The black unmarked SHIELD car sedan coasted through the streets of Los Angeles. Wilson drove, with Morse in the passenger seat, while Rogers and Carter sat in the back.
"I know this neighborhood." Said Rogers, looking out the window, "I got…."
He was on the verge of saying 'Pelted with eggs by a bunch of off-duty marines', but relented.
"Captain," said Carter, "May I ask you something?"
He instinctively turned his head to look at her, something he'd avoided doing for the past ten minutes, and the resemblance to stung him as expected.
At first glance Peggy and Sharon could have been confused for twins, but on closer inspection, subtle dissimilarities were evident. Sharon had a pointier chin, a thinner nose and lips. Then there was the red cascading hair.
"Go ahead." He said, looking out the window again to avoid looking at her.
"Why run all this way? You could've asked for arrangements to bade made, got done with it sooner."
"I couldn't risk Fury saying no. I gave a man my word."
"I see. Is your word enough to jeopardize the safety of yourself and the efforts of others?"
"Being reasonable never was my strong suit. But yeah, I guess it matters that much to me.
"Time was I wasn't Captain Rogers. I was just another guy from Brooklyn; five-foot-five, eighty-eight pounds, out of a job and broke. My word was all I had worth giving. Rich or poor, black or white, a man's word is the only thing he can always give… If he lives up to it."
"A 'man'?" mumbled Morse. Wilson gave a look, and she shrugged it off with a roll of her eyes.
In the back, Carter looked away for a couple of seconds, enough to bury her unwanted smile.
On the tarmac on Edward Air Force Base, two private jets awaited. A man in sunglasses and a suit waited by the steps to one of the jets. Wilson disembarked to talk to the Agent, and returned moments later to open Rogers' door.
"Well, Sir, here's where we split ways." Wilson said as Rogers and the others got out.
"What do you mean?" Carter asked.
"We're flying to New York. Captain Rogers isn't." said Wilson, and then pointed to one of the jets.
"That's us. The other one's yours, Sir. Have a safe trip."
Rogers shook Wilson's hand.
"Sorry for the trouble, Wilson. When we're back in New York, I'd like to buy you a beer."
Rogers turned toward Carter and Morse, and uncomfortably said, "Goodbye."
They were only two men aboard the director of Shield's jet, which had a very opulent interior, and even when they were airborne for ten minutes, Fury hadn't said one word, instead he just glared the hell at Rogers.
"Is Fort Leavenworth nice this time of the year?" asked Rogers.
"It's lovely. We're not going there, though."
"Where are we going, then?"
"DC. President figured this was as good time as any to see you."
"Yeah. It's probably best if you meet your commander in chief before you meet Colbert. Did you like those USO shows? You're about to relive them."
"I need a drink." Said Fury, "Bourbon?"
"Sure." Said Rogers, relieved, but wary, at Fury's offer.
"Edwin. Two Bourbons." Called Fury.
"Aren't you going to ask me how CNN found out you're alive?"
"Doesn't matter, does it?" Rogers said, as an agent entered the compartment holding a tray with two glasses of drink on it, "That was quick."
"Sure, it matters." Said Fury as he took a sip, "Aren't you going to ask me anything?"
Rogers looked down at the drink in his hand.
"During the war, I had… It wasn't really a thing, but whatever it was I had it with Peggy Carter of the SSR."
"I know." Said Fury, "I met her a couple of times. Extraordinary woman."
Rogers took a sip of his bourbon.
"Sam Wilson's partner...?"
"Sharon Carter. She's Harrison Carter's granddaughter…"
"Peggy's brother, he was in the SAS." Roger said, remembering.
"If you knew about me and Peggy, why'd you send her after me?"
"I can understand why seeing her would upset you, but she's a damn good agent, and a relative of the Falsworths."
"Really? No tactical advantage in springing a familiar face to make sure you could snare me in?"
"I wouldn't do that."
"For what it's worth, we had a portion of the recording of your and Jones' talk redacted. The team thought the Falsworths initially ended up with the footlocker because Lt. Falsworth was your second-in-command."
"You could have pulled her back when you had a definite bead on me, let Wilson and the others take me in."
"You know what they say about hindsight."
"Funny you should say that."
"Why is that?"
"I might've been somewhere in Oklahoma when it felt really strange you'd let me live on my own in New York, if you were so dead set on retaining my anonymity."
"Did it? You don't think we appreciate you enough to give you a modicum of freedom?"
"I figure you're the sure anonymity or compete freedom type, Colonel. It's kind of suspicious how news got out just as you pinpointed my location. That's why it doesn't matter how the news got out. I know you let it."
Fury took a sip, while maintaining eye contact.
"People tend to think you're not as smart as you are, don't they?"
"Because I needed to know if we might as well left you in the ice. You've been moping around, shutting everyone out except the Professor for months. I needed to see if you still had the gumption that led you to break out four-hundred POWs by yourself, against orders."
"So maybe I do." Rogers said, "Now what?"
Fury took a dossier out of the outer packet at the side of his seat and handed it to Rogers.
"You served your country with distinction, now the world is calling upon you."
"Who are these people supposed to be?"
"Howling Commandos for the modern era. It's time to talk about the Avenger Initiative."