proof tray

No Comparison

Natasha ropes you into your first intel-retrieval and destruction mission. Things don’t go as planned, but you kick ass anyway.

Warnings: none except some seriously pretentious flirting by your target and Bucky’s threats to knock him out?

Word count: 2,978

‘Okay,’ you quipped, pulling the memory stick out of the computer, ‘the virus that’ll shut down their systems is on here, Natasha will just have to plug it in and let it run its course.’

‘Nice work, kid,’ Tony said, seeming genuinely impressed. ‘How long this take you to develop?’

You shrugged. ‘A few hours? It would’ve taken shorter but I had to make sure I didn’t destroy your systems.’

‘I appreciate that.’

‘Is it done?’ Natasha asked, letting the door of the lab close smoothly behind her. 

‘All set,’ you smirked, seeing her dressed to the nines, completely relishing in the fact that you got to stay in the compound in your sweats while Natasha staggered around in pencil heels with grimy strangers, including your target. 

The team wasn’t planning on any fights, so this was simply a get in and get out to shut down an up and coming weapon dealer’s empire by disabling all communications and destroying all data (not before saving a copy for yourselves - all information was useful in some way). Natasha, the stealthy dark horse she was, was to go, distract the target long enough to get his room key and infect his laptop with the virus you had created. While wearing high heels.

‘You should come,’ Natasha said, almost making you drop the memory stick.

‘What?’ you said stupidly. 

Natasha shrugged. ‘We still have time for you to get dressed. It’ll be fun.’

‘Fun?’ You blinked. ‘You want me to come on a mission that’s literally just putting a memory stick into a slot? What if I mess it up?’

You were a lab tech and although you knew how to handle a gun for when necessary, you weren’t much use in missions.

‘You said it yourself, it’s a simple infiltration - barely that. Besides, you need to get out of here, it’s stuffy.’

You snorted and stifled your smirk. ‘What would I even do?’

‘I’ll get the key card and pass it to you. This thing is your baby, you should have the honour of crumbling your first black market.’

It did sound appealing. Sure, your talents and appeals resided in creation, but … toppling a criminal empire in stealth mode? 

‘Cap and Barnes’ll be watching our backs the entire time in case something goes wrong,’ Nat added with a knowing smirk.

The woman read people all her life, of course she knew about your crush on Bucky. Yet you acted as if it didn’t phase you because there was no way in hell you were going to admit it out loud. 

‘You had me at crumbling my first black market.’


Your wardrobe being completely devoid of anything suitable for a black tie event, you were now dressed in a short black dress from Nat’s wardrobe, with full lace sleeves, black tights (because you didn’t care if showing your legs would help up appearances, it was cold) and black heels. You quickly swiped on some dark eye shadow, eye pencil, and some lipstick and within fifteen minutes, you and Nat were in the back seat of a rental car (Tony’s were too flashy and easily recognisable) with Steve in the driver’s seat and Bucky in the passenger’s. One driver, one sniper. 

It was so annoying because they both looked so comfortable in their clothes; Bucky was literally carrying an assault rifle (loaded with heavy tranquilisers because the mission didn’t require any kills) with a bullet proof vest over his sweater. Steve’s shield was by his feet and he himself was dressed in sweats. You were pretty sure Bucky hadn’t bothered to put on shoes. It wasn’t that either of them weren’t taking your safety seriously, it was that they were equipped enough and there weren’t any threats in their area. Aside from a single security guard, you wouldn’t have any trouble.

‘Try not to break anything,’ Steve called as you and Natasha left the car looking so effortlessly unambiguous. 

‘Bring us back some hors d’oeurves,’ Bucky added. 

The image of Bucky dressed in his sweater with an assault rifle, a bullet proof vest, and a tray of canapes made you grin wickedly. 

Natasha smirked at you. ‘What are you smiling about?’ But you were pretty sure that she had hazarded a guess.

