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The Aural Avengers

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September 14, 2012.

It’s another regular day for Bruce Banner. He wakes up, takes a shower, eats his regular breakfast of oatmeal and raspberries with cinnamon sprinkled over top, picks out his signature outfit choice of a button-up long-sleeved shirt and a sweater vest to match, and heads out to his vehicle, a little run-down blue bomber.

Making his way to Shield High School, where he’s been the science teacher for the last four years, Bruce fiddles with the radio, ultimately settling on a station playing “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” by Journey, one of his favorite bands. The song brings a smile to his face.

Bruce is preparing himself for his longest day and night of the school year yet. Every single one of his classes are scheduled to have exams, and he promised all of his students the tests would be handed back by the next day.

Bruce walks through the main corridor to find Mr. Erik Selvig, the former Glee Club coach, cleaning out the school’s choir room. Bruce always admired Erik Selvig for his kind heart and his willingness to keep the school’s Glee Club running for the last four years despite its’ lack of interest and popularity.

Bruce wonders why Erik is clearing out the choir room. He debates stopping in to ask him himself, but he was already mere minutes from being late to class. He would have to wait until the lunch break to get the regular teacher gossip from Natasha and Stephen.

Bucky Barnes, a sophomore student at Shield High School, accidentally bumps into Bruce on his way to class. “Whoa, sorry about that, Mr. Banner,” Bucky says, as he runs a hand through his mildly long brown hair to move it out of his face.

“Not a problem, it was my fault, Mr. Barnes. See you in class later,” Bruce replies, fixing his glasses. Bucky is in Bruce’s fifth period science

Bucky attempts to continue his walk to the other end of the school, for his first period math class, but is interrupted by a large grape-flavored slushie to the face, provided by one Sam Wilson. Wilson, Clint Barton, and Brock Rumlow laugh aloud as they walk away from the damage they’d caused. Steve Rogers follows behind them, subtly glancing back at Bucky worriedly. Bucky runs to the bathroom immediately. “Well, I’m definitely going to be late for math,” Bucky thinks to himself.

Thankfully, the morning flies right by. Bruce eagerly makes his way to the faculty room and is glad to see Natasha and Stephen already sitting at a table, eating and chatting away. He smiles at them. Natasha Romanoff is the guidance counselor at Shield High, and Stephen Strange is the astronomy teacher. They all began teaching at Shield High four years prior and have maintained a good friendship since.

“Hey guys,” Bruce says, sitting at the empty spot at their table. The other two greet him in reply, pausing their conversation. Bruce insists they finish whatever they were talking about. “We were just talking about how the coffee’s gone,” Natasha says, her red hair looking as beautiful as ever. “Budget cuts, allegedly.” Natasha’s wearing one of Bruce’s favorite outfits of hers: a deep green blouse that she like to decorate with a pink brooch.

“I’m telling you, these so called ‘budget cuts’ are always just our school. I swear, it’s bullshit. Nick just likes to take his anger out on us, even if it’s unwarranted,” Stephen says.

“I’m telling you, Stephen, it’s Maria,” Natasha insists.

Before Bruce can ask about Mr. Selvig, cheerleading coach Maria Hill walks into the lounge with coffees.

“Hello, all. Who needs a pick me up?” Maria asks, clad in her signature red tracksuit.

“Lattes?” Stephen asks as he gets up to grab one. Helen Cho and Everett Ross, the only other teachers in the room, grab one as well, thanking Maria.

“From Starbucks, yes. I’ve always been a bit of a coffee snob. Honestly, I just felt extremely bad that Fury got rid of the coffee, as well as a few of the janitorial staff to pay for a nutritionist for the Cheerios,” Maria says.

“I heard you guys went like six hundred dollars over-budget on that,” Helen Cho says from her table.

Maria looks at her, annoyed. “Well, my performers didn’t get on Fox Sports Net last year from eating at In-N-Out burger.”

“Since when are cheerleaders performers?” Natasha asks, full of sass.

Maria stares Natasha dead in the eyes. “Your resentment is delicious,” she says, leaving the room.

“I do not like that woman,” Natasha says, stabbing at her chicken cesar salad.

“Nobody does, Natasha,” Stephen reminds her.

Maria Hill is a whole different breed of woman. She is extremely aggressive, assertive, and dominant. Most of the faculty at Shield High is afraid of her, and all of the students are. Even her Cheerios. She has been getting away with things at Shield High for years, like physically assaulting the students on occasion, and harassing fellow staff.

The room falls silent for a while before Natasha perks up. “Hey, you hear about Erik Selvig?” She asks Bruce.

“No, but I saw him packing up earlier. What’s up with that?”

“He also got fired because of the budget cuts,” Natasha replies. “That quite literally leaves band as the only artistic thing in this school.”

“You’re kidding. You know, I’ve always felt that art, whether dancing, painting, it’s a necessity. Kids need to be able to tap into that creative part of themselves. That’s why I was in the Glee Club in high school,” Bruce says.

The others agree with him. “Well, honestly, I’m surprised Selvig lasted as long as he did. I hate to even admit this, but that Glee Club wasn’t going anywhere,” Natasha says, taking a sip of her apple juice.

Bruce looks at her inquisitively. “Is somebody going to take over the Glee Club?”

“I mean I’m pretty sure Nick would prefer the club stay disbanded, but I don’t know,” Natasha replies.

Bruce falls deep in thought. He thought back to his high school days. He’d gone to Shield High himself back in the day, and Glee Club was one of the most popular clubs in the school. He was lucky to be a part of it all four years of high school. During his senior year, there were over thirty members, well over the required twelve members for competitions. Things had obviously changed by September 2012.

Erik Selvig’s Glee Club never surpassed six members, thus making them ineligible to partake in competitions. They mostly just hung around and sang together in the choir room for four years. All six of Erik’s glee kids had graduated the previous year, thus making Erik a viable candidate for the firing, now that he had nobody to teach.

“What you thinking Bruce?” Stephen asks, noticing Bruce was mentally checked out.

Bruce stares at him but doesn’t answer.

Bruce stops at the schools’ wall of fame on his way to his next stop. He looks around for the in-memoriam section, trying to spot his old Glee Club teacher’s photo. Her name was Jean Grey, and she was the kindest woman that Bruce had ever known. She was always instilling confidence, self-love, and strength in all of her students. Bruce spotted her photo, where it read:

Jean Grey

1939 – 2005

“By its very definition, glee is about opening yourself up to joy”  

Bruce smiles at it and decides then and there that he’s going to take over Glee Club and make it something special, just like it’d been back in his day.

“Principal Fury, I would like to take over Glee Club.”

“Would you like to captain the Titanic too, Mr. Banner?” Nick Fury, the principal of Shield High, asks.

“Look, sir, I think I can make it great again, just as great as it was back in my day,” Bruce replies. Nick doesn’t look too enthusiastic, so Bruce continues to push. “Come on, Nick. There’s no joy in these kids. They feel invisible, they’re insecure. That’s why every single one of them is on Twitter and Facebook.

Nick pulls out a notebook and a calculator and does a calculation. “A hundred and sixty bucks a month. That’s what I’ll need from you to keep the club going.”

“Wait, I have to pay for it?” Bruce asks, shocked.

“Well, I’m certainly not going to. Bruce, I just let Erik Selvig go this morning because there’s no room in the budget for the school year. And we need the choir room. We’re running out of space,” Nick explains.

Bruce scoffs. “There’s no more room in the budget because it all goes to the Cheerios,” he mumbles under his breath.

Nick shrugs. “Yes, you’re right, but they were on Fox Sports Net. If and when your Glee Club starts bringing in that kind of prestige to the school, then you can have all the money you want. Until then, a hundred and sixty dollars a month, and you’ll have to use the costumes and props we already have.”

Bruce thinks about it. He’s a thirty-two-year-old single man, who already receives terrible pay, and on top of that, he has all of his monthly bills. A hundred and sixty might not seem like much to a lot of people, but to a teacher who already has trouble budgeting, and who doesn’t even have much money to fall back on in the first place, it is.

“Fine. You got a deal,” Bruce says.

September 16, 2012.

Two days later, Bruce arrives to school in the morning and hangs the sign-up sheet for Glee Club up on the bulletin board. Auditions are being held at four that day. He takes a good look at it and takes a deep breath. He’s really taking a gamble doing this. He hopes it pays off.

During the break following his first class of the day, Bruce subtly walks by the bulletin board only to find the sign-up sheet still blank. The sight definitely has him shook, but he tries to stay positive in spite of it.

At lunch, he checks again. Thank the good lord above, there were names. He takes a mental note of the names he reads so he can keep them in mind: Nakia Shauku, Gamora Whoberi, Peter Quill. Bruce is suddenly really looking forward to auditions.

The end of the day finally arrives. Bruce stops at the bulletin board to take the sheet with him to the auditorium. He notices a new name: Bucky Barnes. Bruce is very familiar with Bucky. He was in Bruce’s class, just as he’d been the previous year. Bucky, like a lot of students at Shield, was regularly bullied, or rather, is regularly bullied. Bruce witnessed it one day back during Bucky’s Freshmen year and put an immediate stop to it. Since then, Bruce has sort of watched out for Bucky. He was glad Bucky decided to try out.

Bruce takes a seat at the director’s booth in the auditorium, where auditions begin. His stomach is in knots. “Nakia Shauku,” Bruce says into the microphone.

An African-American girl with her long, black hair styled into braids walks out onto the center of the stage. Bruce doesn’t recognize her, though Shield High has more than six hundred students, so he obviously didn’t know them all personally.

“Hi, I’m Nakia Shauku, and I’ll be singing ‘Giving Him Something He Can Feel’ by En Vogue,” Nakia speaks aloud.

“Awesome, good choice,” Bruce replies into the microphone. The piano player gets right into the song.

Many say
That I'm too young
To let you know just where I'm coming from.
But you will see
It's just a matter of time
My love surely make you mine

Well, I'm
Livin' in a world of ghetto life
Everyone is so uptight
Nothin’s wrong, it's alright, my man
I like the way we carry on
His love will send me on and on
With my man
People out there can understand

I'm givin’ him somethin’ he can feel
To let him know this love is real
This love is real

So much joy for us it seems
So much hope for material things
Are they only in my dreams?
(hey, oh yeah)
And that's exactly why I'm singing this song to you
To let you know that real dreams do come true.
You tell me what does it mean

Nakia belts out the entire song beautifully, leaving Bruce stunned.

“That was fantastic, Nakia. Welcome to the Glee Club!” Bruce says.

Nakia smiles and thanks him, leaving the stage.

“Peter Quill,” Bruce calls out next.

A young Caucasian boy with sandy blonde hair wheels himself out on to the stage. “Hi, I’m Peter Quill, singing ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ by Blue Swede,” Peter speaks. Bruce knows Peter. Not personally, but he is the only student at Shield High this year in a wheelchair, so everybody sort of knows him.


I can't stop this feeling 
Deep inside of me
Girl, you just don't realize
What you do to me

When you hold me
In your arms so tight
You let me know
Everything's all right

I'm hooked on a feeling
I'm high on believing
That you're in love with me

Lips are sweet as candy
It's taste stays on my mind
Girl, you got me thirsty
For another cup of wine

Got a bug from you, girl
But I don't need no cure
I just stay affecting
If I can for sure

All the good love when we're all alone
Keep it up girl
Yeah, you turn me on

I'm hooked on a feeling
I'm high on believing
That you're in love with me

All the good love
When we're all alone
Keep it up girl
Yeah, you turn me on

I'm hooked on a feeling
I'm high on believing
That you're in love with me

I said I'm hooked on a feeling
And I'm high on believin'
That you're in love with me

Hooked on a feeling

“That was really well done, thanks Peter. Welcome to glee,” Bruce says.

Peter beams. “Thank you, sir,” he replies.

Peter rolls away, stopping midway to high five an African-Latinx female with black and red hair. The girl then moves to center stage, though she says nothing into the microphone.

“Hi, there. Gamora?” Bruce asks.

“Yeah, I’m Gamora. Gamora Whoberi. Singing Lady Gaga’s ‘You and I’,” Gamora says.

It's been a long time since I came around
Been a long time but I'm back in town
And this time I'm not leaving without you

You taste like whiskey when you kiss me, oh
I'd give anything again to be your baby doll
This time I'm not leaving without you

You say sit back down where you belong
In the corner of my bar with your high heels on
Sit back down on the couch where we made love the first time
And you said to me there's

Something, something about this place
Something about lonely nights
And my lipstick on your face
Something, something about my cool Nebraska guy
Yeah, something about baby you and I

You and I
You, you and I
You, you and I
You, you and I

We got a whole lot of money, but we still pay rent
'Cause you can't buy a house in heaven
There's only three men that I am a certain my whole life
It's my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ

I am a New York woman born to rock you down
So want my lipstick all over your face
Something, something about just knowing when it's right
So put your drinks up for Nebraska
For Nebraska, Nebraska, I love you

You and I
You, you and I
Baby, I'd rather die
Without you and I
It's been a long time since I came around
Been a long time but I'm back in town
And this time I'm not leaving without you

"Awesome, Gamora. Welcome to the Glee Club!” Bruce says. He makes a mental note to start saying something else to the kids, because he's starting to annoy himself with the repeated sentence.

Gamora leaves the stage abruptly.

“Bucky Barnes,” Bruce says, hearing his voice echo back to him.

While he waits for Bucky, Bruce jots down notes about the three kids taking a chance on him and joining the club. For Nakia, he writes “Incredible voice, confident, a little angry?” For Peter, he writes “Great voice. Soulful.” For Gamora, he writes “Edgy. Good Energy. Seems shy.”

Bruce then realizes it been minutes since he initially called out Bucky’s name, so he does it again.

Then, Bucky runs out onto the stage, stopping at the piano player to give him his sheet music. Bucky’s wearing his signature outfit of a loose hoodie and skinny jeans. “I’m sorry, Mr. Banner. I forgot my sheet music in my locker,” Bucky says.

“No worries, Bucky. Whenever you’re ready.”

Bucky takes a breath and says “Hi. I’m Bucky Barnes, and I will be singing ‘Not the Boy Next Door’ from the seminal jukebox musical, The Boy from Oz,” before heading right into the number.

Comin' home used to feel so good
I'm a stranger now in my neighborhood
I've seen the world at a faster pace
And I'm comin' now from a different place

Though I may look the same way to you
Underneath there is somebody new

I am not the boy next door
I don't belong like I did before
Nothin' ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams, but you can't have me

I can't go back there anymore
'Cause I am not the boy next door

You've been savin' all souvenirs
Faded photographs from my foolish years
We made plans, but they're wearin' thin
And they won't work out 'cause I don't fit in

And those memories will just weigh me down
'Cause I got no place to keep 'em uptown

I am not the boy next door
I don't belong like I did before
Nothin' ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams, but you can't have me

I can't go back there anymore
'Cause I am not the boy next door

And I'm sorry for just bein' me
But if you'd look past the past you could see

I am not the boy next door
I don't belong like I did before
Nothin' ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams, but you can't have me

I can't go back there anymore
'Cause I am not, I am not, I am not the boy next door

Bruce is left absolutely flabbergasted. While he mostly listens to male artists and bands, Bruce is the first person to admit it’s rare for a male voice to really have that wow factor that men like Freddie Mercury, Prince, Steven Tyler, and Michael Jackson possessed, or like most female vocalists possess. From what he just heard, Bruce is fairly certain Bucky has at least a four or five octave vocal range. He’s surprised by it for sure.

“Amazing, Bucky,” Bruce says.

Bucky preens at the compliment. “So… When do we start rehearsals?”

Bruce laughs. “Bucky, are Nakia, Peter, and Gamora still backstage?”

Bucky takes a look at both sides and sees them all. Bucky nods back to him.

“Hey, guys, can you all come back out?” Bruce asks into the microphone.

The other three kids come out. “You all did great today, guys. Let’s meet tomorrow after school in the choir room, alright?”

The kids nod, and then wave Bruce goodbye as they go their separate ways.

Four kids in one afternoon isn’t bad. Bruce just hopes and prays he’s able to recruit at least another eight kids so that they can actually compete.

Bucky walks into his house, backpack in hand, to find his dad, who everybody always says looks exactly like Mark Hamill, eating dinner at the table.

“Hey, Champ. How did auditions go?” George Barnes asks his son, pausing the episode of Duck Dynasty playing on his phone to speak to his son.

Bucky smiles, fixing himself a plate of the Chinese takeout on the table. “Good. I made the club, but only four of us bothered to audition.”

George almost makes a joke about “nobody joining because it’s Glee Club”, but ultimately decides not to. “Well, I’m sure you did great, and I’m sure the club will be a big hit.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Bucky says. “Mind if I take this up to my room? I have a lot of homework.”

“Of course, go ahead,” George replies, hitting play on his episode once Bucky is out of the room.

Bucky doesn’t actually have a lot of homework. Anytime he can get away with taking his dinner to his room, he does it. Truth is, Bucky hasn’t been himself for a long time.

Bucky used to be an outgoing, optimistic kid. He loved to sing, dance, perform, going as far as posting covers on YouTube. He had huge dreams, dreams of stardom. His lifelong dream was to be on Broadway.

But then, high school started, as did the bullying. Being gay and an outcast, Bucky was an easy target. It was halfway through Freshmen year that Bucky decided he was going to need to tone everything down. His look, his personality, his passion for performing. The light inside of Bucky dimmed severely.

Then there was the whole being gay thing. Bucky came out to his dad Freshmen year. Well, actually, he was outed. Some guy on the football team called George at his auto-shop and said, “your son’s a fag,” which led to George asking him. He took it well initially, but it took him a long time to actually come to terms with it. He assured Bucky he loved him regardless, but Bucky still felt like their relationship was never the same after. Which Bucky hated, because George was basically all he had since his mother, Winifred, died in a car wreck when Bucky was six.

Bucky takes a seat at his desk, throwing his plate off to the side as he browses the internet. His phone screen lights up. A Twitter notification. “Fag,” read a reply left by Scott Summers, a guy on the football team, on Bucky’s recent tweet talking about cereal. Bucky rolls his eyes, and blocks Scott. He’s done the exact same thing to many football players by now.

Nakia sits on her bed, applying a moisturizing face mask, her phone playing some song by Jhené Aiko. As soon as she’s done brushing, she gets up to wash her hands in the bathroom.

She stares at herself in the body mirror a little too long. Nakia lost thirty pounds between freshmen and sophomore year. This is because she was a camp counselor during the summer at her mother’s catholic children’s sleep away camp. She spent most of her days outside, constantly moving. Despite the weight loss, Nakia still sees herself as the chunky girl she was when she little. She returns to her room, attempting to ignore the voice inside her head telling her she hasn’t changed.

