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Title: how nice a dame you can be
Summary: Captain America + Discworld's Lady, featuring Agents Carter as avatars and the Winter Soldier as either High Priest of an order built on a mirage and a pipe dream, or the subject of repeated ritual sacrifice -- there's no way to tell for sure. Is it Bucky/The Lady? Why is it from Steve's PoV? Even to myself I have no explanation for this one. 900 words, PG for threats.

When Steve Rogers woke up on his twentieth birthday, The Lady was waiting for him.

"Who are you?" he said. "What do you want?"

She smiled, close-mouthed and smug. This is not about you, Steve Rogers. You belong to a more -- she made a little moue, as if it pained her to say the word -- decent entity.

It was a dream, it had to be, because she sat on the other side of a bed so narrow that it could only be considered to have an other side in the first place because someone used to sleep on the other side of the bed, and she was slightly transparent and even the notoriously shaky mattress didn't dip under her weight. She had a pair of dice, not in her hand, but hovering absently above it, as if they'd simply forgotten about gravity, and the dice rotated slowly, every lazy roll showing snake-eyes.

He didn't know what color her hair was. He didn't know what she looked like at all. But her eyes were a deep, emerald green, edge to edge, and when she smiled, parts of him felt like they were losing blood.

But she said, He's not coming back. And she said, Think of me as an agent of History. And she said, Today is the first day of the rest of someone else's life.

Steve Rogers woke up on his twentieth birthday, out of a deep and dreamless sleep. He went alone to the Stark Expo (He's not coming back, said a traitorous voice in his head). And when Erskine caught him lying his way into the Army, he gave every right answer and he didn't run when he should have.

And if, when he first met her, he thought he saw Peggy Carter's eyes flash green, under the bright lab lights, he shook it off, and forgot about it a moment later.

***

Howard Stark knew the procedure wasn't going to work. "A one in a million chance, and that's if you get lucky," He said.

"Well," said Steve. "I'm a lucky guy." Considering his asthma and all, this was probably a lie.

But as the injections started and the machines whirred to life, Peggy Carter stood in the room overlooking all of Stark's beautiful, sparking equipment, and she smiled a secretive little smile, and this time, it was true.

***

"I'm turning into you," said Bucky in mock despair.

But Steve didn't miss the way Peggy's eyes caught for a moment on the still-healing split in Bucky's lip, and whoever she left with that night, it sure as hell wasn't Steve.

***

When Steve woke up after the ice, he'd have bet it would be Natasha next, but her eyes were flat-backed, blue and grey and never anything but. Natasha always smiled with all her teeth, and, more telling, she didn't believe in luck.

Sharon was less subtle -- blonde and green-eyed, a concentrated powerhouse of barely-contained chaos -- and the first time he met her, he thought he had a name.

"Loki," he said, low, angry, because he'd never quite got hang of fear.

She laughed at him. "No," she said, "No darling. That poor child only wishes he could play at this level."

"At our level?" Steve asked, catching on. And she gave him a smile of something like approval.

"You threw him out of your universe," she reminded him.

"You told me you weren't here for me," Steve said, because he remembered now, under her green-eyed stare.

"Oh," she said, with that closed-mouth smile of hers, even as the call from SHIELD came through, "I'm not."

***

When Steve woke up in the future, Tony Stark said, "Don't you know you're not supposed to exist? Don't you know you're a proven scientific impossibility? You're Dad's dirty little secret."

"I knew Howard," Steve snapped right back, "and believe me, I was far from the only one."

Stark's face did something odd, not quite like rage, but not quite anything else, and then he burst into laughter. "You're all right, Capsicle," he said.

***

He is not coming back, she'd told Steve. It was a lie, of course, even if it was the truth at the time.

The Winter Soldier took one look at Sharon Carter and he raised his rifle, mindless, reflexive, heedless of the fact that she was already inside its effective range. He only managed to subdue her by dint of superhuman strength.

He hadn't ever meant to kill her in the first place. It was just that he didn't know how to be anything but a good eye and a trigger, in her presence.

"Oh my baby," Agent Carter sing-songed, apparently not caring that her hands were tied behind her back, "My bad penny, look at you. Look at what they did to you."

Her voice over the comm was cracked and inexplicably green, like a broken wine bottle.

"Shut up," the Winter Soldier told her, "Unless you want to discover what your own heart tastes like."

"Copper copper copper, my bad penny," she laughed, mimicking his Russian. "You'll have to do better than that."

"Did she just call an elite assassin 'Penny'?" asked one of the attending agents, only to be swiftly and roundly shushed by Natasha.

"We're going in," Steve decided.

"Hold," Fury commanded, "You go in there now, and your girlfriend is a goner. She's one of the best agents I've got, Captain, and I take that kind of stupidity personal."

Steve and Natasha exchanged a look.

"There's been a change in the situation," Natasha said. "We're going."

And they went, while Carter's laughter echoed down the commlink, ending in a crackle of static.

By the time they got there, both Carter and the Soldier had disappeared without a trace.

********
Title from Luck be a Lady. Utter self-indulgence. Written because I had a dream that the vaunted super-soldier serum really was a one-in-a-million chance of success (and it ended in disaster for everyone else who has tried to recreate it). Also, I have a thing for Bucky Barnes + coin-related dialogue?
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