At Darcy’s insistence, everyone in the common room was gathered around the television as the opening credits rolled, and then Darcy popped up on screen and turned to the camera. “Good evening! I’m Darcy Lewis, PR wonk for the Avengers. Tonight, I’m going to be telling the story of Captain America. Steve Rogers. Well. Both. But first, we need to drink some tequila.”
After one long moment of silent, stunned shock, the whole gang cheered. Darcy stood and bowed. Steve looked DEEPLY concerned, and Barnes simply fascinated. Tony threw popcorn at Darcy. On screen, Darcy did several shots with Derek Waters. He mentioned lime and salt and she laughed at him and called him a wuss.
“All right then.” Darcy sat again in front of the camera. They’d filmed this on Thor’s floor, in their common room, so she was surrounded by deep blue tapestries and brocade furniture. She’d worn a Captain America tee shirt and jeans for filming, and put her hair up in a knot. “The year was nineteen forty-two. The Second World War was getting rolling, the draft had hit hard, and our hero, Steve Rogers, was trying to enlist in the army. Because of course he was.”
They watched as Jane, in a short blonde (bad) wig and dressed in appropriate-era men’s clothing, trailed from one enlistment office to another, looking more and more sad as she exited each one. Jane was a lousy actress, so her version of ‘more sad’ was very entertaining.
“Steve’s best friend, James Barnes, had been drafted into the 107th and was away to Europe soon.”
Tony, dressed in an old sergeant’s uniform, joined Jane/Steve on screen and flung an arm around her/him.
“I do not believe this.” Steve said from behind his hands, where he’d covered his face. No one had told him ‘the quick interview’ Darcy was giving would be on television, and no one had bothered explaining the concept of Drunk History to him. They loved to shove him in the deep end on stuff like this; it was funnier that way.
“Why’d I have to be played by STARK?” Bucky demanded.
Everyone ignored them.
“The night before Barnes shipped out,” Darcy-on-the-TV continued, “they decided to take in the Stark Expo.”
Jane/Steve and Tony/Barnes met up with Jemma and Skye on the TV, and proceeded to have a date at a really badly put together set trying to imitate the Stark Expo. They pointed and laughed and Skye kept poking at Tony and pushing him away.
“At the Expo was Howard Stark, who will figure into our story later. He’s kind of a jerk. Oops, wasn’t gonna say that. But, anyway.” Darcy’s tequila was beginning to soak in. “He was showing his idea for a flying car. It only flew for a few seconds. Given all the aerospace metals were going to the war effort, I’m not surprised. Though I’m skeptical of all Howard Stark’s engineering on principle.”
The car was raised and lowered by a poorly disguised fork lift, while Clint, with a fake mustache stuck crookedly to his lip, gestured at it, talking wildly. There was a crash, and more showman gesturing from Clint/Howard.
“OH MY GOD.” Tony shouted. “Whose fucking idea was that? That’s what you did the day you wouldn’t let me on set. YOU ASSHOLES.”
Pepper couldn’t speak, she was laughing too hard.
“I’m good.” Clint told Phil.
“Steve, our beloved woobie,” Darcy-on-screen said,
“What?” Steve asked.
“abandoned his date and his buddy and tried ONE LAST TIME to enlist. Because our baby could not stand the idea of all that ass kicking going on in Europe without him. Seriously. If there is a fight to be had, our boy is THERE. He LOVES punching stuff.” Jane/Steve goes into another enlistment office. “Did you know, heroic Steve Rogers, bastion of all things good, lied on most of his enlistment forms?” Jane/Steve wrote ‘perfectly healthy’ on the form.
“I can’t believe you told everyone that.” Steve complained. He was roundly shushed.
“Except instead of getting kicked out of another enlistment office, this time, Steve met Doctor Abraham Erskine.”
Bruce, wearing his usual street clothes with a lab coat overtop, no costume whatsoever, stepped onto the screen.