Her mother, Josephine, walks into her room, interrupting her. “Hi, baby girl,” Josephine says, walking to Nakia’s bed, and taking a seat. “How was school?”

Nakia smiles slightly. “School was school, mom.”

“And how were the Glee Club auditions? Good, I hope, considering it kept you away from church tonight,” Josephine jokes.

“I made the team,” Nakia says enthusiastically.

Josephine smiles, and gets up to squeeze her daughter. “I’m so proud of you, Nakia. Now, you get in there tomorrow, and you show everybody exactly the wonderous talent that Nakia Shauku is.”

Nakia smiles. “Will do.”

“Now, get your rest. You’re leading church choir tomorrow,” Josephine tells her, walking out.

Nakia rolls her eyes at her mom’s words. “She’s never going to forgive me for missing today’s service, is she?” Nakia thinks to herself.

The Shauku’s are a Christian family, completely devoted to giving their time to the church. Anthony Shauku, Nakia’s father, is a preacher. Nakia, as well as her younger brother, Erik, are members of the church choir.

Nakia wants to join Glee Club so that she’s able to branch out, distance herself from the church, so to speak. Not entirely. She still loves it, and her community, and her religion. However, she dislikes the fact that up to this point, her whole life has revolved around the church.

Nakia hopes Glee Club will be a place where she can grow as a singer and meet new people.

September 17, 2012.

[Peter with the Glee Club:]
And I said to myself, "Sit down"
(Said to myself "Sit down")
Sit down, you're rockin' the boat
And I said to myself, "Sit down"
(Said to myself "Sit down")
Sit down, you're rockin' the boat

And the devil will drag you under
By the sharp lapel of your checkered coat
Sit down

[Peter with the Glee Club)
Sit down, sit down, sit down
Sit down you're rockin' the boat

Bruce leans on the piano, debating how to properly (and positively) formulate into words what he thought of their performance. Before he gets the chance, Bucky speaks up.

“We sucked, didn’t we?” He asks.

“Of course not,” Bruce assures them all. “It’ll get there. You’re just four individuals who haven’t had a chance to mesh together. Hopefully with more rehearsals and practice, you’ll get a lot better."

Bucky, Nakia, Peter, and Gamora look unsure. “Mr. Banner, I’m sorry, but I have to speak up. I’m not sure giving the lead solo in ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat’ to a boy in a wheelchair is a good idea, in fact, in some ways, I’m sure it’s a tad problematic.”

Bruce attempts to speak up, though Peter does instead. “I think maybe Mr. Banner is just using the irony to enhance the whole performance,” Peter replies hesitantly.

Bucky rolls his eyes. “Well, sorry, if I don’t find any of what we’re doing in here ‘ironic,” Bucky answers, walking out.

Bruce moves to follow him, but Gamora stops him. “Mr. Banner, I think you should let him go,” she says, stumbling over her words. “I don’t know Bucky well, or at all, but I have a feeling this is all a sensitive topic for him.”

Bruce’s eyebrows furrow, confused. “What do you mean?”

Gamora pulls her phone out and proceeds to show Peter, Nakia and Mr. Stark a few of the hate comments on Bucky’s cover of “Taking Chances” by Celine Dion he had posted on YouTube during Freshmen year.

TheFalcon: parents shoulda taken a chance and aborted you.

AliBDazzler: this is terrible

QueenCarter: can I dislike this more than once??!

RumlowBrock: someone needs a lobotomy.

ValkCheerio: whoever told u this was a good cover was lying

BartHawk: fuck you!!!

Bruce’s stomach sinks reading the comments. He’s fairly certain he recognizes a few of the names he sees. He hands Gamora her phone and goes after Bucky. Unfortunately, he’s unsuccessful in his search.

Bruce walks back to the choir room to dismiss the others. There’s a familiar face talking to Nakia, Gamora, and Peter, though it’s not the familiar face he expects.

“Mr. Stark? Can we help you?” Bruce asks Tony.

“Hi, Sir. So, listen, I was watching your guys’ performance in here on my way out after yearbook,” Tony explains. “I know this might seem crazy, but I was just wondering… Is there room for one more?”

Bruce’s jaw drops. A football player joining the Glee Club? It’s practically unheard of.

“Absolutely! Do you sing?” Bruce asks.

Tony smiles. “Yes, sir. A lot more than you’d think.”

“Would you mind showing us a bit?”

“Sure,” Tony replies.

September 18, 2012.

Bruce spends almost every single break throughout the morning looking for Bucky. Bruce wants to talk to him about why he stormed out during rehearsal the day before and let him know about Tony joining the club. His search is unsuccessful, so Bruce decides to wait until Bucky has science with him during fourth period.

Bucky walks into the science room, looking quite dreary. Bruce walks up to him. “Hey, Bucky, do you think we can talk after class?”

Bucky shrugs. “I guess so,” he replies.

Fortunately for both of them, class flies by.

Once the classroom was mostly empty, Bruce pulls up a chair to Bucky’s table. Neither of them says anything for a minute. But then Bucky does. “I’m sorry for storming out yesterday, Mr. Banner,” Bucky says, looking to the ground of out shame. “That’s not me. Not anymore.”

“Oh, come on, Bucky. It’s alright. Don’t even worry about it,” Bruce replies. “Listen, I don’t want to overstep, but I think I have a slight idea of maybe why you’d done it… I watched one of your YouTube videos yesterday… Saw the comments… I don’t want to be presumptuous or anything, but I felt like maybe you stormed out because you take your craft extra seriously. Maybe a little more seriously than the number we were rehearsing.”

Bucky nods slightly. “I’m just tired of being laughed at…I know I’m only a sophomore… But I can feel the clock ticking and I just don’t want to leave high school with nothing to show for it.”

“Bucky, you get fantastic grades. You’re a kind person, and you’re an amazing singer. I would hardly call that nothing,” Bruce replies.

“Everybody hates me,” Bucky says.

“Bucky, don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad you joined, but do you think being in Glee Club is going to change that?”

Bucky perks his head up for the first time in the whole conversation. “Being great at something is going to change that. Being a part of something special makes you special, doesn’t it?”

Bruce reflects on Bucky’s words deeply, thinking back to his experience in Glee Club.

“But who are we kidding, Mr. Banner? It’s Glee Club. I don’t mean this to be rude, but I don’t think anyone else is going to join. We’re going to be just like Mr. Selvig’s group. The same batch of kids, just singing together in the choir room for years, not even able to compete,” Bucky says.

Bruce perks up. “You’re wrong, Bucky. We’re not going to be like Mr. Selvig’s Glee Club. And we’re already on our way to making sure of that. We secured a fifth member yesterday,” Bruce shares.

Bucky’s eyebrows furrow. “Who?”

September 19, 2012.

Bruce walks into the choir room with a box of personal items as the school bell rings signaling the end of the school day. He opens the door to the tiny office that connects with the choir room. His office. More like his second office, as the science classroom is still his.

Nakia, Gamora, and Peter walk in soon after, then Tony, and then Bucky.

Bucky smiles at his teacher.

“Alright, you guys, take a seat. I wanted to run a number by you guys. I think it would be super great to use at a future competition, if we get the opportunity to compete this year.”

Bruce attempts to hand them all sheet music for “Come Sail Away” by Styx but is interrupted by Principal Fury.

“Mr. Banner. Can I have a quick word in my office please?” He asks.

Bruce is instantly annoyed. “Yes, sir.”

Bruce follows Nick down the hall to his office.

“What’s this about? Are you going to disband us already?” Bruce asks playfully. He’s not impressed when Nick gives him an uneasy look.

“Are you serious? We just started rehearsals! For a club that your own nephew is now a part of!” Nick is married to Tony’s aunt, making him Tony’s uncle through marriage.

“Look, Bruce. We’re at a point where my hands are tied. We need the choir room. Alcoholics Anonymous wants to rent it out for their afternoon meetings, and they’re willing to do so for five-hundred dollars a night! Too many drunks in this town, I guess. Regardless, the five hundred a night is going to help us out a lot more than the one hundred and sixty a month deal you and I made,” Nick tells him.

Bruce thinks before he gives Nick an answer. “If we place at Regionals, the Glee Club stays. If not, we’re done, and you can use the choir room to do whatever you want. Come on, please?”

Nick stares at him coldly. “Fine,” he says. “But, Bruce, can I just ask what your sudden fascination is with this club? You’ve only got five kids, and one is in a wheelchair!”

Bruce shrugs. “Well, then I guess you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Nick chuckles under his breath. “Alright, that’ll be all, Bruce. You can return to rehearsal.”

Bruce grins over-politely and leaves his office.

He returns to the choir room in seconds, finding the kids all seated in a circle, making casual conversation. He smiles at this.

“Alright, guys. I’m sorry to break up the slumber party, but let’s get back to business.”

The kids all laugh. “Sorry, Mr. Banner. We were just…” Bucky says. “Getting to know each other a little.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear that. When I was in Glee Club, we were a family. A cohesive unit, always there for one another. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to reboot the club. I wanted the opportunity to give that to a new special group of kids.”

Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, and Tony smile at this.

September 20, 2012.

Bruce knocks on Maria’s office door during the lunch hour. His conversation with Nick the day before helped Bruce realize that in order to even place at Regionals, let alone be able to compete at all, the Glee Club needed more members.

“Come in,” Maria shouts.

Bruce walks, where he finds Maria writing away in her journal and drinking her regular lunch of a protein shake. “Well, hey there, buddy,” Maria says, semi-condescendingly.

“Hi, Maria,” Bruce replies, taking a seat. He notices Maria narrow her eyes toward the chair, almost as if to say, “I didn’t tell you to have a seat”.

“So, listen, I was wondering if I could ask something of you?” Bruce asks. Maria stares at him. “I was wondering if I could maybe talk to the Cheerios sometime about joining the Glee Club?”

Maria closes her journal, stuffs it back into her desk, takes a sip of her shake, and chuckles once to herself. “You want to talk to my Cheerios about joining the Glee Club?”

Bruce swallows the lump in his throat. “Well, I need more kids. Performers, and I know you’ve got a bunch of great performers on the Cheerios. So, I thought maybe some of them might want to double up.”

Maria stops him with a hand gesture. “Okay, what you’re doing right now, it’s called blurring the lines, and that’s not at all in reference to that highly erotic song by the once great Robin Thicke,” she says. Maria gets up from her seat in order to sit on the edge of her desk. Probably so that she feels bigger, more superior to Bruce. It works.

“High school is a cast system, Bruce. Kids fall into certain slots. Jocks, Cheerios, the popular kids, they’re up in the pent house. The invisibles, the outcasts, the kids who like to roleplay Game of Thrones, those kids are on the bottom floor.”

“What about the kids in the Glee Club?” Bruce asks.

“Sub-basement,” Maria replies. “Bruce, if you really care about these kids like you claim to, you’ll leave well enough alone. Children like to know where they stand. So, if you’re going to go through with this, then by all means, go ahead, but don’t pretend that any of them are something they’re not.”

Bruce’s face falls into a frown. He stands up and walks out, hearing a “good talk, bud,” from the office behind him.

Because he opted to not bring a lunch to school, Bruce heads out so he can make a quick run to McDonald’s. He bumps into Natasha in the parking lot.

“Hey! Lunch run?” Natasha asks.

“Yeah. McDonalds. You?” Bruce asks.

“Wendy’s,” she replies.

Before she can get into her vehicle, Natasha steps into two pieces of gum. Bruce notices. He has a feeling it might have triggered her obsessive-compulsive disorder, so he stays and goes to help her. He scoops her up, carrying her in his arms to the nearest outdoor bench.

Bruce gets Natasha to show him the damage, two regular pieces of Hubba Bubba stuck to her heels. He pulls out a maxed-out Dunkin Donuts gift card and uses it to help scrape the gum off.

Bruce uses the opportunity to rant to Natasha about what Maria told him earlier in her office.

Once he’s done recounting the encounter, Natasha speaks up. “I don’t think Maria’s entirely wrong,” she says, which startles Bruce. “Just hear me out. Kids are going to do what they think is cool, which isn’t always who they are. You just need to find a way to get them out of their boxes.”

“How do I do that?” Bruce asks, still attacking the gum.

“They follow the leader. If you can get a couple popular kids to join, the rest will fall right in line,” Natasha answers.

Bruce gets the gum off of Natasha’s heels, finally. “There you go, Cinderella,” he says, flirting.

Natasha smiles. Bruce thinks her smile lingers a little, but ultimately decides he’s crazy and it’s all in his head.

“So, popular kids. If Maria isn’t going to let you talk to the Cheerios, then you can talk to the football team. I’m sure Matt won’t mind,” Natasha says. Matt Murdock, the coach of the football team, and Natasha’s boyfriend.

The two knew each other as teenagers, but then stopped talking, as life took them in different directions. Natasha and Bruce’s third year teaching at Shield High, Natasha was delighted to find Matt joined the faculty. The two began dating that year, much to Bruce’s dismay.

“Good idea. I’ll talk to him after school,” Bruce replies, doing his best to sound chipper.

“You know, it’s really nice how much you care about Glee Club, Bruce. About the kids,” Natasha says, earning a smile from Bruce.

“I just want the chance to talk to them,” Bruce says, following Matt as he goes through the locker room and picks up various items.

 “I don’t know, man. I can’t see any of my guys wanting to join Glee Club,” Matt admits. “A week ago, they held down one of their teammates and shaved off his eyebrows just because he watched an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race with his girlfriend.”

“Just one shot. Please. That’s all I ask, Matt.”

Matt scratches at his beard, thinking. “Fine. Tomorrow morning, practice is done at 8:15. If you can be here then, they’re all yours.”

Bruce thanks him and leaves. Matt glares as he watches Bruce walk away.

September 20, 2012.

“Guys, you all know Mr. Banner,” Matt says to the football team, who are all seated on the benches in the locker room. “He’s here to talk to you guys about something. If you don’t listen, you do laps. You mouth off, you do laps. Got it?”

The football team all simultaneously mumbled a litany of yes’ and yeah’s.  Matt motions for Bruce to take the floor.

“Alright, how you guys doing? I think I recognize a couple of you from science,” Bruce says, noticing Steve Rogers and T’Challa Udaku for sure. “But I’m here to talk about something a little different. Music… Glee Club needs guys.”

The football team laugh amongst themselves. Sam Wilson speaks up. “I can sing.”

Bruce looks shocked. “Really? That’s fantastic.”

“You want to hear?” Sam asks, mischievously.

“Absolutely,” Bruce says.

Sam clears his throat and gets into position from his spot by the lockers. He proceeds to open his mouth, though it’s not words that come out, it’s an insane burp.

The football team clap and cheer for him.

“You’ll have to excuse me, I have a bit of a cold, voice was a little shaky,” Sam says.

“Laps! Now!” Matt screams to Sam. Sam leaves instantly.

“I’m just going to leave the sign-up sheet outside the locker room, in case anyone wants to join,” Bruce says, leaving.

He returns just before glee rehearsals to find things written on the sheet, though they’re not actual names.

Faggy McQueer Face.


Fuck off.

Bruce takes the sheet off of the wall. Before he can scrunch it up to throw it out, he hears a voice from inside the locker room, singing “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks.

He walks in, looking for the source of the voice. He reaches the showers. It’s Steve Rogers.

Bruce knows him fairly well. Steve is the quarterback of the football team, he’s popular, he’s dating cheerleader Sharon Carter, and he takes Mr. Banner’s science class. He greets Bruce every class, without fail. Bruce likes him, even though Steve is known for being a little bit of a bully.

Bruce runs out of the locker room immediately. How weird would it be for someone to find him sitting there listening to Steve Rogers sing? Very.

Bruce hangs out nearby, listening to the power in the kid’s voice. Once Steve’s done singing, Bruce makes his way for the choir room, mentally plotting how to sway Steve into joining the Glee Club.

Tony sits at his desk, working on some calculus homework, listening to Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” album, his personal favorite. He gets stuck on question number eight. Instead of trying to figure out the problem, he ditches the rest of his homework in favor of scrolling through Facebook.

His mom, Maria Stark, walks in several minutes later. “Your Uncle tells me you joined the Glee Club?”

Tony smiles. “Yeah.”

“That’s exciting, isn’t it?” She asks. “You’ve always liked music, and performing, I still remember that middle school production of the Wizard of Oz you were in. Best little cowardly lion there ever was.”

Tony laughs, rolling his eyes at the thought of that production. “Yeah, I guess. I don’t know. I guess it’s something similar to social suicide, but whatever. It’s not like my teammates like me anyways, so,” he says.

Maria’s face falls. “I love you, Tony. If Glee Club is something that’s going to make you happy, well then you go ahead and join. Forget those hating kids. Life’s too short, you know?”

Tony nods. Maria kisses him goodnight and leaves the room.

Tony and his mom, they were really close. They have been for years, since Tony’s dad Howard left them for some blonde bombshell that he was having an affair with when Tony was six. Him and his mom, they really only had one another. Luckily for Tony, he prefers it that way.

“Hello?” Stephen asks to whoever his calling him at twelve in the morning.

“Hey, it’s Bruce,” Bruce replies. “Sorry, were you asleep?”

Stephen groans. “We wake up at seven every morning, to be ready by eight, to get to school and start our lessons by nine. Yes, I was asleep, Bruce. What’s up?”

Bruce laughs. “You remember during the summer when your doctor diagnosed you with anxiety?”

“Yeah?” Stephen questions.

“You received medical marijuana as a means to help treat it, right?” Bruce asks.

“Yeah, why? Are you looking to get high right now?” Stephen says.

Bruce laughs again. “No, of course not. Do you still have any? And if you do, can you bring it to school tomorrow?”

“I don’t want to know why you want it, or why you need it at school, but fine. Goodnight,” Stephen says, before abruptly hanging up.

The marijuana all ties into Bruce’s plan to get Steve to join the Glee Club. The plan isn’t one Bruce is exactly proud of, in retrospect, but he hopes it works.

September 21, 2012.

“Steve Rogers? I need to see you in my office, right now,” Bruce says from the door of the Spanish room, staring right at Steve. Señora Chavez and the rest of the class watch as Steve collects his things and follows Bruce out the door.

“Did I do something wrong, sir?” Steve asks.

“I think we should wait until we’re in my office, Mr. Rogers,” Bruce says, sweating up a storm, his nerves getting the best of him.

They enter the choir room office as opposed to the science room. Bruce motions for Steve to have a seat. Once both seated, Bruce takes a baggie full of weed from his briefcase and tosses it on the desk, right in front of Steve’s eyes.

