A/N So I started writing this a while ago and have been picking at it over and over. I finally got tired of picking and decided to post it. It's gotten a good reception over at , so I thought I'd give it a go on my favorite fanfic site. Let me know what you think of it.
Buffy sat in the interrogation room and looked around, checking out the handcuffs holding her to the metal table in front of her. They could easily be broken, but she was curious about her captors. She'd come to New York City to visit Dawn before she went to Chicago and to deal with some end-of-the-world type deal going down that Giles had informed her about. She'd hunted down the Hytarga demons causing the hoopla as soon as she'd landed in the city. Just as she was about to take them down, some commando types showed up and interrupted her. They'd shot up the demons and taken Buffy in for questioning. Obviously they weren't normal commandos, but they weren't Initiative people either. That program had been shut down and absorbed. Maybe this was the agency that the Initiative had been absorbed into.
The door opened and a tall, dark, bald man with an eye patch and scars walked in carrying a file. He was dressed all in black and leather. It would've been intimidating if Buffy hadn't already been there done that. The two of them sized each other up as Eyepatch shut the door and dropped the file on the desk.
"Buffy Anne Summers."
"Eyepatch." Buffy shot back.
He turned with a raised eyebrow. "Sorry about the handcuffs. Your reputation precedes you."
"Demon killer or menace to society? Government agencies have me listed as both."
Eyepatch sat down and opened the file. "You've got quite the record."
Buffy shrugged. "If you say so. Look, if you're going to charge me with something, then please get to it. Otherwise, let me out of these cuffs." To her surprise, Eyepatch produced a key and undid the cuffs.
"We're not here to charge you with anything, Miss Summers. We've been looking for you for a long time. You're a very hard person to pin down."
"There's a reason for that. Why am I here?"
"I think you would make a good addition to S.H.I.E.L.D."
"Shield? What the hell is that?"
"The Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division." Buffy just blinked at Eyepatch. "That's why it was shortened."
"And you think I would be a good addition…. Why? The last government controlled 'division' I dealt with tried to have me killed. More than once."
"The Initiative. We know all about that. Some of those soldiers were joined up with our agency when it was officially shut down. In fact, your ex-boyfriend is the one that recommended you to S.H.I.E.L.D."
"Agent Finn, yes."
"Why would he recommend me? He knows I don't play well with others. And I don't take orders."
"He mentioned that as well. You wouldn't be part of his section, though. You're more qualified for our…. Special abilities task force."
"'Special abilities task force'?"
"It used to be called the Avengers Initiative. It got shut down a while back, but I'm looking to bring it back."
"Uh huh…. So you're looking to recruit more like me, then?"
"Last I checked, there are no more like you."
"When did you last check?" Eyepatch didn't answer and Buffy sighed. "Like I said, I don't take orders. So, if you'll just point me in the direction of the exit…."
"I can offer you a steady income. Your very own apartment right here in the city. You won't have to take orders."
"What's the catch?"
"The catch is, we may need to send you on missions to save the world…. A lot. Consider it the same thing you've been doing, but with a paycheck."
"You seem to know everything there is to know about me, but I don't even know who you are."
"I'm S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury."
Buffy stared him down for a long moment. "I want to know: Why me?"
"Because you're one of the best."
"Does this have anything to do with wanting to control my Slayers?"
"Nope. I don't want them. I want you."
"Can I think about it?"
"Why don't you think about it in your apartment?" Fury produced a set of keys and tossed them to Buffy, testing her reflexes. She caught them without even looking at them. He nodded. Fury set down a large envelope. "This is your debriefing packet. It's all the information on the others in the Avengers Initiative and everything you need to know about the first mission I'd like to send you on."
"Consider it a test a run." Fury stood up. "I look forward to hearing from you, Miss Summers." He walked out and Buffy sighed.
The door opened again a minute later and a medium height balding man walked in. "Hi." He said, grinning at her.
"Who are you?" Buffy asked.
"Agent Phil Coulson."
"Uh huh…. And why are you grinning at me?"
"I'm a big fan." He gestured for her to follow him. Buffy picked up the envelope and followed him into a hallway. "I was hoping to be the one to come recruit you, but Director Fury thought it best if he handled it personally."
