The Untouchable Avengers (2/3)
Summary: MCU characters, no powers, set in 1920s. Soulmate AU- everyone is born with the last words they'll hear from their soulmate written on their body. Most people have two soulmates, platonic and romantic. I imagine it being white like a scar, but that's not really important.
Warnings: Gun fight, gunshot wounds, kidnapping
He turns when he hears Peggy’s voice. “Hey, baby doll.” Noticing Wilson is no longer around, Steve wraps an arm around Peggy's waist and pulls her into his chest. “What can I do for you?”
She smiles, pink tinging her cheeks. “Are we still going dancing tomorrow?”
“I'll see you here at eight.” He smiles so wide his eyes crinkle at the corners.
As Wilson rounds the corner with a strange man, Peggy pulls away. “Don't you dare be late.”
Steve’s face pales. He snags her wrist as she turns. “Please say something else.”
“What?” Her eyebrows pull together as she studies Steve’s face.
“That’ll do.” He drops her wrist.
“Alright.” She answers skeptically before flouncing away.
“Everything alright?” Wilson glances in Peggy’s direction as he rejoins Steve.
“Yeah, of course.” Steve tears his eyes away from Peggy’s back seam stockings. “What about you and that fella?”
“He’s new in town.” Wilson shakes his head. “Needed some pointers.”
Steve narrows his eyes. “You’re new in town.”
“What I told him.” Wilson shrugs.
Steve studies him, but Wilson offers no further information. “Well, I hope you gave Pepper a good review.”
“Glowing.” Wilson chuckles.
As they emerge from a bakery at street level, Wilson waves down a taxi, exposing the writing on his wrist again.
Steve clears his throat. “That's an interesting soulscript you got there.”
Wilson's head snaps to Steve, and he jerks his sleeve down. “Yeah, I suppose yours are better?”
“I didn't mean-” Steve raises his hands as Wilson climbs into the cab. “Sorry I asked.”
“It’s- its fine.” Sam huffs.
They finish the ride in silence, staring out their own windows. When they exit the cab, Wilson pauses outside the station. He jingles his pocket watch, looking at the ground.
“He was my partner. Best friend, really.”
Steve stops with a grand on the door and turns around. Sliding his hands into the pockets of his trench coat, Steve takes a step toward Wilson. Wilson doesn't look away from the sidewalk.
“Riley. He- we were responding to a mugging.” Wilson's stiff hat twists as he shakes his head, toeing a crack in the pavement. “It’s a lie. He said it wasn't my fault, but I should’ve seen it coming.” He looks up slowly. “That's the point of having a partner, right?”
Steve looks up the street. “Coulson was my partner for a long time. He'd just been reassigned when he got clipped.”
“So, you had nothing to do with it?” Wilson scoffs. “Thanks for the help.” He pats Steve's shoulder as he pushes past.
“It’s hard to lose a partner.” Steve says as Wilson opens the door. “But that don't make it your fault.”
“Look, if you can't handle that, you don't need to be in the city.”
“I'll be fine.”
Steve slams his hand against the station door, preventing Wilson freedom opening it. “Survival is different here. You got to keep your head on straight.”
“I got it.” Wilson's gaze bores through Steve. “Now, move.”
Steve shakes his head and steps back. That kid’s going to get himself killed.
Tony slouches behind his desk crunching numbers in the dim, yellow light. The raid last week set production back. They’d have to run an hour extra every day this week to fill their orders. He smothers his cigar in his ash tray and drags a hand down his face. If he doesn’t make the quota, he will be getting a call from dear old dad.
Sure, bootlegging is lucrative, but it’s a gamble. And losing puts you on the bad side of the wrong people. His grandfather, for instance, does not like being disappointed. Especially by someone in the family.
A commotion from the warehouse downstairs interrupts Tony’s musings. Glass crashing, tables scraping, and men shouting echoes off the concrete walls. Tony walks to the door, tugging his vest down. As he reaches for the handle, a man in denim coveralls bursts in and knocks him back.
“Sorry, boss.” A large hand pulls Tony up by the shoulder. “Cops are outside. You got to go.”
Tony jerks his head in a nod and waves to the fire escape. The man rushes through the office and out the window. Tony peers out the door for Bruce. Half the men have filed out the backdoor, the other half jammed themselves in in a mad dash for freedom.
No sign of Bruce. Tony turns back to his office, hoping his partner made it out. He grabs his hat from the desk and climbs out the window. When he hears “Hands up! This is a raid!” from inside, he slides down the ladder and makes his way to the end of the alley. Ducking through a loose board in the fence between buildings he emerges on the street behind the warehouse. No cops in sight.
He scans the clusters of men. Some he recognizes, others he doesn’t, but he’s sure they all came out of his warehouse. Still, with no sign of Bruce, Tony heads to Pepper’s. Whether to meet Bruce or warn Pepper, he doesn’t know yet.
“Steve,” Peggy whines, tugging on his wrist, “I don’t want to sit here all night. You promised me dancing.”