You both found your way into a large events’ hall of the hotel on the second floor, floor-to-ceiling windows with stone balconies overlooking a three-acre garden bursting with exotic flowers. The lights were dim, a slight dark red tinge mixed with a golden glow from the central chandelier. Tall tables were dotted around, waiters swerved with practiced elegance within the crowd carrying trays over their shoulders. A jazz quartet was playing soft background music.

‘Do we even know what this is for? Who are these people?’ you murmured, as you passed a woman in a floor length golden-coloured gown, making your way to the bar.

Cap?’ Natasha said into her comm.

Stark knew but I may have forgotten,’ you heard in your ear. 

‘America’s golden boy forgot to do his homework,’ you teased, hearing Bucky laugh at Steve’s expense. 

I at least know that there isn’t anyone with some sort of title; everyone here just has enough money to come to these things for fun.’

Natasha chuckled at your comment. ‘Target acquired,’ she said suddenly, no change in her eased tone of voice. She swiped a glass of champagne from a passing waiter. ‘I’m going in.’

You ordered a virgin cocktail, figuring you should keep a clear head and waited for Natasha’s all-clear. 

You calmly looked up, observing the scene behind you through the bar’s mirror and knitted your eyebrows. The target, Tobias Kane, had completely blanked Natasha’s attempts at conversation - and he was walking right towards the bar. Right towards you.

‘Shit,’ you hissed. ‘Guys, I think he’s on to us.’

What makes you say that? Buck, get ready.’

I got eyes on him.’

‘He’s spotted me,’ you said, pretending to take a sip of your drink. The memory stick, hidden in a concealed pocket in the lining of your dress, suddenly increased in weight by about three tonnes. The target was getting closer. 

There was no response for a moment. And then -

Okay, so get the key card,’ Natasha said.

‘What?’

‘I pity the man whom you abandoned to sit alone.’

Oh shit, was your first thought. This was not how you planned your evening to go.

You made eye contact with your target in the mirror. ‘I pitied myself for wasting my company with him,’ you replied.

Okay … where did that come from? 

‘Unfortunate,’ Kane tutted. ‘You deserve a better impression.’

You turned in your seat to face him. ‘Just an impression?’

You risked to look him up and down; no wallet poking out from his pockets, no lone card anywhere. How were you supposed to search this guy, strip him?

You nearly shuddered at the thought.

‘To begin with,’ Kane leaned against the bar counter, holding your gaze. He was young for a weapons dealer, maybe thirty, and his eyes were dark and strangely hypnotic. 

‘And what about after?’

‘After?’ Kane’s mouth upped into an even-more-so hypnotic smirk. ‘If you would grant me the pleasure of further attention?’

You then realised that no one had been speaking through your comm. Worried that something had happened, that this really was the target discovering your your plot, you focused on your peripheral vision and saw that Natasha was still mingling, successfully looking like she was supposed to be here. You realised they were only staying quiet to benefit your concentration. You couldn’t mess this up

‘If,’ you agreed. ‘Then what?’

Kane leaned closer to you and you noticed, with annoyance, that he smelled really good. Of course a notorious thirty-year old weapons emperor would smell good.

‘Then I would tell you that even the stars in the sky cannot rival your eyes,’ his voice was barely a whisper. 

This was really not how you expected your evening to go.

‘Any man could tell me,’ you said smoothly. 

Yeah, if they had terrible taste in women, you thought.

‘Then I would show you how you deserve to be worshiped in any and every way you wish.’

‘How forward of you.’ The words just came out and you’d thought you had screwed everything up but to your surprise, Kane simply chuckled. 

‘I’ll take you at whatever pace you wish, my love.’

Okay, who does this jackass think he is?’ You you practically hear Bucky’s scowl through your ear piece.

‘Perhaps you would care to share a drink with me?’ Kane reached around you and plucked a bottle of wine sitting in an ice bucket from behind the bar counter.

You quirked an eyebrow. ‘Something tells me you could pay instead.’

Kane’s smile was seductively playful. ‘Some women are impressed by talents, not money.’

