A/N And so begins Part 2 of the Buffy's New Job Series
Buffy was rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher in her apartment in DC and enjoying the beautiful sunny morning outside her window. All the curtains were drawn back and the apartment was flooded with the rays of the sun. For the first time in a long time, she was comfortable. Her financial situation was great. She had an awesome apartment to call home. She actually felt needed despite some of the odder missions she was sent on by her employer.
It had been two years since Nick Fury had stepped into her life and she'd joined the Avengers in the attack in New York. She was actually enjoying working for S.H.I.E.L.D. She and Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, were still partners. He had moved into the apartment across the hall, just like they'd been in New York City, but they spent more time in hers since his was full of books. He was still working on catching up on everything he'd missed while he'd been frozen. They spent most of their time watching movies and TV shows from the past 70 years and discussing historical events to the best of Buffy's abilities. She thought she sucked at it, but Steve assured her that he was learning a lot. The many trips to the museums of the Smithsonian helped immensely.
Steve had made friends with all of her friends and he and Xander were pretty close. Dawn had graduated with her doctorate from NYU and was now a doctor at a hospital in Chicago. Steve had attended the graduation ceremony with Buffy. Ever since, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, had been ribbing Buffy and Steve about their relationship. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, had even gotten in on the ribbing the few times Buffy had seen him. When Buffy had assured Tony that she and Steve were just friends, he tested that theory by trying to set her up on dates. Of course, he'd made sure they were bad dates and emphasized that she would've had more fun if it had been Steve on the date with her.
Buffy and Steve had managed to keep their relationship platonic, but she had to admit that there definitely was something more between them. They had yet to do anything about it, though. The first year had been spent working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and getting Steve acquainted with the modern world. In the last eight or so months, however, their physical contact had increased steadily. There had been a few almost-kisses and plenty of lingering hugs. When they sat on the couch and enjoyed watching TV shows or movies, they were always closer than just-friends should be. They stood closer in the elevator. He helped her with the dishes or the laundry, standing close enough to her to brush against her with his hand or arm or sometimes even his leg. They trained together a lot more, as well. They both seemed to find excuses just to be close to the other.
Before Buffy could think any more on the subject, her cell phone went off. It was Natasha saying she and Steve were needed for an extraction mission. Steve had gone running that morning like he did most mornings, and he wasn't back yet. She would have to go pick him up. Putting the last dish away, she started the dishwasher and grabbed the keys to her 2013 GT Mustang.
After three years of living and driving in DC, the traffic no longer bothered her. She made good time to the Smithsonian Mall where Steve liked to do his run around all the museums and monuments. Buffy loved to tease him that he felt comfortable around the museums because they contained artifacts as old as he was. Finally, she spotted him heading for the Capitol building and instructed her car to send him a text to meet her at the curb because they had a new mission. When she pulled up, Steve was talking to a handsome black man who had clearly been running as well.
She rolled down her window and took her sunglasses off. "Hey guys. Could one of you point me to the Smithsonian? I'm here to pick up a fossil."
"You're hilarious." Steve said, walking over to the car.
The handsome black man leaned down and peered in the car as Steve got in. "How you doing?" He said to Buffy with a bright smile.
"Hi." Buffy smiled back, putting her sunglasses back on.
"Can't run everywhere." Steve said to the man.
"No, you can't."
Buffy put the car in drive and pulled out. "Have a nice run?"
"Yeah." Steve said.
"I see you made a new friend."
"His name is Sam."
"Yeah." Steve turned in his seat to look at her. "You look nice." She looked down at her jeans and dark pink V-neck shirt dubiously. "How was your morning?"
"Well, I did the dishes that you said you were going to do last night after dinner."
"I fell asleep!"
"It's not my fault you worked me over at the gym yesterday."
"Munchkin." Steve shot back before laughing. He gently nudged her thigh with his hand. "I promise I'll make dinner when we get back from this mission and I'll clean up."
"I'm holding you to that."
"Any idea what the mission is?"
"All Nat said was it's an extraction."
Buffy and Natasha stood side by side in the back of the plane as they flew over the Indian Ocean. Steve stood behind Buffy suited up in his new uniform. Buffy was in her uniform as well. She'd actually come to like the suit. It had saved her a couple of times on some previous missions. She was still highly opposed to the mask, though. The weapons she'd chosen to bring with her this time were just her throwing knives and her scythe. They were going up against humans, so minimum damage was required. The scythe may have been overkill, but it was her signature weapon. It went everywhere with her.
Agent Rumlow was briefing them on the mission, using a large monitor to show them where they were headed. "Target is a mobile satellite launch platform, the Lemurian Star. They were sending up their last payload when pirates took them 93 minutes ago."
"Any demands?" Steve asked.
