It was like any other late night bender in rec room 8, Yasha and Jake, after having been discharged from the army (Yasha under protest, and Jake rather quietly) had joined SHIELD and were relaxing after a long mission with their fellow sniper and SHIELD agent, Clint Barton. It was late; the three of them only just returning from a long mission in Azerbaijan, and thus all had the dreaded jet lag. So they did what any half sane sniper with too much energy would do at three in the morning: they skipped debrief and hid in the only rec room with a TV and working DVD player to watch old War movies. Their latest film was the Longest Day, and that led them to scrounging up a laptop and spooling up the propaganda footage and documentaries about the war on Netflix. The three had just started a four part series on the War in Europe, and the latest one was all about Captain Steve Rogers: Captain America.
Yasha watched morosely as the sepia and gray footage of the long gone Captain ran across the screen. The narration was decent and the narrator had a somber tone to his voice as he talked about Captain Rogers actions in the war. That was the only reason Yasha had even agreed to watch this one; because of the respect the director and writers had for not only the legend but also the man behind the legend. They had done their due diligence in gathering up every bit of information about the long missing Captain in order to create an accurate image of the Man instead of the myth. And it showed, they didn’t speak grandiosely about his patriotism, but rather about his determination to see a wrong righted, his desire to do the right thing, even if it put him at odds with the top brass. They even spoke briefly but accurately about his crushing grief and guilt after the loss of his dearest friend. They had scrounged up old documents and reports from then Col. Philips about having Captain Rogers put on tight watch by his fellow Commandoes, and even having to have the Captain restrained once the shock had worn off. The aged Col. feared that Steve might commit suicide or try and kill the man responsible for the death of his best Friend.
Yasha had to snort to himself when he saw that part.
‘Perhaps it would have been better if he had,’ Yasha thought, remembering all the suffering that happened at the hands of the pig faced rat. Clint looked over at his fellow sniper with a raised brow before the older man shrugged and turned back to the screen. The episode was ending and was just about to reach its climax with the world known and infamous last call to base, when Yasha finally opened his mouth and spoke.
“I wish I had known him,” Yasha said somberly, his thick Russian accent even thicker with his grief. Clint grinned and chuckled, his head lolling to the side with his easy grin.
“Everyone wants to know Captain America, kid,” Barton said, “hell; Coulson would give his left arm to have been in the same room with him. That man is the president of the Captain America fan club,” Clint snickered and looked over at Jake. “He’s even got a set of vintage Captain America trading cards.” Jake stifled his own snort, and giggled at the mental image of bland calm and capable Coulson fanboying over Captain America. He looked over at Yasha and saw that he didn’t share the pair’s amusement.
“I want to know Captain Steve Rogers,” he said softly, “not Captain America.” Clint looked curiously at the younger man and saw a great sorrow on his face. A frown furrowed his brow as he puzzled this out.
“Why,” he asked simply, and Jake turned to look at his oldest friend and partner, genuinely curious.
“I wish to know Steve Rogers,” he said, “the same way any son wishes to know their father.”
Such simple words and yet they had a great impact. Clint turned to look at Yasha fully, barely registering that Jake had paused the show, genuinely shocked at such a revelation.
“How’s that possible,” he asked, “I’ve read your personnel file, your records states that you born to a family related to the Barnes, not Rogers. How can you be his son?” Yasha closed his eyes and released a deep breath, focusing on his senses and reaching out with his mind. Yasha’s telepathy was innate, but he was relatively unskilled at it. At best he could get an impression feeling of their thoughts and emotions and know whether or not to trust them. But it never steered him wrong even after he joined SHIELD, knowing that he was walking in to a nest of vipers but still sensing some good in the agency. It was this same feeling of trustworthiness that Yasha sensed from Clint, and knew he could be trusted, and Jake he knew all his life in the Army, and had even agreed to follow him to SHIELD to help him root out HYDRA. The brunette opened his eyes and turned his silver blue gaze upon his companions.
