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They're Burning all the Witches (Even If You Aren't One)

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No one was completely invincible, not even the infamous Black Widow.

Natasha came back to the tower, face bloody and swollen with her clothing ripped apart, eyes vacant of their usual twinkling light. Steve was the first to encounter her, reading her body language in a fraction of a second and coming to the inevitable conclusion seconds later.


“I’m fine, Rogers,” she cut him off in exasperation. “Just leave it be.”

“No you’re not, and no I won’t,” he countered, and she could feel the rage emanating off him in waves.

“Do you really think this would have happened if I didn’t want it to?”

“Are you saying you did want it to?” he challenged her, skepticism dripping from his words.

“Well it was either me or the five year old girl they had cornered, so you tell me. Before you ask, I had four surrounding me and one holding the little girl with a knife at her throat. There was only one way to get her out alive.”


“It’s called disassociation, Rogers. I’ll live.”

“At least let me give you a hug,” he pleaded earnestly. Natasha rolled her eyes slightly before complying. Steve pulled her close and tucked his chin into her neck, inhaling deeply where finger shaped bruises were appearing on her pale skin. “Let me know if I need to kick someone’s ass.”

She gave him an exhausted look as she disappeared into the spa, looking regretful as she closed the door between them.

Rage burned through Steve in a way it hadn’t for over seventy years. It didn’t matter to him that Natasha hadn’t fought it, had even sacrificed herself for a child. Someone he loved and cared about, even considered a sister in a way, had been immeasurably violated, repeatedly by the looks of it.

One of the benefits of the serum that he chose not to talk about was how heightened his sense of smell was. People knew that all of his senses were somewhat enhanced, but no one except Bucky knew exactly how strong his nose was now.

The scents of the men who violated Natasha were sharp in his nose, embedded into his memory as he flew down the stairs, stopping into a storage closet on his way down to cover his shorts with plain black sweatpants and change into a gray t shirt, shoving a ball cap onto his head while tucking a bandana into his pocket.

When Steve exited the main doors of the tower, he stopped and pulled in several deep breaths before turning and jogging east. Bucky had compared him to a bloodhound in ‘44, probably never realizing how accurate his description was.

He tracked Natasha’s sharp, sweet scent through the streets, planning his revenge while he followed it.

As he followed the invisible trail, the various scents he picked up from Natasha’s throat grew stronger and Steve picked up his pace. He fished the bandana out of his pocket and tied it tightly over his mouth and nose, making sure that only his eyes were showing. Natasha might be a formidable opponent, but she wasn’t Steve.

He slowed to a casual, relaxed stroll when he ventured down an alley and heard voices, men bragging about a “sweet, sexy redhead who had tits for days”, and he snarled quietly to himself.

When he rounded the corner they hadn’t noticed him, grouped in a semicircle sharing a pack of cigarettes.

“Hey,” he greeted casually, sauntering up as they all spun to face him. “Heard you took more than you had a right to from my friend earlier. Not a smart move.”

One member of the group pushed himself in front of the rest, marking himself as the ringleader of the gang. “And what are you gonna do about it, huh sweet cheeks? Think you’re gonna take me down or something? Let's test that theory, shall we?”

The leader raised his fists, the other four men behind him tensing up in preparation for a fight. Steve’s blood sang through his veins, and he made a split second decision.

He wasn’t going to hold back this time.

The first man lunged for him and he wasted no time or energy on blocking or throwing punches, simply grabbed the man by his throat and hoisted him into the air. Steve bared his teeth, his query coming out a low growl.

“Who’s. Idea. Was. It.”

As with all bullies, this one was no different. When confronted by someone bigger and stronger than himself, he wilted.

“I started it,” the man dangling by his throat wheezed. “It was me, they just followed. Take revenge on me but leave them out of it, please!”

“Not. A. Chance.”

He threw the man into the stone wall behind him, advancing on the other four as he lost the last shred of his already precarious self control.

I can feel the flames on my skin.

He grabbed the smallest by the throat, picked him up and inhaled deeply of the skin at the hollow of his throat. No traces of Natasha. He dropped him to the ground, where the man surprisingly landed on his feet.