“Just a minute, doll,” he says into his highball.
“You said that twenty minutes ago.” She takes the drink from his hand and finishes it for him.
Steve chuckles, watching the feather in her beaded headband flutter as she tips her head back. She’s absolutely breathtaking in her beaded, knee length dress. The strapless top shows off her shoulders, just like the night he met her. Her red lipstick still glistens against in the hazy light, despite having had several rounds of drinks.
He fastens the top button of his tuxedo coat and stands, holding out his hand. When she takes it, he drops back to the lounge chair and pulls her into his lap. “Just let me look at you another minute,” he grins. “You’re gorgeous.”
She smacks his chest with her clutch. He takes it, smiling at her trill of laughter, and the pink creeping into her cheeks. He hadn’t danced since high school, and he would do his best not to start tonight. Not in a full tuxedo with stiff wingtips, and the most beautiful woman he’d ever met watching.
“I knew I should have gone with Jimmy instead.” She crosses her arms.
“Hey, now, kitten. Don’t get carried away.”
She grimaces. “He’s much more fun. Knows how to show a lady a good time.”
“He knows how to show her something.” Steve rolls his eyes. “Look, I promise-” His eyes dart to the door where a large man has barricaded the door. He nuzzles at her neck. “Play along. Do you have your weapon?”
She buries a hand in his hair and giggles. “Of course. I always do.”
He brushes his fingers up her cheekbone and smiles, noticing one of Clint’s regular arrestees in the corner. “We’ve been locked in. I got two potential hostiles behind you.”
She glances over his shoulder, then locks eyes with him. “Three behind you.”
He slides his hand up her thigh. “Let them make the first move.”
She wraps her arms around Steve’s neck and winks at a passing waiter. “You just going to keep feeling me up until then?”
Steve’s neck heats up. “Can’t say I’m not enjoying it.”
Peggy smirks at him briefly before snatching his pistol from under his coat. Shots erupt from all directions, followed immediately by screaming and chaos.
He slides her weapon out of its holster and aims at the man near the door. “It’s a revolver?” he yells, glaring at the gun in his hands.
“Oh, what are you whining about now, Rogers?” She squeezes off two more rounds at a man ducking behind the bar. “You’ve got two men and six rounds. Get it done.”
“Shit!” Peggy grabs Steve’s shoulder and throws herself to the floor, bringing him with her.
They lay on the ground face to face. Their panting is drowned out by the rapid fire bursts of submachine gun shots coming from the bar. Bullets whizz over the couch, too low for either one of them to move.
There’s a click and silence. Peggy springs to her feet, weapon at the ready, and fires three more shots.
“Clear.” She lowers the handgun and helps Steve up.
“For now,” he huffs. “We got to get to the office.”
She nods and leads the way to the stairs, pushing through the mob trying to get out the door.
“Peg,” Steve pinches his eyebrows together, “were you shot?”
She reaches over her shoulder, wiping at the blood dripping down her back. “I’m fine.”
“That’s not what I asked.” He grabs her elbow as they reach the foot of the stairs.
“I didn’t realize you were dumb enough to need an answer.” She jerks her arm away, knocking herself off balance.
“You’re losing a lot of blood.” He rushes up the stairs after her.
“That’s not the priority here.” She leans against the rail waiting for him to catch up. “There may be reinforcements.”
He takes off his coat as he approaches. She looks pale, even for this lighting. He drapes it over her shoulders, and she turns unsteadily.
“We have to get,” she brings a hand to her head as she continues up the steps, “to Pepper.”
“Peggy, slow down. You’re going to pass out.”
“No, I’m n-” She stops suddenly, reaching for the rail and missing. “Yes, I am.”
She stumbles sideways, and Steve lunges up three steps to catch her. He carries her to Pepper’s office and, after convincing Pepper to open the door, lays her on the loveseat. After using Pepper’s homemade first aid kit to staunch the bleeding, Steve lays his coat back over Peggy.
“What the hell?” he whispers angrily.
“You think I know?” Pepper’s face turns brilliant red. “First, Tony calls and says they raided his warehouse. Now, my lounge is being shot up.”
“Tony’s- No,” Steve shakes his head, “that doesn’t make any sense. Barton’s working tonight.”
“What do you want me to say?” She raises her eyebrows. “That’s what happened. He called me from a pay phone said he was heading this way.”
“I need to get to the station and find out what’s going on.” He glances at Peggy. “Can you?”
She nods. “Tony’s bringing a whole squad of men. We’ll be fine.”
Steve nods to her and makes his way back downstairs.
The precinct is quiet. Only a few stragglers left, clacking reports out on their typewriters. Thick, stale smoke fills the building, obscuring the lights and preventing Wilson from taking a full breath.
Wilson stretches in his seat, yawning. “So, where’s Nat?”
Barton looks up from his newspaper. “I don’t know. Probably either doped up or barneymugging some big shot by now.”
Wilson raises his eyebrows and turns his attention back to a file on his desk. “Sorry I asked.”
