When they lifted Captain America’s body from the ice, Howard Stark wasn’t sure what he should be feeling, so instead he just focused on making sure his employees didn’t damage anything as they lifted him and placed the ice block into a special temperature sensitive metal box that he had taken great care to not shape like a coffin.
“Careful boys, don’t damage anything – no, not there, move to the right – “
“Howard,” Peggy Carter said, appearing at his elbow. He turned to look at her, but she was staring past him and over his shoulder at Steve. When he saw the look on her face he almost had to turn away, the raw emotion was so blinding. Instead he patted her awkwardly on the shoulder and made sure that his men didn’t drop the ice block but instead carefully placed it in its proper place. They were in a large warehouse that Howard had erected over the spot where his friend’s body had finally been found, after nearly forty years of searching. From what he could see through the warped ice, Steve’s body was still exactly the same as it had been when he’d gone missing. Howard himself had aged, faint wrinkles becoming etched more permanently in his face, and his hair going gray at the temples until it was more salt and pepper than the dark black it had once been. Peggy was just as beautiful as she always had been.
The men had just gotten Steve’s body into the box when Howard heard the familiar ratatat of gunfire. Peggy had already drawn her weapon, and some of the men crouched down low to the ground, but it was coming from outside.
“What is that?” Peggy asked.
“Someone must have found out what we found here. We need to get him out of here, now. I have a plane waiting. You three! Help me carry this into the plane! You others keep the gunfire out of the warehouse until we get out of here!” Howard commanded. The men rushed to do as he commanded, and Howard jumped into his small, state of the art plane as Peggy helped push the box into the back. Some of the men slammed the door shut and Peggy jumped in the plane. Howard had already started the engine.
“What about your men?” she asked, buckling in next to him. The door of the warehouse had already been opened, and the gray sky was there to welcome them.
“Once they find out that Captain America’s with us, they won’t hurt my men, they’d have no reason to. They’ll be fine. Hold on,” he said, and then they were off, in the air somewhere above the frozen ice and snow-blown continent as they headed for one of the Stark Labs so that they could examine Steve’s body. Peggy dared not let herself hope that he actually was alive, but still, some part of her couldn’t help but wish for the two of them to finally go on their date.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Howard suddenly burst out, and Peggy turned back around to face the front. Her heart was beating double time.
“What? What’s wrong?”
“They’re following us. We’ve got two birds on our tail and they’re – “ he was interrupted by a blast that rocked the plane, throwing Peggy against the seatbelt so hard that she thought it might have cut her skin through her jacket.
“Shooting at us.”
“Can you lose them?”
“I can try.” Howard said, banking to the left and then quickly turning sharply, changing course abruptly. But the planes following them were piloted by men or women who were just as skilled, and the next shot took off part of the wing. When Peggy looked to her right she saw flames licking ever closer and her stomach felt twisted in a knot of nauseated panic.
“Howard,” she said.
“I’ve got this. I’ve got this under control,” Howard said, biting his lower lip in concentration as he flew. The veins in his arms stood out as he struggled to fly the plane and compensate for the damage they sustained. It was too late though. The plane headed down towards the hard earth at a speed that was way too fast for Howard to get back under control, and Peggy twisted around in her chair to look again at the metal box that contained Captain America’s body before the plane hit the ground.