Confetti and balloons! Floating lanterns! (oops, I think that was a spoiler… 😛 Ehh, even superheroes aren’t perfect.)
This is the first post of 2015 on this blog! Wooo!!!!
Second year I’ve been blogging, can you believe it? I am so haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapppyyyy right now… 😛
Anyway, in celebration of the new year, let’s hear from Mr. Stark in New York on the post SHIELD expose fallout and on the Avengers front.
Auld Lang Syne
When Steve got up to the roof, fully wrapped in sweaters, scarf, hat and blanket, he was frankly surprised to find it deserted. He had been expecting to find at least Hawkeye up here. The sniper came up for the sake of the height.
Then Steve mentally kicked himself. Hawkeye was in hiding; Steve didn’t even know where. Officially, he himself was in hiding. It wasn’t safe for him, any more. He wasn’t used to living, being hunted. Hydra wasn’t all gone, and it would be hard to burn it out of the civilized world, but he was going to do it.
Grabbing the notebook from under his arm, he picked up the pencil he usually used for drawing. He flipped the book open and began to write. Hey Peggy, it’s me. I just wanted to say that the world didn’t end, and we’re still fighting. I won’t stop until all of Hydra is dead or captured. I promised you and Bucky that a long time ago. Some things have changed, but I’m still on the mission, Peg.
It seems like so much has changed, but it really hasn’t. It’s the same war still. Funny how that works. When they brought me back, I thought there wasn’t really much of a use for me any more, but there are still people who need to be protected. And I’m still working with a team. It’s just a team of… well, superheroes now.
I feel almost like two people sometimes. Like I had left part of me with you. As if I’ve lived two entirely separate lives. It’s funny how dreams can become memories, almost as if they actually happened.
Tomorrow it’ll be 2015. Wasn’t there a movie set in 2015? Oh well. I don’t care much, anyway.
Good night, Peggy. I’ll see you in Heaven.
He tore the page from the book, folding it neatly, and picked up the strange construction beside him. He could remember making one of these out of a paper bag when he was twelve and then getting in trouble for sending it up on a Boy Scout campout—he had nearly set a tree on fire and had scared his senior patrol leader and the Scoutmaster badly. This time, it was a safer version of the same thing—a sort of hot-air balloon, miniaturized. He tore open the plastic that covered the tissue paper and balsa wood construction, then gently waved the balloon in midair to fill it out, flipping the frame open. Setting the note on the fuel cell, he took the cigarette lighter and lit it. Slowly, the lantern rose, joining many others floating over the cityscape. Steve drew in a slow, deep breath and leaned back, looking up at the lanterns. It was almost like the scene in the one Disney movie that he’d been ordered to watch once and hadn’t seen since.
“Kind of surprised that you’re up here, not in bed getting some sleep,” Tony commented from behind him. Steve didn’t startle. He’d known Tony was there; he had heard the door from the interior open and close, the crunching of gravel on the roof as Tony and Pepper joined him.
“I don’t have anywhere to be tomorrow,” Steve said, turning. “It isn’t as if SHIELD is going to send me to some remote place at 3 a.m. this morning.” Pepper looked him up and down, probably able to tell that the smile was the one he reserved for awkward situations and that never matched his actual feelings.
“How are you coping?” she asked.
“I’ll be fine. I’ve survived this sort of thing before,” Steve replied. He turned to Tony. “Thanks for letting me crash here. I’m not exactly the safest person to have under your roof at the moment.”
“Is that why you’re on it and not under it?” Tony snarked. Pepper gave him ‘the look,’ but Steve actually laughed.
“Part of the reason,” he joked back.
“What’s the other twelve percent?” Pepper asked, joining in the fun.
“I’m not scared of heights.”
“When are you going to let that die?”
“Probably never,” Pepper told Tony. She frowned at Steve. “Really? Weren’t you ever afraid of them?”
