Avengers-Natasha

Captain America MCU fic: Wingthieves

Title: Wingthieves
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe/Captain America
Character/pairing: Gen - Sam, Steve, Natasha
Word Count: 2800
Summary: Missing scene for CA2: how a carful of fugitives stole a piece of top-secret military hardware off a heavily guarded Army base.
Cross-posted: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1659200




The first place they went was a shopping complex off the Beltway, because Natasha had one of Sam's hoodies pooled over her like a tent, while Sam's biggest T-shirt strained across Steve's ludicrous shoulders. The two of them couldn't have projected we're suspicious fugitives, please call the police more blatantly if they'd dangled a sign out the window.

Steve gave Sam his sizes, along with a tidy roll of fresh-from-the-ATM twenties, and Sam looked over the back of his seat at Natasha. Steve, ever the gentleman, had offered her shotgun, but she'd crawled into the back and curled up with her head resting against the door. She looked fast asleep, but before Sam could say anything she apparently sensed his gaze on her and said, without opening her eyes, "Nothing for me. I'm good."

Sam's gaze slipped down to her bare feet, tucked up against her thighs. "No offense, but you don't look ready for an assault on a heavily guarded government installation."

She still didn't open her eyes. "On second thought, get me an iced latte. Biggest one they have."

Sam looked at Steve, who shrugged.

So he left the two superspies in the car, went into Target and picked up some clothes for Steve, then stopped into the nearest Starbucks and got Natasha her iced latte. Back in the car, he found the superspies napping: Natasha curled on the seat, Steve leaning back with his eyes closed.

"You know," Sam said, planting the 20-ounce cup in the crook of Natasha's arm, "we could hold off a few hours, let you guys catch some shut-eye."

"No," they both said at once. Steve grimaced. "We don't have the time. Days at most, maybe just hours."

"We'll rest when we're dead," Natasha's voice announced from the backseat. She was sucking on her straw sideways, without bothering to sit up.

"Somehow that's not comforting, you know?" Sam muttered. He tried to give Steve the change -- most of the roll of twenties was still intact -- but Steve waved it off.

"The way things have been going, we'll probably end up destroying your apartment before we're done," Steve said. "Or your car. Call it a down payment on the inevitable destruction that follows us around."

The words were light but there was something darker in his tone. Steve was a guy who'd dragged a lot of destruction in his wake over the years, Sam thought. And he didn't like dumping it on someone else. Sam could understand that. But he truly didn't mind.

Captain America needs my help. And for the first time in years he felt -- alive. Needed. Awake.

"Time to go rob a highly secure federal facility?" he asked as he pulled out of the parking lot.

"Not quite," said the voice from the backseat. "There's somewhere we need to go first."


***


Natasha directed him to a cemetery. As soon as the car stopped, she hopped out and padded barefoot across the grass -- she had shoes with her, but hadn't bothered to put them on. The men trailed after her, curious.

"She wants to stop and visit a grave?" Sam murmured.

"I don't know. A friend of hers died recently." Steve's gaze was miles away.

Natasha scanned the headstones, then knelt in front of one. She looked around quickly, then pulled a knife from her back pocket and stabbed it into the sod over the grave.

"Jesus," Sam murmured. He and Steve took up sentry posts, trying to block her with their bodies. Fortunately, it was morning on a weekday and the cemetery was nearly deserted. "You didn't tell me there'd be graverobbing involved."

"I didn't know," Steve murmured back out of the corner of his mouth.

"How well do you know this lady?"

Steve didn't answer, so Sam watched warily as Natasha peeled up a large chunk of sod and pried a package out of the dirt, wrapped in a black trash bag and large enough that she needed both hands. She tamped the sod back down and stood up, gave the two of them a brisk nod, and headed back to the car.

"So who's the dead guy?" Sam asked as Natasha curled her feet under her on the backseat and unwrapped her package, which turned out to be a duffle bag.

