A/N - This is a quick reboot of this one-shot. Not much has changed, just a few corrections and a new author's note. I had gotten a new review (thank you Tanu!) on it and had seen that it was tracking in the stats a bit, so I decided to reread it and promptly choked on my tea. I found some errors that were inexcusable, ones that I should've caught. Hopefully now, they've been eradicated.
Disclaimer: Belon- . . . Nah, you guys know by now this if FF and you don't really need one.
Steve Rogers walked into the empty gym, a punching bag slung over his left shoulder, and a bottle of cool water held loosely in his right hand. A tormented and weary expression marked his face, his naturally bright blue eyes dimmed with loneliness.
Walking slowly over to the mat, he hung the weight from his shoulders on to the chain that came down from the ceiling. The walls that surrounded him were a dull white and a green. There were older, yellowing newspaper clippings attached to the wall in front of him. Some from the 1930s, some from the 1940s, but most from times he never knew. He stepped back from the punching bag and looked at the pictures on the wall, remembering the times when he and his friends in the Howling Commandos and his best friend Bucky, would be in the gym practicing or out in the field fighting the war, fighting for their country. But that war was a long time ago, nearly seventy decades.
And here he was, while they became old and decrepit and died, he was still young, still alive? . . . No, less than alive. Just a shell of what he used to be, of who he used to be. He clenched his jaw in frustration as he walked over to his duffel bag and began to pull out the hand tape. He wrapped the long strips of material around his hands and then began to rub talcum powder over them. As he drifted back over to the punching bag he remembered one of the last times he and Bucky had been together...before his death.
You ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death? Steve had asked humorously.
Hell, no! The little guy from Brooklyn who was too dumb not to run away from a fight.
Steve started to punch against the material of the bag . . Left, right . . . each hit becoming harder as his memories from past times came flooding into his mind. Left, left.
I'm following him. But you're keeping the outfit, right? Bucky had asked sarcastically.
You know what? he'd responded. It's kinda grown on me.
His breathing became harsher as he punched harder, more fiercely, trying to beat back the pained feelings inside him. Right, left, left. His old life, gone. Jab, left, right. He had to start from scratch, start over, remake his life from a new point. Right, left, right. He was adaptable, but . . . he wasn't living in the America he knew anymore. Them with their cell phones. Right, right, left, and colored televisions, and- . . . and miniature musical devices. What were they called? Oh right, iPods. He shook his head and closed his eyes as he continued to punch. Right, right . . . right, left. His punches steadily grew more severe and more rapid.
This was all so much to take in, he had preferred it when it had been simpler. When there had been things with which he was familiar. Record players, for example, he loved those because nothing sounded like vinyl. He kept socking the bag in front of him. Then she rushed into his head, Peggy Carter. She had wanted to dance with him, she had loved him, she had kissed him. He recalled the last conversation he had with her, remembering what she had said to him before he was lost from her forever. Left, right, right, left . . .
Peggy? He had asked as the HYDRA ship had been falling from the sky.
Left, left, right . . . .
I'm here, she'd responded.
I'm gonna need a rain check on that dance.
The punches to the bag became rapidly more intense as all his senses flooded with anguish. Right, left, left . . .
Alright, she'd replied. A week, next Saturday, at the Stork Club.
You got it, he'd answered.
Right, right, left, right . . .
He remembered the picture he had had of her. It had been set near the window so it would be the last thing he ever saw. Left . . . right . . .
Eight o'clock on the dot. Don't you dare be late! Understood?
He let a sad grunt exit his mouth as the chain that held the bag began to squeak with stress from the amount of force the bag was taking. Peggy had always been a stickler about punctuality, but he had liked that.
You know, I still don't know how to dance, he had replied, trying to lighten the dread of the impending doom. He could hear the broken smile in her voice as she had spoke.
I'll show you how. Just be there.
Hot, angry tears began to rise in his eyes, as his face bent with grief. Right, right, right, left, right . . . Why had he been taken away and then brought back? Why couldn't he have just died? It was worse somehow, knowing what could've happened, but didn't.
You'll have the band play somethin' slow. I'd hate to step on your-
That was the last thing he remembered. Right, left, left, right-left!
Suddenly, the bag that hung from the ceiling launched itself into the wall in front of him, sand pouring out from its sides. Steve just stood there, so downcast by his thoughts that he didn't care how hard he had been ripping into the bag, his pent up feelings finally beginning to release themselves. He was breathing hard, but he didn't look satisfied with his effort. His mind was still somewhere else . . . sometime else.
He looked down at the floor, his eyes flat and spiritless. This wasn't the first time it had happened, the bag flying off the hook when his memories and feelings had gotten the best of him. It happened. But it only happened in here when he was alone.
"Trouble sleeping?" came a stern voice. He turned to the direction the voice had come from. Director Fury was walking towards him from the opposite end of the room. Steve sighed and began to unwind the material from around his palms.
"Are you here with a mission, sir?"
"I am," replied Nick firmly.
"Trying to get me back in the world?" asked Steve absentmindedly, an apathetical mood painting the words he spoke. There was a slight pause.
"Trying to save it."
Steve looked up at him, the loneliness and anger in his eyes now gone, replaced with concern. Nick kept his unwavering gaze locked him, waiting patiently for a sign. Steve looked back at his hands as he kept unwinding the gauze. If the world was in trouble he would have to forget the past, forget the anger, forget the pain. He would have to move on.
It was time to start over.
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