"Clint, Steve, everyone, come quickly!" Wanda calls, racing down the rickety stairs with her hair and light jacket flying out behind her, eyes bright with excitement. "There are shooting stars! Hurry!"
Clint and Scott are bounding toward the stairs before she's even done speaking, and she turns tail in a whirl of dark curls to race back to the roof of their little upstairs flat as they follow at her heels. Steve, Sam, Natasha, and Bucky are a bit slower to follow, but they walk more quickly than usual as they make their way to the roof where Wanda is turning slow circles, her head tilted back and her eyes fixed on the sky, mouth opened in a little "o" of wonder.
Clint is beside her, a big lopsided grin splitting his face as he also stares up at the bright expanse of stars overhead. Scott didn't make it much further than the doorway, having grabbed one of the old lawn chairs they'd helped the landlady bring up there from the shed a week ago, and is awkwardly adjusting the recline of it for the best view.
Steve follows the man's lead, grabbing himself a chair, while Bucky goes to lean on the railing and Sam just plops down where he is and sprawls out on his back, hands folded behind his head. Natasha is already staring at the sky with a little smile.
The lawn chair groans when Steve sits in it, the grinding sound of straining plastic seeming dangerously loud in the otherwise quiet night, but they are surprisingly sturdy old things and it takes his weight without further complaint as he leans it back. Sure enough, when Steve looks up he catches a bright streak burning its way across the sky, and smiles.
"Isn't it amazing?" Wanda asks, eyes focused on the stars and all but bouncing in place with excitement. Clint pulls out his cell, typing in the password and swiping through a few screens.
"I don't remember there being a meteor shower scheduled for Quebec on the NASA website," he mutters, fingers darting over his phone.
"Yo, put that away, you're killing my night vision," Sam says lightly, gently kicking the archer's foot, and Clint clicks the phone off before stuffing it back into his pocket with a shrug and sitting on the ground.
"I was just trying to find out what time the meteor shower was running till."
"Who cares about the meteors, there are shooting stars," Wanda breathes, and Steve can't help a tiny smile, even if it is laced with pity.
"Wanda, hon, your shooting stars are the meteors," Natasha says gently, moving to stand beside Clint. "What you see is them hitting the atmosphere and burning up."
"Wait, you didn't know that?" Scott asks in mild horror, sitting up from his chair with the creak of old plastic, and Wanda gives a little shrug, eyes never leaving the sky.
"Strucker didn't exactly spend much time teaching us. I'm lucky that I learned to read and write before my parents were killed or I probably wouldn't be able to do that eith- Oh! Look! Another!"
Steve follows the jab of her finger and catches sight of the tail end of a large, bright meteor as it burns out just over the tree line. There is an awed silence that follows it, everyone's eyes fixed on the spot in the sky that it vanished.
"Do you wish on every one of them? Scott asks softly, after a moment, and Bucky snorts.
"Don't see why not. More wishes, right?"
"Or does it increase the odds of your wish coming true if you wish for one thing multiple times?" Natasha asks. She has settled herself on the ground now, back to back with Clint, each of them with their head leaned back on the other one's shoulder.
"Don't know," the archer replies. "I don't think it was ever brought up when I was a kid."
Steve leans his head back, catching sight of another little streak of light as he does, and makes a silent wish that Tony and Rhody and Vision are all doing okay. That the rest of their team are coping with the fallout as well as his group is.
Wanda perks up suddenly, her head tilting and her eyes glowing a dull red as her lips part in concentration.
"Mrs. Lacroix is awake," she says, her mouth tugging into a smile.
Sure enough, they hear footsteps a moment later, climbing the first set of stairs from the main foyer as their landlady makes her way up to their flat. Steve can hear her calling something in French as the gentle sound of knocking drifts up to them.
"Nous sommes sur le toit, ," Bucky calls down the stairs, and a second later the woman is climbing up to join them on the roof.
Steve stands and offers his chair as the elderly woman bustles her way through the door, wrapped in an old sand-brown, sheepskin-lined jacket that belonged to her late husband. Her hair is still up in curlers, poorly hidden beneath her knitted hat, but she has stopped to put on a dangling set of pearl earrings and a touch of lip gloss before joining them, and Steve gives her a warm smile as she sinks down into his chair with a murmured "merci."
"How are you this evening?" Steve asks, Natasha beginning a French translation for him without him having to ask, bless her. "I hope we didn't wake you."
"Oui, je vous ai entendu ici, mais je suis heureux que je me suis réveillé. La pluie de météores est belle," the woman smiles, patting Steve's hand like he's her grandchild and he understands more than a few words of what she's said.
"Yeah, we woke her, but she's glad because she gets to see the meteor shower," Bucky translates for him with a little smile.
The woman turns her attention to Wanda next, giving the girl a few tsk-ing clicks of the tongue as she reaches over.
"Vous attraper un rhume," she scolds Wanda, tucking the girl's jacket more firmly around her. "Il est froid ce soir."
"She says you'll catch your death. Put on a jacket," Bucky translates with a grin, tossing his scarf to Wanda. Or, more accurately, at her.
"It was a bit more eloquent than that," Natasha mutters with a little smile as the girl flails her way free of the material and bundles it around her neck obediently before poking a tongue out at Bucky.
Steve stands behind Mrs. Lacroix's chair, his hands resting on the top bar.
"Is this a normal Canada thing?" Scott asks as another streak of light whirls by overhead, the man bouncing one of his feet in the air to work off excess energy as he tries to sit still and watch.
"Voyez-vous des étoiles filantes souvent?" Natasha asks the woman.
