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Making Up For Lost Time

Chapter Text

Steve stood in the mouth of an alleyway overlooking the chaos left behind from the battle. 2012 had been such a simpler time where the worst thing he’d had to fight was a so-called god with daddy issues. His heart ached from the memories of what was to come, of how long bucky would be stuck with HYDRA, of Peggy's funeral, of Tony’s. He ran a hand down his face wearily and stepped further back into the alley.

The stones had all been returned, it was time to leave. He tapped out the coordinates read to go home. He stopped. Strapped to his wrist were a time machine and no one to stop him. True he didn’t really understand the science of it but as long as he didn't make large waves it should be fine. With a giddy grin he changed the coordinates, he was late for a date.

The suit covered him and he was travelling through blue tunnels and time. With a flash, Steve opened his eyes. He was still in an alleyway far from people’s prying eyes but there were differences. The mouth of the alley no longer led to a battle-torn new york. He smiled as he gazed out at the familiar sight of Brooklyn at night. A quick glance around the alley had him holding back both a laugh and tears. He remembered getting beat in that alley, some guy starting shit over another guys sexuality, and having to be pulled out by Bucky. He started to leave the alley before looking down and laughing quietly, he was wearing his costume, he was going to get recognised. Poking his head onto the street he saw there wasn’t much in the way of clothes to acquire, no backyards with drying clothes he could borrow. He was going to have to break into a house or a store.

He felt uncomfortable stealing, knowing that the people around him likely didn’t have much. 1946 if he had landed correctly, the war had ended but things weren’t quite back to normal. He picked the lock of the closest clothes store, a few blocks down, doing his best to minimise the amount of damage the owners would have to deal with come morning. Once in he realised his next problem, finding clothes that fit. This had always been a problem, it used to be too big, now everything was slightly too small. Living in the future with more money than he could ever wrap his head around had left him spoilt for choice now he would have to make do. Grabbing the best fitting shirt, trousers and shoes, all a bit tight, he changed. He still needed to find a place for the costume. Looking out the back he saw an alley and a dumpster. With a wince, he dropped the mass of fabric and armour in and prayed no one would find it. He stayed back there until the sun began to rise.

He wandered around, wasting time, trying to find Peggy's home. He had been tempted to land by the SSR but the local base at this time held a few people he knew was likely to end badly. It was jarring walking around in 1946, he had seen a newspaper stand and checked the date, not quite as strange as waking up 70 years in the future when he had never expected to wake at all but odd nonetheless. It was quiet with so few cars and people rushing to go about their daily life, but the future was too in the end, so many lost over the past few years and not all returned. The strangest things were the things he wasn’t expecting. The fashion looked so old after 11 years of ‘modern’ fashion, he’d gone to grab his phone to check a map only to realise that wouldn’t work and people were smiling and waving hello without a hint of hero worship. It was odd.

He reached the tall building he had read Peggy lived in and realised his next obstacle, getting in. He had never gone near the Griffith hotel, it was out of the way and a girls boarding house, even when he was skinny he’d never gone near it. Taking a deep breath he stepped in. The building was quite lavish but after 5 years around Tony, it was less overwhelming. His breath caught in his throat as he thought of Tony. Looking around he spotted a strict looking woman, probably the owner, walking towards him. He took a deep breath and pasted a dopey grin on his face, time to see if Nat had taught him enough about acting.

“Excuse me but who might you be?” Her voice was clipt and it was clear she didn’t want him there. Her voice grabbed the attention of a few other girls and Steve felt their eyes fall on him.
“Hi, I’m Steve, I just recently got back from the front.” He hunched over making himself smaller, still grinning and kept his voice soft enough that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. “I just learnt one of my friends moved here and I wanted to catch up.” The woman stared at him critically, but softer than she had before, for a few moments before nodding.
“What would her name be? I’m sure I could get someone to fetch her if she is here.” He grinned, looked like it worked.
“Peggy Carter, ma’am.” The ma’am might have been pushing it but it still worked. She turned to one of the girls.
“Miss Martinelli could you go and fetch Miss Carter.” Though it was phrased like a question it was clearly a demand. Steve watched her go, Martinelli, an Italian name and a very pretty girl. The girl in question huffed sightly likely at the thought of being used for errands or late for work but left back up the stairs regardless.

The woman whose name he still hadn’t gotten gave him a firm stare before walking off, shooing some of the girls as she went. Steve stayed standing in the lobby doing his best not to fidget. This could either end very well or very badly. Martinelli came down a few moments later, Peggy trailing behind her. He felt his breath get caught in his throat again as he watched her, she was beautiful and graceful and he wanted nothing more than to run to her but he stilled himself and tried to keep his awe off his face. He knew the moment she spotted him as she stiffened. He probably wouldn't have noticed it before but with all his attention on her and multiple years surrounded by super spies he’d learnt to watch peoples reactions. He smiled up at her hoping to put her at ease at least a little bit, it didn’t work that well but he gave himself props for trying. She stopped at the bottom of the stairs.
“Steve?” She sounded so uncertain and clearly expected him to be some kind of hallucination or trick. He gave a little wave, making sure to keep his posture as non-threatening as possible.
“Hey, Peg, long time no see, sorry I’m late.” He knew he sounded like an idiot but it didn’t matter, she was right there and that was all that mattered. She was controlling her emotions as much as he was as she walked closer.
“You’ve got some explaining to do.” Her voice broke no argument and he was tempted to salute but he resisted. He couldn’t resist teasing a little bit, however.
“Yes, ma’am.” He laughed slightly at her withering scowl. “Got anywhere in mind?” She stared at him for a moment looking for something in his face. She likely found it as she nodded and smiled.
“Go wait outside, I’ll call someone to drive us there.” Steve nodded seriously before giving her one last grin and walking out. As he left he heard the whispers and giggles and fought to keep the blush off his face. He’s not sure he succeeded.

Standing outside he could finally breathe again as he leaned back against the wall of the building. His heart was beating a million miles an hour reminding him of his former heart troubles. He huffed out a laugh and waited for Peggy to join him outside

He wasn’t waiting long, it was clear she still didn’t trust him yet. That hurt a bit but was understandable.
“So where are we going?” She looked at him but didn’t answer instead gesturing for him to start walking. She stood beside him blocking him from going anywhere even if he for some reason wanted to.
“Last I checked you were dead in the Arctic, how are you here?” Steve winced and shivered slightly at her harsh tone and the memories that resurfaced.
“Can we wait until we’re somewhere more private? I don’t know if people would be paying attention but in this case better safe than sorry.” It took a bit but eventually Peggy nodded in agreement. Unable to help himself he gave her another dopey grin which she returned though significantly less dopey.

