Maria looked at the new card, “W.R.A.T.H, seriously? You know you can just make up a team name without it having to be an acronym.”
Fury raised an eyebrow and glared at her. She ignored him. After bonding with Vengeance, Maria found herself giving zero fucks what anyone thought. “It's fine, better than Fist or whatever that last one was.” She slipped the card into her uniform pocket. “So, where to first?”
“Home. Parker can’t help. Some other scumbag is taking up his time, but we have to try at least. Then once everyone is ready, Sokovia, and Barnes.”
“Great, freezing my ass off while staring at rocks and snow,” Maria complained.
“You can stay here, you know. I hear Phil is looking for a second in command. Nice office, comfortable seat, and Parker. All within walking distance of that deli you like.” Maria just glared at him and finished stowing her gear.
After he had formally quit Shield, he disappeared. Moving off the grid wasn't too hard. In fact, if you had a state-of-the-art Quinjet, one you personally stole from Shield, it was easy.
It wasn't even one of the smaller interceptor-class jets. This was Fury’s private jet, with a minibar, a small galley, a private room, and cargo space separate from the seating. He had never even used it, and it still had the plastic wrap over the seat covers. He figured it was better to have a getaway vehicle that was comfortable, and a little stylish, than not.
“Yeah, that's what I thought. Once Natasha is here, it’s wheels up in five and then we collect our final pair.”
Fury nodded. “We all get to be Avengers this time.”
Maria groaned. Rookies, great.
The flight to Sokovia was quiet. Neither Steve nor Flash were willing to talk about what had happened in the control room. Anyone who asked got their written report read back to them. Flash just looked tired while Steve was sporting a new beard. He had been relieved of his Shield rank and been retired pending an inquiry.
While unproved, a Hydra agent matching James Barnes had been spotted. Shield and the new WSC had taken issue with Steve's refusal to condemn Bucky or answer questions. Flash had followed his lead and stayed tight-lipped about the control room. As Shield was already under scrutiny, they were both given a suspension. Steve retired, and Flash quit.
As such, he was wearing a faded blue uniform. It was an old one taken from storage that hadn't weathered the passage of time. More surprising was the stylish, but still unusual for the clean-cut man, full beard.
“We tracked him to a safe house in Sokovia. It was easy enough once we got a list of possible Hydra targets. He’s settling scores.”
Steve had just nodded. Bucky. He never imagined that after all this time that the one person he thought was actually dead would appear. Or that he would be a world-renowned assassin working for Hydra.
“Look,” Fury said as they sat eating a small meal, “We’re not after him for revenge. If your report is accurate, then this is a snatch-and-grab. We get in, take out any hostiles and we get out. Questions?”
Steven leant forward and put down the spoon he had been using, “Why?” Fury frowned, “Why are we doing this? Hydra isn’t known for its subtlety and if anyone finds out what we’re doing then it’s court martials for us all.” Flash stopped spooning the noodle soup into his mouth and looked shocked at Fury,
“Yeah, court martials if they find out. Bucky is officially dead Steve. While you might have risen from the icy depths I doubt anyone would believe it twice. We have a safe house and a few friends who’ll help. Getting a live Hydra agent, willing to turn and expose the rest is worth the risk.”
“It still won’t sit well with Shield.” Steve retorted and Fury had to laugh.
“Unless I’m mistaken, nobody here is Shield. I quit, Nat is,“ he huffed, “busy with Parker. The only Shield agents here are you and the kid. And last I checked they benched you.”
“They won’t care, they’ll find a regulation and make it stick.”
“You can go home, you know. I invited you on this op as I figured you would want to make sure your friend was safe. The red, white, and blue spiel gets old once you know it's really all just red. Tape or blood, take your pick.”
The pair crept along the corridor towards the apartment where Barnes had been living.
Steve motioned to Flash, “In two, one,” he turned and kicked the door open.
Bucky was sitting in his boxer shorts, with half a slice of toast in his mouth as the pair burst into the room.
“Uh hi, Steve. You could've knocked you know.” As he leant back and finished biting into the toast Steve and Flash looked at each other.
