A/N: This series of stories will be much like "A Very Good Team," I expect. Some action, some humor, a lot of chitchat, but it's set "in between time," in between the end of "Winter Soldier" and the beginning of "Age of Ultron," so, possible SPOILERS for things we learned during Ultron. It is now canon that the Avengers were working together in that period, tracking down Hydra cells and (in my head canon) dealing with anything else that came their way. I place "Enemies List" and "Cap's Shield: Versatile in Vibranium" in the same continuity as this series. Not "Enemies List 2," however, I veered too far out of continuity with that one. These chapters will not necessarily be in order. I know I have at least one idea that comes before this story, but this is the title chapter. So let's get started. In the meantime, in between time, ain't we got fun?
In Between Time
Steve Rogers hummed a song from his childhood. The words ran through his mind as he ran through the streets of Brooklyn.
"Every morning, every evening, ain't we got fun?Not much money, oh, but honey, ain't we got fun?"
The tune brought back memories — or maybe the memories brought back the tune. Steve thought of standing on the sidelines, watching Bucky dance with all the girls. You might think it was a sad memory, since Steve never danced, but he'd enjoyed the music and enjoyed seeing Bucky have fun. He'd always felt bad at how much Bucky had given up to help his sickly friend, so Steve had been content to nurse a cheap beer and chat with the other wallflowers while Bucky danced and flirted.
Despite poverty, illness and the Great Depression, the two young men had had some good times in Brooklyn back in the day. Steve hoped those memories would bring Bucky Barnes back to their old haunts. So, after Steve was released from the hospital, he left his bullet-riddled apartment in Washington D.C. and moved back to the old neighborhood in Brooklyn. There were few buildings left from Steve's day. The area had been rebuilt and was a lot nicer than when he'd lived there — gentrification, they called it. Steve's new place was a townhouse, just across the street from the tenement where he and Bucky had shared an apartment in 1940. That tenement had been torn down and a cluster of businesses occupied the space, including a neighborhood market and a trendy boutique.
Early every morning, when few people were around, Steve ran through the streets. He wore what he thought of as his workout clothes: sneakers, cargo shorts, a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap and a thigh-length T-shirt with a wrap-around picture of Iron Man about to blast his repulsors. Yes, it was a gift from Tony Stark. Yes, Steve only wore it for jogging — and sweating. Steve hoped his presence and even the gaudy shirt would attract the attention of Bucky Barnes.
But he knew there was always the chance he'd attract someone else.
"There's nothing surer:the rich get rich, and the poor get poorer.In the meantime, in between time, ain't we got fun?"
The humming stopped as Steve stopped, facing a man who had stepped out of an alley pointing a nasty looking machine pistol. Out of the corner of his eye, Steve saw two more men move behind him carrying semiautomatics.
Bouncing a little on the balls of his feet, Steve said, "Can I help you boys?"
Blond and almost as buff as the super soldier, the leader stood carefully out of Steve's reach and smirked. "Maybe we couldn't find the Asset in his hometown, but I bet you'd make a good consolation prize."
"His name is James Buchanan Barnes, not 'The Asset,'" Steve snarled.
"His 'name' is whatever Hydra chooses to call him," the leader snarled back. "Weapons don't have names — as you'll find out soon enough."
"I'm not going anywhere with you," Steve said.
Looking at Steve's T-shirt, the blond laughed, "Iron Man can't save you. You're coming with us whether you like it or not."
"You'll have to kill me first," Steve vowed.
The leader shrugged. "That's an acceptable second choice."
"My friend wouldn't think so."
"On your left!" bellowed a voice from the sky.
The two henchmen looked up in alarm, only to see black boots descending rapidly. Engines roared, braking Falcon just as his feet slammed into one gunman's face, knocking him backwards into the other. Sam Wilson came to a running halt, after trampling the two men into the sidewalk.
"My bad," Sam said. "I was in your face, not on your left."
When the leader was distracted by the attack from above, Steve struck. The man stood beyond Steve's arm's reach, so Captain America kicked him, a spinning sidekick that launched the leader into the pile with his friends. The leader's gun fired randomly as he flew, but seemed to have no effect.
"Roof!" Sam called, tossing Cap his shield.
Steve spun, putting the shield between him and Sam and the sniper both had seen on a nail salon's roof. A shot spanged off the shield, then another shot cracked. The sniper fell backwards, dropping his rifle, which tumbled off the roof, bounced off an awning and landed neatly in an open dumpster.
"Bucky?" Steve said to himself hopefully.
"Sorry, Cap, wrong sniper," a familiar voice said apologetically over the comms that both Steve and Sam wore in their ears.
"Barton," Steve acknowledged, identifying the newcomer for Sam.
"Where are you, man?" Sam asked, unhappy that he'd missed spotting a sniper.
"In the big fake tree," Clint Barton answered. An arrow sped to the roof of the nail salon, embedding itself in something the men on the street couldn't see. A figure zip-lined out of the branches of the fake-tree cell tower to the roof.
"We wanted to take them alive for questioning," Steve explained, not complaining that Clint meant to protect them.
"Oh, he's alive," Clint said. "He's just unhappy about the hole in his shooting shoulder."
In a few moments, a bound figure was lowered to the ground. Steve crossed the quiet street to literally pick up the package, slinging the sniper over his shoulder. Clint lowered himself to the pavement beside his fellow Avenger. Steve shook his hand.