“Would you like to tell me how long you’ve had a drug problem?” Bruce asks, doing his best to remain intimidating and assertive.

“What?” Steve asks. He then inspects the baggie. “That’s not mine,” Steve argues.

“Look, if it were up to me, we wouldn’t have mandatory bi-weekly locker checks,” Bruce says.

Steve’s face turns red, in both anger and frustration. “But I’ve never seen that before, Mr. Banner! I swear to god, it’s not mine! I’ll pee in a cup to prove it!”

Bruce’s face falls. He’s putting on a better act now than he had when he received jumper cables from his step-mother last Christmas. “Look, I don’t think it would make a difference. Possession is eight-tenths of the law. I’m pretty sure this much pot is a felony.”

Steve goes from angry to sullen in seconds.

“You’ll get kicked out of school. You’ll lose your football scholarship…” Bruce says.

Steve perks up. “I had a football scholarship? To where?”

Bruce finds himself caught in a lie. “Oh, I mean…I’m just assuming. You are a good football player. But I don’t actually know for sure,” he speaks, unsurely. “Regardless, you won’t be needing one if you’re spending years in prison.”

Steve feels queasy, like he might throw up. “Jesus Christ, Mr. Banner, it’s not mine, but, please, don’t say anything to my Dad, please!”

Bruce sighs overdramatically. “Look, believe it or not, I see a lot of myself in you, Steve. I know what it’s like to struggle to make good life choices, and I don’t want to see you throw away everything you have to offer the world. I honestly just expected more from you.”

Steve frowns. “You sound like pa,” he says, more to himself than to Bruce.

Because it seems as though he just opened the floodgate to a series of feelings, Bruce changes the subject. “Look, we have two options here, Steve. I’m running detention for a while, so you can do six weeks after school, but it’ll remain on your permanent record…”

Steve stands up. “What’s the other option, Mr. Banner, please!”

Steve gets home from school to find the house empty. His father, Joseph, is a nurse practitioner, so his schedule is a little all over the place. Steve is in a funk, and he has been since his talk with Mr. Banner. To be falsely accused of something is never fun, but when it’s as severe as possession of marijuana, and at school, no less? It’s infuriating.

Steve thought about his father, Joseph, the entire rest of the day once Bruce dismissed him. About how disappointed he would have been, had he been informed.

Steve and Joseph were really close when Steve was younger. But then, Steve’s mother, Sarah, died of cancer when Steve was nine. Joseph was left with a broken heart and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. It changed Joseph. From that day forward, he was always a cold, very aggressive man. Steve loved him. He was his father after all, but Steve did hate him as well.

Joseph wasn’t the type to motivate Steve with positive encouragement. It was more “my way, or the highway” with his father. Steve always works hard to make sure his Joseph is always proud of him, just to make life easier for them both.

The only positive thing Joseph and Steve have shared the last few years is their mutual love for music, mostly seventies and eighties rock.

Steve’s adoration for it is the only reason he didn’t burst into flames when Bruce told him his only other option to get off scot free from the whole marijuana debacle was to join the Glee Club. Was Steve really looking forward to singing and dancing around in matching outfits with a bunch of losers every day? No, but it sure beat the alternative.

September 22, 2012.

The school day comes to an end. Bruce is thankful for it, considering the hectic day he’s had. He’s dreading Glee Club rehearsal. Bucky, Nakia, Peter, and Gamora didn’t have much of a problem with Tony joining the Glee Club. He was on the football team, yes, but he wasn’t like the others. Tony didn’t bully people. And more importantly, he didn’t bully them.

But, Steve on the other hand…

Bruce has seen Steve toss slushy’s into people’s faces throughout his time at Shield High with his own eyes. Bruce put a stop to it many a time. Which leads Bruce to believe that maybe Steve had slushied the glee kids in the past. Or maybe bullied them in any other way. He was nervous about how they would react to Steve joining.

Bruce walks from the science room to the choir room, running in to Steve and a few of his pals on the way.

“Hey, Steve? The choir room is in the other direction,” Bruce reminds Steve.

Steve blushes faintly. He pulls Bruce aside. “If it’s alright with you, I was just going to wait to head over until they left,” Steve whispers.

Bruce nods, feeling bad for having spoken so loudly. Steve clearly didn’t tell his pals about Glee Club yet.

Steve, Sam Wilson, Clint Barton, Brock Rumlow, Thor Odinson, and T’Challa Udaku carried on as normal to the parking lot.

“Choir room?” Sam asks curiously.

Steve freezes. “Yeah, after-school science tutoring with Mr. B,” he replies.

The topic doesn’t get brought up again, thank god.

Bucky walks to the choir room from art class, physically bumping into someone on the way. “Sorry,” Bucky says, not yet aware he’s bumped into Tony.

“Hey,” Tony says. “How’s it going?”

Bucky smiles, wondering why on earth Tony’s talking to him. Bucky knows Tony is a nice guy, but he didn’t expect Tony to start talking to them outside of Glee Club. “I’m good. Thanks. How are you?” Bucky asks, as the two finish the walk to the choir room together.

“I’m great,” Tony replies. “I was up all-night last night thinking of songs we could eventually all do together in Glee Club. You familiar with the Beatles?”

Bucky laughs under his breath. “Isn’t everybody?” Tony laughs with him.

The pair greet Nakia, Peter, and Gamora who are sitting and laughing up a storm.

Seconds later, Bruce walks in. Bruce hopes the kids aren’t going to be mad at him.

“Alright, guys. First order of business,” he says, pulling up one of the chairs so that he could sit in front of them all. “We’re welcoming a new member.”

Before the kids could ask who the mystery member is, Steve walks into the choir room, backpack on his shoulder, and letterman jacket on his body.

Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, and Tony’s faces all fall. Some out of shock, some out of anger.

“Really?” Nakia asks. “Can he even sing?”

“Why?” Bucky asks, staring at Bruce.

Bruce stands up to stand next to Steve, so as to shield him from the others’ wrath. “Steve’s reason for joining is irrelevant, but what you all need to take from this is that he’s joining. It’s a new member, you guys. We need more members. Otherwise, we’re not even going to be able to qualify for Invitationals, and that’s not even an actual competition. So, this is a good thing,” Bruce says.

“Is it? Because him and his friends have slushied me four times already, and we’re only three weeks into the school year,” Peter says accusatorily.

“Which I have a feeling Steve is extremely sorry about,” Bruce begins, looking to Steve for backup. Bruce is trying to defend him.

Steve nods. “I am. Truly,” Steve answers, seriously and sincerely.

The kids can all feel Steve’s sincerity, and Bruce is glad for it.

“But does he sing?” Gamora asks shyly.

Bruce looks to Steve. “You want to show us what you’ve got?”

Steve licks his lips nervously. “I didn’t prepare anything,” he admits.

“That’s totally fine. Just wing it. Anything you’ve got,” Bruce says.

Steve freezes for a second, but then he notices a couple of instruments in the corner of the room. He spots an acoustic guitar and goes right for it, pulling a pick from out of his pocket.


Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, rolling into the night
People so busy, make me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright
But I don't, need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise
Every day I look at the world from my window
Chilly, chilly is the evening time, Waterloo sunset's fine

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night
But I am so lazy, don't want to wander, I stay at home at night
But I don't, feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset, I am in paradise
Every day I look at the world from my window
Chilly, chilly is the evening time, Waterloo sunset's fine

Millions of people swarming like flies 'round Waterloo underground
Terry and Julie cross over the river where they feel safe and sound
And they don't, need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo Sunset, they are in paradise

Bruce, Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, and Tony are left impressed. The kid really can sing.

“Well, guys?” Bruce asks around. The kids all moan and groan that Steve did great.

“You’re good, white boy. I’ll give you that,” Nakia says. Steve blushes and smiles.

“Alright. Now that that’s all out of the way, let’s move on,” Bruce says as Steve takes the seat beside Bucky.

September 24, 2012.

Bruce walks to Maria’s office, nervous. She summoned him over the intercom minutes prior, but Bruce doesn’t know what it’s about.

Her door is open. She’s sitting at her desk, wearing the creepiest smile Bruce has ever seen. “Hey there, Brucy. Come in,” she says.

Bruce walks in, taking a seat. “What is this about, Maria?”

The smile doesn’t falter. “It’s a special day, Bruce. My friend Pepper over at Hydra High School told me that they are in need of a good science teacher. I went ahead and put a good word in for you, and they want to offer you a great deal for it,” Maria explains.

Bruce is dumbfounded. Hydra High School, a private school about ten minutes out of the city, has resources that Shield High School can only ever dream of having. This is in large part due to its very generous alumni, who donate hundreds and thousands of dollars every year. Hydra High was the type of school that never had to worry about things like budget cuts. Bruce has never been to the school himself, but he’s heard whisperings about Hydra’s science lab. It’s supposedly a lot bigger and better than Shield’s.

“Why?” Bruce asks.

“Oh, come on, Bruce. There’s no ulterior motive here,” Maria says standing up. “I just know you’re a single man, and you’re a teacher, and I hear you’re paying for the Glee Club’s budget out of your own pocket. I also know you’re a good science teacher, and Hydra is willing to pay a lot more than we can. And who knows, maybe you can help co-direct Hydra’s Glee Club.”

Hydra High School’s Glee Club. Throat Explosion. They’ve won nationals six years in a row. Bruce knows all about them. If Bruce’s Glee Club gets twelve members, then they will be qualified to compete at show choir competitions, where they will undoubtedly go up against Throat Explosion at some point.

The deal intrigues Bruce, but he doesn’t make any decisions. “Well, thanks, Maria. I appreciate it. I’ll let you know,” he says, standing and walking out.

Maria glares to where Bruce was just standing. “There are absolutely ulterior motives here”, Maria thinks to herself. The day before, Nick informed Maria that he was going to be taking 100$ of her Cheerios budget ever month to help out the Glee Club.

Whether it be 1$ or 100$, nobody gets away with crossing Maria Hill.

“Wow, Bruce. That’s one hell of an offer,” Natasha says, tossing a grape into her mouth at lunch.

“I know,” Bruce replies. “But, like I said, I’m not making a decision anytime soon. My sole focus right now is on Throat Explosion’s invitational. It’s this Saturday. I was actually thinking about taking the kids, introducing them to the world of show choir competitions and whatnot.”

Natasha picks herself up from the sudden sadness she’s feeling. “Awe, Bruce, that sounds fun. Hopefully it gets the kids motivated to keep at it,” she answers.

Bruce smiles and nods. “Yeah, you know, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to come with me? I could use the company, you know how teenagers can be,” he says.

Natasha smiles, and Bruce swears he sees her cheeks turn red. Before Natasha can give a proper answer, Matt walks into the faculty room, right toward their table.

“Hey, hon,” Matt says, kissing Natasha’s cheek. Her blush fades, and instead her demeanor turns tense.

“Oh, hi, Matt,” Natasha responds.

Bruce does his put to pretend like eating lunch with the woman of his dreams and her chicken shit boyfriend doesn’t make him want to barf.

September 25, 2012.

Sam Wilson watches as Steve speaks to Coach Murdock in favor of running laps. The two appear to be angry, and Coach Murdock looks like he’s seconds away from a full blown tantrum.

“You’re the quarterback! No, I don’t want to hear it! This isn’t going to work for me,” Matt screams, startling every student in the vicinity. Steve walks away from him and joins Sam at the track field.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Sam asks.

“Oh, nothing, I just have to miss practice tomorrow afternoon. It’s… My mom. I got to help her cook, and shop, you know,” Steve mutters.

Sam grimaces. “Why?”

“Oh, she just had surgery,” Steve replies, trying to have a conversation while running at the same time.

“What kind of surgery?”

Steve rolls his eyes at Sam’s inability to shut up, thankful Sam doesn’t have view of his eyes. “She had to have her prostate out,” Steve says, blanking.

“Man, that’s a tough break,” Sam replies. Steve is thankful his friend is not that bright. There’s a reason he’s getting C’s and D’s in all of his classes, and it’s obviously not just because he’s lazy.

“Yeah, it was engorged, and stuff,” Steve shares, before running off to finish laps solo.

Matt Murdock storms into Bruce’s office in the choir room, minutes before the final bell of the days is set to go off.

“You stole my quarterback?” Matt asks pointedly.

Bruce tries his best to be just as intimidating. “Steve has a great voice. He just wants to express himself in other ways. What’s wrong with that, Matt?”

“What’s wrong is that Steve is the quarterback, and he needs to be at every practice, Bruce. He doesn’t have time to run off to Make Believe Land to sing duets with the woodland creatures with you and the other kids in this club,” Matt responds.

Bruce is shocked at his words. He has always had a feeling that the feelings of dislike were reciprocated, but in this moment, he knows for sure.

“Matt, did I do something to offend you? Because I’m sort of getting the feeling that this isn’t just because of Steve,” Bruce replies.

“Yeah, you did, dipshit,” Matt wants to reply, but doesn’t. Matt saw the interaction between Natasha and Bruce a couple of days prior, when Bruce was helping her get gum off of her high heel. The two looked like they were getting way too close for comfort, especially when Bruce scooped her up and carried her to the bench bridal-style. He’s always had his suspicions that maybe Bruce had feelings for his girlfriend, but he’s seeing it a lot clearer these days.

Matt doesn’t actually respond to Bruce’s question. Instead, he changes the subject. “You know, you’re right. Maybe I’m overreacting. I mean, once the herd gets word of Steve being in Glee Club, they’ll set him straight.”

Bruce is confused. “The herd?”

“The student body. The second someone tries to rise above, be different, the herd pulls them back in. I have a feeling Steve won’t be in Glee Club for too much longer,” Matt says, storming out.

September 26, 2012.

“Alright, guys, let’s meet up in the auditorium in fifteen minutes, okay? Don’t go wandering around too far,” Bruce says to Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, Tony, and Steve.

Nakia, Peter, Gamora, and Tony make their way for the main part of Hydra High School. The school’s auditorium, which they were all in, is separate from the main area where all of the classrooms and lockers were, as is the gymnasium, pool, and student sleeping quarters. Apparently, there were a lot of foreign exchange students at Hydra High School that the school housed.

“Are you coming, Bucky?” Tony asks.

Bucky stares at Steve, who’s in line at the concession stand. “No, you guys, go ahead. I’m going to get a drink or something.” Okay, so Bucky is sort of lusting after Steve, sue him. Even though he’s known for being a bully, Bucky is not oblivious to the fact that Steve is hands down the hottest guy at Shield High, with his perfect blonde hair, blue eyes, chiseled jaw, and sculpted physique. 

Bucky stands in line, placed two people behind Steve. Steve notices the others wander off, sans Bucky. He looks around and spots him.

“You can come stand with me, man,” Steve offers. Bucky smiles, taking him up on the offer. “Is this really happening, oh my god,” Bucky says internally.

“Thank you,” Bucky says politely.

“Not a problem,” Steve replies. There is a slight awkwardness in the air. Bucky decides to break it with a compliment.

“You know, Steve, you’re really talented.”

Steve preens slightly at Bucky’s words. “Really? You think so?”

Bucky nods. “Yeah, you know, I would know. I’m pretty talented, too,” he jokes. “I’m sure the others wanted to say more the day you auditioned. They were just scared.”

“They’re that scared of me?” Steve asks, suddenly annoyed.

“You’re joking, right?” Bucky asks in return. Steve doesn’t move or reply. “Steve, all due respect, you’re a bully. You yourself even acknowledged it in Glee Club. You’ve slushied everybody in Glee Club, some more than once, you’re friends with some of Shield Highs biggest tormentors. I mean if you’re not even friends with Tony, who’s just as popular, then there’s no hope for the rest of us.”

Steve frowns. “I get second hand hate because I’m friends with Sam, and Rumlow, and dating Sharon Carter,” he says. “You know when Peter said I’d slushied him? I was there, yes. Did I put a stop to it? No. But, I didn’t do it. It was all Sam. I’m not into that shit anymore. I’ve… changed. Honest.”

Bucky makes a mental note at the fact that Steve admits he is dating Sharon Carter, president of the celibacy club, and captain of the Cheerios. Bucky had heard whisperings, but figured it was a rumor. He hated Sharon.

Bucky notices Steve having an internal existential crisis, so he doesn’t say anything. But Steve does. “Have I ever slushied you?”

“Have you really slushied that many people that you would forget?” Bucky asks. Steve looks embarrassed. Bucky nods. “Once. Freshmen year.”

The two finally get to the stand. “How can I help you boys?” A perky teenage girl asks.

Steve is still stuck on Bucky’s answer. “I’m sorry.”

Bucky looks at him and smiles. “Don’t worry about it,” he says.

Bruce and Natasha are in line for concession, about five people behind Bucky and Steve.

“Thank you again for coming,” Bruce says to Natasha.

“Of course,” Natasha answers.

The line moves, and they both get a better look at the snacks Hydra High provides.

“Those pizza slices look like they’ve been in there a while,” Natasha says in disgust.

“Were you going to get something to eat? Cause I’ve got two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my bag if you’re interested in going half-sies with me?” Bruce asks.

Natasha perks up. “That sounds amazing.”

The line moves, and Bruce purchases himself a coffee, and buys Natasha an iced tea. The two then move to the tables outside to eat their sandwiches. “I haven’t had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in more than a year. Or, a peanut butter anything,” Natasha says, splattering two coats of hand sanitizer all over her hands.

“Oh, really?” Bruce asks, shocked. He loves peanut butter.

“Yeah, Matt’s allergic,” Natasha explains.

Bruce nods. “Well, that’s really sweet, though. You know, not eating something because he can’t.”

The two eat and make casual conversation. With every conversation, Bruce wonders if it’s at all possible that Natasha likes Bruce the way he likes her.

“Okay, guys, so Throat Explosion is just one of the many Glee Clubs to beat at the competitions this year. I’ve got a feeling we’re probably going to go toe-to-toe with them at Regionals. Don’t let whatever we see today psych you out. None of these other groups can even touch the star power our club has got,” Bruce says to the kids. Bruce, Natasha, Nakia, Gamora, Steve, Bucky, Tony, and Peter are all seated together, in that order.

“Alright, everybody. Please give a warm welcome to last year’s national show choir champions, Throat Explosion!” The Hydra High School announcer says into the microphone. The packed auditorium cheers.

The curtains rise to reveal fifteen kids, all dressed in matching black & red formal wear outfits, placed at center stage, forming a diamond shape. Then, a teenage boy with silver hair and a teenage girl with curly brown hair come in from opposite sides.

“Hello, everybody. For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m Wanda Maximoff, and we,” she says into her headset, gesturing to her teammates behind her, “are Throat Explosion.”

“Enjoy the show,” the male who entered with Wanda says.

