For I have Kissed Thee a Thousand Times
She watches him, sees the way his eyes scan the crowd for anything suspicious. Even dressed in civilian clothing with the added protection of thick-rimmed glasses and blue baseball cap, he stands out in the thick swam of mall-goers. She, herself, is wearing a striped hoodie and leggings that make her legs look thin and attractive. Despite his protest, she'd put them both in brand new sneakers that they'd bought in some little store hidden away and cheap.
"First rule of going on the run is," Natasha whispers to her companion, "don't run, walk."
Steve chuffs and shakes his head, fiddling with his baseball cap but not removing it. There's a reason he asked the new Captain America suit not to have the cowl. He lifts a leg and wiggles his foot. "If I run in these shoes, they're gonna fall off."
That pulls a smile from the redhead as she reaches for his hand, hoping to make them look more like a couple than an undercover soldier and spy. She pulls on his hand and directs them to the nearby Mac store to one of the MacBook Pros.
"The drive has a level six homing program," she says as she holds up the little USB that's brought them so much trouble. "So as soon as we boot up, SHIELD will know exactly where we are."
"How much time do we have?" Steve asks, fiddling with his glasses and looking around nervously.
"Uh...about nine minutes from..." She pops the flash drive into a MacBook Pro. "Now."
"Fury was right about that ship, somebody's trying to hide something." Her fingers click against the keys, pounding out a rhythm as she tries to hack her way into the drive. "This drive is protected by some sort of AI, it keeps rewriting itself to counter my commands."
"Can you override it?" Steve asks, looking over her shoulder nervously.
"The person who developed this is slightly smarter than me." She shoots him a reassuring look. "Slightly." She continues to tap away at the keys, eyes scanning the codes for any sort of break in the continuous streak of numbers. "I'm gonna try running a tracer. This is a program that SHIELD developed to track hostile malware, so if we can't read the file, maybe we can find out where it came from."
Suddenly, a light squeeze on her shoulder makes Natasha look up, first to Steve then to the surrounding area. The super solider looks unsure of himself but shuffles to cover the screen from the eyes of the employee that's standing before them.
"Can I help you guys with anything?" he asks. He's got long blond hair and a beard that looks like it hasn't been properly groomed in days. His eyes are a murky brown color, but the spy detects no threat from him.
Feeling the squeeze on her shoulder alerts her to how uncomfortable Steve is with this situation and her heart goes out to him. Obviously, he's never done something like this before. "Oh, no." She goes up on her tiptoes and puts her head on his shoulder. Her smile is blinding as she gives off the vibe of a girl in love and glowing with happiness. "My fiancé was just helping me with some honeymoon destinations."
Steve, on the other hand, stiffens. Not only at the contact but also at the idea of pretending to be an in love couple about to get hitched. He chuckles uncomfortably and nods. "Right!" He puts a hand on the one Natasha has clutching his upper arm. "We're getting married."
"Congratulations," the Apple employee says sincerely. "Where do you guys thinking about going?"
Steve tries to be subtle as he looks back over the Russian spy's shoulder at the monitor and sees the signal traced to somewhere in New Jersey. He moves his other hand up and tries to fix his baseball cap discreetly. "New Jersey."
The employee makes a noise of approval before he goes silent. His eyes scan Steve up and down and Natasha has to use all of her weight to hold him in place instead of fiddling like he wants to. Obviously this solider is never going to be an undercover agent with ease. The man in front of them opens his mouth and even Natasha's breath hitches. "I have the exact same glasses."
Natasha breathe a sigh of relief and responds with a snarky, "Wow, you two are practically twins."
The employee chuckles and looks Steve up and down again. "Yeah, I wish," he puts his hands out as if to touch the red, white, and blue hero; "specimen." Steve visibly relaxes under her touch and she just wants to pull him to her and reassure him that they can get through his. The man shakes his head and holds up his nametag. "Uh...if you guys need anything, I've been Aaron."
"Thank you," Steve nods as the man, Aaron walks away with a smile on his face. The blond turns back to the spy. "You said nine minutes, come on," he continues to look around the store with suspicious eyes. He fiddles with his cap and glasses. Always the solider, she knows he isn't used to doing nothing, which is something he's going to have to learn if they're to survive this.