Everyone in the common room cheered.
On the TV, Darcy stared off into space.
“Then what happened?” Derek prompted.
Darcy shook herself. “Doctor Erskine asked Steve, ‘hey, you want to go over to Europe, kill Nazis?’” On screen, Bruce/Erskine dutifully mouthed the words. “But Steve said ‘no, I don’t like bullies.’ Which is so fucking typical of him, you have no idea. He absolutely wanted to kick some Nazi ass.”
“HEY!” Steve complained.
“Right, where was I?” Darcy asked Derek, looking more glazed. “Right, right. SO, Steve, poor darling, gets shoved into boot camp with a bunch of other potential victims- wait, no, I’m supposed to be diplomatic, PR and all that shit, potential CANDIDATES for the Super Soldier program, which was stupidly called Project Rebirth because yeah, let’s make it sound all religious and shit, that’s a great idea.”
Jane/Steve heroically tried and failed, on screen, to keep up with everyone going through a military obstacle course.
“Peggy Carter turned up in there somewhere. She is the true badass of our story, she worked with Erskine at the Strategic Scientific Reserve, overseeing the Super Soldier Program. I can’t call it by its real name, it’s ridiculous.” Natasha strode on screen, wearing an Army uniform with her hair in victory rolls. She punched out one of the recruits.
“And after a couple things I can’t tell because Steve would give me his sad puppy-dog eyes, he was chosen as the first guinea pig.” On screen, Jane/Steve looked comically apprehensive.
Cut to commercial.
“At least you had enough sense not to bring up the hand grenade.” Steve grumbled.
“I left out the flag pole thing because it would have taken too long.” Darcy told him. “You owe me one on the grenade, I knew you wouldn't want to hear about it forever.”
“Keep it in mind when you see the rest of the show.”
The commercial ended, and they were back to the common room, and Darcy curled up in her chair, hair in disarray, talking to the host, Derek. “Steve really is a great guy, the best, but he’s a lot more pig-headed than the history books let on. He’s really sarcastic. Keeps all that nobility from turning him into an asshole. Without the sarcasm I think we’d smother him in his sleep.”
Barnes spewed his drink.
Darcy turned back to the camera. “Oh hi. So we left off with Steve Rogers being chosen as the first guinea pig for the Super Soldier program. He volunteered. Because he’s an idiot like that.”
The entire room roared with laughter.
“Right. Away they go to the lab, Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter.” Jane/Steve and Natasha/Peggy rode in a car together, got out, went to a lab. “It was all very mysterious and classified and if I even speculate as to exactly what went on, the NSA will show up and suck out my brains with a giant vacuum cleaner.”
“We wouldn’t want that.” Derek said.
“No. No speculating. See me not speculating? There, in the lab, is none other than Howard Stark, who built the equipment being used.” Bruce/Erskine and Clint/Howard huddle over a box, poking at badly put together prop plumbing. “Steve took one look at Howard Stark, thought of that crashing car at the Expo, and thought ‘I am gonna die’.” Jane/Steve mouthed the words along with her. “Steve will never admit it, but I know that’s what he was thinking.”
More laughter, and Tony threw more popcorn at Darcy.
“They shoved our cute little pocket Steve into the box, did… what they do that I’m not talking about, and then!” The box flopped open. “Super sized Steve!”
Thor stepped out of the box.
“OH MY GOD.” Steve shouted. Everyone shushed him.
“Unfortunately,” Darcy-on-screen continued, “there was a Hydra sleeper agent who chose that moment to act, like the assholes that they all are.” An anonymous extra stepped up (all of the Avengers and staff had refused to play a Hydra agent) and shot Bruce/Erskine. Bruce/Erskine staggered around very dramatically before falling to the floor, where fake blood was projected on to him and he didn’t look very dead because he was giggling.