Sing it out
Boy, you've got to see what tomorrow brings

Sing it out
Girl, you've got to be what tomorrow needs

For every time that they want to count you out

And use your voice

Every single time

[Wanda & Pietro:]
You open up your mouth

[Wanda & Pietro with Throat Explosion:]
Sing it for the boys
Sing it for the girls

Every time that you lose it sing it for the world
Sing it from the heart
Sing it 'til you're nuts
Sing it out for the ones that'll hate your guts
Sing it for the deaf
Sing it for the blind
Sing about everyone that you left behind

Sing it for the world, sing it for the world


[Wanda & Pietro:]
Sing it out!

Boy, they're going to sell what tomorrow means


[Wanda & Pietro:]
Sing it out!

Boy, before they kill what tomorrow brings

You've got to, make a choice if the music drowns you out

Music drowns you out
And raise your voice every single time
They try and shut your mouth

[Wanda & Pietro with Throat Explosion:]
Sing it for the boys
Sing it for the girls; every time that you lose it sing it for the world
Sing it from the heart
Sing it 'til you're nuts
Sing it out for the ones that'll hate your guts
Sing it for the deaf
Sing it for the blind
Sing about everyone that you left behind
Sing it for the world, sing it for the world

[Wanda & Pietro with Throat Explosion:]
Cleaned-up, corporation progress
Dying in the process
Children that can talk about it
Living on the webways
People moving sideways

Sell it ‘til your last days
Buy yourself the motivation
Generation nothing, nothing but a dead scene
Product of a white dream
I am not the singer that you wanted, but a dancer
I refuse to answer, talk about the past, sir
Wrote it for the ones who want to get away

Keep running!

[Wanda & Pietro with Throat Explosion:]
Sing it for the boys
Sing it for the girls

every time that you lose it sing it for the world
Sing it from the heart
Sing it 'til you're nuts
Sing it out for the ones that'll hate your guts
Sing it for the deaf
Sing it for the blind
Sing about everyone that you left behind
Sing it for the world, sing it for the world

We’ve got to see what tomorrow brings

[Wanda & Pietro with Throat Explosion:]
Sing it for the world
Sing it for the world

The audience cheers instantly. Bruce, Natasha, and the glee kids are left with their jaws on the floor at Throat Explosion’s vocals, choreography, and synchronicity. They aren’t just your average high school Glee Club. They’re a super group.

“We’re d-doomed,” Gamora stutters.

“Excuse me, Bruce Banner?” A red-headed woman calls out, stopping Bruce, Natasha, and the Glee Club on their way out of Hydra High School.

“Yeah, that’s me,” Bruce answers, offering a hand for her to shake.

“Hi, I’m Pepper Potts, friend of Maria Hill,” she says, taking Bruce’s hand.

Bruce tenses up. “Hey, guys, why don’t you go on ahead? I’ll be right out,” he says to Natasha and the kids. Natasha stares at this Pepper roughly as she walks out.

“How can I help you, Ms. Potts?” Bruce asks.

“Well, I was just wondering if you’ve made a decision yet? You know, Hydra’s actually had their eye on you for a good while now,” Pepper admits. “You know your craft, and you clearly teach it well. The last three winners of the regional science fair have been your students.”

Bruce smiles. “I’m just lucky enough to have helped them all under our tight budget,” he teases.

“Well, that’s something you never have to worry about here. It’s great pay for all teachers, and you never have to contribute anything from your own salary for your classes, or any extracurricular you might be interested in coaching. The school’s budget takes care of all of that, as should every school,” Pepper says.

“By extracurricular do you mean Glee Club?” Bruce asks. “Are you Throat Explosions’ coach?”

“No, that’s some other floozy,” Pepper says, joking. “But yes, I do mean Glee Club. You could come here, help her out, maybe actually make it to Nationals, and win. I’d say it’s your best shot. Just think about it.”

September 29, 2012.

“You’re leaving us? When?” Peter asks.

Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, and Tony all stare at Bruce with sad faces. Steve remains neutral.

“Well, they want me to start immediately, but I’m going to stay at least another couple of days. I’m actually going to talk to Principal Fury right after this, but I promise, I’m going to find you guys a great replacement before I go,” Bruce assures them nervously.

“Is this because those Throat Explosion kids were so good? Because we can work harder,” Nakia says. Bruce almost breaks down.

“This isn’t fair, Mr. Banner, we can’t do this without you,” Bucky says.

Before Bruce can answer, Steve speaks up. “Does this mean I don’t have to be in the club anymore?”

Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, and Tony all glare at him.

“This isn’t about you guys,” Bruce reassures them. “They tell us not to overshare with our students, but whatever. I grew up in poverty. It was hard. My father worked two jobs, and it still wasn’t enough. Despite being smart enough to have become an engineer or something similar, I chose to teach. It was something I had a passion for, even though everybody told me it was a stupid decision. They said I would end up feeling just like I did when I was growing up. Even though I love this school, and teaching here, Hydra is offering me a better deal. Being an adult is about having to make difficult choices. It’s not like high school. Sometimes you have to give up the things that you love. One day, you guys are going to grow up and understand that. I have loved being your teacher, but I think I need to do this,” Bruce says.

September 30, 2012.

“This spot is reserved for people who aren’t leaving us,” Stephen says to Bruce. Bruce was in the midst of pulling out a chair at Stephen and Natasha’s table in the faculty lounge.

“Come on, man,” Bruce says playfully, rolling his eyes. “I told you, I have to do this.”

Stephen sighs. “Yeah, well, Natasha and I, we’re going to get into all sorts of crazy schemes, and you won’t be here to be a part of it, so it’s your loss, really,” Stephen replies just as playfully.

Bruce laughs. “I may not be leaving until the 2nd, but I am going to miss you guys so much.”

Stephen smiles. Natasha remains neutral. She puts her salad away and gets up to leave.

“Natasha?” Bruce calls after her, but she doesn’t stop.

“Maybe she’s taking this a lot harder than we thought,” Stephen says.

October 1, 2012.

Steve is getting his math textbook from his locker when Bucky taps him on the shoulder.

“Hey,” Steve greets.

“I didn’t see you at Glee Club this morning.”

“Is that still happening?” Steve asks.

“I’ve sort of taken over in the meantime,” Bucky says.

Steve sees Sharon and her best friends Valkyrie Parrington and Carol Danvers walking towards him and Bucky.

“Hi, Steve,” Sharon says to her boyfriend, then turns to glare at Bucky, “RuPaul.”

Steve goes in for a hug, but Sharon doesn’t move. “What are you doing talking to him?” Sharon asks.

Steve tries to answer, but chokes. “Science project, we’re partners,” Bucky interjects. Steve nods, going along with the lie.

Sharon ignores the answer. “Christ Crusaders tonight at five, my house,” she says to Steve.

“Sounds great,” Steve replies. Natasha, Valkyrie, and Carol leave, leaving Steve and Bucky to wallow in the awkwardness.

“Look, I’ve got to go, I’m going to be late for Math,” Steve says, closing his locker. “I can’t do glee anymore. It conflicts with…”

“Your reputation?” Bucky finishes for him. “You’ve really got something special, Steve. And you’re throwing it away.”

Steve ignores him. “I’ll see you around,” he says, walking away.

“You shouldn’t worry about what people think of you, Steve. You’re better than all of them,” Bucky calls out from behind Steve.

Steve walks toward Sam during gym class. Steve can see Sam glaring at him.

“What’s wrong?” Steve asks, sporting his Shield High muscle shirt and black shorts, none the wiser.

“Just tell me why,” Sam says. “Why the fuck would you join the Glee Club?”

Steve freezes. Sam scoffs. “My cousin Sheila goes to Hydra High, she’s into all that artsy bullshit, she saw you there, with all those fucking losers, man.”

“Banner told me he’d give me enough extra credit to pass science if I joined, okay? I really didn’t have a choice. If I failed another class, I’d be off the football team. But that’s over, alright, I quit.”

Sam keeps his glare. “Fine. Glad to hear it,” he says, standing up from his position on the floor. “And, as a welcome back to the world of the normal, I got you a present.” Sam makes sure Mr. Murdock isn’t watching them, as he and Steve run out of the gym, and toward the back way exits, near where the porta potties are.

Clint Barton, Brock Rumlow, and a couple of other guys from the football team are waiting for them. Steve hears a noise coming from inside of one, as well as muffled screams. “What’s that noise?” Steve asks.

“We got that wheelchair kid inside,” Sam says, laughing. “We’re going to flip it.”

Steve’s brows furrow. “Doesn’t that sound kind of dangerous?”

“He’s already in a wheelchair,” Rumlow says, laughing.

“Come on, man, we saved you the first roll,” Sam says.

Steve has an epiphany right then and there. He opens the door to the toilet and pulls Peter out.

“Thank you, Steve, thank you, so, so much,” Peter says, sweating, shirt tear-stained.

“What the hell, man?!” Sam snaps. “I can’t believe you’re helping out this loser!”

“Don’t you get it, Sam? We’re all losers. Everyone in this school. Hell, everyone in this town. Out of all the kids who graduate, maybe half will go to college, and two will leave the state to do it. I’m not afraid of being called a loser because I can accept that that’s what I am. But I am afraid of turning my back on something that actually made me kind of happy for the first time in my sorry life,” Steve says.

“So, what? Are you quitting football to rejoin Homosexual School Musical?” Sam asks aggressively.

Steve shakes his head. “No. I’m doing both. Because you guys can’t win without me, and neither can they.”

Steve walks away, heading toward the football field, wheeling Peter along with him. This way, they can both go into the school through the front, and Steve doesn’t have to worry about running into Mr. Murdock, who’s class he just walked out of.

Steve and Peter watch as the Cheerios are practicing out on the field. Maria Hill has some sort of music blasting through her Bluetooth boombox. Then, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” starts playing through the speakers.

“Just hang on while I look for another song,” Maria speaks into her megaphone.

Steve lets the song fill his ears. It’s one of his mom’s favorite songs, one of his as well. An idea fills Steve’s head in that moment.

“Look, you guys, these moves aren’t that hard, I’ve been doing them since preschool,” Bucky says to Nakia, Gamora, and Tony, letting the ferocious drive he used to possess come out.

“I’m sorry, did I miss the election for king? because I sure as hell didn’t vote for you,” Nakia says pointedly.

Steve and Peter come walking and wheeling in to the auditorium stage.

“This is a closed rehearsal,” Nakia says, looking at Steve.

“Alright, look, I owe you guys an apology. I never should have quit…” Steve says, but doesn’t finish. The others stare at him, waiting for him to keep talking.

“I don’t want to be the guy that goes around tossing slushies into people’s faces, or tossing them into the dumpster, or any of that shit. It’s not who I am, and I’m tired of pretending like it is. This is what I want to be doing, with you guys,” he says. “The other day, when we were doing that Michael Jackson number, I was actually having a really good time. I used to think this was like the lamest thing on earth, and maybe it us, but we’re all here for the same reason – because we want to be great at something.”

Nobody answers him, so Steve continues. “Nakia, Gamora, I’m sorry for that double slushy me and the guys pulled on you last May.” They smile as their form of accepting his apology.

Steve sinks down to his knees, so that he’s at eye to eye level with Peter. “I’m so sorry I didn’t stop the guys from slushing you all those times, Peter.”

“It’s okay,” Peter answers, sporting the biggest smile ever on his face. “You made it up to me today.”

Steve stands, looking at Tony. Tony is still glaring at him. Steve lends a hand out. “I’m sorry, Tony. You’re on the team, and I never treated you like a teammate. I used to treat you like garbage because it was easier to pick on the bisexual kid. And that’s not okay, not at all. I know it’ll take you longer to accept my apology, but I sure hope you do.”

Tony looks down to the floor, nodding. “Thanks.”

Steve then turns to Bucky. “I’m sorry for the slushy last year, and I’m sorry for forgetting about it.”

Bucky smiles. “It’s okay, Steve.”

“Now that everything’s been said and done, I have an idea,” Steve shares. “One that involves keeping Mr. Banner here.”

“Go on,” Bucky says.

“Peter, you’re in band, too, right? You think you can recruit some of the other members?”

“Absolutely,” Peter replies.

“All right,” Steve says, smiling. “Nakia, we need new costumes, and they have got to be cool. Can you do that?”

“Damn, don’t you see what I’ve got on?” Nakia asks, joking, earning a laugh from Steve.

“Bucky, you can choreograph, and Tony, you can go get Mrs. Romanoff on board,” Steve says, before turning to Gamora. “Gamora, what are you really good at?”

“Umm…” Gamora says, thinking.

“We’ll figure something out for you,” he says to her.

“And what are you bringing to the table, Justin Bieber?” Nakia asks.

“I’ve got the music.”

October 2, 2012.

“Hi,” Natasha says from the doorway of Bruce’s choir room office.

Bruce was in the middle of putting his last few items into a box. “Hi,” he replies. “Are you talking to me again?”

Natasha nods. “I should’ve never stopped talking to you, I’m not six years old. I just… Didn’t know a better way to process you leaving,” she admits.

Bruce stares at her sympathetically, suddenly at a loss for words.

“Bruce, can I ask you why you’re leaving?”

Bruce looks at her confused. She already knows why. “They’re just offering better pay, Nat.”

“I don’t want to overstep my boundaries, and risk having you get mad at me, but is that really the message you want to convey to the kids, Bruce? That they should give up something that makes them happy for money?” Natasha asks.

Bruce grows slightly irritated. “Natasha, it’s so much more than that,” he replies.

“I know. It’s just I never pictured this to be the reason why you’d ever leave here, especially considering how much you claimed to love it,” Natasha says, eyes tear-filled. “You and Stephen have been my best friends for the last few years. I’m just really going to miss you so much.”

Bruce feels the tears coming himself. “I’m going to miss you more than you know, Natasha.”

“Before you finish up, can you come with me to the auditorium?”

“Sure,” Bruce answers.

The two make the fifty second walk side by side. They make their way into the auditorium to find Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, Tony, and Steve on the stage, all dressed in blue shirts and jeans, with the jazz band. Then the music begins.

Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere

Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

A singer in a smoky room

A smell of wine and cheap perfume

[Bucky, Steve, Nakia & Tony]
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on
Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

Sam walks into the auditorium and watches for a couple of seconds, before leaving.

Workin' hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill

Payin' anything to roll the dice
Just one more time

Some will win, some will lose

[Bucky & Steve with the Glee Club harmonizing:]
Some are born to sing the blues
And oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on
Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, livin' just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

[The Glee Club:]
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people
Don't stop!

Bruce and Natasha both clap quite loudly. “Good, guys. It’s a nine. We need a ten. Bucky, you need to hit the ones and the fives. Steve, I think if we worked on it, you could hit a high ‘B’,” Bruce says.

“Wait, does this mean you’re staying? You’re actually going to stay?” Bucky asks.

Bruce thinks about it for a moment. “It would kill me to see you win nationals without me.”

The kids all scream and cheer, tossing Bruce a hand to pull him up onto the stage to group hug him.

Maria Hill, Sharon Carter, and Valkyrie Parrington all watch from the rafters above. “This will not stand,” Maria says.

Chapter Text

October 3, 2012.

Bruce pulls into the faculty parking lot, carrying a much bigger stick and sense of self-worth than he had been days prior. Before he left his house this morning, he called Hydra High School and politely declined the offer he’d already accepted. Their principal, Mr. Alexander Pierce, was understanding.

Though he would have been making a lot more money, Bruce is glad to be staying at Shield High, with Stephen, with Natasha, and with the Glee Club. It’s home.

“Mr. Banner!” A voice calls out from behind him as he’s making his way inside the school. It’s Bucky.

“Hey, Bucky, what’s up?” Bruce asks him.

“I went to the library and I got some sheet music, and I wanted to run some songs by you that feature me on lead vocal,” Bucky says, holding up the papers in his hands.

“Nice, Bucky, well I’m sure they’re all strong contenders, but you hang onto them for now, alright? You’re going to love the song I’ve chosen for you guys to work with this week!”  Bruce says enthusiastically, walking off.

A guy on the football team purposefully bumps into Bucky, forcing all of the sheet music to fall from Bucky’s grip. Bucky rolls his eyes.

“Here, let me help you out with that,” Tony says kneeling down, having seemingly popped out of thin air.

“Thanks, Tony. You’re so chivalrous,” Bucky says.

“Thanks,” Tony answers with a smile. “That’s a good thing, right?”

Bucky laughs as the two continue to walk and talk. The laughing comes to a half as soon as a pair of slushies comes into contact with both boys’ faces, compliments of Brock Rumlow and Clint Barton.

They stare at one another, speechless. They then proceed to the boys’ locker room to retrieve their extra clothing.

Both Bucky and Tony have received enough slushes to the face to know well enough to keep an extra outfit in their gym lockers.

Bruce bumps into Nakia, Peter, and Gamora in the hallway. The trio laugh immensely loud. “What’s so funny, guys?” Bruce asks out of curiosity.

“I’m just teaching them some vocal runs, and Peter is being an absolute idiot about it,” Nakia says, laughing.

“Oh, yeah? Lay ‘em on me,” Bruce says.

Nakia, Peter, and Gamora all proceed to hit Bruce with a simultaneous “aaoohh”, Peter purposefully forcing the most hideous of faces. Bruce immediately mimics them but doesn’t quite hit all the right notes. “Guess the old pipe’s not what it used to be,” he says, slightly embarrassed.

“Meh, pretty fly for a white guy,” Nakia jokes.

“See you guys this afternoon!” Bruce calls out, as he carries on with his walk to the science room.

After about six more steps, Natasha bumps into him. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry, Bruce,” she says.

Bruce shrugs it off. “No worries, no worries,” he says, smiling. “Hey, I actually wanted to thank you so much for the advice you gave me the other day. I mean, teaching here and coaching Glee Club, it’s where I belong.”

Natasha smiles. “Oh, it’s no problem. I mean, it’s what I do. You know, I give counsel and give guidance. I’m a guidance counselor,” Natasha says, stumbling over her words.

Bruce laughs. “Yeah, you are.”

Valkyrie and Sharon walk by, listening to enough of the exchange to want to barf.

Valkyrie rolls her eyes. “Get a room,” she spits out sardonically.

“Ms. Hill wants to see you in her office, Mr. Banner. She doesn’t like to be kept waiting,” Sharon says while walking away, high-pony bouncing about.

“You got it,” Mr. Banner answers.

“Hey, Maria. You wanted to see me?” Bruce asks from the doorway.

“Yeah, pal. Come on in,” she says. “So, I had a little chat with Principal Fury, and he said that if your little group doesn’t place at Regionals, he’s cutting the program.”

