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Gratuitous Snippet Post

Hey, remember when I could finish stuff? Yeah, me neither. The side effect of the end of the semester is me being even MORE ADD. Like, tonight, after finishing my paleography homework, I meant to read Tennyson but wrote some fic instead.

So, here's a bitlet of an Avengers WIP tentatively called Friends, Lovers, or Nothing, because it wasn't meant to be a real fic, and YET. Stuff would happen. Like all my other WIPS...maybe summer, yeah?

So. Snippet below.


Steve realizes this is a bad idea, but it’s not like that’s stopped him before. Stupid punk. Bucky’s favorite affectionate put-down rolls around in the back of his head, and Steve is abruptly so homesick for a moment he can’t even stand it. He closes his eyes tightly, the sounds of street traffic receding, and works up the nerve to rap on the door in front of him.

Somehow, jumping out of planes into enemy territory, or invading HYDRA bases with nothing beyond a shield and a sidearm, are nothing but easy.

“Can I help you?” For better or for worse, his reverie is broken by a young woman, round face framed by a mass of riotous braids. She’s his age, maybe a few years older; her jeans cling tightly to a figure that is curved in a way that would have made the boys drool back in the day, and she wears one of those tops that manages to cover everything but suggests even more, all the same. Steve swallows, dry-mouthed, and her eyes narrow at him. “You Steve from the phone?”

“Uh—I—yes,” he stammers. “How do you do? Uh, Miranda?”

“That’s me.” She gives him a twitch of the lips in acknowledgement, but it’s not a smile—far from it, actually. “Mama’s not home yet—she’s runnin’ late from the store.” She peers at him, slit-eyed as a cat. “What you want with Gran’daddy, anyway?”

“He—I—” Steve takes a deep breath, and resists the urge to look back at Coulson in the waiting car by the corner. “Mister Jones and—my—grandfather—” Steve stumbles over the unaccustomed lie. “—They served together in the war. I wanted to—pay my respects, if I may.”

“Mmhmm.” Miranda eyes him up and down, then opens the door wide enough for him to enter. “You better not be no reporter. I’m jus’ sayin’. Gran’daddy ain’t all he used to be, and we don’t want him worried no more than he’s gotta be. You got me?”

“I—got you.” Steve gives her a small smile; he understands her need to protect all too well. “I can’t thank you enough for this.”

Miranda gives him a very forward once over and smirks. “You can if you try,” she says. He can feel himself go red all over with her regard, but either she’s teasing or she just takes pity on him. “C’mon. This way.”

He follows her up the three floors to the apartment number Coulson had found for him; they pass a few neighbors who look at them oddly but don’t comment. Jones is emblazoned on a wooden ornament on the door there, and Miranda unlocks it. “You came at a good time—he likes his afternoon shows,” she says as they enter; sounds from a television filter through another room. “Gran’daddy!” she calls, “We got comp’ny!” To Steve she adds in an undertone, “Sometimes he’s not always—here and now. Just sayin’.”

“In here!” says a rough, low voice, and they round the corner, and there sits Gabe Jones in a rose-colored recliner, plaid blanket over his legs. Steve stares at the wizened figure, the threaded white hair on a largely bare skull, the skin that is wrinkled and spotted in folds over fragile bones, and under all that he can make out the shape of the man he had once known, vibrant and alive.

Gabe Jones, last of the Howlers, sitting in his apartment in Harlem, watching The Price is Right.

“Mister Jones?” Steve says uncertainly. “Um, my name is Steve Rogers—”

“Steve!” Gabe’s face lights up, and he starts to laugh so hard he’s shaking. “Oh my Gawd, boy, where you been?”

Steve grins back foolishly, tears of relief pinpricking behind his eyes. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Miranda looks between them in bemusement. “You want me to let you alone for a bit?” she asks Steve, and he nods rapidly. She leaves, but he’s barely aware; all his attention is focused on his friend.

“Oh, Steve,” Gabe says, shaking his head and gesturing at the couch nearby. “Sit down, sit down, sit down! Miranda!” He hollers at the empty doorway. “Bring us some cokes, would you, girl? We got comp’ny, case you didn’t notice!”

“I noticed,” Miranda says in gentle amusement as she brings in cold aluminum cans of soda.

“Now you look here, girl,” Gabe tells her very seriously, “you’re in the presence of a gen-u-ine American hero!”

“Mmhmm,” Miranda makes a placating noise, clearly not believing him one bit but willing to play along. “Do tell.”

“This here’s Capt’n America—the man who saved my life.” Gabe beams at Steve, and Steve feels himself blushing all over again. “See now, you look at that, girl—he still modest. Pfft.”

“He seems the shy type,” Miranda agrees, clearly not believing a word of what he’s saying. To Steve she says, “I’ll just be in the other room. Try not to get him too excited, okay?”

