A Full Life

BY : DrunkenScotsman
Category: Marvel Verse Movies > Captain America
Dragon prints: 3873
Disclaimer: I do not own Captain America or any of the characters in this story; Marvel does. I do not make any money from this story.

Chapter 2: Gone But Not Forgotten

--1949

 

Over the next year, Steve got to work building, or rebuilding, his life in the 1940s. Readjusting became a constant process, as he found himself missing some of the little things about life in the 21st century, like the convenience of all the household appliances and the numerous means of communication and the ease of transportation. He found himself looking forward to the coming advances of widespread electricity and the Interstate and affordable dishwashers.

Steve also found himself missing things he didn’t think he would, like the casual fit of everyday clothes and a corresponding casualness in personal interaction. The stricter manners he’d been raised with and remembered fondly now seemed a little over-stiff. He’d found learning to relax difficult; now, he found learning to un-relax equally difficult.

“Still the Man Out of Time,” Steve often thought to himself when he found himself longing for things that did not yet exist.

 

*****

 

“How’re the new digs, pal?” asked Daniel, his voice grainy over the telephone.

“Boxes everywhere, as far as the eye can see,” Steve replied with a rueful chuckle. “I didn’t think one person could collect so much junk in just a year.”

Daniel laughed. “You must be making up for those years wandering around with just the shirt on your back.”

Steve felt his jaw clench, remembering those years as a fugitive after his fallout with Tony. He hadn’t told Daniel about that – only Peggy got the whole truth – so Steve assumed his rival was referring to the years between his crash and reappearance, with Daniel assuming he’d survived and had amnesia, perhaps.

“I tried to tell you,” Daniel reminded him in a jokingly self-congratulatory tone.

Steve ran a hand over the largest piece of furniture in the living room, the “book” shelf with all his records, next to which sat the radio cabinet with the record player atop. He looked around at the modest house he’d bought for himself, just outside New York City’s limits, using his back pay from the U.S. Army. “This place is nowhere near ready for company, but when it is, you’ll be the second person I call.”

Daniel laughed. “Yeah, I hear ya.” After a brief but oddly weighty pause, he continued: “Look, Steve, besides being a friendly check-in, this call’s to warn you. Some spooks dropped by the office a few days ago, asking for you. Peggy and I ran interference –”

“But I should expect a visit,” Steve finished, his throat tightening.

Silence hung over the phone line for a long moment before Daniel finally responded, “I wish I could say how soon. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it, Chief. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Thanks for the heads-up.”

“No problem, pal. You’d do the same for me, right?”

Steve chuckled ruefully. “Sticking my neck out for my friends has gotten me into more trouble than anything else,” he replied. “Speaking of whom, any leads?”

“Nothing,” groused Daniel. “it’s looking for a needle in a haystack the size of, well, Russia. And they don’t call it ‘the Iron Curtain’ for nothing.” He paused, as if weighing his next words. “Are you sure he’s not… KIA, not MIA?”

Steve sighed, but he’d known that finding Bucky wouldn’t be easy, even for an organization like the SSR. “I know my friend’s out there; I can feel it. Net time I see Peggy, I’ll see if she has other ideas about it.”

“When will that be?” Daniel’s voice sounded a little strained. Anyone else might’ve missed it, but the shift rang in Steve’s ears like a siren.

“Whenever she gets back from whatever wild goose chase you’ve got her on,” Steve joked to try to ease the sudden tension. “Where is that, by the way?”

“Classified, pal,” Daniel joked back. “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

“Easy way to get rid of the competition,” replied Steve.

Both men shared a laugh.

After a brief lull in the conversation, Steve said, “I appreciate everything, Daniel. You’re a good friend. You need me, you call, I’ll answer. Got me?”

“As long as I don’t make it a habit, right?” added Daniel, knowing the refrain from long routine.

Steve smiled. “That’s right. After all, I’m retired.”

 

*****

 

A few weeks later, Steve had unpacked enough to have company.

The sound of a car parking unannounced in front of his house heralded the arrival of his first house guests.

Peering through the blinds, Steve frowned at the sight of the two suited gentlemen approaching his front door, both utterly drab and nondescript. Daniel had called them “spooks,” and Steve couldn’t argue with the appellation. They vaguely reminded him of the late Agent Coulson.

He opened the front door before they could knock, standing at his full height and squaring his broad shoulders. “Gas station’s about five miles further up the road,” he told them in a curt tone, pointing the appropriate direction.

The spooks didn’t so much as blink. So much for intimidation, Steve thought.

“Captain Rogers,” replied the one on the left in a flat tone.

“Strategic Scientific Reserve, 1943; USO bond sales, 1944; U.S. Army, 1945,” added the one on the right.

“Honorably discharged,” Steve pointed out. “If you’re here to recruit me, or convince me to rejoin, don’t waste your breath.”

“We’re here to collect certain property belonging to the U.S. government,” droned the left spook. The more they spoke, the less they resembled Coulson, whom Steve remembered as having a certain geniality.

“I don’t have the shield,” Steve insisted, “and I don’t know where it is.” Fortunately – because, as Peggy had noted, he was a terrible liar – both those statements were true: As far as he knew, the shield was stuck in the ice with the version of himself native to this timeline, but he had only the vaguest notion where that might be. Furthermore, he wasn’t that Steve – not anymore.

“We’re not here for the shield,” replied the right spook.

“The Super-Soldier Serum developed by Dr. Erskine belongs to the government of the United States,” intoned the left spook.

Steve’s eyes narrowed. “I thought it had all been destroyed.”

“Aside from the dose that produced a successful Super Soldier,” Mr. Right added in an oddly helpful tone.

Steve took a steadying breath, but he didn’t like where this was going, not one bit. “You should already have all my information from the SSR files.”

