He Without Sin

Steve's Chapter

It was a few hours before dawn when Steve decided to leave his apartment for his morning run. He was always an early riser, partially military conditioning and partially natural inclination. Steve was a morning person. What he was slowly finding more and more, to his delight, was that his neighbor, Sharon Carter, was an early riser as well. He didn't always come across her when he left for his morning runs, but he was always happy when he did. He had fallen into something of a solitary life, spending most of his time on missions for Shield or fighting with the Avengers, but not much interacting with them otherwise. It left him little time for socializing.

This was one of his lucky days. When he left his apartment Sharon was at her door, fiddling with her keys. "Hey, good morning!" He called to her.

She started a moment when she looked up to him. "Oh, Steve. I didn't realize... it's that time already, is it?"

"Are you just getting in?" He asked. "I didn't think you were the type to stay out all night."

She laughed. "Oh, it's nothing like what you're thinking. I travel a lot. I just got back from visiting a friend of mine and I caught a late flight."

"Oh?" He frowned a moment. "Where are your bags?"

She lifted a small shoulder bag and held it out in reply. "I've learned to travel light. My friend..." She shook her head in a fond exasperation. "Whenever we visit him, he always insist he pay for whatever we need. He has a really big house and he keeps rooms made up for us. He's... impossible, but generous." She laughed a little.

"You said we," He pointed out.

"Oh, it's usually the three of us. Not always, but as often as possible." She smiled again. "Hey, if you can hold off on your run a few minutes, I'd like to join you. Just give me some time to change."

"Sure."

She didn't keep him waiting long and a few minutes later, the two of them set off. He mostly kept a steady pace, not trying to outrun her, but she subtly sped up every so often until they were at a full run. She kept a few steps behind him, but her pace was steady and after a few laps they were both catching their breath. "Geez, I didn't think you would give such a work out." She told him with a tired smile.

"You asked for it," He replied with a return smile. "You kept up really well, though."

"Yeah, well, I thought that I was in good shape," she said, playfully knocking her shoulder against his, "Until somebody decided to put me through the ringer."

"You did really well!" He insisted.

"Don't think I don't know that you were holding back on me."

"Not as much as you think."

They shared a mutual smile a moment before the sound of an explosion could be heard nearby. They both stood up straighter, looking in the direction of the attack.

"Duty calls," He said to her.

She nodded at him. "Be careful, Captain."


Over the last few months there had been an increasing number of attacks by someone named Dr. Doom. Steve was getting sick of it. But what was really bothering him was Stark during and after the battles. This man wasn't a soldier and Steve understood that, but he didn't even act professional! It was starting to really irk him. Then again, Steve got the impression that Stark had that impact on everyone, and that he liked it.

"I'm just saying," Stark repeated as they all sat down in the meeting room on the Helicarrier. "It's starting to get really suspicious. I mean, it was strange that no one was really hurt the first couple times, but people are starting to say they were told to evacuate. And if it isn't you guys--"

"It's not, Stark." Fury snapped.

"--then it's really weird."

Fury just let out an exasperated breath. "Don't you think we know that already, Stark?"

"Yeah, but you don't seem to be doing anything about it," Stark concluded.

Steve decided to interject. "Look, Stark, I'm sure their looking into it."

"Of course you are." And something Stark's tone prickled at him.

"What's that suppose to mean?" Steve asked.

Stark just shrugged. "You're a soldier. You listen to what they tell you and follow orders like a good minion, but you don't ask questions. It doesn't surprise me that you aren't interested in finding out what's wrong here."

"Nothing is wrong here!" Steve yelled. "Any day that people aren't killed is a good day to me and whatever's keeping them alive is a good thing. What, are you trying to stop it?"

"No, but don't you want to know why?" Stark threw back. "Why Doom keeps attacking? Why no one is getting injured? Hell, why he's so focused on us? If anyone else even attempts to enter the fight, the damn things just ignore them until we show up! Doesn't that concern you at all?"

"Of course it does, but I'm sure it concerns Shield just as much!"

"Does it?" Stark turned back toward Director Fury when he asked this.

Fury was silent a moment. Natasha was peering at him from his right and Barton was quiet in his seat, watching them all. Banner was absent. He only got involved in the heavier situations. After a look at all of them, Fury answered. "Surveillance has whoever is doing the evacuations as NYPD, but facial scans haven't gotten any hits from registered officers and it's never the same face twice."

"So what does that mean?" Steve asked, calmer.

"Put simply, we don't know," Natasha answered. "We're still looking into it."

"Of course," Stark muttered.

:Look, Stark, we're doing what we can. If you have a problem with it, feel free to look into it yourself and do a better job." Fury growled.

Stark was silent at that. They all knew he'd been doing just that and hadn't come up with anything more than the rest of them.