"I don't know," Natasha said. "No one connected to me. Wouldn't be much of a hiding place otherwise."

She unzipped the duffle and began unpacking it. Sam caught glimpses of underwear, a leather jacket, feminine hygiene supplies, MREs, knives, a bundle of cash, something he was pretty sure was a grenade ...

"I'm going to change," Natasha announced, and pulled the hoodie over her head without waiting for a reply.

Sam and Steve whipped their eyes forward.

"So," Sam said to distract himself from the small rustling noises in the backseat, "stealing things from the government and risking Leavenworth now, right?"

"I think so," Steve said. "Look, you don't have to be part of this. You can back out."

"When I said I was in, I meant I was in. All the way to the end."

A flash of pain crossed Steve's face. Sam knew the look: he'd stepped on something from Steve's old life. Before he could say anything else, Natasha leaned across the space between the seats -- she was wearing the leather jacket now -- and announced, "Anyone want a gun? I have extras."


***


They parked at a gas station just off the Annapolis Road exit to Fort Meade.

"I can get us on post," Sam said. "I'm not active duty anymore, but I come up here for counseling work from time to time. I know people."

"And then your name will be logged and your picture will be all over their security cameras," Natasha said. "I've got this."

"We're a team," Steve said. "We go together."

"No, this is right in my skill set, Rogers, and I can do it faster on my own." Natasha flashed them a brief smile. "Why don't you two go find a coffee shop and talk about boy stuff. I'll be back in forty."

"Forty?" Sam said. "Forty minutes?!" But he was talking to empty air; the car door closed with a faint click.

He and Steve looked at each other.

"Seriously," Sam said. "How well do you know this woman?"

"I trust her," Steve said, although he didn't sound quite as certain as Sam would like. Natasha had vanished without a trace.

Sam rubbed his forehead. He'd only been on this superhero gig for a couple of hours and he was already getting a headache. "Well, she's kinda got a point -- we could sit here like a pair of the world's biggest sore thumbs, or find somewhere to get a cup of joe."

Like most military bases in the U.S., Ford Meade was surrounded with an inelegant sprawl of fast-food restaurants and shopping centers. They ended up at a Taco Bell, because Steve was hungry. (Sam couldn't help pointing out that Steve had eaten three stacks of pancakes that morning, although Sam was no fool; it didn't take a medical degree to figure out that the energy to fuel a super-fast supersoldier had to come from somewhere.) One of the items Sam had brought from home was a baseball cap, which Steve pulled down over his eyes as a sort of disguise. It made him look indisputably as if he was up to no good. Steve was clearly not a born espionage agent.

Steve hit the bathroom while Sam waited for their food, and changed into clothes that actually fit him. When he came out, Sam had taken the tray to a table by the door -- good sightlines, good exit options, and Sam could see, as Steve glanced around, that Steve got it too.

"I hate that I got you involved in this," Steve said as he sat down.

For answer, Sam took out his wallet and flipped his ID onto the table. Steve looked at it, then at him.

"Check the birth date," Sam said. "Is it over 21? Yes, it is. I'm a grown man, Steve, and I chose to do this. Apologize to me one more time and your ass is walking back to DC."

Steve opened his mouth and closed it. Then he smiled. It warmed and softened his eyes. "Thank you," he said.

"Thank me after we get my wings back. Preferably without a dozen MPs in pursuit."

Steve kept glancing out the window while he ate. So did Sam. Paranoia was catching, apparently.

"I don't hear any sirens or screaming," Sam said. This made Steve snort a small laugh.

"I don't think you will. She's good at what she does."

"So, you gave me the Reader's Digest version earlier -- the abridged version, that is --"

"We had Reader's Digest in 1945," Steve said with a slight smile.

