"No." Rumlow says. Fury raises an eyebrow and asks him to explain. "She is already a member of Super Soldier. Besides, we-,"
"Agent Rumlow, I need you to think about this seriously for a moment. Diana is currently our top marksman, and has shown excellent grace under pressure. And furthermore, she is a Super Soldier. You're the one who said you needed another gun on your team, so here you have her. Sergeant Barnes has already asked to be placed with Captain Rogers in her place. The Sergeant Major will find a nice home with STRIKE, and this is final." I glance to Bucky who just nods and to Steve, who pats Bucky on the shoulder. I salute Fury.
"Sir yes sir." Is all I say.
"See? Now, why don't you bring your newest addition up to speed for tomorrow's mission?" Fury orders, before turning crisply on his heel and leaving the room.
Brock briefs me on the mission for tomorrow. He says it is pretty standard, and that I should be right at home with it, and with STRIKE. It will be a rescue mission on a ship heading to Italy. Data on the Super Soldier program had been stolen and sold to what appeared to be a HYDRA cell. We would be following Captain America.
Being with SHIELD, I had learned how to use several types of weapons that I'd never even known existed. One was an assault/sniper rifle with an X-ray scope. It had almost no kick and was deathly silent. Those would be standard to everyone on this mission, excluding Steve. I had a pistol of my choice also, which of course, was my upgraded Five Seven. It had a red dot scope attachment, extended magazine and a Nine millimeter configuration. It was done in black polycarbonate plastic and grey. It was my constant side arm since I joined SHIELD.
I had to admit, I would miss working with Steve. We had become a deathly duo; the picture of synchronization. However, the circumstances were different now. Working with a unit would be no issue for me, it would just take some adjusting. Rumlow assured me that everyone would acclimate quickly, as would I. I could only smile and nod as it seemed. I wondered why I had been moved to STRIKE. I liked working with Steve and we were effective as a team. Perhaps the ones up top pulling the strings thought that Bucky would bring what I could, with more muscle. If that was the case, I was offended, but if not, then I was still baffled.
A few months passed, and as Fury had said, I found a home with STRIKE. The boys were all friendly during downtime but professional in the field. But more than anything, I felt more and more drawn to Rumlow. He was handsome, determined, confident. Everything I liked a man to be. However, I always made it a point never to date squadmates. I knew the ramifications. I knew the risks. Bucky and I began seeing each other. I liked him. He was sweet. I hadn't been able to work with him as of yet, so I had no reason to caution myself. If he died on a mission, I would mourn, but I wouldn't have been there, nothing I could have done to make me regret losing him. He had his arm around me. My latest mission statement was on the datapad I held against my chest. Bucky turned me, pinning me to the wall and pressed his lips to mine. I kissed him back passionately, grinning.
"I'm lucky." I whisper. He grins.
"You have a mission tomorrow?" Bucky asks. I shake my head and smile.
"You wanna go out?" He asks. I weigh my options, then nod my reply as a yes. I would love to. "I'll come by your quarters then. After you get done today." We were still on the hellicarrier, however, Stark built a small shuttle for each of the main members of the Avengers, and also for me, Bucky and Rumlow.
I turned in my mission statement and headed back to my quarters on the lowest deck. Bucky and Rumlow also had their quarters down there since their arrival on the hellicarrier. Bucky spent more time in my quarters since we had gotten together than he did in his, which was fine. He had nightmares, and I was the only one who knew exactly how to calm him down. I changed quickly in to jeans, black shirt and remained in my combat boots. It always felt strange when wearing anything else. The boots supported my ankles and gripped the ground well, and I loved them. I seldom wore anything else. Bucky knocked on my door and I opened it for him. At this point, I just needed to add him to the physical recognition software. He wrapped an arm around me.
"I wanted you to have this." He said, holding out the second plate of his dog tags. It stated his name, date of birth, blood type and that he was a Super Soldier. I smiled broadly, I supposed that him giving me his dog tag was a little like giving me his class ring. It was a sweet gesture, and I returned it by giving him my tag. We placed the new tags on our main chains.
"Thank you, Bucky. I... it's the sweetest gift anyone has ever given me." I say truthfully.
"Diana, we've been together for four months now... do you... do you want to..." He trips over the words. "Do you want to take it to the next level?"