"If there isn't anything else," Fury said and they were dismissed shortly after that.


Steve lingered in the meeting room a bit before leaving. Stark was having what looked to be a very reluctant conversation with Hawkeye and it occurred to him that he really hadn't talked to the man outside of missions. Really, he hadn't even seen the archer outside of missions at all, not even at these meetings. This was the first time he'd made an appearance. It made his mind wander to Stark's inquiries about the agents that Loki had taken control of those months ago.

"Hey. Everything okay?" Natasha questioned beside him.

"Yeah. Just thinking," He answered absently. "There are lot of questions that don't seem to have answers."

"Shield is looking into it," She reminded him.

"I know," Steve replied. "Doesn't stop me from thinking about it, though." He turned to face her fully then. "Hey, um... you and Agent Barton are close, right?" She didn't answer, just raised an eyebrow at him. "I just wondered... if he was doing okay?"

"He's doing fine," She answered and her voice, which had been slightly concerned a moment ago, went entirely flat.

"I just... noticed that we haven't seen much of him."

"We don't see much of Dr. Banner either," She pointed out, defensive even if her tone didn't show it.

Steve contemplated this for a moment before speaking. "We should do something together as a team. We hardly see one another outside of missions."

"What's this!" Stark perked up from the other side of the room. "Cap wants to be social?"

Steve frowned at him. "I'm social."

"Course you are," Stark replied easily, smile still on his face. "Alright, what's everyone doing right now?"

"Now, Stark?" Barton complained behind him. "You really don't have any impulse control, do you?"

"No time like the present!" He was grinning madly. "Also, I want to show off. Stark Tower's been rebuilt, better than new! I say we have pizza and help Cap catch up on modern times with a movie marathon."

"You're a child, Stark," Natasha told him.

"And you're an assassin, but you don't see me making fun of you for killing people with your thighs," He returned.

"That's 'cause she'd kill you with her thighs," Barton interjected.

"Ha! I wish!" Stark proclaimed. "She wouldn't dare wrap her thighs around me. My ghost would come back to haunt her just so I could gloat and make jokes about how she wants me."

Natasha gave him an unimpressed stare. Stark just grinned wider.

"You can feel the sexual tension. You don't have to hide it. Just say the word."

"Oh, can I do the honors," Barton perked up. "The word is attack. Get him, Nat."

"You don't have to feel left out," Stark placed a hand on his shoulder, which Barton stared at with the same unimpressed look Natasha had given him. "Trust me, there is always enough Tony Stark to go around. In fact, I'll call up Bruce. Team orgy in ten. Just to even things out, I'll even call Pepper."

"I think this idea has officially gotten out of hand," Steve interrupted, his face completely red.

"Don't worry, Cap, two assassins and Pepper, very discreet. The public will never know."

"You aren't known for keeping secrets, Stark," Barton complained.

"But Pepper is," He insisted. "Plus, half the press think I'm sleeping with all of you anyway."

"What?" Steve rose from his seat at that.

Stark shrugged. "Calm down, they're just rumors. The media thinks I sleep with everybody."

"You do," Natasha interjected.

He snorted. "Then why aren't you in my bed."

"You couldn't pay me enough, Stark."

"First of all," Stark held up one finger and gave her pointed look, "I'm a billionaire, so I totally could. And Second," he held up another finger," You have a very lax definition of 'everyone' if you're already excluding people. Minus two points for you."

Natasha rolled her eyes at that.

"Movies sound good, count me in," Barton said standing. "I need to get out of here, anyway," He muttered lowly.

Steve sent him a concerned look, which was either unnoticed or ignored. Stark placed his hands on his shoulder and guided the archer toward the door. "Anyone's who's coming hop on the Stark express!"

"I know where the door is," Barton complained.

"Shut up and walk!" Tony replied.

Steve shook his head as he and Natasha followed them out.


It turned out to be much more fun than Steve thought it would be. Stark kept up a running commentary on all they watched until Barton got fed up with it and put tape over his mouth, and Stark pouted until the end of that movie once he'd gotten the tape off. Dr. Banner remained mostly withdrawn, but occasionally was drawn into conversation Stark. Natasha was mostly quiet, but took most opportunities to take subtle (and not so subtle) digs at Stark. Barton was more vocal than Steve had expected and there was a rich back and forth with him and Stark.

Stark tried to cajole them into staying over and despite a few comments about sleepovers and childishness directed at Stark, they all ended up staying.

Steve was the first up, use to rising early for his runs, and he was too restless to stay once up. After scribbling a note that he was going back to his own place, he slipped into the elevator.

"Where are you going?"

