It's after they watch Thor and Loki disappear in a flash of light that Agent Sitwell approaches him. The group is parting, going their own ways and Steve has just swung a leg over his motorcycle when the bespectacled agent appears as if from thin air. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents seem to have that talent, he finds.
"Captain Rogers," Sitwell greets.
"Agent Sitwell," Steve acknowledges with a nod. He's anxious to start riding. "Is there something I can help you with?"
Sitwell shakes his head. "Not exactly. I have something for you."
Steve frowns, watching as the agent reaches into the briefcase that is hanging by his side. Inwardly, Steve sighs; can't whatever paperwork Fury needs him to look over wait until after this road trip? The Director hadn't seemed bothered when Steve had told him, in fact he'd encouraged it. Captain America needed to get reacquainted with the world.
Instead of files, Sitwell hands him a book.
"He wanted you to have that," Sitwell says, locking up the briefcase. "He was going to give it to you himself when all of this was over. I thought you might like to take it with you."
Steve looks at the book he's been handed, Today in History: A Day-By-Day Review of World Events. Clutching the book in both hands, he nods slowly and somehow manages to scrape up a smile for the agent standing beside him.
"Thank you," he says, hoping his voice doesn't sound strained.
"Just doing a friend a favor," Sitwell replies honestly. He lingers as though there's something else he'd like to say. "You know, there's this diner you should stop at. It'll be on your way. They make great pancakes there…"
Steve eases himself onto the bed of the hotel he's stopped at in Chicago. He's been gone a week, but it feels longer. Everything's so… different. It's overwhelming at times, smothering. There's so much he's missed, so much he needs to get caught up on. But where is he supposed to start? How is he supposed to go about catching up on seventy years of missed history?
His eyes travel to his bag sitting on the floor beside him. Leaning over, he reaches into the bag and pulls out the book Sitwell had given him before he'd left. For a long while, he simply sits propped against the headboard and stares at the cover. He'd brought the book with him, but he'd almost been afraid to touch it. Knowing who the book had come from has only added to his feelings of guilt. But it was silly, running away from a book, from the memory of a dead man. It had been purchased with his well-being in mind and it's rude to hide it away.
So he opens the front cover. Immediately his eyes are drawn to the lower right corner. There's a message there, written in careful, tidy handwriting.
One day at a time, Captain.
Steve closes the book and sets it aside, scrubbing a hand over his face. Is it strange, he wonders, taking so long to mourn a man you didn't really know? He's being ridiculous. The book had been bought by someone concerned for his well-being. He feels a painful tightness in his chest when he considers how often he's had thoughts about not wanting to try to understand this new world, how often he's just wanted to give up. With a harsh breath, he reaches for the book.
"Okay," Steve says aloud. "Okay, Phil, we'll do it your way."
A/N: I kind of want to continue this one, but not sure if I should, as I rather like it as a one-shot. If I were to continue, I kind of planned to pick random dates and somehow involve the historic events of that day in the theme of each chapter. I don't know, does anyone think that would be a good idea? Let me know!