Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters used in this fic.
General Warnings: Rated M for Violence and Suggestive Themes
Author Notes: Okay, so here's the deal. I had this chapter all done and polished and was going over it two weeks after I originally posted the 2nd chapter, the night before I set the deadline to post, when I realized that in my original outline, Ichigo didn't act the way his character should have. And it was right before the middle part of the chapter and so naturally I saw that I had to rewrite 4 whole pages that I had slaved over the weeks before…...and promptly said "fuck no." The feeling of ruining my creation to that extreme degree after I had worked so hard on it was just really awful and I got so discouraged and uninspired to rewrite it that I haven't been able to return to it until now. It is my major failing as a writer that I am so unwilling to change my original design, but I couldn't just give such a half-assed chapter to you guys! Anyways, it's something that I'm trying my hardest to overcome. The only reason I was able to get back to this was because of you guys. Honestly, you made me feel so happy and inspired to bring this story to you guys again! I'm so grateful! Anyways, for your guy's amazing response to my story, here is the third chapter!
THE SOLDIER IN THE CIVILIAN
His heart raced as he burst through the double doors at a dead sprint, leaving loud yells and shouts of pain behind him from the people he had barreled over in his haste to escape. Normally he'd apologize, but absolutely nothing was normal about the situation he was in now.
Loud noises instantly bombarded him as he leapt out into the street. His heart almost went from 60 to 0 as some sort of futuristic and sleek looking vehicle charged at him. He skidded as he abruptly changed direction to run between the two cars. And then Steve ran for all he was worth, desperately trying to drown out the honking and yelling, squeezing his eyes shut as closed and as tightly as he dared to without losing his ability to see where he was ugoing, chest heaving with exertion and pumping his legs as fast as they could go, trying to block out everything that was different and unfamiliar and foreign and God, what was happening to him-?!
All of a sudden, the road opened up into a huge plaza and Steve couldn't help his eyes from widening in astonishment at the staggering sight. Buildings towered above him, their tops reaching far into the clouds, shining and smooth with their long sides of glistening glass. Bright colors and flashing lights assaulted his vision as he gaped up at the tall sky, blazing shapes and designs into his retinas.
So absorbed with the astonishing and bewildering wonders before him, Steve didn't notice he was on a crash collision course. Suddenly he slammed into a heavily layered form, eyes immediately wrenching themselves from the sky at the impact to find themselves locked with the eyes of the man he had just plowed into. To his extreme surprise Steve did not hit the asphalt, as hands like iron gripped his upper arms and held fast. Steve was a pretty big guy (nowadays), so going as fast as he was should have meant that crashing into someone meant both of them were going down. Instead, Steve felt the man move him slightly to the right in an effort to catch him as Steve careened into him, and prevent their fall. He felt himself slow to a rough stop, and put a hand to his chest as he fought to calm his racing heart.
The man steadied him before releasing his iron grip from Steve's upper arms and peered at him concernedly.
"You alright there?" He asked, looking Steve up and down. "You look like you've just run the Tokyo Marathon!" Steve didn't know what that was, so all he could do was stare back in confusement.
"I-I just, I don't know what, exactly, is going on…" Steve said haltingly, feeling as if he were on the verge of some cliff and just about two steps away from falling off the edge. He found that once he started talking he was unable to stop, barely holding back the rising panic inside his chest.
"I just woke up, and I don't know where I am, and I have no idea what's going on," Steve rambled, looking around widely as if his strange surroundings would give him the answer. "And the last thing I remember is fighting in the war." All of a sudden alarmed, Steve looked at the man, agitation thrumming through his body. "What happened?! Did we win?! What about the Germans?! And Hydra?! Do you know what's going on?" The man's eyes widened, before softening ever so slightly in shocked realization and then sympathy (but not pity, Steve was surprised to see). Steve had only seen it once, but it was the shared sympathy and empathetic rapport that could only exist between those people who had shared the same pain.
"I am so sorry," the man said quietly, understanding piercing through his eyes. "You've lost so much...I'm sorry. I know what it's like to lose everything you've ever known."