“Congratulations,” he spat, “you get mercy.”

The man barely had time to wilt with relief before Steve reached out and snapped his neck with one jerk of a powerful wrist.

Watching the man hit the dirty cement, lifeless eyes wide and staring, was what erased the last hold he had on himself and give into the blinding explosive force that was his rage.

Crimson red paint on my lips.

In a whirl of deadly speed he snapped the legs of all three remaining followers, then threw them to the ground in order of which smelled most strongly of his closest friend.

The blood pounding relentlessly through his veins had made his cock swell to life in his pants, and in the blinding rage of bloodlust he knew exactly what to do with it.

The first man, who smelled the least of Natasha, took the longest to realize what was happening. It wasn’t until his own pants were ripped from his body, baring his lower half, that he began to beg in earnest.

If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing.

His pleading fell on deaf ears as Steve spat into his hand, coated himself, and forced himself inside.

The friction from entering almost completely dry stung, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. To him it was the ultimate act of depravity to take something so precious from someone, attempt to ruin them and scar their mind forever. Anyone who did such a thing to someone, in Steve’s mind, deserved to discover how such a thing felt.

I don’t regret it one bit, cause he had it coming.

He gave the pig five minutes of relentless brutality, waiting until the man’s blood slicked the way before withdrawing abruptly and advancing on the next man. This one chose to beg and plead as his cohort had, and it bought him exactly as much as it had the last: nothing at all.

He ripped the other’s pants away and buried himself in one swift move, relishing the screams as he tortured him the same way the man had doubtlessly tortured Natasha.

They say I did something bad,

When that one’s blood had also coated them he pulled away in the same rough fashion to move on to the next, who was blessedly silent as his fate fell upon him with vengeance in his eyes.

The last, who also happened to be the ringleader, was shaking in terror by the time Steve got to him.

Then why’s it feel so good?

With the larger man upon him, he fought against the attack in vain by attempting to shove Steve away by the throat.

“So you’re the one who likes choking,” he spat, wrapping one large hand around the last man’s neck with a feral grin.

He changed the strength of his grip based on consciousness level, slackening as he approached blackness and squeezing tighter when he had recovered. Instead of stopping once blood made the slide easier, he kept on until the bloodlust faded from his veins and the blood itself left his genitals in favor of his brain.

Steve stopped and yanked himself way even more abruptly than he had from the first three, horrified by the terror-stricken expressions as well as blood coating his hands. Four sets of eyes were fixed upon him, doubtlessly wondering what was in store for them next.

With exhaustion, despair and self loathing beginning to crush him under their weight, Steve slit all of their throats, then shed the sweatpants and shirt, stuffing the bandana into the pocket of his athletic shorts before fleeing the alleyway, along with his memories.

Steve wasn’t seen by any of his teammates for a solid week after the incident, though he watched the news constantly and stole every paper he could get his hands on. There was only a small piece on the incident buried in one paper two days after, citing it as rival gang activity.

He wasn’t worried about getting caught. He was terrified of himself, and what he was capable of.

On day nine, Natasha bullied Jarvis into allowing her into his floor of the tower, finding him curled in a ball in a chair, staring off into space.

“Talk, Steve. What’s going on?”

He shook his head distractedly, still lost in his own mind.

“Rogers!” she barked, jerking him out of his stupor.

“What’s up, Nat?” he asked, feigning a lack of concern.

“Don’t try to fool me,” she replied sternly. “You left like a bat out of hell last week, stormed back in three hours later and no one has seen you since. What happened?”

“I don’t know,” he replied softly, “I don’t know.”

Try as she might, Natasha couldn’t get any more than that out of him.

A week and a half later, an article appeared of another rape. Not of anyone he knew, but of a little girl. Just six years old, she had been brutally attacked by an uncle. The man was convicted, but must have had pull somewhere due to the suspended sentence and probation he received. Free to go out and terrorize other little girls.