“Okay,” Steve says, nodding. When she’s left, he says to Gabe, “I’m so relieved, Gabe. They told me that—well, I won’t repeat what they told me.”

“Let me guess: Horseshit.” Gabe snorts. “Didn’t me and Jacques always tell you to know better than that, Cap?”

“I guess so.” Steve can’t take his eyes off his old friend; the more he looks, the more the years melt away to reveal the Jones he had known so well. “God, it’s good to see you!”

Gabe cackles again, then the laughter devolves to coughing. “’Scuse me, Cap. I ain’t feelin’ too good these days.”

“Yeah, well. Me neither,” Steve admits. “I’ve only been awake a couple weeks now—it’s been—” He tries to think of an adequate way to summarize everything that’s happened. “Hard,” he says at last, then, thinking of Tony, “but it’s getting better.”

“Go onnnn,” Gabe says, drawing the word out long like he used to; used to drive Dernier nuts, and the Frenchman would curse at him until Gabe argued back in French. The pair of them had been as tight as Steve and Bucky. “Tell me about it.”

Steve exhales, and tries to push painful thoughts out of the way. “You’ll never guess who I met,” he says instead. “Tony Stark. Howard’s son. Howard! Can you believe that!”

“Howard Stark? That cat!” Gabe slaps his leg with glee. “Never would have thought!”

“I know!” Steve laughs too. “It’s so weird, Gabe—you know Tony’s older than Howard was when I knew him?”

“Oh, Howard,” Gabe repeats, shaking his head. “How he be? More importantly, how Miss Peggy be? They still windin’ you up about fondue?”

Steve freezes. “What?”

“Miss Peggy,” Gabe repeats, and whistles. “I ain’t seen her in so long—her nor any of the fellas. You know where they are, Cap?”

“Uh—” Steve falters, memories of the photograph at Arlington clear in his mind, but Gabe continues.

“Where’s Bucky?” he asks, looking confused. “Where’s Bucky?”

“I—” Steve swallows, going cold and hot by turns. “Uh—”

“Everything all right?” Miranda peers in from the other room. She stares at Steve. “You okay? You don’t look so good.”

“I—I’m fine,” Steve says, not feeling fine at all. More than anything he wants to run from this—this nightmare—but instead he forces a wan smile. “Just—reliving the glory days.”

“They were the days,” Gabe agrees with a happy sigh, concern for Bucky clearly forgotten. “They were the days!

~

Steve stays a while longer, smiling and nodding and talking to Gabe. It hurts, seeing him like this, an echo of what he had been, but Steve selfishly thinks that an echo is maybe better than nothing.

Or maybe not.

“You made him real happy,” Miranda says when he leaves. “I gotta hand it to you, Steve—you’re good with him.”

“Thanks,” Steve says, blinking fast. “I—thanks.” He takes a deep breath. “Can I maybe—come again—sometime?”

Miranda nods. “Of course. Just give us a call—you got our number.”

“Yeah.” He gives her a smile. “Thanks.”

When he steps outside the building the winter air is cold on his face, and it somehow makes the building heat under his skin better. He exhales roughly, rubbing his eyes.

“Captain Rogers? Are you—alright? Sir?” Coulson steps out of the black SHIELD car, concern written clearly across his usually taciturn features.

“Yeah,” Steve says, then, “No. I—” He takes a deep breath, staring at the sky for a moment, before looking at Coulson again. “Can you take me to Tony?”

Coulson frowns unhappily but nods. “Yes, sir,” he says.

Comments

( 10 comments — Add your .02 )
aadarshinah
Apr. 18th, 2012 12:51 pm (UTC)
Oh. I think my heart just broke a bit, reading this.
caitri
Apr. 19th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)
<33333333
rubynye
Apr. 18th, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
Oh God DAMN woman, you made me cry.

Also, I love Miranda. (Critical reader note: I don't think you need all the apostrophes -- you convey her dialect brilliantly with diction alone.)
caitri
Apr. 19th, 2012 01:22 am (UTC)
Really? You mean instead of having "jus' sayin'" have "just saying"? *thinks*
rubynye
Apr. 21st, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
Yep, or perhaps "jus' saying" --fewer apostrophes, if you want to keep a few. All our accents distort the actual phonemes we say vs the ones we hear and comprehend, after all. Steve knows she's saying "just saying".
blue_jack
Apr. 18th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, just break my heart, why don't you? ;______;
caitri
Apr. 19th, 2012 01:23 am (UTC)
Don't worry, Tony will take care of him.
treksnoopy
Apr. 18th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
*wibbles*
caitri
Apr. 19th, 2012 01:23 am (UTC)
*cuddle*
sail_aweigh
Apr. 19th, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
OMG, OMG, that was so touching and heartfelt. Here, HAVE ALL MY FEELS. T.T Oh, I hope to see the entirety of what this is from, it's going to be splendid, I can tell.
( 10 comments — Add your .02 )

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