Steve jumped, turning around quickly to see Natasha standing behind him, looking amused to see him startled. "How did you..." He began, but decided to ignore the fact that she somehow slipped unseen into the elevator with him. "I'm going back to my apartment, then on my run."

"Want company?" She asked.

"Sure."

Natasha gave him a ride back to his apartment, where he was surprised to Sharon standing outside in the hall. "Oh, just getting in?" She inquired with a smirk.

He flushed recognizing his own words being thrown back at him. "I stayed with a friend."

"You don't say," She smiled wider. "My, out all night! What a wild one you are." Sharon teased.

He flushed deeper at her teasing tone, but responded with a smile of his own. "Were you about to go on a run?"

"Well, you might think me silly, but I was actually waiting for you." Sharon threw a quick wink at him. "I find it more enjoyable to run with company."

He smiled quickly in return. "Just give me a minute," He told her. He changed quickly and came back out, giving a her a another smile.

"Did you have a good time last night?" Sharon inquired. "I never hear you talk about your friends much."

They talked on their way out of the building and Steve was surprised to find Natasha waiting for him in a running outfit. He spared a moment to wonder at her change, but decided to brush it off. He moved between them to begin introduction. "This is my neighbor, Sharon. Sharon, this is--"

"Natalie," Natasha interrupted, holding out her hand with a pleasant smile. "Nice to meet you."

Sharon smiled in return. "Lovely to meet you, as well. Are you one of the friends that kept him out so late?" She asked good naturedly.

"It took a little prodding, but we all thought he could stand to catch up on a few movies."

"Maybe I'll try to contribute to that. Any recommendations on what I should show him?"

Steve felt the tension between them, but he wasn't certain why. Still, he decided to try and diffuse whatever the situation was. "We should get on with our run, shouldn't we?"

"Yes, let's." Sharon replied with a smile.

Sharon remained her usual cheerful self as they ran, but Natasha remained tense, watching the other woman closely. Steve thought it strange, but he didn't have time to think on it long before Sharon distracted him with questions about his time last night and they fell into friendly conversation. Natasha mostly remained quiet. Sharon stopped earlier than last time they ran, panting heavily.

You okay?" He asked her.

"I think I'm out for the day," She told him apologetically. "Sorry, you have to carry on without me."

He frowned in concern. "Are you sick? Before--"

"No, no! Don't be worried about me," A small self conscious smile graced her lips and she glanced at Natasha. "I just don't think I can keep up."

"You should probably go home and rest," Natasha spoke up for the first time. "You wouldn't want to push yourself."

"Of course," Sharon answered. "I'll, um, see you around Steve."

Steve watched as she took off back toward their apartments and once she was out of sight, Natasha spoke. "What do you know about her?"

"Not much," he answered. "She's my neighbor, but we don't see each other that much. Mostly we just catch each other coming or going."

"So this running thing isn't a normal occurrence?" She pressed.

"Not yet." He turned to look at the small red head beside him. "Is something wrong? Do you not like her?"

"We don't know much about her," Natasha admitted.

"Well I've only just--"

"I don't mean you," She interrupted. "I mean Shield."

Steve huffed at that statement, anger filling him. "Does Shield look into everyone I talk to?"

"When they live next to you, yes," She replied. "All of the Avengers are monitored to some extent, but you're the most vulnerable Steve. You don't know anything about the world you live in. Shield just wants to watch out for you."

"You mean control me."

"Is it so wrong to try and keep you safe?" Natasha asked sincerely.

"It's wrong to dig through my private life to do it." He paused to look directly into her eyes. "And it's wrong to hide behind Shield instead of doing things yourself." With that he continued with his run leaving a stunned Natasha Romanov behind.


Most people might call Captain America stubborn, but they wouldn't call him spiteful. Typically, that would be right, but Captain America didn't do spite the way that other people did. For The Captain, spite was spending more time socially with his neighbors (and strangers alike) because one of his friends upset him with their overprotectiveness. Spite was asking Tony Stark to cheek his apartment and remove any Shield related tech that may be lingering around without his permission. (Of which he discovered there was a lot.) Spite was refusing to accept a ride from a certain red head assassin that tried too hard to keep an eye on him.

For Captain America, spite was rebellion.

"You shouldn't be doing this," Natasha said to him, having caught him on his return to his apartment after a run with Sharon, something that was becoming increasingly common. He hadn't avoided the assassin, but he had shrugged off Shield's hand from his shoulder and some part of her seemed to take that personally.

"I'm not doing anything wrong," He argued.

"You're being reckless."

"No. I'm being normal."

She narrowed her eyes at him slightly. "You aren't normal, Captain."

"That doesn't mean I can't live normally," He responded.

"It does," She answered. "You just can't see it, yet." She left before he could answer, but he didn't know what sort of answer that statement warranted anyway.



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