"You mean..." I eye my bed and he nods, thanking me without words for finishing his thought. "I'm... not ready. Can we just... make out tonight?"
"Of course." Bucky replies. He always refused to rush me in our relationship, and he respected that I wanted to wait until I was absolutely sure. Yes, I wanted to have sex with him, but I wanted to moment to be right.
Bucky removes his shirt, kisses me with passion and he pushes his cool metal hand up under my shirt. It feels amazing. His soft lips melt me into a puddle and my hands roam Buck's torso. I can feel the hard muscle there and he grips my wrist, holding my hand on his hard abs. I run my lips down his chin to nibble his throat and move us towards the bed. Bucky sits down and pulls me over his lap. I straddle his hips and wrap my arms around his neck. His normal hand goes down between my legs and rubs against me from outside my pants. A soft moan leaves my lips and I clamp a lip down over it.
"Bucky." I say as firmly as I can manage. He removes his hand.
Suddenly, I feel his body go rigid against mine, and I know what is coming. I quickly remove myself from his lap and move to sit behind him, my arms wrapping around his body and my cheek against his neck. I whisper soothingly in his ear.
"Shhh... it's okay, Buck. It's okay... shhh... they won't hurt you anymore. It's not real. It's not real." I repeat this over and over. He is still rigid but his breathing calms. I had been getting better at calming him when he was about to have what we referred to as "episodes". They happened very infrequently, and they never happened in the field, only during downtime. I was a trigger, but Bucky insisted it wasn't that. It was when his heart rate got too fast or what have you. I knew that was bullshit. However, he never hurt me. In fact, the first time it happened, he had gripped his metal arm and held it back, curling his body around it and throwing himself against the wall. As part of his mind said to attack, the other part refused. So now, whenever I felt one of his "episodes" coming on, I immediately went in to soothing him. "You never have told me what you see when you go to that place." I whisper once he has calmed. He turns to kiss the tip of my nose and I remain at his side, his metal hand in my grasp.
"I... Doctor Banner and I have spoken about my... episodes. He thinks that strong emotions cause them. I love you, Diana. And something in my head won't let me... separate good emotions from bad ones." I nod, stroking his knuckles.
"It's okay. We'll get through it." I say. Bucky puts his right hand on my cheek.
"What's wrong? I scare you... don't I?"
"Buck, if I were scared, I'd be long gone. You should know that I don't scare easily."
Someone is knocking on my door. Bucky has his head buried in my neck and his arms wrapped tightly around me. He stirs but I assure him that everything is okay before jumping out of bed. I run my fingers through my hair. My pajamas are just my combat fatigues and a sports bra, but most of the guys have seen me in less because I work out in a sports bra and shorts. I open the door and Rumlow is outside.
"You're needed in the conference room." He says.
"And Bucky?" I ask.
"Just you." He replies. I salute him and slip on my shirt, and my beret to cover my hair before following Rumlow up to the conference room. I try to keep my gaze off of him but fail miserably. I can see the way his lean muscle moves under his shirt and the broad shoulders that shrink the large elevator around him.
"You and Bucky seem happy." He comments.
"He's a good guy. Since I don't work with him, I said yes when he asked me out." I reply. Rumlow nods.
"Wonder what Fury needs with us." Rumlow says. "I was just told to get you to the conference room asap." I shrug, pulling my beret down more over my eyes. I am utterly exhausted, being summoned at whatever ungodly hour it is. I check my watch and note the time for future reference. In order to get vacation time. I loved being a marine, so the time I spent with them never seemed like work. I loved working for SHIELD too, but the missions were considerably harder and took more out of me. I was in desperate need of some shore leave. Rumlow puts a hand on my back to guide me down the hall to the conference room, as if I might turn and bolt.
"Agent Calhoun, good for you to be here." Director Fury welcomes me. Maria Hill has a cup of coffee for me, killed with sugar. I thank her and take a long gulp before replying to Fury.
"And why was I needed at... two o' seven in the morning?" I wonder. Fury rolls his er... eye, and leans forward on the table.
"The Captain is out at the moment, and a mission has come up. I need you and Agent Rumlow to infiltrate a HYDRA base. I need some data retrieved. We have reason to beleive that HYDRA is mounting another attack on the Triskelion. We need to know the manner and the means." Fury says. I had chugged my coffee during the process of his speech and I saluted him after he had finished.