Bruce brushes her comment off. “You know, Maria, you don’t have to worry about the Glee Club. We’re gonna be fine.”

“Really? Cause I was at the local library, where I read Cheerleading Today aloud to blind geriatrics, and I came across this little page-turner,” Maria says, walking over to her desk to retrieve a book, displaying the cover to Bruce. “It’s Show Choir Rule Book. And it turns out, you need twelve kids to qualify for competitions. Last time I checked, you only had five and a half. The half being, of course, the cripple in the wheelchair.”

Bruce grows more and more infuriated each second that passes.

“I also took the liberty of highlighting some special education classes for you. Maybe you could find some recruits, cause I’m not sure there’s anybody else who’s gonna want to swim over to your island of misfit toys.”

Bruce’s brows furrow. “Are you threatening me, Maria?”

Maria’s taken aback. “Threatening you? Oh, no, no, no. Presenting you with an opportunity to compromise yourself? You betcha.”

“You know what, Maria? Glee Club is here to stay. I believe in my kids. I know you’re used to being the top dog around here, but it looks like your Cheerios are gonna have some competition. We’re gonna show at Sectionals, and then again at Regionals. You have my word on that,” Bruce says, exiting the room.

Steve is transferring textbooks in his locker when Sharon comes up to him, dressed in her blue and white uniform that has “SHS” spelled across the chest, hair neatly stuffed into the Cheerios’ signature high-ponytail. The Cheerios usually wear their uniforms and hair like that to school every day.

“So, have you finally had that head of yours checked by a registered physician? It’s just a tumor in there that caused you to join the Glee Club, and now that you know about it, you’re going to quit, right?”

Steve groans. “Sharon…” he says, shaking his head.

“Steve, we are in line to be the most popular kids in the school for the next three years,” Sharon says. “Prom king and queen, homecoming court royalty. I am not giving up those shiny crowns just so you can express yourself!”

“Look, you’re making way too big a deal out of this,” Steve says, annoyed. Steve doesn’t think anyone should be this upset over his joining Glee Club. Not Sharon, not Sam, nobody.

Sharon’s pursed lips and cold demeanour turn into a suggestive look. “Okay. Let’s compromise. If you quit the club, I’ll let you touch my breasts.”

Steve actually thinks long and hard about it. Hey, he’s a teenage boy. “Under the shirt?” He asks.

“Over the bra,” Sharon corrects.

Steve pauses again, momentarily conflicted. “No. No, I can’t. I want to be in Glee Club. I’m really happy when I’m performing.”

Sharon scoffs. “Okay, you know what?” She says loudly, earning stares from people around, including Bucky, who’s locker is just nine or ten down from Steve’s. “People think you’re gay now, Steve. And you know what that makes me? Your big gay beard.”

Steve shakes his head once more. “Look, I got to get to class. Okay? Just relax. Everything’s going to work out,” he says, kissing her cheek before walking off. He stops slightly to greet Bucky. Sharon watches the exchange carefully.

“You alright over there?” Steve asks Bucky, due to the fact that he looks frazzled.

The question causes Bucky to light up. “Yeah, I just got my results back from Mr. Strange’s astronomy test, and I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, that’s all.”

Steve frowns. “Well, that’s why god invented the make-up test, right? I owe my entire high school career so far to make-up tests,” Steve jokes.

Bucky laughs like an idiot. Steve wishes him a good day and walks off.

Sharon notices the intense and lustful way Bucky watches Steve as he walks away. A wave of rage washes over her. She walks over to Bucky.

“Time for some girl talk, Princess,” Sharon says, intimidating Bucky. “You can dance with him, you can sing with him, but you will never have him… He’s not gay. So, move on.”

Bucky plays confused. “What are you talking about? When did I ever say I liked Steve?”

“I just saw the way you were watching him. This entire hallway can smell the pheromones in the air. It’s disgusting, and unnatural, so, please, prey on somebody else, before you get your ass handed to you on a silver platter,” Sharon says, storming off.

“Okay, good, we’re all here,” Bruce says as Tony comes walking into the room. He makes his way to his favorite chair by Bucky. “Guys, I have got a killer idea for a song I’d like to see you guys tackle at Invitationals, and Bucky, I thought maybe you could take the lead!” Bucky smiles instantly. Nakia rolls her eyes.

Bruce walks over to his briefcase and pulls out the sheet music for “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. “Now, Invitationals is still a while away, and we don’t have twelve members yet, but it never hurts to start early, right?”

“Mr. Banner, do you mind explaining how the whole competition thing works?” Tony asks.

Bruce nods, taking off his glasses and getting comfortable on a chair. “So, we start with Invitationals. It’s not an actual competition. We don’t get judged, it’s just an opportunity for us and any other Glee Club’s around the city to introduce ourselves to the show choir circuit, get our names out there. Then, there’s Sectionals, which will take place here in the city. We’re going to go up against any of the nearby schools, so, for example, Jack Kirby High School, the Dark Horse Academy Warblers, and Stan Lee Prep. Then, there’s Regionals. Regionals can be held anywhere in Ohio,” Bruce explains, getting cut off by Bucky.

“And that’s where we go up against Throat Explosion?” Bucky asks, knowing well full that such would be the case, as Hydra High School is located in Akron, Ohio, as opposed to their Lima, Ohio.

Bruce looks at him intently. “Yes, most likely. And if we’re lucky enough to win Regionals, we then move on to Nationals, and Nationals usually happen… Anywhere. My very first Nationals was held in Chicago, and it was amazing.”

The kids all smile at the prospect of making it to Nationals.

“Alright, now, you guys want to take this tune out for a spin?” Bruce asks. The kids nod, standing up to get to work.

Nick Fury walks into the choir room, interrupting their rehearsal. “Banner, Students, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I was just wondering if I could ask something of all of you?”

“What’s up, Mr. Fury?” Bruce questions.

“I’d like for you guys to perform a song at the Homecoming assembly next week,” Nick says.

Bucky and Nakia light up instantly. The others seem weary. “In front of the whole school?” Gamora asks anxiously.

“Yes, Ms. Whoberi. It’ll be a great opportunity for you guys to recruit new members, you know, maybe some kids will be inspired by whatever you come up with. What do you say?” Nick asks.

Bruce looks around at the kids. Aside from Steve and Gamora, the others seem into it. “Absolutely,” Bruce says. “Thank you for the opportunity, sir.”

Nick smiles, leaving.

“Well, Guys, let’s put “Use Somebody” aside for now, and let’s brainstorm ideas for the assembly!” Bruce says enthusiastically.

Bucky, Nakia, and Peter seem excited. But, Steve and Gamora look like they’re about to throw up.

Sharon Carter, Valkyrie Parrington, and Carol Danvers are in the locker room after Cheerios practice.

Carol’s holding an ice pack to Valkyrie’s ankle. Valkyrie cradled out of a pyramid incorrectly and twisted it during practice.

“Does it feel any better?” Carol asks attentively.

“A little,” Valkyrie replies, smiling. Carol’s soft-spoken voice always makes Valkyrie blush.

Sharon walks back into their vicinity, towel wrapped around her, texting away on her iPhone 4S. She laughs at something on her phone.

“What’s so funny, Carter? Who you texting?” Valkyrie asks.

“Nothing, no one,” Sharon responds, putting her phone away, and changing into her clothes.

“Sharon, I forgot to ask, what happened this morning? With you and that Barnes kid?” Carol asks.

Sharon rolls her eyes. “Steve stopped at his locker to say hi, and the kid literally creamed his pants watching Steve walk away from him. You guys should’ve seen the stupid look on his face. I had to remind him that Steve wasn’t gay, and that he was taken.”

The girls laugh. “You better watch out, Sharon. Bucky might be this school’s biggest loser, but he’s not exactly repulsive-looking. He just might end up stealing Steve from you if you’re not careful,” Valkyrie sneers.

Sharon scoffs. “Except for, and I repeat, Steve’s not gay, Valkyrie.”

“But they could become really good friends,” Carol points out. “And that would throw everybody for a loop, because then there’d be no protecting Steve from the other guys on the football team.”

Sharon’s left feeling conflicted. The girls did have a point. “Maybe we should join the Glee Club,” she jokes. Valkyrie and Carol snort simultaneously.

But then Sharon ponders on it a little more seriously. “Actually, maybe that’s not such a bad idea after all....”

“You’re fucking kidding, right?” Valkyrie asks bluntly.

“That way we could spy on Steve, make sure he’s not doing anything stupid in there,” Sharon says.

“Well if you only want to do it to spy on your boyfriend, then why do we have to join with you?” Valkyrie asks, angrily.

“Yeah, because like, I can’t read sheet music, I can just barely read in general, so I’m already at a disadvantage… Also, it seems pretty lame,” Carol quips. Sharon and Valkyrie share a look. They love Carol, they do. But often times, their friend plays up the fact that she’s not as intellectually advanced as her peers, and it frustrates them.

“You’re joining with me because we are a trio, and you know I would do it for you guys,” Sharon says, doing her best puppy dog face.

Valkyrie and Carol are displeased, but agree, nonetheless.

Gamora’s reading a book in the backyard of her house while her little sister, Nebula, plays in the sandbox. Gamora started the book the second she got home from school, and she’s already 350 pages into it, all in the span of sixty minutes. She’s grateful for the days that her foster parents take their biological children to their after-school activities. On those days, it’s just Gamora and Nebula until dinner time. That’s how she liked it.

Gamora’s biological parents were murdered when she was five years old. Her and her sister stayed with their Aunt Nova for a year after, before Aunt Nova decided she wasn’t cut out to be a guardian to two young girls, so they were placed into the foster system.

Gamora and her sister have been to twelve homes since being put into the system. She’s lucky to report that ten out of twelve houses have been fairly good, especially the most recent. But those other two houses that weren’t so good were literal nightmares, run by people whose sole focus was on the money they received from the government for being foster parents. Gamora developed high anxiety because of those bad experiences, among other issues.

Few things trigger it, fortunately for her. But unfortunately for her, performing in front of crowds is one of them. Gamora loves to sing and loves to perform. She has since she was a kid. Singing and performing helps subdue the anxiety she feels in her everyday life, so long as that singing and performing isn’t done in front of a large crowd. She hopes she can power through it enough to remain in Glee Club.

“Gamora! Nebula! Are you girls out here?” Mrs. Temple asks from the back door.

“Yes, Mrs. Temple, we’re here,” Gamora replies. Claire Temple walks down the back-door stairs to fetch her foster daughters.

“Come on, Girls. Dad picked up lasagna from BreadStix for dinner,” Claire tells them. She notices a tear coming down from Gamora’s eye. “Are you crying, sweetie?”

“What?” Gamora asks, not even realizing she’d begun to cry while thinking about her past homes. “Oh, yeah, happy tears. I promise. I was just thinking about our other homes, trying to compare them to here.”

“And? How do they compare?”

“This is by far the best one. Nebula and I are extremely happy here. Thank you,” Gamora says, wiping away another tear.

“We’re nearing your guys’ one-year anniversary with us! What do you say we go to BreadStix to celebrate when the time comes?” Claire asks.

Gamora smiles. “Sounds perfect.”

Steve Rogers lays on his bed, tossing his football in to the air. He’s been a nervous wreck since Glee Club ended. This is because Mr. Banner accepted Mr. Fury’s request for the Glee Club to perform at the Homecoming assembly… In front of the entire school, as well as some Alumni… Which includes his father.

Steve hasn’t been badly ridiculed yet for joining the Glee Club, surprisingly. But that all goes out the window if he actually performs at the assembly. He will most likely end up becoming public enemy number one, forced to begin each school day with a slushy facial.

Steve doesn’t even want to think about what his father will say.

Jason Quill carries his son from the couch to his bedroom. His wife, Meredith, trails behind. The Quill’s have just finished watching How I Met Your Mother, their weekly tradition.

Jason places Peter onto his bed. “Alright, you good, Son?”

“Yeah, I’m good,” Peter replies.

Meredith starts crying. “Mom, please, don’t do this tonight,” Peter says to her, annoyed.

Meredith nods. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I’m just going to go, okay? Goodnight, son,” she says, placing a kiss to his head.

“This is why I hate when she helps bring me to bed,” Peter says. “She takes one look at me in bed and loses it.”

Jason scratches his beard. “I know, Pete. But you’ve got to remember that after all of this time, she still blames herself for what happened to you. She just gets emotional; she can’t help it.”

“Well, it’s not like I’m going to be in the chair forever, right? And I’m not dead, right? So, she’s got to move on, Dad,” Peter bites back.

Jason nods, understanding where his son is coming from. “You sure you don’t need anything? Your laptop? A glass of water?”

Peter shakes his head. “I’m good, Dad. I’m pretty tired. Just shut the door on your way out, okay?”

Jason tucks Peter in, shuts off the light, and closes the door.

May 28, 2012: Meredith had picked Peter up from his final day of Junior high. On their way to pick up Peter’s suit to wear to his graduation, a car t-boned the Quills so intensely in the middle of an intersection, their car ended up rolling onto oncoming traffic. A total of three cars ended up hitting them. Meredith walked away with a mild concussion, but Peter ended up with a severely compressed spine and an intense concussion.

The doctors told him it’d take him a minimum of a year to regain feeling. So, he tries his best to stay optimistic. He hopes to be walking again by the time the Glee Club makes it to Nationals.

October 4, 2012.

“Really? You three want to join the Glee Club?” Bruce asks Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol, who are standing right in front of him in the choir room.

“Is there no place for us?” Sharon asks, snark in her voice.

Bruce waves his hands. “Of course, there is, I just didn’t really peg you three for the Glee Club type. But we would be more than happy to have you!”

“You might have heard about this in the school paper, but Steve and I have been an item for a while now. What kind of girlfriend would I be if I didn’t support him?” Sharon says, smiling. Bruce wonders whether or not she’s actually being sincere. Just as Bruce had known about Steve, Bruce knows all about Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol. They’re just a few of the meanest girls in the school.

“Alright, well, let’s see what you’ve got,” Bruce says, pressing play on the speaker the girls brought with them.

[Sharon (Valkyrie and Carol):]
I've been cryin' (Ooh ooh)
Cause I'm lonely (For you)
Smiles have all turned (To tears)
But tears won't wash away the fears (Ooh ooh)
That you're never ever gonna return (Eh eh eh eh eh)
To ease the fire that within me burns (Eh eh eh eh eh)

It keeps me (crying baby for you)
Keeps me (sighin' baby for you)
So won't you hurry?
Come on boy
See about me (Come see about me)
See about you baby (Come see about me)

I've given up my friends just (For you)
My friends are gone and you (ha-have too)
No peace shall I find (Ooh ooh)
Until you come back and be mine (Ooh ooh)
No matter what you do or say (Eh eh eh eh eh)
I'm gonna love you anyway (Eh eh eh eh eh)

Keep on (crying baby for you)
I'm gonna keep (sighin' baby for you)

So won't you hurry, come on boy
And see about me (Come see about me)
See about you baby (Come see about me)
You know I'm so lonely (Come see about me)
I love you only (Come see about me)

[Carol (Sharon & Valkyrie):]
See about me (Come see about me)

[Sharon (Valkyrie & Carol):]
See about you, baby (Come see about me)

[Valkyrie (Sharon & Carol):]
You know I'm so lonely! (Come see about me)

[Sharon (Valkyrie & Carol):]
I love you only (Come see about me)
Come see about me


Bruce claps, surprised at their voices, especially Valkyrie. They can all really sing. “Ladies, that was impressive!”

“So, are we in or not?” Valkyrie asks pointedly.

“Yes, absolutely,” Bruce says. “We have rehearsals every Tuesday and Thursdays, morning and afternoon. So, I will see you girls tomorrow.”

The girls leave the choir room, mischievous grins painted across their faces.

October 5, 2012.

Bruce had been worried about the Glee Club being mad at him for allowing Steve to join. And they were, but it only lasted a total of five minutes. He was absolutely certain that at least a couple of them would be mad at him for letting Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol join, and he knew for a fact that it would last more than five minutes. The whole day, he dreads rehearsal, but the time finally arrives.

Bruce stands at the front of the room, watching as the kids walk in. First, Peter and Gamora, then Tony, then Nakia and Steve, then Bucky… And then Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol.

All the kids stare at them in both confusion, and disbelief. “Mr. Banner, t-this is a joke, right?” Bucky asks worriedly.

“Yeah, what are they doing here?” Nakia asks, crossing her arms.

“Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol have decided to join the Glee Club,” Bruce says to his students.

Steve stands up slowly, clearly still in shock. “Why?” He asks, directing his question at Sharon.

“Because I was wrong. I’m your girlfriend, and it wasn’t fair of me to ask you to quit something you love. So, I’m joining, too. I want to support you, Steve, not drag you down,” Sharon replies to him.

“We’re happy to have you, girls,” Bruce says. The girls move to the back of the room and take a seat. “Now, let’s move onto solo distributions for our performance at the homecoming assembly next week, see if we can’t start putting together the number today.”

Sharon notices Bucky linger back at her and Steve. She presses her lips to Steve’s for several uncomfortable moments, hoping it drives Bucky crazy.

It works. Bucky is irritated, at both the repulsive kiss, and the fact that one of his biggest tormentors has joined the club. He’s glad to know he’s not the only one, judging by the angry look on Nakia’s face.

October 6, 2012.

“I officially call this meeting of the Glee Club in session,” Bucky says to Nakia, Peter, Gamora, and Tony.

“But Mr. Banner isn’t here,” Gamora says, nervously, fidgeting with her hands.

“Neither are Steve and the Cheerios. What is this about?” Peter asks.

“Mr. Banner isn’t coming, and neither are the others. I called this meeting specifically to talk about them,” Bucky says. “Does anyone else feel like Mr. Banner doesn’t really care about us? I mean, first he brings Steve into the Glee Club, despite the fact that he’d been a horrible person to most of us, and now he lets those Cheerios join? It’s insulting!”

“Steve apologized, and you accepted it. Why are you still trippin’?” Nakia asks, arms crossed.

Bucky rolls his eyes. “How are you not trippin’? I saw your face yesterday, Nakia. You’re no happy about our newest members than I am.”

It’s true. Nakia was Sharon’s favorite plaything during Freshman year. Her and her friends made Nakia’s life hell for months, especially in the cafeteria, where they would make comments about her weight.

“You’re right. I was upset about it yesterday. But then, I thought and prayed long and hard about it, and maybe this is the way it’s supposed to work out. I mean, they joined, right? Don’t we all want to qualify for Sectionals? We’re only three members away from that now. This is too important to get caught up with all that. As long as they stay out of my way, I’ll stay out of theirs,” Nakia answers.