‘You seem to know an awful lot about what some women want.’

‘Some women like that too.’

‘And myself?’ you asked. ‘Unless you’re insinuating that I’m comparable to other women?’

Kane shook his head, cupping your jaw with one hand and bringing your faces closer together; your fundamental disgust with the man kept you from losing your confidence or blushing.

‘My love, the very gods that put this earth together can’t compare.’

Bucky was near relentless. ‘You want me to knock him out? I’ll knock him out, just say the word.’

As he leaned in to kiss you, you raised your hand and rested your fingertips on his lips. 

‘Unlike some women,’ you began silkily, ‘I think I am deserving of your attention behind closed doors.’

‘Of course you are.’ Kane took your hand with surprising gentleness and helped you to your feet. ‘I think the view from the top floor will be satisfactory.’

‘I’m not satisfied by views, I’m satisfied by actions.’

Okay kiddo, calm down, you told yourself.

I’ll take out the guard,’ Natasha muttered.

Kane’s arm went around your lower back; its placement wasn’t too sleazy but any contact with the guy was way out of your comfort zone. Still, you kept your wits and allowed him to lead you to the elevator and his hotel suite.

Steve and I are on the roof of the building next door,’ Bucky murmured. ‘Waiting for your mark.’

As Kane stepped in front of you to open the door, you slipped a fake nickel out from your black clutch; inserted in its side was a pin soaked in a powerful sedative. Tony had gotten the idea after watching Bridge of Spies (although you tried to tell him that those things were actually real because, surprise, the film was based on the very much real Cold War). You kept it in the palm of your hand, enclosing your fist around it loosely. 

I have eyes,’ Bucky said as soon as you stepped inside. Straight across from the door were french doors overlooking the city but you couldn’t see Bucky or Steve anywhere; you didn’t let it bother you - as long as they could see you, you would be fine.

You walked to the doors and surveyed the area, thinking about your next move. In the reflection, you observed the room behind you, scanning the expanse and then focusing on a briefcase tucked away under the bedside table. You then noticed Kane approaching with two half-filled wine glasses and accepted the one he offered you.

You wanted to bury yourself under the carpet and hide for ten years due to the intensity of his gaze, but you matched his eyes as you clinked your glasses together.

‘Do you often get views like this?’ you asked, turning to watch the city. 

‘Would you believe me if I said I didn’t?’ His voice was soft, close to a whisper, but charged with something else. ‘You know,’ he carried on; without breaking eye contact, he placed his glass on the table next to him and rested both hands on your waist, ‘I’ve been to many places, seen so many beautiful things but -’ he raised one hand, thumb gently toying with your bottom lip – none of them quite compare to you.’

My finger is literally on the trigger,’ Bucky growled. 

You were practically breathing the same air; he slid his thumb away from your lip and cupped your jaw, drawing you closer.

It was now or never. You wound your arms around his neck and as he leaned in to kiss you, you plunged the tranquiliser straight into his neck. Immediately, Kane slumped forward, all his weight leaning on you as his knees buckled, like a rag doll. You heaved him off you and dragged him onto the bed to make it look less suspicious. The sedative was designed for the Hulk and even though it wasn’t quite strong enough for him, it was definitely more than enough to knock out the average human being for approximately five hours. You swiped out a pair of black gloves from your clutch and slipped them on.

‘Nat, what’s your status?’ 

Guard’s unconscious and locked in a closet,’ she replied. 

‘Kane’s out, I’m getting the files now,’ you said as you overrided the security on his laptop and slotted the first memory stick. ‘You guys get out of here, get the car around the back, I’ll be another few minutes.’

Without a hitch, you had your intel and had ridden Kane’s laptop with your Swiss army knife of a virus. You slid his laptop back in place and picked up your wine glass, poured its contents into Kane’s and rinsed it out in the sink. You dried it and placed it back on the rack in the kitchenette. You left inconspicuously, scampering down the corridor to the emergency exit and clambering down the fire escape, heels in hand. 

