and flights to arrange? Go!" and he ushered them out the door, turning back to the computer. Steve only got a glance at the screen before he left, but he walked away even more confused than when he started.
Myka had many infuriating plane rides with Pete, but this one was proving to be the worst. And this was a full two days after they had received the assignment, wherein she avoided Pete as much as she could.
While she was poring over a large Norse mythology book (where she was having a lot of fun translating some of the original text and looking up runes), Pete was going out of his way to constantly cover her books on the tiny table with his comics, explaining the history of every character in detail.
Myka thought it sounded a lot like a soap opera. Not that she had ever watched those. Nope. She just... overheard them when Tracy watched them and stray bits of dialogue still circled around her head. She shook her head, brushing away the errant thoughts. "Pete," she interrupted him, while he went on again about how Captain America saved hundreds of men captured by parachuting into the compound, and not caring about the line between fact and fiction – which, Myka reminded herself, she should figure out. "Can you at least pretend to read the mission folder?" she said as she smacked it down on top of his book.
"Mykes!" he cried, scandalized, even though it was the same thing he had been doing all flight, but he reluctantly opened it up and flipped right to the photos. He was silent for a blessed few minutes before he turned back to her, albeit this time with a slightly more serious demeanour. He pointed to the picture that Myka had been studying earlier. "I thought we had Thor's hammer in the Warehouse."
Myka had been prepared to be angry at him, but when he asked a question about the actual case she smiled instead. There was the Pete that was her partner, and not the twelve year old boy on a sugar rush. "I asked Claudia about that. It was collected by Warehouse 8 after it had been found amongst a store of Norse battle gear in what's now northern Germany, but it belonged to Denmark for a long time. There was city there called Hedeby which was a trade center... and I've lost you."
She sighed. "Okay. The city was destroyed in 1066. There were brave warriors. Rumour was that one even had the bravery of Thor and was dedicated to protecting mankind. Whether his actions imbibed the Hammer with its properties or the Hammer was giving him those qualities, it's unknown. What we do know is that the one in the Warehouse is only a mere shadow of the real one."
"And what does the one we have do?"
"It gives you strength and you can control lightening when there's already a storm."
"Cool! What's its downside?"
"You know how Thor's supposed to be the only one worthy to use the hammer?" She waited for Pete's nod. "This one you can literally not put down. You will be the only one to use it until you die, unless it manages to get neutralized."
"That's one hell of a downside."
"Yeah." She turned back to her notes, but sure enough Pete was ready with more questions – though the case related ones she liked, even if she still gave him her exasperated look.
"Who are these other people fighting? I mean, we've heard of the Hulk and everyone knows Iron Man, but who are these other two?"
Myka considered them. The girl's fiery red hair stuck out in each photo, but she had to look for the one that was using a bow and arrow. "I don't know. I talked to Artie before we left, and he said that Mrs. Frederic didn't want us concerned with them. Just the energy source. That's it."
Pete seemed to consider this. "Mykes, what are they not telling us?"
She shook her head. "I don't know Pete, but that's the best question that's been asked since we started this."
They had been at this for two days already, and they weren't getting any closer to whoever was robbing the banks. Each place they went to told the same story: two people came and blasted a piece of furniture before stealing the money and getting out. No fatalities. No injuries. One eye witness account even said that the male had comforted an elderly lady during the robbery.
This was not their average mission. If it was even supposed to be one of theirs.
Claudia sighed. There was only one bank left to see and they were getting there early this morning in Savannah, Georgia. That attack had happened a week after the first two and she believed that the story would be the same: eye witness accounts that differed, no video, protests that someone else already taken the videos, and no information if it was actually an artefact that was doing it, or just a fancy new gun.
And up until now, they hadn't even really had time to rest or process what they were actually looking for.
But for now, they were on a plane at some ungodly hour, waiting for a backlog at the gates or something. Claudia had already been woken up, and she was getting restless. "What do you think about Pete and Myka's case?" she asked Steve, and he stared blankly at her. "I mean, I know we were all excited about superheroes and stuff, but the truth is, we haven't actually talked about the real thing they're looking into, right?"
Steve rubbed his face. "You mean that there are aliens?"
"Yeah. I mean, it doesn't really surprise me, but –"
"It didn't surprise you?" He looked confused at her statement.
"What, you mean that you were surprised? Jinksy, look at our jobs. My brother disappeared into an interdimensional portal for twelve years and came out looking the same age. You can tell when people are lying. The fact that Norse myths are true? Not exactly hitting eleven on my weird-o-meter."
"Yeah, but aliens?"
"Well, I don't think they're quite the little green men we thought they'd be. But sure. Things that live elsewhere. Need an energy source or artefact to get here. I'm just saying that it feels like Monday."
Steve shrugged, as if he still hadn't made up his mind on whether to be scared about them or not. "I'm more impressed with the way the world is reacting to the news."
"What does Artie always say? The mind's ability to make sense of the blah, blah, whatever."
Steve smirked, and Claudia took pleasure in the fact that he finally smiled. "Speaking of Artie, does he have any more input on this? Who's this mysterious government agency that's been taking all copies of the robberies?"
"I talked to him last night. He just keeps saying that Mrs. Frederic wants us to be careful. That's it."
"There is something seriously weird about this case."
Claudia smirked as the seatbelt sign finally turned off and she was able to gather her stuff. "Isn't there always?"
They stood outside the door of the conference room set up in Stark Tower on one of the more public floors, and Myka shot him a glance. "Hey, I'm cool," he said, with an exaggerated flail of the arms. "Completely professional!"
She smirked at him and raised an eyebrow, and he broke out into a wide grin. That was the Myka he knew and loved. She had been so involved in those books on the plane that he had been worried about her taking this mission too seriously. So, he had been doing everything in his power to pull that sarcastic and fun side out of her again.
