Chapter 20

~~~~~~~~Part 2~~~~~~~~~

Danielle awoke the next day feeling wonderfully peaceful. She rolled over, resting her chin on Steve's shoulder, waking him. He grinned sheepishly, yawning. She listened to the traffic on the street below, and the steady beat of his heart.

"We don't have to save the world today." she said happily, rubbing his stomach.

"You're right." he said, his voice thick from sleep. He threw one of his huge arms over her, pulling her on top of him.

"I don't know how you do stuff like that everyday." she said. "Also you have to tell me where you went for so long."

He sighed, running his fingers through her hair.

"It's a long story."

"We have time." she kissed him on the nose.

"Someone from my past. Way past. He got captured by Hydra, and they've kept him alive all these years, just like he looked when I saw him last. He's not himself anymore, he doesn't remember me. And I was trying to find him."

She sighed. "Your guys' world is going to take some getting used to."

He laughed. "I know the feeling."

"What's his name?"

"His name's Bucky. We served together, he was my best friend growing up. Used to keep me from getting my ass kicked."

"You?" she grinned. "I don't believe it for a second."

"Well, believe it." he smiled, and then shook his head. "We didn't find him. I feel like...I feel like if I could just get to him, talk to him in a rational calm way, that I could reach the piece of him that's still Bucky."

"You're a good man." she said after a moment. "You're the best man I've met. And you need some coffee."

He nodded, and she climbed out of the bed, wiggling her toes on the hardwood floor. She made a pot of coffee quickly, seeing that was one of the only things he actually stocked his kitchen with, and pulled a pair of mugs from the cupboard. She heard the shower turn on in the other room. She frowned at the kitchen as she waited for the drip to fill the carafe. His whole apartment didn't look lived in, but she knew this was probably where he spent any time outside of work.

She walked around the corner to the living room, turning on the TV. She switched through the channels, trying to find something of interest. She ended up switching on the news, and returned to the kitchen to find something to make for breakfast. She popped a pair of bagels into the toaster, then opened her laptop up, pulling up a few articles to edit. The news droned on about some sort of conflict in the middle east.

Arms wrapped around her shoulders, as Steve looked over the top of her head at the laptop. His skin was still damp.

"What's going on in the business world today?" he said, and she sighed.

"I need to send my stuff to HuffPo again, I'm so over writing about wall street. Business was my minor in college, because my dad insisted my journalism degree had some sort of 'depth'" she put hand quotes around the word. "So I could get a real job."

He picked her up, turning her around, and set her lightly on the counter. She grinned up at him, leaning forward to kiss him.

"You could work for SHIELD." he said when he pulled away, and she laughed.

"That sounds like nepotism." she arched a brow.

"Uh, you do know you have a superpower now?" he said. "I doubt they'll discriminate because I'm sleeping with you."

She laughed, shrugging. She glanced up at the TV, and was surprised to see a grainy video of the fighting in the atrium from the day before. It looked like a cell phone had captured it from a different angle, one of the SHIELD employees had sent it to the press. She watched one of the winged women swoop down towards the camera, and heard screaming. The electric blue man shot beams towards Cap. The image panned to Iron Man taking a hit and slamming against one of the balconies.

"In reaction to the newest New York City attack, groups all over the country are springing up in outrage. There are movements to petition the government to control these unique citizens more carefully." It cut to an angry woman on the street.

"Why should my children be worried that these...freaks might turn up one day and electrocute them to death. After that video, my daughter couldn't sleep. The government has a responsibility to keep us safe."

It returned to the anchor. "Are the days of the Avengers over? Has the nations reverence of these super people turned to fear? Rumors of politicians working on bills to crack down on agencies like SHIELD for supporting the super-humans are surfacing. More on this story as it develops."

Steve and Danielle stared at the screen in shock.

"There's no way that's going to happen-" Danielle said, turning to Steve. He shook his head.

"Fear is a strong motivator." he said. "And with the right amount of fear..." he sighed. "I've heard of politicians trying to mandate government service for 'special circumstances.' Obviously not a problem for people like me, or Banner, but when you take those underground, or working in other fields. There's not many, but there's enough."

"Obviously it's not ideal, but I mean is government service the worst thing that can happen?"

"You imagine Stark taking that lying down?" he said. "There'd be a rebellion."

"Are there more?" she asked, and he nodded.

"SHIELD keeps tabs on them all, but they keep their distance."

"And if the government tries to regulate them-"

He shook his head. "I can't even imagine what could happen."

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