They stopped outside an automat restaurant, something he hadn’t seen in years, but Peggy made no move to enter. He turned to look at her quizzically but she stood and waited. A few minutes later a black car pulled up. Nervously he watched as Peggy pulled the door open just as the driver stepped out. The man appeared pretty put out by the fact that she had already gotten in. Steve watched confused as they went through what seemed like a regular routine. Having spent too much time watching the man pulled the back door open and Steve stepped in bemused. He grabbed the seat belt onto to come up empty, they weren’t required yet.
“Can I know where we’re going yet,” He asked slightly amused but mostly confused. The man was the one to respond.
“We’re going to one of Mr Starks’ many places of residence.” The English accent was unexpected. Steve felt himself stiffen at the name but did his best not to show it. Keeping his voice light he asked.
“And will Howard be there?”
“No, right now Mr Stark is indisposed and out of the country.” Steve raised an eyebrow but stayed quiet. The drive wasn’t long, Steve stared out the window the enter time, the novelty of being in the past had yet to wear off.

As they pulled up outside what he assumed was Howard's house his eyes widened in shock. Tony’s penthouses and skyscrapers and the Avengers compound couldn’t compare, they were modern and lavish but this was extravagant. It made him a bit uncomfortable at the thought of entering the large empty mansion. Once Peggy got out of the car Steve joined her still a bit uncomfortable. The car door shut alerting steve to the drivers' presence. With a self-deprecating smile, Steve turned to him.
“Excuse me but I don’t think we’ve met.” He offered his hand slowly and non threateningly “Steve Rogers, nice to meet you.” The man shook his hand firmly.
“Edwin Jarvis, likewise.” Steve raised an eyebrow at the last name but didn’t say anything and he dropped his hand back to his side. Jarvis walked forward and held the door open. The entire situation was so much more surreal than he had been expected but he didn’t regret coming back even if it only resulted in a few short conversations and hopefully a dance.

Chapter Text

The inside was just as opulent as the outside and as uncomfortable as Steve thought it would. He turned back around as the door shut and found himself facing a gun. It said something about him that his first thought was how vintage the gun was. Some of his nonchalance must have shown as Peggy scowled and tightened her grip on the gun. Slowly he raised his hands so she could see that he was unarmed.
“Who are you and why do you look like him?” Her voice was cold and Steve had no doubts that she would shoot if he gave her a reason too.
“I’m Steve Rogers-”
“Stop lying!” She cut him off sounding even angrier. He knew this was going to be hard but he wasn’t going to be able to explain anything at this rate. He sighed and waited for her to say something else. “What happened to James Barnes?” Steve stiffened as memories of all the times he had lost bucky flew to the forefront of his thoughts. He took a shuddering breath and answered.
“We were on board a train in the alps carrying Zola, the SSR wanted him, Bucky fell out of one of the doors.” He had to stop for a second before continuing. “I was so slow, I couldn’t grab him.” Everything was still until Peggy lowered her gun.
“How? There’s no way the SSR kept this from Howard and I.” Her voice was much warmer now but it was clear she wasn’t totally at ease yet.
“Time travel...” Steve said with a sheepish grin. Peggy stared at him incredulously. He knew she wanted a better explanation but he didn’t feel comfortable explaining what had happened. She seemed to understand as she dropped the subject leaving them in awkward silence.

Steve inspected the room he was in. The rich aesthetic was very in line with his memories of Howard and even Tony to some extent.
“Where is Howard anyway?”
“He’s been accused of treason after some of his weapons showed up on the black market.” She sounded annoyed. He turned to face her with a raised eyebrow.
“Did it occur to anyone that he wasn’t aware?” She huffed and began pacing.
“Clearly not, it doesn’t help that he skipped town on the last day of court.” Steve sighed.
“Of course he did, so why are we in his house?”
“He offered it to me in exchange for help proving him innocent”
“What have to found so far?”
“Howard’s weapons were stolen by one Leet Brannis who sold them to a group called Leviathan, ever heard of them?” Steve shook his head, whoever the group was they must have been dealt with or underground by his time and he said as much. Peggy looked like she wanted to ask more questions but didn’t say anything which he was grateful for.

Steve hadn’t realised how awkward this would be, but then again he hadn’t been expecting Howard to have had the same issue of lost weaponry as his son. He smiled as he imagined the reaction Howard would have to not only Seeing him again but being told he had a son. The smiled faded when he remembered Howard and Tony were dead in his time.

After the silence dragged on a bit too long Steve spoke up.
“We need to go back to town.”
“Why, what’s there?” She sounded confused and annoyed at how often that was happening today, he felt a bit bad.
“My uniform is in a bin.” He resolutely didn’t look at her as he said this but could still feel her judgemental stare.
“A bin…”
“Hey, I needed somewhere to put it while walking around.” She laughed and hugged him tightly. He returned the hug with enthusiasm.
“Mr, Jarvis, would you mind driving us back into town?”
“Of course Miss Carter.”As he spoke Steve looked up automatically in search of speakers and started slightly when Edwin Jarvis reentered the room.

Within the car, Steve once again sitting in the back.
“Where did you learn to act like that?” Peggy sounded much lighter than she had earlier but Steve felt a bit nervous about explaining and decided to play dumb.
“Like what?” Peggy turned around and gave him a blank stare, he gave her a sheepish grin. “I met a lot of super spies, Nat and Clint taught me some, the rest I picked up on my own”
“Nat and Clint?” Steve blinked, it was weird having someone not know who they were, he wasn’t sure if that was better or worse than being the person who didn’t know.
“Yeah, they’re basically family.” Steve knew when she frowned that he hadn’t answered the question but the memories were painful and he didn’t want to dwell just yet.

He stared out the window and tried to reconcile the world he left to the one he was in now. He felt like a soldier returning home from the war for the second time. He was tempted to stay in 1946, get a life as he’d so often been told, but how well would he be able to adapt. It was hard enough adapting to 2012 but he understood the 40s far more than he had understood the 21st century when he first woke up. There was also the issue of what he would do in the past. Before he’d been able to rely on S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers and his money until he found his footing but here he didn’t have much of that. He knew very little about the SSR or how they would deal with his ‘return’ and as much as he loved Peggy it was going to take a while until they felt comfortable around each other given that he was so different now. He sighed and refocused on the world outside the car before sitting up rapidly.