Buffy shook her head. "Are you part of this team he wants me for?"
"No, no. I don't have any special abilities. I'm just here to assist."
"You're going to like your apartment. It's next to Steve Rogers' apartment."
Buffy stopped walking and looked at Coulson. "That World War Two soldier that got frozen in the 40s and thawed out a few months ago?"
"The very one. He's part of the team. Or rather, he will be once Director Fury speaks with him. That's where he was headed. To meet the Cap at the gym."
In the large SUV on the way to the apartment building, Buffy sat in the passenger's seat going through the files. Tony Stark, the eccentric billionaire who was also known as Iron Man, was in the files. That would excite Willow and Xander. There was also a scientist named Bruce Banner who turned into the Jolly Green Giant. The last file was on something called a Tesseract that had been stolen by a guy named Loki. Her first assignment, should she choose to accept it, would be to go after Loki with Captain America and get the Tesseract back.
"Tell me, Coulson," Buffy said. "Cause you seem to be like a trustworthy kind of guy."
"What do you think I should do?"
"Personally, I would love to be asked to be a part of the Avengers Initiative." Buffy gave Coulson a hard look. "Agent Finn believes in you. He speaks very highly of you. Director Fury wouldn't ask you if he thought you couldn't handle it. There are very few people that he's sought out for this program. I think you should accept. You could do a lot of good." Coulson pulled the SUV over. "We're here." Buffy looked out at the building. It was tall, probably about 15 stories, and in a nice neighborhood near the new Stark Tower. They got out and she followed him to the elevator and up to the tenth story. "That's the Cap's apartment." Coulson gestured to the door at the end of the hall before opening the door directly across from it. "This is yours."
When he turned on the lights, Buffy nodded her approval. "Pretty."
The place was decorated in light colored neutrals with dark colored accents. The living room furniture looked fluffy and comfy. The kitchen was big enough for two people to move comfortably around. The bedroom was done in white, black, and crimson. The bed was king sized and sunk gently under her hand when she pressed on it. The master bathroom was once the second bedroom from the size of it. It had a large jetted soaker tub and a standing shower with a rain shower head and six body jets.
"This place is nice." She said.
"All of it's yours if you accept the offer to join us. I will tell you, the benefits package is the best you'll find."
"I'll remember that."
Coulson tossed her a cell phone. "When you make your decision, just hit 1. Have a nice night." He gave her one last grin and closed the front door behind him.
Buffy looked at the phone for a moment and then headed over to the window. There was a fire escape outside that could be used as a balcony. She grabbed the envelope full of folders and stepped outside, climbing the stairs for the roof. She walked to her right and sat down on the edge of the roof overlooking the city. With a sigh, she started flipping through the mission file. If she accepted, then she would be joining the Captain in retrieving the Tesseract and arresting Loki. Loki was apparently a demigod. Buffy nodded. So that's why she'd been chosen. She'd fought a god before and won. They were hoping she would do it again.
"Oh, sorry." A voice said behind her. "I didn't know anyone else ever came up here."
Buffy turned to see Steve Rogers standing on the ledge to her left, across from where she'd come up. He was a lot bigger in person and even more handsome. "I like having a view to think to sometimes." She said to him.
"I'll leave you to it, then."
"It's ok. You might as well join me, Steve."
His face darkened. "How do you know my name?"
"Besides the fact that you're pretty famous? You know, being Captain America and all." She held up the file on him. "I got kidnapped tonight, offered a job, given a swanky new apartment, and…. If I choose to accept it…. A mission to go with you to retrieve this Tesseract thingy from Loki."
Steve hopped off the ledge and walked across the roof towards her. "Who are you?"
Buffy turned and hopped off the ledge. "Buffy Summers." She held up the phone. "And if I hit 1 on this cell phone, then I'm the newest member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and your partner."
Steve looked her up and down. "No offense, ma'am, but you don't look like you could hurt a fly."
"I only take offense to the ma'am thing. Makes me feel old."
"I'm sorry for offending you."
"Manners. Refreshing. Thank you. And just for the record, I'm a lot stronger than I look." Buffy noticed Steve had a file too and gestured to it. "Come up here for the same reason I did?"