‘Nice job,’ Nat acknowledged as you climbed in the backseat, Steve driving off before you even sat down.

‘Thanks,’ you breathed, stripping off the black gloves. ‘God, it’s freezing.’

‘Fancy people don’t wear coats,’ replied Natasha, making you chuckle. 

‘Here,’ Bucky prompted, tossing his hoodie gently to you having taken off the bullet-proof vest. 

‘Why thank you,’ you smirked with an overly fancy voice, and then made a face. ‘Okay, are all weapon heir to the thrones that sleazy?’ you asked rhetorically, making the others laugh. ‘Seriously, I’m bleaching my skin and burning this dress the second we get home.’

‘Hey, it’s worth it,’ Nat said. ‘You think quick on your feet, that was impressive.’

Bucky nodded, looking at you through the rear view mirror. ‘You did good,’ he said. 

‘I didn’t get you your hors d’ouerves,’ you teased. 

Bucky chuckled. ‘We’ll get real food.’

When you reached the compound, it was nearing two o’clock in the morning and everyone was asleep, or at least, in their own rooms; you had your heels on again and had stuffed your hands in the pockets of Bucky’s hoodie, relishing in its warmth. Steve and Natasha  stayed behind in the kitchen, reheating leftovers, while you walked back to your room to change. 

‘Hey!’ Bucky called to you.

You looked over your shoulder watching him sprint towards you. ‘Hey.’

‘How does it feel single-handedly destroying a black market empire?’ he grinned.

‘Well I’m not sure since I wasn’t alone,’ you shot back. 

‘Oh, sure,’ Bucky agreed. ‘I mean, if Steve hadn’t helped you make that virus and if Nat hadn’t held your hand while you riddled the laptop -’

‘Okay, okay,’ you chuckled, cheeks turning red from the attention. ‘It felt kind of awesome,’ you admitted shyly.

‘Still feel gross?’ Bucky asked playfully but there was a solidity in his eyes that showed he acknowledged your very real discomfort..

You shrugged. ‘Yeah, I thought I was gonna explode, I was cringing so much,’ you said. ‘You helped, though,’ you added, nudging him with your elbow.

‘Oh yeah?’

‘Yeah,’ you nodded. ‘If you weren’t making those comments every now and then I think I would’ve punched him in the face.’

Bucky’s smile broadened like he had accomplished something. ‘And I how did I help that?’

‘You just kept me grounded, I guess. Reminded me that it was a mission and and that you had my back in case things went south. Plus, it completely diffused any kind of tension that guy was trying to create.’

‘That’s what I’m here for,’ he said. ‘Can’t have some sleazeball running his hands all over you like that without at least offering to sock him.’

You chuckled. ‘How eloquently put.’

‘I’m the master of eloquence, doll.’

You both had reached your room. ‘I’m gonna change and join you guys later. Maybe take an early night, I’m exhausted.’

‘Aw, doll, you sure?’Bucky almost whined.

You stopped and rested against the door, hands curling around the edge. 

‘Why, what were you planning?’

Bucky shrugged, scuffing his foot against the floor. ‘I don’t know, doll, I was kinda hoping I could tell you about how the stars don’t compare to your eyes,’ he said, feigning innocence, mimicking the words of the target.

You rolled your eyes and tried to stifle your giggles. ‘Shut up, Barnes.’

‘I just really think I could prove to you that the gods that build the universe got nothing on you.’

‘Bucky, shut up, you loser,’ you laughed.

‘Okay, but seriously,’ Bucky said, laughter dying down as he put his hands on your upper arms and looked at you intently. You didn’t take your eyes away from his, blushing under his gaze. It wasn’t the same intensity as the target’s, and you felt a comforting warmth.

Bucky held your arms and said dramatically, ‘If you ever want me to give you a satisfactory view from the top floor, you just say the word.’

‘Dammit, Barnes!’ You shoved him away and watched him bolt down the corridor, cackling childishly, with a plethora of butterflies fluttering in your stomach.