“Here.” The car stopped suddenly outside the store. Steve climbed out and stared awkwardly at the alley. Peggy walked past him into the alley leaving Steve to hurry after her. She was the one to open the lid and reach in. She inspected the costume with a critical eye, he knew it looked different, former fitting, darker and more armoured than the most cloth one she had last seen. She hummed slightly and through it at Steve who caught it with ease.
“How’re we going to get this out the alley with this?” Steve asked holding his costume close to his chest.
“Just walk out, no one will bug you.” Steve shrugged and followed her out. She was right, as expected, no one stopped them to ask what they were caring or even looked at them twice as they entered the car.
“Where to now?”
“The SSR, I’m already keeping one secret I’d rather not add more,” Peggy responded as Edwin Jarvis started the car.

Chapter Text

The car pulled up in the middle of a busy street. Peggy turned with a scowl before getting out. At first, Steve thought he had done something wrong but it wasn’t aimed at him. Instead, she was glaring up at a phone company.
“Come on then, let’s get this show on the road.”

Steve climbed out keeping the uniform and the distinctive pattern hidden from the masses walking to their work. People still stared but whether that was because of his generally imposing figure or the fact that he was following a smaller woman into the phone company Steve wasn’t sure but it still makes him uncomfortable. As he walking through the doors he reflected on the likelihood that he would ever reach a point in his life where people didn’t stare at him as he walked past, it seemed unlikely at that point. The women working in the phone company luckily didn’t stop working to stare at him with the only one paying him any attention being the woman opening the door.

The elevator doors opened and Steve couldn’t help but compare the base to the Avengers compound. The base was smaller and livelier with people rushing to do their jobs, he prefers it to the near dead silence of the large compound even before the accords. Peggy stiffened and walked through first with her head held high. Steve followed behind at a slower pace.
“Carter, work started half an hour ago, where’s my coffee?” One of the men shouted from their desks. He was a slightly overweight man and seemed to be both mocking Peggy and sincerely asking for a coffee as if that was here job. Steve frowned at him, Peggy was a highly trained agent, she shouldn’t be fetching coffee. Peggy cleared her throat, she looked annoyed but resigned this clearly wasn’t a new occurrence.

A different man looked up eyes on Peggy before darting to Steve. He stood as quickly as he could given that he had crutches beside his desk.
“Who are you and how did you get down here?” Steve smiled confidently, acting the part of the captain they’d expect.
“Captain Steve Rogers, Nice to meet you...?” Steve wanted to laugh as everyone in the room started at his name but he kept it in. The man with the crutches attempted to move forward but another man was faster, a blonde who looked like he didn’t want to be there.
“Agent Thompson, sir and I have some trouble believing that’s true.” Steve raised an eyebrow at his tone but decided to see where this would go.
“And why’s that, Agent Thompson.” He emphasised agent in a way that wasn’t quite mocking. He wasn’t sure the man even noticed.
“Captain Rogers died in the ice in ‘45, there’s no way he’s standing here in front of me” Steve leaned back against one of the desks with an air of confidence. “I hit the ice but didn’t die, no idea how woke up in 2012-” Thompson interrupted with a look of disbelief.
“You really trying to convince me of time travel now?” A few of the men snorted, there was a lot of men there. Steve shrugged, it was true whether they believed it or not. When he said nothing else
“Don’t interrupt, I was found in 2012 by SHIELD, the group that takes over for the SSR and a time machine was built in ‘23 for a slightly different purpose but I used it to come back to here” The disbelief grew, even Peggy looked shocked, he hadn’t actually told her anything besides time travel.
“Why would you come back here?” One of the other men called out and he understood, ‘46 wasn’t a great time but neither was ‘23.
“I’ve lost a lot in the future, I might go back but for now I plan on staying.” Steve knew he was talking the same way he did when giving an inspiring speech, if Nat was here she would definitely be making fun on him.

The voice worked at least and everyone was nodding along in agreement except one. He was an older man and stood at the back glaring, he looked important enough to be the chief in charge.
“We want a vial of your blood, for testing purposes,” He said loudly. Steve agreed that it would be useful in ensuring it was him and that denying would look bad but he didn’t trust government operatives, especially after hydra.
“I’ll give it to you but you’re destroying it the moment you’re sure it’s me” The man nodded in agreement to the terms they gestured his head towards another room
“Thompson, Sousa, come with me, if you’re really Captain America then you might be of use in this investigation,” He said walking into the meeting room.

Steve and the rest of the agents followed behind him. They left room for Steve to sit between Sousa and Thompson but he ignored them and sat on the other side. Peggy hesitated before sitting beside Steve.
“Carter, this doesn’t involve you.”
“And why not?” His voice was cold but showed no hint of surprise, he was sick of them already.
“Because she’s a woman and women shouldn’t be exposed to this kinda talk” Steve had to stop himself from rolling his eyes, he sounded so sincere too.
“We just got out of the biggest war in history, women worked, women fought and I can guarantee you that Agent Carter has ‘been exposed’ too far worse while working before getting stuck with you,” Steve drawled letting them know just how little he cared about his reasoning. The Chief looked annoyed but couldn’t dispute it, motioning for Peggy to sit down. Peggy looked slightly annoyed that Steve had spoken for her but even if she had spoken they weren’t going to listen, to stuck in their old fashion ways. Steve laughed mentally at that wording, it wasn’t old fashioned for them.

“Howard Stark has been selling dangerous weapons on the black market, some of his missing weapons have been brought in but the witness and one of our men, Ray Krzeminski, were killed.” There was a moment of silence before Steve spoke up
“What makes you so sure he sold these weapons and not someone else?”
“He fled the country before the trial concluded,” Thompson piped up clearly believing this was a great piece of evidence. Steve disagreed.
“Wouldn’t you if you were being prosecuted for something you didn’t do but didn’t have enough proof to dispute it?”
“I guess” The Chief stood up the front glaring every time Steve spoke, it was clear he had already found Howard guilty and was not amused at the thought that he might have to rethink his stance.
“What makes you so sure he’s innocent then captain?”
“Peggy and I knew him during the war, he was an ass sometimes but not a traitor, plus the fact that he was hailed and a genius with no mention of being a traitor in the future”
“Agent Carter agreed”
“And you didn’t listen to the only person who could give you a character reference?” They all shuffled as he gave them the eyebrow of disappointment as Tony had a habit of calling it.

