|Mr. Rogers New Neighborhood|
|What: Captain America is woken up from his frozen stasis by S.H.I.E.L.D.|
The plane, its ordnance still encased in ice, its mechanisms and body long past the point of uselessness, still held one treasure the world never expected. The original plan might well have been to disinter the old hero from the forties and give him a proper burial at Arlington National Cemetery. And it might well have ended there, but when the one entrusted with the task of removing him from the ice realized the soldier was somehow miraculously still alive, things suddenly got complicated.
So on a cold day at the North Pole -- as if there were any other kind -- one hero in red and blue had the honor of extracting another hero in red and blue from the Arctic ice. He was taken from there to the SHIELD helicarrier: the safest possible place, all things considered, where he could be awoken gently and brought with care into a new, modern, and confusing world.
Admittedly, the plan could have gone better. Steve Rogers, codename Captain America, woke gently enough. His vital signs were good and he showed no sign of going into cardiac arrest. He showed no signs of brain damage. But it was under three minutes before he realized something was fishy, terrified the nurse who came in to check on him, and escaped from his room. The SHIELD operatives on the helicarrier are among the best the organization has to offer, and to his credit Steve Rogers has not killed one of them. Nevertheless, more than one man armed and trained by the finest in the world is nursing a sore jaw where the confused and infuriated soldier clocked him.
It's all a Hydra plot. It has to be. The weird uniforms. This weird base. He must be very deep underground: there's not a glimmer of sunlight in these halls, so he's in a bunker of some kind. Obviously. As Steve sprints down a corridor and approaches a junction, he flattens himself against the wall and listens and looks keenly. Do they know where he is?
The Black Widow is present, but she's not in her costume. When she got the alert that Captain America was in a bit of a panicked state after being woken up, she didn't suit up. If anything, she suited down. She has almost no makeup on, and her hair pulled back in a low ponytail with a ribbon. She's wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers which are adult sizes, but similar in style to the ones she wore when she was a thirteen year-old girl being controlled by the Hand during World War II. That is the Natalia that Steve Rogers knew. Best not to shock him too badly with who she is now. She slaps a wrist unit on to follow the tracking report of where Cap is on the Helicarrier, an earpiece relaying data. "This is the Widow. I'm en route." She lopes into a jog.
Superman's eyebrow raises and he looks up from some sort of pamphlet he's reading. He's seated in a dark room that looks to be filled with smoke. "This is phenomenal. I'm not sure how it's possible, but it clearly is. The effect this is going to have on America...on the world...is staggering." As the commotion continues, Superman's eyebrow raises even higher. "Is this something you ned me to take care of?"
"Does anybody else have the urge to say I Told You So? Hm? Nobody?"
Tony Stark, S.H.I.E.L.D. Consultant is on the Helicarrier (which looks ever so spectacular thanks to his designs, by the way) at this very moment. He's been staying out of the way as much as possible and for once he's having something deliciously soda-flavored to drink, rather than something that would hinder his brain functionality and equilibrium.
Stark is in a monitoring room, because nobody knows the Helicarrier like he does and he's watching everything from the monitors there. There's also a handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tech-Lackeys there assisting, while Stark supervises. "There. And there. And there." He points at monitors that show the Captain's progress and the aftermath of agents ending up on the floor and in pain. "Get him some Advil. Get them some Excedrin. And fire that one, he didn't even get a punch in. I mean, come on." Perhaps this is more like an exciting television show to the Stark.
When Widow chimes in on his earpiece, he's punching up her location and cross referencing it with the Captain's. "Looking good, Widow. How come I never got to see this side of you?" Just some random chatter to keep this light. "Hang a left. Shortcut." Tony Stark is better than some ol' lame tracking report!
He sure is: the Avengers have their eye in the sky, and it's the guy munching on blueberries and swigging a soda. It's handy: apart from a trail of severely bruised operatives, Captain America isn't leaving much of a trail. To the right, not even a second after Tony directs Natasha straight toward him on a perfect intercept course. He's moving quiet and slow, making sure to skirt the side-passages and to check for anyone dangerous before --
He turns the corner and freezes. It's a face from the past, but for Steve Rogers it's only been a few years. The fiery hair. The athletic build. "Natalia. What are you doing here?" he says softly, then: "No. This is some kind of trick!"
