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From: Tony Stark <tstark@starkindustries.com>
To: Steve Rogers <steven.g.rogers@gmail.com>, Sam Wilson <wilson.sam@va.gov>, Rhodey <rhodey@gmail.com>, Maria Hill <mhill@starkindustries.com>, Natasha Romanoff <39402716@pm.me>, Spider-man <therealspiderman2k20@gmail.com>, Clint Barton <thebartons@pm.me>, Bruce Banner <b.banner@mit.edu>, Bruce Banner 2 <bannerbruce@yahoo.com>, Bucky Barnes <j.b.barnes@esu.edu>, Scott Lang <scott@x-con.com>, Dr Stephen Strange <stephen.strange@motma.org>, Thor <pointbreak@gmail.com>, Vision <vision@starkindustries.com>, Wanda Maximoff <wanda.maximoff@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: re: team updates

1. Welcome back, Rhodey (and only 11 months later than anticipated)! Latverian snacks for everyone, c/o Happy Hogan, you know where to find him.

2. Damage Control requests that I convey a message re: water damage resulting from a “Namor incident" (didn’t specify which) and whether we can “exercise more precise containment measures" etc. didn't finish reading it [FRIDAY: see attached email]

3. Maria I resent any suggestion in your post action report that we were the cause of a diplomatic incident. The statue(s), town square, central train station etc. were hit by Doom et al first and somewhere there is footage to prove it [FRIDAY: see attached footage]

4. Let the record show that I was not in favour of the tiny ‘happy retirement’ card that was sent to you, Cap, and that if I had my way you would be the delighted owner of a giant stuffed [inaudible] which would have been delivered via a prototype skywriting drone accompanied by daytime fireworks.

4a. … who am I kidding, I definitely had my way and you should look out of the window sometime around 4pm. Congratulations again.

Transcribed by FRIDAY

 

From: Dr Stephen Strange <stephen.strange@motma.org>
To: Tony Stark <tstark@starkindustries.com>, Steve Rogers <steven.g.rogers@gmail.com>, Sam Wilson <wilson.sam@va.gov>, Rhodey <rhodey@gmail.com>, Maria Hill <mhill@starkindustries.com>, Natasha Romanoff <39402716@pm.me>, Spider-man <therealspiderman2k20@gmail.com>, Clint Barton <thebartons@pm.me>, Bruce Banner <b.banner@mit.edu>, Bruce Banner 2 <banner.bruce@yahoo.com>, Bucky Barnes <j.b.barnes@esu.edu>, Scott Lang <scott@x-con.com>, Thor <pointbreak@gmail.com>, Vision <vision@starkindustries.com>, Wanda Maximoff <wanda.maximoff@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: re: re: team updates

For the last time, can someone please remove me from this mailing list.

---

Steve only joins the firefight with AIM because he's close by - for a given definition of close by that also involves a forty minute motorcycle journey at a very dangerous speed.

“I’m not sure,” says Peter when it is over, hands on his hips, “whether any of you guys actually understand what ‘retirement’ means.”

“To be fair,” says Sam, landing beside Peter and powering down his photonic shield, “Steve's the only one who’s put out an official statement.”

Tony raises his hand. “Still a consultant. Besides, I'm not technically here.” The Iron Man faceplate pops up to reveal glowing blue circuitry.

“Nice,” says Scott, whom Steve is pretty sure had left the Avengers group chat (with a hand waving emoji by way of farewell) at least three months ago.

They all turn to look at Rhodes, who shrugs and says, “Sokovia II.”

“That,” Steve points out, “has got to be the widest reading of the words ‘post-action cleanup mandate’ I've ever heard.”

Rhodes pops his faceplate open to glare at Steve. “Yeah? What's your excuse?”

“I was in the neighbourhood,” Steve says, attempting the casual off-hand tone he'd practiced at each traffic light on the way here.

There are groans all around.

“Steve,” Wanda tells him, “we love you, but you say that every time.”

From under the pile of rubble just beyond them, a snarling four-armed alien AIM hybrid staggers to its feet. Steve flings his shield at it at the same time that Peter webs up its arms. This is swiftly followed by a barrage of repulsor blasts and missiles, and a concussive burst of Wanda magic which turns the pile of rubble into a mid-sized crater.

“So that was… excessive,” says Scott, as they watch the dust clear.

Tony’s suit taps one metal finger against Rhodes’ helmet. “Okay Sokovia II, time for cleanup.” He promptly blasts off into the sky.

“It's not that we don't appreciate your help,” Sam tells Steve, while the others split up to assist the first vanful of Damage Control and SHIELD cleanup operatives to arrive at the scene. “But you don't need to keep interrupting your life to make sure we're okay.”

“Interrupting my life,” Steve repeats with a laugh. “That’s a bit of an exaggeration.”

“No Steve, it really isn't,” says Sam. He is giving Steve a look of sincere concern. “You drove here. From Greenpoint.”

“It’s not that far away,” Steve tells Sam, but he knows he's already losing the battle when he sees Sam’s brow furrow.

“We're in New Jersey, Steve.”

“Is anyone going to Manhattan?” asks Peter, wandering by forlornly. He’s holding a laptop backpack that is still partially covered in webbing from when he'd stuck it to a wall somewhere. “I have a job interview in an hour.”

Sam gives Steve a meaningful look.

Steve sighs. “Hey, kid,” he says, turning to Peter. “I can take you.”

Even with the mask on, Peter visibly perks up. “It's not too much trouble?”

“I've got a nap scheduled at 4 p.m. and a sandwich at 6,” says Steve, “but I'll see if I can shift some things around.”

---

New York Daily News @NYDailyNews
Captain America has hung up his shield and settled in Brooklyn nydn.us/2rDpzVi

The Daily Bugle @dailybugle
MAN OUT OF TIME: NOW OUT OF JOB bug.le/4mYqPo

---

“So,” says Bucky as he cuts a French cleat out of a piece of plywood, “you were saying something about art school.”

“Was I?” Steve mumbles, not looking up from his Agatha Christie novel. He's just found the perfect curled-up position for reading on Bucky’s workshop couch and for not getting a crick in his neck if he falls asleep while doing so. He's not moving from it unless he absolutely has to.

“Before you retired,” Bucky continues, “you said you wanted to go to art school.”

“Yeah,” says Steve, pointedly turning a page so Bucky might get the hint and go back to making his custom kitchen cabinet for the Lee-Richardsons in Park Slope. Business has picked up in the past few months through increased word of mouth, and Bucky’s just moved into a new space in Industry City to accommodate the surge in jobs. Steve, who recently spent an afternoon boggling at art school applications before shutting his laptop in exhaustion, has given up wondering how Bucky has had the energy to not only graduate college but also start a carpentry business.

Bucky has now switched off the circular saw, which Steve understands to mean that he's really committing to this conversation. When he steps across to loom over Steve it feels almost like all the other times Bucky had stood disapprovingly over Steve. Except that back then it had usually been to stop Steve from leaving the apartment while nursing a raging cold, and now Bucky seems determined to have Steve get up and do things.

“Stevie,” Bucky says, nudging Steve’s shoulder.

Steve rests the open book on his chest at looks up at Bucky. There had been a period, just after they’d gotten Bucky back, where Steve had not been able to look at Bucky without remembering how he had been; without seeing all seventy years of what HYDRA had done to him right there in Bucky’s face. Now Bucky wears carpenter goggles and sports a full Brooklyn hipster beard and Steve likes that he can make fun of Bucky’s face again, that there’s something soft and light in his eyes when he smiles.

Bucky’s not smiling now, not really. In fact, he’s beginning to develop the same brow furrow as Sam’s. “Did you look at the applications I sent you?”

“I did,” Steve says; wants to add, but I don’t know why everything seems so hard. He doesn’t. He can’t imagine saying that out loud.

Maybe Bucky sees it on Steve’s face, because he just squeezes Steve’s shoulder again and tells him, “You have options, is all I’m saying.”

“Sure,” says Steve, and Bucky mercifully lets him return to The Moving Finger. Steve, in turn, pretends he doesn’t see Bucky frowning and typing away on his phone.

---

Sam Wilson:
Steve how the hell did you manage to decline the Sakaraans’ offers to wrestle for an entire year??? These guys are persistent

A lot of strategic running away. Using Tony as a distraction also helped.

Sam Wilson:
K
How do you get Thor to stop egging them on

Maybe you can write him a letter to tell him how you feel.

Sam Wilson:
Ha ha ha ha, Rogers
How are the books?

Swell, thanks.

---

Steve's sole achievement that month turns out to be successfully dropping Peter off at Oscorp Tower in time for his interview, because Peter gets the job. Tony’s indignant bellowing can be heard across all five boroughs.