"We'll get it done, sir. You mean for the rest of STRIKE to be left at base then?" I ask.
"Yes. Since you refuse to work with the man you're with, we can't send Sergeant Barnes. Along with that, you used to be part of the Captain's strike team so you're ideal for the job. Agent Rumlow is the best hand to hand we have, and one of the best marksmen. I feel like you two will get the job done."
"Yes sir." Rumlow says robotically.
"When do we leave?" I ask.
"Now." Hill says, "go suit up. Agent Barton will fly you to your drop location." With a firm nod, I rise, turn on my heel and head back to my quarters. Bucky was going to be pissed. I let myself in to my quarters and open the closet which holds all five of my outfits; my SHIELD Uniform, Dress Blues, ball gown, Fatigues and black shirt with jeans. The only shoes are a pair of strappy wedges that go with the dress, and a pair of well worn combat boots. I slip in to my uniform rather quickly and give Bucky a small kiss on the lips. He groans.
"You're leaving?" He asks.
"Yeah. Unfortunately. Steve got deployed solo earlier this morning I'd imagine, and another mission came up." I explain. Bucky moves to rise.
"Then I'm going too." He says firmly. I shake my head and run my hand down his cheek.
"No, babe. I'm not going to work with you. If I lost you..."
"I know how you feel. But Diana... you need to stop being scared of losing me. I'm pretty damn hard to kill." He stands up and I know that I won't be able to change his mind, so instead, I ask the Hellicarrier AI to connect me to Fury.
"Sergeant Barnes is requesting that he be allowed to accompany myself and Agent Rumlow on the mission." I say monotonously.
"I thought you had a 'no lovers next to you' rule on missions." Fury says.
"Yeah well this lover is a stubborn ass." I reply. Fury green lights the added member and we head up to the flight deck to meet with Barton. On our way out, we are handed only pistols. Bucky has an MP-443, a Russian made pistol which looks similar to my Five Seven. I have my own pistol, and Rumlow has a heavy, nine mil Ruger. I hated that gun but it was Rumlow's favored piece.
"Wait, why is Barnes here?" Rumlow asks. I shrug, motioning that he should talk to Bucky.
"I wanted to protect her." Bucky answers.
"She doesn't need you to protect her." Rumlow shakes his head. I agree with him, but I understand Bucky's concern. On the way to the flight deck, I had briefed Bucky on the mission at hand, and the risks of this particular mission made him worry about me.
"Well, you might be her combat commander but I'm her boyfriend. I'm supposed to protect her." Bucky stated firmly, as if it should be common knowledge, because to him, it was. Rumlow was about to retort, and knowing him, he would regret it later, and knowing Bucky, he would regret it now, because Bucky was very protective of me, and he would wipe the elevator floor with Rumlow. Especially since he hated the man for whatever reason. Rumlow simply shut up. Rumlow knew that Bucky was out of his depth, and he wouldn't win if it came to blows. Besides, I wouldn't let it get that far, and I think both of them knew that.
Barton had a Quinjet ready to fly and we all loaded up. I sat between Rumlow and Bucky, and I leaned my head on Bucky's shoulder.
"No sleeping, Soldier." Rumlow teases, "I need you alert." Bucky's beautiful upper lip curls into a snarl but I sooth him with a gentle stroke of my hand on his arm.
"So Rum, how are we going in?" I ask.
"I just got the map. From what I'm seeing, it looks like we'll be flanking them from the left entrance. The intel we need is on a computer at the center of the base. We want to make this a quick in and out if we can." He says.
"What's the base looking like?" I ask. Rumlow hands me a datapad and I share it with Bucky, who's eyes take in everything. I like the plan but have a few ideas of my own.
"The left entrance is the most direct while not going in the front. I like it. But look." I project the map onto the large screen across from us and I point to a ventilation system running just above where we need to be. "Two of us can go through the vents while the other person draws attention away from the data room."
"I'll go with-," both men say at the same moment.
"Good. Then I'll go in front. Better that way. Plan to rendezvous at the roof." I reply. If they have to work together, maybe whatever their issue is will be resolved.