"What?" Steve was floored, but unable to suppress his rising suspicions about where (and maybe even when, his traitorous mind whispered) he was from forming.
Before Steve could even begin to process what the young man had just said, the sinister sound of screeching wheels on the street arose. Out of the corner of his eye, Steve saw the multitude of cars closing in on the strange plaza, before his right arm was yanked forward and he had no choice but to follow unless he wanted to lose the limb (of which he was very much opposed to, thank you).
"C'mon!" The man shouted as he dragged Steve away from the incoming vehicles. "Do you want to be caught by black, shady-ass cars?" The man asked him hurriedly as Steve hesitated. "Because if you do then feel free!" He was still for a moment more before following the man down a side street. They raced through the heavy traffic, weaving in between the cars and roads to lose their pursuers, whoever they were. Steve held back his speed until he realized that if he didn't increase his pace he would lose his strange guide.
Eyes narrowing in suspicion, Steve caught up with the man as they continued to run toward wherever they were headed.
"So how am I supposed to trust you?" He asked, suspicion and deadly threat curling through his voice (Steve hadn't been through a war for nothing). The man turned and grinned in response. The downright feral smile was all teeth and full of threats as deadly as Steve's yet Steve didn't feel as if he was in any danger.
"I guess you'll just have to find out." The young man threw the words over his shoulder as he sped up.
"Hey! You there!" Steve's eyes followed the angry shout to see two men dressed in the same all-black military uniform with heavy vests in front of them. "Stop!" One of the men yelled, reaching to his side where a dark shape rested.
"I am an officer of-!" Leaping forward, Steve's guide reared back his fist and punched the man square in the face. Before either Steve or the officer's companion could respond, he planted his foot in the stomach of the other and pushed off to back flip back to where Steve was standing. The entire conflict took only two seconds.
"Tch!" The strange man grit his teeth as he glared at the two men groaning in pain on the concrete sidewalk. "They're more tenacious than I gave them credit for." As quick as he had incapacitated the two men, his fingers wrapped around Steve's wrist once more and pulled him into the near alley. A tall metal fence met the pair, but before Steve could stop the man from plowing into the fence he had already jumped. Too close to the fence to stop, Steve had no choice but to follow. Leaping high, Steve thought he would see only the man smashing into the tall metal links, but was surprised once more to see the man easily clear the high fence. Slamming into the ground just a second behind, Steve was stopped short at the soft clicks of the safeties going off on multiple guns. Five men stood at the exit of the alleyway, the muzzles of large guns trained on them. Heavy-duty black cars could be seen behind the men, as well as the reinforcements that were pouring out of their doors.
Whipping back around, Steve saw men with matching uniforms rushing up behind the fence, guns also up and at the ready. They were caught.
Steve looked over to the young man tensed beside him. Whoever these people were, they were after Steve, and he couldn't let anyone else get caught in the crossfire. Stepping forward, Steve shoved his arm in front of his companion, herding him back behind him as he raised his other arm in a gesture of surrender. Ignoring the quick intake of breath behind him, Steve spoke.
"If you want me, take me," he said, voice steady. "Just let him go." Steve appealed to the soldiers. "He's just a civilian, he has no part in this." Part of him thought cynically that if they were the bad guys they wouldn't care about taking innocent lives, much less killing a single civilian. But what else could he do? They were trapped with no way out, and there was no way in hell Steve would let someone else get hurt trying to help him.
Not like Bucky had. No, Steve had sworn that day he would never let that happen again, and by God even if it took his life he was going to keep his promise.
"You dumbass!" The man hissed at him. Steve shot him a look to shush him. This wasn't likely to work in the first place, Steve didn't need the guy struggling and exacerbating the already deadly situation. "I don't need protecting!"
An unknown voice spoke out from behind the men, interrupting them. "Hold!"
The pair looked over to see a man dressed all in black step out from behind the mass of lowering firearms to stare directly at them. The man's hard gaze took the two in before coming to rest on Steve.
"At ease, soldier." The man in black ordered him seriously, face never deviating from its stony expression. Steve fought the urge to listen to his instinct to immediately relax at the command. Strangely, the young man behind him tensed tightly, jaw clenching and legs twitching almost unnoticeably as if he were fighting the compulsion to run and never look back. Steve didn't have time to think about anything more as the man in black strode forward purposely.