“No. Bucky wanted me to get my head examined. He did not like heights at all.” Steve replied and then winced. Pepper crossed the space and put a hand on his shoulder.
“It won’t ever be like it was before. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that. But you will get him back, Steve.”
“It’ll be hard,” Steve murmured. Tony slapped the former soldier on the back.
“And that’s why superheroes have girlfriends, Cap,” the billionaire said. “Because otherwise we’re just a bunch of temperamental basket cases.” Steve groaned good-naturedly.
“Oh no, not you too,” he said. Pepper cocked her head.
“Natasha has been trying to set me up on blind dates. She even had me go out with Peggy’s grandniece. That was weird.” Pepper blinked. Tony frowned.
“Who’s Peggy?” Steve looked down.
Pepper gave a quiet ‘oh.’ Tony was silent for a while. Then, quietly, “You’re stronger than I could ever be, Cap. I can’t imagine losing Pepper.”
“You would go on without me,” Pepper said.
“You would go on because you had to,” Steve said, quietly. “Because the world out there—they still need heroes. The world is flawed. They’ll always need heroes.”
“I’m not sure if I deserve to be called that.”
“So am I.” Steve leaned back against the railing, absently. “I’ve never seen the city from this high up before.”
“I thought you said you weren’t scared of heights?” Pepper asked.
“I never got up to the observation decks. Back then, everyone moved too fast for me. That actually… hasn’t changed that much.”
“I feel weird now.” Tony muttered. “Like I’m getting motion sick.”
“Do you ever get motion sick in the suit?” Steve wondered, then bit his tongue.
“I refrain to answer that.”
“Sorry,” Steve said, blushing.
- It divided evenly by five, thirteen, and thirty-one. All of them prime numbers. Absently, Steve scraped the toe of one boot in the gravel.
“Are you up here to watch the fireworks?” Pepper asked.
“Actually, the stars. Though they’re a bit hard to pick out with all the lights down there,” Steve said. “It helps put things in perspective.” He didn’t say it aloud that he came up here to be alone, much of the time, but he was glad of the company tonight.
“Sorry to ask this now, but I haven’t exactly had time before,” Tony said. “What do you think will happen to the Avengers, minus the backing from SHIELD?”
“We’ll keep operating, as a separate entity.” Steve said, quietly. “We’ll probably not have an easy time of the PR part, or dealing with the government, but we’ll still be here.” He turned, slowly. “You told me once that we weren’t soldiers, Tony, but… we all have duties to carry, still. And I know it’s not easy to balance duty with conscience, especially when you’ve sworn your allegiance to something. We slip. We fail. But we get back up again.” He stared out at the skyline. “Some people called Captain America the perfect soldier, the ultimate soldier. But we all know that’s not true. I disobeyed orders when I thought they were wrong. I’ve made poor decisions. I’ve failed missions, and people died on my watch. We aren’t perfect soldiers. What matters is that we try to do the right thing. I guess that’s what makes us the heroes.”
In Tony’s pocket, his phone began to play “Auld Lang Syne.” Tony smiled and took a few glasses from the side table that had been sitting up there all evening, utterly ignored. He handed one to Pepper and another to Steve. “To the future.”
“To new friends,” Steve added, ringing glasses with the other two.
“The future where we fix our mistakes,” Pepper said. She took a sip. “Happy new year.”
So, that’s my New Years’ story. Based around a dare from Iris. (Like her, I didn’t particularly want to write fanfic, but okay, here we go. 😛 ) Hopefully you enjoyed it… It’s also for Liam’s New Year’s short story challenge… I apologize for the lack of plot; I focused more on wrapping up loose ends than anything else. There will probably be another New Years’ story based around the ever popular Connor Rawleigh, of Colorblind fame, so don’t forget to check back in for that, Colorblind fans!
Happy New Year! May it be full of joy, new friends, and whatever brand of awepicness you prefer. As always, thanks for reading, and God bless you.