When Cap turns the corner, Natalia's lips part, her eyes widen, and her hands come up in a placating gesture. "Uncle Steven, please stop. I can explain everything to you if you just stand down."
As the commotion screams past the outside of the dark room he's in, Superman calmly sets the stack of papers down upon the table and smiles. "It's no problem, really. I'd like to see him in action, actually. He's kind of a hero of mine." He gets up slowly and makes his way towards the exit.
"Uncle Steven? Yeah, this just got way more complicated than I'm ready to deal with." Stark is listening and watching all of this go down, whilst he's only somewhat paying actual attention. He's still stuck on coming up with a response to Widow's remark. Sadly, this is not his day for witty remarks. "Be careful, down there. I'm on my way."
Not that Stark can really do much of anything, but he's clearly wanting to meet the Captain in person. But he can't /say/ that. It would be awkward. And it is with that does he grab one of those portable super smart people kits of justice and heads out of the door and into the corridors of the Helicarrier! He will get to them! Eventually!
Little Natalia. An assassin, but innocent for all that. Brainwashed. Used. Someone he freed years ago. But what's she doing here now? Surely Ivan or that James Howlett character could have gotten her out of the business... no, someone would have found her too useful to let go. But is she still on his side? Or has she been brainwashed again?
"Natashenka," he says, losing only a little of his tension. The old Russian diminutive. Dear little Natasha. "I need to know what's going on here. They tried to convince me I was back home, back in the States, but I'm not that easy to fool. I need you to be honest with me. Who found me? I know I crashed that plane, and I'm pretty sure there wasn't anyone around with a life preserver."
'HIS FIRST NAME IS AGENT' Coulson slides into the spot Tony vacates to watch the monitors. He has a couple of trading cards clutched in one hand (each one in a hard plastic shell of course, they're MINT), his focus entirely on the monitors depicting Captain America. "I wonder if he'd autograph these," he murmurs to himself.
Natasha sinks her teeth into her lower lip, a cover for the desperate urge to burst out laughing at Phil's comment. Someone should warn Cap before the two of them are in the same room together. She takes in a breath to steady herself. Her words are in Russian. "It is the truth, Uncle Steven. You are in America, on an aircraft belonging to a United Nations peacekeeping organization. You were frozen and only now were they able to safely restore you. But you are in for a few shocks, I am afraid. A considerable amount of time has passed since you crashed in that plane."
"Superman," the gravely voice comes from inside the room and the Man of Steel turns his shoulders to look back inward. "Remember what a shock it will be to him."
"I won't mention anything, General. Just going to help."
Superman walks down the hallway and then takes another, headed toward Widow and Captain America.
Rogers steps cautiously forward. He knows all too well how dear little Natalia can have a man flat on his back in less time than it takes him to shout for help. He frowns as she begins to explain and starts to say something about how impossible all that is when he listens. The hum in the background resolves itself. Propellers? Turbines? It could be, but -- "That's not possible," he says, replying to the woman in her native tongue. "This is too big, too stable to be a plane. The United Nations? When did the Allies get another name?"
He cuts himself off when he sees another figure walking toward them; tensing again, he takes a step back. But when the figure resolves itself in his vision, he pauses. That's definitely not a military uniform. Not anyone's military. Not on this planet, anyway. He'd make a crack about spangly tights except he knows all too well the outfit he's known for. Still. He never wore a *cape*. At the moment, actually, he's wearing a hospital gown. Not his best look.
Leveling his eyes on the approaching Superman, he inquires in English: "And is this a friend of yours, 'Tasha?"
Natasha nods slowly, switching back to English. "Of a sort, Uncle Steven. This is someone who holds you in very high esteem, and has become a hero with similar ideals to your own. We know him as Superman." She gestures between them. "Superman, this is Captain Steve Rogers, fondly remembered as Captain America. We have known each other for a very, very long time. Since 1941, when I was a girl. "
The redhead takes another breath. "As I said, it has been a long time my friend. The year is now two-thousand and twelve. The NATO allies formed the United Nations in 1945. S.H.I.E.L.D., whom I work for now, was formed not long after that, to help protect nations from large scale threats."
