DISCLAIMER: I do not own the movie Captain America: The First Avenger or any of its characters, nor those of MARVEL'S The Avengers – I am just borrowing them for play.
Chapter Four: Adrenaline
"I know this neighbourhood," Steve voiced as buildings were passed, men striding alongside women over the sidewalks as children ran across them, he and Peggy driven over the road. "I got beat up in that alley," he continued with a point, then nodded and added, "and that parking lot." He lowered his gaze. "And behind that diner."
"Most people note things like houses, restaurants, shops…" Natasha remarked, distancing herself from the experiences that proved as milestones in Steve's life before the serum.
"Did you have something against running away?" she questioned curiously.
He opened his mouth and shook his head, but began again, declaring, "You start running, they'll never let you stop. You stand up, you push back – can't say no forever, right?"
The truth of that reasoning resonated in the occupants of the room, the thought underlining the rebellious actions of each. From validating trick shots from the seemingly antiquated bow and arrow to persevering in innovation for individual incentive despite father-figures' mandates, or protecting potent genetic material from ambitious military personnel. To proving loyal despite manipulations previously wielded against any directed towards, to overturning experience to stand against unjust findings, or obstinately fighting stereotypes in favour of exploring a unique character. The Captain's words impressed the six on his sides.
"I know a little of what that's like," she agreed, "to have every door shut in your face."
The contest of gender equality was ongoing currently, nevermind the opposition she would have faced mid-twentieth century.
He fleetingly cast his gaze over her before inhaling and wondering, "I guess I just don't know why you'd want to join the army if you were a beautiful dame."
Tony choked on a laugh as Steve flushed.
His eyes were out the window before he turned back and stuttered to improve his wording, "Or a beau- A woman. An agent – not a dame." At her furrowed brow and probing stare he attempted to backtrack further, "You are beautiful but-" He gestured helplessly-
"Great recovery," Clint snickered.
-and capitulated to her judgement.
"You have no idea how to talk to a woman, do you?" she asked rhetorically.
"I think this is the longest conversation I've had with one," he admitted with a self-depreciating smile-
"Should give you lessons," Tony muttered.
"I'm fine without them," Steve countered, imagining the ordeal of the playboy's instruction.
"Eloquence would be an aid to your position of command," Loki enticed.
The two smirked as the Captain stated warily, "I'm not sure I like you two teaming up."
-elaborating, "Women aren't exactly lining up to dance with a guy they might step on."
"You must have danced."
"Well, asking a woman to dance always seemed so terrifying, and in the past few years, just didn't seem to matter that much – figured I'd wait."
He tilted his head briefly in consideration, eyes forward, before definitively nodding and answering, "The right partner."
She smiled softly.
"Ugh, romantic." Tony rolled his eyes. The fact was, though, that the period of history they were able to view was intimately paralleled with the behaviour of that of modern society. The decades passed tended to be dramatized and romanticized, reflecting back like looking upon another species, one with different patterns of behaviour. But this disc was displaying how the people were the same, how most men's outlook on women was the same. Steve was an exception in his idealistic romantic notions then just as he was now.
The car pulled up to an antique store and parallel parked by the curb, 'BROOKLYN ANTIQUES' emblazoned on the storefront. Steve stepped from the vehicle to Peggy's following, and then she turned to walk towards the doors with an instructive, 'This way.'
Men loitering by other cars noted them inconspicuously, Steve asking, "What are we doing here?"
"Going in in uniform isn't obvious at all," Clint drawled sarcastically.
"Stealth bases and operations have seriously improved," Natasha added.
"Follow me," she merely said. Above the shop's displays there were extolled, 'ANTIQUES: Bought and Sold; We Buy Antiques; WATCHES & CLOCKS; COLLECTABLES: Specialists in Rare Time Pieces.'
A bell rang as she pushed through the entrance, the dark interior lit only by scattered lamps and the daylight streaming in as she halted and Steve carefully shut the door to another ring. An elderly woman walked into the space from the curtained-off back area, greeting,
"Wonderful weather this morning, isn't it?"
"Yes," Peggy agreed, mentioning, "but I always carry an umbrella."
The woman turned from them to stand behind the counter, pressing the small white button secured underneath the surface with her pinky finger, an automatic rifle attached within easy reach as well.
"It's like watching a spy movie," Bruce remarked.