"Billion and a half."
"That's a lot of bank." Buffy said. "Why so much?"
"Because it's S.H.I.E.L.D.'s."
Buffy and Steve exchanged glances. "So it's not off course." He said. "It's trespassing."
"I'm sure they have a good reason." Natasha said.
Steve ignored her and looked at Buffy. "You know, I'm getting a little tired of being Fury's janitor." Buffy grunted her agreement.
"Would you guys relax? It's not that complicated."
"Uh huh." Buffy looked back at Rumlow. "How many pirates onboard?"
"25." Rumlow said. "Top mercs led by this guy." He brought up a picture of the pirate leader. "George Batroc. Ex-DGSE, Action Division. He's at the top of Interpol's Red Notice. Before the French demobilized him, he had 36 kill missions. This guy's got a rep for maximum casualties."
"Hostages?" Steve asked.
"Oh, mostly techs. One officer. Jasper Sitwell. They're in the galley."
"Sitwell?" Buffy asked. "What's he doing on a launch ship?"
Steve shrugged and sighed. "All right, Buffy, you and I are going to sweep the deck and find Batroc. Nat, you kill the engines and wait for instructions. Rumlow, you sweep aft, find the hostages, get them to the life-pods, get them out."
"Sounds like a plan. Let's move."
"S.T.R.I.K.E., you heard the Cap. Gear up." Rumlow ordered.
Buffy took the hair band that Natasha handed her and flipped her head upside down, tying her long blonde hair into a bun at the crown of her head. Steve stood next to her, but his voice sounded in her earpiece. "Secure channel seven."
"Seven secure." Natasha said. "Buff, you doing anything fun Saturday night?"
Buffy stood up straight, tightening the bun, and looked at Natasha. "I am not going to one of those weird dance clubs again."
"It wasn't that bad." Natasha chuckled at Buffy's glare and looked over at Steve. "What about you, Cap?"
"Well, all the guys from my barbershop quartet are dead, so, no, not really." Steve said.
"Coming up on the drop zone." The pilot said.
"I was only going to suggest that you two should try out this new little French restaurant that just opened in Alexandria." Natasha said as the back of the plane opened and Steve put on his helmet mask. "I'm sure you guys would like it."
Steve looked down at Buffy as she moved up to him. "I don't know." She said. "Maybe."
"I promised you dinner and dishes to make up for leaving them for you this morning." Steve said. "I can't do the dishes if we go out."
"True." Buffy smiled as Steve put his arm around her waist and dropped them out of the plane feet first.
It was a long way down to the water, but she and Steve were pretty resilient. Before hitting the water, they separated and made tight, straight lines out of their bodies. Buffy felt the cold of the water engulf her, but the heat barrier on her suit kicked in and she was back to normal body temperature as she swam to the surface and over to the boat's anchor chain.
Steve was already there waiting for her. Together they shimmied up the chain to the bow of the ship. Buffy took out the first guy that was walking the deck, knocking him unconscious, as Steve went over to take on the next guy. He made quick work of him and the two of them made their way around the bow. They came up on four more guys. Steve kicked the first one over the side of the boat while Buffy broke the nose of the second guy before knocking him out. She felt the barrel of the machine gun graze her shoulder, so she grabbed it and yanked, pulling that guy forward and giving him a swift head butt with the back of her head. He crumpled to the ground and she tossed the gun overboard. Steve was finishing up with the last guy and they took off again.
Along the side of the boat, he threw guards overboard or knocked them out. If there was more than one guard, they made sure they had each other's backs. Buffy noted that Steve's fighting style was a lot more smooth than when they'd first met. She'd been fighting longer than he had, weirdly enough, so over the last two years he'd trained with her. She was happy that she didn't have to go easy on him. That he could take the hits and give as good as he got.
When they got back to the stern of the ship and took out the guards there, the rest of the team was finally floating down onto the deck. Natasha landed and walked up to Buffy and Steve. "So you guys have a date Saturday night?"
"Well, I…." Steve started at the same time Buffy said, "I don't…." They avoided each other's eyes as they kept walking.
"You two are killing me!"
"Just secure the engine room, Nat." Buffy said. "Worry about our love life later."
"I'm multitasking." Natasha broke away and jumped over the railing.
"She's persistent." Steve said as they climbed towards the bridge of the ship.
"Like a dog with a bone." Buffy agreed. She pulled the small launcher out of her belt and loaded a microphone wad into it. Aiming it at the corner edge of one of the bridge's windows, she fired and hit her target.
A male voice came over their earpieces. "I hate waiting. Call Durand. I want this ship ready to move when the ransom comes."
Another voice said, "Start the engines."
