Teach Me (Zemo x F!Reader)
Gif courtesy of @gaelgarcia
A/N: Here is the full version! If there is enough interest, I will write a second part with the smut portion of the request. Let me know if that’s something you would all be interested in! Also Sword!Zemo and Sweatpants!Zemo are my new obsessions.
Would you be interested in writing a Zemo x f reader where he trains her how to fight. She knows her away around weapons, but has gotten a bit rusty over the years. Considering it's a close proximity fight, sexual tension is quite high and it escalates when she beats him in a spar at last (she actually loses herself a bit in the frenzy of the fight). She can be on Sam and Bucky's team, so Zemo offered to help while they are in one of his safe houses maybe? If it fits into the story, could it have smut with feelings in the end?
I hope this gives you some inspiration, but if not that's quite all right 🙂.
Summary: Tensions between you and Helmut Zemo had always been high. Through his observations, he begins to get a sense of the source of your frustrations. A sparring match does just the trick to break down your walls.
Word Count: 2.5K Warnings: Enemies to Lovers
Tagged Users: @fandom--0verdose
Baron Helmut Zemo would not have gotten to where he is today if not for his keen sense of observation. It’s how he was able to lead EKO Scorpion to defend their country against international forces, slowing its inevitable demise. It’s how he was able to parse the subtle tensions within the Avengers, turning its two strongest leaders into vicious enemies.
Because of that, figuring you out has been a formidable challenge that he would not forfeit.
He had never seen you before, on the news, the exhibits, even the HYDRA files. Sam merely introduced you as “a friend”. “You’ll want to stay on her good side,” he had warned the baron.
Your contempt for him was evident from the start. You regarded him with an unsmiling, cold expression, if you were even to regard him at all. The intensity of your glare unnerved him; moreso than James’s aggressive outbursts. What had his crimes meant to you that you were more hateful towards him than the man he had coerced into truly violent acts? It was a mystery to him.
But then, Helmut Zemo decided to do what he does best: Observe.
He had just finished his bath and had decided to fix some tea, as he was often wont to do. You are sitting on the couch, reading your book. He knows better by now than to disturb you with conversation. But out of the corner of his eye, he feels you, watching him. He is still clad in his bathrobe, hair damp from the steam. He continues going about the kitchen, tuning his trained senses into your behavior.
He notices something... peculiar.
Your surveillance is not the typical, penetrating gaze you often shot at him for his frivolous attitude. You would look for a second, then turn to your book, then back to him. Secretive.
He notices your elevated respirations from the subtle rising and falling of your chest. Were you afraid of him, he wonders? No, that can’t be. He then busies himself with a task he knew would give the appearance of his ignorance to your presence, to draw out your vulnerability. You take the bait, staring at him long and hard. He notices the faintest change in the color of your cheeks. And, so subtly it’s nearly imperceptible, you bite your lip from behind your book.
He had been too indulgent with his watching. You make eye contact from across the room. Then, your expression reverts to your default icy glare.
You stand, walking towards him. “This isn’t a vacation. Why don’t you get to work on actually helping us?” You say, scowling at him. You walk towards your room. “And put some clothes on. Nobody wants to see that,” you say without turning back.
After he is out of your line of sight, he smiles. It’s not one of amusement, or even excitement. It’s measured. Calculating. Almost predatory.
Now, he understands. Not only that, he knows what has to happen next.
Karli took priority, so his plan had to wait. But as the two of you, along with Samuel and James, relentlessly pursued the serum, he keeps watching. He keeps noticing.
It started with his idea to glean intel from Selby in Madripoor. Upon his insistence, you arrive in the guise of his consort. It does not go over his head the way that you clutch his arm tighter when he utters the command for Bucky to attack, your cheeks rosy from the strong shot of serpent’s blood.
Then, at the warehouse, he had donned his mask, taking down several attackers on his way to climb atop the storage crate. From that vantage point, he not only sees the gas tank that he would target in order to create a diversion, but your face as you watch him from your hiding spot. It is bruised, bloodied from the attacks the hitmen had rained upon you and Sharon as you kept guard. But, even from the distance, he can see your lips part ever so slightly, staring up at him. Smirking beneath his mask, he aims his gun at the gas tank, pulling the trigger.