Peggy stepped through the curtains to bypass the wall to her left, upon which hung empty, ornate frames, and the desk in front of her, Steve trailing after before he stood at her side with cabinet supporting piles of aged books behind. Shelves laden with neatly packed books covered the wall in front of them, and they faced it for a few seconds before the bookcases swung forward like a pair of double doors and revealed a hidden grey corridor.
"A bad one," Tony appended.
Steve looked from side to side in wonder as Peggy walked forward, stepping to her side as the doors shut behind them and they moved past a desk where on the wall a couple of signs declared, 'SSN CONTROLLED AREA: ONLY AUTHORIZED PERSONS TO PROCEED PAST THIS POINT'. MP and others were stationed within the pristine halls before a pair of doors was opened before them and Steve stood at the rail overlooking the scientists and machinery he was to wade into. The ambient conversation ceased as each turned to gaze up at him for a moment, and he faced Peggy who met his eyes with her own serious-minded look.
She turned with a deep inhalation and began to lead him down the stairs to the lower level, movement continuing as Erskine met him by the foot of an open pod with a calm 'Good morning,' shaking his hand. A bright flash emit from the camera a soldier held as he took a picture before Erskine bid, "Please, not now."
Peggy brushed aside the curls of her bangs and then clasped her hands in front of her, Steve staring along the length of the device worked around a bed-like slab with walls and lid leant open.
Bruce and Tony examined the mechanics of the case and room in desperate want of understanding, the engineer ordering, "J, capture and enhance images of that thing. I want a 3-D hologram to work with."
"I'm sorry, sir, but my recordings appear blurred," the AI replied.
'What?' Loki questioned as Tony cursed, crossing his arms. "Forgot about that."
"The first letter said we wouldn't be able to record anything," Natasha explained.
"But that was Asgardian stuff," Tony countered. "This isn't that sensitive – figured Frigga would've dropped the protections."
Loki hummed in thought as to the information he was lacking, but decided it was of secondary concern as he was the subject of the first disc and therefore privy to the events of importance (those of the past) anyway. He tilted his head at the constructions on the screen before concluding, "I can't create an image of its workings either."
"That was a possibility?" Steve asked.
"Well, there was the thought that I could maneuver around the defences – but she has spent more time on them than I and all I know was taught from her hand. I would be able to discern the exact components of the whole arrangement if I had been the one to assemble the disc though."
"Yes. Collecting the perspectives of the past through one of the individuals involved, reaching through time to accumulate the events, would give access to the mentalities of all those connected."
"So, hypothetically, you could redo this disc and map out the blueprints and serum that enhanced Steve?" Bruce interrogated.
"Well, I could," Loki started, "but the degree of magic we're talking about isn't exactly accessible from my core at the moment. Also, Frigga hindered this for a reason – it's likely the avenue she accessed through Steven is defended in foresight of this discussion."
"Ugh, what the hell," Tony swore. "Okay, everyone just pay attention and I'll snatch you up later to see what we get."
"Are you ready?" the scientist asked.
He nodded unsteadily.
"Good. Take off your shirt, your tie, and your hat," he instructed. Steve raised his hands glancingly over the articles in question as he looked over his shoulder at Peggy, then obeyed while she turned her head behind with an amused quirk to her lips. He handed the items to a nurse that approached him.
A nervous energy permeated the atmosphere of the room at the expectancy of the augmentation.
In the observation room above, Phillips welcomed, "Senator Brandt, glad you could make it," clasping his hand in a firm shake.
"Why exactly am I in Brooklyn?" he inquired.
"We needed access to the city's power grid, 'course if you'd have given me the generators I requisitioned…"
"A lot of people are asking for funds, Colonel," he defended. "Oh, this is Clem, uh…" he started as he gestured to the younger man wearing glasses that had turned towards their conversation.
Steve clenched his hands into fists to the assassins and Loki's note.
"Fred Clemson, State Department," he met as he reached out a hand, Phillips accepting it. "If this project of yours comes through, we'd like to see it used for something other than headlines."
"Jesus," Brandt swore as he gazed through the glass. "Somebody get that kid a sandwich."
Agreement reverberated in the thoughts of Steve's teammates, Bruce wondering at the change in metabolic consumption and the difference in food intake but electing to question the Captain over their next meal instead of disturbing the charged environment.