Natasha on the other hand, is used to waiting and hacking and waiting. She brushes back a strand of hair from her eyes and squeezes his bicep. "Shh, relax." The computer chips and it makes a smile spread across her lips. It begins to zoom in on New Jersey and the name Wheaton flashes on the screen. "Got it." Beside her, Steve stiffens and it doesn't feel like he's breathing against her back where he's been resting against her. "You know it?"
"I used to," he says with a rough tone, as if he's trying to hold back his emotion. "Let's go." Steve pulls the flash drive from the computer with a frown on his face, Natasha silently following as they make their way out of the store.
They find themselves once against immersed in the crowd. With almost sad eyes, Natasha watches as a family rushes past, the children carrying Build-a-Bear boxes and wide smiles as their parents chase after them. Steve notices a group of teenage boys slapping each other on the back and the smallest one in the middle flushing as he holds the hand of a pretty girl. It makes both of them reminisce.
Shaking his head, Steve continues to scan the area, eyes widening as he notices two familiar agents of the STRIKE team coming toward them. "Standard tac-team. Two behind, two across, two coming straight at us." He looks down to see the spy shooting him a strange look, but he doesn't think much of it. "If they make us, I'll engage, you hit the south escalator to the metro."
Natasha shakes her head, a smile on her lips. Steve is still such a solider. She pulls on his arm. "Shut up and put your arm around me, laugh at something I said."
"What?" the blond captain blinks owlishly at her, completely confused.
"Do it!" the Russian spy insists, almost ripping his arm off as she puts it around herself. Steve leans into her and laughs, but it sounds like more of an uncomfortable chuckle and Natasha snorts, covering her mouth with her other hand as she lets out an honest to god laugh. She shakes her head and wraps an arm around his waist, tugging him closer and her jade eyes sparkle with mirth. Steve is shocked as the thought of 'she's so beautiful when she laughs' flashes through his mind. He'd never seen Natasha laugh before and he definitely wants to see that laugh again. Maybe she'll let him draw her once they get out of this whole mess. He shakes the thoughts from his mind as the redhead pulls him toward the elevator.
She steps on in front of him and keeps his hand firmly in hers. It makes her feel safer than she's felt in a while. Trying not to think about why, she checks the area one more time. And it's just in time too. She sees Brock Rumlow get on the elevator to make his way to the second floor. Spinning around, she glances up at Steve out of the corner of eye, sort of hating how much of a high different there is between them. She looks him right in the eye as she says, "Kiss me."
Startled, Steve looks down at her, wondering if he actually heard her correctly. "What?" he chokes out.
"Public displays of affection make people very uncomfortable," she tells him as if it's already common knowledge.
"Yes, they do," he shifts uncomfortably, looking anywhere but at her. He fiddles with his cap, something she notices he does when he feels unsure of himself.
Instead of responding or backing off, like he expects she will, she quickly reaches up and pulls him to her. Her hand is soft on his cheek, cupping his jaw, as her lips gently press against his.
Both are surprised at the zing that jumps from her lips to his and back. Eyes close as he puts one arm on her hip and the other reaches up to tangle in her hair. At the soft tug, she makes a noise in the back of her throat that makes him pull away quickly, apology on his tongue when he notices her reaction. A small smile slowly crosses her face and her eyes flutter as they open, one hand clutching his bicep to steady herself. He feels almost as disoriented as her but both of them quickly hide the reactions as the situation comes back to her first and then him.
She turns to face the front of the escalator as they near the bottom, Rumlow already on the next level and unaware of their presence. "You still uncomfortable?" she asks, cursing at how breathless and shaky her voice sounds. Checking he's following her over his shoulder, she pushes her way the final steps.
His voice sounds slightly embarrassed and aroused at the same time as he says, "It's not exactly the word I would use."
Later, after they've made it out of the wreckage of Camp Leigh and to the safety of Sam's house, she kisses him again. Without the threat of their cover being blown, and after a life or death situation, she needs that same comfort she felt when she was in his arms last time. So she pulls him to her and kisses him. He wraps his arms around her and she feels like she's home.
NotesThanks for sticking with this story and voting for the next kiss.
So, I added a little bit to the kiss that happened on that escalator. Steve and Nat slowly realizing what they feel but not actually admitting it to themselves. And the little blurb at the end is kinda a bonus. Please don't forget to review!