He said he can't move to Malibu, Steve texts Tony, before returning to the stacks of Agatha Christie novels that have found a permanent home around his bed.

WE HAVE A NEW YORK OFFICE, is Tony’s reply.

Steve sends Tony a hand waving emoji and opens up Lord Edgware Dies. He possibly falls asleep halfway through the book because he wakes up several hours later, disoriented and in a pitch dark apartment.

At the press conference where he’d announced his retirement, Christine Everhart had asked a question about what he would do once he was back to civilian life. Maybe I'll start with a nice nap, he had quipped, with the little grin that always made the Avengers PR people very happy, and everyone had laughed.

It is possible that Steve is not quite past that nap stage yet.

His phone inbox has exploded with texts, including one from Bucky that reads: talk to stark please or to pete - rushing a job no time to answer my damn messages, and then, an hour later: answer my damn messages stevie.

From Tony, he gets a whole string ranging from who taught you that emoji, to if he wants to do r&d work it doesnt need to be malibu i told him that, to i’ll talk to pepper. And finally: pepper says im being ridiculous, surely im not ridiculous.

Steve dog ears a slightly drooled-on page and slides himself off the bed with a groan. He stumbles over to the light switch, narrowly avoiding a stack of Poirots, and flips on the lights.

Spider-man is crouched at his window, peering in through cupped hands.

Steve jumps, super-soldier reflexes notwithstanding. “What on earth-”

Peter waves apologetically. “HI, CAP,” he says in a very loud voice, gesturing as he speaks, “CAN YOU HEAR ME? CAN I-”

“I can hear you-”

“- COME IN?”

“- just fine.” Steve slides open the window, and Peter tumbles into the room, landing neatly on his feet.

“Hi,” Peter says again, once he’s pulled off his mask. He’s got a plastic bag slung around one wrist, which he now holds out to Steve. “I got you a sandwich to say thanks for the ride that day.”

“How long were you at my window?” asks Steve, suspicious.

“Uh, not very long,” says Peter, looking shifty. “I mean, I did get a little hungry so I finished my sandwich while I was waiting.”

“Okay.”

“And I kind of also borrowed this ‘cause my phone was at five per cent?” Peter reaches out of the window and retrieves a copy of At Bertram’s Hotel. “I’m so sorry-”

“So you opened the window, came in-”

“Yes, I mean, no - I opened the window and snagged a book with my web.”

“You snagged a book,” says Steve, “then shut the window and stayed outside?”

“Yeah,” says Peter, “I mean, obviously I couldn’t come in, that would be really rude.”

Steve takes a moment to stare at Peter, who squirms just a little bit under the full force of Steve’s Captain America gaze. “You’re very strange,” Steve finally says, taking the sandwich. “Thanks for this. Do you need to charge your phone?”

While Peter’s phone charges, they sit in the living room and Steve eats the sandwich. It’s a very good sandwich, despite being slightly squashed. Peter mostly stays very still and tries not to look like he’s staring at everything in Steve’s apartment. There’s not much to see besides the framed photograph collage Vision had put together on behalf of the other Avengers to celebrate Steve’s retirement, and the giant stuffed toy whale from Tony that is almost as tall as Steve. Between all the missions and averting of universe-ending events over the past decade, Steve’s not really had the chance to acquire very much.

“So,” says Steve, when he’s finished the sandwich. “Congratulations on the job.”

Peter makes a face. “Mr Stark’s not very happy about it.”

“Look, he just needs a bit of time to get used to the idea,” Steve tells Peter. “You'll see.”

“I guess,” says Peter. “I mean, it could be worse - I could've applied to Hammer Industries.”

Steve snorts. “That should put things in perspective for him.”

“That's what Bucky told him,” Peter says, “but Mr Stark kind of just sat there and blinked and shook his head - for like, a whole minute.”

Steve knows the Tony Stark blink and head shake of incomprehension, most recently seen when Steve had first brought up the possibility of not being Cap. “Kid, it's going to be fine,” he tells Peter. “You remember what he was like when I told him I wanted to retire?”

Peter grimaces.

“Remember how he came round to the idea? And then it was nothing but press conferences and awkward parties and giant whales after that?”

They consider the giant toy whale for a moment. It's leaning against the display shelf where Steve keeps the dozen or so SHIELD-or-HYDRA-issued Ikea plates and cups that hadn't been totally shot up by Bucky in Steve's old DC apartment.

“It’s a pretty massive whale,” says Peter.

“Yeah,” Steve replies, “some days it can't even stay upright on its own.”

“Oh well,” says Peter softly, except he says it as ‘oh whale’ and then ducks his head like he thinks Steve didn't hear that terrible pun.

“Oh whale,” says Steve, after a pause.

Peter fails to suppress a giggle, which sets Steve off as well. There's nobody else there to notice if they’re both laughing a little too hard, or if there's a slight note of hysteria in Steve’s guffaws.

---

r/avengers · i.redd.it
Weekly roundup of Cap sightings
u/Capwatch

FalCap:

[Photo] [Photo] [Photo]
Bird sanctuary visit with children of Broxton Elementary

[Photo] [Photo] [Photo] [Photo]
Welcome reception with Wakandan delegates

[Photo] [Photo]
Leaving the gym (2nd photo: with JBB)

[Photo]
Press statement after AIM crackdown in Stockholm

OG Cap:

[Photo] [Photo]
Leaving Whole Foods

[Photo]
At a second hand bookstore

[Photo] [Photo] [Photo]
Leaving JBB’s studio

[Photo]
Eating a sandwich in the park

 

trueavenger · 5 hours ago
is it just me or is Steve Rogers eating a sandwich on that park bench the saddest thing

↑ 893 ↓

beeswax2088
  Sad Cap :’(

↑ 185 ↓

    duckybear
    He's a retired 100 year old national hero, he can do what he wants

↑ 304 ↓

    RatCave
    I'm sure he's more than a hundred by now

↑ 14 ↓

calzone1zone
http://imgur.com/wNSxT.png
  Sad Cap and Sad Keanu commiserate

↑ 1284 ↓

---

“Come to this fundraiser,” Pepper says, and Steve goes because it's Pepper who’s asking, and Pepper doesn't ask for things without good reason.

It's a gala raising funds for arts education in underprivileged neighbourhoods, which Steve has always had an interest in. He preps dutifully for it, reading through the talking points that Pepper’s assistant’s assistant had emailed him instead of finishing the last fifteen pages of Appointment With Death and skipping the gala like he really wants to.

He gets there, and regrets it immediately. From where he’s standing - at the wrong end of the red carpet, facing a phalanx of photographers and press - the entrance to the Cipriani seems impossibly far away. It isn’t enough this time to tell himself to just grit his teeth and get through it; he feels himself shrinking back, fighting the urge to turn towards the car he’s just emerged from.

“A little different from leaping out of planes and punching aliens in the face, I’d imagine,” says Pepper, appearing at Steve’s elbow.

“Pepper,” says Steve, not bothering to hide his relief. He offers her his arm almost by reflex.

Pepper takes it with a smile. “Shall we?”

As they make their way through the crowd the weight of Pepper's hand in the crook of Steve’s arm becomes an anchoring one. She steers him expertly towards the journalists she wants to give soundbites to, and easily deflects the questions she deems unnecessary to answer.

After fifteen minutes or so of this they finally get through the doors. It's worse inside, because Pepper is whisked off to talk to some important guests and people will not stop coming up to Steve.

At first Steve tries his best to respond like he should, to remember to smile and shake hands and make eye contact even though it feels like everything around him is taking place behind a thick layer of glass. But after several rounds of murmuring something about art school in response to the endless questions about his current and future plans, Steve gives up. The next time someone says, “And what are you up to these days, Captain Rogers?”, Steve opts for the truth.

“Mostly I’ve just been sitting around reading Agatha Christie novels.”

There is a moment in which everyone is not sure what to say, and Steve stares back blankly at them because he is too exhausted to arrange his expression into anything remotely charming. Then someone laughs like Steve’s made the most amusing joke, and everyone else joins in.

“Would anyone like a drink?” Steve asks, and then makes a beeline for the bar without waiting for their response.

He’s barely sipped his drink before his phone goes off. Steve answers on the second ring.

“So a little bird told me,” says Tony, “or rather, a terrifying bunch of birds told Captain Wilson, that there is a bogey headed towards 42nd Street on a glider that looks alarmingly like the Green Goblin’s.”

Steve sets him drink down. “What’s its ETA and target?”

“I’m sending you its current location, and we’re on our way,” says Tony. “Looks like it’s coming to you.”

This, Steve knows. He’s on his feet and giving orders for security to usher everyone to safety before Tony even hangs up. While the guests begin to move, Steve spares a quick glance at the location information Tony has just sent him, and races up to the roof of the building. He gets there just in time to spot what is indeed the Green Goblin rounding the corner from Lexington Avenue, setting off smoke bombs in his wake.

