Usagi was hovering about ten feet off the ground as she reached for a cat lounging on a branch. "Here, kitty." She said this quietly in as convincing a manner as possible toward the cat. It was a black cat with dark eyes staring at her. Usagi smiled at the cat and suddenly the cat hopped from the branch, toward the white-haired girl. Usagi caught the little fur ball easily and then began a slow descent to the grass below, her braided hair only moving with her.
"Thank you for helping my kitty!" a small girl with black pigtails took hold of the cat. The girl's mother, looking like an older version of her daughter, stepped toward Usagi with a big smile on her face.
"Thank you so much, Cosmos. We're lucky you were walking by." The woman momentarily placed a hand gently on Usagi's shoulder in a gesture of gratitude.
"It's no trouble, Ma'am. I used to have a little kitty of my own." Usagi smiled back as the woman and slowly reached toward the cat in the little girl's arms and scratched under its chin. A light purr escaped the feline's mouth.
After another thank you from both the mother and daughter, they walked on to wherever they were going. Usagi stood behind them, watching them go. She then grinned to herself. What a nice way to start my day. She hadn't been wearing her uniform but the ladies had recognized her anyway. The long white hair likely had a lot to do with it.
Usagi brushed off her white skorts and pink blouse and picked up a bag from the ground with "Alph's Bakery" written on it. She'd gotten up early to get a treat for the team when she ran into the girl and the mother. She hurried back toward the mansion. She'd specifically asked Jarvis not to make breakfast today so she could get pastries for the others. Jarvis didn't make breakfast everyday but he did often. And when he didn't, everyone would think of something to do.
As she came to the gate, she scanned her card and the gate opened. She kept moving at a quick pace up to the door. At least a couple of the others would be awake by now and wondering what to do for breakfast. It had been a few days since the city had been attacked by Red, Black and White and she'd adjusted a bit more to the routines of her new friends. Steve always rose early and worked out. Sometimes he ate before and sometimes after. Clint would sleep in as late as he could and would go straight to the kitchen when he woke up. Bruce often stayed up late and he would either be awake because he'd never gone to sleep or because he'd just woken up early. He often forgot to eat when he was in the lab. Hank more or less had the same habit as Bruce, but he was nagged by Jan until he listened. Jan woke up at a reasonable hour and got breakfast and sometimes added a morning exercise session. T'Challa stayed at the embassy and came over when he could to discuss matters with the team. Tony stayed at his own home, coming over every day after his meetings and business to see if any progress had been made in finding the trio responsible for the wreckage downtown.
"Oh, what's in the bag?" Clint asked from a stool at the counter adjacent to the kitchen as he saw Usagi walk into the room. He leaned forward eagerly as he sniffed at the air, picking up a scent of cinnamon. "Smells like cinnamon rolls!"
"Good guess, Clint." Usagi placed the bag on the counter and took a pastry box out of it. "I thought I'd get something nice for you all. Are the others here?" She looked around briefly.
"Jan is in the shower, I think. The science nerds are examining something. Hank seems to think that they have some sort of important discovery." Clint shrugged as he stood and inched closer to the baked goods. Upon Usagi's curious eyes staying on him, he added, "Steve's in the training room."
Jarvis walked in silently and began putting out plates to put the pastries on. Usagi noticed and smiled at him gratefully, then turned back to Clint. "Well, I'll take a cinnamon roll to Steve. Would you mind taking some to Hank and Bruce?"
"Not particularly. I'd rather eat theirs myself…"
"Okay. But just because you're trying to do something sweet for us." Clint winked at her and then grabbed two plates with cinnamon rolls on them. He sauntered out of the room quickly so he could return to his own breakfast ASAP.
"I'll take one to Miss Van Dyne as well." Jarvis volunteered as he lifted another plate gingerly.
"Alright… but don't forget that you get one too, Jarvis." Usagi waved a finger at him before reaching for two plates. One was hers and the other would be Steve's.