Buffy moved back and joined Steve as they made their way to an easier position to get to the bridge from. "You know," Steve said. "It seems like everyone is talking about our love life more than we are."
"I noticed." Buffy said, crouching down to look around the corner into the bridge.
"Do you, uh…. Would you want to have a conversation…. About it…. When we get back?"
Buffy turned to look at Steve with wide eyes. "Uh…." She was shocked that he was actually asking her while they were on a mission.
"We don't have to…. I mean, if you're uncomfortable with it…. We don't have to."
"Targets acquired." One of the S.T.R.I.K.E. team members said over their earpieces.
"S.T.R.I.K.E. in position." Rumlow said.
"Were these things on the whole time?" Buffy growled, checking to see if her microphone was on.
"No. We're safe." Steve held up his arm. "Natasha, what's your status?" There was a long pause. "Status, Natasha."
"Hang on!" Natasha came back.
"Do you need some help?" Buffy asked playfully.
"Don't offend me." A few moments later, Natasha said, "Engine room secure."
"On my mark." Steve said into his mic. "Three, two, one." The sounds of breaking glass, gunshots, and a couple of small explosions sounded all around the ship. The two men on the bridge were trying to contact their men to no avail.
Steve gestured for Buffy to move up under the window. Once she was in place, he ran across the deck and threw his shield through the bridge window. Buffy jumped up and climbed through the window. Batroc was waiting and kicked Buffy in the solar plexus. Steve caught her as he was coming through the window, but she was light on her feet and already moving after Batroc.
Rumlow's voice sounded in their ears. "Hostages en route to extraction. Summers, Cap, Romanoff missed the rendezvous point. Hostiles are still in play."
Buffy sighed as she searched for Batroc. She heard Steve behind her saying, "Natasha, Batroc's on the move. Circle back to Rumlow and protect the hostages. Natasha?"
A sudden flash of movement out of the corner of her eye made her take a step back. Batroc had taken a flying kick at her, but missed. Buffy turned and kicked Batroc in the small of his back, sending him sprawling. He was spry, though, and rolled to his feet, attacking her again. Buffy waved Steve away as she took on the French pirate.
"You are quick…. for a girl." Batroc commented as he threw punches and kicks at Buffy.
"Oh, you shouldn't have said that." Steve said.
Buffy let loose with a series of punches that landed in multiple places all over Batroc's body. He didn't have time to get his defenses in place and she landed a number of them. One of them that hit his ribs gave a satisfying crunch. The shock of it made him drop his arms and Buffy kicked Batroc in the face. He went flying back across the open area of the dock.
"Nice." Steve commented.
Batroc managed to get to his feet, his nose bleeding and broken, and came at her again. He was obviously pissed that he was being beaten by a girl. "Come on, Frenchie." Buffy taunted. She easily dodged out of the way of his fists, but he managed to fake her out just once and got a boot to her jaw. She stood up straight, her hair falling out of the broken hair band, and wiped at the blood on her split lip. "Oh, now I'm really pissed." Buffy charged Batroc and shot her legs out in a flurry of kicks, knocking him down. When he stood back up and strode towards Buffy, Steve shot his arm out and his shield caught Batroc in the chest, sending him back a few steps. Buffy dove at the Frenchman, sending them both crashing through a door. She got up first and kicked him viciously in the face, knocking him out. "Jerk."
"You ok?" Steve asked behind her, walking up to check her jaw and gently wiping the blood off her lip with his thumb.
"Well, this is awkward." Natasha said from their left. She was standing at a computer bank working the keyboard.
"What are you doing?" Buffy asked.
"Backing up the hard drive. It's a good habit to get into."
"Rumlow needed your help." Steve said as he and Buffy walked over to Natasha. "What the hell are you doing here?" The large screen in front of them showed a transfer was in progress. "You're saving S.H.I.E.L.D. intel?"
"Whatever I can get my hands on."
"Our mission is to rescue hostages."
"No, that's your mission," Natasha took the thumb drive out of the computer. "And you two have done it beautifully."
Steve stopped her from walking out. "You just jeopardized this whole operation."
"I think that's overstating things."
A sound from behind them made them turn just in time to see Batroc stand up and run towards the door. He threw a grenade at them on his way out. Steve deflected the grenade, but it didn't leave the room. Natasha was already running for cover and Steve grabbed Buffy and dove them through the windows on the other side of the computer banks as the grenade went off.
Natasha came through the door and looked at Buffy and Steve getting up off the floor. "Ok. That one's on me."
"So is the haircut you owe me now." Buffy said, poking at the singed ends of her hair.
Back in DC at the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s headquarters, Buffy followed Steve into Fury's office. As soon as they had landed, he'd headed straight for Nick Fury. He hadn't spoken to Natasha the whole way back. Buffy was just as annoyed as Steve was about the whole separate mission, but it didn't surprise her.