His phone goes off again, but Steve ignores it. He clambers over the balustrade and takes a flying leap off the building, catching hold of the edge of the Green Goblin’s glider.

The Green Goblin seems smaller than Steve remembers, but he's no less strong, and when he tries to kick Steve off the edge of the glider he almost succeeds. Steve clings on stubbornly with one hand, while the glider teeters and veers towards the building. Before the Goblin can rebalance long enough to kick Steve again, Steve swings his body and manages to catch the edge of the glider with his other hand. He’s hauling himself on board in one clean motion and tackling the Goblin before the Goblin can reach for another pumpkin bomb.

The glider plummets toward the ground as Steve wrestles with the Goblin, throwing punches when he can, until finally they crash into the sidewalk. Steve gets up just a fraction of a second before the Goblin does. It's all the advantage he needs, and he lands a kick to the Goblin’s chest and then his head in quick succession.

By the time Sam and Tony arrive, Steve has the Goblin unconscious and properly pinned to the ground.

“Sorry to interrupt the party,” says Tony, snapping restraints onto the Goblin’s arms.

“Any idea who this is?” asks Sam.

Steve shakes his head. “He hasn't said anything.”

“I'll take him in,” says Sam, applying some sort of electromagnetic device to the Goblin’s restraints and hoisting him into the air. “I know you both have things to do, but I'd appreciate your help managing the situation until SHIELD gets here.”

“That's all right,” Steve replies. “We'll take care of things.”

His heart is thumping hard in his chest, and his mind feels clear for the first time in weeks. It feels almost as if someone has turned the volume back on; adjusted some lens to bring everything into focus again. There is no longer a cotton wool quality to everything Steve perceives, and when he speaks he feels the words coming easier and clearer.

“So you've put a bunch of socialites and bigwigs into the basement of the Cipriani?” says Tony.

“In my day this was the headquarters of Bowery Savings,” Steve replies, “I figured there'd be a vault.”

“You were banking on it?” says Tony, in innocent tones.

Steve groans.

“You couldn’t see it, but I just winked at you behind my faceplate.”

“I know you did, Tony,” says Steve. He wants to grab Tony by the shoulders and shout, I feel fine, I'm okay! but that would be strange even by their standards.

“Okay,” says Tony, “let's go get Pepper.”

It takes them an hour more to finish assisting SHIELD, and then there's a quick debrief meeting in which Sam reports that the “Green Goblin” they apprehended was some sort of remote-controlled robot made using technology that may have recently been stolen from Oscorp. By the time Steve returns to his apartment it's coming to four in the morning. He's feeling a good sort of tired, the kind that comes after the pure exertion of a firefight, and for once he falls asleep without having to read, or to lie in bed for ages listening to the faint sounds of sirens and traffic.

---

Shawarma buddies

Messages sent on StarkChat are secured with end-to-end encryption, whatever that is. Actually, you should probably tap for more info.

banner:
Here's how much you owe me for lunch guys
[receipt.jpg]
Great catching up! Congratulations, Steve!

TODAY

tony stank:
Quick check in from 42nd Street - situation contained, no need for backup

glinda:
Ok, thx

warmachinerox:
K

birb captain:
subject is in SHIELD custody, debrief in 10 at A tower
there will likely be further investigations at oscorp - just a heads up pete

spiderling:
got it!

birb captain:
… who changed all our usernames again

warmachinerox:
it was a slow day at the UN
tony helped

glinda:
who is glinda???

tony stank:
Ask cap, he gets that reference

---

Steve wakes up the next morning and finds he can't get out of bed.

For several long minutes he remains there, not even trying to move his sluggish limbs, which lie heavy and useless under the sheets. The clarity from the night before feels like a dream described to him by someone else.

It's not the first time this has happened in the recent months, but it’s the first time he's not been able to ease himself out of it.

So he goes back to sleep. When he wakes up again he's still exhausted.

He thinks: maybe I should get up. He thinks: whatever for. He stares at the ceiling and doesn't think.

He thinks: something is very wrong.

He has been lying there for what might be an hour or half a day - he honestly can't tell - when Bucky climbs in through the window, muttering about how Steve needs to lock his damn windows.

“Steve - Stevie,” says Bucky, coming to the side of Steve’s bed. “What's wrong?”

Steve looks at Bucky, slightly wind-blown from climbing four stories up the exterior of Steve's building, his face filled with concern, and feels guilt surge up in his throat.

Bucky just sits down on the bed and rests a hand on Steve's shoulder, the same way he used to almost ninety years ago. “I’ve got you, pal. Just tell me what's the matter.”

“I can't get out of bed,” says Steve, and even that is a gargantuan effort, trying to pull those words together.

“Okay, Stevie,” says Bucky. “Where does it hurt?”

Nowhere, it's not that kind of hurt. Everywhere. Steve tries again. “I'm not hurt. I just -” He stops, exhausted from trying to describe what this is when he hasn't a clue himself.

“It's okay, Stevie,” Bucky tells Steve. He's using that calm Steve’s-having-an-asthma-attack voice, the one where he tries but can't hide the slight edge of panic in his words. “I've got you. It's fine.”

Steve sighs, and closes his eyes again.

Bucky must have called Sam, because he comes in some time later (through the front door, like any reasonable person who has been given a set of keys), carrying a chair with him so he can sit by Steve's bed.

“Hey, man,” says Sam. “Heard you've been having a rough day.”

“What time is it?” Steve asks.

“Around three in the afternoon,” Sam tells him.

He’s been lying there for hours. Steve squeezes his eyes shut. It doesn't stop the sinking feeling in his stomach.

“It's all right, Steve,” says Sam, “this shit happens. Are you okay if I ask you a couple of questions about how you've been feeling these past two weeks?”

Steve nods. Sam asks him a list of things about how often he's felt little interest or pleasure in doing things (often, apart from the Agatha Christies, and that's mostly out of some grim determination to complete all of them), whether he's had trouble falling asleep (every night) or sleeping too much (every day, once he falls asleep), whether he has trouble concentrating on things (often).

“How often,” asks Sam, “have you felt bad about yourself - or that you are a failure or you have let yourself or other people down?”

Steve thinks about the days following the press conference, after he'd signed off on his official notification to the Sokovia II panel. How he'd returned to an empty apartment and shapeless hours stretching ahead of him; everything he'd hated about downtime magnified.

He's been fighting for so long that now that he's stopped, he doesn't know what he's for.

---

Reuters Top News @Reuters
“Goblinettes” - New York City sees multiple attacks from robots reminiscent of Green Goblin reut.rs/9Hx2Sj4

CNN Breaking News @cnnbrk
Avengers avert four separate “Green Goblin" attacks in three days cnn.it/4YqilRb

Rihanna @rihanna
Captain Rogers taking a minute off from the #StarkFundraiser to take down a Goblinette #OGCap #CaptainBae #Damn
[30s video]

---

“I know some good people you might want to consider seeing, if you're up for it,” Sam tells Steve. “In the meantime, as a friend who has been where you are before: try to start with the little things. When you wake up in the morning, just try to move from your bed to the couch.”

“From my bed to the couch,” Steve repeats doubtfully.

“That's it, that's your to-do list,” says Sam. “Then take it from there. You don’t need to bust out of this like you bust through walls. It’s okay to go slow.”

This is how Steve's days take shape: He wakes up in the morning and makes himself get up to go sit on the couch. At the beginning that’s all he manages, and he spends the rest of the time curled up with the whale, trying to focus on the fact that he’s done something - crossed off two items on his checklist - rather than comparing his current self with the Steve Rogers who used to do a round of laundry, go through group strategy and finish a morning run before team updates at nine.

He learns, slowly, that there are certain thoughts he shouldn’t follow. He learns that bad days often follow the good ones and that sometimes, even on the bad days, he can still negotiate with himself through the fog of hopelessness: to at least stand in the shower even if he has to rest his head against the wall.

“I see you expanded the list,” says Bucky one morning, glancing at Steve’s notebook, which Steve has left open on the coffee table. He holds up a breakfast burrito. “Want to check off item 8?”

Steve is not hungry; hasn’t been for a while, but he says, “Sure,” anyway and lets go of the whale to slide across the couch towards Bucky. He gets through half the burrito, and after he puts the rest back into the paper bag he leans over and crosses off ‘Breakfast’.

He glances up and sees Bucky watching him carefully, and finds he can’t read the expression on Bucky’s face. Perhaps Bucky’s drawing the same comparisons Steve can barely keep himself from making, Steve thinks, with a flash of despair.

“I guess you didn’t think you’d end up having to watch me cross ‘take a shower’ off a dumb list of things any kid could do, huh, Buck?” Steve says, aiming for wry but hearing his voice come out flat and defeated.