Steve nodded. "It gets stuffy in my apartment after a while and I like the view up here."
Buffy turned and headed back to her perch. She moved her legs over the edge and leaned back slightly for balance. A moment later, Steve joined her. He took a deep breath as he looked out over the city. Stark Tower loomed over them and they both stared at it. "It's a bit gaudy, isn't it?" She asked, gesturing at the tower.
"A bit, yes." Steve looked over at her. "You said you were kidnapped tonight?"
Buffy nodded. "I was taking down a couple of Hytarga demons that were trying to break into the Natural History Museum. They needed some crystal for some ritual to try and end the world." She shrugged. "I stopped listening when Giles got all rambly."
"He's my Watcher…. Mentor. Well, not anymore. Mostly he's just my friend now who sometimes gives me orders. Not that I always listen to them…." She shook her head. "Anyway…. So, I was just about to snap the neck on the first demon when these commando creeps came out of the woodwork. They shot the demons and came after me. Next thing I know, I'm being handcuffed, tossed in an SUV, and driven to some headquarters where this guy with an eyepatch is telling me that my ex-boyfriend recommended me and they've been trying to locate me for a while to bring me on their team."
"They handcuffed you?"
"Well…. I did kind of take out six of their guys." Steve gave her a shocked expression and she shrugged. "I don't take it well when guns are pointed at me."
That elicited a small smile from Steve. "I don't either."
Buffy looked down at his file sitting on his lap. "Wanna trade?"
"Files. Wanna trade? I'll show you mine if you show me yours?"
"I haven't looked it over."
"I'm not sure I want to accept this mission."
Buffy nodded. "You know what's sad?" Steve looked at her expectantly. "I don't think we have much of a choice." She held up her envelope. "This Tesseract thing sounds bad and in the hands of this Loki guy? It sounds like it's even worse."
"The Tesseract should never have been pulled from the ocean. It should've stayed hidden."
Buffy nodded. "That's what I thought." She looked him up and down. "My friend Xander is a big fan of yours. He made me read the comics and I actually paid attention in history class when they mentioned you. And from what I know, you don't strike me as the type of person who can just sit by and watch the world be destroyed by the bad guys. I think you're like me. I think we're the type of people who get in there and fight to save the world even when we don't want to…. Because it's the right thing to do. And I think that's why this Fury guy wants to make us partners in this." Steve was staring at her with an unreadable expression. Many different emotions flashed through his eyes. "Well, Steve…. Can I call you Steve or do you prefer Captain? "
That elicited another small smile from him. "Steve is fine."
"Well, Steve, at least we won't be in this alone." Buffy looked out at the night sky. "I usually am in these kinds of deals."
Steve was silent for a long time, staring at her out of the corner of his eyes. Finally he looked at her full on. "Who are you, Buffy Summers?"
Buffy hit one on the cell phone. "Happy to have you on board." Agent Coulson said on the other line. "There will be a car waiting to pick you and the Captain up tomorrow morning. I look forward to working with you."
Coulson hung up and Buffy looked over at Steve. "I'm your partner, Steve Rogers." She smiled at him.
Steve looked down at his envelope. "Wanna trade?"
Buffy sat next to Steve on the plane as they flew over the Atlantic Ocean. They were both looking at a tablet with the same information that had been contained in their packets. Agent Coulson was across from them talking to someone on his headphones. Steve and Buffy had spent most of the night on the roof talking about their past experiences and trading stories. Steve didn't have any friends. He was quite lonely separated by time from the people he'd cared about almost 70 years ago.
Finding Buffy could actually relate to him and have some kind of empathy for his situation, it had really brought him out of his shell a bit. She was also incredibly easy to talk to. Most women that he'd talked with these days started out mooning over him and he didn't really know how to respond to them. For him, it was only a few months ago that he was telling Peggy to reschedule their date. Now this new world he was living in was throwing him off at every turn. Buffy had said something to him on that that had really stuck with him. It was also a flash of the wisdom beyond her years that she possessed that made him really like her.
"Funny thing about time? It doesn't mean much when you're dead, but it sure is a crazy mistress when you're alive."
Coulson stood up and walked over to Buffy and Steve. "So, this Doctor Banner was trying to replicate the serum they used on me?" Steve asked him.