He took another bite of toast and nodded. “Your mom should be out soon. She promised me breakfast but she’s getting on a bit in years.”
As Flash shook his head, Steve grinned. “Well, I’d have said the same about your mom, but it takes too long to dig her up.”
Bucky laughed. “We doing this?”
Steve shook his head. “Rescue mission Buck. We’re not after you because of Hydra.”
Bucky nodded, “Right right, 'cause uh I know you, and you don't let the uh bad guy go right?”
Steve stood straight and shook his head. “And for what they did they’ll pay Buck, but we know about the collars and we know about the brainwashing. It wasn't you, and we'll make sure everyone else knows as well. Or you know, we just tell everyone you’re dead, I mean, you’re what? A hundred now? pretty difficult to pin a lot of things on an old man.”
“Not my birthday, not yet, still just ninety-nine, and still better looking than you. I mean,” Bucky motioned to his face. “What's with the beard? Being a virgin at ninety-nine doesn't make you a super wizard you know. Or too shaky to hold a razor?”
Flash looked on, embarrassed at the two old friends trying to one-up each other, “Uh, I’ll wait outside, okay?”
Steve shook his head. “No. Bucky, this is Flash,”
Bucky raised a hand, interrupting him. “Yeah, I know who he is, Webb, right? Yeah, that’s uh, yeah.” Bucky didn’t look too happy about Flash being there. He threw the toast crust on his plate and took a deep breath. “I know what you want, but I can’t. That life's not for me Steve, not anymore.”
“Just help us Buck, and it doesn’t have to be.”
For once Parker had actually written a decent report. Fury looked it over and it was extremely detailed. Not just of what they had found in Wilson Fisk’s files, but on what memories they could pull from Laura Kinney. It had been a slow and tortuous wait, but as he read he knew why. Hydra was more than just racism and fascism.
Torturing kids, extracting chemicals and other ‘parts’ for experimentation, and worst of all. MGH. Mutant Growth Hormone. A street-level super soldier Formula that either gave you random powers or killed you.
They then added in the intel they received from James Barnes. It all painted a grim picture, but Fury was used to grim. Parker corroborated some of the intel from Barnes, so he knew it was good.
Stark had visited one of their safe houses and cleaned it out. Ultron, while a genocidal menace, had killed six unstable Hydra Super Soldiers. With them out of the picture, it made life a little easier. But only just.
And then Shaw, Fury had limited intel, only what he had heard after the incident. Natasha was fuming that some of their own got hurt but was madder still that Peter wasn’t doing anything about it. She had snuck in and spoken to Felicia, met Emma, and taken all of the files they had on Shaw and his little project.
They explained Peter was being kept out of the loop, and for once, Natasha was glad. She calmed down when she found out he was being kept in the dark intentionally. He had enough on his plate without adding in an international drug and slave ring. She would take care of it, and he could sleep at night knowing once she was done, it would be gone.
The only lead, however, was a name, Viper. As they approached the gate, Fury knew that Charles Xavier could be a difficult man to deal with. When it came to Mutants, he thought he knew best. He shook his head, Augmented, he mentally corrected himself.
Natasha, Maria and Fury were shown around the mansion by Hank McCoy. Ending the tour, they were brought to a study, with Charles, and a young man with a red visor.
“Director Fury, how nice to see you.” Charles motioned to chairs that had been laid out. “Coffee? I am afraid most of the staff drink tea, but we did manage to scrounge some from Logan.” As the trio sat, they nodded.
“So, While I could just read your mind, it’s rude. So tell me, what can I do for you today?” Charles asked with a small smile.
“I know this is strange, but can you track an Augmented, if I give you a name and description?” Fury asked and Charles frowned.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to explain a bit more than just that director. I’m not in the habit of finding Augmented as you call us, for fun, or for the government.” Maria coughed and hid a small grin, “Well, not again.”
“I have read that file professor, and that is why I am here. MGH, we have a lead but the person is Augmented. You know about Hydra. Well, it seems they have a backer and my team and I are going to find her.”
“Her? And what exactly do you intend to do when you find her? If I might enquire?” Charles asked as he took a sip of his tea.