“Things a lot different in Harlem?” Clint chuckles.
Wilson smirks, “Not particularly. Just expected better from you lot.”
“Oh, so you’re a bluenose.”
“Call me whatever you want.” Wilson smirks, “I married the preacher’s daughter, and she’s a choice bit of Calico.”
Clint grins, dropping his feet to the floor, and leans his forearms against the desk. “Oh, yeah? Got a picture?” He turns when he hears footsteps. “Hey, Steve. Just in time. Sam’s going to show- whoa! Hey!”
Steve drags Wilson out of his chair and pins him to the wall. “Who are you working for?”
“Steve, what are you-” Clint jumps to his feet and sprints across the room.
Wilson pulls at Steve’s arm.
“Tony was just raided. Saw half his employees in lockup on my way in, Bruce included.” Steve leans more weight into his arm. “Someone shot up Pepper’s. Peggy took a hit to the back.”
“What?” Clint glares at Wilson before turning back to Steve. “Where is she?”
Steve shakes his head. “I left her with Pepper. She’ll make it, but she’s not good.”
Clint looks Wilson dead in the eyes. “Did you have anything to do with this?”
“Wha- no.” Wilson shoves Steve back. “I’ve been here all night.”
“Who were you talking to at the bar yesterday?” Steve yells. “Who the hell-”
“I told you.”
“Bushwa.” Steve presses Wilson back into the wall. “Who was it?”
Wilson glances between the two men and drops his shoulders. “Don’t- look it’s not-”
“Talk, Wilson.” Clint crosses his arms.
“He’s with the Bureau. Odinson.”
“What the f- Jesus, Wilson. Why in God’s name-” Steve and Clint yell, throwing their hands in the air and shoving objects off of desks.
“Listen!” Wilson yells. “He’s not cleaning up. He wants to get Pierce.”
Steve throws a fist into the concrete wall, cursing at the crunch of his knuckles. “What did I tell you? Huh?”
Wilson straightens his tie and clears his throat. “You said leave him a-”
“I said leave him alone,” Steve shouts, spinning back to face Wilson. “Now, Peggy’s unconscious on Pepper’s couch, Bruce is locked up, and who knows how many people were caught in the cross fire.”
“It wasn’t me. We haven’t even looked into Pierce yet.” Wilson drops into his chair. “Odinson came to me because I’m new blood. He wanted me to find other detectives we could trust.”
“Oh yeah! I’m sure it has nothing to do with you poking around with a fed.” Steve glares.
Clint raises two fingers timidly. “Actually, Steve, this one might be on me and Nat.”
Steve turns to look at Clint, entirely red-faced.
“The bank robbery. We traced it back to Pierce’s gang.”
Steve studies Clint’s face. “Bring Nat in.” Turning to Wilson, he sighs. “Congratulations. Looks like you’ve got yourself a team.”
“What were you doing with Carter tonight anyway?” Clint lifts an eyebrow.
Steve stares daggers into Clint, but softens into a smirk. “If I wanted you to know, you would've been invited.”
Thirty minutes later, Nat walks through the front door, letting it clang shut behind her. Her shimmering red, floor-length evening gown brings out the orange in her hair. The elegant beaded comb holds her chignon in place. She tosses her clutch onto her desk and lifts herself to sit on the edge. Her knees peek out the slit in the gown as she crosses her legs.
“Sorry to, uh, break up your date,” Steve says, glancing at the deep red marks up her neck.
She shrugs, tugging on her necklace. “She was a flat tire anyway. Had to do something to shut her up.”
Wilson coughs up coffee, nearly spilling the cup he had just poured. “Sorry. Just- Didn’t realize…you…”
Nat tilts her head with a chuckle. “Depends on the day.”
She nods along as the men fill her in. Taking a bag from under her desk, she turns her back and shimmies out of her dress, still asking questions to clarify the situation.
As she slides into her work heels, she looks at Steve. “So Bruce is in the big house?”
“You two work on a plan to raid Pierce’s joint.” She turns to Wilson. “Let’s go make some paperwork disappear.”
With Chief Rhodes's permission, the new team began meeting in “Odinson's office,” which was Pepper’s office. Since no one wanted the cops involved, cleanup was quick. The lounge was reopened in a week, and the team moved their meetings downstairs. The bold dance music was more than loud enough to cover their scheming.
“I’m just saying,” Bucky gulps down a shot, “I don't think it's smart to go after his primetime warehouse.”
“What part of this is smart?” Steve scoffs.
Clint lifts a cigarette to his mouth. “I’m surprised you care about smart after what happened to Carter.”
“What happened to Carter is why I want to be smart,” he growls.
“Buck's right. We need to be strategic. Peg can't take another hit like that, and we can't afford to forfeit the manpower by benching her.”
“Not to mention,” Peggy takes a seat across from Steve, “Peggy is capable of choosing her own cases.”
“We should just be glad Big Tony didn’t start a gang war,” Odinson adds from the corner.