“I am the result of the soviet’s experimentation with the serum,” he began, “they never got it right, no matter how many times they tried, so they went to a source they knew would work: Steve. SHIELD kept in storage the one thing that could give them what they wanted: his reproductive material. Howard had harvested a single egg from my Ada, for study, and when he was finished it was placed in cold storage until Steve would use it. Except… Steve never came back from that last mission, and thus I was left in cold storage.” Yasha paused and mulled over what he would tell, and decided that he would just stick to the bare bones of the facts. “The Soviets found out and stole it. They took a sperm sample that was in the same unit, and combined them. They didn’t even know if it would take, but it did; and after a little genetic tinkering… I was created.” Jake was looking at his friend with wide eyes, and Clint was flabbergasted.
“Then how did you end up with a Barnes relation,” the archer asked. Yasha closed his eyes and mulled over his answer.
“The project was defunded before they could find a suitable surrogate,” he said, “and during his campaign through soviet Russia the knight found it,” Yasha huffed out a laugh, “in a cryo vault in northern Russia. It was supposed to be destroyed but the message was miss read, or decoded improperly, and was shelved instead. He brought it back to the states and to Ada’s last relations: the Barnes family.”
“I didn’t know Barnes was related to Captain Rogers,” Clint said. Yasha nodded.
“They are,” he confirmed, “through Winifred Barnes. She is a Cuthal, a descendant of the house of Mormegil, the second son Arthadan.” Clint shook his head with a wry smile.
“You make it sound like they are close relations when they’re only distant cousins,” Clint said, “it’s like trying to wrap your head around the bloodline of the kings of England.” Yasha smirked but the smile quickly fell.
“As far as it is concerned, the Barnes’ are the last of Steve’s relations,” Yasha said morosely. “There’s no one else left. He had no more family. The blood of Numenor is all but spent.”
Yasha looked down at his hands, wondering over their long slender fingers and large palms. They were strong hands, artists’ hands, his papochka always said; Steve’s hands. Arthadan and he had the same hands, large palms and long slender fingers; perfect craftsman’s hands. It was the one thing he could see in himself when he looked in the mirror or his reflection that belonged to his Ada. The rest came from Bucky or Fëanaro’s son, Celegorm. When the light caught his hair just right it would shimmer with red hues, almost like the darkest of blood was caught in his hair. His eyes were all Fëanor; with the same brow to cover them, and even the cut of his cheeks were the same as Fëanor’s. There was very little that could clue anyone into thinking he was Steve Rogers’s son, and for a long while he liked it that way; but now, at this moment, he just wanted someone else to know the truth.
“I just wish I knew him,” he whispered around his sudden tears. Clint saw the tears in his normally unshakeable partner and slid across the couch to wrap a comforting arm around Yasha’s shoulders. That very act broke the last vestiges of Yasha’s emotional strength, and as soon as Clint had his arm around the brunette’s shoulder, Yasha broke down and began sobbing. Clint being a man that had dealt with Natasha’s occasional breakdowns pulled the man in close and allowed Yasha to bury himself in Clint’s chest; his face pressed inward to hide his tears.
“Hey, hey, it’s alright,” Clint softly crooned, “it’s gonna be alright.”
As Clint comforts a young man barely out of his teens, Jake watched and contemplated his best friend’s revelation. It had been no secret that Yasha was physically strong and fast, but it had all been thought to have been part of his natural mutation. Now all that knowledge was flipped on its head. Jake mulled over this for a moment and realized that it made sense. Yasha was strong and fast because he was not only part Numenorean but because he was also Steve’s son, and had the Serum, or at least some part of it, in his blood and genes. But also with this was the knowledge that Yasha just was that good. Yes, he had innate talent, but the younger man had also trained for years to get to his level of skill. He had the training, but the enhanced skills only added to his abilities, and all of this added up to Yasha becoming one of the top foremost marksmen’s in the world. This also put into new light Yasha’s sense of right and wrong, his inner moral compass and his unshakeable principles. Yasha was Steve Rogers’ son, and he knew it; so he spent his whole life trying to live up to the unreachable memory of the man that had essentially given him life. Where most men would falter and give up trying to reach such and unachievable goal, Yasha strove ever onward to become a son that the brave Captain could be proud of. And in Jake’s eyes and indeed everyone that knew him, Yasha a more than lived up to his Ada and was a man worthy of being Steve’s son.