"Okay, fine, Mr. History, point noted, but what I'm trying to get at here --" He dropped his voice, although the only people anywhere near them were a family with five children who clearly weren't paying attention. "-- is that if people are going to come after me with guns and missiles and shit, I need intel. Talk to me, man. Tell me what we're up against."

So Steve told him a convoluted story that began in the 1940s and spun out threads in all directions. Sam had gotten the gist of it before -- worldwide conspiracy, check; neo-Nazis running amuck in government, check -- but this time around, there was a more personal element to it. Steve's girlfriend had been the one to found SHIELD; Steve's best friend had been killed by HYDRA in 1945.

"It's going to kill Peggy when she finds out about this," Steve said softly, gazing at the table. "I mean, it literally might kill her. She's ninety-six years old."

"Why don't you deal with the trouble we've got rather than borrowing more," Sam said. "From what you've told me, it sounds like she's a pretty tough lady. I bet she'll surprise you."

The corner of Steve's mouth quirked. "Maybe." Then he straightened in his chair. Sam looked up hastily, not sure what he expected: armed goons, a SWAT team, black helicopters? Instead it was Steve's redheaded lady friend strolling through the door, carrying a steel suitcase in one hand. Despite her casual stride, its weight was evident in the way it dragged that side of her body down.

Sam's breath stuck somewhere in his chest.

Natasha slipped into the seat beside Steve and slid the briefcase under the table. It bumped into Sam's leg, solid and heavy and so very there. His hand dropped down; his fingers found the grip, wrapped around it.

"You brought it in here?" Steve muttered under his breath, eyes wide.

"Where else am I going to take it? You two had the car." She threw Sam a look that was unexpectedly playful. "Maybe we should leave. I can see Wilson and his new friend want to be alone."

"Funny," Sam said, but his hand didn't leave the handle of the suitcase.

"Does it work?" Steve asked.

Natasha shrugged. "I don't know. I took a peek to make sure I didn't accidentally pick up a bunch of spare parts, but it's not like I could jet off the base without someone noticing."

"We should find somewhere to test it," Sam said. "Just in case -- you know. Before we take it out in the field."

Totally practical. Nothing at all to do with the way his fingers itched to open the suitcase, the tingle across his shoulders where the straps used to rest.

Flying again.


***


The area around DC wasn't exactly the perfect environment for testing experimental (stolen) flying equipment. Natasha said no one had any idea she'd taken it and they probably wouldn't notice for months, but that didn't mean it was a good idea to go around throwing up red flags.

For once, Natasha didn't have any sneaky stealth ninja solutions (she suggested the wildlife refuge next to Fort Meade; Sam pointed out right next to the place we stole this from, are you HIGH? and also what kind of stealth ninja are you anyway?) so they used the Google Maps app on Sam's phone to look for somewhere that seemed to have open space and not a lot of people around. They ended up in a field growing some sort of shrubby dark-green thing; Sam was a city kid, and all he knew was that it wasn't poison ivy. More remote would have been better, but they were screened from the road by trees, and all they really needed to do was make sure the EXO-7 would still run.

Sam laid the suitcase in the soft brown farm soil and opened it.

And there they were: gleaming metal and black straps, all graceful curves and sleek lines. Reverently Sam unsnapped the belts keeping the EXO-7 secure in the case. Dimly he heard Steve ask if he wanted help -- but not for this, never for this. Like field-stripping a Beretta M9, this was something he'd done so many times that he could do it blindfolded and half asleep in a sandstorm (and he had, except without the blindfold part). His hands knew what to do; his hands were already lifting it out of the case, shaking it so the straps dangled free, swinging it over his shoulder. Drop and catch and pull the strap over -- he had everything fastened and snug in under a minute.

He looked up to see Natasha and Steve watching him, Steve in open admiration; even Natasha looked faintly impressed.

"How do I look?" he asked, tugging the straps to check their tightness. Force of habit, again.

"I think you'd look better with these." Natasha stepped forward and held out a hand with something dark in it.