With a sigh steve stood, he had more important things to do than babysit a bunch of incompetent agents, Peggy was already working on the case so they were irrelevant. “Can I go through your records?”
“What for?” The Chief was confused at the sudden change in topic.
“There’s...something I need to find, your files might help me”
“Does this have anything to do with Stark”
“No, personal”
“Care to elaborate?”
“No” The Chief huffed and gestured at the door. Steve smiled in gratitude that was only partially fake and left.

The silence quickly turned into rapid talk as he left the room. All of them were staring with varying levels of obviousness, Steve was starting to get sick of it.
“Where are the records?”
“Down the hall.”
“Thanks.” Steve headed out hoping the building wasn’t too large. It didn’t take long to follow the signs and open the door to the records room. The filing system seemed decent but it was going to be a hassle searching through each one manually for the correct information. He decided to start at B for Barnes and check what they had. It didn’t take too long to search through ignoring the point where he got a paper cut and had to wait until it stopped hurting too much to continue.

In his hands he held Bucky’s file, it was pretty thin as he was expecting. Opening it his eyes got stuck on the photo of bucky they had used. It had been taking during the war with bags under his hard eyes and dirt on his face and uniform but all Steve could think was how young he looked and how untroubled he was compared to the bucky he had left. With a heavy heart, he tore his eyes away and scanned for keywords. Some of the information touched on his childhood but most of it was on his service, there was nothing there he didn’t already know. Checking his medical record he found something he wasn’t expecting. At the bottom was a small note stating he was healing unnaturally fast, not to Steve's level but closer than it should be but no record as to why. Steve guessed hydra must have had a version of the serum even earlier, back in ‘43. He put the correct slot and moved onto H.

The Hydra file too far longer to find, by the time Peggy walked in he still hadn’t found it.
“You didn’t need to do that, my worth isn’t based on their thoughts on me.” Was the first thing she said as the door shut behind her. Steve looked up with a placating smile.
“I never said it was but that doesn't mean I can’t call them out on their treatment of women.” She nodded and crouched down beside him.
“What file are you looking for?”
“Right now, Hydra.” She raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything instead just helped him look. She found it first, he wasn’t surprised and held it out to him. When he went to take it she pulled it back and stared at him.
“What do you need these files for? Chief Dooley may be willing to brush you off but I’m not.” She stood her ground, Steve wasn’t sure if he was capable of simply taking it off her though it would be fun to spar at some point.
“Something happened between ‘45 and 2012, I want to know if the SSR have any information on it yet”
“What?” Steve had been hoping he wouldn’t have to talk about this, it brought back memories he didn’t like about his first search.
“Bucky didn’t die when he fell, Hydra picked him up.” He looked at her straight on and pursed his lips, he really didn’t want to say much more. She stared at him in shock almost dropping the file. Once she collected her thoughts she handed it to him.
“Chief Dooley wants to speak with you, you can look through this later.” Steve nodded and followed her out.

The man he assumed was Chief Dooley was standing at the door to his office watching as he and Peggy re-entered the room. Once he noticed them he called them into his office and sat down.
“We’ll give you an apartment so you have somewhere to stay, Where do you want to live?” Steve blinked rapidly at the unexpected question but responded easily.
“Brooklynn’s where I’m most familiar.” Dooley clapped.
“Brooklyn it is.” He grabbed some papers off his desk and handed them to Steve along with a pen. “Chose the one you want and sign at the bottom.”

Steve looked though, most of them were cheap one bedroom apartments which he expected given it was Brooklyn, one of them was even the one he had lived in with bucky which he quickly put at the bottom of the list. A decent two bedroom caught his attention and he went to sign before thinking and asking.
“How am I meant to pay for this apartment anyway?”
“Your account is still open and we’ll be paying you as an agent of the SSR or, in the eyes of everyone else, an accountant at the bell phone company” Steve nodded his understanding and signed for the house handing the pile back to Dooley.

A few more signatures later and Steve and an agent whose name he didn’t get were on their way to the apartment. The street looked decent as did the outside. The agent didn’t hang around, just handed Steve his keys and left.

The first thing Steve did was check the apartment for bugs, he wasn’t about to be spied on by a bunch of sexist assholes who didn’t know the first thing about spywork. He found 3 in the living room, 2 in the kitchen and one in every other room. None of them was hidden very well, he would have found them soon enough even if he hadn’t been looking. He broke them and chucked them in the bin. They were going to be annoyed but he didn’t care.
He wandered around the apartment, it was pretty nice. It was going to take some getting used to in terms of location and lack of technology but he liked it. He moved the armchair so it was facing the window and sat in it looking out at the scenery.

Chapter Text

Sleep didn’t come easy that night. Steve tossed and turned until there was no reason to stay in bed and he padded out to the living room. It wasn’t that the noise was loud, it was remarkably quiet given he was in Brooklyn but the source of the noise was off-putting. People. 5 years with half the population had halved the noise he was used to outside his apartment. The bed didn’t help, it wasn’t as bad as the first bed he got after waking in 2012 but it was still off.

He slumped down on the chair overlooking the city. The sun was rising but barely so it was early morning probably, he had spent the whole night trying and failing to sleep and was exhausted. He watched the people go about their lives as they started their day. A car pulled up outside his door, it looked an awful lot like the one Jarvis drove, and wasn’t that a strange thought. Peggy and Jarvis got out confirming it was the same car and then a third person walked out head low. Steve couldn’t see the face which was annoying but as the Peggy and the unknown person entered the building he figured he would be able to see them soon.