“It’s not a dumb list, you mook,” Bucky replies. “And I’m the last person to judge a fella if he needs a little time to get his head right.”

“Well it’s sure taking a hell of a long time, Buck,” Steve snaps. He regrets it immediately. “I’m sorry. It’s just the list - I’m trying so damn hard and it’s going nowhere. I’m not getting better. I don't know if I will.”

“Stevie, you're going to get better.”

Steve puts his face in his hands. “You’ve enough to deal with and here I am just weighing you down.”

“Listen, pal.” Bucky rises from his armchair and stalks over to sit beside Steve, seizing the whale to make space for himself. “You know what I see when I come in here every day? The same kid from Brooklyn who was too dumb to call it a day even after getting half a dozen 4Fs from enlistment offices all over the state. I come in here and I see you working on this list even though it’s the hardest thing in the world to keep on doing it - trust me, I know, and Sam knows as well. And I think: that’s Steve Rogers for you. Stubborn as hell and strong as hell.”

“Bucky-”

“And if you think you’re weighing me down or that I’m about to give up on you,” Bucky continues furiously, “I’ve got news for you. End of the line, pal. End of the fucking line and no take backs.”

There is an odd feeling in Steve’s chest that he can’t quite identify. What he’s very sure of, however, is that he has no idea what to say in response. After a moment, he reaches over to rescue the whale from Bucky’s clenched fists.

---

Concord Street Clinic
Hi Steve, this is to confirm your appointment tomorrow at 12:00 PM. Please text C to confirm. Thanks.

I'm sorry, is it possible to reschedule?

Concord Street Clinic
Sure, just give us a call.
Hi Steve, your appointment has been rescheduled to next Tuesday at 12:00 PM.

Thanks.

Concord Street Clinic
Hi Steve, this is to confirm your appointment tomorrow at 12:00 PM. Please text C to confirm. Thanks.

Sorry, could I reschedule my appointment to next week please?

Concord Street Clinic
Hi Steve, your appointment has been rescheduled to next Tuesday at 12:00 PM.

Thanks again. Sorry for the late notice.

Concord Street Clinic
Hi Steve, this is to confirm your appointment tomorrow at 12:00 PM. Please text C to confirm. Thanks.

C

---

Dr Perez says, “Maybe you can consider working some exercise into your routine. Like a walk. Nothing too intense, just enough to get you outside and get your heart rate up a little.”

So Steve goes running with Sam. With Sam.

“Dude, it is so weird that you’re next to me,” Sam says for the third time that morning, after they turn a corner a little too tightly and bump elbows again.

“You think this doesn’t feel weird for me too?” Steve grits out. He’d spent the twenty minutes before Sam showed up at the apartment reading articles on the benefits of exercise on mental health to convince himself to actually go through with it, but now the only thing keeping him going is the thought of crossing out ‘go for a run’ on his checklist.

It’s a nice day out at Prospect Park, albeit a little chilly. From the glances other joggers and cyclists have been giving them, Steve assumes his face must look like thunder.

“Look, man, you’re doing great,” says Sam, “but if you need to slow down or take a break, just go for it, okay?”

“I don’t know, it sounds to me like you’re just gunning for a break,” Steve replies.

“Oh, so that's how it's gonna be?” says Sam, elbowing Steve even though they're not going round any bends.

“Stop that,” says Steve.

“Stop what? This?” Sam makes to poke Steve with his elbow again but Steve ducks out of the way in time.

“Stop breathing so loud, you’re drowning out the birdsong.”

Sam bursts out laughing, and Steve feels - he doesn't feel happy, not really. Steadier, perhaps, like the perpetual sense of nothing has lifted for a few brief moments.

They go another mile, and then stop by some benches near the lake to cool down and stretch. Sam appears to be bird royalty in Brooklyn - now that he's stopped running, he's visited by a string of warblers and robins who all seem to want to hop onto his fingers and shoulders and chirrup in his ears. Sam calls these bird conferences getting the news; Bucky calls it a damn nuisance because a finch pooped on his shoulder once.

Steve stands at a distance to give Sam a little space, because there is something private and warm about the way Sam gets when he’s around the birds, and Steve doesn’t want to interrupt that. He’s stretching out his quads when he is in turn interrupted by a teenage girl who marches up to him and says, “Excuse me, Mister, do you have a phone I could borrow?”

“Uh.” Steve reaches into his pocket for his phone and pulls it out. “Are you lost?”

The girl, who can’t be older than thirteen or fourteen, gives him an eye roll that would make Natasha Romanoff proud. “No. I’ve spotted the turtle poachers.”

“The turtle poa- what? Do you want me to go over there with you-”

“There’s no time,” says the girl, snatching up Steve’s phone. “I’ve gotta take photos and call Park Enforcement. Thanks!” She goes tearing off towards Park Circle.

Sam hurries over. “Did that girl just steal your phone?”

They find her by the water, where she’s furiously snapping photographs of several furtive figures with plastic bags further down the lakeside. She’s also got Park Enforcement on speakerphone. “Yeah, they’re just picking the turtles straight out of the water and bagging them up.”

“All right ma’am,” the lady on the line is saying, “we’re sending our officers over right now.”

Sam and Steve exchange looks.

Sam sighs something that sounds suspiciously like, “I’m off duty,” and takes off in the direction of the poachers, while Steve goes round to come up on their other side.

“You guys know you’re not supposed to take wildlife out of the park, right?” says Sam, in his Captain America let’s-be-reasonable voice. When one of the poachers turns to run, he runs straight into Steve.

The man stumbles backwards in surprise and recognition. “What the hell-”

“Please don’t try to get away,” says Steve, holding out his arms. “I’m really tired and I don’t want to chase anybody.”

The man, thankfully, does not run, and Sam makes the four poachers sit down by their loot while they wait for security to arrive.

“I said I was calling Parks Enforcement,” says the girl, jogging over to Steve and handing back his phone. She glances over at Sam and does a double take. “Holy shit, you're Captain America.”

“Hi,” says Sam. He points at Steve. “So is he.”

The girl stares hard at Steve. “Wow,” she says finally, “the beard makes such a huge difference.”

They stick around to wait for park security to arrive. While Sam chats with the girl about the domestic duck that had gone missing from the lake three weeks ago, Steve slumps on a nearby bench, adds ‘apprehend poachers’ to his list, and crosses it out. He doesn't know if he will be able to do anything else for the rest of the day.

“You did good, kid,” Steve tells the girl, after the Park Enforcement van has left and Steve has emailed the photographs (including one selfie with the three of them) to the girl, whose phone had run out of battery earlier.

The girl reaches up to pat Steve on the shoulder. “So did you.”

---

FRIENDS of Prospect Park

*** POACHING ALERT ***
This morning, four poachers were luring turtles out of the lake near Park Circle and putting them in plastic bags! Thankfully our friend @Kamala Khan happened to be passing by and promptly alerted Park Enforcement, and also took plenty of photos as evidence.

As we’ve mentioned before, please be on the lookout for any suspicious activity in Prospect Park, particularly the illegal taking of wildlife!

****PLEASE be our eyes and ears and PLEASE document if you see anything****
****PLEASE share this****

149 Likes 176 Comments 1.7K Shares

---

This is how Steve's weeks start to take shape: at first he works up to grinding through three runs a week and making regular trips to the supermarket, just so he can force himself out of the apartment. Then one morning Bucky calls Steve and says, “Haresh’s leg isn’t doing so well,” and Steve agrees to swing by and help with the deliveries. Haresh, the former Marine who shares Bucky’s workshop, has a quiet voice and has never once asked Steve about punching bad guys in the face, which makes him an ideal person to ride in a truck with for long hours.

Haresh ends up needing to get fitted for a new prosthetic, so Steve sticks around to do the loading and unloading for another month, driving with Haresh all over the city and keeping his cap low on his face while he carries custom metal furniture into offices and homes. On the days that Steve feels like he can barely leave the house, he now not only thinks of his own list but of Haresh’s order sheet - the twelve units of decorative wall parts that Haresh is not going to be able to drag out of the truck on his own; the custom door he fabricated together with Bucky - and stumbles out of bed to search for a clean pair of sweatpants.

Tony catches on, because of course Tony does, and one day Steve receives a message from Tony saying: think you can deadlift a prototype quantum core?

Don't you have robots for this, Steve replies.

That's not the question I'm asking
, Tony messages back, and on the following Tuesday Happy Hogan’s idling by Steve's apartment, waiting to take him upstate.

Tony is building a spaceship.

“Reverse engineering one, actually,” says Tony, waggling a screwdriver at Steve. He points at a pipe-or-cylinder propped up on a stand in the centre of the hangar. It’s about the size of an SUV. “I need a bit of help keeping things level. Straight up and down, if you will.”