Superman smiles at Captain America, and then looks to Natasha as she speaks. "Oh," he begins, a larger smile coming across his face, "I know who this is...." He nods back to Captain America and reaches out a hand. "It's very nice to meet you sir. It's a miracle you're still alive."
Steve looks dubiously at Superman as Natasha introduces him, but he looks downright incredulous as she starts telling him where -- and when -- he is. "Two thousand and twelve? You'll forgive me, but this is all just a little hard to believe. I crashed into the North Atlantic. By rights I should be dead."
And yet somehow, between Natalia and Superman, it actually seems plausible. She's a relic of his past, and Superman and his outfit look like something out of a pulp novel. He reaches out cautiously, clasping Superman's hand briefly and meeting his eye. "If this is true," he says, "I'm glad to know you... Superman. But if this is two-thousand-twelve," he continues, looking back down at Natasha, "how on Earth do you still look like that?"
Natasha grimaces. "Sadly, my path to fighting on the side you so brilliantly represented, Uncle Steven, was a long one. The Russians tried to emulate the American Super Soldier program. I was injected with a serum similar to the one that was given to you. One side-effect of the chemistry was that I physically age at a very delayed rate."
The Widow rubs a thumb across her forehead, the signal for the troops to stand down, now that Cap is calm. "Although a lady shouldn't ever admit her age, I'm currently 84 years old, Uncle."
"Wow." Superman chuckles as he looks between him, almost like a schoolboy among grown ups. "Looks like I'm the youngest, but look the oldest. I have to get a better nutritionist, I guess."
There's actually a sad look on Captain America's face when he hears that: he reaches out and taps Natasha's chin as if to tilt a favorite niece's face to look up into his. "I'd hoped sending you off with Howlett would get you away from all this. You were just a kid..." He eyes the bow in her hair, quirking an eyebrow before he smiles in realization. "And when you heard I woke up and I'd started punching everyone I met in the hall, you decided to look just as much like that kid as possible." The smile drains away then as the words hit him. Eighty-four years old. She's eighty-four and it's 2012 which means he, technically, is older than that. She was just a kid and she's eighty-four now.
"Everyone else I know," he says softly, staring into space for a moment. Everyone he ever knew is gone. Dead or ancient unless like Natasha they managed to cheat the Reaper. Peggy. He's alive and she's... he's... really late for that dance. The soldier's shoulders slump and he rubs the bridge of his nose, rubbing his face with his hands for a moment before he looks at Superman again.
"Uh. Does everyone dress like that nowadays?" He has to know.
"Perhaps, Superman. But unlike you, neither Mister Rogers, nor I, can fly," Natasha quips. Or see through people's clothes. Or run around the world without getting winded. Or fire heat beams from their eyes. Or, well, lots of super things. She looks back to Cap and lets him tilt up her chin. "I knew what a shock you were in for. I thought to make it as easy as possible for you," she admits. "I think you'll be somewhat amused to find out that your legend has only grown bigger and better while you've been gone. You're a collectible now, Captain. And no, we don't all dress like Superman." She glances down at Steve's outfit, or lack thereof, and grins. "Why don't we find you something a bit more, ah, comfortable to change into, and then we can fill you in on the last 70 years."
Superman looks between Cap and Natasha with a smile and raised eyebrows. He looks a bit shocked, "Most exciting day of my life...meeting my hero...and he hates the suit." His smile doesn't fade, but on the inside he is a bit hurt.
"Hate it? No. Believe me, no," Steve replies, a faint smile making its way to his face. "You've seen what I run around in, right? Compared to you, I looked like... well, a USO show. I don't know about the cape, but she says you can fly?" Something between baffled and impressed there. And there's another curious look at the symbol on Superman's chest before Natasha brings his attention to his own attire.
"Pants," he agrees, glancing around and scratching the back of his head. "I'd feel a lot more comfortable if I had some pants. You mean to say people still talk about me? It's been seventy years. Surely there's other heroes around. This guy, for a start, and I'm pretty sure you've racked up some adventures of your own in the last little while, haven't you?"
Natasha chuckles and slides her arms around Cap in a brief hug. "Oh yes, they talk about you. We have an Agent on board who I do believe would be over the moon if you would autograph his Captain America trading cards," she notes. She gestures to Supes to join them. "Let's find the Captain some pants, and I'm sure Agent Coulson and Mister Stark are both eager to meet him."
