What We Carry Back
Disclaimer: The things that don't belong to me include the Avengers and the poetry of Jack Gilbert. Poems quoted in this fic are from The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert.
Summary: In which Steve relearns the meaning of home.
Author's Note: Two fics in one day! Just a short little thing.
He'll never tell anyone, but he remembers a lot about his second coma from a fall off a building.
Pepper sits with him every morning and reads poetry to him. Poetry is a mutual love of theirs, constantly passing books back and forth with lines by cummings and Keats and Blake. Sometimes she reads Shel Silverstein to laugh, but mostly she reads Jack Gilbert, a particular favorite.
...trying to see if something
comes next. Wondering whether he has stalled.
Maybe, he thinks, it is like the Noh: whenever
the script says dances, whatever the actor does next
is a dance. If he stands still, he is dancing,
she reads in a clear voice.
that arriving is not the same as being resident.
That what we do is not what we are doing.
We go to the orchard for apples. But what
we carry back is the day among the trees...
Thor tells stories of Asgard, painting pictures of shining palaces and feasts and the glories of coming home victorious. Sometimes, quietly, he will speak of Loki's betrayal and the mark left on his soul.
Natasha and Clint usually come together and squabble like children about who did what on which mission or who forgot to make coffee or well I certainly didn't rip a hole in my own shirt, Barton. Always with that undertone of fondness.
When Clint comes alone, he mostly talks about Natasha.
When Natasha comes alone, everything is dark and quiet and still and she sings soft lullabies in Russian. Sometimes, her curls tumble over his arm as her breathing becomes deep and even, and he's glad she can find sleep.
Maria Hill usually chats about her day as she types something, probably paperwork, while Jane tends towards telling him Thor-trying-to-integrate-still stories. Darcy babbles, and as he can't keep up when he's fully conscious, he has no hope in a coma. Tony talks about his current projects, including stiffening everyone's suit with some polymer so falling off buildings doesn't hurt anyone so damn bad. Bruce tells him stories of someone named Betty, unless he and Tony come visit together. Then, their lab talk spills over into the room and they squabble just as badly as Clint and Natasha.
Fury sits silently, just a presence in the room until the day-the only day-he talks about Phil Coulson.
But what Steve likes best is the evenings, when anyone currently in the Tower piles into the room and eats dinner together, laughing and teasing and talking over each other and stealing food and spilling drinks and just generally being themselves.
He manages to open his eyes during a dinner and then it's a pile on top of him.
It's good to be home.