“Why are we happy about that?” Bucky groans.
“Because innocent people get caught in the middle.” Wilson waves a waiter down and orders a second round for the table.
A silence settles over the table as the waiter distributes drinks. Bucky and Peggy glare at Odinson. He’s the reason they’re all in this mess.
Odinson raises his glass. “You’re a brave group.”
“Not particularly,” Clint mutters, “you just backed us into a corner.”
“This is an honorable endeavor.” Odinson continues as though nothing was said. “It is risky, but with this one mission, you seal your names in history.”
Everyone raises their own glass with exaggerated groans and eye rolls, when Pepper interrupts.
“Nat's on my phone. She said it was urgent.”
Clint exchanges a concerned glance with Steve.
“What’s she into now?” Steve half-jokes.
Scraping his chair back, Clint stands. “Don’t know. She was going on a date.”
Pepper takes his seat and watches him rush up the stairs. “You boys got a plan yet? Tony can’t hold his grandfather back forever.”
“Yeah, I think we’ve got something that’ll work.” Steve leans back with a cigarette between his teeth.
A laugh rumbles from Bucky’s chest. “Speak for yourself.”
“Give it a rest, James.” Peggy holds her hand out for Steve’s lighter.
“This plan will work.” Odinson leans in, his broad chest covering half the table. “It’s a proven tactic and-”
“Listen, golden boy,” Bucky nudges Steve with his elbow, “we know this town a little better than you. And we don’t like your damn plan.”
“I never wanted to be involved.” Steve narrows his eyes at Wilson. “Normally, we’d just bust a few of Piece’s thugs and make sure they never got out. Let Big Tony and Howard handle the rest.”
“But, here we are.” Bucky downs another shot.
Pepper watches the men banter, sipping on a cocktail a waiter brought moments after she took a seat. Her eyes follow each speaker. Steve and Bucky are skeptical, but neither speak openly about the depth of their concern. Odinson and Wilson are boldly optimistic, though she can see reluctance in the back of their minds. She shouldn’t have asked Tony to mitigate the Stark family’s reaction. It only put her friends in more danger.
She perks up when she sees her office door swing open. Barton slams it shut behind him and leans against the railing. Even from across the room she can see his knuckles turning white, his face already red. He slams an open palm against the rail before turning down the stairs.
She jumps to her feet. “My office. Now.”
The men look up, confused. Bucky is the first to follow. The rest rise together and shuffle after them.
When Pepper meets Clint on the stairs, she turns him around quickly. “We’ll talk in private.”
He relaxes slightly at her comment, but his shoulders remain tense, his fists clenched.
Pepper pauses briefly in her doorway, continuing with a deep breath. Her phone lies in pieces at the foot of a wall. Most of the items that had been on her desk are now scattered across the floor. The fist sized hole in the wall tells the story on its own.
“Forget the fucking warehouse,” Clint growls. “I want him dead.”
“Barton,” Steve snaps as his eyes wander.
Pepper waves a hand. “Clint, please just tell us what happened.”
Clint drags a hand down his face. “He’s got Nat.”
“What?” everyone shouts, continuing with various lines of questioning.
“She got all frantic on the phone, saying something was wrong, and the line went dead.”
“Was she still at home?” Steve asks.
Clint shakes his head. “Payphone. It was real loud, and I heard the door slam open before it cut out.”
Bucky shakes his head. “Do you know who she was going out with tonight?”
“Jack.” Clint shrugs.
“Rollins?” Pepper’s eyes go wide. “Tony said he’s the one who arrested Bruce.”
Wilson looks up from his shoes. “No, that’s not right. Me and Nat saw the booking record.”
“Well, Tony was there, Sam.” Pepper leans back in her chair. “I’m pretty sure he knows.”
“He’s Rumlow’s partner, right?” Peggy steps out of the corner.
Steve and Clint nod.
Peggy sighs, “When I was cleaning up with Pepper that night, I found his badge in the rubble by the bar.”
“Why the hell didn’t you say anything?” Clint turns on Peggy. “Either of you? Seems like very important information.”
“Easy.” Steve grabs Clint’s arm and pats his shoulder. “It doesn’t matter now.”
“Look, with all due respect to your lady, we need to keep moving with the plan.” Odinson circles the room. “We can’t throw all our hard work in the trash.”
Even Wilson throws an icy glare at the agent.
“I don’t want to go after his business. I don’t want to send a message.” Clint advances, coming toe to toe with Odinson. “I want him dead.”
“Let’s not get emotional.”
Clint grabs his collar and shoves Odinson into the wall before turning to the door. “And you aren’t going to stop me.”
“Clint,” Steve runs after him.
Two days later, everyone gathers back in Pepper’s office, Bruce and Tony included. Clint has been talked off the ledge, and everyone is more levelheaded.
Pepper holds up an envelope. “This came for Tony today.” She looks around the room before dropping it on her desk, exposing the grainy photo she’d been concealing as they assembled.