"A lot of people were." Coulson said. "You were the world's first superhero." Buffy cleared her throat and Coulson nodded. "Ok, the first known superhero. Banner thought gamma radiation might hold the key to unlocking Erskine's original formula."
"Didn't really go his way, did it?"
"Not so much. When he's not that thing, though, the guy's like a Steven Hawking." Steve gave Coulson a blank look.
"He's a super genius." Buffy translated.
"Oh." Steve said, nodding gratefully at Buffy. She was a good translator for modern references he didn't understand.
"I gotta say…." Coulson started. "It's an honor to meet you officially. I've sort of met you. I mean, I watched you while you were sleeping."
"That's not at all creepy." Buffy said with an amused grin on her face.
"I mean…. I was present while you were unconscious from the ice." Steve glanced at Buffy and returned her amused grin as he stood up and walked over to look out the window. "You know, it's really just a huge honor to have you on board this…." Coulson turned and looked at Buffy. "To have both of you on board this team."
"I hope we're the right ones for the job." Steve said. He looked at Buffy. "If you don't mind me speaking for the both of us."
"There's that polite thing again." Buffy said. "That's going to take some getting used to."
"So, we made some modifications to the uniform." Coulson said to Steve. "I had a little design input."
"The uniform?" Steve asked. "Aren't the stars and stripes a little old-fashioned?"
"With everything that's happening and the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned." Coulson turned to Buffy. "We've also come up with a uniform for you."
Buffy's eyes narrowed for a moment before she started laughing. "I'm sorry…. I thought you said that you've got a uniform for me."
"Yeah…." Buffy stood up and moved towards Coulson. He backed up a step and bumped into the pilot's seat. Steve snickered and looked away. He found it funny that someone so tiny could actually be so intimidating. "I don't do uniforms. The last uniform I wore was when I worked at the Doublemeat Palace and I still have nightmares that I smell like the inside of a 400 pound man's stomach."
"I think you'll like this one."
"Wanna bet money on that?"
"You're on." Buffy shook Coulson's hand and looked out the window. "Whoa."
"I second that." Steve said, looking out the window at the massive aircraft carrier floating on the ocean.
"What is that thing?"
"It's called a Helicarrier." Coulson said. "It's our HQ in the sky."
The plane came in for a smooth landing like a helicopter and the back opened. Coulson led Buffy and Steve to the exit. "Stow the Captain and the Slayer's gear." He said to the men coming to meet them. A woman a little taller than Buffy with medium length red hair walked up to them. Buffy recognized her as Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow. "Agent Romanoff, Captain Rogers and Buffy Summers."
"Ma'am." Steve said.
"Hi." Natasha said. She looked at Coulson. "They need you on the bridge. They're starting the face trace."
"See you there." Coulson nodded at Buffy and Steve and headed off.
Natasha looked Buffy up and down. "What?" Buffy asked.
"You're shorter than I expected."
"I get that a lot."
"It's nice to finally meet you. I love your work. That business with the Immortal in Italy was impressive."
Buffy shrugged. "He pissed me off."
Natasha smiled slightly. "I think you and I are going to get along." She looked up at Steve as they started to head in the same direction that Coulson had. "It was quite the buzz around here, finding you in the ice. I thought Coulson was gonna swoon. Did he ask you to sign his Captain America trading cards yet?"
"Trading cards?" Steve asked.
"They're vintage. He's very proud."
Up ahead was a man that Buffy recognized as Bruce Banner. He was the one that turned into the giant green rage monster. "Dr. Banner." Steve called.
Bruce turned around and walked over to them. "Yeah, hi." He shook both Buffy's and Steve's hands in turn. "They told me you would be coming."
"Word is that you can find the cube."
"Is that the only word on me?"
"The only word I care about."
Bruce looked at Buffy curiously. "You're very…. Small."
Buffy smiled. "It's from my mother's side. They're not very tall. My little sister got the tall genes. She takes after my dad's side of the family."
Bruce chuckled slightly. "I meant…. Well, I thought you'd be bigger from the stories I've heard."
"I should start collecting money every time someone says that."
Bruce looked at Steve. "It must be strange for you…. All of this."