Bucky frowns. Tony notices. “Bucky, it’s going to be okay. If they try anything at all, you just let me know,” Tony says. “I’ll do my best to protect you from it. We all will, right guys?”

The others agree. “And, you know, if they do do something, I’m sure Mr. B will kick them out. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” Peter says.

Bucky smiles at his teammates’ words. They do have a point. Maybe it’s not that Mr. Banner doesn’t care. Maybe he’s just as desperate to reach their goal of twelve members as the kids are.

“Bucky, I hate to rush you, but you only have another nine minutes before the next bell,” Natasha says to Bucky. As the Guidance Counselor, Natasha really can’t afford to waste her time. She has a number of students scheduled to see her just about every minute of every day. 

Bucky spent all of first period thinking about Steve, and the first six minutes of the break also thinking about Steve. Could he actually be falling for him? It sounds completely insane. They’ve had a limited amount of interactions, and half of them were when Steve was one of the school’s top bullies. 

“Have you ever liked someone so much you just want to lock yourself in your room, turn on sad music and cry?” Bucky asks Mrs. Romanoff.

“No,” Natasha replies, as she internally flashes back to two months ago, when she’d locked herself in her car on a particularly rainy day, crying to Eric Carmen’s “All by Myself” while thinking about her conflicting feelings for Bruce. Not a single soul on the planet knows about her feelings for him, and she intends to keep it that way.

“Uh, but a boy crush, huh? I know about that. I mean, not now. It takes me back to the… Like a long time ago, when I first started dating Mr. Murdock! Yes, Matt! You know what? You need to remember, Bucky, to protect your heart. I don’t care who he is. If he doesn’t like you for the way you are, if he’s single, and if you’re dating, it’s just not worth the heartache. You don’t want to compromise yourself for that. Um… Have you just tried telling him how you feel?” Natasha stumbles. Bucky has whiplash at the different directions Mrs. Romanoff took that conversation.

“I can’t. He’s straight, and I don’t want to come off as some predatory little idiot. I know better than to make somebody uncomfortable, and to chase after someone who’s never going to feel the same way,” Bucky says, looking to the floor for comfort.

“I see, that is a valid point. Well, here’s what I think. Common interests are the key to romance, or even just a strong friendship. All right? So, find out what he likes. Then he’ll see you in a positive way and maybe you’ll end up doing something that you never would have expected.”

Bucky nods, and smiles hopefully. “That’s a good idea. Thank you, Mrs. Romanoff,” Bucky says, pulling his backpack off the floor and heading for the Math class.


“Thanks to a school rule that says we have to let everybody join, we’re welcoming a new member to the Celibacy Club this week: Bucky what’s-his-face,” Sharon says to the club, filled almost entirely of Cheerios and Footballers, through grinded-teeth.

Bucky decided to take Mrs. Romanoff’s advice about common interests and join a club that Steve is in.

“Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we will see you boys in a little,” Sharon says to the boys as her and the Cheerios leave the classroom. She brushes a hand through Steve’s hair as she exits.

“Where are they going?” Bucky asks the room curiously. He makes sure to stay out of Sam Wilson’s way. Sam Wilson is even more of an enemy to Bucky than Sharon.

“Down the hall. First, we separate, then we come together to share our faith,” Steve shares.

“Your faith?” Bucky repeats, confused.

“I don’t know, it’s what Sharon always says,” Steve replies, flashing a half smirk. Bucky melts at the gesture.

The next twenty-four minutes leave Bucky incredibly uncomfortable. Bucky has no idea what the girls are doing, but he’s almost certain it’s more than what the boys are doing, which is just sitting around, speaking graphically about their sex lives.

“So, how far does Sharon let you get anyways?” Scott Lang asks Steve.

Steve is tossing a football into the air. “We grind, make out, and she gives a pretty good beej, so that’s always fun,” Steve replies. The guys all smile and whistle at his words. Bucky cringes silently to himself for about the third time.

Nobody knows that it couldn’t be farther than the truth. Steve and Natasha have only done one sexual act together, and it ended horribly. They haven’t tried since then.

“You know who gives a wicked blowjob? Valkyrie. God, everything about that girl is incredible. She bent over in her Cheerios outfit the other day during study hall, and I swear, she purposefully pulled her spanx open to let me get a full view of that pussy,” Sam quips. Bucky really almost throws up at that one, and not only because it’s Sam.

Bucky realizes joining the Celibacy Club to become friends with Steve is probably the wrong way to go about this.

“It’s nothing you haven’t seen before,” T’Challa Udaku says, rolling his eyes.

“Damn straight,” Sam replies. “Agreeing to go out with that girl was the best decision I ever made.”

Truthfully, that’s only one of several uncomfortable conversations that Bucky overhears that day. The worst is when Clint Barton recounts the threesome he had two nights earlier with two Freshman girls.

The girls finally return to the boys’ room with balloons. “Okay, boys. We’re going to start with the ‘Immaculate Affection’, so pair up. And remember, if the balloon pops, the noise makes the angels cry,” Sharon says, walking over to Steve, and placing the balloon in between their pelvises.

“We’re an uneven number, so you have to sit out,” Valkyrie sneers to Bucky. “But here’s an extra balloon if you want to take it home and practice with it.”

“Thanks,” Bucky replies sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

The Cheerios and the Footballers proceed to follow Sharon and Steve’s lead. Sam, who’s sharing his balloon with Valkyrie, starts grinding into their balloon aggressively, much to Valkyrie’s dismay. “Damn it, Sam. Stop it!” She shouts.

Though they are barely moving, Steve and Sharon’s balloon pops. “Steve!” Sharon shouts.

“It must’ve hit my zipper,” Steve says, embarrassed.

Bucky looks around at what they’re all doing and speaks his mind.

“Okay, you know what, this is ridiculous. You guys spend the first half of the hour apart, and then spend the second half doing activities that are only going to titillate you all? It’s a joke,” Bucky says.

“Did you know that most studies have demonstrated that celibacy doesn’t work in high schools? Your hormones are driving you too crazy to abstain. The second you start telling yourselves that there’s no room for compromise, you act out. The only way to deal with teen sexuality is to be prepared. That’s what contraception is for.”

Sharon glares at Bucky. “Don’t you dare mention the C word!” She spits back.

Bucky glares at her. “Hey, guys, you want to know a dirty little secret that none of them want you to know? Your girls want sex just as much as you do.” With that, Bucky walks out, knowing he will definitely not be back.

October 7, 2012.

Bucky’s in the choir room reading a book when Steve finds him.

“What’re you doing in here?” Steve asks. It’s the middle of last period, so Bucky should be in class.

“We had a test today in Art, and I finished early, so Mrs. Ross let me leave class. I just wanted a quiet place to read,” Bucky explains. “What are you doing out of class?”

“Bathroom. I was on my way back to Astronomy when I noticed you were in here,” Steve says. “Hey, Bucky, I just wanted to say that what you said the other day in celibacy club, that was really cool.”

Bucky smiles. “Thanks. I’ll see you later for Glee Club?”

Steve blushes ever so slightly, smiling back. “You bet. I’ll see ya,” he says, walking out.

Okay, so maybe joining the Celibacy Club for a day wasn’t a total disaster.

Bucky swoons as soon as he’s alone. “What are you doing, you dumb idiot?” Bucky thinks to himself. He can’t crush on Steve. He’s only going to end up hurt, both emotionally, and, if Sharon or the Footballers find out, physically.

Sharon enters her house, exhausted. Cheerios practice in the morning, a full day of classes, Glee Club rehearsal, and then another Cheerios practice. It was all too much.

She walks into the kitchen in search of her dinner that her mother, Amanda Carter, has no doubt left for her. She spots a plate containing half of a chicken breast, rice, and steamed broccoli on the dining table. Right beside Sharon’s plate are her Mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies. Sharon picks one up to eat, but ultimately decides not to, tossing it back onto the tray.

“Honey? Is that you?” A voice calls out. It’s her father, Harrison Carter. He walks into the kitchen.

“Hi, Daddy,” Sharon says, running to hug him.

“Hi, Princess,” Harrison replies. “My gosh, where’ve you been? It’s already eight o’clock!”

“I know, Daddy. I’ve had a long day, what with school, and then Glee Club, and then we had two Cheerios practices today,” Sharon says, picking at her chicken breast.

“Glee Club?” Harrison questions. “Did you join the Glee Club?”

“Yeah, Daddy. But it’s only to keep an eye on Steve. It won’t be for too much longer,” Sharon explains.

“Well, alright. Don’t spread yourself too thin, though, Honey. I’ve got to run to the office. Your Mother and your Sister went to the movies, so the house is all yours tonight. I’ll see you,” Harrison says, blowing Sharon a kiss goodbye.

Harrison’s a very well-respected criminal defense lawyer in Lima, and Amanda is his beautiful trophy wife slash stay-at-home mom. Their oldest daughter, Sarah, was Captain of the Cheerios, had a 4.0 GPA, was valedictorian and prom queen, and is attending Harvard University to follow in her father’s footsteps. Their youngest daughter, Sharon, is Captain of the Cheerios, has a 4.0 GPA, and is on her way to following in her big sister’s footsteps. The Carters are your regular clean-cut, conservative, religious, picture-perfect, American family.

Except Harrison has a temper, Amanda spends most of her days drinking at the country club with her friends, Sarah self-harmed during her time in high school because she was under an avalanche of pressure and didn’t know how else to cope with the stress, and Sharon isn’t a virgin anymore. She lost her virginity to Sam Wilson, her boyfriend’s best friend, and her best friend’s boyfriend, back in July.

Sharon feels a rush of loneliness the second her father leaves. She whips out her phone and engages in more flirty texts with Sam.

October 10, 2012.

The Glee Club is behind the curtain in the gymnasium. The room is packed with students, faculty, and alumni. Mr. Fury is showing a brief video before they go out there and perform Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home”.

Peter notices Gamora shaking. “Hey, you okay?”

“Yeah, of course, it’s just… nerves,” she replies.

Peter grabs her hands and gets them to stop shaking. “You’re going to be fine. We’re going to be fine. Don’t stress too much, okay?”

Gamora blushes, looking down to the ground. “Okay.” Gamora only says it so that Peter backs off. She wishes she could tell him “telling me to calm down only makes me even more anxious” but doesn’t.

“I hope you all enjoyed that video. It sure is a pleasure to both reminisce and look forward to tomorrow. And esteemed Alumni, welcome back. Now, you’re all in for a very delicious musical treat. Mr. Banner…” Mr. Fury says, summoning Mr. Banner to the microphone.

Bruce stands at the mic, looking out into the sea of people. “When I was in high school, Glee Club ruled this place. And we’re on our way back. Now, I could stand here and talk to you all about how much fun Glee Club is, but I think I’m going to let some friends of mine show you instead,” Bruce says, exiting the stage set-up.

The curtain lifts to reveal Bucky, Nakia, Steve, Sharon, Tony, Valkyrie, Carol, Peter, and Gamora all dressed in blue and white outfits, with the band behind them.

“Yay, glee! Glee kids, hooray!” The kids hear Mrs. Romanoff shout. Maria shoots her a death glare from across the bleachers.


You know I’m a dreamer
But my heart’s of gold
I had to run away high
So I wouldn't come home low
Just when things went right
It doesn't mean they were always wrong

Just take this song and you'll never feel
Left all alone
Take me to your heart
Feel me in your bones
Just one more night
And I'm coming off this
Long and winding road

[The Glee Club:]
I'm on my way
I'm on my way
Home sweet home
Tonight, tonight
I'm on my way
I'm on my way
Home sweet home

You know that I've seen
Too many romantic dreams
Up in lights
Falling off the silver screen
My heart’s like an open book
For the whole world to read
Sometimes nothing
Keeps me together
At the seams

[Sharon, Gamora, & Tony:]
I'm on my way
I'm on my way
Home sweet home
Tonight, tonight
I'm on my way
Just set me free
Home sweet home
Home sweet home
Home sweet home
Home sweet home

[The Glee Club:]
I'm on my way
I'm on my way
Home sweet home, yeah
I'm on my way
Just set me free
Home sweet home

The cheering comes, but it’s brief, and almost feels somewhat forced. At least it’s better than not getting any applause at all, or worse, getting heckled. Sharon looks to her right and spots Coach Hill sitting on the edge of the bleachers, glaring at her.

Steve watches as a familiar face gets up and walks out of the gymnasium. His father.

Steve gets home to find Joseph sitting on the couch, reading a book, clearly waiting for him.

Steve treads lightly. “Hey,” he says.

Joseph immediately looks up at him. “Just tell me why?” He asks.

Steve thinks for a minute. Is this about Glee Club, or something else completely? “Why what?”

Joseph slams his novel into the floor. “Don’t play dumb, Steven,” he says, angrily. Steve watches as his father’s face turns from beige to red.

“Why did I join the Glee Club?”

Joseph gets up from the couch. “Yes. Are you asking to get your ass beat every day by your teammates?”

Steve’s face twists in disgust. “My teammates have nothing to do with this, Dad.”

“Well, don’t tell me this has anything to do with you trying to figure out your sexuality, because you know the rules, Steve,” Joseph spits out.

Steve’s truly taken aback by this. “Dad, what the fuck, of course not! I’m with Sharon, you know that! I’m in the Glee Club because I love music, and honestly, it’s something that makes me happy.” Steve didn’t mention that he was basically forced to join. He doesn’t feel the need. He genuinely enjoys Glee Club.

“All I ask is that you do normal shit at school, for my sake. I don’t need to be ever be humiliated again like I was at the assembly,” Joseph says, walking off.

Normal? You mean don’t do anything that might come across a little gay?” Steve questions. Joseph doesn’t reply. “You know you could just be happy for me.”

More silence.

Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol are sitting in front of Maria’s desk, waiting for her to speak. She’d summoned them to her office fifteen minutes ago, and has just been staring at her T.V. since the girls walked in.

“So, let me get this straight,” Maria finally says, “You joined the Glee Club?”

“I’m sorry, Coach Hill, but I need to keep an eye on Steve, and on that Barnes boy. You should see the predatory way it stares at Steve in the halls,” Sharon says, letting a couple of tears fall in frustration. “Please don’t kick us off the Cheerios!”

Maria snaps her fingers, and points straight at Sharon. “Cease fire on the waterworks. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to see it,” Maria responds.

“You know, Sharon, when I first laid eyes on you, I was reminded of a young Maria Hill, though you don’t have my bone structure. But it wasn’t until this very moment I saw how alike we really are…” The girls stare at Maria in confusion.

“Mr. Fury is taking some of the Cheerios budget to help fund the Glee Club. I won’t stand for it. I tried to get Mr. Banner out of here, but he chickened out at the last moment, as expected. So, you three are going to be my spies. I need eyes on the inside. Anything you guys can do to sabotage, do it. We’re going to bring this club down from within.”

Carol and Valkyrie smile mischievously and high five behind Sharon.

“And I’m gonna get my boyfriend back,” Sharon says optimistically.

“Yeah, I don’t care so much about that,” Maria replies.

Chapter Text

October 13, 2012.

Matt Murdock blows his whistle aggressively. “Okay, huddle up, boys! Quick,” he says, very clearly upset.

Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson, Tony Stark, T’Challa Udaku, Thor Odinson, Clint Barton, Brock Rumlow, and several other players all join together and surround Coach Murdock, waiting for him to speak.

“I’ve got to be honest, I’m not impressed with what I’m seeing lately, boys. Three games, and three losses. You’re not cohesive out there. Rogers and Wilson, you’re fumbling the ball too often. Barton, your mobility makes you look like you’ve been in a coma for three months, and Richards, our once formidable kicker, is zero for twelve in field goal attempts. As most of you statistically minded people know, that sucks!” Matt screams. “I know that a good amount of players either transferred, or graduated, but I didn’t think we were going to end up like this.”

“So, moving forward, Rogers, Wilson, and Barton will get their shit together, and Richards will thusly be in charge of hydration services. And the next player that can get a football between those uprights, will get his job,” Matt says. “But for now, hit the showers, because I am royally disappointed.”

“Damn, I didn’t really think we were that bad out there,” Clint says to Steve and Sam.

“You weren’t, man. If anything, it’s Steve and I that need to get our shit together,” Sam replies. “Right, Steve?”

“Huh?” Steve asks. He didn’t hear a word his teammates said. He was going over some of the choreography for one of the Glee Club’s newest routines.

“Jesus Christ, what is up with you? You’ve been way too distracted lately,” Sam responds, none too pleased with his best friend.

Tony gets in his vehicle and makes the drive to his house. During football practice, “Breakin’” by The All-American Rejects snuck its way into Tony’s head, so he decides to take the longer way home in order to properly jam out to the song. Maybe even the whole album.

“When I see you in a silhouette, and you hold close, do you feel regret, keeping me down when I hit that floor, and I figured it out, girl, breakin’s what your heart is for,” Tony sings at the top of his lungs in tune with the song.

He gets about three songs into the album before he drives by a familiar face. Bucky.

Tony instantly hits the breaks and throws the car in reverse. Bucky’s kicking around a soccer ball with a little girl on the front lawn of what Tony assumes is his house. He looks like he’s got quite a powerful kick. Who would’ve thought?

Tony rolls down the window. “Powerful kick,” he says loudly.

Bucky turns around and squints to see who the driver is. Once he realizes it’s Tony, he puts a stop to the game he’s playing, and walks over to the vehicle. “Tony? What are you doing here?”

“I was just on my way home and saw you. Figured I’d stop and say hi,” Tony says, smiling. “Is that your little sister?”

Bucky turns around to look at the girl Tony is referring to.

“No, that’s Rikki, she’s my neighbour. I’m just hanging out with her because I’m locked out of my house,” Bucky says, still very clearly out of breath.

“You’re locked out, hey?” Tony questions.

Bucky nods. “Yeah. I forgot my key this morning. I left for school in such a hurry because the bus almost left without me. And my dad’s super swamped at the shop, so he can’t come drop it off,” he says. “Which means I’ll probably be out here for at least another hour or two.”

“Well, if you want…” Tony begins, but stops midsentence. His mind floods with a great idea. “So, you’re in a bind…Well, how about we both help each other out?”

“What did you have in mind?” Bucky asks hesitantly.

“I’ll take you to your Dad’s tire shop so you can get a key to your house, if you join the football team,” Tony says.

Bucky’s eyes bulge out of his head.

“Have you made up your mind yet?” Tony asks, passing Bleecker Street, named after the one in New York.

Bucky is flipping through Tony’s CD collection he has in a mini disc binder. “Not yet, still trying to process the fact that you actually asked me, of all people, to join the football team.”

Tony laughs. “Come on, Bucky. I saw that kick. That means that despite the fact you’ve mostly done artistic things your whole life, there’s some athleticism in there. And, I told you, all we need is a kicker,” he says.