Tension builds as the image soaks in. Nat tied to a chair, her elegantly beaded gown torn along the edges. The poor quality makes it difficult, though not impossible, to discern the bruising around her neck and blood dripping from her nose. Her hair falls in knots past her shoulders. Despite her black eye and swollen lips, she still manages to give the camera a “screw you” look.
Tony tosses a newspaper on Pepper’s desk. The cover page matches the one in Nat’s picture.
Steve steps forward and traces his fingers over the headline. “If she's still alive-”
“She's not,” Clint bites.
Bruce steps forward, examining the paper. “Clint, this is today's paper. She-”
“She's not.” He growls, meeting Bruce's eyes. “Or maybe she is, but it doesn't matter.”
“What,” Bucky scrunches his face, “in God's name does that mean?”
“She won't be.” Clint slumps into one of Pepper’s armchairs. “We can't save her.”
“Clint,” Peggy makes her way across the room and lays a hand on his arm, “what aren't you telling us?”
“There was a struggle,” he sighs. “She was screaming and fighting. And-” He turns his arm over, revealing his soulscript peeking out from his rolled sleeves. “The last thing I heard was her scream ‘let me go.’” He shakes his head and clenches his fist. When he speaks again, his voice is raw. “I told her it’d be alright.”
Tony swallows hard. Silence blankets the room. Clint stands, shrugging Peggy’s hand off. No one moves to stop him from exiting the office.
Steve looks at Wilson. “Maybe you should talk to him.”
Wilson takes a deep breath and heads for the door, unbuttoning his sleeve.
Bucky glances around the room. “So, we're going to kill him, right?”
Steve opens his mouth, but Odinson talks over him. “We stick to the plan.”
Steve locks eyes with Bucky and gives him a small nod.
Peggy glances at Steve and winks. “Then, I’ll go talk to Wanda.”
“Well, you don’t give me orders, pal.” Tony pulls at his sleeves. “I’m calling in some guys from upstate.”
Odinson agrees. “If what you’ve told me turns out to be true, I wouldn’t hate to have backup.”
“That’s the smartest thing I’ve ever heard you say,” Pepper quips, sitting behind her desk. “Now, out. All of you. I have work to do.”
The Untouchable Avengers (1/3)
Pairings: Tony Stark x Pepper Potts, Peggy Carter x Steve Rogers
Summary: MCU characters, no powers, set in 1920s. Soulmate AU- everyone is born with the last words they'll hear from their soulmate written on their body. Most people have two soulmates, platonic and romantic. I imagine it being white like a scar, but that's not really important.
It's mostly gen with a few implied, canonic romantic relationships
Warnings: Mild gun violence in part 2
Steve and Bucky sit at a small table in the back left corner of the large, hazy bar room. The floor bustles with activity. Patrons hurry in, out, and around, dancing to the smooth jazz from the live band. The cabaret singer would be starting soon. Waiters rush from the kitchen to the bar to the tables and lounge areas, carrying drinks and light snacks. The bar tender, a thin, silver-haired young man, moves in a blur, filling orders as fast as they come in.
Steve tosses his fedora onto the table next to Bucky’s newsboy cap, shimmies out of his suit coat and slides his thumbs under his suspenders before relaxing in his seat. He loosens his thin tie and rolls his sleeves up, leaning his forearms on the table. “So, you’re on a case?”
Bucky crosses one leg over the other and leans back, stretching his brown sweater vest tight across his chest. He pulls out a cigarette, nodding. “Pepper thinks someone’s skimming cash.”
Steve nods, lighting Bucky’s cigarette before taking out his own. “So,” he takes a drag and puffs out a cloud of smoke, “then where’s this partner of yours?”
“Undercover,” Bucky chuckles. “How goes the art?”
Steve lets out a deep laugh. “I wouldn’t call suspect sketching art.”
Bucky opens his mouth to answer, but gets distracted by a woman walking by, one of the cabaret dancers. Her feathered skirt comes to mid-thigh and her loose, sleeveless top shows off her strong shoulders. A beaded band across her forehead reigns in her dark, chin length finger waves.
“Hey, doll.” Bucky snags her arm and pulls her toward the table. “My pal, Stevie, here wants to know what you’ve got under that dress.”
Steve’s face flushes, sending heat down his neck. “I- I didn’t-”
She smirks and edges around the table. She perches on his knee and drapes an arm behind his neck. Taking his hand by the wrist, she guides him up her thigh, just under the hemline of her dress.
He clears his throat when his fingers brush the cool metal of her sidearm. “Buck, you’re an ass.” Before pulling away, he glances at the single line scrawled across her thigh. I’d hate to step on your toes.
It’s a shame. It doesn’t seem to match the Don’t you dare be late on his left shoulder blade. The We’re there, punk on his calf was easy to match to Bucky’s You said end of the line on his bicep.
“Anymore questions?” She winks, standing up. As she leans across the table, she whispers, “You see anything out here?”
He shakes his head.