A quiet knock on the door and the sounds of people talking muffled behind the door got his attention. He opened the door and froze. There behind Peggy with his head held high was Howard. They stared at each other for an indeterminate amount of time before Peggy cleared her throat and Steve stepped back granting them entry.
“I’m sorry to do this without asking but the SSR is watching his penthouse and probably others,” Peggy said as she drags Howard into the apartment proper.
“It’s fine, just a bit unexpected.” His voice was hoarse he wasn’t sure he was ready for this. Looking at Howard his brain was filling with the video of his death and Tony lying still on the battlefield, they didn’t look too similar but the connection was still there and painful.
“How...?” Howard's voice was just as hoarse from where he stood.
“You’re going to have to catch up on your own boys, I’ve got to get ready for work.” As Peggy turned to leave Howard spoke up.
“Wait a minute Peggys, I have something for ya.” He pulled a pen out of his pocket. “It’s a camera pen, I need to know which of my inventions the SSR have”
“Why?” Peggy took the pen from Howard and tested the camera before placing it in her pocket.
“So I know what they don’t have, besides I thought you’d be more impressed, do you know how long it took me to figure out lens miniaturisation.” He was pouting at the lack of recognition his hard work got. Steve laughed and pulled out his phone. It still works, for the most part, no service though. Peggy and Howard both turned to him and he snapped a quick photo without unlocking it. The photo was hilarious, both Peggy and Howard looked confused and concerned staring at the phone in shock. Peggy got over her shock first.
“I have no idea what that is but I have got to go, Miriam's going to be obnoxious about the hours and I have to get to work.” She left Howard staring and closed the door behind her.
“How are you here and what is that?” Was the first thing Howard said once the door was shut. He spoke quickly as expected as he stepped closer to Steve, not touching but inspecting him. Steve smiled sadly taking in the lack of lines on his face, it was odd seeing him younger than he had ever seen tony and knowing how he died.
“Time travel.” He kept his voice as light as he could and held out his phone for Howard to take. “It’s my phone, try not to break it or let the battery die.” Howard frowned taking the phone and stepping back. Steve watched in amusement as Howard flipped it over repeatedly, tried every button and locked himself out of the phone. He placed it on the side table and looked closely at Steve.
“You look older pal, I'm guessing that’s from the time travel.”
“Yeah, 11 years in the early 21st century.” “11 years huh, do people still care about the stark name?”
“Take the case off.” Steve motioned to the phone. It took a bit of fiddling but Howard eventually got the case off.
“StarkPhone... did I make this?”
“No, your son did.” Howard's eyes widened but his voice was still level.
“Never thought I’d have a kid.” Steve shrugged.
“I was as surprised as you are”
“What’s he like?” Steve smiled sadly as he recalled memories of tony.
“Bit of a dick but could be good when he tried.” It didn’t seem like enough but he didn’t have the mental state to talk at length. “Why are you back in the country?” Howard shrugged staring at a point just to the side of steve.
“Needed to talk to Pegs about one of my inventions.” Steve frowned but didn't say anything. Howard quickly changed the subject. “Why’d you come back? I doubt now is better than the future.”
“Trust me, it is.” He left it at that, no need to mention a future Howard was unlikely to ever see. “How long are you staying in new york?”
“Not long I expect, it’s dangerous but staying away was going to cause bigger issues at the moment.” He didn’t elaborate but Steve figured Peggy would question him later. He headed into the kitchen and went through the cupboards, there was very little food, small things the agent had likely picked up on the way. He heard Howard enter behind him but ignored him for the moment.
“Need some money to buy food?”
“If you’ve got any that won’t be tied back to you” Howard shuffled for a moment before dropping something on the counter. Steve looked and blinked in shock, it was a wad of money. He picked it up and flicked through, about 20, $50 dollar bills. It was a decent bit of money until he remembered inflation and suddenly it was a lot.
“You sure?” Howard nodded and rolled his eyes. “I’m going to head out, get some necessities, don’t flirt with the female tenants.”

Steve headed out, locking the door behind him. It took a while to find the stores, everything was different. It was kind of funny comparing to waking up in 2012 but this time he had more control over the situation. He couldn’t leave until the 70s so he was going to have to deal with it.

The stores were weird. He hadn’t given much thought to how he would buy things, a couple of $50s would have normally been enough to buy his food for the week but here everything was under a buck. He was going to have to buy more than he could carry if he wanted to use a single note or be the man who used a $50 to pay for $20 worth of food. He went with the second option, he was going to be remembered more than he wanted either way and may as well be generous while doing it.

As he walked back to the apartment, arms full of food, his situation caught up with him. Howard Stark was in his living room fiddling with his phone, he was in the past making waves with no way of going back. He may be happier her than he’d been a while but it was a lot and before he knew it he was on the floor of an alley vision swimming. He breathed steadily willing his heart to return to normal. No one paid much attention, he figured with all the soldiers returning from war a man breaking down wouldn’t be that strange. Once he settled down he collected his fallen groceries and headed back.

Howard was on the couch still playing with the phone. It had unlocked while he was gone and Howard had found the camera. Steve dreaded checking the photos and all the photos he would find filling his storage
“What’s your password? I tried to guess it but got locked out again.” Steve laughed putting the groceries down and holding his hand out for the phone. He unlocked it easily. It was unsurprising that he hadn’t guess it, 32557038 wasn’t exactly simple. He had never set up the fingerprint with how easier it was to copy a fingerprint he didn’t feel it safe. He handed it back and headed into the kitchen to put everything away.

The opening of Dancing Queen started playing followed by Howard.
“What the hell Rogers?” Steve had to put the bread he was holding down before he crushed it in his laughing fit. “Abba, gold, greatest hits, none of these words go together.” which set Steve off again. “Why does this say 70s?” He caught his breath in time to answer but his voice was still light.
“Because that’s when it came out” Howard didn’t say anything else and Steve continued to put things away only for bohemian rhapsody to start playing. Every few seconds a new 70s song would play and Steve had to try not to laugh at Howards confused sounds.

Steve reentered the living room to find Howard staring at the speakers complaining about screwdrivers. Howard looked up, said,
“I’m not giving it back” and went back to changing the songs. Steve smiled and sat on the armchair with his pad and paper and began to draw. Howard wasn’t a very still subject but Steve enjoyed it nonetheless.

Chapter Text

The door slammed open and shut followed quickly by Peggy’s irritated voice.
“God Thompson is getting insufferable,” she said throwing herself onto the couch. Steve laughed quietly at the dramatics after placing the pad down walked up behind the couch.
“What did he do?” She took a moment to respond as she slipped her heels off.
“He’s taking charge, directing everyone but still treating me like a glorified secretary.” She looked up at Howard “I’ve got the photo’s by the way.”
“Thanks, Peg, let's get these developed” Steve started laughing and couldn’t stop. Peggy and Howard started at him in confusion setting him off more. He eventually caught his breath and waved them off.
“Sorry it's just, it’s been over a decade since I last heard someone develop photos, caught me off guard.” He grinned at Howard as he absorbed what Steve had just said. Howard and Tony had the same face when going over plans, it hurt to see but he kept smiling. Peggy rolled her eyes and headed to the bathroom without checking if either of them were following her. They were, you always follow Peggy.