"Well, this is actually kind of familiar." Steve said, watching a group of troops run by in formation.
"Gentleman and Miss Summers, you might want to step inside in a minute." Natasha said. "It's going to get a little hard to breathe."
A voice over the intercom announced for the flight crew to secure the deck. Below them, the deck started to shudder and a loud mechanical noise mixed with churning water sounded from over the sides of the deck. "Is this a submarine?" Bruce asked. "Really? They want me in a pressurized, submerged, metal container?"
Buffy and Steve led the way to the edge of the deck and looked over. From out of the water, giant turbines appeared. They were spinning at full force and the entire ship started to lift off. The force of the wind from the turbines hit them and Buffy was pushed backwards a few feet. Steve had to grab her arm to keep her from falling, laughing slightly at her. She gave him a dirty look and he quit laughing.
"No, no…. This is much worse." Bruce said.
"So, which way was that bridge?" Buffy asked, holding onto Steve's arm.
"Follow me." Natasha said. Bruce, Buffy, and Steve turned away from the turbine. They made their way through the maze inside until finally they walked through a set of doors into a large room that was half window. There were workstations everywhere below them a half level down. People in blue suits were working at every workstation and some were walking around and supervising. Steve walked over to the railing and looked around the place appreciatively. Bruce made his way to the back of the room where a large circular door was being guarded by two men. Director Fury was standing on a platform overlooking everything. His hands were occupied with the screens around him. Behind Fury was a large round table. Buffy decided to make her way over to it and leaned against it, crossing her arms.
After Fury made sure the shields were up, he turned around to the table. Bruce and Steve had made their way over as well. "Gentleman." Fury looked at Buffy. "And lady." Steve walked over to him and handed him a $10 bill before walking over to the screen Fury had been messing with. Fury shook his head and walked over to Bruce. "Doctor, thank you for coming."
"Thanks for asking nicely." Bruce said. "So, how long am I staying?"
"Once we get our hands on the Tesseract, you're in the wind."
"Where are you with that?" Bruce walked over to where Coulson was standing.
"We're sweeping every wirelessly accessible camera on the planet." Coulson said. "Cell phones, laptops…. If it's connected to a satellite, it's eyes and ears for us."
"That's still not going to find them on time." Natasha said from a little ways away where she was looking at a workstation screen.
"You have to narrow your field." Bruce said. "How many spectrometers do you have access to?"
"How many are there?" Fury asked.
"Call every lab you know. Tell them to put the spectrometers on the roof and calibrate them for gamma rays. I'll rough out a tracking algorithm, basic cluster recognition. At least we could rule out a few places. Do you have somewhere for me to work?"
Fury nodded. "Agent Romanoff, could you show Dr. Banner to his laboratory please?"
Natasha walked over. "You're gonna love it, Doc. We got all the toys."
Fury walked back over to Buffy and mimicked her stance, leaning against the table. "Glad to have you on board, Miss Summers."
"Well, Coulson said the benefits were the best." Buffy said. "Can't turn down good health insurance in my line of work."
Fury chuckled. "I suppose not. What do you think of our little operation?"
"It's a little over my head. I'm used to being pointed in the direction of the bad guy and handed a weapon."
"That time will come." Steve joined them and leaned against the table on Buffy's other side. "How are you two getting along?"
"I look forward to seeing what we can do in the field." Steve said. He hooked his thumb at Buffy. "This one has a bragging problem."
"She's got a right to brag. The world owes her a serious debt of gratitude for how many times she's saved it." Fury said.
Coulson walked up and motioned over to one of the workstations near the front of the room close to the massive window. "You've got a friend on board that I think has been dying to see you."
Buffy looked over and spotted Riley looking their way. He smiled and gave a little wave. She glanced at the men before walking across the room. "Riley!" He scooped her up into a hug.
"How you doing, Buffy?" Riley asked.
"Oh, I've upgraded jobs, I think."
"Pretty neat stuff, huh?"
"When did you join S.H.I.E.L.D.?"
"About six years ago. The Initiative became obsolete when you made all of those Slayers. There's not as many demons or vampires to kill. So we got absorbed back into the government, but a few of us ended up being recruited to S.H.I.E.L.D. It's a great job. We're doing a lot of good."