“The girls are clean too. The singer, Wanda, says they don’t even see the money until pay day,” she sighs, glancing back at Steve. “Peggy.”
Steve shakes her hand. “You never mentioned your partner was a dame.”
Bucky shrugs. “Must have slipped my mind.”
She skirts back around the table. “Like hell. Legs are the first thing you notice in a room.”
“You’re going to give yourself away.” He pulls her into his lap with a grin.
She shoves his chest, pushing herself to her feet. “Get off of me, Jimmy!”
Steve raises an eyebrow at Bucky. “Why’re you always throwing gals at me?”
“She’s not interested in me.” He shrugs. “You might as well take a swing.”
“She’s not the one. Why waste our time?”
Steve leans back in his chair and waves a waiter down, ordering them both drinks.
The redhead drops the long, floppy bow tie she’d been fumbling with and turns to look at her partner, her wavy chignon brushing her neck. “What, Barton?” she asks the brown oxfords blocking his face.
He groans, pulling his feet off his desk, and bends over to fix the cuff of his pants. “You ever worn Tony about the raid?”
“Course I did.” She tips chips her chin back, propping her own low heel oxfords on the desk. “I know how to do my job.” Her wide-legged trousers bunch under her ankles.
Barton raises both hands, exposing the script across his forearm. Let me go.
“Just checking. I’d hate to run out of booze tomorrow night at Pepper's.”
“Would you quit worrying about that and focus on this bank robbery.” She pulls her dainty cigarette case from her handbag.
“What do you want me to do, Romanov?” He twists the cufflinks at his wrists. “I sent the prints to the feds last week.”
“I don’t know.” She slides her suspenders onto her shoulders as she stands up through her cloud of smoke. “You want to hit the street again? Maybe a beat cop saw something.”
“I doubt it.” He snatches the silver case from her desk. “But maybe we can bust up a druggie while we're out.”
Nat grabs her fur coat and grey beret and follows Clint through the station. “Should we call in Barnes and Carter?”
“Not a chance,” he snorts. “You know Chief Rhodes doesn't like PIs.”
She nods, sliding behind the wheel. “We can shake them down tomorrow night.”
Steve shrugs his trench coat off as he enters the empty precinct. It’ll be another hour before the other detectives come in, and the smell of coffee ekes its way through the stuffy joint. He makes his way across the floor, taking his hat from his head, and stops short as his desk.
“Can I help you?” Steve eyes the man seated at his desk. Tall. Cheap suit, vest, no coat. Dress boots- interesting choice.
He stands, extending his hand. “Wilson. Or, uh, Sam. Take your pick.”
“Doesn’t really answer my question.” Steve’s eyes dart to the Homburg cap on his desk.
Wilson snatches it up. “My apologies. Chief told me to wait for you. Said you’re always in early.”
“So,” Steve narrows his eyes. This guy is something. “What can I do for you?”
Wilson tilts his head, answering slowly. “I transferred from Harlem.” The chain on his pocket watch jingles as he slides his hands into his pockets. “The detective opening…”
Steve nods with a grunt. It was about time Rhodes filled that spot. Pierce's goon squad took Coulson out over a month ago. “How long were you in Harlem?”
“Three years.” Wilson moves out of the way, letting Steve have his desk back. “Got a little one on the way. The missus wanted me off the beat.”
Steve smoothes his tie down as he sits. “So, this is your first day as a detective?” A rookie is the last thing this department needs. “You’re here early.”
“I had the midnight beat in Harlem. Couldn’t sleep anyway." Wilson drags a chair next to Steve’s desk. “You got a case?” He leans his elbows on his knees.
Steve shakes his head. “I mostly work with witnesses. Sketch up the perp's face.” He pulls a carton of cigarettes from the top drawer and drops them on his desk. “The mobsters around here got pretty bold when ol' Al came into town.”
Wilson raises his eyebrows, pulling at his tie. “You fellas chasing Pierce?”
“Hell, no.” Steve flicks his lighter and takes a deep breath, letting smoke out as he talks. “And unless you got a tommy gun hidden somewhere in that vest, you better not let anyone else hear you say it.”
“So, you’re just going to keep putting away street thugs?”
Steve nods. “That’s the job.”
“But Pierce is here.” Wilson, waves smoke out of his face. “We could get him.”
“Listen, Sam,” Steve takes a set of cufflinks from his top drawer and clicks them into his sleeves, “you seem like a good man. Leave Pierce alone.”
“Cut the head off.” Wilson inches closer to Steve. “That’s how you beat these guys.”
“Your wife didn’t drag you off the beat to chase Pierce. You want to see that baby, right?” Steve taps the cigarette between his fingers.
“But if we don’t-”
“Just forget about it.” Steve holds his cigarette in his teeth and begins pulling sketches from his drawers. “Why don’t you go through the department mug shots and see if you can match any of these.”
Wilson takes the stack and heads, begrudgingly, to the big house. Steve takes the top file off a tall stack and dials the first phone number in the report. He spends the next three hours contacting witnesses and scheduling interviews for the week.
