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Only Ever A Fool's Hope

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Brock spends the trip out to the Lemurian Star with a bucket and his breakfast in his hand. No one makes the obvious crack, because he’s spent the last fifteen years reinforcing his position as the biggest, ugliest omega on the STRIKE force, and the idea that someone could have wriggled their way up under his skirts is laughable. He don’t need no bond, and he has colleagues with benefits, thank you, not boyfriends. Even so, he’s getting concerned looks once the emergency anti-nausea drugs have worn off, once the job is done and he can afford to spend the rest of the flight back sweating and puking at the slightest whiff.

Cap gives him a look, that one where he’s trying to respect Brock’s boundaries but if they weren’t on a mission he’d damn the consequences and start mother-henning his lover like the world’s most overbearing mom. Man cannot hide any damn thing, much less about what he genuinely cares for.

Brock laughs it off, spins a tale of a bad early-bird special and gets back on base in a quiet panic. This can’t be happening. He’s not just on scent suppressants but the best birth control SHIELD Medical offers short of actually getting his tubes tied. But he’s also been bed-hopping between two different super-soldiers for over a year now, and if that’s not enough to defeat modern commercial chemistry he doesn’t know what is.

(He hadn’t gotten cut because maybe, one day is a sweet thing to hold on to, when it won’t get you killed. But this? This might.)



He swipes a test from Medical, pees on the stick, swears to himself until the air in his lungs is blue and his face is red, and then cleans up like a sniper abandoning a nest. No traces.

He’s forty-five. He’s in a dangerous profession with an even more dangerous set of secret loyalties, and the slow workings of many years are all coming to a head right now.

This is a really bad time to suddenly have his perspective adjusted.



His head stays down, he listens to his orders, he stays ready. He can’t let this cloud his head- not his means, anyway, because his motive is already fucked.

(He can’t let Pierce know- even without knowing which is the father, he’ll suddenly be too valuable to waste on the op, kept safe underground until he’s delivered HYDRA a supersoldier baby, theirs to control. He can’t depend on the Soldier- he becomes a good man when he can, but he’s being prepped for a mission, for the mission, and it’s all coming to a head way too fast.)

But if he’s going to get out, it’s going to be now or never.



It’s like now that Brock knows where it’s coming from, his hormones are putting his senses into overdrive, and he can tell where he’s been getting the extra hints for the past few months. Even in the fug of the crowded elevator, he can smell his- the alpha’s disappointment, the moment when Rogers’ brain goes ‘click’ before the beatdown commences. The punches start flying, and he holds back, makes enough of a show to look good for the cameras while shielding his body, letting the others take the brunt for him.

Brock knows the inner workings of HYDRA, has been a part of so many compartmentalizations that if he doesn’t know a base by heart he can make a fair guess at how to circumvent it. Fastest, cleanest exit without being labeled rogue and shot in the back of the head, best way to get them both out in good enough shape to keep going. That can’t happen here, trapped high up in the elevator of the Triskellion.

If he can just get Rogers down, long enough to get him out-

“Whoa, big guy-“ he gasps, holding the shock-sticks out in front of him. “I just want you to know, Cap- this ain’t personal-

 

He misses them in the mall by seconds, thinks he’s going nuts when he gets a whiff of him and her mingled in confused affection, and he’s too nauseous to put two and two together until their trail is cold through the perfume department. If his team thinks he’s wavering, they don’t mention it- but then, he’s doing a damn good job of being exactly what he’s pretending to be, which is hunting Steve Rogers down like a dog so he can save his sorry ass from watching the world burn.

The fact that he’s got a real compelling reason to do so is irrelevant to the mission.



The bombardment at Fort Leigh isn’t his call, but he swallows and takes point amidst the rubble, keeping his eyes peeled. Relief pools when he sees the footprint- they got out- and he hits the coms.

“Call in the asset.” It’s the only order he can give.

One stone.

He’s studied the Soldier as much as he’s studied under him, learned what he could when the man himself couldn’t tell him anything, listened when he did. They’ve been prepping Barnes for the last month, straddling that line between getting him recovered enough from cryo and going beyond the point where his programming starts to bend and break down. Brock’s been useful in his capacity as distraction and motivation (and he’s done so much worse at HYDRA’s command than peddle his ass to their favorite toys), but it’s also put him in a position to hear what’s muttered in sleep, to be entrusted with secrets that are never outright stated, but plain as day to anyone smart enough to make it this far.

Two birds.

If he can get those two together, if they don’t kill each other outright- and Rogers is deeply, annoyingly hard to kill- the programming might come loose, faster and harder than it does on its own, as the Soldier’s brain heals and re-heals. Barnes is conditioned to obey, but there’s still a man in there, one whose orbit has been pushed closer and closer to the surface every time he’s put out into the field.

