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Saturday, May 31st, 2014 01:12 pm
Title: Lead my spirit home
Summary: If the villains could disturb the final rest of Steve Rogers, Captain America and a national icon, it was probably too much to hope that they would leave his best friend alone. A supernatural take on Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
Content notes: Warnings for magic and necromancy.

When Captain America crashed his plane into the water, he knew that his mission was done. He had lived a good life, and though he wished that there could be more he could allow himself to lie down and die -

Except things were getting brighter instead of darker, and the water pressing down around him was lifting away to become something more like air. He blinked once, twice, and the light resolved itself into the flickering shapes of candles. He turned his head and took in the room - high vaulted ceiling, white marble pillars and chanting figures in black robes.

Steve had time to think What the hell before everything really did go to hell.

Steve spent a moment to wryly note that this was similar to the time he woke up post-serum, with bullets flying around as he tried to orientate himself. That was where the similarities end. There's no Peggy, no Erskine, no familiar faces to protect. Besides, this time someone was nice enough to leave Steve's shield with him.

He leapt into action immediately, glad that he didn't have to use a cab door this time. The shield was a familiar and comfortable weight on his arm, and the crash hadn't dampened its capability of blocking bullets. He threw it and took out the man behind the gun just as well too.

Along with the familiar bullets and punches there were also a lot more blasts of energy and fire and other things that Steve couldn't identify off the bat, so he made a note to find out more later. He plowed through the mooks to see if he could identify the head honcho among all the hooded figures.

Steve was so caught up in the fight that the sudden impact of an entire body slamming into him did succeed in taking him down. He hit out at his attacker but the person had already let forward momentum take them out of range. He squared off against them, which was how he found out his opponent was a woman. She pivoted with the dexterity of a dancer and the power of a fighter, and Steve had known showgirls and Peggy so he was familiar with both. He barely had time to shift his stance when his opponent looked beyond him and yelled, "Duck!"

He ducked, because he had learned early on in the war that shrapnel hits everyone, friend or foe. What hit the ground near them wasn't quite a missile, but the blast of energy did tear up a bit of ground and sent things flying.

Things like Steve and his opponent. He scambled to his feet again as soon as he landed, because fights like these were won based on how fast a person recovered. He threw a punch that the woman avoided, her red hair flying as she flipped out of reach.

"Stop that," the woman hissed, when she was on her feet again. "I'm here to help."

"Yeah? How can I be sure of that?" Steve shot back, sounding more certain than he actually felt. Usually plane crashes into water meant being swallowed up by the ocean, not ending up in the middle of a firefight. Or making conversation with his opponent.

"I'm not wearing black robes," she said, which Steve had to agree with though he wasn't sure that her black tight suit was any better. "I'm also the only person here who will tell you the truth. You died in a plane crash in 1945, and you shouldn't be here."

It sounded ludicrous, but it also sounded like the truth. How else could he explain the memory of his plane and the impact of water before he found himself in this marble building? He rolled the idea around in his mind, let it take root and guide him to the next question he should be asking.

"Why - " was all he got out, before the chanting started up again and his head exploded in pain. Through the agonising waves the room appeared shattered into blurs of colours - the blur of warm candlelight, the mosaic of white, the red of the woman's hair as she leaned over him, her voice radiating concern even though the pain didn't allow him to understand the words anymore.

Then her voice veered into the commanding and she too started chanting, which would have made Steve reach up and try to stop her, stop it, except her chanting was different and seemed to be challenging the other words that seemed to want to get into Steve's head. Abruptly, the pain receded and Steve saw the woman looking down at him, with the firefight dying down behind her.

He had time to give voice to his first thought, "What the hell?" before the pain forced him down into darkness again.

When Steve woke up again, he saw what he expected to see after a plane crash - the white walls of a hospital, starched white sheets, curtains and metal bars around his bed. An IV led into his arm.

That was as far as reality matched his expectations. The machines around his bed looked nothing like what a hospital in the 1940s would be supplied with, and the woman he had traded blows with was sitting next to his bed, reading a book.

"Hi," he managed tentatively.

"Hi," she said back, not taking her eyes off the book. "Does your head feel like it belongs to you?"

"It feels like it's attached to me," Steve ventured, not sure where the woman was going with this. "I don't hear any thoughts that aren't mine either."

"Good. If you had replied in the negative, you'd be dead."

Steve bristled. "Excuse me Miss - "

"Natasha Romanoff." She shut her book with a snap and looked up with a completely deadpan expression, considering that she had just threatened to kill him. "Just for the record, I'm here to take you down in case you start showing any signs of taking orders from voices in your head or turning into a proper zombie. No hard feelings."

Steve laughed at this unlooked for moment of honesty. "I'd appreciate that. Though aren't I a zombie already? You did say I died in 1945. Or did I hear you wrong during the fight?"

"No, you did die in 1945. It's now the year 2013, and you've been pulled back from the dead." Natasha eyed him. "In my professional opinion, given that you're relatively coherent and not gibbering about brains, I think you're pretty far from a zombie."

"Did we develop magic in the 2000s?" Steve asked, half joking and half trying to make sense of what Natasha was telling him.

"Aliens taught us magic a little earlier," said Natasha. "Or rather, aliens that share a name with Norse gods. It's rather complicated for a bedtime story Cap."

At least Steve was still who he thought he was, if the nickname was a reference to Captain America and not something else. He was less sure about everything else, including this woman he barely knew who kept telling him the most outlandish things. Magic? Rising from the dead? Awakening in the future?

"I've got the time to listen," Steve began.

"We don't. Once the doctor gives you a clean bill of health, we'll brief you."

Steve frowned as the implications put themselves together in his head. "I wasn't the only one," he said.

Natasha's expression went flat, which was an answer in itself. Steve bit down the wave of revulsion as he thought of men who had already paid the ultimate price in the war being forced to fight again. "Anyone I know?" he asked, just to be sure that he knew what he was in for.

Without the slightest hitch in her expression, Natasha said, "The other target was a James Buchanan Barnes."

Steve could not be as calm.

The doctors gave Steve a clean bill of health. The transport was lined up in front of the hospital, Steve just chose to get into it when no one was there.

He had gotten as far as buckling himself in when Natasha slid into the passenger seat. "Going somewhere?"

She was chewing gum, raspberry scented, which meant that she had found the tracker that Steve had stuffed into the vending machine. Steve checked the windows and rear-view mirror but didn't see anyone else.

"Look, I know you have your orders - "

Natasha blew a bubble, slow and steady as if she was going to receive an award for the roundest, largest bubble ever.

"- but this is something that I have to do alone."

She let the bubble pop. Steve had never seen anyone blow such an elaborate raspberry. "Can we skip the lame excuses and go straight to the part where I tell you how stupid an idea that is?"

"It's Bucky," said Steve, guessing that with Natasha this would be his last chance to explain. "We grew up together."

The car fell so quiet that all Steve could hear was the sound of Natasha chewing. He fingered his shield and wondered if he should give Natasha a chance to get out of the car, or if he would regret such an opening.

When Natasha finally spoke up, Steve steeled himself. "To make things simple and quick, this is what you should know." She held up a hand and ticked each item off. "My magic can read, track and reverse the type of magic that has been performed on you and your friend. I believe I would be a valuable asset to your search." She folded her hands back on her lap, and waited.

Steve stared, before he felt a wide grin break across his face. "Well, Miss Romanoff, how does being kidnapped sound?"

Her answering grin is just as wide. "I'd thought you'd never ask."

A black car drove out of the hospital, a quiet start to a rescue mission.