His line goes dead in the middle of a call. He spins around to see Nat leaned against the wall, spinning the cord. She drops it on the floor and stands up straight as Clint shuffles around the corner, dragging Wilson with him.
“Found this dewdropper hanging around the clink when we booked a bootlegger.” Clint lets Wilson go to adjust his shoulder holster. “Said you sent him over there.”
Steve smirks, standing to plug his phone back in. “Yeah, he’s Coulson’s replacement.”
“So, what’s he doing on the other side of the house?” Nat tips her head back to look out from under her newsboy hat.
“I told you.” Wilson glares between the pair.
“Yeah, yeah.” I love you peeks out from Clint’s collar as he stretches. “Mugshots. You find anybody?”
Wilson holds out a handful of sketches.
Nat snorts. “Is that all? Hey, Barton, we better hit the street again.”
“These goons must he outwitting us.” He flips through the images. “Look, Nat, someone put Little Joey Corello away.” He flashes her a sketch from the middle of the stack.
“You don’t say.” Nat
perks up, gold bangles clattering as she unfolds her arms. “We’ll have to pay him a visit before he flies the coop. I owe that piker a few broken bones.”
“If you go necking with the warden, he’ll probably let us take Little Joey for a ride.” Clint cracks his knuckles.
“Come on.” Nat smacks his arm. She glances over her shoulder, heels tapping on the concrete floor as she walks away. “We’ll see you at Pepper’s for lunch?”
Steve throws her a small salute and turns back to the sketches.
After they’re gone Wilson glances at Steve. “What’s the story there?”
“She had Corello on racketeering last year after two weeks undercover, but he busted her up pretty good and got away.”
Wilson lets out a whistle. “She’s the kind of broad I wouldn’t piss off.”
Steve grins. “Corello's in ‘the family.’ A cousin or something. He gets pinched occasionally, but he’ll be out before tomorrow morning. Romanov’s been waiting, a long time for this.”
“I guess so.” Wilson reaches across Steve’s desk to set the papers back down. “What do you want me to do with the ones I matched?”
Steve skims over the words on Wilson’s wrist. Not your fault. “Set them over here. I need to- Actually,” Steve opens his drawer, hefting folders out. “You can update the files. Look for matching sketches and make a note of their booking date.”
Wilson nods, taking the pile with a groan. “So, what’s Pepper’s?”
A lively saxophone punctuates the air with other brass instruments quickly joining in, filling the room with bold melodies. Wisps of smoke waft up from the tables, covering the stale smell of last night’s ashes. A copper-haired young woman bumps into Wilson’s chair.
“You didn’t say this place was a speakeasy.” Wilson’s eyes dart from one corner to another as Peggy excuses herself from the table.
“Well, where’d you want to eat?” Steve raises his eyebrows.
“I don’t know,” he shakes his head. “A diner.”
“Can’t get liquor at a diner. Speaking of.” Bucky leans back in his seat and waves an arm at the bar tender.
Peggy returns to the table with a drink in one hand and a smoking cigarette in the other. “Wanda, come sit.” Peggy motions to the copper-haired woman and turns back to the group. “You’ll love her. You,” she points at Bucky, “behave.”
Wanda strolls over, her long strand of pearls swinging with her steps. Her short, straight bob makes her appear even younger than she is. “What do you need, doll?” She must be from the Bronx; the accent gives her away.
Peggy tips her chin up to see out from under her cloche hat and runs a hand down her loose skirt before taking a seat. “Just thought you ought to meet the gang.” Her rings glint in the light as she sweeps a hand around the table. “Don’t mind the two lovebirds on the end. They’re on the brink of cracking a bank robbery.”
Nat and Clint look up and wave. Clint uses his free hand to steady his holster.
“Is Rhodey going to join us?” Bucky asks lightly, taking a whiskey from the tray a waiter brings by.
“Not today.” Clint shakes his head, offering Bucky a smoke. “Got some feds coming into town.”
Wanda smiles at the group. “I hate to intrude on your lunch plans.”
“Why?” Steve nods to the seat between Clint and Wilson. “We got an extra chair now.”
As Wanda thanks them and takes her seat, Wilson leans toward Steve. “Don’t you think this is…I don’t know, hypocritical?”
Steve chuckles, “Because we bust bootleggers and raid juice joints every week?” When Sam nods, Steve answers, “You got some learning to do.”
Wanda searches through her small purse and curses before looking to Sam. “You mind if I bum a fag.”
“I don’t smoke.” He holds up his hands. “That stuff’ll kill you.”
Steve stifles laughter while Peggy and Bucky give him a blank stare.
“Oh, god.” Nat rolls her eyes, passing Wanda her silver case. “You’re not one of those gemstone healer freaks, are you?”
“No, no. None of that.” He chuckles. “I haven’t touched a cigarette since my wife got pregnant, and I’ve never felt better.”
“Just wait until the second one,” Clint says over his glass. “You’ll pick it back up.”