“This is quite the collection you’ve got here,” Bucky says about the CD’s. “I mean, most of them I expected, you know, AC/DC, Panic! At the Disco, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, but some of them were pleasant surprises.”

“Oh, yeah, like what?” Tony questions, easing on the break when he hits a red light.

“I mean, this was a pretty cool find,” Bucky says, showing Tony the copy of the Broadway soundtrack to Little Shop of Horrors.

“I’ll have you know, ‘Suddenly, Seymour’ is one of my favorite songs of all time,” Tony shares.

Bucky smiles in response. “The Frank Ocean, Neil Diamond, and Fleetwood Mac CD’s are also pretty impressive,” Bucky says. Tony pulls up to Barnes Auto-Repair moments later.

“We’re here,” Tony says, throwing his vehicle into park. The exterior was red, and the interior was gold, an odd combination, but Tony loves it.

Bucky takes a breath. “Okay. Fine.”

Tony perks up. “You’ll do it?”

Bucky nods slowly. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try.”

Tony shouts out an enthusiastic woo! and thanks Bucky. Bucky thanks him right back for the ride.

Tony doesn’t know it, but Bucky has ulterior motives for agreeing to join. Tall, blue-eyed, and blonde hair ulterior motives.

October 14, 2012.

“Okay, guys, let’s get started,” Bruce says, the last one to walk into the choir room. “Considering we tackled Mötley Crüe at the assembly, I was thinking we could tackle a more modern number this week, just for fun, and we can use some of the choreography we’ve been working on.”

Bruce walks over to each student, passing them sheet music for The Black-Eyed Peas’ “Meet Me Halfway” with the solo distributions already noted on each copy. Nakia and Valkyrie seem the most excited, probably because they’re leading the chorus.

“Mr. Banner?” Steve calls out.

“What’s up, Steve?” Bruce asks.

“Do you mind if somebody else takes my verse? I might have an okay singing voice, but I am definitely not a rapper,” Steve says, running a hand through his hair, worriedly.

Bruce looks over to Bucky. “Bucky? You up for it?” He asks.

Bucky shakes his head no. “Would I like a solo? Obviously, but I have to agree with Steve, I’m no rapper.”

Bruce sighs. “Well, then I guess I’m going to have to show you all how it’s done,” he says, taking off his button down to make himself more comfortable. He’s wearing a regular white tee underneath.

The kids cheer and clap, prepared to watch their teacher perform in front of them for the first time. Bruce signals to the band to begin playing.

Oooh, I can't go any further than this
Oooh, I want you so badly, it's my biggest wish

I spent my time just thinking, thinking, thinking ‘bout you
Every single day yes, I'm really missing', missing' you
And all those things we use to use to use to do
Hey girl, what’s up, it use, it use to be just me and you
I spent my time just thinking, thinking, thinking 'bout you
Every single day, yes I'm really missing, missing you
And all those things we use to use to use to do
Hey girl what’s up, what’s up, what’s up, what’s up

[Valkyrie with the Glee Club:]
Can you meet me halfway, right at the borderline
Is where I'm gonna wait, for you
I'll be looking out, night n' day
Took my heart to the limit, and this is where I stay
(oooh, oooh)
I can't go any further than this
(oooh, oooh)
I want you so bad it's my only wish

Girl, I travel round the world and even sail the seven seas
Across the universe I go to other galaxies
Just tell me where to go, just tell me where you want to meet
I navigate myself, myself to take me where you be
Cause girl I want, I, I, I want you right now
I travel uptown town I travel downtown
I want to have you around round like every single day
I love you alway’, ways

At this point, everybody is dancing to the rhythm of the song, letting themselves get lost in it. Surprisingly to them both, Sharon and Bucky dance around together, as do Gamora and Carol. In this moment, there are no “popular” and “loser” subgroups. They were just a team.

[Nakia with the Glee Club:]
Can you meet me half way
Right at the borderline
That's where I'm gonna wait, for you
I'll be looking out, night n' day
Took my heart to the limit, and this is where I'll stay
I can't go any further than this
I want you so bad it's my only wish
I can't go any further than this
I want you so bad it's my only wish

Let's walk the bridge, to the other side
Just you and I (just you and I)
I will fly, I'll fly the skies, for you and I
I will try, until I die, for you and I
for you and I
for you and I

Can you meet me half way
Can you meet me half way
Can you meet me half way
Can you meet me half way

Meet me half way, right at the borderline
That's where I'm gonna wait, for you
I'll be looking out, night n' day
Took my heart to the limit, and this is where I'll stay
I can't go any further than this
I want you so bad it's my only wish
I can't go any further than this
I want you so bad it's my only wish

“And that is how it’s done,” Bruce says aloud. The kids all clap and cheer.

“Okay, you good to go?” Tony asks, head to toe in his football gear.

Bucky shrugs. “I guess so.” Bucky’s dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and a bandana.

“Just relax, okay? Remember what I told you. Keep your eye on the ball,” Tony reminds him. “Now, put your helmet on.”

“Do I have to? It’ll mess up my hair,” Bucky utters. He doesn’t mean to be a total diva, but he’s already having a difficult hair day, and the helmet isn’t going to help.

“Just… Put your…put your helmet on, okay?” Tony replies a little more firmly. Bucky does so.

“That’s good. Blue’s your color,” Tony states.

Bucky smiles. “Thank you for this, Tony. Encouraging me to join, helping me out. You’re really cool,” Bucky says. He means it. He never thought he and Tony would actually become friends, but he’s glad they did.

“Well, I figure, the more crossover between glee and football, the easier my life’s gonna be. And who knows, maybe if you help us win a game or two, you might even inspire some of them to join Glee Club.”

“I doubt it, but we’ll see,” Bucky answers.

Tony and Bucky make their way to the football field. As soon as they hit the grass, Steve runs up to them. “Bucky? Is that you in there?” He says.

“Yeah, it’s me. Hi, Steve,” Bucky says. He’s really glad the helmet is helping mask the rosy cheeks he’s got going on.

“What’re you guys doing?” Steve asks, running a hand through his blonde hair as he’s so famously known for doing.

“Bucky’s going to try out for the kicker,” Tony says. Steve gives him a weird look. “Is that a problem?”

Steve hesitates. “Not with me, not at all,” he answers, looking at Bucky so that Bucky knows his words are sincere. “But it might be to some of these guys. I just don’t want to see Bucky get hurt.”

“Steve, when they see that he’s the only chance we have at winning a game this season, they’re not going to give a fuck that he’s gay, okay?” Tony says.

Bucky’s left feeling a little uncomfortable.

Steve surrenders, letting them proceed. Sam walks up to him. “So, you three in a throuple now, or what?”

Steve rolls his eyes. “Sam, can you just not? I am not in the fucking mood for your shit, man, not right now.”

“He doesn’t belong here,” Sam says aggressively, walking away.

Tony waves down Coach Murdock.

“Who do we have here?” Matt asks. He then motions for all the players to huddle up.

“Hi, I’m Bucky Barnes, auditioning for kicker,” Bucky says enthusiastically, despite the fact that having all of the football players suddenly so close to him makes him anxious.

“Trying out,” Tony corrects. “He’s trying out. He’s a real contender, Coach Murdock.”

“Well, alright, Kid. Show us what you’ve got,” Matt replies.

“Do you think I could…get some music to help me get in the right vibe?” Bucky asks.

Coach Murdock shrugs, and then tells Luke Cage, who’s closest to the water table and iPod connected to the stadium speakers, to press play. Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape” floods the field.

Bucky gets into position, as Matt sets up the ball for him. Bucky moves around ever so slightly to the beat of the song, and then kicks the ball across the field, right through the goal posts. Everybody stares at Bucky, baffled.

Matt throws himself to his knees in front of Bucky, holding his hands in a praying position. “Can you please do that with the game on the line, and ten gorillas bearing down on you, wanting nothing more than to taste your sweet virgin blood?” He asks.

Bucky smiles slightly. “Sounds like fun,” he says. “Can I have my music?”

“You can have your music, you can have the keys to my car, you can have anything you want!” Matt replies cheerfully. “Gentlemen, we’ve found ourselves a kicker!”

The guys cheer. Steve and Tony both smile at Bucky, happy for him. Bucky can see through his peripherals that Sam Wilson is not happy with the decision.

Bucky gets home after football practice to find his father asleep on the couch with a bowl of Cheetos in his hand. Bucky chuckles silently to himself. He thinks back to the days when he and his mother would return from the park and find George exactly like that, absolutely spent after a hard day at work. He smiles as the memories flood his head.

Winifred used to place a wet paper towel with extremely cold water over George’s forehead to wake him up. He would be up and moving in seconds. Bucky decides to do just that, so he goes into the kitchen to retrieve what he needs.

Upon returning, he sneaks toward George only for George to instantly snap his head around to Bucky. “Nice try, kid.” Bucky laughs, taking a seat on the couch beside George.

“Hey, so, I joined the football team,” Bucky shares.

George lights up in an instant. “You kidding?” He asks. Bucky shakes his head no. “That’s awesome, Buck! What made you want to do that? Isn’t that totally out of your comfort zone?”

“I don’t know. Just…Trying something new, I guess,” Bucky replies. “I’m only the kicker.”

George scoffs. “Hey, the kicker is still a part of the team! I’m happy for you, son, that’s awesome. Be sure to get me a ticket to your first game, okay?”

Bucky nods, and heads up to his room. He’s at ease knowing that while he may only be joining football to get somewhat close to Steve, it’s at least also something his dad can be proud of him for.

George has always been proud of Bucky’s singing and dancing abilities, but with football, George can be openly supportive, with other fathers in the stands.

Carol and Valkyrie sit in a booth at Dairy Queen, still dressed in their Cheerios uniforms, sharing a banana split. It was their usual choice of hangout whenever they had time to themselves without Sharon. Valkyrie prefers when it’s just the two of them. Carol always seems to bring out the soft side in Valkyrie.

“How annoying was Coach Hill today?” Carol asks, taking a spoonful of ice cream from the delicious treat between them.

Valkyrie’s demeanor turns cold. “I hate her, Carol. Honestly. How could she have yelled at me for that? The guys almost drop me, and I get yelled at?”

Carol’s legs rub up against Valkyrie’s. “Don’t say that, Val,” Carol says. Carol’s not a big fan of the word “hate” because it’s so negative.

Sure, Carol is friends with two of the school’s biggest mean girls, and she herself has partaken in what can only be defined as “bullying”, but that’s not who she is. Carol is usually a ray of sunshine and positivity.

“I’m sorry, Carol. I just… Can’t stand her most of the time,” Valkyrie corrects.

“Just don’t let her dim your shine. Because you are probably the most gifted person on the squad,” Carol admits.

Valkyrie blushes, looking down at their interlocked feet. “So, the Halloween party’s probably going to be at Sam’s this year,” she shares, breaking a piece of banana off.

Carol ignores Valkyrie’s comment. She has no interest in talking about Sam. “How much fun was Glee Club today?”

“Carol Susan Jane Danvers, don’t tell me you’re actually starting to like Glee Club?” Valkyrie teases, earning a laugh from her best friend. “No, you’re right. It was actually really fun. Especially since I got to help sing lead.”

“You’ve got such a great voice. You’re just as good as Nakia, even Bucky. I know he’s supposed to be our enemy, or whatever, but that kid can sing,” Carol says. Valkyrie doesn’t reply. She’s still preening at Carol’s compliments.

Hours later, when Valkyrie’s home alone and in bed, she thinks about Carol, replaying their conversation in her head. The longer she does, the happier she feels. Carol brings her nothing but happiness. But, thinking about her for too long brings out the anger in Valkyrie, so instead, she tries her damned hardest to think of Sam, her boyfriend, until she falls asleep.

October 15, 2012.

Sharon’s at her locker retrieving her calculus textbook when Steve spots her.

“Sharon!” He says but is ignored. “Hey, Sharon, what’s with the silent treatment?” Sharon hadn’t spoken to, called, or texted Steve since Glee Club the day before. It’s not that Steve’s clingy or anything, he understands needing time apart, but she didn’t even open or read his regular goodnight and good morning texts.

Sharon starts to walk away, but Steve catches up to her. “Whatever I did, I’m sorry,” Steve says.

Tears fill her eyes. “I’m pregnant.”

Steve is lost in his own mind, finding it difficult to focus on what else Sharon is saying. The passing voices all around him are muffled, as is his girlfriend’s. Steve can hear his heartbeat, and he swears his vision goes blurry. He thinks Sharon says something about being sorry that she didn’t tell him sooner.

Steve’s auditory and visual senses eventually return. “Is it… Mine?” He asks.

Sharon scowls at him. “Of course, it’s yours. Who else’s would it be?”

“But we… we never…” Steve says, attempting to make sense of the situation.

“Last month. Hot tub,” Sharon reminds him.

It was their first and last attempt at sleeping together, to commemorate a full two months of dating. July. After an hour in the hot tub, the two returned to Sharon’s bed. Steve had placed the condom over himself, but within a second of insertion, he pulled out, ejaculating. He was left embarrassed, and Sharon was left frustrated. They hadn’t even spoken about it since the night it happened because it was a humiliating moment for them both. Until now.

“But, that’s crazy, we didn’t even have sex,” Steve recalls.

“No, we didn’t actually have sex, Steve, but you were still inside of me. Even if it was for a second. My bet is that maybe the condom was broken or something,” Sharon says.

“Are you going to get a…?” Steve begins to ask but can’t finish. Sharon knows what he’s asking. She shakes her head no. No, she’s not going to get an abortion.

“I really thought I had a shot at getting out of here,” Sharon cries, breaking down once again. Steve holds her in his arms as she cries. All he can think is “Who’s going to hold me?”

Steve walks into the science room right as Bruce’s final class of the day is letting out. His eyes are swollen and red from having spent the last hour crying.

Bruce looks over to the door. “Hey, Steve, come on in.”

Steve walks over, and Bruce instantly recognizes that something’s wrong. “Are you alright?”

He loses it, completely disregarding the fact that Bruce is simply his teacher. Bruce stands up and walks over to him, going in for a hug. Steve buries his face in Bruce’s shoulder.

“Sharon’s pregnant,” he mumbles.

Bruce and Steve sit out on the outdoor bleachers on the football field. He had asked Steve if he wanted to go anywhere to talk, and that’s where Steve chose. Maybe it’s where he feels the most at home. Bruce took the initiative to clear his evening schedule and order them both a pizza. Maybe the gesture would get Steve to open up. Confide in him.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Banner. I realize now I probably intruded on your entire evening. I just didn’t know who else to talk to,” Steve says.

“It’s completely fine, Steve. How far along is she?” Bruce asks, taking a slice from the box in front of them.

Steve himself is chewing on a mouthful of crust. “I don’t know,” he answers incoherently. “Maybe two months? She’s not even showing, though,” Steve says. “Mr. Banner, I don’t know what I’m going to do. How am I going to tell my dad?”

“I’m not sure, Steve. But, is there anything you need me to do? You want me to set you up with Planned Parenthood?” Bruce questions. Steve and Sharon are both sixteen. They’re kids.

“No. No, it’s not even a conversation. She’s keeping it,” Steve replies. “I’ve seen the guys around town who had kids in high school. They work at the Burger King, or at the supermarket or pumping gas… or worse. They’re caged. Got no future…”

Steve goes for another slice of pizza but stops himself. “I can’t become one of those dudes, Mr. B. I got to go to college. Even though my dad is a nurse practitioner, we don’t have that much money. Since my Ma passed, we’ve kind of been struggling to make ends meet. I need a football scholarship, but the only way I’m gonna get one is if we start winning.”

“And you’ll get there. You will. You are already a great player, Steve. Probably the best on that whole team. And now, with Bucky being your guys’ secret weapon and all, maybe you can make it happen,” Bruce says.

Steve’s felt a lot of different feelings and emotions since Sharon told him he was going to be a father. But all he feels in that moment is gratitude for Mr. Banner.

October 16, 2012.

“Hey!” Sam calls out from down the hall. Steve knows Sam’s calling for him, but he doesn’t care. He just keeps walking. He then hears the sounds of Sam running after him seconds later.

“What the hell was that back there? You didn’t even cover for me with Mrs. Johnson,” Sam says. All throughout class, Sam and Danny Rand were throwing crumpled up Post-It Notes at Mrs. Johnson’s back. When she finally snapped and asked who the culprit was, Steve quickly ratted Sam out.


Sam looks at Steve disgustedly. “What’s your problem, man? You’ve been so out of it the last couple of days.”

“Nothing. I just got a lot on my mind,” Steve answers sullenly.

“Seriously, dude. What’s going on? I’m your best friend. Talk.”

Steve rolls his eyes. “It’s…personal.”

Sam’s eyes grow wide in shock. “I knew it. You’re in love with Barnes.”

“Sharon’s pregnant. She’s keeping the baby,” Steve snaps, walking off in irritation.

Sam’s eyes grow even wider. He cannot believe his ears. He spends the next six minutes searching the halls for Sharon. He ends up spotting her near the soda machine talking to Jane Foster, a fellow Cheerio. Sam’s also slept with Jane, and quite recently, in fact.

“Sup, milf?” He asks bluntly. Jane walks away in disgust the second Sam approaches. Their night together hadn’t ended well.

“Leave me alone,” Sharon spits out. She walks away, but Sam follows after her.

“Who’s the Daddy? I just think it’s kind of weird if it’s Steve, since you told me you were a virgin when we did it… And I know for a fact that you didn’t do it with him,” Sam says.

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because Steve’s my boy. He would have told me,” Sam reminds her.

“You make a habit of sleeping with your boys’ girlfriends?” Sharon quips.

Sharon walks down the hallway, and to get her attention, Sam makes a spectacle over his next comment, throwing his hands in the air and shouting, “Well, call the Vatican! We’ve got ourselves another Immaculate Conception!”

Sharon races back to Sam and drags him to the nearest corridor to talk privately.

“I’d take care of it, you know. My dad’s a deadbeat, but I don’t roll that way,” Sam shares with her.

Sharon scoffs. “Weren’t you fired for peeing in the fast-food fryolator?”

“I’ve got my pool cleaning business,” Sam reminds her.

“We live in Ohio. I had sex with you because you got me drunk on wine coolers and I felt extremely lonely and insecure that day, but it was a mistake. You’re a Lima loser and you’re always gonna be a Lima loser,” Sharon says, before storming off. Sam stands there, soaking up her hurtful words.

Right after Glee Club rehearsal, Bucky realizes he and Steve are the last two in the choir room. He takes the opportunity to do what he’s been wanting to do for days. “Steve?”