"You just can't stop yourself from lying, can you?" Steve demanded.
"I didn't lie." Fury said, not getting up from his desk. "Agent Romanoff had a different mission than yours."
"Which you didn't feel obliged to share."
"I'm not obliged to do anything." Nick glanced at Buffy. "Well, I may be obliged to get that fixed." He gestured at her hair. She'd lost about an inch to the explosion and it was all uneven. Buffy groaned, grabbing a pen off his desk and using it to secure her singed hair up into a twist. "Those hostages could've died, Nick."
"I sent the greatest soldier in history with his partner, the infamous Slayer, to make sure that didn't happen."
"Soldiers trust each other. That's what makes it an army. Not a bunch of guys running around shooting guns."
"Last time I trusted someone, I lost an eye."
"Coulda been worse." Buffy said, sitting on the edge of Fury's desk and picking up a letter opener, toying with it.
Fury sighed. "Look, I didn't want either of you doing anything you weren't comfortable with. Agent Romanoff is comfortable with everything."
"We can't lead a mission when the people we're leading have missions of their own." Steve insisted.
"It's called compartmentalization. Nobody spills the secrets because nobody knows them all."
"Except you." Buffy said, still toying with the letter opener.
Fury knew a threat when he heard one. He'd learned that the petite blonde sitting on his desk didn't make them lightly. And she was deadly enough to kill him before he even realized she'd moved. "You two are wrong about me. I do share. I'm nice like that."
"Prove it." Buffy set the letter opened back down and stood up, leveling her stare at Fury.
Fury sighed and gestured for them to follow. He led them to the glass elevator and they stepped on. "Insight Bay."
"Captain Rogers and the Slayer do not have clearance for Project Insight." The elevator announced.
"Director override. Fury, Nicholas J."
"Confirmed." The elevator doors closed and they began to descend.
"You know, they used to play music." Steve said.
"So I'm told." Buffy said.
"My grandfather operated one of these things for 40 years." Fury said. "Granddad worked in a nice building. Got good tips. He'd walk home every night, a roll of ones stuffed in his lunch bag. He'd say 'hi'. People would say 'hi' back. Time went on, the neighborhood got rougher. He'd say 'hi'. They'd say 'keep on steppin'. Granddad got to gripping that lunch bag a little tighter."
"Did he ever get mugged?" Steve asked.
Fury chuckled. "Every week some punk would ask 'what's in the bag?'"
"What would he do?" Buffy asked.
"He'd show them. A bunch of crumpled ones, and a loaded .22 Magnum." The elevator passed a large concrete wall and opened up in a massive space deep below ground. "Yeah, Granddad loved people. But he didn't trust them very much."
Buffy's eyes widened at the scene in front of the elevator. "What the…." Steve turned around and his eyes widened too.
"Yeah, I know. They're a little bit bigger than a .22." There were three massive helicarriers being built below the Potomac River. These differed from the first one they'd been on. These had massive guns pointed in all directions. Fury led them out onto the floor in front of one of the helicarriers. "This is Project Insight. Three next generation helicarriers synced to a network of targeting satellites."
"Launched from the Lemurian Star." Steve said.
"Once we get them in the air, they never need to come down. Continuous sub-orbital flight, courtesy of our new repulsor engines."
"Tony Stark?" Buffy asked.
"He had a few suggestions once he got an up close look at our old turbines." He gestured up at the array of guns underneath the helicarrier as they made their way up to a moving platform. "These new long-range precision guns can eliminate 1,000 hostiles a minute. The satellites can read a terrorist's DNA before he steps outside his spider hole. We're going to neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen."
"Thought the punishment usually came after the crime." Steve said.
"We can't afford to wait that long."
Buffy caught that. "Who's 'we'?" She asked.
"After New York, I convinced the World Security Council we needed a quantum surge in threat analysis. For once, we're way ahead of the curve."
"By holding a gun to everyone on earth and calling it protection." Steve said.
"You know, I read those SSR files. 'Greatest Generation'? You guys did some nasty stuff."
"Yeah, we compromised. Sometimes in ways that made us not sleep so well. But we did it so that people could be free. This isn't freedom. Its fear."
"S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the world for what it is, not as we'd like it to be. And it's getting damn near past time for you to get with that program, Cap. You too, Miss Summers."
"That's a nice way of thinking, Fury." Buffy said. "All this time I've been fighting for the wrong reasons. All those times I put my life on the line to save the world and the couple of times I actually died in the process…. According to your sentimentality…. Don't mean a damn thing." She patted Fury's chest. "Thanks for clearing that up for me." Turning on her heel, she walked out.
"Where are you going?" Fury asked her.
"To get a haircut!"