In the first flicker of emotion Steve had witnessed from these two, the spooks glanced at each other with something approaching annoyance. “The SSR has proven wholly uncooperative in this matter,” replied Mr. Left with the barest hint of frustration.

“Furthermore, the eggheads want fresh samples,” added Mr. Right.

Steve hated being right sometimes, and this was one of them. “I like my blood right where it is, thanks,” he told them as he began planning various means of dispatching them. He hated the idea of killing them, but he didn’t have many other options since they knew where he lived and would simply return in greater force if he merely incapacitated them. However, he also hated the idea of becoming a fugitive again, especially when he’d come back specifically to build a life of peace and contentment.

“Please don’t fight us, Captain Rogers,” instructed Mr. Left.

“It won’t end well,” added Mr. Right.

“And if I cooperate?” asked Steve.

“We can have you back in time for dinner,” answered Mr. Left.

Steve frowned at the wording – “can” instead of “will.” He’d run out of options, and now he felt the life he’d wanted, with Peggy and Daniel and the Starks and maybe even Bucky, slipping through his fingers. Frustration, even fury, began to boil within him. Keeping his tone even, Steve asked, “This a one-time donation?”

“As far as we know,” replied Mr. Right with a paper-thin smile.

A glint of light from a car windshield caught Steve’s eye, the vehicle cresting the ridge nearby, from the direction of the city. He calculated maybe one minute until it arrived, but he had no idea who it could be from the model – not the neighbor a half-mile up the road, anyway, but otherwise it could be anyone. “That your backup in case I don’t come quietly?” he asked, gambling for time or an opening.

To Steve’s surprise, Mr. Left frowned and turned to look. “Jones, I thought you said we weren’t followed.”

“I didn’t think we were,” answered Mr. Right – or, more accurately, “Jones” – who shot his partner a glare. “Smith.”

“Nice to have names to go with the faces,” Steve quipped, just as he made out a splash of red from the oncoming car’s interior.

The car stopped smartly behind the agents’ a few moments later, and Steve couldn’t suppress his grin when Peggy exited. She stood forth, arms folded, glowering over the tops of her crimson-rimmed shades, resplendent in a crimson dress – one not quite as formal as the one he remembered from that night during the war, but nonetheless breathtaking. ‘Mr. Rogers, are these gentlemen bothering you?’

“As a matter of fact, they are, Agent Carter,” Steve replied, still grinning. “They seem to think they can experiment on me against my will.”

Peggy clucked her tongue. ‘I take it things were about to become rather unpleasant?’

“You know me too well.”

“Agent Carter, just the woman we wanted to see,” greeted Smith in a pleasant tone that Steve immediately identified as “lying through his teeth.”

One of Peggy’s eyebrows quirked. ‘If I had a nickel for every time a man said that to me, I’d never need to work again,’ she replied dryly.

“Captain Rogers,” Jones began, “or, more accurately, the Super-Soldier Serum –”

‘– are none of your concern,’ Peggy interjected. ‘Steven Grant Rogers, formerly known as Captain America, shall remain under the observation of the Strategic Scientific Reserve indefinitely.’

A beat passed. “You can’t be serious,” Smith objected.

‘Chief Sousa and I drew up the appropriate documentation ourselves,’ answered Peggy. She put on an exaggerated expression of surprise, as if she’d just remembered something. ‘I happen to have a copy in my glove compartment. One moment, please.’

One of the more obscure benefits of the serum came in the form of sharp eyesight, better than 20/20. Even at this distance, a good hundred feet between his front door and the curb, the low cut of Peggy’s dress displayed quite an eyeful for Steve as she fished a manila envelope from her glove compartment. He offered a silent thanks to Dr. Erskine for that little enhancement.

Agent Carter strode up to Steve’s porch and handed her packet to Jones. ‘Copies for your home office are in the post,’ she added with a thin smile.

The two spooks paged through the packet. “This says ‘long-term psychiatric observation,’” Jones noted, glancing up at Steve. “You nuts, Captain Rogers?”

Steve shrugged with a broad grin. “No idea. That’s probably why they wanna observe me.”

‘Precisely,’ Peggy confirmed. ‘Although he’s proven stable thus far, we – no offense – have no idea if that will last. It is the official stance of the SSR that, with the war over, there’s no pressing need to attempt to replicate Dr. Erskine’s work, especially without a more comprehensive understanding of the long-term viability of the procedure.’

“Veterans coming home have a hard enough time as it is,” Steve added, thinking of Sam’s work as a VA counselor, “without having the strength to pick up a car and throw it in the middle of a flashback.”

“That seems like a reasonable concern,” Smith muttered.

Jones shot his partner a look. “We’ll be in touch, Captain Rogers, about the progress of your observation. Agent Carter.” He tipped his hat in the most perfunctory display of manners Steve had ever seen. He jerked his head toward their car, and the two spooks beat a hasty retreat.

Neither Steve nor Peggy relaxed until the car had vanished around a bend in the road.

“Long-term psychiatric evaluation, huh?” Steve finally asked, to break the silence.

‘It’s a reasonable concern,’ Peggy echoed Mr. Smith with a cheeky smirk.

Steve chucked a thumb over his shoulder. “Why don’t you come inside and explain the details?”

Peggy pulled off her sunglasses and tucked a stray lock of dark hair behind her ear. ‘That’s a splendid idea. There’s rather a lot to explain.’

__________________________________________________________

A/N: So, The Falcon & Winter Soldier series, while being enjoyable in its own right, also helped crystallize some ideas about how I want to proceed. I don't want to spoil that show, or my own story, of course; but this chapter shows the first of that influence. One of the driving questions will be "How much will Steve try (and be able to) change this timeline?"

Anyway, feedback is always welcome; so please leave a review!



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