Steve stood to the side as they altered the lighting and developed the photos, he had no idea what they were doing and was content to watch. It was odd not being the leader even 5 years after handing the reins onto Natasha. He smiled as Howard took the photos from Peggy's grasp claiming they were unsuitable.
“Are you staying for dinner Peggy?” She turned quickly likely not used to him being there yet.
“I shouldn’t, Miriam would throw a fit if she found out I was with two men, she’s already suspicious of my hours.” Steve nodded in understanding before heading out to cook some dinner.

Dinner was simple, just a soup recipe he had learnt a few years ago. He dished up two bowls and put the leftovers in the fridge. Once he was finished Peggy and Howard entered.
“Hope my bathroom isn’t a mess, still need to use that,” He said lightly. They both laughed. Peggy smiled at the bowls.
“Your bathroom’s fine, I didn’t know you could cook”
“Yeah, learnt from my ma, know a few more recipes now though” Howard grabbed the nearest bowl and began eating. As Peggy went to leave Howard spoke up.
“I’m going to go over the photos, if you could come back later tonight I can let you know what I've found.” Peggy hummed in agreement and left, heels clicking on the wooden floor.

Steve sat down and began eating his soup, it wasn’t as good as last time but he still enjoyed it. Howard clearly liked as he drained the bowl and headed into the living room. Steve cleared his throat and stared pointedly at the empty bowl. It took a minute before Howard smirked and put the bowl in the sink and left. Steve finished his bowl and began washing up dearly missing his dishwasher.

By the time he entered the living room, Howard was done going through the photos and laying face down on the couch.
“When was the last time you slept?” Howard jerked up at his voice and shrugged. Steve sighed but didn’t say anything. He started drawing again this time it was of the Avengers as they were before everything went wrong. He was in the process of adding small details when Peggy got back.

The moment she entered the apartment Howard spoke.
“All my inventions are in the lab” He didn’t seem happy about that. Peggy commented on it first.
“Then why is your moustache so sad?” Steve stifled a laugh in hand until Howard spoke
“I need you to steal one of them back” Both Steve and Peggy stiffened and paid close attention.
“Which one and why?”
“It, unlike the others is active and if set off will cause a city-wide blackout” Steve didn’t think that would be too bad, a chance to see the stars better.
“What’s so dangerous about a glorified light switch? The dark would be kind of nice.” Howard turned to Steve with a blank face.
“I can’t turn the lights back on” that would be a problem. Peggy spoke up getting them back on track.
“How do I defuse it?”
“That’s why I'm here, only I can turn it off” He held out a small green sphere “This is a mockup, you swap that round with the real thing, no one will be the wiser.”
“Or I can tell the technicians what it doesn’t so they don’t touch it”
“That’s not how the US military works,” Steve said with a false happy voice.
“He’s right, don't let anyone touch it” Howard looked at her sadly “I'm already considered a traitor, Peggy, don't let me be the guy who shut down the greatest city on the planet.” Steve couldn’t resist commenting on that.
“It’s not that great”
“Don’t be a traitor steve.”

Steve and Peggy headed out after night really fell to meet Jarvis outside. It was easy to see why Tony had named his AI after him, he could always be relied on.
“Park around the corner. When we get the real Blitzkrieg Button out, drive us back to Steve's then the Griffith.”
“With my heaviest foot.”
“There's just the single switch on it, right?”
“Yes, correct,” Jarvis said rubbing his ear, a very obvious tell
“Are you all right, Mr Jarvis?” Peggy clearly picked up on it as well.
“I'm... simply nervous on your account, Miss Carter.” He wasn’t lying about that at least.
“Howard came back to New York for this one invention, right?”
“It was a risk he knew he had to take.”
“You don't think he's planning on using the device himself to wipe out a city's electricity, do you?”
“Of course not.”
“At least the Blitzkrieg Button isn't like nitramine. I mean, well, if I was to accidentally activate it, no one would get hurt.”
“Just bring the device back as fast as you can, Miss Carter, and then we can all stop worrying.” He rubbed his ear again. God knows what was going to happen when they get the button.

It wasn’t hard to get in and around the SRR, almost no one was there. Steve followed Peggy’s lead as he hadn’t learnt the layout yet. Once in the science lab, Peggy swapped the buttons while he kept watch. She then led him into a small room and removed the button from her bag. He was just as curious as she was as to what the button really did and didn’t stop her from flipping the switch. It opened showing a vial of something. Peggy picked it up to investigate it closer.
“Looks like blood,” He whispered in her ear. She shivered.
“But why would it be so important that Howard would risk his life?”
“The owner is probably enhanced, like me, maybe it’s mine.” Peggy turned to glare at him and shoved it back in her bag much less carefully than she had pulled it out.

They headed back into the hallway with heads full of possibilities when a door opened. Peggy pulled him into the closest door. Steve instantly noticed Thompson sitting there drinking. He tapped Peggy on the shoulder causing her to turn quickly and jump upon spotting Thompson.

“Marge...” Steve frowned, that was the first time he had heard anyone call her that. Thompson didn't seem to notice. “Didn't I say only the men have to work overtime?” Peggy rolled her eyes
“I didn't mean to interrupt you enjoying the rewards of your promotion.”
“Why do you work here?” Thompson was drunk, or an idiot
“To uphold democracy. Did you need a reminder?”
“But the rest of us get to do more than take lunch orders.”
“You'll never know the thrill of learning whether or not Agent Yauch is in the mood for a club sandwich.” Thompson chuckled.
“Besides, whose fault is that?” Steve added. Thompson looked at him confused. Steve just stared back eyebrow raised in disappointment.
“Hmm.” His eyes turned back to Peggy “You're trying to hide something, Peggy. And the only one you're fooling is you.” They both stiffened if they were found out this would end badly.
“And what's that, Agent Thompson?” Peggy’s voice was tight and Steve didn’t think his would be any better.
“The natural order of the universe. You're a woman. No man will ever consider you an equal. It's sad, but it doesn't make it any less true.” Steve had to resist the urge to punch him in the face, Peggy would be annoyed.
“I can always come to you for the truth. Good night.” Peggy pulled him out of the door preventing him from punching him anyway.