"Of course, Miss Usagi." Jarvis smiled at the kind woman. He knew she was trying to remind him to relax for once. She'd mentioned the other day that he was too good at tending to the needs of others and should take a personal day once in a while. The whole conversation had caused Jarvis to laugh; she'd pouted at him for laughing though he reassured her that he was only amused because he didn't hear those words much.
Steve sat down on the floor, his chiseled back against the wall. He'd finished his morning workout and took a moment to stretch a little bit. While he wasn't tired, he was coated in sweat. He began dabbing it off with his towel, removing his white T-shirt and tossing it to the floor. He'd dried his body of sweat considerably by the time he heard the door to the room open. He looked up instinctively to see Usagi walking in carrying two plates.
"Good morning, Steve." Usagi sounded cheery as she walked over to him. She noticed he was shirtless and caught the scent of sweat. It wasn't terrible BO but sort of a strange sweet smell. She ignored it and knelt down in front of him offering one of the plates.
Steve looked at the plate for a moment and then took it happily. "Good morning to you too. Thanks for the food." He grabbed the fork resting on the side of his plate and stuck it into his cinnamon roll. He took hearty bites of his food.
"Gosh, you might need a second one… There's more in the kitchen if you're still hungry when you finish. I'm guessing you definitely will be." Usagi giggled at his appetite. She remembered him mentioning how fast his metabolism burned up energy in the past few days. He would certainly need seconds or thirds.
Between bites, the Captain blushed a bit at her observation of his appetite. "Thanks for thinking of that, I guess. Er, so you woke up early this morning just to get cinnamon rolls?"
"I did. I wanted to get a treat for the team. You've all been so kind to me the past few days. I'm grateful and I thought fresh cinnamon rolls from the bakery down the street were an acceptable way to say that." She looked at her own plate and lifted her fork to begin munching her breakfast.
"They are acceptable." Steve agreed with a humorous tone. He found her wording funny. "It's a very nice sentiment." He took a big bite after saying this.
She smiled and watched him. Her eyes slowly and unintentionally focused on his exposed torso after a few seconds. She blushed as she stared. He was so focused on eating that he wasn't paying attention. She nibbled on her food as she continued to stare. His body… is incredibly sexy. Oh, wow. She knew her cheeks were getting red from the heat she felt on her face.
"Hey, Steve…" Usagi mumbled to get his attention. He looked up from his cinnamon roll with questioning eyes and saw her reddened cheeks.
"Yes?" He asked, making sure he swallowed the food before speaking.
"Ah, well… I… er… you are very… built, aren't you?" She was avoiding eye contact with him on purpose, it seemed. He suddenly felt self-conscious upon realizing that he was shirtless in front of a young woman.
"Oh, sorry! I can put my shirt back on-!" His own cheeks were turning pink and he felt the heat resonate from his face as well as his ears. He put his now empty plate down and scrambled for his shirt, but Usagi's words stopped him.
"Oh, you don't have to. Sorry for embarrassing you. It's just hard not to notice." She was still blushing a great deal.
"It's not… inappropriate to you… is it?" He watched her body language. She was very shy at the moment, her shoulders shrugged as her gaze turned toward the floor and her knees came up to act like a table for her plate.
"I wouldn't go as far as to say 'inappropriate', just impressive is all. I didn't know a human body was capable of such… remarkable physique." She muttered. She allowed herself a glance up at Steve's face and saw the lingering redness on his face.
"It's because of the serum, actually. I volunteered to be a test subject for a special serum when I joined the military about 70 years ago. It worked and the result was this body."
"Really? You're over 70 years old?"
"Well, technically. I was frozen until a short while ago." Steve's embarrassment was gone as his tone sounded a bit hollow. He almost sounded like he was remembering something sad.
"Frozen?" Usagi took a chance on learning more by questioning him.
"Yeah. You see, after the serum worked and I went through a lot of specialized training, I joined the war. I had a lot of successful campaigns. Took down a lot of people looking to hurt others. My final mission… the one that led to me getting frozen, I lost my best friend. He had been at my side the whole time and we were trying to stop a bomber from hitting our country… He didn't make it. I fell into icy waters and was frozen. A little less than a year ago, I was found and defrosted. Since then, I've been trying to get used to this time and I found a place among the Avengers."