It was to this scene, Yasha sobbing on Clint’s chest and Jake sitting at his back with a comforting hand rubbing Yasha’s shaking shoulders, which Phil Coulson found himself confronting, when he finally found his wayward snipers. As much as the handler would love to debrief them, he knew better than to interrupt an obviously very emotional breakdown. He knew Yasha very well at this point, having been his handler off and on for the past three years, and the former sergeant was a very emotionally closed man, so for something to bring this kind of response out of him, had to have been a long time coming. So the handler did the sensible thing, and slowly backed out of the room and left the two snipers be.
As he turned down the hall towards his office, he was nearly bowled over by Jonathan rushing towards the break room. Phil looked over his shoulder at the young annalist with a raised brow. Usually the young tech wiz was as calm and composed as his adopted brother Yasha, and his elder army brother, Steven, but for some reason the look on his face as he blew past Phil was one of stunned shock and old grief. Phil shook his head and went to his office to close down for the night. It was late enough, and he had another early morning to deal with, on top of handling Clint and Yasha’s debrief. Whatever it was, it could wait until morning.
Yasha is barely getting a grip on his emotions when Jonathan suddenly rushed into the room. Jake and Clint send the annalist a nasty look, but when Yasha sees Jonathan’s face, he knew his brother would have never interrupted them if it wasn’t absolutely important.
“Yasha,” he said, tears filling his young eyes, “they found the Valkyrie. Yasha, they found Steve.” Silence reigned for a long moment, as the knowledge finally set in, before new tears bust forth in Yasha’s eyes. Clint recovered his senses enough to gather Yasha in his arms as he began to cry, but even then, even he is still in shock. This was huge! Not only had they found the legendary HYDRA flying wing, but they had also found Captain America as well. Jake sat numbly by his friend as he tried to comprehend the gravity of the situation, but all that he could gather was that this was a day he would never forget.
It took Yasha a long moment before he had finally calmed down to speak.
“Has Steven been told,” he asked, “does he know?” Jonathan didn’t think that answering out loud would do anything but raise more questions than they wanted to answer at this moment so he somberly nodded and opened a telepathic link between them.
‘I sent the message the minute it came on the air,’ Jonathan told him, before he added; ‘I took the liberty of informing Arthadan as well.’ Jonathan’s eyes became downcast and mournful. ‘At the very least he deserves to bury the last of his House in Hithlum, in a Royal tomb.’ Yasha nodded and sat in shocked silence before nearly jumping out of his skin as he phone suddenly rang. Clint started and looked down at the offending object with distain, as Yasha looked down at the screen and saw the caller id. Yasha practically sagged with relief when he saw Steven’s name and picture on the screen, and answered the phone quickly.
“Steven,” Yasha said meekly, hearing the muffled sounds of traffic through the other end of the phone.
“Yasha,” Steven answered, “I’m in DC. I just got the message.” Steven sounded winded and anxious.
“Jonny just told me,” Yasha said holding back another wave of tears. Steven snuffed his nose and there was the sound of skin on skin as Yasha finally realized that his strong big brother was crying.
“I’m on my way back to New York,” Steven said, the sound of an engine revving in the background muffling his gasp before he spoke again. “I’ll get things ready for the internment a…and the memorial. I’ll make sure that … that we all can have a moment with him one last time. To say goodbye,” Steven gasped and Yasha could hear his labored breathing as it became apparent that Steven was still crying. Yasha smiled through his tears, loving his big brother even more for the lengths he was willing to go through so that Yasha didn’t have to worry while in mourning; even when his own grief was like a lead weight in his throat and a knife in his heart. “Put Jonny on the phone, Yasha,” Steven ordered once he managed to gather his voice again and sound somewhat strong.
Yasha handed Jonathan his phone and watched as his brother began to discuss something with him. Yasha for once in his life was thankful for his enhanced hearing, which allowed him to hear Steven’s side of the conversation.
“Are you linked, Jonathan,” Steven asked, and Jonathan nodded with a shuddering breath.
“Yeah,” he answered, knowing his brother meant the psychic –like link he and Steven shared with tech and used to listen in on conversations and hack databases like no one else. “I’ve got real-time access. I should be able to give you the coordinates of the plane and keep you up to date on the progress.” Steven sighed and cleared his throat. “Do you want me to?”
