A/N: I dunno why it's taken me so long to write anything for the Avengers...
The punching bag felt gritty and real against the force of his fists. Unlike the rest of the future—present?—it was solid and punch-able.
He didn't ever spar with the agents in black that were everywhere, though they seemed to be trying to obtrusively stay out of his way. It wasn't working. He could feel their eyes on him constantly, and even when he knew he was alone, the hidden lenses of the cameras stared barefully from every corner of every room. And no one asked to spar. So Steve beat a punching bag.
Maybe that was the reason, he mused as he felt his fist connect with the rough surface, sending the heavy bag swinging again and again. Maybe they thought he had anger management issues. Control issues. Steve had dutifully gone to see the therapist they had assigned him, but he didn't particularly relish the weekly meetings.
How could he ever hope to explain to someone how it felt to wake up one day to find that the world had left him behind in the dust? Perhaps an ex-coma patient would have worked better. At least they would be able to relate.
The bag swung around and Steve knocked it back with another punch that would have had Peggy shake her head at his form. He blinked and knocked the bag aside as it came back toward him. Peggy…the woman he knew in his mind to be nothing more than an ideal. The woman he knew in his heart, could have, would have been so much more, if only—
If only what? His next punch slams the bag completely off the ring and it hits the ground with a noisy thump. He stood there, heaving for breath, even though he wasn't all that tired, though he wished he could be exhausted. He turned around and picked up another bag, hung it on the hook, and began to punch again, methodically.
There was no point in continuing that line of thought, so like a good soldier, Steve shoved it aside. He kept his mind carefully blank as he threw punch after punch, but it didn't help. His punches never had, it seemed, not even in the war.
After he'd showered and ate—same fare, in his room, as usual—he sat on his bed and began to sketch aimlessly. Drawing was good, drawing was familiar. They'd been trying to ease him into the future, present slowly, Steve knew, but they had been providing him with books and even a computer. Steve's memory and advanced cognitive functions had been enhanced just like the rest of him, but it could only help him process, not know.
He'd read that after the war ended, the Soviet Union and the United States had fallen into a Cold War, that there was a nuclear arms race for years afterwards. He'd read about a man landing on the moon. He'd seen pictures of it and video. He'd studied the faces of every president who'd come after his fall and wondered what kind of person they'd been. He'd watched movies and listened to the new music, seen the new kinds of art people did nowadays. He'd even tentatively explored the Internet.
He'd seen, and read, and heard. And like a good soldier, he'd processed and accepted it.
But he couldn't know. He hadn't been there when the Twin Towers had fallen. He hadn't been awake when Lady Gaga had first become a viral hit.
There was a monument in his honor.
Steve was in this time, living this time, but he wasn't part of it.
He looked down at his sketchpad and saw the hideous face of the Red Skull grinning his eternal grin at him. Carefully, he tore the page out, crumpled it, and tossed it without looking into the wastebasket beside his desk, where it landed among several other crumpled pages.
He looked down at the clean, white page for a moment, and then started sketching again. Maybe this time, he'd be able to find Peggy's face, or Bucky's.