Steve gets under the cylinder and lifts it this way and that until Tony is satisfied. The thing is heavy, and Steve actually breaks a sweat about the ninth time he has to shift it.

“Okay, that's perfect,” says Tony, and robot arms rise out of the floor to hold the cylinder in place.

“You couldn't have used those earlier?” asks Steve sliding out from under it.

“I think we could do with more weight, FRIDAY,” Tony muses, “any thoughts?”

“Certainly, sir,” replies FRIDAY. “Shall I bring out the quantum core?”

“You mean this isn't it?” Steve asks, with growing suspicion.

“Oh no,” says Tony, as more robot arms appear, bearing a significantly smaller drum. “That was just an auxiliary compressor.”

Tony wheels in a foam platform. “So if you could just lift the core to slightly below hip height so I can slip this under and stabilise it-”

The ‘quantum core’ has grip handles.

“Tony, is this a gym,” says Steve flatly. “Are you making me a gym on the pretext of building a spaceship.”

He gets the satisfaction of seeing Tony’s deer in the headlights expression for half a second.
“Huh,” says Tony. “Didn't think you'd figure it out so soon. In my defence, I am actually working on spaceflight in the next room.”

So in addition to the running, Steve slots in ‘building Tony’s spaceship’ twice a week.

On Friday evenings Peter sweeps in all crumpled from work for movie night, which Bucky has shifted to Steve's place. Steve still can't really enjoy whatever it is they're watching, so mostly he just curls up and listens to Bucky sniping about the movie.

“After all these years you'd think I'd be able to work out whether MJ is recommending something ironically or not,” says Bucky one night, as Captain Jack Sparrow plunges through a doorway into a mirror universe where Keira Knightley is Jack Sparrow and Shia Labeouf is young Barbossa.

“I told you Pirates 10 was a bad choice,” Peter mumbles, poking at his work phone mournfully. “Looks like I'll have to go in tomorrow.”

“Pal, has there been a weekend you've not needed to?” asks Bucky. On screen, Keanu Reeves bursts forth from the ocean like Poseidon.

Peter buries his face into the back of Steve's whale and groans. “No. And there’re still those Goblinette attacks every couple of weeks.”

Steve catches the sharp look Bucky gives Peter at that; figures they must have had a discussion about not mentioning anything that might remind Steve of his old life.

“You can bunk here if it's easier for you to get in to work tomorrow,” says Steve, because it takes half an hour extra for Peter if he goes from his apartment in Queens.

Peter lifts his head up. “Are you sure? It won't be too much of a bother?”

“It's no trouble if you're willing to take the couch,” says Steve. He doesn't mention that Saturday mornings are the hardest, when he wakes up with no obligations to anchor him and too much time with his own thoughts. When he feels cavernous and unsettled and anxious without a next mission.

(Keira Knightley is now sparring with the Jack Sparrow who is also Keira Knightley, which is cross-cut with Keanu Reeves bobbing along in a dinghy, soulfully playing the mandolin.)

“Wow, thanks, Cap,” says Peter, and Steve sees the corners of Bucky's mouth curve up in the slightest of smiles.

---

Preethi M @preethigood
Just spotted Steve Rogers at the Brooklyn edition of Choir! Choir! Choir! @choirchoirchoir #cccnyc

Preethi M @preethigood
He's here with Bucky Barnes and possibly Barnes’ roommate from college. Very low key in a baseball cap and sporting a full beard.

Preethi M @preethigood
I think he took a tenor sheet (we're singing Taylor Swift’s Out Of The Woods). Barnes is not singing, just standing around watching.

Preethi M @preethigood
He looks like he’s concentrating very hard on the music. #OGCap #shorterIRL

nina sims @barfwhales
OMG has anyone else noticed or said hi to him!!!!!!

Preethi M @preethigood
I'm sure people have noticed but nobody’s bothering him - I guess folks are just here to sing some Taylor Swift lol

---

Steve knows the barest outlines of what Natasha’s doing these days, and that's only because she sends him a message every couple of weeks from a different phone number. Typically, these will contain some cryptic thing that may occasionally make sense in light of a news headline months later. He texts back things like, I'm doing okay, or seeing my doctor later, to which she replies with smiley faces.

So Steve's not entirely surprised when he receives a set of coordinates and a winky face one day. He is surprised, however, when he follows the coordinates and finds a community garden just walking distance from his apartment.

It’s a single lot that can’t be more than fifty square feet, with a willow tree overhanging the centre of the garden. Half of it is taken up by individual member plots which are demarcated neatly in raised wood beds, while the other half appears to be a communal plot overflowing with clusters of daffodils and vegetables. Steve is still standing by the gate, looking in, when he realises that there’s a man and a little girl inside staring right back at Steve.

“Want to take a look around?” asks the man. “It’s open hours from nine to five.”

Looking around turns into helping to turn the compost using the corkscrew in the shed, which then turns into weeding the paths with the man and his daughter.

“Thanks for all your help,” the man says, when they’re done. “I don’t think I got your name-”

“Steve.”

The man shakes Steve’s hand. “Thanks, Steve. I’m Bill. Feel free to come by again if you like, there’re always things that need doing around here.”

Steve nods; remembers that he should smile. “Maybe I will,” he says.

He sleeps better that night. The next day, he goes to the lot again and finds Bill there, together with two elderly women who are busy pruning the hydrangeas.

“Hey, Steve,” says Bill.

“Is that the new guy?” asks one of the women. “Ask him if he's staying.”

“I heard there was quite a to-do list, ma’am,” Steve says.

The other woman straightens up to look at Steve, hands on her hips. "Well, are you just gonna stand there, or are you gonna do some work?”

Steve does some work. He learns that Bill was right in saying that there's always something to do. He starts with weeding and carrying bags of dirt or mulch for the two ladies (whose names are Lilian and Maude), and soon moves on to cleaning out the shed to make space for new tools that are to be delivered the following week. A few weeks in, he borrows Bucky’s second toolbox so he can do some basic repairs to the shelves in the shed, and ends up having to video call Bucky for step by step instructions.

“If you destroy another board I will hang up, Stevie, I swear,” Bucky growls over the phone, while Steve straightens a nail that he's bent out of shape by accident. “Do I gotta come down there and do it myself?”

He likes seeing things grow, likes the surprise of coming in each day and seeing buds turn to flowers; fresh stems poking from the ground. He shows up in variations of the On The Run outfit that Natasha had first assembled for him in DC, and with the glasses and the beard, he's entirely unrecognisable; just a sad man in a hoodie trying to plant some tomatoes. (Sad because, according to Lilian, he is terrible at putting in tomato stakes.)

Bucky calls him plant obsessed and Sam maybe holds some kind of bird council because the garden has no trouble with scavengers coming to peck at any unripe crops. Steve just fills his old sketchbook with plans for once he gets his own plot the following spring.

Then he shows Maude his plans one afternoon and she says, “Oh, sweetheart.” Puts a hand on his shoulder, warm and comforting. “We all hope we'll have the garden till the following spring.”

When Steve boggles at her she sighs. “Haven't you heard? They're looking to sell this lot to developers.”

---

The Economist | Print Edition | The World This Week

The World Council for Interplanetary Relations rushed to respond to the arrival of Asgardian war criminal Loki Odinson, whose vessel crash landed in Nevada. Mr Odinson was responsible for the Battle of New York in 2012, and had subsequently been repatriated to Asgard to answer for his crimes. The Council’s deliberations are still ongoing. See article.

 

The Atlantic | Photos of the Week: Latverian Sunrise, a Surprised Head of State, Whales

Bird migration in the Carpathians, a chocolate bilgesnipe in Switzerland, the robot skiing carnival in Central Java, and much more.
Hints: view this page full screen. Skip to the next or previous photo by hitting the right and left arrows.

[Photo]
1. A young boy looks on in fascination as Captain America Samuel Wilson and occasional Avenger Stephen Strange escort Loki Odinson and a rock alien into a secure vehicle.

[Photo]
4. Wakandan Foreign Minister Nakia arrives at the United Nations in New York to chair a meeting of the World Council for Interplanetary Relations.

[Photo]
5. King of Asgard Thor Odinson arrives at the United Nations in New York to attend the meeting of the World Council for Interplanetary Relations.

[Photo]
11. Rio Morales, a 22-year-old New York resident, speaks to the press after she and her classmates defend Columbia University’s Butler Library from a Goblinette attack.

 

The New York Times | The Front Page

News Analysis: With the Arrival of Loki Odinson, the World Council for Interplanetary Relations is Put to the Test
For the first time since its recent inception, the Council contemplates an interplanetary visitor that is not quite welcome.

---

When Steve asks Bucky how he might be able to find Peter on a patrol night, Bucky just shrugs and says, “How badly do you want to?”