Maybe they’ve all got a shot at getting out of here.



He delays the STRIKE backup until there’s already camera crews in the air, makes sure he’s first out and can control the situation as much as it can be controlled. Just enough to keep Cap from getting his brains splattered on the pavement on national news, delay, deny, push it until he can get someplace he can grab him and take them both off-

“Three holes, start digging.” The boys with him are loyal enough that he can buy a few precious seconds, and the rest are too busy to see-

And Cap’s rescued himself by the time Brock gets there.

Fucking laser cutters.



And it’s one damn thing after another. There’s too many people, too many witnesses, he’s surrounded by upper echelons he can’t outrank and undermine in order to get Barnes out of the bank vault where they’re keeping him. Even when he turns and stares at him, breathing deep to smell what’s got to be the last bit of familiar scent on him- it’s not enough. There’s not enough time.



The building comes down, and that is the last he knows until he wakes shouting, coughing dust and trying not to scream from his raw skin. Hands dig him out, put him on a board, smother his face in cool, clean plastic that gifts him with blessed oxygen when the hands start pumping. There’s wild disorientation as he’s passed over rubble and into an ambulance, then hallways. Brock can’t tell where he is, even if he guesses, and it hurts too much for him to even think of who won, who lost, what he should do-

We all lost.

Everything hurts. But when he starts to feel the ripping, tearing cramps down below, he reaches over the rail of the gurney and gets a medic by the sleeve. He leaves sooty red smears on the scrubs, and glares into horror-struck eyes with a groan.

“Baby- I’m losin’ the baby-“ he slurs.

The voices go even more frantic, and he can feel blood slide down his already dirtied thigh.

 

There’s a small, cold circle pressed to his aching belly, some of the little unburnt skin he has. Silence. Shaken heads. A note on the charts, more needles in ports, and he knows that they must be overwhelmed, because no one’s yet told them who he is, what he’s done. The nurse’s eyes still glow with pity while the words spontaneous abortion due to physical trauma are added to the list. He’s stopped bleeding, and there are still hundreds of people in need of triage. D-and-E in the morning.

He hadn’t even felt it kick.

At least it was quicker than last time.



Brock cracks his eyes open to the beeping of monitors and the hitch of pain under drugs. It takes a squinted few seconds to recognize the shadow looming at the side of his bed.

Blond. Big. Classic noble-alpha profile.

There’s no real relief there, but it could still be worse.

“You weren’t going to tell me, so I’m not going to ask when you were planning to,” Rogers murmurs, sharp as dry whiskey. His fingers drum softly on the edge of his shield, paint scraped raw like Brock’s skin but still shining underneath, still whole.

“Tried. No time,” he starts, still hoarse from smoke-inhalation and intubation.

“Really? Because I can recall a good long while when we were in real close proximity, and you didn’t so much as whisper a warning.”

“No time,” he insists, feeling the pull of scarring skin under the cool sludge of morphine. “Trying to- keep you, alive, without getting’ killed myself. Dissent is death-“

For all that he can be a font of impulsive decisions, when Rogers goes cold, he goes chilly. God, it’s like the Arctic ice is still in him, shining out his eyes, fogging from his lips.

“You didn’t seem to have a problem with handing it out. To hundreds of thousands of innocent people-“

Innocent. Get a load of this guy.

“And for all you said it wasn’t? You went and made it awful personal.” And if Steve Rogers were not a better man, his fingers would be curled bruisingly deep around Brock’s bicep as he leans over, not just creaking around the plastic railing.

Just following orders is not the thing to say right now. And he wasn’t, not just. It had been both a thrill and a goddamned honor to be the comfort and the control of two high-level assets, having them both on a string. Pierce had been happy, Steve had been happy, the Soldier had been biddable for longer, missions had run smoother. Happy accident that his neutralizing cologne left him carrying faint hints of their scents to each other, increasing their attraction and leaving him bouncing between two of the hottest, strongest, gentlest alphas he’d ever let touch him.

“I wanted you to know. Before they buried you,” Rogers is saying, cutting through the drug-fog, and then pauses.

“-I had so many things I wanted to say, and now, I don’t have the words. I just don’t. You lied to my face. You went behind my back. You’ve been hiding things from me I didn’t even know existed. And after we fought together, bled together, slept together- I find I never really knew you at all.

“I wish I never had.”

Brock wishes he believed in the existence of mercy, because he needs some right now.