“What in the hell do you think I’m going to do? I have a Quinjet filled with ammo, and I fully intend to make sure every Hydra agent I find gets a full collection.” Fury shook his head,
“Do you think that will work? I mean, didn’t Hydra survive all this time after the war? Are you confident you can remove them completely, or is this just a personal vendetta? I have my own sources, and I am well aware of your fallen companion.” Charles noticed Agent Hill tense. “I am sorry for your loss Miss Hill. It is not my intention to dredge up bad memories, but I will also not help you if your goal is murder.”
“And whatever my goal is, it is my goal. I don’t need a lecture on morals and ethics from a high school science teacher. I have been in the game a lot longer and play a lot better than you do. Or would you like to talk about your own fallen companions?”
Charles sighed and set his cup down, “It is not my failings we are talking about here. I am painfully aware of how my choices have affected others, director. Are you?”
As he reached out for Nick's mind Natasha sprang forward faster than he thought possible for a human. He then felt the cold steel of a gun pressed against his temple.
“Peter warned us, and while we aren’t as strong as him, we are strong enough to feel that. How about you stop, and we all calm down.” She asked and Charles gave a small nod before she pulled the gun away. “While Nick will be eloquent, I don’t have time for this bullshit power play. Viper, augmented power over chemicals, especially toxins, Russian, Five foot Eight, blonde. Can you track her so we can remove one child-killing scumbag from the world? Or are we going to sit and drink tea while they get away with it?”
“Then no. I will not let you kill an Augmented for some sort of revenge. If she is as bad as you say, then bring her here, gather your evidence and put her on trial.”
Fury snorted. "You know that won’t happen. Russia won’t extradite her, and if they know about her powers, which we suspect they do, they won’t give her up easily. The powers that be don’t like it when you take away their toys. So unless we go in fully prepared to fight off any resistance, we won’t be coming back. And while you don’t seem to care about MGH I really do, and Parker does as well.”
“Yes, Mr Parker isn’t here though is he? And while Logan seems to be taken with the boy, he is developing a habit of poaching my people.”
At that Fury laughed. “Oh don’t I know it, but that is that, and this is this. Will you help or not?”
Charles shook his head. “I am sorry. I cannot help you. I will not give up one of us, even if she is misguided in her use of her powers. MGH is a terrible thing, but we can contain it properly, without resorting to bloodshed.”
Fury stood, “Then this conversation is over. You could have saved a lot of lives, but I’ll do this my way then.”
As he moved to leave Scott stood, “I want to go with you.”
Charles sat up straight. “Scott!” he exclaimed, “You can’t be serious.”
“No, he’s right professor. When we went on that mission, we failed, and we did everything right. All the training, and advice you gave us, it was wrong. Director Fury, I want to join your team. I want to learn how to be a better soldier, no, a better leader.” He moved forward and stepped in front of Fury, “Please.”
Fury looked over at Maria, who shrugged, and “Sure, but, what’s your power?”
“Concussive eye blasts, uh, I have a visor that allows me to control them, oh, and a uniform” Fury snorted and laughed.
“Fine, you got ten minutes, Scott.” Fury turned back to Charles, “A word of advice professor. Playing soldier doesn’t make you one. And sometimes, thinking you know better than anyone else gets people killed.”
Charles snorted. “I am sure you talk from experience Director Fury,” he replied snidely.
Fury turned and lifted his shirt, revealing an ugly scar across his abdomen. It looked like, not just a knife wound was present, but several bullet wounds as well. “The kind sitting at a desk doesn’t get you.” Remembering Peter told him Charles couldn’t walk. “Oh, uh, yeah, no offence.” but he still turned and walked away, “I know the way out, don’t get up.”
Charles leant back in his chair, “Fine, damn you, fine.” Pushing on the controls to his chair. “I will give you her location but that is all, and I must insist that you leave Scott behind. He is still blaming himself for the injuries his teammates sustained, he needs time to heal.”
Fury shook his head, “You might have a big brain professor, but people heal in different ways. If his confidence is rattled, getting back into the field is the best way to fix that, not keeping him caged.”
Charles huffed, “Fine, but if anything happens to him, I will personally make you think you’re a six-year-old girl.”