They end up taking the subway into Manhattan, biking a dozen blocks, and running across several rooftops to reach Peter. The latter, Steve suspects, is mostly because Bucky kind of really likes running across rooftops and no longer gets to do so at his current workplace.

Peter is in his suit and sitting on a beam below a water tower on top of a twenty-storey building, with a Starktech police scanner hanging beside him from a web. He’s got his laptop open and appears to be trying to cram a table of research results into a single PowerPoint slide. They know this because Bucky insists on stealthily sneaking up behind him instead of approaching from below like normal people. They’ve scaled silently up the other side of the water tower and are balanced precariously on the metal beams when Peter says, without turning around or pausing in his clicking, “Hey guys.”

Bucky lets out a grunt of disappointment. “Saw us coming?”

“Spidey sense,” replies Peter, while he animates a SmartArt arrow to whizz across the screen.

“Damn,” says Bucky.

“Better luck next time,” Peter tells him. “What’s up?”

Bucky elbows Steve. “Gramps has a question about computers.”

Steve sighs, and traverses his way round the side of the water tower to Peter, who closes his laptop. “How do I get more people to sign this?” he asks, pulling out his phone to show Peter a change.org petition that has thus far only been signed by Bill Booker, Maude Chin, Lilian Santoro, and ‘Steven Gr’.

The eyes of Peter's suit widen. “Wow, is that your fake name?”

“He hit ‘submit’ by accident before he could finish typing,” says Bucky, coming round the other direction.

“Oh yeah, that happens,” says Peter, because he is kind. “So do you guys have an Instagram or something that you can put this on?”

Steve looks at Peter. “Uh.”

Bucky coughs something that sounds like, “Instagramps,” and chuckles.

“That's okay,” says Peter, “I can get you set up.”

He proceeds to open Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat accounts for the community garden. (“Does anyone use Snapchat these days?” Bucky points out.) While Peter's teaching Steve the difference between Stories and an actual post, the police scanner goes off.

“It’s a bank robbery on West 32nd, near Koreatown,” says Bucky, peering at the holographic display. “Want me to take it?”

Peter shrugs. “If you're up for it.”

Bucky takes off, and Peter returns to explaining how to use hashtags.

The next morning, Steve is gratified to see that the Instagram and Twitter accounts have gained a few followers (after exploring some of the Snapchat functionalities with Steve, Peter had agreed that it's probably not the best format for a community garden). There are seventeen more signatures on the online petition.

After his run, Steve dutifully spends twenty minutes trying to get the perfect shot of a sparrow perched on a branch. Maude heckles him the entire time, but Steve gets a halfway decent picture, finds a nice filter, and posts it together with the hashtag #saveourgarden.

“Nice,” says Oscar, one of the high schoolers who started taking care of a plot in the garden as part of a school project and just never stopped, when Steve shows him the post. “I was thinking maybe we could also do things old school and walk around the neighbourhood to get support.”

“Talking to folks face to face isn't ‘old school’,” Lilian tells Oscar.

“Honey,” says Maude to Lilian, sweeping by with a trowel, “everything about you is old school.”

“What do you think?” Oscar asks Steve. “I can design a pamphlet with a link to the petition and everything.”

“That sounds like a swell idea,” Steve says, and tries to tamp down the unsettled feeling rising in his gut; the stray, sneering thoughts of why would they listen.

Later, Bucky finds Steve on the couch with the whale again, and doesn't bat an eyelid. He doesn't ask, again, Steve? like Steve always fears he will. Instead Bucky sits down on Steve's very sturdy coffee table and sets the paper bag of Vietnamese takeout beside him. “Feeling foggy today?”

“Yeah,” says Steve. “A little.”

“Okay,” says Bucky. “Mind if I eat first?”

Steve shakes his head, and Bucky cracks open a box of bun thit nuong. In between stuffing his face with mouthfuls of pork and vermicelli, Bucky tells Steve about how someone's thinking of commissioning a replica of an antique blanket chest.

“We might be going round the neighbourhood,” says Steve, when Bucky pauses to retrieve one of the summer rolls he’s always getting for free. “To talk to people about the garden.”

“That sounds like a good plan.”

“It's a little overwhelming.”

“I know,” says Bucky. He stuffs an entire summer roll into his mouth like a barbarian.

To save Bucky from himself, Steve reaches over and snags the other roll.

Bucky gives him a thumbs up, chews blissfully for several moments, and then swallows with a disgustingly loud noise. “Thinking of putting it on the list?”

Steve, now chewing on his own mouthful of summer roll, reaches behind a couch cushion and pulls out his third notebook. ‘Canvass neighbourhood’ is already on the list. In addition to this, Steve has also written - and successfully checked off - the following entries:

  • write to Dept of Housing Preservation and Development
  • write to Dept of Parks and Recreation
  • write to Mayor
  • write to the Trust for Public Land

Bucky gives a low whistle. “That’s enough letters to knock a fella sideways.”

“Hardly,” says Steve, resolute for a man who is also curled up on a couch with a stuffed toy whale in his arms. “I’m taking a moment, and then I’m writing at least a dozen more.”

---

fyeahjbbarnes

MONEY DIARIES: A BROOKLYN CARPENTER RECORDS HIS SPENDING FOR A WEEK
By Man Repeller Guest Writers

In this edition of MR Money Diaries, Jim, a 30-something-year-old carpenter living in Brooklyn, documents his expenses for seven days.

I’ve just moved back to Brooklyn after spending a couple of years in the Lower East Side attending college and concurrently doing my apprenticeship. I’ve started a carpentry studio in Sunset Park, where I do custom carpentry for mostly residential spaces. Money-wise, I’ve lived through some pretty hard times. Things are okay now - much, much better, so I try to take care of myself and the people around me even though the tendency is to try to squirrel away as much as possible, particularly because New York is so damn expensive these days.

FRIDAY (DAY 1)

  • $14.95 - citi bike membership
  • $5.97 - 3 cartons of eggs
  • $11.10 - box of peter pan donuts
  • $19.95 - cha gio thit nuon (2 bowls) and banh mi from thanh da
  • FREE - summer rolls from thanh da

I have an annual subscription to citi bike which I pay on a monthly basis, so I do that first thing in the morning when my phone alert pops up. My housemate, Sam, has a physically demanding job and he’s very conscious of his protein intake, so we get through eggs pretty quickly. Before work I bike about half an hour to Greenpoint to visit my friend Steve. Before I head back to Sunset Park, I pick up some donuts from Peter Pan for my coworkers and neighbours at the studio.

I get in late enough that I end up working through lunch, and sometime closer to evening we get Vietnamese food. The Vietnamese place knows us well enough that they throw in a couple of summer rolls for free, which is great because I’m always hungry. I talk about this with Haresh, a fabricator I share the studio with. He tells me it’s not normal for a man in his late thirties to eat as much as I do. Haresh is pretty harsh sometimes, but at least he appreciates the donuts I got him.

SATURDAY (DAY 2)

  • $29.60 - coffees, bagels and fresh orange juice from ess-a-bagel
  • $21.00 - espresso and a calzone from la lanterna
  • FREE - dumplings, puchero and other delicious things

I bike in to Manhattan in the morning to meet Sam and some former work colleagues. One guy’s brother just crashed into town unexpectedly so there’s been a bit of confusion about where he can stay. It’s messed up. I swing by a bagel place to get a lox cream cheese bagel for Sam, and end up buying a bunch of bagels for the others as their orders start trickling in. At first I think of getting them to pay me back but they seem pretty stressed out so I make a note to ask later (spoiler: I haven’t yet).

For lunch my college roommate Pete and I go for a college reunion at a restaurant near Washington Square Park. The vibe is weird because everyone keeps trying to talk about how much money they’re making without actually talking about money, and also they put twenty of us in this outdoor lantern garden that’s supposed to be romantic but who the fuck chooses a place like this for a college reunion. I don’t ask this question out loud and order a calzone instead. It’s okay.

Broke and grumpy, I bike back to Brooklyn to attend a potluck dinner/garden party at Green Thumbs Community Garden, which Steve is a member of. (Steve and his fellow gardeners are currently fighting to keep the garden out of the hands of developers - find out more here.) The food at this dinner is the best thing about the day.

Read More

#guess who #jbb #b is for brooklyn #b is for beard #keyboard smash #saveourgarden

suchafullsea
  IS THIS. WHO I THINK IT IS.

    marconi
    100%. What gave it away for me is when he mentioned that college reunion at La Lanterna - my friend who went to ESU at the same time totally attended that! And also the fact that he anonymised no names whatsoever.

      buckybear
      omg omg I’m just so happy he’s still hanging with his college roommate

      mockingbird
      I like how EVERYONE in the Man Repeller comments is like this guy must be good-looking AF ‘cause he keeps getting so much free shit

        suchafullsea
        ALSO DOES THAT MEAN HIS CURRENT HOUSEMATE IS SAM WILSON WHAT THE FUCK THAT’S AMAZING

          fyeahjbbarnes
          Yeah I think so. And do check out Green Thumbs Community Garden’s Change.org page for more information on how you can support the gardeners.