Peggy looks across the table, smashing her smoldering cigarette butt into the ashtray. “How is Laura these days?”
“Let’s just say there’s a reason I’m taking extra shifts,” Clint snickers.
Nat shoves her elbow into his ribs before taking her lighter back from Bucky. “She’s not that bad.”
“No, she’s fantastic.” He smiles. “The three rugrats are monsters, and they’re driving her mad.”
As everyone laughs, a dark-haired man in a sweater and glasses approaches the table with three unmarked bottles. “Delivery,” he grins, setting a bottle in front of Steve, Clint, and Nat.
“We can always count on you, Bruce.” Nat immediately cracks hers open and compliments the contents. “Where’s Tony?”
Bruce jerks his head toward the office in the corner on the second floor. “He’s squaring up with Ms. Potts.”
“I’ll bet he is,” Bucky sneers.
Peggy chokes on her champagne, and Nat adds, “Is that what he’s calling it now?”
Holding his cigarette to the side, Steve leans over to Wilson. “Tony’s sweet on-”
“Yeah, I got it.” He nods, pushing Steve away.
Bruce glances at his watch and then at Nat. “Thanks for the heads up. We had to clear out pretty quick.”
Nat holds a hand out, rubbing her fingers together. “You got anything extra for me?”
Bruce turns his pockets inside out. “Next week, kitten. Promise.”
Pepper emerges from the office, hair pulled into a tight bun, pencil tucked behind her ear. Her brown pant suit swishes with every step. Her string
of pearls bounces against her matching vest. She approaches the table languidly, laying a hand on Clint’s back. “How are the drinks, ladies and gentlemen?”
“Fantastic as always.” Tony walks up behind her. “We only brew the best. As a matter of fact,” he takes the bottle from in front of Steve and turns to a waiter, “have Quick Silver over there mix something up for the table.”
“Hey,” Steve watches his whiskey leave and glares at Tony, “you better have an extra bottle laying around somewhere.”
“Easy, big guy.” Nat slides her whiskey across the table. “You can share mine for now.”
“I got a poker game running upstairs,” Pepper grins. “Five car stud, any of you interested?”
“Not today,” Steve swirls his glass. “Got to get back to the station.”
“Because, you got feds coming in?” Wanda looks at Clint through a thick cloud of smoke.
Pepper nods and excuses herself from the table. “Business to run and all.”
Clint nods to Wanda, “I blame the new guy.”
“You think they’re here to clean up your act?” Wanda raises an eyebrow.
Nat purses her lips and tips her chin up. “Why would you think that?”
“I heard the Bureau’s cleaning house.” She shrugs, tucking her lace-gloved hands into her elbows. “Figured they were branching out.”
“About damn time.” Bucky slams his glass down. “Your department’s crooked as my aunt Edna’s back.”
“Hey, now,” Steve furrows his brow, “I wouldn’t go that far.”
“I would.” Clint straightens up so quickly, his whiskey nearly sloshes over the edge of his glass. “We definitely got a few on Pierce’s regular payroll, not to mention the moonlighting hitmen.”
“Somebody really ought to bump him off and be done with it.” Peggy shakes her head and takes a drink.
Steve slams a hand on the table. “The hell’s wrong with you?” He glances over both shoulders. “You looking for a shiv between the ribs?”
“Relax, Rogers.” Peggy waves a hand and fiddles with her bow-tied scarf. “Pierce isn’t allowed here. Tell him Wanda.”
“Pierce won’t touch us.” Wanda stirs her drink. “We’re covered by a bigger family.”
“Bigger than Pierce?” Wilson nudges the ashtray toward Steve and leans toward Wanda.
“Stark.” Nat blows smoke through her nose. “You think Big Tony wouldn’t put his grandson’s sweetheart on the protected list?”
Barton looks up. “Kind of a ‘no hit zone.' With Stark's new Manfredi tie, Pierce wouldn’t dare touch this place.”
“Don’t mean someone won’t follow you home. He has ears everywhere.” Steve drops his butt into the tray and stands. “And you ain’t in the family, doll.”
Peggy smirks, picking up her glass. “Where do you get off thinking you can call me doll?”
“I know where you keep your weapon.” He double checks the clip on his shoulder holster before lifting his coat from the back of his chair. “Wilson, we got work to do.”
Wilson follows Steve across the dining room, blinking smoke out of his eyes. As he rounds a corner, he bumps into a tall, blond man. “Sorry, Steve. I wasn’t-”
The two-tone wingtips are certainly not Steve’s. He drags his eyes up the crisp three piece suit, derby hat in one hand, umbrella in the other.
The man hooks the umbrella over his wrist and claps Wilson on the shoulder. “Detective." A toothy grin spreads across his face. "That's a new title, right?”
Wilson narrows his eyes, but returns the shoulder embrace. “Mr…?”
“Agent.” The man opens his coat briefly, and a gold badge flashes. “Odinson. And I've got a job for you."
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