Steve's eyebrows drew together in a dangerous glare as he stepped further in front of the young man behind him to shield him from the stranger's sight. His glare deepened as the man drew closer. At this the man in black stopped, raising his hands in a placating gesture.
"Easy there, soldier." He said impassively. "We are not the enemy."
"Oh yeah?" Steve challenged the man's statement, blood pumping through his veins, muscles tightening, fists clenching as he prepared to run, grab the young man beside him and get the hell out of there. "What about my enemy?" The newcomer inclined his head slightly, conceding the mistake. "What's going on?" Steve demanded, edging closer to his companion. "Who are you?"
The man looked at him, a tinge of emotion crossing his previously cool, indifferent face.
"I'm sorry about that little show back there," he replied instead. Despite the man's cool exterior and menacing aura, Steve could tell he was being genuine with him. "But we thought it best to break it to you slowly." At this Steve's wary gaze sharpened once more.
"Break what?" He said forcibly, feeling a little wrecked around the edges. Just what exactly was going on? Steve felt his heartbeat increase as his breathing began to speed up. Before he could go into the beginnings of what was probably going to be a panic attack, a firm hand gripped his shoulder from behind, grounding him. Oddly comforted by the older youth's solid gesture, Steve relaxed, leaning back slightly in an effort to soak up all of the solace and support offered.
The man's piercing gaze flickered over to the young man now standing next to him, now only slightly behind his right shoulder, before coming back to rest on Steve. He seemed disapproving of having to share sensitive information within earshot of a civilian, but at this point Steve really didn't give a crap about anything the man thought. For all he knew, this man was his enemy. So no, Steve didn't exactly care for what the man thought right then.
Of course, failing yet to have proven they meant no harm, when a man suddenly came up from behind them to grab his young companion's arm Steve understandably reacted poorly. Whipping around he slammed his palm into the chest of the attacking soldier, before grabbing his companion and pulling him safely away from harm's reach. Thrusting his arm in front of the young man once more, Steve stood protectively in front of his self-appointed charge as the men surrounding them raised their guns to point at the pair, the situation quickly escalating.
"Hold and cease immediately!" The man in black shouted thunderously, single eye blazing with terrible fury. The soldiers recoiled away and flinched in fear, the muzzles of their weapons dipping back down toward the ground. The man, who was clearly in charge, glared at the group of soldiers murderously.
"I'm sorry about that," he said, eye still blazing as he turned back to Steve. "They just reacted to the situation. As a fellow soldier, I'm sure you can understand." Steve hesitated before nodding slowly.
"Yeah. Sure." He said warily, closely eyeing the offending soldiers. So focused on the still imminent threat surrounding them, Steve failed to hear to quiet huff of annoyance from behind him. However, one person did not, and shrewd, searching eyes watched the young man standing tall and unafraid behind the super soldier. Steve still did not relax his battle-ready stance.
"So," he said quietly, with subtle hostility. "Were you ever going to answer my question?"
The man blinked as he paused a moment, debating how best to approach the situation.
"You've been asleep, Cap." He said bluntly, but perhaps not unkindly. "For almost 70 years."
Steve stared back at him uncomprehendingly. His eyebrows scrunched together, Steve struggled to make sense of what he had just heard. He looked up and out of the mouth of the alleyway, once more trying to find an answer in the towering skyline and flashing billboard lights. He opened his mouth, not knowing what he was going to say, before swallowing it back down as his voice left him speechless in his turmoil.
He looked around him, all thoughts of a possible attack leaving him as the air whooshed out of his chest in shock of the incomprehensible and completely unfathomable, yet quite indisputable, truth.
"You going to be okay?" The man with the eye-patch asked from behind him.
"Yeah," he replied weakly. "Yeah, I just..." He cleared his throat before repeating himself, not trusting himself to be able to continue. Steve's face fell slightly in a new, sorrowful realization. If what this man says is true…
"I had a date." Steve replied resignedly, soft voice muted with a quiet grief.
The young man teeth clicked together audibly behind him, but Steve was still lost in the past.