He gingerly adjusted his jaw where Steve had hit him earlier, exaggerating his movement to get Myka's attention, and he saw her smile again. Sure, it was a mere shadow of what he might have seen last year at this time, but when she had outright laughed when Steve's fist connected? That was what made him all warm and gooey inside.
Honestly, she needed so much taking care of.
He didn't give her another chance to chastise him and he walked into the room, flashing his badge at the man sitting alone at the head of the table. "I'm Agent Lattimer, this is Agent Bearing, and I suppose you're Captain America?"
"Steve Rogers," the man introduced himself, standing up and reaching a few inches above them. While Pete could tell he was very well built and strong, the man himself was unassuming. He was dressed in a pair of worn jeans and a button down plaid shirt with a grey tee showing underneath at the collar. "But you can understand why my real name is mostly classified."
"Of course," Myka replied, shaking his hand and Pete did the same. While Myka spoke, he assessed the man. While he couldn't control his vibes on command, there was nothing disturbing about this guy. He was radiating pure goodness. "I see you were told we were coming?"
"I was," he replied, and Pete and Myka took seats on one side of the table when he sat down. "But I haven't been told why. After the events of that day we held a joint conference to answer the questions posed by all agencies. I believe you've seen the tape that was both classified and archived. Secret Service was definitely at that day's sessions."
Pete exchanged a look with Myka. In an effort to both limit the information that the so called "Avengers" were letting out, and putting all agencies on the same footing, they had forced everyone into the same room. They could ask their questions so that all agencies had the same information, or keep it to themselves. It was tactically a brilliant move on their part, and they had only put Tony Stark and Captain America in front of everyone, keeping all the other identities a secret. Also, apparently, they were the first agents to be allowed a secondary and private access to any one of the Avengers.
Myka smiled calmingly. "We have a few follow up questions that didn't align with everyone else's clearance level."
As soon as he nodded, Myka started bringing him through the questions they had prepared on the second half of the plane ride. They brought him through the brief history of the super soldier project, some questions about his former missions, and even his history. They were searching for his knowledge of the blue energy source – of the weapons made from it – but if he knew anything, he wasn't volunteering it. "This was all covered in the other briefing, Agents," Steve said, finally growing a little impatient. "Was there something new you wanted to discuss? I don't have much time; I have an event I have to go to later."
Pete took over, keeping it light just like Artie wanted, but he could see the man appreciated directness. "We heard some stories about some futuristic type weapons that you might have come into contact with."
Pete saw the change in the Captain's demeanour immediately, and he knew that Myka saw it too, but Steve was doing a good job of hiding it. "Futuristic?" he asked, trying for puzzlement. "I'm from the past; everything here looks futuristic to me."
Pete expected Myka to take the next question, but she was strangely silent so he continued. "Yeah, but something maybe, super advanced? Maybe something that you ran into back then that still hasn't really been used today?"
Pete could feel Steve studying him, and when he spoke again it wasn't so much like he was trying to hide something, just that he sounded genuinely sad. "Look. Fitting into this world is hard. It's not the same one I left when I went into the ice, and yet it couldn't be more similar. There are still people ill-suited for power that will do anything to get it. There are people who want to take advantage of those less fortunate. The world is still war, and we're not fighting the right ones. I don't want more weapons, no matter how futuristic they may be, or for what purpose you may want to use them."
Pete almost wanted to interrupt – to tell him that they didn't want to use the weapons, they wanted to stop them – but the passion and dissonance in Steve's voice held him off.
"Everything that ever mattered in my life is gone now except the costume and the will to honest-to-god help people, and I'm not going to help any government agency that wants to know about futuristic weapons." He paused, and Pete had to remind himself to close his mouth. "Besides, I don't know what you're talking about."
He folded his arms in front of him in the universal defensive position, but then his facial expression changed and Pete followed Steve's gaze to Myka. Right. He couldn't believe that he didn't put together the pieces before. A man out of his time, leaving everything from before behind...
Pete was trying to formulate a plan in his head to either make her laugh or get her out of the room, when he was saved by a familiar buzzing coming from Myka's pocket. It rang twice before she shook her head, as if she was pulling herself back to the present, and let out a deep breath while pulling at her hair.
"Hey," he said quietly. "You go get that, I'm good here." She nodded and took the Farnsworth outside.
Steve's brow furrowed. "Is she okay?"
Pete forced a smile. "She'll be fine." He couldn't explain it and he awkwardly realized that he didn't actually have a continued line of questioning that he wanted to pursue without Myka's input, so he instead went for distraction and took advantage the moment alone. With a moment of mood-whiplash that even Pete was aware of, he exclaimed, "So, is there any chance you could sign one of my comic books?" Pete gave his most winning smile and felt relief when Steve responded with a shy one. "I grew up with them, and it would just be so cool –"
"Sure," he agreed, suddenly more amicable and Pete almost started to ramble when he pulled himself back. Right. Professional. And the Captain had just made quite the passionate speech that he was trying to honour, but he could not contain his squeal of delight when the book was passed back over to him. It was only silent for a second before Steve asked him some questions about his collection, and he seemed genuinely interested.
Pete was in his glory for about three minutes, which is when Myka came back into the room with a slightly elongated stride and a serious look on her face.
"It seems that you haven't been completely honest with us, Steve," she said, with just a touch of malice. "Now, what is SHIELD, and what do they want with guns that shoot blue energy?"
Pete watched Steve's face drain of colour, and he stood up abruptly. "If you don't know who SHIELD is, then you should check your clearance level. And this interview? It's done."
And with that he left the room, leaving the two of them sitting there stunned. "Well," Pete said at length. "I didn't see that coming."