Steve stepped up to the side of the pod before turning to sit on the edge of the flat surface, vertebrae and shoulder blades pressing at the skin of his back as he used his arms to shift his body and lay down. He adjusted his head and wriggled for a moment before Erskine moved to his side and asked, 'Comfortable?'
His sternum and ribs strained as he breathed, looking down at the length his small body left unoccupied and smirking before replying, "It's a little big." Erskine chuckled. "You save me any of that schnapps?"
He averted his eyes and admitted, "Not as much as I should have – sorry. Next time." Then he called out, "Mr. Stark, how are your levels?"
Tony pursed his lips.
"Levels at one hundred percent," Howard responded as he circled to Steve's side as Erskine adjusted his glasses with a 'Good,' walking away. "We may dim half the lights in Brooklyn, but we are ready… As we'll ever be." Steve's expression morphed into one of anxiety before he turned away and breathed, now with a harness strapped over his midriff.
It was easy for Tony to be angry with Howard on Steve's behalf, the man not allaying any of the younger's fears. It was righteous indignation, not bitterness at his presence by the blond's side signifying an influence to his view that would impair Tony's childhood.
"Agent Carter?" Erskine asked as he gestured upwards, "Don't you think you'd be more comfortable in the booth?"
"Oh, yes – of course, sorry," she said with a bashful smile as she turned, the scientist repeating, 'Good.' Steve watched as she stepped away, Peggy pausing to send him an encouraging look before continuing. He turned his gaze to the ceiling.
"Is romance a major genre in this?" Tony derided, the first instance of ridicule available latched onto.
Erskine flicked the head of the microphone he held, a thud sounding twice before feedback screeched over the PA system to wincing above. "Do you hear me? Is this on? Ladies and gentlemen, today, we take not another step towards annihilation, but the first step on the path to peace."
Mechanical arms lowered with thick plates attached to wiring and were placed over Steve's chest, a pair of scientists drawing a preservation chamber forward behind as Erskine continued, "We begin with a series of microinjections into the- subject's major muscle groups." Seven vials with thick blue liquid were revealed as the vessel was opened, six carefully removed. Peggy was offered a seat above before Clemson took the chair behind her. "The serum-infusion will cause immediate cellular change, and then, to stimulate growth, the subject will be saturated with Vita-Rays." Nurses placed three vials of the serum on each side of the pod Steve was lying in-
Bruce leaned back and raised a hand to his chin as Tony pulled a glass panel from underneath the coffee table and began logging the directives through the interactive interface.
-before the top of his left arm was swabbed and a thin needle pressed into his shoulder briefly.
Erskine stood at his side as he scrunched his face, the syringe removed and a wad of cotton forced down before taken away. "That wasn't so bad," Steve commented.
"That was Penicillin," Erskine stated to Steve's fretful gaze, the doctor helplessly shrugging as he raised his eyebrows. He turned and announced, counting down, "Serum infusion beginning in five…" Phillips and Peggy inhaled deeply from the observation deck. "Four…" Additional metal plates with sharp pricks of needles swung to press into Steve's upper arms. "Three…" He placed a comforting hand on his shoulder as he said, "Two," and then, "…one."
A lever was shifted up, the blue liquid of the serum draining out of the vials and through the tubing. Steve's muscles pulsed as they were injected, his teeth gritting as he grunted and squeezed his eyes shut, furrowing his brow before his eyes flashed open abruptly. "Now, Mr. Stark," Erskine instructed.
Howard pulled down a level topped in red, the pod Steve was laying in shifting with a whir from horizontal to vertical. Bright lights shone within before being obscured as the panelling of the sides swung around, the top piece lowering and the device encasing Steve. Peggy swallowed nervously as heavy tubing was lifted and locked onto the top of the pod, Erskine stepping forward to knock on the exterior.
"Steven? Can you hear me?" he asked as he peeked through the glass panel down at Steve.
"It's probably too late to go to the bathroom, right?" he retorted-
Thor chuckled to lessen some of the agitation coiled in his muscles.
-Erskine nodding to the scientist behind before turning away with a smirk.
"We will proceed."
Howard moved to another section of the extensive control panelling, twisting a dial from zero to the halfway point of four-hundred.
Senator Brandt glanced to Phillips as the experiment proceeded, Phillips pursing his lips in apprehension.