“Our brave hero, seconds out of his transformation, tried to catch the assassin.” Thor/Steve chased the Hydra guy very melodramatically through a couple alleys. “The Hydra agent did the cyanide capsule in the teeth thing, because they’re very predictable and also very cowardly.” Hydra guy on screen keeled over. “Which left our hero in his new body, saying ‘dude, what the fuck?’” Thor/Steve mouthed the words while looking down at his body.
“The SSR was now in a real pickle. Erskine had most of the formula in his head, and never wrote it down. They’d planned to make at least a platoon of these guys, and now they only had one. Can you imagine? A platoon of Steves? Good lord, what a mess that would have been. Thank God they stopped at one.” Darcy caught herself. “Anyway, the SSR, led by Colonel Chester Phillips, didn’t know what to do with a single super-soldier.” Natasha/Peggy and Clint/Howard stood on screen, looking confused, with Phil dressed up in another old uniform next to them, also scowling.
“As usual with the government, they put their head as far up their ass as they possibly could and decided that their super soldier was best put to use SELLING WAR BONDS.” A montage began on screen, of Thor/Steve trying to dance and sing, with a dozen famous actresses and models forming his chorus line. It was all very, very, spectacularly bad. The women were doing a fairly decent job holding it together, but Thor couldn’t stop laughing. “And so our hero was stuck, for about year.”
“Wow.” Derek said. “Not what he signed on for.”
“He even made some movies.” Darcy agreed. “He calls it the Spangle Circuit when he talks about it now.”
Cut to commercial.
“You said you were doing an interview for a documentary on how I came to be in the twenty-first century!” Steve almost-shouted as soon as the commercial started.
“Right.” Darcy nodded. “That’s what this is.”
“It’s barely accurate, and it’s ridiculous.”
“And tomorrow, everyone’s going to be talking about how FUNNY this was.” Darcy told him. “Not only will they get the information we want them to have, that you’re the real, original Steve Rogers from World War Two, and how that’s possible, but they’re going to talk about how cool everyone else on the team was to take part in this, what a great sense of humor everyone has. They’re going to look at the Avengers as a bunch of fun people. YOU WANT TO LOOK FUN. Not like you’re going to take over the world. FUN GOOD. RAGING MEGALOMANIACS BAD.”
Steve stared at her.
“It’s actually rather brilliant.” Pepper told him. “It’s unconventional, to be sure, but so are the Avengers. I don’t think there’s anything that would be MORE effective at getting out a message and making all of you seem safe and harmless.”
The Drunk History logo came back on, and then there was Darcy, doing another shot of tequila. “Come on, dude, you’re not keeping up.”
“I can’t, I have to host.” Derek said weakly, doing another shot.
“Oh please, it’s not like it’s heavy machinery. We even have other people running the cameras.” Darcy pushed some of her hair out of her face and turned to the camera. “Welcome back to Drunk History. I swear I’m drunk, I just have a lot of experience at it. Honest. You would not believe the shit I deal with. Anyway! We last left Steve Rogers on the Spangle Circuit, where he was selling war bonds.”
Thor/Steve is dancing and singing both very badly, as his chorus line tries not to laugh openly at him.
“Our hero was pretty damned unhappy with his current role in the war.”
Thor/Steve looks very dejected.
“But! Word came down the pipe that he was finally going to Europe! Sure, it was a Spangle Circuit tour, but hey, he might get to punch a Nazi while he was there!” Thor/Steve skips off the screen, flinging rose petals he got from somewhere.
“Oh my GOD.” Steve moaned into his hands.
Barnes was on his third beer and hadn’t stopped laughing since before the commercial break.
“Next...” Darcy-on-screen squints a little in concentration. “Whew, I may have had enough tequila. Next… right, Europe!” The screen opens on a scrubby patch of land with Thor in his VERY bad knockoff Star-Spangled Show costume, surrounded by extras in uniform, while off to the side Natasha/Peggy and Phil/Colonel Phillips look deeply skeptical. “Steviekins gets to the 107th on his tour, and he finds out that a whole bunch of them had been captured in their last squirm- skem- FIGHT, including his best friend, James Barnes.” Thor/Steve looks absolutely, ha, thunderous.
