Barnes spends time in the garage, acclimating to vehicles. The first day he only manages 51 seconds with the door open. By the time Rogers leaves on his tour, Barnes is up to 2.5 minutes in an unmoving car with the door shut before his pulse goes haywire.
The next day, at 1 minute 27 seconds an unexpected face at the window sends both Barnes and his pulse through the roof.
Metal screeches against metal as fingers dig into the hood of the car, stopping his momentum. The hood dimples under his weight as he crouches, knife in hand, facing the threat. They stare at each other.
“No, you know what, you’re right, I definitely should have bought the one with the sunroof.” Stark. Because of course. Who else? “Oh and holes in the hood. Nice touch. Literally, nice touch. Because hood vents make it go faster, right?”
The babbling genius/total fucking moron was at least smart enough to be backing away, hands raised pacifyingly. Barnes directs him a glare that promises the downfall of empires and a land laid to waste by a thousand years of nuclear winter, and in no way reveals the frantic pounding of his heart that is definitely not happening.
“Right. Well. Now I think about it, it’s not such a good day for a drive after all. Bad traffic. Weather and people and. Stuff.” His pride won’t allow him to run from the garage, but it comes close.
After a moment Barnes pulls free of the four finger-wide gouges and jumps down from the wrecked car. He allows an extra five minutes before leaving – the last thing he wants is to be stuck in an elevator with Stark right now.
The elevator is crowded enough with just him in it. It takes 2 hours 17 minutes of lying on the floor for his pulse to reach baseline again. He stares at the ceiling and wonders if tomorrow he will be back to being unable to face a car at all. Flying Sam had said there would be setbacks.
He had been making good progress too.
“Sergeant, I wonder if I might make a suggestion that could perhaps be of some assistance in your attempts to control your emotional responses within enclosed spaces and modes of transport.”
“Confirm, building.” Building is an excellent mission-assist and usually provides good suggestions.
“Dr. Banner often listens to classical music as a way of soothing his mind and calming his emotions. It has been scientifically proven that music can have both an emotional and physiological impact on the listener, the effects varying depending on the tempo, rhythm, melody and the nature of the lyrics and instrumentation, as well as the personal preferences of the listener of course. Many people listen to music to help them concentrate or do better in a demanding cognitive task. Mr. Stark for example prefers to listen to heavy rock as he works. I believe this keeps his unconscious attention system occupied to prevent it from focusing on minor distractions and interrupting his conscious attention from its work.”
Barnes had been in Stark’s lab while he was working. The music had been loud and insistent and obnoxious, much like Stark himself.
“Sergeant, perhaps a similar strategy could make confined spaces more bearable.”
Briefing confirmed: “There was no music in the cryo tank.”
“Precisely Sergeant. The presence of music may shift your focus and emphasise that the car is not the cryo tank.”
It would be like musical sheep pants for the car.
He stares at the ceiling thinking back to the song he heard Rogers singing when they first moved to Brooklyn. It was pretty and soothing and painted pictures of colours.
“Building, do you know the song of the bejewelled lady cosmonaut?”
There was a pause. “I believe you may be referring to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Sergeant. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and released by the Beatles in 1967 on their album titled Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
“I would like to hear it please.”
It was still pretty and soothing and painted pictures of colours. Rogers had not done the song justice. It was 106% possible that Rogers had not been chosen to go on the USO circuit because of his singing ability.
Still, he had first been introduced to the song by Rogers, so now he thought of Rogers when he heard it. Identified: safe place. Even though a song was not a place.
Also the Beetle people had made more music.
“Sergeant, I have an extremely extensive database of music files which you are able to access using your phone. I have taken the liberty of creating a playlist including the entire Beatles discography.”
“Thanks building. You’re the best mission-assist."
He finds out the Beatle people had spelled their name to be a pun about musical rhythm.
He spends much of the afternoon exploring the music that Building had suggested, browsing and selecting the songs on his phone so that the music plays from the speakers discreetly hidden in the walls.
It is an interesting mix of music. There are songs about big things like love and peace and forgiveness and travelling across the universe, as well as other songs about little things like the blackbird and holding hands that have nice melodies that are pleasing to the ear. Some, like the walrus song, make no sense.
He also finds out that the man who wrote the Lucy song and many of the songs about peace and love was murdered and identifies sadness.
It appears that for some people love is not all that is needed. Sometimes an ex-assassin secret protection detail is also required.
And then there are songs that sound nice but are unrealistic. He doubts that the singers had ever lived in a submarine. If they had, they would have sounded much less cheerful about living out one’s life in the confines of a metal tank with a bunch of other people with no fresh air or room to move, and the portholes looking out only onto darkness and bizarre creatures and the bone crushing pressure of millions of litres of water. No matter what colour the submarine was.
He hesitates suspiciously over one of the songs.
“Building. Analyse song for command codes.”
“I assure you Sergeant Barnes, there is nothing untoward about this song. There appears to be no sign of subliminal messages.”
Hmm. So far all the songs have been about good things, nothing about death and mayhem and super-assassins. Nothing aggressive at all.
He plays the song. It is. Unexpected. The briefing is confused. The song does not match to any briefing downloads, although admittedly the Asset’s experience of the place was different to the experiences of a standard civilian.
“Query. Did these people even live in the USSR?”
“They did not Sergeant. Their first visit to the Soviet Union was well after this song was released.”
Figures. They sound as cheerful about it as living in the fucking submarine.