Usagi listened to his story, hanging on his words with as much attention as she could. She found his story touching. She reached to him and put a soft hand on one of his broad shoulders. He looked her in the eyes and saw them glistening. She smiled at him warmly and he felt a light tingle in his stomach.
"It seems we both needed a fresh start."
Steve nodded at her words and smiled back. He took this opportunity to put his own hand on the shoulder of the arm she had extended toward him. He used what leverage he had from the positions they were in to pull her closer, touching his forehead to hers.
"Thanks for listening. Sorry to be such a downer this early in the morning."
Usagi squeaked upon his sudden closeness to her face. She could feel his breath in the few seconds of silence she took to come up with any sort of response. His breathing was steady and warm against her skin. "It wasn't that much of a downer. I'm interested in you… your past, that is." Her voice betrayed her by speaking with a pitch that was a few notches higher than usual.
Steve closed his eyes a moment as he remained close to her. He felt her breathing speed up just ever-so-slightly and could almost hear her heartbeat. He had to admit, he hadn't been this close to many women in his life but he liked it. Her frame was delicate and her scent was amazing. He wondered if it was just pheromones or if she had a special shampoo that smelled good. He opened his eyes and pulled his face away from hers. Her blue eyes were fluttering wide and her long lashes brushed the air where he had been moments earlier. She stared at him, not sure what to do or say. Steve wasn't even sure if she was able to articulate anything at the moment.
"Sorry for invading your space bubble." He grinned at her awkwardness.
"Ah, no… it's… that is." She stumbled over her words, speaking very quickly. She then caught herself and paused, taking a breath. "I didn't mind the invasion; I was simply caught off guard."
"Are you going to finish your cinnamon roll?" Steve asked her, seeing the plate she had put down at some point during their silence.
"Ah, yes!" Usagi immediately jumped at the chance to shift the focus. She grabbed her plate and continued to gobble her breakfast with gusto. Steve stifled a chuckled and stood up, picking his shirt off of the floor and draping it over his shoulder. He excused himself to the shower and Usagi nodded with hamster cheeks full of cinnamon roll.
Once he left the room, she finished devouring her food. As she swallowed the last bite of breakfast, she put her plate on top of Steve's cleared plate. Her hand went to her forehead and she contemplated for a bit. That was... breathtaking. It's been so long since I've felt that kind of nervous fluttering in my gut. Dammit, he is too attractive for his own good. Everything about him is attractive. That was… intoxicating. Her face warmed again as she smiled at the thought of him being so close. She wasn't sure how she felt about him yet but she knew she was physically attracted to him.
She stood up, grabbing the dishes, and headed to the kitchen once more. Jarvis was sitting in a stool next to Clint, who was reading the newspaper (the comics, of course!). Jan was leaning on a nearby wall, sipping some orange juice from a glass.
"There you are! We wondered if you decided to eat in your room or something." Jan looked up from her glass toward Usagi.
Usagi opened the dishwasher and slid the two plates into it as she spoke to Jan. "Oh, I ate with Steve in the gym. He'll probably be in the kitchen soon to grab more food." She tried her hardest to not show indications of embarrassment.
"Yeah. The guys in the group tend to eat quite a bit when they actually remember to." Jan laughed. She pushed off of the wall after gulping down the rest of her OJ. She walked toward the newest Avenger with a big, bright smile. "On another topic, Usagi, I think we should spend our downtime today with some bonding!"
"Bonding?" Usagi questioned. She knew what it meant but she wasn't sure what the bonding activities would be when Jan was involved. The question was written in her expression.
"Girls' day in town. Shopping, salon, spa… those types of things." Jan still smiled.
"That sounds fun but I don't have much money on me. And what I have probably isn't usable here in New York." Usagi thought it sounded amazing in reality but she hadn't brought much money with her when she left her home.