After he pulls up in the convertible, he gestures to it with a flourish. “Supercharged,” he jokes. The moment is so fleeting he could have blinked and missed it, but the corner of your mouth twitches upwards in what could have possibly been a smile. You quickly regain control, chastising him for shooting Nagel. Yet, he files the observation away to be fit into the complex puzzle that was the tenuous relationship you share.
Zemo had not been the only one observing how events unfolded in Madripoor. Fighting alongside Sharon Carter, you balked at her grace and fury as she effortlessly took down your attackers. It had been what felt like years since your last real scrape with danger. You were occasionally called upon when Sam needed an extra body for a contracting mission, but his high-powered tech often got the job done all on its own. You were out of practice, and you hated it.
In the safehouse, you have a brief moment of peace when Sam and Bucky decide to venture out on their own. Zemo had retreated to his bedroom to read, so you push the furniture and elegant decor out of the way, creating a large space in the middle of the living room. You dress down to your spandex and draw your practice weapons: Two blunt, wooden escrima sticks. Starting slowly, you move through a sequence of training movements.
You are so enraptured in the flow of your sequence that, for the first time on this mission, you let your guard down. So much so that you do not notice the door to Zemo’s bedroom click open.
Careful not to break you from your reverie, he quietly sits himself in a chair against the wall, reopening his book. Out of the corner of his eye, he continues to watch. He observes the way the sculpt of your body twists with your movement, the subtle beading of sweat on your brow, the flush in your cheeks. Also apparent, is the slight awkwardness of your movements, jerking your elbow here and there, stumbling over your own feet.
“You are tripping all over yourself,“ he says to you without looking away from his book.
Your shoes squeak on the tile as you halt yourself, startled. “How long were you standing there?” You say, eyes narrowing.
He raises his eyebrows to you. “If my approach went unnoticed, you clearly need more help than I thought.”
Before this point, he had always treated you with undue cordiality and charm. But for things to go as planned, he would need to take a more… aggressive approach.
Your brow furrows. “I’m a little rusty, I admit it. But it’s not like I see you doing much hand-to-hand, either.”
He sets his book down, tilting his head at you. “Do you think I became the fighter I am relying on guns alone, dear? I trained for years in all forms of combat to lead EKO Scorpion, and trained all members of my squad, as well.”
You cross your arms. This interaction has gone on for far longer than you’d like.
He raises his hands, a feigned surrender. “It’s all right. I don’t think you would be able to understand the complexities of my training, anyways. I’ll leave you be.” He stands, book in hand.
Again, you take the bait. “Teach me,” you say, staring into his eyes with intensity.
He gives you a small smile, much like the one he had surreptitiously elicited after the “Bathrobe Incident”. “No, I don’t think I will.”
He turns to walk away, and is nearly to his door when he hears approaching footsteps, feels a hand grip the collar of his shirt, right over his shoulder.
“Teach me,” you repeat, balling his shirt in your fist.
He very slowly places his hand over yours, batting it away from his collar with a smirk. Then, he retreats into his room.
You huff to yourself, swatting your weapons with heightened frustration. How dare he make you beg for his so-called training? You were the one helping him, protecting him. He should be grateful to you for even giving him the light of day.
This time, you can’t stop yourself from swinging your head around upon hearing his door open. He had changed into a thin blue tee shirt and gray sweatpants. As during the Bathrobe Incident, you notice a thin gold chain hang from his neck. Your shock at seeing the normally-formal baron in athletic wear is only topped by the revelation that at his side, he holds a sheathed long sword.
“Guns are far more convenient in this day and age,” he says. “But the sword has always been my weapon of choice.”
He sees your eyes flicker to his torso, defined through his shirt, then back to his eyes. You swallow. “You’ll train with me, then?” You say, giving off a weak tone of disinterest.
He nods. “Be warned, I will not go easy on you.” He pulls the sword from the sheath and it glints in the light rays that trail in from the window.
You dig around in your bag, switching your practice sticks for durable metal versions. You forego the vibranium, not wanting to shatter what seems to be his family heirloom. “I wouldn’t want you to, anyways.”
The two of you circle the space, weapons bared. Then, before you can even formulate a plan, he lunges at you, slashing at you with deft accuracy. In reaction, you raise your escrima sticks in an X to block. You break the X, pushing his sword away to give you enough of an opening to swing both of your sticks at his torso. He twists his wrists with ease, aiming the sword vertically downward to block.