“No,” Steven finally said, “stay linked in and keep Yasha informed. I’m linking into SHIELD’s communication’s hub now.” Steven placed his hand on the small screen on his car’s console and redirected his link to the screen; accessing the camera’s at the crash site. The minute the murmuring and calm chatter filled the car, talking about Steve and about how well preserved his body was, Steven had to turn the car’s controls over to Susie, his AI, before he crashed the car. Hearing them talking about Steve in such a detached and clinical way, just drove it home even more: this was it, Steve was really gone. “Susie, take control,” he said and the AI did as commanded.
“Sir,” Yasha heard Susie’s gentle Irish accent ask softly, “Are you alright?” Yasha heard Steven stifle a sob before letting out a deep breath.
“No,” he answered, “but I will be, thanks for asking.”
“Steven,” Jonathan said sounding and looking more helpless than Yasha had ever seen his little brother look since the day they took Bucky away. “You gonna be alright to drive?”
“I’ll be okay, Jonny,” Steven said as his eyes fixed back on the screen again as he heard a commotion over the vid-feed. Steven watched as the doctors waved a heating wand over Steve’s thawing body, still half encased in ice. Steve looked perfect, almost as if he had simply fallen asleep, and the only thing that told him he wasn’t was the lack of breathing and the cold blue tint to Steve’s face and his dark blue lips. Suddenly Steven couldn’t keep the tears from his face as the realization hit him like a freight train: it was real. It wasn’t a dream, it was real! This was really happening. They found Steve and they were finally bringing him home. They were finally going to lie to rest the last of the Howling Commandoes, the last of the House of Arthadan. Steven let out a choked keen as he watched the doctors pick and prod at Steve’s lifeless body. It was like watching a dream he had long dreaded ever coming true, and here it was; real and in living color: Steve was dead. A half broken wail tumbled out of his mouth before he could cover it with his hand and smother the rest that tried to escape.
“Steven,” he heard Jonathan say, but he tuned out his little brother, his eyes and ears riveted to the screen. Suddenly there is a commotion on the end of the feed, and Steven mentally turned up the volume to hear what the doctors were saying.
“Doctor, I’ve got cardiac activity,” a nurse said, and the head doctor turned around from his place at the microscope.
“What,” he said, “that’s impossible. Let me see that.” He held out his hand and took the wand from her, and began scanning Steve’s body. Suddenly Steven’s heart was in his throat. The doctor ran the scanner over Steve’s lifeless chest and looked at the readings in disbelief. “That can’t be! Nurse, hand me the portable brain wave scanner. Thank you.” Steven watched as he ran the scanner over Steve’s head and looked over at the screen for the readouts.
“Theta waves,” the nurse said with awe. The doctor reclaimed the previous scanner and held it to Steve’s chest, running it down the length of his torso before moving to Steve’s head. The man placed a small scalpel under Steve’s nose and whatever he saw was enough to have him recoil in shock.
“Oh my God,” he said his voice quickly becoming frantic. “This guy’s still alive!” Steven choked on a gasp, his wide eyes glued to the screen. “Nurse, get a crash cart! I need warm saline bags and IV’s! We need to get this guy’s core warmed up STAT! Richards, I need you to inform Fury. This is a rescue op now. Tell him to have a hypothermia specialist and a neurosurgeon on standby. We don’t know what his brain’s gonna be like. Tell him to have a trauma room prepped and ready by the time we get there. And have that Jet spooled up and ready for takeoff in less than a minute! We need to get him back to a hospital!”
“He’s alive,” Steven breathed with hope and awe a smile pulling across his face. “He’s ALIVE!” Jonathan paled and looked up to Yasha’s confused and hopeful face.
“He’s alive,” Jonathan said softly his face written with shock.
“What,” Yasha gasped his eyes as wide as saucers.
“STEVE’s ALIVE!” Jonathan practically screamed with a widening smile, laughter overcoming his shock as joy permeated his very being.
Clint’s jaw dropped open in pure shock as Yasha’s tears turned to those of joy and laughter.
“He’s alive,” Yasha cried, throwing his arms around Jake and laughing and crying into his friend’s shoulder. “He’s alive!”
What a day this had been, and it was only just beginning.