"No worries. It's on me today." Jan put down her glass on the counter and pointed at herself with her thumb, a big grin on her face.
"Really, Jan?" Usagi was incredibly surprised, not to mention grateful for the invitation. And she figured that it would be rude of her to refuse Jan's offer. As Jan nodded in response, Usagi got a big, bright smile. She then squealed excitedly, surprising Jan and Clint. She hugged Jan enthusiastically. "Oh, thank you, Jan!"
"Really, it's no trouble at all…" Jan didn't know what else to say. She was a tad bit shocked by the excited squealing and hugging but she figured it was a good reaction. "Are you ready to head off then? Our appointment is in about three hours and I think we can get some good shopping in before then." She pulled back from her friend's embrace after briefly returning the affection with her own hug. Usagi nodded eagerly and excused herself to freshen up a bit before going out.
On the way to the powder room, Usagi saw Steve heading toward the kitchen, likely going to get more food. "Hey!" Her tone fluctuated in a musical way as she greeted the Captain.
"Ah, hey again. You seem very chipper." Steve was all cleaned up now, dressed casually in jeans and a simple button-up forest green shirt of which he rolled the long sleeves up. He smiled at the woman warmly as he noticed the skip in her step.
"Oh, yes!" Usagi agreed that she felt very chipper. "Jan invited me for a girls' day in the city. I'm pretty excited!" She was not even trying to conceal her eagerness to do something girly and fun.
"That sounds like fun." Steve was amused. He chuckled at the obvious excitement. He approached her and patted the top of her head gently. "Have a great time. I hope you ladies have a blast."
Usagi paused in her eager squirming around to look up at Steve. He was so tall and, even though he was wearing a shirt now, she could still tell that he was strongly built. He must stand roughly a foot taller than her. His hand was even considerably larger than hers, she knew, as she felt it resting on her head.
Steve looked down into her blues eyes with his own and then noticed that she had a strand of hair falling awkwardly in front of one of her ears. He moved his hand to take a moment to tuck the strand behind her ear and then allowed his hand to rest over the side of her face. "Your hair got messy during the happy skipping, it seems…" Steve realized he was being very bold and caught himself feeling shy all of a sudden. He removed his hand from her face and shoved both of his hands into his pant pockets. "I'll let you go now… Have fun." He tried to smile but it came out looking more like he felt he did something wrong.
Usagi blushed and nodded. "Yes, of course. Um, you have a good day too." She then hustled, after a super quick salute, toward the powder room. What was that all about?
The ladies had scored big time at many of the clothing stores, according to Jan. Usagi felt that everything had been far too expensive but Jan assured her that the prices were very good considering the brands, location, etc. Once the ladies made it to the spa, checked in and got all their purchases and bags safely tucked away behind the counter, they went and changed into the spa's robes. The robes were very plush and cotton candy pink. From there, they had special treatments lined up. Massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Jan had only ordered the basic package since she wasn't sure how comfortable Usagi was at spas.
Usagi honestly felt spoiled by all this. Even when she'd been a queen, she'd hardly ever done something so relaxing. After the massages and mani/pedi, the ladies were lead to some large luxurious seats for facials. They were reclined back by the spa specialist and they chatted happily about every little thing. They talked about clothes, food, life and the unavoidable topic of men. Of course, Jan had been the one to bring it up.
"So, Usagi, I've been wondering… do you have a man back where you're from?" Jan asked as she waited for the mask being applied to her face to start doing its job. The lady specialist quietly hummed a tune to herself as she worked, not wanting to interrupt the customers' conversation.
Usagi, with her long hair tied back to keep it out of the way, had her eyes closed as she felt the mask cleansing her face. With a sigh of relaxation, she said, "Er… I did at one time. But no longer. Part of my reason for coming here was a fresh start in every area of life."
"I think I get it. So you'll spill about it at a later time. That's fine with me. But I will take that answer as an opportunity to ask you: Which of our Avengers do you have an eye on?" Jan's giggle stopped abruptly as the specialist applied the mask to Jan jaw.