Steve felt a now familiar rage build in his chest, flowing outward to his limbs as he rose from his seat. He was still horrified by his own actions the last time, but couldn’t help himself from exacting the justice the courts failed to provide.

They say I did something bad,

He returned seven hours later with the same bandana in his pocket, darkness and shadows hiding the blood spatters he had missed while cleaning up in the pedophile’s bathroom. When he flipped the lightswitch in his apartment, he found Natasha sprawled casually out on his couch, newspaper open to the same article.

Steve swallowed heavily, remembering his appearance and knowing beyond a doubt he was caught.

She stood silently and approached him, resting her hand casually on a splash of crimson decorating his bicep. “We all have a dark side, Steve.”

With that, she let herself out, leaving him impossibly conflicted.

But why’s it feel so good?

As time went on Steve lost his reluctance, even began seeking out those disgraces to the human race. Occasionally news of another would mysteriously find its way into his mailbox, and though he knew it was Natasha, neither of them acknowledged it.

Over time the other avengers took notice of the heightened attention brought upon ‘The Guardian Demon’, as he had been nicknamed, though none of them had even the slightest clue who it might be.

Interestingly enough, there was also a lack of effort on the part of law enforcement to discover his identity, the reason for which went unquestioned. No one really wanted to stop the person giving the bastards what they deserved.

Most fun I ever had,

It got to the point where he was going out three or four nights every week to exact revenge upon those the justice system had let slip through the cracks, and though he suffered from intense panic attacks, overwhelming self loathing as well as the occasional bout of self mutilation, he kept on. The feeling of instilling so much fear and pain into those who terrorized others, preying on weakness and fear, was addicting as a drug, and Steve was helpless against its seductive pull.

When the mysterious vigilante abruptly stopped his attacks at the exact same point in time that Bucky reappeared to distract Steve from all else, though, his teammates became suspicious. He knew that Natasha had not betrayed his darkest secret, but none of them needed her to. They were all incredibly sharp individuals, and he saw the sidelong glances he earned from them as time went on. As nothing turned into more nothing on the front of the search for Bucky, though, he resumed his nighttime activities.

And I'd do it over and over and over again if I could.

Sam was the one to break.

“Steve, man, you can’t keep doing this,” he confronted one day.

“Doing what?” Steve asked, pulling is best doe-eyed face.

“Don’t you play stupid with me,” Sam snapped, “I know what you’re going out doing every other fucking night. It needs to stop. What the hell happened to turn you into this person?”

“That’s just the thing, Sam,” Steve sighed in exasperation, “I’ve always been this person. I have always had this blinding rage in me. Everyone thinks I was always this sweet catholic choir boy who just stood between a bully and their victim, but they’re wrong. Even when I was ninety fucking pounds, Sam, I wanted to take revenge for people who couldn’t. When Erskine picked me he said the serum enhanced the good and the bad. Well, it did. I can tell myself what a sick, depraved freak I am perfectly well, I don’t need anyone else to do it for me.”

“You’re going to destroy yourself, Steve,” Sam countered sadly.

“I already have,” he answered quietly. “I destroyed myself in nineteen-forty-five, Sam.”

A year later, Steve broke into yet another monster’s home, slipped upstairs to the man’s bedroom, only to find a certain metal-armed assassin standing over Steve’s sleeping victim, knife poised an inch above his throat.

“Bucky?” he whispered in shock.

The other man’s spine snapped upright as he fixed Steve with a deadly stare, before catching sight of who had found him. He relaxed a small amount, perceptible only to Steve’s vision.

“Steve…” Bucky warned, edging toward the window.

“Wait, Buck, please,” Steve begged quietly. “I’ve been trying to find you for almost two years.”

“Well don’t. Give up, Steve, stop trying. You won’t want me around, I’m not the kind of man I used to be.”

“Neither am I, Buck. We’ve both changed, we’re both different.”

“I’m a monster, Steve.”

Slowly, Steve reached into his pocket and pulled out the same bandana he had snuck from the storage closet four and a half years before, the one that, thanks to a single slip up, had become his signature.

It just felt so good.

“Then why don’t we be monsters together?”