---

“You know,” Tony says, “I could just buy the garden.”

Steve pauses in the middle of bench pressing a ‘left rocket booster’ to give Tony a look.

“It’s literally, what, a hundred square feet?”

“Fifty. But there are also five other at-risk gardens in Brooklyn and twenty-three from the other boroughs that have joined us.” He finishes his last rep. “And I doubt you can buy them all-”

“Watch me.”

“-or that you should.” Steve sits up and looks at Tony. “It’s the principle of it. The HPD needs to understand the good that these green spaces do for their respective neighbourhoods, and not try to parcel them off for ‘affordable housing’ projects every decade or so. Affordable housing and home-grown community gardens shouldn’t been mutually exclusive things.”

Tony regards Steve with a little sideways grin. “I see what Barnes meant when he said that Angry Letters Steve was back.”

“Angry Letters-”

“I like it,” says Tony, slapping Steve on his rather sweaty back. “Now tell me what you need.”

The campaign grows. The number of signatures on the change.org petition swells to more than a thousand, and Steve talks to an exhausting number of people each day. The New York City Community Garden Coalition gets in touch. Peter’s friend MJ organises a spoken word evening which is well attended by local residents and her black-clad, surly-looking artist friends.

Steve draws again - he starts, at first, because he wants to capture the light hitting the willow tree and can’t seem to get it right on his phone camera. Then he draws Bill’s daughter and some of her friends frolicking near the vegetable patch, and Bill is so delighted by it that Steve has to do one of the two of them as well. Maude and Lilian each deign to pose for him by the hydrangeas, and Oscar asks for one where he’s Batman.

And then, now that he’s started, Steve begins to draw things and people from outside the garden - Bucky at his studio, conferring with Haresh over some designs for a loft ladder-bookcase; Sam, poring over post action reports with goggle marks from a day’s flying still not yet faded from around his eyes; Peter, eyes bright as he holds out the copy of At Bertram’s Hotel that he’s finally finished between long days at work and longer nights on patrol. He sends Natasha a sketch of her that he did from memory, and she replies with ‘:) :) :) :)’, the most he’s ever received from her.

More often that not, Steve wakes up in the morning and knows exactly what he needs to do that day. More often than not, he doesn’t have to negotiate with himself before he leaves the apartment. More often than not, someone says something to him and he finds he doesn’t need to drift through a sea of nothing before identifying how it’s supposed to make him feel.

“And how are you this month, Steve?” Dr Perez asks, and Steve says, “Clearer.”

---

Reuters Top News @Reuters
Loki can stay: World Council for Interplanetary Relations recognises conviction and amnesty under Asgardian law reut.rs/3Ys9Xp2

CNN Breaking News @cnnbrk
World Council Chairperson on Loki’s past crimes: In light of previous Asgardian sentence and pardon, he should not be put on trial again cnn.it/8KwuqVs

BBC Breaking News @BBCBreaking
Loki Odinson allowed to remain in New Asgard; Captain America Samuel Wilson tells press Avengers will “do their utmost to keep the world safe” bbc.in/3OaiB3z

MJ @therealmichellejones
ok gorgeous people time to assemble - there will be a RALLY with @NYCGC, @GreenThumbsGardeners and other concerned New Yorkers (that’s YOU) at a press conference on the steps of City Hall this THURSDAY at 9AM #saveourgarden

Steven Gr @grthumbsteve
Look forward to seeing everyone at the rally this Thursday, 9am, at City Hall (Manhattan)! #saveourgarden

---

They are an hour into the rally when Steve and Bucky receive news of multiple Goblinette attacks across Manhattan. Steve steps away to call Sam while the Community Garden Coalition representative continues making her speech.

There is gunfire in the background when Sam answers. “A little busy.”

“Need any help?” asks Steve.

“We’ve got Wanda and Vision taking down the ones that surfaced in the Upper West Side, and Rhodes, Tony and I have the rest covered,” says Sam. “Peter’s identified the actual Green Goblin and is in pursuit. I think we’re good, Steve.”

“Okay,” says Steve. “Call me if there’s anything.”

“Yeah,” Sam replies, “I’ll try not to let them hit any community gardens.”

When Steve returns to the rally, Bucky looks only mildly surprised.

“Sam says they’re good,” Steve tells Bucky. “Besides, I’m needed here.”

Bucky slings an arm round Steve. “You know, if Dr Perez were here, she’d call this-”

“Don’t say it,” says Steve.

Bucky laughs, squeezes Steve’s shoulders a little tighter. “Sure, pal.”

They make it through three more speeches and half of Lilian’s account of how gardening has helped with her agoraphobia before Steve’s phone buzzes in his pocket again.

“Bad news, Steve,” says Sam, “the fight’s coming to you.”

They see Peter first, careening through the sky and landing heavily on the roof of City Hall, before the Green Goblin and a half-decapitated Goblinette appear behind him. Steve turns to Bucky, who is already nodding.

“I’ll get people to safety,” Bucky says, “you go help Pete.”

It still feels like reflex for Steve - assessing the situation, choosing the best route up the building (scaling up it while using the bricks as handholds, as it turns out), and tackling the Goblinette full-on while Peter fires a web grenade at the Goblin. He disables the Goblinette just in time to see Peter avoid not one but five spinning blades that the Goblin sends flying towards him.

If Steve had had his shield, this would be the moment where he’d throw it. He settles instead for wrenching the Goblinette’s hoverboard from under it and flinging it at the Goblin, catching the Goblin in the shoulder and knocking him off his glider.

The Goblin whips towards Steve, scattering bombs that explode into green and noxious smoke. “Ah,” the Goblin says, advancing on Steve, “the man out of-”

Steve ignores the smoke bombs and straight up punches the Goblin in the mask. “Do you know how hard it is,” he asks, delivering a second punch, “to get a sound permit?”

The Goblin catches Steve’s fist before he can land a third punch, but Peter's recovered enough by then to launch himself at the Goblin, webbing him up rapidly before kicking the Goblin with both feet. It's not enough. The Goblin rises up with a snarl, slashing at Peter with two blades that emerge from his exoskeleton. Steve lunges towards the Goblin but is forced to duck away from the blades. Out of the corner of his eye he sees the Goblin's glider flying towards him at deadly speed, and executes a backflip that ends with him kicking it into the clock tower.

The Goblin snatches two bombs off his utility belt and holds them aloft, laughing madly-

A bolt of pure lightning energy shoots from the sky, knocking the Goblin to the ground.

“Is that-" Peter begins.

Thor, shrouded in lighting, comes flying down and sticks a perfect three-point landing.

“It is,” says Steve.

“Greetings, friends!” Thor roars, leaping to his feet. He pins the Goblin under one boot. “Is this the last of the Goblin creatures?”

Peter nods. “I think so. Sam’s got his birds looking out for any last stragglers.”

“Thanks,” says Steve, clapping Thor on the shoulder.

“No trouble at all,” Thor replies. “Now, the Man of Spiders and I are are more than capable of restraining this fellow until Son of Wil arrives. Do not let me keep you from your congregation.”

Bucky, as it turns out, has done an excellent job of getting everyone to safety, because the steps of the City Hall building are completely deserted. Apart from Thor’s rock friend, Korg, who is examining one of the “Save Our Gardens" banners.

“Hey, man,” Korg says when he spots Steve. “Are you the leader of this revolution?”

“It’s more of a rally,” Steve explains. “We want to preserve our community gardens.”

“Ah, yes. Gardens are nice,” Korg agrees. “But I guess everyone got scared off by the goblins, which is also understandable. I was pretty scared myself, and I’m made of rocks.”

“Well, hopefully they’ll come back,” says Steve, checking his phone again for any updates from Bucky.

“Maybe you can give out pamphlets to tell people that the goblins are gone, and that it’s now safe to attend your rally-revolution,” suggests Korg. “Or, if you had a bow and arrow, you could draw some pamphlets right now and shoot them up to those people hovering in the sky.”

Steve looks up in the direction that Korg is pointing and sees several news helicopters gathering overhead.

“I have a better idea,” says Steve.

---

STEVE ROGERS IS STILL RETIRED AND WANTS TO SAVE SOME GARDENS
By Betty Brant

NEW YORK - The notorious ‘Green Goblin’, who has been terrorising New Yorkers with countless ‘Goblinette’ robot attacks for the past ten months, has finally been apprehended.