"What?" Usagi's voice clearly displayed her embarrassment.
"You can't tell me you didn't notice? Stark has been flirting with you at every chance he gets. Banner talks to you more than most of us even though you've only been here for about a week. He goes out of his way to have those opportunities, too. I saw him go the long way from the kitchen to his lab just because it goes by your room. And it was around the time you normally seem to get out of your room. Then about fifteen minutes later, you came skipping into the room mentioning a nice conversation with him." Jan pointed out what was obvious to her, based on what she'd seen.
"Well… I noticed Tony's flirting. I am flattered, but he flirts with lots of girls so I kind of ignored it. I didn't really think Bruce was going out of his way… but that is nice of him…" Usagi thought for a moment. She hadn't really paid much mind to the other men of the group. Sure, she thought they were a good bunch of people, but she hadn't considered Tony or Bruce in a romantic way. Since arriving, there was only one she'd thought of even close to romantically about.
"And let's not forget Steve. I'm pretty sure he wants your babies." Jan bluntly added.
"Jan!" Usagi whimpered at her friend's words.
"Well, not right away. I just mean that… the way he watches you in a room when we all sit around is actually kind of heart-warming. It's almost like how a husband smiles at his wife… In that 'I adore you so much that I want to be with you forever and raise kids with you' kind of way." Jan was trying to think of other ways to explain her thoughts, but this seemed to be the best she could think of.
"… Yeah, Steve…" Usagi didn't know what else to say.
"From your reaction, I'd guess that you've been eyeing Steve, am I right?" Jan asked with a sly smile. The specialist had finished applying the mask and was now putting the supplies away, still humming a tune.
"I have… noticed him more than the others, yes. I don't really know how I feel just yet. He's very sweet and gentlemanly." Usagi admitted to Jan bashfully.
"And super ripped." Jan added. Usagi whimpered again as Jan teased playfully. The girls were having a good time as they chatted and relaxed in the salon chairs. Soon, however, both girls were out cold, asleep in the chairs.
The specialist walked over to the sleeping ladies and smiled broadly. "Glad you enjoyed your special masks. I made them especially for you." A giggle followed her words and she pulled a cell phone from her skirt pocket. After quickly pushing a few buttons, she spoke into her phone. "Red, I've caught two lady Avengers. Yes, Wasp and Cosmos. I'll have them bound and relocated by the time they wake up. What? Oh yes, I'll have Black help load the belongings once he gets here in a few minutes. Alright, see you shortly."
White hung up and shifted her focus to the two Avengers. "Well then, ladies, let's move you to the truck." The woman smiled and hefted Jan from her chair first. She started humming once again as she went through an employee only door that led to the back of the building where trucks would deliver the spa supplies. Right on time, a truck was just finishing parking. Once put in park, a man in a black body suit and mask with black mesh over the eyes hopped from the driver's seat to the ground.
"Nice job, White! I think we're going to have fun with this plan." His tenor voice almost sang with excitement. "Now then, hideout purple-delta, right?"
"Yessir, purple-delta. And help me lug their belongings too. Before the rest of the building wakes up. I spent too much time and money on the sleeping gas that I had circulating through the building and it would be a waste if somebody woke up before we vamoosed." White dropped the sleeping Jan and crossed her arms at Black.
"Now, now, this is all supposed to be fun, White. Don't be such a stick in the mud. Anyway, once we drop them at purple-delta, Red wants to see us about other plans on the table." Black relayed information to White. He then lifted Jan and carried her into the back of the loading truck. He tied her hand and feet and then laughed a bit. "You caught them in nothing but bathrobes while they were relaxing. Nice."
"I thought so too." White smirked and then headed back inside to grab the rest of their cargo.
A/N: And that's the end of the chapter, folks! Hope you all liked! I'm sorry I haven't updated recently. As always, I'm busied by school and related stuff. I managed to get this chapter done and I know where I'm going with it. So once I get some time, it shouldn't be too long, hopefully, before I can update again. Anyway, keep those reviews coming.