"Nice to see you. Come meet my friend Sam Wilson."
They crossed the street and dumped the groaning sniper onto the pile of Hydra agents.
"Sam, this is Clint Barton. Hawkeye, this is Falcon," Steve made introductions.
"As one bird to another, welcome to the superhero family," Clint said with a grin. "Nice work on the helicarriers."
"Nice work against the Chitauri," Sam responded, shaking Clint's hand.
"So, you've got four to question," Clint said. He rubbed his hands wickedly. "Where do we start?"
"Not with us," one of the gunmen said quickly. "We just work for him," he nodded at the leader, who was just coming around. "We don't know anything about Hydra or Assets or anything." His companion and the sniper nodded vigorous agreement.
"Just cannon fodder," Steve said with disappointment.
"So, what about you?" Sam said, standing over the leader menacingly.
"Hail Hydra!" the leader snarled defiantly, and bit down hard on his back molar.
The scent of bitter almonds rose to Captain America's sensitive nostrils. "A true believer!" Steve said happily.
He snapped a capsule open with his thumb and planted his hand over the leader's mouth, like a oxygen mask. He punched the leader lightly in the diaphragm, making the man gasp, sucking in the sharp fumes released by the capsule.
"What was that?" the man panted, eyes wide in fright.
Steve leaned forward, wearing a wicked grin that looked out of place on Captain America's face. (But Bucky Barnes would have recognized it.)
"It's an antidote for cyanide," Steve hissed. Then he jabbed the man in the thigh with an injector pen.
The leader yelled at the sudden pain.
"It's a two-part antidote," Sam explained casually, with an equally wicked grin. "I'll get the van," he told Steve. He launched into the air and zoomed away with a whine of engines.
"That ought to hold you until we get the IV set up," Steve told the leader who seemed too sick to pay much attention.
Clint was watching Sam fly off. "Those aren't the wings he had before."
"No, those were destroyed. Tony found the prototype for Sam to use while he builds a newer, better set," Steve answered.
Steve quickly bound the Hydra followers, while Hawkeye stood guard, his casually aimed arrow seeming even more menacing than a pointed gun. The two hirelings edged away from the wounded sniper and the leader, who was moaning and twitching, as chemicals battled in his system.
When Steve had everyone trussed to his satisfaction, he stepped out of earshot to join Clint.
"I didn't expect Captain America to be so mean," Clint joked.
"Cap isn't," Steve answered. "But Steve Rogers just found out that Hydra tortured and brainwashed his best friend for 70 years. Steve is a punk from the mean streets of Brooklyn and he hates bullies," Steve said darkly.
Clint was silent for a long moment, digesting this view of an American legend.
"Where'd you come from?" Steve asked.
"Nat 'volunteered' me to look after you. She said you were in your hometown making a target of yourself, hoping to attract the Winter Soldier. She didn't like you roaming the streets unprotected." Clint eyed Steve's T-shirt and shorts.
"I wasn't unprotected," Steve said.
"Falcon's good backup," Clint acknowledged. "But it's a good thing blondie's shot went wild. I didn't have a good angle on him. You were in the way."
"The shot didn't go wild," Steve said. "It ricocheted off my chest." He plucked at the Iron Man decal on his right side just above his ribs. He showed Clint the lead smear on his fingertips.
Clint was astonished. "How …?" He touched the T-shirt and immediately realized the shirt was more stiff than could be accounted for by a decal. "What…?"
"Tony calls it StarKloth, 'better than Kevlar,'" Steve said.
"It's so thin," Clint marveled. "Did it bruise?" Without a by your leave, Clint tugged up Steve's T-shirt to see a minor bruise where the bullet had hit. "I suppose that would have broken a rib for anyone else."
"If you're finished undressing me in public …" Steve hinted.
"Sorry, but, damn, I want some of that for undercover work. What about a head shot?" Clint looked at the baseball cap. "That, too?"
With his head and most of his body covered, Steve was nearly as well protected as a SWAT officer executing a search warrant. And he looked so innocent. Then Clint remembered what he'd heard over the comms. He laughed. "Wait, so when blondie said, 'Iron Man can't save you.'"
"He was wrong," Steve said with a smirk.
A closed van shaped suspiciously like an unmarked ambulance pulled up with Sam Wilson in the driver's seat. His wings were folded on the passenger seat.
The men quickly loaded the Hydra agents into the back of the van, making sure to hook up the leader to an IV to continue the treatment for cyanide poisoning.
Steve patted his cheek. "We're going to find out everything you know about Hydra and 'The Asset,' everything you tried to hide by killing yourself."
The leader sneered. "Torture really isn't Captain America's style."
"Maybe not," Steve agreed. He shoved his face close to blondie's and bared his teeth fiercely. "But I know people," he growled.
"I'm sure the Black Widow would be glad to oblige," agreed Clint, as he cracked his knuckles casually. "She really liked Director Fury."
At long last, the cocky Hydra agent went pale.
With a wicked grin, Steve nodded at Clint and sang softly, "In the meantime, in between time, ain't we got fun!"
A/N: StarKloth is a nod to "A Very Good Team," but that story ended up far afield of where the Marvel movies and Agents of SHIELD have gone. My intent with "In Between Time" is to be more in line with the movies. I may not be able to post next Saturday. I'm going to Budapest. (Really.) The ship is supposed to have Wi-Fi, so I might be able to post with my cellphone. But I might be too busy.