Howard unfolded a pair of tinted glasses and then grasped a wheel, wrenching it clockwise to increase the Vita-ray output. "That's ten percent," he announced as a bright light emanated from inside the pod, Erskine and the nurses flanking it raising a hand to shield their eyes. "Twenty percent... Thirty." The shine concentrated further. "That's forty percent."
"Vital signs are normal," the man monitoring one of the screens reported.
"That's fifty percent. Sixty… Seventy-"
A yell suddenly erupted from within the apparatus, building before cutting off, Peggy darting from her seat as Clemson leaned forward with furrowed brow.
'Woah, what?' Tony said as Thor asked, 'What's happening?', Clint uttering an apt 'shit'.
Steve shouted again as Erskine rushed forward, calling, 'Steven! Steven!'
"Shut it down!" Peggy ordered as she leaned over the rail above.
"Steven!" he screamed, banging on the pod as she repeated, 'Shut it down!'
"Kill the reactor, Mr. Stark!" Erskine commanded with a point as he turned to run to him. "Turn it off- Kill it! Kill the reactor!" Howard stumbled to another set of controls before another voice interjected.
"No!" Erskine whipped around to the pod the same as others' stares. "Don't!" Steve cried rapidly upon hearing the commotion over his screams. "I can do this!"
Loki hit Thor's shoulder and demanded, "Hit him for me." Thor grasped the Captain around the shoulders as an alternative and pulled him into an embrace.
"You should not be so willing for injury to come to you," the god asserted.
"I'm not – I just-" Steve objected, extracting himself from the perceived unwarranted hold.
"You are," Natasha supported.
"I can take it."
"That self-sacrificing attitude's going to get you killed," Loki declared.
Erskine hesitated for a second before quickly turning back to Howard, the man striding back to the wheel to continue increasing the Vita-rays. Peggy's breathing remained frantic as Howard pronounced, "Eighty." Phillips winced as the glare of the light caused most to avert their eyes. "Ninety." The hand of the dial was forced to the end of the scarlet area. "That's one hundred percent."
The panels emit faint wisps of steam as the electricity of the machine hummed, sparks shooting from the controls to Howard's flinching as all of the people in the space stared at the blinding glow at the top of the case. There were flashes of ignition as circuits shorted in hasty succession of one another, and then the room fell into darkness as the mechanism powered down.
Peggy and Erskine stared as those above stood in anticipation, Howard removing the glasses shielding his eyes as he gaped before Erskine summoned brusquely, "Mr. Stark?" The panelling of the pod was opened.
Steve stood collapsed against the padding of the back, chest heaving as he panted. The nape of his neck now supported by the length of the arrangement, he stood over a foot taller, shoulders broader with wide biceps and triceps leading to his arms, and pectorals, abdomen, and obliques sculpting his torso before his long, powerful legs stretched down.
'Steven, Steven,' Erskine hushed as he grabbed one of his arms and helped him down, the blond's eyes closed as he panted. Excited mutterings ensued above at the sight, the men gathered standing and exiting to Phillips' huffing and disbelieving, "The son of a bitch did it." Clemson smirked before rising as well, a slim silver case slipping from his pocket onto his chair.
Eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Steve gasped as he was steadied, an arm around Erskine and Howard's shoulders as he was supported with their hands on his back and core, another scientist aiding and nurses close.
"I did it," Steve managed, sweat glistening at the base of his neck.
"Yeah, yeah," Erskine agreed, "I think we did."
"You actually did it," Howard uttered, eyes widened.
Peggy pushed through the throng gathered around him to dart her eyes over him, breathing deeply as she looked up at him to question, "How do you feel?"
He stared disoriented at his surroundings as he gathered himself to stand of his own volition, gasping, "Taller."
'Oh,' she muttered, one of her hands drawn up to the musculature of his chest before she immediately lowered it with an 'um,' and grasped one of the shirts a nurse held in a pile at her side. "You look taller," she recovered, unfolding the clothing and holding it out for him.
Clint and Tony laughed.
"How d'you like Brooklyn now, Senator?" Phillips quipped as he passed him.
"I can think of some folks in Berlin who are about to get very nervous," he retorted. Clemson loitered at the fringe as the senator said, 'Congratulations, Doctor,' turning to look back up towards the empty observation deck. 'Thank you, sir,' Erskine responded as he shook his hand in the crowd, before his eye was caught by Clemson. The man reached into his pocket to flip open a lighter to the doctor's disconcerted stare, and then upon the press of his thumb the device left above exploded.