The drive back to his place was silent, Jarvis clearly picked up on the cues and made no attempt to start a conversation nor open the door for her when they arrived. Steve wanted to pull her into a hug but wasn’t sure she would appreciate it. As they entered Howard turned away from the newspaper he was holding, where he got it Steve wasn’t sure.
“You get it?”
“What's in the vial?” Steve hung back, Peggy was the one hurting and he’d let her deal with it if she wanted him he was there.
“What vial?” Steve winced, playing dumb rarely ends well, especially when the others know the truth. Peggy repeated herself getting angrier.
“You opened it. You know how dangerous that could be?”
“What's in the vial, Howard?” She repeated faster, he seemed to figure out she was past playing.
“Okay, you're angry.”
“I'm not angry. I'm just curious. What's in the vial?”
“You know. We both know.”
“I don't. Tell me.”
“His blood.” Steve was right and he wished he wasn’t. Peggy punched him hard, he figured he deserved it. Howard went down and Peggy was on the verge of tears. Steve felt awkward standing out of the drama that directly related to him.
“You used me. You lied to me.”
“You hit me!”
“You deserved that Howard” Howard looked at Steve with affront but Steve just shrugged and he turned back to Peggy.
“You don't get to use my reaction to your lies as the reason for your lies.”
“Yeah, I do. I knew how much Steve meant to you because I know how much he means to me. I was protecting you.” Steve was so tempted to make a comment on how gay that was but didn’t think it would be appreciated, it wasn’t the 21st century anymore
“Oh, don't pretend this is about me and my emotions. You were out to protect you.”
“Yeah, I didn't want to see this turmoil that you're in. Look at you.”
“I trusted you, Howard!” Peggy was getting hysterical. Steve stepped up closer but didn’t touch her.
“Yeah, I know, and I was wrong. But you have to understand, a kid like me doesn't get to where I'm at by doing...”
“What? Wanted for treason?”
“I grew up on the lower east side. My father sold fruit. My mother sewed shirtwaists for a factory. Let me tell you, you don't get to climb the American ladder without picking up some bad habits on the way.” Steve could understand that but that doesn’t change what happened. Howard seemed to understand that. “There's a ceiling for certain types of people based on how much money your parents have, your social class, your religion, your sex. And the only way to break through that ceiling sometimes is to lie, so that's my natural instinct... to lie. I shouldn't have lied to you. For that, trust me, I am truly sorry.”
“Why did you have my blood anyway?” They both jumped at his voice having become too caught up in their argument. Howard sighed and collapsed onto the couch.
“I was one of the lead scientists on Project Rebirth. 11 vials went to the government, 1 vial went to me. Does the SSR know they have the vial?”
“Why shouldn't they have it?”
“The government's almost through their supply. If they know they have mine, they'll never give it back, even if you clear my name.”
“That still doesn't mean that you deserve to have Steve's blood.”
“You know, I believe that sample SR-53, that blood, his blood, holds the key to vaccines, medications, possibly even a cure for the common cold. he can still save millions of people.” Steve scoffed even if that was Howard's intention it wouldn’t stay like that”
“And how many millions of dollars are you set to make?”
“What the hell do you think of me?”
“I think you're a man out for his own gain no matter who you're charging. You are constantly finding holes to slither your way into in the hope of finding loose change, only to cry when you're bitten by another snake. You're a man who says, "I love you," whilst looking over a woman's shoulder into the mirror.” Peggy glared at him and headed towards the door “For all I know, you did steal your inventions.”
“Peggy...” Howard tried but she was having none of it.
“I need some fresh air to get away from your stink, you need to leave.”
“Where to? I'll get caught.”
“You're the genius. You figure it out.”

Steve glared at him and followed Peggy out. She was crying properly now and didn’t protest when Steve pulled her into a tight hug. They stood there until she collected herself and pulled back. His shirt was wet but he didn’t care. She gave him a watery smile and left. Howard was still on the couch but Steve ignored him heading straight for the bedroom, hopefully, he’ll be gone in the morning.

He was.

Chapter Text

There was a bag of clothes in the living room, all his size. Steve was still annoyed at Howard for lying but he did need more clothes.

As he ate in his empty apartment the phone rang. One of the agents was on the line, he wasn’t sure which one. He told him a long distance typewriter had spit out a code and they wanted him. Steve wasn’t sure why they wanted him, codes were never his speciality but he went regardless, uniform in a bag just in case. Getting to the SSR was difficult as he was still technically a stranger but he got there in the end, just as Peggy did. He smiled and she smiled back as they descended in the elevator.

The offices were chaos, men running around everywhere. Peggy ran up to Sosua who gave her an explanation as to what was going on. Steve followed behind curious as to why he had been called. The message on the typewriter, he didn’t know where that came from, was in code and the codebreaker was lost. The code was familiar and he could probably translate it himself but it was more amusing watching Peggy knock them all down a peg as she effortlessly translated the code. He resisted the urge to groan when Howard's name came up and no one questioned whether it was false.

He was glad he’d brought his uniform when Dooley sent him on the team because whatever protection they had wouldn’t be worse than he was used to. Peggy was quick to insert herself onto the team even though it took bringing the 107th along. Steve was wary of seeing them again, as far as they knew he was still dead. It would be interesting, to say the least.

Changing alongside the other men on the mission, Thompson, Ramirez and Lee were uncomfortable. They had less hero worship than the shield agents he had first met but it was still there, especially when faced with the uniform. Thompson was the least impressed.
“Is that piece of fabric going to keep you from dying from a bullet, I don’t wanna explain to the chief I got captain America killed.” Steve rolled his eyes as he changed.
“I don’t know what’s in this thing but it's more durable than whatever 1940s technology could come up with.” That shut them all up. The uproar when Peggy walked in was hilarious. He didn't react as dramatically as the others did, Natasha had seen him in less and vice versa but it was still unexpected. Thompson making Sousa walk in on Peggy was less funny but the reactions were still amusing.

The plane brought back far to memories that he didn’t want of various planes. He sat as still as he could beside Peggy. As they got closer to the jump point he could see Thompson start to fidget. He could relate, his first had been terrifying. He gave Thompson an encouraging smile and resisted the urge to give a speech as he was normally expected. It was kind of nice not having to inspire them.

As he jumped from the plane he heard the shouts from the others. Upon landing he tucked and rolled and watched as everyone else parachuted down. Peggy punched him hard in the arm.
“Ow, what was that for” He pouted as she punched him again.
“Jumping without a parachute idiot.”
“I always do that.” His statement didn’t reassure her in the least but she dropped it. Russia was as cold as he remembered even with a better-insulated suit. A twig snapped. He spun t find a gun pointing out from the darkness.
“Emu.” Everyone stopped in confusing. The voice was familiar but Steve wanted to be sure.
“Ostrich, man”. That voice was less familiar but the situation was. Steve knew who they were had was trying not to laugh.
"Shut up.”
“Carter, Dugan forgot the password again.” At that he lost the fight and began quietly laughing at the back of the group, it seemed they didn’t know he was there, had Peggy not told them? The introductions went as well as he had expected. Peggy listed everyone's names and the 107th froze on hearing his. He waved at them stepping a bit closer to the group. The impromptu staring match ended when Thompson spoke going through the plan. Dum Dum quickly disputed it in favour of his much better plan and they set off.