"I'm sorry about that," the man said, stepping up to stand beside him. "Truly, I am." Steve nodded numbly, sparing one more second to grieve, before raising his eyes to meet the man's intense stare.
The man held out his hand.
"My name is Nick Fury, Director and head of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, or as we like to call it, S.H.I.E.L.D. We'd like to help you get settled back into regular life and adjusted to your new time, Captain." He explained, perceptive gaze locked onto Steve. Steve paused before nodding determinedly, shaking Fury's outstretched hand.
"Steve Rogers. It's a, uh, pleasure to meet you." He said, glancing around at the very-conspicuous scene they were making in the large square, and the soldiers surrounding them.
Fury smirked knowingly at Steve, before turning to face the young man who Steve discovered had stepped away in his momentary unawareness, the director's coat whipping slightly behind him to make a very mysterious effect, Steve thought.
"Thank you, sir, for helping Captain Rogers here today." Fury said professionally, staring intensely at the civilian man who Steve had knocked into, who nodded back with a removed sort of air to him, before looking hard at Steve as if to ask him if he would be okay. Steve nodded slightly to let his new friend know he would fine without him. The young man's gaze lingered for a moment longer, before softening in acceptance.
"If that's all, I should be going now? I'm already late to an appointment," the young man said, glancing at his watch as if to further impress upon the man his delay. Fury's eye narrowed slightly, before nodding, releasing the man. Steve expected him to just walk away, but instead the young man surprised him by pausing in his departure.
"I hope everything turns out okay for you," he said turning around to face him. Something flashed briefly across his face, before he smiled gently at him. Steve didn't know what to say to this veritable stranger who he somehow felt like Steve had known his entire life, who he had met so completely and utterly by chance, and who, if Steve was being honest with himself, reminded him the man who had been his best friend in the whole world.
"Good luck." The young man said, stepping swiftly away and toward the exit of the alley, before vanishing like a ghost into the crowd that had gathered behind the barrier of soldiers and military cars. Steve thought he might have imagined the tiny, smug smirk on the man's face before he had disappeared as he evaded the rather strict-looking man in a neatly pressed suit running after him and yelling that they needed his statement of secrecy. As the man moaned in long-suffering frustration, and ordered two of the soldiers to go after the young man, another man, mousy-haired and wielding an impressive aura who had been directing the soldiers to disperse held up his hand to stop them, shaking his head to let them know to leave the man be.
"Well now, Captain," Fury said, gesturing over to the open door of one of the huge vehicles encircling the area, "would you mind please getting in the car so we can debrief you back at our headquarters?" Steve shook his head to signal he would not, in fact, mind the ride, before making his way over to the car and climbing in the back seat. Despite the fact that the back seat had suddenly become much smaller after his change, Steve found the back seat of this vehicle to be quite spacious. Surprisingly, Fury climbed in next him before nodding to the driver to start the car.
Sometime into the ride, Steve worked up the courage to ask a question that had been nagging at the back of his mind for several minutes now.
"Director Fury, sir?" He asked. Fury hummed to let the man know he was listening, but chose not to respond verbally. "This might be a strange question…" Steve trailed off, looking at Fury to see if he should stop but when no such response came he continued. "Were there any major wars recently, since I, well, left?" Steve held back at grimace at his utter lack of knowledge concerning the new world he had been dropped into without any warning.
Fury leveled a look at him, one that told Steve he knew exactly where the soldier was going with his questions.
"No Captain," he said, now staring intently back. "While tensions have indeed risen among world powers, the world has been relatively peaceful since you fell asleep." He leaned back into the seat, a quiet seriousness darkening his features.
Steve frowned, and looked out the window heavy in thought as the city scape rolled by. If what Fury said was true…then how was it possible that he had the eyes Steve saw every time he looked in the mirror after Bucky died? That...didn't seem right to him.
It was never right, Steve reflected, when the young were turned old and weary by the horrors of the world.
AN: After all, where would Fury be without his Coulson? ;D
On another, separate note, it seems that as a writer I am stuck at around 7-8 pages for my chapters. For some reason I feel a sense of failure.
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