Several hours into filming, Steve Rogers had to admit that this job wasn't the worst he'd ever done. It wasn't even the worst movie gig -- some of the stories he'd filmed for the newsreels while he'd been on the USO tour had actually been a little taxing, with their tough stunts and terrible scripts. In comparison, these little movies he was making for the New York City schools were a piece of cake. The crew had taken over an empty high school for the week, then given him little speeches to read off a screen. So far they'd seemed mostly innocuous -- harmless platitudes about staying in school or the importance of exercise. But this one gave him pause, enough of one to reevaluate his stance on the project.
"Miss-- I mean, Ms. Russell?" He looked up from his script to the director, a young lady -- probably well into her thirties, actually, but everyone looked young to Steve now. She turned her attention from the cameraman and looked back at him with an expectant expression as he continued. "I don't quite understand the point of this speech."
Ms. Russell said something to the cameraman and patted his shoulder, then walked over to Steve. "My apologies, Captain; I thought it was fairly clear from the text. We'll play this video for students in detention. Your example will give them an opportunity to think a little harder about what they might do to avoid detention the next time."
Steve shook his head. "My example? Ma'am, would you like me to tell you how many hours I spent in the principal's office, for one reason or another?" Bucky squirming in the next chair, more often than not. The familiar pang of bittersweet memory passed through him at the thought; he breathed out and let it go. He glanced at the script, then back at Ms. Russell. "Sometimes following the rules is the right thing to do. But not always. Sometimes you have to follow your conscience."
The director sighed. "Will all due respect, Captain Rogers, I hope your conscience also tells you to follow the terms of your contract. Because, unless someone misled me very badly, you didn't get veto power over content."
"No," Steve agreed, forcing an amiable smile. "I suppose you're right."
"Glad to hear it. Just give us a couple more minutes to set up the shot." She laid a hand briefly on his left shoulder, just like she'd done with the cameraman, then moved on to help an assistant wrestle with the lighting.
After she had gone, Steve allowed himself a small sigh. When Mayor Bloomberg had asked him to record these videos, only a few weeks after the Battle of New York, helping out schoolkids had seemed like the least he could do. He'd have to be more careful in the future about who got to use his name and likeness. But he hated to break a promise, especially while he was still figuring out his place in the future. So he'd play along, this time. He looked at the script again and pored over the text. "What would Captain America do," he murmured to himself, turning the words over in his head. What, indeed? Yes, he could work with that.
"Captain, are you ready?"
Steve looked up to see Ms. Russell looking at him, and his answering smile was genuine now. "Ready when you are." Always ready for a little subversion in plain site. Next time, he promised himself, not so subtle.