“Steve goes to the Colonel and is like ‘dude, we gotta go rescue these guys! It’s the right thing to do, plus BUCKY!’” Thor/Steve mouths her words while waving his arms wildly. “And Phillips is all ‘Kid, you’re out of your mind, can’t do it, blah blah, enemy lines, what do you know, blah.’” Phil/Phillips mouths the words while looking wonderfully contemptuous. He’s the only one of them who can act. “Steve, angry, goes off to brood, as our little woobie is known to do.”
On screen, Thor/Steve goes away to pout.
In the Tower, everyone laughs while Steve loudly denies that he broods.
“Brooding Steve is probably half-formulating his plan already, because I know Steve, and I’m here to tell you, he’d WALK into enemy territory to rescue a loyal friend, when Peggy Carter pops up.” Thor/Steve is brooding into a coffee cup and Natasha/Peggy literally pops up behind him. “Peggy’s like ‘So hey, about this rescue thing. I have an idea.’ and Steve, OF COURSE, is like ‘let’s do it’ without hearing the plan, because I know him and he’d TOTALLY do that.” On screen, Thor/Steve and Natasha/Peggy join hands and skip off out of frame.
“Turns out, the brilliant plan is a little more lacking than some of the Captain America stuff that gets studied at West Point. I swear, the stuff they study? I bet you a thousand dollars, Steve came along later and claimed he meant to do that and there was originally no plan whatsoever. Mark my word. I’ve never gotten him to admit it, but dude’s entire method is ‘frontal assault with a side of punching things’.”
“Story?” Derek prompted gently.
“Right, right. The allegelly brilliant plan involves Howard Stark, of the crashing car, flying Steve behind enemy lines, where, BY HIMSELF, Steve will parachute in and rescue, like four hundred men. Because of course he will.” Clint/Howard is at the stick on a very obviously fake and thrown-together prop plane, while Thor/Steve puts on a backpack that has the word ‘parachute’ painted on the side, and Natasha/Peggy looks quietly concerned. “Also something about fondue. I don’t know. But away Steve goes, finally fulfilling his destiny as the angry little shit from Brooklyn who likes to punch bullies.” Thor/Steve ‘jumps’ out of the plane.
All the Avengers and staff stare at Darcy. “What? Every word I said is true. We fact-checked after I sobered up. And don’t even BEGIN to tell me that Steve isn’t an angry little shit from Brooklyn.”
Everyone sort of collectively shrugs and goes to get drink refills and more popcorn.
“Welcome back to Drunk History!” Darcy says from the flat-screen TV, where she’s sprawled on her back on a couch with her feet up on the arm rest. “I’m Darcy Lewis, and we’re telling the story of STEEEEEEeeeve. STEEEEVIEWEEEEEEEVIEWEEEEEVIE. Captain Ammurica. Whoever. Also it’s possible I’ve had too much tequila. Where was I?”
“Italy. Captain America had gone off to rescue his best friend.” Derek told her.
“Ah, right, the rescue. It’s really romantic.”
Every single Avenger watching chokes on their drink. Steve said “JESUS, Darcy!” from behind his hands.
“It IS romantic, it’s not my fault Barnes is hetero.” Darcy told them all.
On the screen, Thor/Steve very gently pretends to punch men in German uniforms. They choreographed the fight in such a way that Thor/Steve never looked like he connected with anyone. He’d been worried about accidentally hurting someone so they played it for laughs.