Sitting in the back of the truck with Dum Dum and Peggy was a familiar experience. He couldn’t help looking beside him for Bucky nor the catch in his breath when he wasn’t there. Watching the two of them interact made him smile widely and let him forget everything else.
“So cap, aren’t you supposed to be dead?”
“Would you rather I was?”
“Course not but I would like an explanation” Steve shrugged absently
“Time travel.” Judging by his face Steve needed to find a better way of explaining it. Steve just smiled and zoned out until the truck stopped.

Everyone piled out and began setting up camp. This he was good at. He could feel the eyes of the commandos on his every move.
“What’s up with the costume.” One of the new members asked, Pinky if he remembered right.
“Got a new one, better protection and looks cooler.” The commandos and Peggy laughed. The SSR agents seemed out of place and uncomfortable.

Sitting around the newly set up fire they began sharing stories. The new stories were interesting and he found himself believing them more than he should after all the yeti is far easier to handle than multiple genocidal aliens and stones that can affect time and reality. Thompsons was sombre, gaining the red cross for quickly dispatching attacking Japanese soldiers dampened the mood. Eventually, they turned to him searching for stories of the future. He thought for a minute before smirking.
“New York, 2012, I had been out of the ice about a week.” He used his speech voice and they hung onto his every word. “Got a call that S.H.I.E.L.D, future SSR, had lost something important and wanted me and a team of extraordinary individuals to get it back.”
“Did you?” Junior asked. It was kind of cute how entranced they were, wait till they hear about the aliens.
“Got sent to Germany to retrieve it but it wasn’t there, we caught the man who took it and gained another member to our group and returned to New York but he escaped when we got there, so we went to get them but this time he had an army” Steve smirked wider. “Of aliens.” The uproar was instant and louder than it should be in enemy territory. Voices clambered over themselves but he cut through them to continue the story. “So there I stood with my shield, next to an American spy with a bow an arrow, a female Russian spy, a man in a flying, armed robot suit, a man that turns into a giant, raging, green monster when angry and the Norse god of thunder against an army of aliens falling from the sky in the middle of New York led by the Norse god of mischief.” It sounded so dumb when he thought about it but it had long become normal. “We won of course.”

There was silence when he was done and he fought to keep a straight face. He wasn’t sure how many of them believed him but the entire situation was hilarious. Once they processed everything the all hell broke loose. He refused to answer any questions, just smirking before waving off and getting some rest.

The next morning they set off on the final leg of the journey. The base at the coordinates was empty, if this was a trap it seemed they had gotten there early. Peggy led them around the far too familiar facility. He knew he had never been here but everything set off memories. The single beds lined up with handcuffs attached to them were disturbing. The old cartoon with words to brainwash was uncomfortable especially with the unsaid implication that it was shown to children.

Then came the crying. Dum Dum found her first, a little girl with blonde hair in twin plaits sat against the bed crying.
“What’s a little girl doing in here?”
“Be careful” if he was remembering right that little girl was dangerous. He got some dirty looks from the others. Children, especially young girls always look innocent, there’s a reason they were used as spies on both sides. Dum Dum went to calm her down and it seemed he had succeeded until he got a knife in the chest. The girl was fast, flipping and rolling away and into the air ducts. Steve tried to grab her but she was gone. Dum Dum went to throw a grenade after her but Peggy stopped him.
“Looks like I was right.” Steve sighed. Thompson and his group ran his guns out. Steve didn’t make a comment, Junior was dead and it wasn’t the time. He wasn’t as upset as Peggy or Dugan, he didn’t know the kid and had become slightly desensitised but it was a death that shouldn’t have happened.

Peggy split them up again, the 107th went to find a way out while Steve and the agents followed her further. He had a good idea of what the facility was but he wasn’t expecting a cell with grown men in it. Their reason for being there was awfully similar to the situation that created iron man, they had to build something, a weapon Leviathan couldn’t make. They were odd, Steve didn’t like them but they did at least introduce the idea that Howard had nothing to do with it to the other agents.

Something had alerted the guards to their presence as they could be heard getting closer. Peggy shot the door open for the prisoners and everyone started running. Steve was glad for the gun he was given as the guards shot at them and he shot back but he missed his shield. It wouldn’t have been a useful weapon but a shield is a shield.

They got cornered in the boiler room. One of the agents, Lee got shot in the head. It was a bit callous but Steve hopped Dooley wouldn't hold this against Peggy, her presence didn’t cause his death but the agents were as sexist as ancient soldiers were superstitious. The little girl reappeared this time with Lee’s gun. She shot Ramirez in the leg, a very good shot for a very small girl. The engineer went crazy grabbing Sawer, a new commando and attempting to use him and the rest of them for leverage. Someone shot him as Peggy tried to reason with him. Steve didn’t see who, the bullets were making it hard to focus on anything but the immediate danger they posed. Thompson was useless, leaning against a boiler probably stuck in a flashback so Steve didn’t hold it against him too much.

Dum Dum finally initiated his plan to get them out, blowing a hole in the wall beside them. It was so typical of him Steve had to laugh. The 107 provided cover as everyone left. Thompson took a moment to snap out of it back he too eventually got out. Steve and Peggy stayed behind long enough to give everyone else the chance to get on and give themselves more time to run with their backs unwatched. Together they climbed into the vehicle as the others covered them. The moment they were in they drove off.

The split with the commandos once the plane to return had landed was bittersweet. Dum Dum tried to convince Steve and Peggy to stay but neither felt like fighting on the front lines, especially with all the chaos back in the states. The doctor came with them back to the states.

The plane was sombre, one dead and Thompson still dealing with the aftershocks of the fight. The truth of his earlier story, that the Japanese soldiers were surrendering and he realised too late weighed on him understandably. Steve and Peggy offered no judgement, just support.

Steve wasn’t part of the briefing when they got back, not trusted enough. He was grateful, the S.H.I.E.L.D briefings were always so annoying. Thompson inviting both Steve and Peggy out for drinks was an unexpected bonus and one Peggy clearly appreciated. Sousa was acting strange but he decided to ignore it for now.