"Oui, mais pas autant que ce soir."
"She says yes, but usually not as many as there are tonight."
The elderly woman settles herself more comfortably in the chair with a light sigh, and Steve smiles down at her briefly before focusing his attention on the stars once more.
As far as landladies go, Mrs. Lacroix is an absolute blessing, and all of his teammates adore her.
She hasn't asked too many questions about them, waving off any strange sounds or mysterious injuries as them being "wild children" with exciting hobbies. She insists on a Sunday night dinner together, so she doesn't get lonely by herself downstairs, but often Steve will find her sharing tea with Natasha, or poring over old books with Bucky, or chattering aimlessly in French as Scott tries to fix her computer.
Wanda probably spends the most time with her, helping bake pastries or pull weeds in the garden, or organize old pictures into scrapbooks. Mrs. Lacroix has clearly taken the opportunity to adopt Wanda as her surrogate granddaughter, and Wanda is more than happy to oblige, having missed out on most of that aspect from her own childhood.
Steve had come downstairs one time to find Mrs. Lacroix wrapping a brightly colored silk scarf around Wanda's head as the girl modeled a set of the woman's jewelry and a French-style dress in the mirror with a smile, and had found himself just watching them, an aching warmth curling in his chest, until the elderly woman noticed him and insisted that he try on an old hunting hat of her husband's.
Wanda is probably the landlady's favorite, but that is understandable, as they had also been the first to meet.
Wanda had actually gotten them the place, playing sick and orphaned on a street corner, wearing a tattered coat she'd found in the trash behind a general store and looking five years younger than she actually was. Mrs. Lacroix had come across her on a shopping trip into town and immediately demanded in barely-coherent English that Wanda come home with her to get a warm change of clothing and a big bowl of soup.
Over the third cup of tea Wanda had admitted that while she was orphaned, she wasn't exactly alone, and dear, sweet Mrs. Lacroix had given her a big smile and asked to meet the rest of her friends over dinner. Or course, as soon as Bucky and Natasha started up a conversation, it wasn't long until things clicked into place, and they were moved into the upstairs that night.
The house is one of the smaller places they've stayed at so far, but it's still bigger than the hotel rooms in the little town fifty miles up the road, and the scenery is spectacular. The downstairs is where Mrs. Lacroix lives, in the master suite. Upstairs there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a small kitchen and common area that were added when Mrs. Lacroix and her late husband started renting it out. She had stopped renting it when her husband passed away, but for them she'd made one final exception.
Wanda and Natasha had quickly laid claim to the room overlooking the forest, with Wanda standing guard in the doorway until Natasha could haul a suitcase or two up to claim it as theirs. Scott and Clint were in the room across from the girls, overlooking the driveway and the little garden by the front walkway. Steve and Sam had decided to bunk together in the remaining room, with Bucky taking the fold out couch in the common area because Scott had gotten the fold-out in their last place and Clint had taken it the time before that.
Clint and Steve had both suggested that the girls get one of the bathrooms to themselves, but it wasn't until Natasha - sitting in the corner and meticulously cleaning the parts of her gun before snapping them back together in vaguely threatening jerks - had innocently suggested the same thing, that the rest of the team agreed to it.
The forest out back had a little walking trail that led to a clearing they often used to practice, somewhere far enough away that Sam's figure soaring above the trees would just look like another bald eagle and Wanda's crimson magic couldn't be seen through the shrubbery. Natasha and Bucky in particular seemed fond of the training site, both having done most of their own combat training in snowy forests, and if Steve noticed that more of their sparring matches devolved into snowball fights than not, well, he wasn't about to comment on it. Especially when all it took was a flick of the wrist from Wanda to establish herself as reigning champion of snowball fights once one broke out.
Steve lets out a fond sigh, looking around at his team once again as they all watch the stars. It is finally spring in Schefferville, Quebec, and slowly the snow is switching to rain, the winter parkas are being traded out for lighter jackets, and the area is starting to hum with life. They'll have to move on in a couple more weeks, but for now they enjoy their little cottage apartment in the Canadian wilderness.
Mrs. Lacroix has been a blessing, and before they leave Steve plans to give her the number for the little cell phone that never leaves his pocket, in case she ever needs anything. He also plans to hide a decent stack of bills under one of the pillows, because even though she isn't making them pay rent, he wants to be sure she'll be okay once they leave.
He's got a vague idea where he'll bring his team next, having been assured by Natasha that she has a connection that can get them there without question and a safehouse for them when they arrive. She's already pulling a few strings to arrange everything, with Sam helping her out as needed, and Steve trusts that they will have a plan for him by the time he needs it.
It'll be sad to leave, of course, but they can't risk staying for more than a couple months in any one location. Not when there's this many of them together. It draws too much attention.
Wanda gasps sharply, pointing up, and Steve sees a pair of meteors streak by overhead - almost in synch - out of his peripheral vision. Wanda whirls to Clint, accidentally slipping into Sokovian in her excitement, and Bucky lets out a laugh at the archer's confused expression. Natasha murmurs a few words of translation to Clint as Scott looks up for long enough to ask "the hell language is that?" before deciding that he isn't getting an answer anytime soon and sprawling back into his lawn chair. Sam shakes his head, having been woken from dozing off by the sudden chatter, and moves to find himself a chair with a lopsided grin.
Steve should be watching the meteor shower with the others, but he is too busy watching his ragged little team, all laughing softly and smiling and cuddling together, eyes wide with wonder as they stare up into the endless Canada sky, and that...that sight right there...is more magical to him than all the shooting stars in the world.