“Steve – is he Captain America, yet? I don’t know, that whole Spangle Circuit thing fucks up the timeline.” Darcy mused. “Captain America, I guess, singlehandingly busts up an entrenched Hydra base and busts out a couple-four hundred POWs, and finds Bucky!” Thor/Steve is physically pulling people out of cells, and in one cell is Tony/Barnes, in full pristine dress uniform including his hat, leaning against a wall and smoking a cigarette. “Steve is all ‘Hi, I’m Captain America and I’m here to rescue you!’ and Bucky’s like ‘aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper? No, seriously, Steve, what the fuck happened to you?’ and they escape the place while blowing it to hell, because if you ever need to find Steve and Bucky, look for the explosions.” There are very bad fake explosions, and then Thor/Steve and Tony/Barnes hold hands and skip off screen together. Instead of rose petals, Thor throws bullet casings.
“Once they got back to safety with the rest of the 107th,” Thor/Steve and Tony/Barnes skip into a clearing in an Army camp, as Phil/Phillips looks on, nonplussed, and Natasha/Peggy looks quietly pleased, “Barnes finally has a moment to find out what in hell happened to Steve, who he’d left in Brooklyn as a sickly four F.” Tony/Barnes gestures at Thor/Steve’s body and looks confused. “And Steve is like, ‘oh, I volunteered for this experiment, and got pumped full of unknown chemicals and run through a box built by Howard Stark, you know, the guy from the Expo with the car falling out of the air. It worked, and here I am!’” Thor/Steve mouths the words to Tony/Barnes, gesturing happily. “Barnes, being the sane one of the pair, reacted like a best friend would normally react to such news.” On screen, Tony/Barnes punched Thor/Steve in the face, and they fought over-dramatically, rolling around on the ground.
Another round of commercials.
“Thank you for getting that part of the legend right, and making them include it.” Bucky said, almost seriously.
“You’re welcome. It’s the best part of the story.”
“It really is.” Tony agreed.
“I hate you all.” Steve said from behind his hands.
“You’ll live.” Darcy said cheerfully. “Just the one installment left. I tried to leave out anything private or triggery, but the ice thing kind of has to be said because it’s how you got here. So I’m sorry about it.”
“It’s okay, I gave you permission to share it.” Steve told her with a sigh.
“I hope playing it for laughs doesn’t make it worse.”
“No, it doesn’t. Better, if anything.”
Darcy appeared on the flat-screen again. This time, she was laying on the ornate carpet, flat on her back, with a shot glass balanced on her forehead. Her hair was loose and in all directions, and her feet were propped on the couch. “Welcome back to the exciting conclusion of Drunk History telling of the Steven Rogers epic!” she called without looking at the camera. “I’m Darcy Lewis and I’m drunk!”
All the Avengers applauded.
“Man, I gotta get done telling this before I fall asleep.” Darcy-on-screen announced to the ceiling. “Moving on, then. Steve was assigned to lead a group of commandos, and they spent the rest of the war running around Europe, kicking ass and taking names.” Thor/Steve, Tony/Barnes (still in full dress uniform), and Natasha/Peggy stood together on screen, brandishing weapons and flexing. “If you ask me, Steve’s most important work during that era was including Gabriel Jones in his unit, as translator.” Rhodey stepped on screen in period-appropriate uniform, and shot a peace sign at the camera before putting arms around Thor/Steve and Tony/Barnes. “Thereby single-handedly desegregating the US military. It was long past time. Excellent work, Captain America. Some of your best.”
All the Avengers applauded again.
“Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. In this case, the end involved a lot of classified stuff that I can’t talk about.” A big ‘classified’ sign flashed up and covered most of the screen; around the edges, their heroes could be seen fighting more extras in German uniforms. “Steve wound up on a bomber headed toward the East Coast of the US, and rather than let it bomb us, he crashed it. On purpose. Because even to the end, Steve Rogers’ way of dealing with a problem was to blow it up.” A very bad fake plane crash into styrofoam peanuts happened. “He was frozen, lost, and there he laid for seventy years.” Thor/Steve laid down with his head on a pillow and pulled a blanket over himself.