"Fury says that you recommended me."
"They knew about you already. You've got a pretty big file thanks to the Initiative. When they realized our connection, they asked me about you."
"How long have they been trying to track me down?"
"About three years. Every time they got close, you'd give them the slip. Why do you have doppelgängers?"
"Xander's idea. I've made a lot of enemies since Sunnydale."
Riley glanced up at Steve Rogers. "So, they paired you with Captain America? What's he like?"
Buffy glanced back at Steve and he smiled at her. She gave him a little wave and turned back to Riley. "He's sweet. Very old-fashioned, but that's to be expected. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do out there. Xander is going to go all fanboy when he finds out."
"How is everyone?"
"They're good. Dawn's working on getting a medical degree. Willow runs the magic division of the new Watcher's Council. Giles is the head of it. Xander is the head of training and dispatch."
"And what about you?"
"Technically my title is Head Slayer, but I'm really just a consultant." She walked over to the edge of the window and looked out. "I'm not really needed anymore."
"I'm sure that's not true."
"Everyone's got their place in the world. And me…. I'm not special anymore. There's hundreds of mes out there."
Riley laughed. "Buffy, there's only one of you. S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't want Faith. They didn't want any of the other Slayers you made. They wanted you. You've got the experience and the training and you're the best there is."
Buffy let that sink in for a moment. She decided to change the subject. "I would've thought you'd be on a task force or something. What are you doing behind a computer?"
"That was Sam's doing."
"How is Sam?"
"She's great. She's at home with the kids."
She turned and looked up at Riley with wide eyes. "Kids?"
Riley smiled and walked over to his workstation. He grabbed a small picture frame and showed it to Buffy. "That's Kailey. She's five. And that's Chris. He's two. We're talking about having a third when Chris turns three. They're the reason I'm not on a task force. Working intelligence is a lot less deadly."
Buffy nodded and handed him back the frame. "They're beautiful, Riley. I'm happy for you."
"Agent Finn." A man near Riley's workstation called.
Riley gave Buffy an apologetic shrug. "I'll see you around?"
"Of course." Riley returned to work and Buffy walked over to where Coulson was talking with Steve.
"I mean, if it's not too much trouble." Coulson was saying.
"No, no." Steve said. "It's fine."
"It's a vintage set. It took me a couple of years to collect them all. Near mint. Slight foxing around the edges, but…."
"Hey, Buffy." Steve said, seeing her walk up. "Is everything ok?" It was obvious he was ready to escape Coulson's conversation.
"Oh, uh…. yeah. Great."
"Friend of yours?" Steve gestured at Riley.
"Sort of. He's my ex."
"Did he upset you?"
"No. It was actually nice seeing him."
"You seem a little down, though."
Buffy sighed. "Well, a little…. Yeah."
"I don't mean to pry."
"It's ok." She watched Riley for a moment before turning away and walking over to the table. Sliding up onto it, she let her legs dangle. Steve leaned against the table next to her. "He has kids now." She finally said. "With a wife that is really great."
Buffy shook her head. "That's not what makes me sad." Steve was obviously a bit confused. "The first man I ever loved…. He was a vampire with a soul…. Long story…. He left me so I could have a shot at a normal life. So, I gave it the old college try with Riley over there, but I completely blew it because I'm not normal. He spent a lot of time trying to keep up with me and it nearly destroyed him. It took me a long time after he left and going through a really dark time to finally accept the fact that I will never be normal. But every now and then…. Like seeing my ex with a life we might've had if I wasn't me…. It makes me sad that I will never have a normal life."
Steve looked down at her and Buffy got the feeling that he knew exactly what she was talking about. Before he could say anything, one of the workstation people said, "We got a hit. A 67% match. Wait. Cross match, 79%."
Coulson walked over to the workstation. "Location?"
"Stuttgart, Germany. 28 Konigstrasse. He's not exactly hiding."
"Captain, Miss Summers." Fury said. Steve and Buffy turned to look at him. "You two are up."
"Let's get you two suited up." Coulson said."Coulson…." Buffy started as he walked out. "I like you. I do, but if the uniform makes me look like one of those crazies at a comic book convention, I'm gonna throw you out of a plane with no parachute."