He’s seventeen again, watching Ricky Miller take his spot on the team, Ricky who’d stuck his dick in him and left him pregnant with no way to get a scholarship, no chance to get out. It’s not out of love lost that he watches from under the bleachers, battered sweats stretching over his still-growing shoulders and newly bulging belly. Even when he can’t hide it anymore, no one seems to notice- or maybe it’s just what everyone expected, a generation repeating itself. Ma’s long gone, and his dad’s too drunk to notice the son he bore is in the same way.

He’s tired and hungry and still needs to work more often than not, no matter how sick he gets. He loses it at seven months, and tries not to be broken up about it. It doesn’t really matter. Kid was headed for the foster system from the second it was conceived- it just got to skip out on the rough parts faster than most people.

Lucky bastard.

It’s not even Ricky’s kneecaps and jaw that land him in jail, just a cheap grocery-store knockover. From there Agent Garret takes a personal interest in helping him make himself strong, and he pays it back ten-fold. He’s going to be one of the elite because he’s willing to take it for himself, and they’re going to make the world right. People who can’t look after their own safety deserve to have it taken from them, and put in the hands of people who can.

All this while he’s looking at Captain America’s righteous face, Cap who should fucking well know better with what he’s been through, and he can’t decide between laughing or sobbing as the tears roll down his face. He compromises with ugly hiccups that make his whole body hurt and shake, and threaten to make him sick all over again.

Steve has quieted, seeming to have run through his well of anger and disappointment. Or maybe he’s just dumbfounded at these omega-style hysterics from his wannabe-alpha lover, who can’t even wipe away his tears with the bandages he’s wearing.

There’s no point in telling him. Even if the escape had worked, even if he hadn’t lost the baby- what, were they going to run away and be some kind of a family together, on the run from HYDRA’s new world order? Two alphas, one naïve and the other a broken weapon, and their little butch omega, all on the lam raising a baby together? Truly, a sitcom for the ages.

“Rogers. You’ll see him again before I do. Tell him- don’t come back for me, there’s nothing for him. I’m already dead.”

There’s no real question of who he’s talking about. Steve’s eyes are burning, and his mouth is set.

“I would, but- if he comes for you, I think you deserve what you get.”

Rogers stands, flipping his shield onto his back. As he turns, only limping a little, Brock watches him through slowly-closing eyes.

He’s gone by the time they’re shut.

 

Brock wakes with a start, and whimpers when he sees the silhouette in the chair. It’s dark but for the monitors, and he sincerely doubts that Rogers has come back outside of visiting hours, but it’s really the stillness that gives it away.

The dark presence neither moves nor speaks, and he is left to try and fill the silence.

“Told him to tell you- get as far away as you can. Don’t come back for me. I got nothin’ for you.”

The Soldier tilts his head, shadow shifting, and Brock can see him now, just a hint of his face. Still waters run deep, but the surface is cool and blank and deceptive, looking him up and down with eyes that are hard like marbles.

There’s a faint tic, and his mouth is pursed like he’s concerned.

Paper rustles, and he can see the arc of a page flipping over the top of a clipboard. The Soldier’s eyes dip, flicking slowly over the lines of text before returning to meet his gaze. He’s dressed in battered civvies, probably stolen.

The chart’s dropped in his lap, and the Soldier leans in, hovering just beyond touching range of Brock’s blistered flesh, and sniffs deeply. His voice is still dulled with misuse, but just like his face- there’s someone home, even if they’re telegraphing from a great distance away behind those eyes.

“You’re- pregnant.” How he can smell it beyond char and hospital-stink- right. Super-human senses, a product of the serum. Maybe Rogers had known and it hadn’t mattered, or maybe he hadn’t cared to look.

“I was,” Brock murmurs, tired beyond telling. “I’m not anymore.”

There’s things he could say, smooth and clever manipulations that could drip from his tongue and gain him an ally, someone to get him out of whatever hellhole they’re going to drop him in and protect him while he gets back on his feet. He could do it real easy.

He stays quiet, and the Soldier is quiet right back. There’s a hitch in his shoulder as he moves his arm, resting his good hand on the blank, empty spot of the sheets over Brock’s stomach.

“It’s not gonna do you any good. It’s over, finished. You should get out while you can. I couldn’t get you out, and I wasn’t going to. Not until there was something in it for me.”

Nothing changes.

“Did you not hear me? I said I’m no fucking good for you! Get out-!” he snarls, and struggles, and sobs between the pain of his skin and the pain of himself. “Go get your golden-boy and get out…”

“…he doesn’t- need me, now.”

Cold fingers stretch out, gleaming in the monitor-light, and rest carefully on his unburnt hair. The Soldier- Barnes- pauses, then brings them down again, and again, in a rough sort of pat.

“You do.”

The salt burns down his face, and he wonders what he ever did to deserve this.