The drop point is coming up quickly and Bucky glares at Rumlow. If looks could kill, I'd be helping Bucky hide a body. I leap down first, parachute strapped securely on my back. Rumlow and Bucky follow, ten second later. I engage my chute and gently float down to the roof of the building. I ready my pistol and unclip myself from my chute, then pick the lock of the door. There is a manual lock, then a mechanical one which will require some hacking. After a few minutes, the locks click and we are able to get in.
I know what to do as I enter a dimly lit corridor. There are men stationed every ten yards or so. Five men. I watch them for a moment, estimating how long it will take to neutralize all targets, and their movement patterns. I move forward and put a sleeper hold on the first man. He struggles, then goes down. The next gets a gun butt to the head, and a hard kick on the way down. I run, use the wall as a spring board and connect my knee with the neck of the third man, snapping it. Four and five have caught on to my approach and I send a bullet through both of their heads.
"Main corridor has been cleared." I say into my earpiece. Rumlow confirms that he and Bucky are in the vents. I keep moving towards the center of the base. By now, word has gotten out that I am in the building, so I am met with more and more men who want to kill me.
Diana's status report was a welcome sound to me. Her plan was working. Unfortunately, I was stuck with Barnes in the damn vents, and I was currently staring at his ass as he crawled through in front of me.
"I've made it to the center of the base. Hostiles active but following me. Rendezvous in fifteen minutes." Diana whispers. Bucky moves faster now and I manage to keep up. Finally, we reach the data room. The vent cover is just above the head of an Agent so when Barnes kicks it out of place, it knocks the man out cold. He jumps down, careful to avoid the unconscious man, and I follow suit. I move to the computer and start typing rapidly, retrieving all the files that I can and transferring them to a datastick. Barnes stands watch at the door.
"Do you like her?" Barnes asks suddenly.
"Who?" I reply, playing stupid.
"Her. Diana." Barnes elaborates, though he sounds bored, like he knows that I'm playing dumb.
"She's a talented woman. I'd be an idiot not to notice her." I say honestly. "But you know her policy." The data is transferring now, only a few more minutes.
"Mmm..." He grunts, "She's my world, Brock. If I lost her... I just... I'm okay when she goes with all of STRIKE. Or even with Steve. I was just worried that-,"
"I'd get her killed?" I accuse. "Let's get one thing straight. I may not be a Super Soldier, but I can sure as hell protect her by myself."
"Shit. One of you meet me in corridor two. They have reinforceme-," Then static. I yell at Barnes to stay where he is and I burst out in to the hall. This area of the base is deserted. I make my way to the corridor she last said and find Diana cornered.
"What should I do to her, boys?" Asks someone who appears to be the leader. I want to know what he plans so he can be punished accordingly. Though, my gut sinks to think of what he is thinking about doing. "Should I kill her? Or have some fun with her before? Or should I make her boyfriend in the data room watch me kill her?" I am torn between going back to make sure that Barnes is okay and saving Diana. I ultimately pick Diana. Bucky could take care of himself. I turn the corner, gun pointed and I shoot the head of the man who has Diana by the throat. He drops and Diana quickly retrieves her pistol. We shoot down Agents until the smell of blood in the air is nearly unbearable, and our guns run out of ammo. Diana thanks me and rushes past to meet the rendezvous point. I return to the data room. Barnes sighs a breath of relief and I can't beleive he didn't follow me. He taps his communicator and it tells me what I need to know. His smile of approval only assures me further; Diana told him what happened. And he knew I was capable of keeping her safe.
Once back on the quinjet, Barnes and I are going over the data we retrieved, and Diana is harassing the Hawk. I am reading a section pertaining to Diana when I come across an classified file. I attempt to open it but it is locked. I run decryption and it finally allows me to read it.
Operation: Cross Bones
Objective: Attain new Super Soldier Prospect.
SERGEANT MAJOR DIANA CALHOUN extracted from Afghanistan. Fifty two DEAD, ten INJURED by Terrorists hired through SOURCE: PSYCHO. Calhoun makes Eleven alive. Second Commanding officer position makes Calhoun the wisest choice. First officer presumed dead. Minor vital signs. Will be monitored. Men lost not important. Main objective to sever ties between prospect and platoon. Insures the objective will have reason to join SHIELD. Agents BARTON, ROMANOFF, COULSON deployed for extraction.
MISSION STATUS: SUCCESS