“You are too rigid,” he says, pushing against you with so much force you feel your shoes begin to slide across the floor.
“I’m open to any suggestions,” you reply, quickly retracting your weapons and twisting away from his momentum.
He pauses, taking a neutral stance. “To me, fighting is more like dancing. Do you ever dance?” The sour expression on your face answers his question. “Move with your opponent, rather than against them,” he explains.
Then, he charges at you again. Mirroring his movements, you step back, answering his gesture with a movement of your own. And so, the two of you create a conversation without words, the only sound the squeaking of your shoes and the clang of metal against metal. And though you weren’t one for dancing, you felt as though the two of you were entangled in a choreography both tense and fluid, graceful and hostile.
You were not the only one attacking with aggression. Zemo, too, let his anger show through his forceful slashes and stabs at you with his sword. Anger at you for treating him with such coldness. Such disrespect.
Then, you clamp his sword between your escrima sticks. You swing your arms, causing all of the weapons to fly across the room, clattering against the wall.
You are about to catch your breath when you feel Zemo’s hands take your neck into a chokehold, pushing you across the room. Your back hits the wall and your feet start to rise off of the ground as his grip lifts you into the air.
“Adapt,” he commands you.
You attempt to pry his fingers off of your neck to no avail. You feel your head start to cloud from your restricted airway. All you can see is Zemo’s deep brown eyes, his expression feral.
“You act so cold towards me,“ Zemo says, teeth gritted. “But I see through it. I’ve seen you watching me. I know exactly what you want,” he breathes into your ear.
Something within you shifts. Your enraged expression drops to a deadly calm. Then, you start to laugh.
“Oh, you are so cute,” you say, lips curled into a sinister smile. Though your laugh is sweet, there is venom in your gaze.
His shock loosens his grip around you. You twist your body, breaking his hold. Looping your arms through his, you sweep his legs, taking him down to the floor.
He stands quickly, and you begin barraging him with blows. He blocks them with deft technique, though you can see his resolve begin to crack. A dark spot forms on his sternum where sweat stains his shirt. A lock of hair falls from his combed style, falling across his forehead.
“You think you know me?” You say, tone biting.
He finds an opening, taking the offensive. “I know that I know you.”
You smirk. Again, he balks at the alien expression that has overtaken your face. “That’s why you’re so frustrated, then,” you lilt.
Predator has become prey. He takes the bait. “What do you mean?”
“You know what I want,” you say, gaze burning into his. You lean in, whispering in his ear. “But you’re not man enough to give it to me.”
You slam the heel of your palm into his torso, knocking the wind out of him. You sweep him to the ground.
Just at that moment, Sam and Bucky return from their outing to find you, straddling Helmut Zemo, your hands gripping his wrists into restraints. Both of you heave your chests in order to catch your breath, cheeks flushed. Your faces are mere inches apart.
Both of you turn simultaneously to see your teammates return. You quickly roll off of Zemo, standing and explaining the purpose of your closeness. Bucky and Sam smile at you, amused. They had never seen words jumble out of you in that way. It was almost as if you were embarrassed. The room is painted orange from the setting sun, and the two Avengers retreat to their rooms for the night; an inconclusive search.
All the while, Zemo lay on the ground, expression unreadable. You reach down to help him up.
“Sorry about all that,” you say. Your expression is neutral, but no longer so icy. “I don’t know what came over me,” you explain, averting your gaze. “Thank you for helping me, though. I feel much more prepared for our mission.”
He simply nods. You go to the kitchenette to pour yourself a glass of water. As you stand at the kitchen counter, you hear him step up behind you. He reaches with both arms to grip the counter on either side of you. The warmth from his body radiates onto you, You see his knuckles, white.
He then leans in, and speaks into your ear. His voice is as steady as you’ve ever heard it in a way that jolts your fight-or-flight response.
“Listen to me very carefully,” he first says. You nod, your gaze trained straight ahead.
The corner of his mouth curls upward. “It appears from what you’ve said I still have much to teach you,” he says. “I will be in my room for the night, should you want to continue to learn.” The edge in his tone sends prickles up your spine.
He then picks up his sword, sheathing it and leaving the room. Leaving you to decide whether or not to follow.
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