The NYPD has released an official statement confirming that the ‘Green Goblin’ is in fact Harold “Harry” Osborn, the son of former Oscorp CEO Norman Osborn, who vanished due to unknown reasons more than half a decade ago. Mr Osborn Jr. was successfully detained with the help of former Captain America Steve Rogers, the local vigilante known as Spider-Man, and Thor Odinson, King of Asgard.

Asked if this signifies his return into action, Captain Rogers confirmed that he was still “very much retired.” Instead, Captain Rogers has been pursuing other causes, most notably a campaign to preserve up to thirty community gardens across the five boroughs of New York City.

Speaking to the press in the aftermath of Mr Osborn Jr’s attack, Captain Rogers stressed the importance of community-led green spaces in a dense urban metropolis like New York City. “These spaces are a gift to their neighbourhoods and to everyone involved in their cultivation and maintenance,” Captain Rogers told the press. “I can’t even begin to describe the positive impact these gardens have had on the mental and physical well-being of so many New Yorkers, including myself.”

Captain Rogers beseeched the Mayor of New York City and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to reconsider plans to demolish the community gardens.

Elsewhere across Manhattan, current Captain America Samuel Wilson led a team of Avengers in containing up to ten other ‘Goblinette’ attacks that took place simultaneously.

---

Steve’s barely finished reading the email from the HPD confirming that they’re preserving the gardens - all of them, when his phone rings.

“Let’s do a garden party,” says Tony.

“You’re calling a little too quickly for me not to be suspicious,” Steve tells him.

“I get all the emails,” Tony replies, “because according to Pepper we have some sort of whale rescue conservation foundation thing that also recently developed an interest in community gardens.”

“Right.”

“But actually getting the gardens saved? That was all you,” Tony continues. “So. A garden party.”

“Yeah, I guess we could do a small thing at Green Thumbs, invite a few of the organisers-”

“Or we could think bigger and invite everyone who signed the petition and/or showed up to the rally,” says Tony.

Steve sighs. “First: the garden is fifty square feet. Secondly: Tony.”

“I’m just brainstorming here. If you don’t like it, I’ll cancel the tents and maybe seventy-five percent of our hor d'oeuvres order.” There’s a muffled sound as Tony fails to adequately cover the mouthpiece of his phone before he shouts, “Happy, how nicely do we need to ask if we want to cancel ninety percent of the hor d'oeuvres order?”

“Okay, Tony,” says Steve. “Where’s this ‘garden party’ going to be.”

Tony pauses, and Steve can almost hear his triumphant grin. “So remember how there’s this empty field next to my spaceship hangar upstate?”

Tony’s garden party is not as massive as Steve had initially thought. Neither is it as terrible as Steve had feared. Mostly, it’s just a mid-sized carnival for gardening enthusiasts and community garden supporters to come together and have pretty amazing food. Out of respect for Steve’s plea for things not to get too extravagant, Tony has re-used some of the paraphernalia from a previous event, which results in half the decorations and cutlery being whale-themed. There is also a bouncy castle, which Bill, his daughter, and a bunch of the Green Thumbs kids immediately head for.

Maude brings her whole clan and spends much of the evening critiquing everything from the rose bushes (passable) to Steve’s hair (you’re lucky you have an okay face) to Tony Stark in general (a bizarre man). Lilian, on the other hand, shows up with young Oscar as her date, and proceeds to dance with everybody.

“This is a pretty amazing party, huh,” says Peter, when Steve finds him hanging out on the side of the bouncy castle that’s hidden from the rest of the crowd, poking at his phone.

“It’s one of the nicer ones, I guess,” says Steve. “Have you seen Bucky?”

“It turns out there’s a segment of Brooklyn gardeners who are also Brooklyn carpenters,” says Peter. “So you probably just need to look for a tableful of people in jean jackets talking about kick spaces.”

Steve laughs. “How are things at work these days?”

“Could be worse,” says Peter with a shrug. “I mean, everyone in my department is still figuring out what to do after finding out that our boss is a goblin-serumed supervillain who’s been attacking New York with creepy robot clones for ten months.”

“Thinking of moving to Stark Industries?” Steve asks.

“Maybe,” says Peter. “Once Mr Stark stops coming up with inventive ways to say ‘I told you so’.”

Steve shakes his head wryly. “I'll have a word with him.”

“I think Ms Potts has had several,” says Peter.

“Well, I'll give it a shot anyway,” says Steve.

“Thanks. That would be,” Peter pauses. “Swell.”

“Swell,” Steve repeats, except he says it as ‘swhale’

They both snicker.

Steve dives back out into the crowd again after that. He has people to welcome and to thank, and Lilian to dance with. She asks for one dance and he gives her three, and at the end of the third one she kisses his cheek and says, “We always knew you were Captain America, sweetheart.”

He introduces Oscar to Sam and Thor at the same time, just to see Oscar explode with excitement, and catches up with Natasha, who materialises out of the shadows sometime during the evening. Bucky is indeed deep in conversation with Haresh, a cabal of men and women who are unmistakably the Brooklyn gardener-carpenters, and MJ. At some point, Steve also comes across Vision and Wanda nodding along gravely as Korg explains the Sakaraan revolution.

Later, when the party has ended and the post-party party in Tony’s spaceship hangar-gym is winding to a close, Steve catches Sam’s eye and lifts one eyebrow in their mutually agreed signal for ‘we need to talk’.

“Okay, fellas,” shouts Bucky, two sheets to the wind on small-batch New Asgardian mead, “Stevie needs some air and he wants Sam to go with him.”

“Does everybody know the eyebrow wiggle?” Sam demands.

“Yes,” says Natasha, the same time Steve says, “Don’t call it a wiggle.”

They continue to argue about whether the eyebrow signal qualifies as a wiggle while they go down to the basement parking lot where Steve’s put his motorcycle.

“Are you taking me down here to duel with me over this?” Sam asks, slightly drunk himself. “Because you know I will. I'll lose, but I'll still do the fisticuffs.”

Steve goes to the back of his motorcycle and unstraps his shield from where he’d secured it. “I know you’ve said you prefer using the photonic shield because it’s easier to take around,” Steve says, holding out the shield to Sam. “But I think you should have this one as well.”

“Steve, we talked about this,” Sam says.

“Yes, I know,” Steve replies. “But I’ve had time to consider, and I really think I’ve held onto this for long enough. Whether you prefer to use this or the photonic shield, you’re Captain America. This should be yours.”

Sam nods, and takes the shield. If they both get a little misty-eyed, neither of them says anything.

“Captain Rogers! Son of Wil!” Thor calls down the stairwell. “We wish to know whether you intend to return!”

“We’re coming up in a bit,” Sam calls back, as they both head towards the stairs.

“Hurry the hell up,” Bucky shouts. “Or we’ll start the picture without you.”

As they reach the top of the stairs, Steve stops, suddenly wary. “What are we watching?”

Bucky grins. “Pirates 11: Poseidon’s Curse’s Curse.”

---

From: Tony Stark <tstark@starkindustries.com>
To: Steve Rogers <steven.g.rogers@gmail.com>, Sam Wilson <wilson.sam@va.gov>, Rhodey <rhodey@gmail.com>, Maria Hill <mhill@starkindustries.com>, Natasha Romanoff <39402716@pm.me>, Spider-man <therealspiderman2k20@gmail.com>, Clint Barton <thebartons@pm.me>, Bruce Banner <b.banner@mit.edu>, Bruce Banner 2 <bannerbruce@yahoo.com>, Bucky Barnes <j.b.barnes@esu.edu>, Scott Lang <scott@x-con.com>, Dr Stephen Strange <stephen.strange@motma.org>, Thor <pointbreak@gmail.com>, Vision <vision@starkindustries.com>, Wanda Maximoff <wanda.maximoff@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: re: re: re: team updates

1. Bruce - you missed a hell of a party last week, but no matter, we’ll make it up to you when you’re next in town

2. Re: the oscorp/green goblin droid army - still running final analysis. There’s a possibility of some AIM tech mixed in there [FRIDAY: see preliminary assessment]

3. Maria, would you be a little less mad if I told you that the whale/garden foundation was prepared to pay for the mild property damage done to the City Hall clock tower? In any case, apologies, etc., etc., and we will do the necessary PR (that includes you, Steven “how-does-your-garden” Gr)

4. For the few of you who do not read the business news: Stark Industries has acquired Oscorp. There are many reasons for this, not least because it has become somewhat tiring having to apply for warrants to search the company’s R&D wing for more Goblin paraphernalia.

4a. To whom it may concern (i.e. just the one person who still works for Oscorp despite not only one (1) but two (2) of the ‘Os’es in Oscorp turning out to be the Green Goblin): Please look out of the window for skywriting, whales, etc., you know the drill.

Transcribed by FRIDAY

 

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