"He's one of HYDRA's, isn't he?" Bruce queried rhetorically.
Flames shot through the space as glass rained down, the men and women below ducking. Phillips rose behind Erskine, who was already facing Clemson as he lifted a gun and grasped the last vial of the serum. "Stop him!" Erskine shouted, and then two rounds were fired into his chest and he fell forward.
Postures straightened in shock in contrast to Steve's slumped shoulders.
A woman screamed at the shots as the group tried to move to cover, Steve clambering to his side in panic as Clemson ran up the stairs. He shot the MP officer in his path as Peggy fired a shot that drilled into his arm before he managed to escape from the room. Steve turned Erskine onto his back to the doctor's groan, Clemson dashing through the halls to shoot another armed man before slamming the red button on the desk by the exit. Peggy ran up the stairs in pursuit as Steve furrowed his brow in denial of Erskine's fatal injuries, the doctor merely lifting a hand as the blond struggled internally. He pointed at Steve's heart in reminder of his character, before his head fell to the side as he died.
Steve raised his head slowly as he clenched his jaw, sharp eyes fixed on the path Clemson had run.
Above, Clemson tore through the curtains that blocked the back room and entrance from view, facing the rifle the older woman held in hand and shooting her before she could defend herself. The automatic weapon fired as her finger pulled the trigger, her body collapsing. He stowed the serum inside his jacket as he grabbed her gun, slipping out the front door, bellowing, "Move it! Move it!" He crashed past a man on the sidewalk before one in front of him yelled, 'Get down!' waving him past.
Two others fired shots at them from a storefront on the other side of the antique shop, Clemson's ally felled as he ducked into a car behind him. The two continued to attack as the vehicle pulled away, Clemson firing the rifle as he was driven by, the rounds shattering the windows of the car in front of them before hitting them. Peggy rushed out as they drove down the street, Clemson clutching his arm in pain as she aimed with her handgun.
Clemson turned and detonated one of the cars parked on the curb, the explosion pulling her attention until she discerned the lack of current threat and turned back. She stood firm, aimed, and fired.
Her shot pierced through the rear window and went through the driver's head, his skull hitting the windshield as his body was flung forward and the vehicle now manned by a corpse.
Clint and Natasha raised eyebrows at the marksmanship.
The car swerved to crash into the side of a taxi, the driver stepping out as Clemson did and circling to ask the limp driver, 'What are you doing? Buddy, are you all right? Hey, this guy's been shot!' as Clemson moved into the cab and drove back with tires squealing.
Peggy remained standing in the middle of the road with handgun raised as Clemson drove towards her, firing two rounds that pierced the windshield on either side of his head as he flinched. The cab approached to her resolute position, her next shot aimed and fired at close range just as Steve burst from the store and tackled her away from the impact of the vehicle, altering the bullet's trajectory.
The two landed on the surface of the street to the side of the cab's force, Peggy shrieking, "I had him!" as they climbed to their feet.
"Sorry!" he apologized as he clambered in the direction of the car, rising up to run haltingly because of the length of his strides and lack of lung constriction before straightening and dashing faster in pursuit.
At the sight of the cab screeching through a left turn, Steve banked left through an alley, watching the car's progress through the streets. Crossing a road, he moved to turn right but had accrued too much speed and sailed through the window of the storefront display opposite him.
Loki rather thought the adaptation to his lengthened limbs and increased mass and power great compared to the resultant awkwardness of a new body, of which he had firsthand knowledge.
"I'm sorry!" he stuttered as he leaped through the wreckage back onto the road, the front of Audrey's BRIDALWEAR in ruins to a man's uttered, 'Unbelievable!'
He darted through the streets in chase, regaining momentum down another alleyway before a locked gate blocked the end in the distance. He lengthened his strides before throwing himself up and forward in a jump that cleared the height of the obstruction as he lunged over. He landed with a grunt onto his bare feet to the wail of tires as he crossed the street before vehicles' honking, exclaiming, 'Woahwoahwoah woah, woah woah,' as he held his hands out to them and ran across.
Clemson noticed his form in the rear view mirror in befuddlement, turning to look back over his shoulder before swerving through the other vehicles on the road. Steve surged to spring onto the hood and then roof of a car in front of him, then bounded from one vehicle to the next as he followed the cab. Landing on the open box of a truck, he flung himself sideways onto the roof of the taxi. Clemson stared at the roof of the interior at the thud, then weaved the vehicle to loosen Steve's extended hold of the car. He banked sharply left and through an alley to Steve's scrabbling before pulling out again and deciding to raise his gun and shoot through the ceiling.