Another sharp hook of memory lodged in his chest as he took the goggles from her. Red tinted glass, built-in HUD (that fritzed half the time; he and Riley had taken to flying by dead reckoning because it was safer than relying on the stream of altitude and speed information collected by the backpack and streamed to the goggles). He started to slip the strap over his head, then tilted the goggles to look inside. He and Riley kept accidentally mixing them up, and Riley's head was just that tiny amount wider than Sam's which meant they had to readjust the straps each time, so they'd scratched their initials .... And there it was, just under the rim. A.R.

He thought it should hurt more than it did. Instead it was just a little breath-catch, a memory of pain more than pain itself. Carefully he tugged the strap a little tighter, and slipped the goggles over his head. It seemed that he could almost feel the place where Riley had carved his initials, right there on the left side, like a thumbprint against his cheekbone.

Keep an eye on me, buddy. You used to tell me you had all the common sense in the partnership. I could sure use someone sensible watching my back right now.

He threw Steve and Natasha a thumbs-up and turned, already engaging the thrusters. Takeoff and landing were always the tricky part -- it was more of an art than a science, the precise timing of bone and muscle and metal wing. But his body knew, and he was running without conscious thought, jogging toward the tidy rows of crops in the field. The soft, plowed soil dragged at his feet, threw off his stride a little, but then the wings deployed and caught and his feet left the ground and then he was flying, flying, flying.

He remembered just in time to stay low -- can't go high, can't attract attention -- so he banked before he hit the trees (sloppy, sloppy; Riley would have laughed at him) and circled wide around the field. He tried a fast roll -- always more challenging this close to the ground -- and dipped one wingtip between two rows of crops for the sheer joy of the challenge. One more lap, with a smooth perfect bank this time, and he landed with a bounce and a few fast strides in front of Natasha and Steve. He was grinning so wide that he was lucky he hadn't caught bugs in his teeth.

"Bet you guys wish you had one of these," he crowed, pushing his goggles up on top of his head.

"I just steal them," Natasha said, but she wore a small, private smile. "I prefer to keep my feet on the ground."

Sam turned to Steve, who had been watching quietly. "Whaddya say, Cap? Ready to kick some HYDRA ass?"

And Steve smiled slowly, like the sun coming up. "Yeah," he said. "I'm ready."

~

This entry is also posted at http://sholio.dreamwidth.org/952601.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Hee! Yay, I love it, especially "Check the birth date," Sam said. "Is it over 21? Yes, it is. I'm a grown man, Steve, and I chose to do this. Apologize to me one more time and your ass is walking back to DC."


(I actually saw this linked elsewhere earlier, must have been right after you posted it, and I somehow missed your name on it. So I was scrolling through going, wow, this sounds a heck of a lot like that post Sholio had a few days ago; did someone steal the idea? Do I tell her?!? And then I scrolled back to the top and saw your name on it, and was glad to not have to make that decision... XP)
Thank you so much! Heee, nope, just me. :) (I know it got rec'd on Tumblr; maybe that was where you saw it!)
Thank you so much! :) I'm still getting the hang of all their voices, but they're very fun to write.
Oh, YES. I was thinking again when I last saw CA2 (for the *cough* fourth time *cough*) how much I wanted to actually see more about them getting their hands on the wings. I mean, I get that it would've messed up the flow of the movie. But REALLY.

Ah well, that's what fanfiction's for. And you do it so beautifully. Everything about this is so great. Of course Natasha would stash stuff in a graveyard. I love both of their reactions to it. XD And Sam, reminding Steve that he is fully capable of making his own choices, and he wasn't dragged into anything. (Honestly, Steve, as if you needed another thing to blame yourself for.) And yes! to Natasha slipping in to get the wings alone! Makes total sense - it would've had to be a pretty subtle heist, I'd think, because they'd have had a lot more trouble if the military had been actively pursuing them.

Such a perfect gap-filler. :D