Steve keeps a gun underneath his bed.

It's nothing special, only a break-action shotgun that can fire two rounds.

He originally wanted a single shot, but then he realized that one bullet probably wasn't going to do the job.

Not that he's thinking about killing himself. He's not, really.

It's just that sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes he feels like he's this cockroach that's caught beneath a child's foot, and the kid keeps stabbing and stabbing and stabbing, but the damn cockroach is just too dumb to die.

His tally is at seven for the day. It's a relatively low number compared to the other days, the ones from before. Seven blood-spatters covering his face. That's not so bad. Except when he can taste it. He doesn't like tasting it. He doesn't like the rusty feeling on his tongue, the slight tang of salt, the stomach-churning bitterness that swishes into his saliva and trickles down his throat. It stains his organs, rises through his pours and paints his skin. It's not that they were innocent people. They were doing bad things and they told Steve to stop it, so he did.

Steve isn't innocent, but no one comes and stops him.

He watches the shock enter their eyes and they drop to the floor, but that's only if he shoots well enough. If he misses then they lay there, gasping and begging, but it's too late.

They are dead.

He doesn't want to kill people, but they send him out there because he's good at it and he has nothing else.

He has nothing.

Steve knows this. He's very aware of it.

He doesn't have family, friends, sunrises or comfort or anything like that.

Anyone who was that died.

They are all dead dead dead.

His tally is at seven for the day. That's what brought him here.

He'd been trying to get into this warehouse where an international human-trafficking ring was being held. One of the men got in his way. Steve killed him.

Steve wrapped his hands around the guy's head and snap went his neck.

Fury congratulated him on a job well done.

Good work, Cap.

He runs his hand down the smooth barrel.

Nice shot, Cap.

It used to put him in a state of awe, the power that was held within the confines of a bit of metal and powder. It terrified him before, that with one quick pull he could end someone's life.

But then Bucky had been taken and Bucky was Steve's only, so he forgot about that, he murdered that fear and became the murderer. He got Bucky back. Bucky was his best friend. Bucky was his family. Bucky was his every morning and every night. Bucky was always. He was always always always.

Then Steve dropped him.

Bucky fell.

He can still hear it, Bucky's scream. He can still hear that terror-laden voice scream as he tumbled to his death.

Steve thinks about his impact. He thinks about how Bucky's head was probably completely crushed, how every arm and leg snapped into pieces, how his blood spilled all over the pure white snow. He thinks about how much that must have hurt. He thinks about how the last thing Bucky saw was Steve failing to take his hand.

He remembers Bucky laughing, joking, living, breathing.

But Bucky's dead, so none of that matters.

They're all dead, actually.

Every last one.

You're quite impressive, Captain.

He brushes his fingertip over the trigger, feels cold metal and hard edges.

Don't you dare be late.

Steve is very late. He's late for everything.

He's late for his first date with Peggy.

But Peggy is dead.

He went to see her.

She called him Michael.

Peggy had been married to Michael. She was married to Michael for forty years until her husband passed away. He told her his name was Steve and she started to crying and screaming and pushed him away. Steve left.

She died a month later.

You've adjusted well, Captain. Good work.

He circles his forefinger over the end of the barrel.

Boomboombulletbulletbombbomb duckbloodpainRUN.

He walks outside and he's lost.

Steve is lost.

He recognizes nothing.

It's okay. He doesn't belong here anyway.

They have Iron Man and Thor and the Hulk, which is good.

They are much better than he is.

He's worthless. He knows this. He accepted it a long time ago. He tells them where to go and they might listen and they might not, because they're all smarter than him, they know it and he knows it. He's just there as a symbol. He wears these colors on his chest even though he has no idea what they mean anymore.

He used to care. He used to care about what he was representing.

Now he's just too tired.

He just wants to rest.

That's all he wants.

Just to rest.

Excellent command of the team, Captain.

His grip settles on the handle. He weighs the gun in his palm.

He's not going to kill himself.

Sometimes he just wants to think about it. He wants to imagine what it'd be like to see them again. He wants to hear Bucky laugh and kiss Peggy's smiling lips and feel his mother's hand on his hair. He wants them to wrap him up in their presence and never let go. He just dreams about it, that's all.

We need your leadership, Cap.

He can't go, though. He knows this. He wants to, but he can't. He doesn't know why he stays, why he keeps walking, why he keeps breathing.

Boombulletbulletshellstrench mudsnowbloodduckBUCKYshotbbb boom.

The Avengers, that's what they call themselves, (he doesn't know why) think he's stupid or something. He supposes that's okay. Once they forced him to move into Tony's tower, they realize that he doesn't know how to work a microwave or a cellphone and beyond that he's just an ideal that operates but doesn't think. He's okay with them thinking that. It's kind of true. It is true.

You've been asleep, Cap.

He doesn't really believe in anything.

He moves. He sleeps. He eats.

I'll show you how.

It hurts.

Every single breath is like a thousand knives digging into his heart.

Just be there.

He used to dream about their future. He dreamed of little girls with dark eyes like hers and British accents because she loved her parents and her home and that was okay. He knows his way around England.

Reddressbrownhairdancingrigh tpartneralwayslove.

He stares down the barrel.

Steve?

Good work, Captain.

Steve?

We present Captain America.

Captain. Captain.

Captain.

He sees her. She smiles softly, still as young and as beautiful and dead as always. She brushes her hand up his cheek and he can feel it

He hears her voice, as desperate as it was that day, on that plane.

"We can work it out."

We can fix this.

He lets the gun tumble from his fingertips.

He covers his eyes with his hands, because he can't see her, can't physically stand to see her, not like she was the day he died.

Since no one's around to hear him, Steve lets himself admit in a voice that's every piece of broken he is, we can fix this, with:

"No, we can't."

And then he laughs and laughs and laughs until he realizes that it sounds a lot like crying.


I have no idea where this came from. I usually have a view plots tumbling around in my head, but this one seriously just wrote itself out when I sat down in front of the computer. (The playlist for this is just...alskdjfsldkj)

I tried, honestly tried so hard to convey how utterly sad he is. I'm not sure if that came across okay or not. It's supposed to be something of a reaction to the heart-wrenching ending of Captain America. I wanted you, as the reader, to feel exactly as Steve does in this moment.

So, yes, my attempt at...tragedy, I suppose. Did it work?