“Howard Stark spent the rest of his life looking for Steve.” Darcy squinted, and the shot glass rolled off her forehead onto the floor. “Wow, we’re gonna have to leave it there. Anything I say about Howard Stark at this point is gonna offend someone. Yeah. I’ll leave it right there. When Howie… died… his son, Tony Stark, continued the search.”
Pepper Potts appeared, with a fake goatee drawn on her face with black grease pencil, wearing an Adam Ant tee shirt, ripped jeans, and an Armani blazer. She had her hand up, shadowing her eyes, looking into the distance, while two people who weren’t quite out of frame threw more stryrofoam peanut ‘snow’ at her.
“Thanks to global climate change – I swear this will be the only good thing to ever come out of it, fucking oil companies can kish my ass – some glaciers shifted around in Greenland, and ermahgerd, there was the plane!” Pepper/Tony made an overdone ‘aha!’ face. “They thawed him out and brought him back to New York, intending to bury him with all due pomp and circum-curc- CEREMONY, at Arlington. Instead, they got a pulse.” Betty Ross, in her lab coat, bent over asleep Thor/Steve, put a stethoscope on his ear, then drew back in great shock.
“So they handed him off to SHIELD instead of the Army’s Mortuary Affairs department. I can’t believe I pronounced ‘morturuaruary’ right. ANYWAY! SHEILD, under the direction of Nick Fury, cackled with glee at the idea of Captain America on the payroll, and took really good care of him.” Betty put another blanket over Thor/Steve, this one printed with kittens, and kissed him on the head. “It all went really swimmingingingly until Steve woke up.” Thor/Steve jerked awake and sat straight up in his bed, eyes wide. “As usual, no one took into account how fuckin’ SMART Steve is. He was immediately like ‘holy shit, something is seriously fucked up around here’. He insists it was the baseball game they were playing on the radio, but he’s a gentleman and would never come out and say that the real problem was that the women’s bras made their boobs the wrong shape. ‘Cause Steve Rogers is classy as fuck.”
“I HAVE NEVER SAID THAT ONCE.” Steve shouted between his fingers.
“Dude, you know it’s true.” Darcy told him.
“What did he do once he realized things were wrong?” Derek tried to get her back on track and away from Captain America’s thoughts on women’s undergarments.
“Oh, he escaped. Of course he escaped. He’s slippery as shit out a goose. People keep trying to lock him up, I don’t know what in fuck they’re thinking. Never stays where you put him.” Thor/Steve escapes in dramatic fashion, again fake-punching many security guard extras on his way. “He was being thawed in New York, so he busted loose and went for a run.” Thor/Steve ran through the actual streets of actual New York. “By then he knew something was REALLY wrong, he wasn’t just being held by Hydra or something obvious. But it all sank in when he got to Times Square.” They’d actually filmed that bit IN Times Square. Thor/Steve stood, looking extremely confused. “Nick Fury himself went to get him.” One of Tony’s Maseratis rolled up and Sam, wearing a black leather trench coat and an eye patch got out.
All the Avengers screamed, then burst out laughing.
“It was up to Nick to break the news, and of course he did it like an asshole. ‘hey dude, sorry, you’ve been asleep seventy years, no big, get in the car’.” On screen Sam/Fury mouthed the words, and Thor/Steve got in the car.
“And that, ladies and gendermen, is how we wound up with Captain America, our favorite Steviekins, in the twenty-first century. Thank you Steve, for being around to save our asses again. The end. Someone hand me a pillow.”
End credits, with a montage of stills of all the Avengers dressed up in their costumes, including one cast photo, and a thank you at the end for their cooperation.
“I am fucking good.” Darcy announced, toasting Drunk History and herself on the screen.
“Oh my god.” Steve groaned into his hands.
“That was the best retelling of the Captain America legend I have ever seen.” Bucky told them all. “And it was more factual than most.”
“Next time, I want to be Thor.” Steve announced.
Darcy looked thoughtful.