The rounds punctured the roof to Steve's dodging and covering his face with an arm, his body toppling sideways to hang onto the passenger side before Clemson turned to shoot through the window. A heavy truck entered unnoticed before the car to Clemson's frantic jerking of the steering wheel, the cab T-boned and flung to roll roof over axel as Steve released his hold and threw himself up. He landed in a roll behind a door that had been torn off, the taxi landing roughly right-side up before Clemson grunted and threw himself out of it as well.
He pitched his eyes around as he crawled to his feet, raising his gun to fire a shot to Steve ducking before turning towards the group of bystanders that had screamed behind him. He swung back to impede Steve, firing two rounds that hit the face of the car door he had lifted as a shield, and then lurched towards the mother who was pulling her son to the side before him. "Move- Move!" he yelled as he wrenched the boy from her, the woman shrieking, 'No! No, not my son! No!' The child shouted, 'Stop it!' as she continued, 'Don't hurt him!' as she was pulled back by her husband.
Loki barred his teeth and others snarled or cussed under their breath.
Steve clutched at a stitch in his ribs as Clemson warned, "Get back!" the boy held about the waist as he aimed the gun. 'Let me go!' the boy yelled as he struggled, the woman screaming in the background, 'Don't hurt him – no!'
'No!' the boy fought again as the mother repeated, 'No, my son!' Clemson turned and ran a distance before whipping back to shoot at Steve, the blond ducking behind one of the large iron weights abandoned at the side of the pier before raising his eyes above cautiously. 'No! Don't hurt him!' He darted forward as Clemson wrestled with the boy around the corner, Steve leaning his head around before Clemson pressed the muzzle of the gun against the boy's temple.
"Wait, don't! Don't," Steve implored as he jumped into the open, raising his hands in supplication.
Eyes were narrowed at the vulnerable position.
Clemson turned the gun on him and pulled the trigger, but a click echoed at the empty barrel. He groaned in annoyance and hauled the boy to the edge of the water, Steve pleading again, "No- Don't!" as the child was thrown in.
Clemson glanced back before beginning to run again, Steve turning from him to lean over the edge. "Go get him! I can swim!" the boy called, paddling to a lower vantage point as Steve raced away.
Shoulders loosened at the child's distance from the crossfire.
Clemson pushed a button on his lighter and a single man ship rose out of the formerly calm surface of the water ahead of him. Grey and cylindrical, curving to a point on either end with a smaller addition flanking its sides for direction and buoyancy, the clear-panelled covering of the cockpit lifted for his entrance. He grasped the controls and sealed himself within as Steve ran along the pier, the ship propelled forward before submerging completely.
Steve leaped with arms spread before bringing his hands together to dive into the water, immediately swimming behind the submarine as it rumbled through the dim expanse of liquid. Clemson focused on steering as Steve swam up behind him, kicking his legs furiously to reach and grab the sharp protrusion on the top of the ship and swing his fist around through one of the windows. Clemson flinched before gasping in a lungful of air as water flooded the small compartment, Steve dragging the lid of the cockpit up before grabbing the back of Clemson's jacket and pushing up from the submarine as he flailed in his hold.
Clemson was bodily thrown from the water to land on the pier with an aborted yell, Steve climbing the ladder after as he gasped and turned at the blond's approach to swipe at his midsection with a knife. Steve knocked him to the ground, the blade and serum from inside his jacket flung to the stone. The glass of the latter shattered and the blue serum seeped onto the ground. Clemson lay on his back with Steve above, wrenching him forward by his lapels.
"Who the hell are you?" he interrogated.
"The first of many," he answered. "Cut off one head," Clemson dislodged a fake incisor from its socket with his tongue and bit down on it, "two more, shall take its place." Foam gathered in his mouth at the cyanide pill, and he choked out, "Hail HYDRA," before convulsing and dying.
Steve breathed heavily as gulls chattered overhead, pausing in the still moment to stare down in awe at his panting chest and powerful arms.
"We should… take a break – before Tony makes fun of me being a chorus girl," Steve suggested, standing from the couch and exiting to his half of the floor.
"Right," Tony stated slowly.
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