"Yeah, the cape comes in handy when f...you know, we'll get to all that stuff after a while. One thing at a time." Superman follows along, "We've had quite a few adventures, sure. You'll be interested to see what's happened throughout the course of history since you've been gone. The United States became the lone superpower on the planet, for instance."
Steve seems a little surprised by that, looking back to Superman with a curious frown. "We didn't start taking over, did we? From what you say -- and from the fact you're saying it in English -- I guess we must have won the war. So we're a superpower, but there's a United Nations? ...You're right. This needs to wait." But he looks outright sheepish and embarrassed at the mention of trading cards. Stark's name, though, startles him: "Howard's still kicking around? The guy must be well past ninety by now unless he figured out the Super Soldier Serum too. He's just the guy to do it."
"His son, Anthony, actually. An amazing inventor in his own right. He's also a hero himself. Wears a flying suit and goes by Iron Man," Natasha will let him learn about the arrogance and womanizing and boozinating on his own. Why spoil the surprise? "Though I do hope you remember Ivan? He was given a serum similar to mine. He's still alive and well and being overprotective of me as always." She smiles. She follows Supes' lead on putting the history lesson off, at least til the man has some pants on.
"Think of it as Wilson's League of Nations, but a lot bigger in scope and our senate actually passed admittance into it," Superman says, having been referring more to his crazy out of this world powers than the history stuff. "Mr. Stark is quite the inventor, as Miss Romanov has mentioned. He's created a host of beneficial technologies and runs one of the world's most successful businesses. He's taken what his father did and expanded on it."
"Things sound pretty bright," Steve replies doubtfully. Doubtfully, but there's an optimism there that he's never quite been able to shake. He follows along with Natasha and the fellow in the spangly tights, reaching one hand back to make sure the rear of his hospital gown isn't. Well. Drafty. A grin slips across his face as Natasha mentions another name he remembers: "Ivan Petrovich. Of course I remember him. So the Soviet Union's part of this United Nations? And Stark had a kid?" That part isn't all that surprising. What's surprising is that he got married to do it. "Whoever Anthony's mother is, she must be quite a lady. Howard isn't the sort to settle down." The grin fades. "Wasn't, I guess. I don't suppose he's around anymore."
"With the bright comes the dark of course," Natasha says quietly. "But we're fighting the good fight, Uncle." She pauses. "Superman, if you could escort Steve to the last room on the left to change into some SHIELD-issue sweats, I'm going to go make sure they've found a comfortable spot for us to chat." She smiles brightly but after they proceed, Superman can hear, of course, as she reports back to Command. "It's really him. All units stand down. No training could help him remember as much as he does about my past." She heads down another hall to make sure there's a comfortable lounge cleared out and secured for them, without too many crazy future gadgets to freak Cap out.
"Of course, Miss Romanov," replies Superman and he leads Captain American towards the room to get some pants. Everyone needs pants. "Well, interestingly enough, the Americans and the Soviets fought a war after World War II that wasn't really a war, except for side wars against the opposite side's allies. In any event, the Soviets and the Americans engaged in what was called the Cold War. There were a couple of really close calls."
Superman looks back to Captain America, his face a bit pained, "I'm not really sure how to tell you this, but Howard died a few years back...I'm sorry."
Because of course it *could* have been a trick. Especially when he woke up hostile. It could have been a trick. And so could all this, but as long as he keeps alert, keeps his eyes and his ears open, even if there is something fishy going on he'll be able to spot it. And he'll be able to deal with it. Much more effectively, too, if he's dressed.
"I guess that's probably better than the dropping-bombs kind of war," he muses. "Probably not as many people died, for a start. But I hope that's all ended?" The news about Howard, though... Steve's face falls a little. He pauses outside the door, staring at the wall for a moment. "I was just talking to him," he says softly. "To Howard. To Peg -- to Agent Carter. I was just talking to them an hour ago. And then the whole world changed." For a moment he looks weary. For a moment, Captain America looks his age.
But then he squares his shoulders, straightens up, and looks back over to the tall young man beside him. "Well, one bright side to all this," he muses. "I should have a lot of back pay." Flashing a brief smile, he heads through the door toward clothes. And, indirectly, toward the future.