Steve looks over to him. He looks absolutely drained. It’s kind of been non-stop crying for a couple days now. “What’s up?”

“Is there any chance you’d be willing to maybe help me out with some tips? Give me a few pointers of what to expect for the game tomorrow? Maybe even help me out so I’m a hundred percent ready?” Bucky asks shyly.

“You know what, Bucky, now is not the best time,” Steve says apologetically. Bucky’s hopeful smile turns into a frown. “I’ve actually got a lot going on right now. But you don’t need any pointers, or help. We all saw that kick at your tryout. You’ve got everything you need right inside you.”

Bucky smiles at the compliment, thanking Steve. He might have just been denied one-on-one time, but a football compliment, from Steve Rogers of all people, is quite satisfying.

October 17, 2012.

The football team, with Steve, Sam, Tony, and Bucky, stand on the side of the field, preparing for the game to begin.

“Well, guys, I think we really came together this week as a team,” Steve says.

“Yeah, a pretty gay team,” Sam says crassly. Bucky is visibly unhappy at Sam’s homophobic remark.

Steve looks at Bucky sympathetically, but ultimately chooses to ignore Sam. “Alright, divert right. Eighty-seven on one. Break.”

“Break!” The football team calls out. Bruce, Natasha, and Stephen watch from the stands. Bruce spots Steve’s father, Joseph, on the other side of the bleachers. He has half a mind to go up to him, inform him of his son and his girlfriend’s current predicament. But, he doesn’t.

The referee blows his whistle to signal the official start of the game. A rude player on the other team yells at Steve. “Yo, QB! Your momma’s so fat, the back of her neck looks like a pack of hot dogs. Give me some ketchup!”

Steve ignores him as well. “Down, set, hut!”

The Shield High Avengers do terribly in the first play. Matt Murdock watches from the sidelines, extremely disappointed.

The team reassembles. “Punch and Judy on one, break!” Steve shouts again.

When Steve attempts to sneak attack the football over to Clint, he gets body checked, fumbling the ball.

“Come on!” Coach Murdock screams, frustrated.

“Damn it, Rogers, I’m trying to redeem myself here,” Clint says, referring to earlier in the week when Coach Murdock singled him out during practice.

George Barnes makes his way up the bleachers. Bucky spots him from the bench, waving at him. George has the biggest smile on his face, waving back.

 The game resumes. “Wilson versus Bird on one!”

“Run!” Coach Murdock shouts. They lose the point again.

Matt throws his notepad on the ground. The scoreboard changes. There’s only twelve seconds left in the game, and they’re down by seven.

The team reassemble, each player disappointed in their impending loss. “Cupid Tips on one, break!”

The timer resumes its countdown. Steve’s mind is racing. His vision goes right toward Joseph, Sharon, Matt, Bruce, Bucky, Sam, everyone who’s expecting so much of him. One second remains, and he calls for a time out.

Steve runs to the bench, right to Bucky. “Dude, I’m going to throw up. What do you usually do to feel better whenever you feel like you’re getting… Stage fright, or something?” Steve asks.

Bucky’s shocked at Steve’s gesture. Out of everyone nearby, including his girlfriend, he chose to go to Bucky? “Well, not to sound like a douche, but I don’t normally get stage fright,” Bucky responds. Steve’s face sinks. “But if I did, I would completely clear my head of all the voices telling me I had to win, I had to prevail. And instead, I would just do it for myself.”

Steve looks up at Bucky, smiling. “Alright. That’s good.”

Steve runs back out to the field. “Okay, hands in. We have a chance at winning this, we do. We just got to come back from this. I have an idea.”

“Yo, left tackle! Your momma’s so fat, her cereal comes with its own lifeguard. Like Baywatch!” A player from the opposite team says.

Sam swears under his breath out of frustration. “Hey, ankle grabber,” he says to the player, “I had sex with your mother. No, seriously. I cleaned your pool, and then I had sex with her in your bed. Nice Super-Man sheets.”

The player is left at a loss for words. Clearly, Sam actually did have intercourse with the player’s mother. Steve and Tony look at each other, stunned. Not stunned at the fact that Sam slept with an older woman, he does that all the time; But more stunned at the fact that Sam actually did that on the field, with all those guys around. The embarrassment the player must be feeling right now is most likely very prominent.

“Let’s do this, Cap,” Sam says, ignoring what he’d just done. Steve calls Coach Murdock over to them and explains their play.

They all agree on it. “Okay. Comeback on three. Yeah. Alright? Come on! On three! One, two, three, break!”

Coach Murdock runs back to the bench. Sharon, Valkyrie, Carol and the rest of the Cheerios cheer extra loudly.

The players stand at center field. Sam and Steve share a knowing look. “Hut, one, two, three. Let’s hit it!”

The play goes into motion. Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape” plays through the speakers. Steve and the players start to dance, distracting the other team, who look at them hatefully.

“Hike!” Steve shouts.

Steve throws the football to Sam, who makes it all the way to the end of the field, earning them a good chunk of points. Coach Murdock and the entire crowd are extremely pleased.

Matt walks up to Bucky. “Okay, you’re up, Kid. You make this and we win. You make this, and you die a legend.”

Bucky breathes slowly, looking a little terrified. “Can I pee first?”

Matt shakes his head no and pushes Bucky toward the field.

“God, he’s so little,” George says to himself from the stands, nervous.

Bucky motions for the music to begin again. “The Sweet Escape” plays once more. Bucky dances subtly with himself for a few seconds, and then kicks the ball and makes the field goal.

The referee blows his whistle. The game is over, and the Avengers win. All thanks to Bucky. George goes crazy in the crowd.

“That’s my son! That is my boy!” He screams to the mothers and fathers near him.

The players rush to hoist Bucky up in the air. Bucky is ecstatic, as is Sam, but the feeling wears off when they both look over and see Steve and Sharon kissing in celebration. Both of their smiles fade.

The football players walk into the locker room to change out of their football gear. Coach Murdock walks in. “Gentlemen, that was a hell of a game. First half, we won’t talk about. But that second half was truly inspiring. I applaud you all for coming together like that,” he says. “And Bucky, we owe you a debt of gratitude.”

Bucky lights up. “Thanks, Coach Murdock.”

“Practice, Monday at seven, don’t forget,” Coach Murdock says before walking out.

The guys all change. This is Bucky’s first time changing in the locker room, ever. He opts to grab his clothes and change in a bathroom stall, like he does for gym class. “It’ll be easier for everyone,” Bucky thinks to himself.

He and Sam make eye contact as Bucky walks to his locker to retrieve his bag. Sam is shirtless and is about to take his pants off. His jaw hardens.

“Hey!” Sam shouts, charging right for Bucky. Bucky tenses up, ready for the impending punch coming.

Sam slams him into the wall, grabbing a piece of his jersey in his hand. “If you ever try to sneak a peek at me again, it’s over for you.”

Bucky grimaces, squinting his eyes shut. “But I wasn’t sneaking…” He begins, but Sam cuts him off.

“Bullshit!” He screams. He then points to the door. “Get out! Now.”

“Sam, can you just relax, man?” Tony interjects. Bucky wishes he hadn’t.

Sam turns around intimidatingly and punches Tony right in the mouth. “You get out, too.”

Bucky scurries to get his bag, pulling Tony out with him. There are tears in his eyes. “Tony, I’m so sorry,” Bucky says, pulling Tony down to the floor right outside the locker room.

“I’m fine, Bucky,” Tony says, holding his mouth with his left hand. “It actually didn’t hurt as bad as it looked.”

Steve walks up to them. Steve notices Bucky’s wet eyes, and Tony’s busted lip. “Oh my god, what the hell happened?” He asks.

“Sam happened,” Bucky replies. “Tony, you’ve got to go to Coach Murdock about this.”

Tony shakes his head. “Bucky, this has happened before. I’ve also gotten in some good hits in the past. Coach Murdock and Fury don’t ever do anything about it. They tell us to get over it. So, Sam and I, we’ll just have to get over it.”

Bucky looks disgusted. “You’re not going to do anything?” He asks, directing the question to Steve.

Steve’s dumbfounded. He doesn’t respond. “It’s fine, Buck,” Tony says. “Don’t involve him.”

“Some Captain you are,” Bucky spits out, picking Tony up off the floor to take him to get an ice pack.

Steve stands in place, frozen.

Bucky gets home, completely exhausted. He wants to put the game, and the situation that happened right after, behind him, and head up to bed.

Then, the smell of pizza wafting in from the kitchen attacks his nostrils, and he’s reminded that he has yet to eat dinner.

Bucky walks in to the kitchen to find his father on the phone, and two pizza boxes on the table. One Hawaiian and one All Meat, Bucky’s favorites.

“Alright, he just got home, so I will talk to you later, alright? Bye,” George speaks into his phone before hanging up.

“That was your aunt, Michelle. She wants you to know she is very proud, and she can’t wait to drive up to make it to a game,” he explains to Bucky.

Bucky nods. “What’s all this?” He asks, pointing to the pizza.

This is a celebration,” George says, pulling out a bottle of Sprite and a carton of cookies and cream ice cream from the fridge and freezer. “You know, now that you’re on the football team, I should probably start convincing you to eat a little better, maybe look into bulking up, but not tonight. Tonight, we are going to devour all of this, and then watch a movie of your choice, because I am so beyond proud of you, son.”

Bucky smiles at his dad, feeling tears coming on at the touching gesture. “Thanks, Dad.”

George notices Bucky’s hesitancy. “Are you okay, Son?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, just a lot of emotions, that’s all,” Bucky replies. “Do you think Ma would’ve been proud?”

“She would’ve been in the stands screaming your name the entire time. There would’ve been no shutting her up,” George replies. He quickly changes the subject. “So? How’d it feel? Being on that field?”

“Fun… Yeah, it was fun,” Bucky responds.

“I always wanted to play football. But, unfortunately, I had to take care of your Grandma when she got sick, so I wasn’t ever able to,” George says.

“Yeah, I remember you telling me that.”

George watches him intently. “Buck, can I ask you something?”

Bucky checks back into the conversation. “Anything, Dad.”

“Did you only join the football team for me?”

“Why would you ask me that?” Bucky asks.

“I don’t know. Ever since the night you told me you joined you haven’t seemed like yourself. And right now, I’m looking at you, and you look like you just flushed your goldfish down the toilet.”

Bucky looks at his father. “I didn’t only join for you, but that is one of the reasons… I just wanted to do something that would make you proud of me.”

George sinks. “Buck, I am proud of you. Why would you say that?”

“It’s just you were so happy up there, cheering me on with other dads, and I know you can’t get that same thing at singing and dancing lessons,” Bucky says.

George walks over to him and pulls him into a hug. “Buck, I have always been proud of your talents, and I always will be. I don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s football, or theatre, or whatever. I am your father, and I will always be in the stands cheering your name. I don’t need to be around other fathers to do it. You don’t ever have to feel like you need to be somebody you’re not, okay? I love you.”

Bucky feels a tear escape. “I love you, too, Dad,” he says, squeezing George harder.

October 18, 2012.

“Another day, another week, let’s get moving,” Bruce says. “First off, I just wanted to congratulate you guys, once again, for your work at the homecoming assembly. You all did amazing, and it was a great practice for Invitationals. I’m not completely oblivious to the fact that most of the student body thinks Glee Club is lame, but you all went out there anyways, and you sang your hearts out. I’m extremely proud of you all.”

The kids all smile at Bruce’s words. “Hopefully they don’t all still find Glee Club lame when Bucky helps lead the football team to a championship!” Bruce says enthusiastically. Nakia, Gamora, Peter, Tony, Carol, and Steve all clap. Sharon and Valkyrie choose not to.

Bucky’s grin fades into a frown. “Thanks, Mr. Banner. I appreciate your kind words, but I’m not going to be helping lead the football team to anything. I went to Mr. Murdock this morning and told him I quit.”

“What? Why?” Steve asks, saddened by the news.

“Because I don’t want to end each game with a potential punch to the face,” Bucky says, semi-glaring at Steve. “I was extremely happy that we were able to put our differences aside to come together to win that game, but at the end of the day, to those guys, all I am is my sexuality. I’m always going to be shamed for being the odd one out. Besides, I joined for all the wrong reasons.”

“Wait, who almost punched you, Bucky?” Bruce asks.

Bucky waves him off. “It doesn’t matter. Look, all that matters now is Invitationals, and moving forward with all of you.” Bucky takes a breath. He turns his head to look around at his teammates, even the Cheerios.

“So far, my time at Shield High has sucked. But, not the last few weeks. I made some friends. And that’s always been really hard for me,” he shares.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with this club, but I do have a feeling it’s going to be something really special. Maybe it’ll be somewhere safe where we can learn from each other and be who we are, including people who are different than us. When we look back on our time here, we should be extremely proud.”

Everyone except for Sharon gives him touching looks. “I’ll second that,” Bruce replies. “You guys are going to create so much magic and countless memories in this room. And I for one am excited to get started.”

There’s a knock at the choir room door. It’s T’Challa Udaku and Thor Odinson.

“Hey, boys. How can I help you?” Bruce questions.

“Are you sure about this?” Thor whispers into T’Challa’s ear, though Bruce can hear clearly.

T’Challa nods to him in reply, and then looks over to Bruce. “We would like to join the Glee Club,” he says.

Bruce’s jaw drops, as do most of the Glee kids’. Valkyrie and Carol squeal in excitement. Thor is one of Valkyrie’s best friends, and coming from the same circle, the four of them get along famously. “That would be awesome, guys.”

T’Challa and Thor flash a smile. Bruce summons them into the room, where the Glee Club showers them with welcomes. Valkyrie and Carol get up to hug them.

“What made you guys want to join?” Steve asks, high fiving his pals. 

“Honestly, Bucky did. We were really impressed with his work out on the field, and when we saw you guys perform at the Homecoming assembly, it looked pretty fun, so we thought why not?”

Bucky’s in shock. Never in a million years did he ever expect to hear these words come out of T’Challa Udaku’s mouth. He smiles at them.

Bruce laughs. “Well, whatever the reason, we are glad to have you guys join us,” he shares.

Then, Mr. Banner goes right into a discussion about Invitationals. Steve and Tony spend the rest of the meeting watching Bucky through their peripherals.

“Bucky, wait!” Tony calls out as the Glee Club make their way to the exits of the choir room.

“I’m going to be late for History,” Bucky says, backpack over his shoulder.

“Please, just…I need to ask you something,” Tony begs. He walks up to Bucky. “You said you joined the football team for all the wrong reasons…”


“Steve?” Tony questions.

Bucky’s cheeks instantly go warm. “What about Steve?”

“Did you join the football team because you have a crush on Steve?”

Chapter Text

“Did you join the football team because you have a crush on Steve?”

Bucky swallows a lump in his throat. “No... What makes you ask that?”

Tony takes a breath. “Well, there’s the fact that you joined Celibacy club, and then you joined football, and you ended up quitting both within a day. And then there’s the fact that I see the way you look at him. You look at him like he’s the only guy in the world.”

For a moment, Bucky feels stupid. But then, he’s reminded that if there’s anyone that’s going to understand, it’s Tony. “That obvious, huh?”

Tony laughs a little. “Yeah.”

“I feel so embarrassed,” Bucky replies, taking a seat. He is definitely going to be late for History.

Tony shakes his head. “Bucky, you have no reason to be. I can see why you might like him. He’s good looking, he’s not the worst of the footballers, and he’s got a real good voice, which I can tell is probably something that’s really important to you.”

Bucky snickers, then nods. He then takes a moment. “You’re not going to tell anyone, are you?”

Tony stares him dead in the eyes. “Of course not. Your secret’s safe with me,” he answers.

October 20, 2012.

“Okay, guys. We’ve spent the last few days learning how to move, dance, and sing together as a cohesive unit. Now, it’s Invitationals time,” Bruce shares.

The kids all clap and drumroll on their thighs as Bruce writes the word “Invitationals” on the whiteboard.

“But, before we discuss the setlist, we’re going to need to come up with an official name for our group.”

“Isn’t that something you should’ve done before re-booting the club?” Valkyrie asks, maliciously.

“Yes, Valkyrie, I should’ve. And, I’ve even brainstormed names myself,” Bruce admits, “but the more I thought about it, the more I decided maybe it was something we should all do together.”

“How about the New Directions?” Bucky offers.

“Lame,” Sharon quips unkindly. Bucky exhales a rough breath in annoyance.

“The Marvelous Melodies?” Gamora says.

“That sounds just a little incredibly feminine,” Thor replies, earning laughs from T’Challa, Valkyrie, Sharon, and Steve.

“Then, why don’t you come up with one, Gossip Girl reject?” Nakia asks Thor.

“I mean, I’m not as creative as you guys, I was just stating my opinion,” Thor responds. “But I like the sound of the word ‘marvel’, I guess.”

“The Marvel Motifs? Motif is a musical term,” Peter says. The Glee Club looks semi-enthusiastic about the idea.

“Great! I have no problem with that!” Bruce says optimistically.

“Wait, why don’t we try to incorporate the word ‘avenger’ in it, you know, to honor our school, and stuff?” Steve says. Bucky rolls his eyes to himself that he finds the suggestion so goddamn adorable.

“The Aural Avengers,” Bucky says.

Most of the Glee Club light up at the suggestion.

“Okay, hold up, like a million awesome sex jokes just popped in to my head,” Valkyrie shares.

“You know what? I think that name is perfect, Bucky,” Bruce says. “Anybody else for the Aural Avengers?”

Nakia, Peter, Gamora, Tony, Steve, Carol, Thor, and T’Challa all raise their hand to vote. Sharon and Valkyrie roll their eyes.

“Alright. We’ve got a name,” Bruce says. The kids clap. “Now, moving on, we’ve got four days until our debut. So, let’s discuss the setlist.”

“Mr. Banner, not to seem too eager, but were you planning on letting one of our numbers be a solo?” Bucky asks.

Bruce thinks about it. “I wasn’t, but hey, I don’t mind changing things up. Would anyone like a solo at Invitationals?”

Nakia, Bucky, and Sharon raise their hands, and stare at one another coldly.

Bruce feels unsure about how he wants to proceed. Thankfully, he’s saved by the bell. “Okay, I’ll have a game plan for later on today, have a great day, guys!”

Bruce and Natasha are eating lunch together in Natasha’s office. Bruce is eager to speak to Natasha about his thoughts for Invitationals, but he’s being polite, letting Natasha tell him a story about the weekend she and Matt spent at his parents’ house, even though it’s making Bruce want to ram his head into the wall.

“And they just got the cutest new little dog, Charlie, and he’s obsessed with Matt’s mom,” Natasha shares, laughing.

“Sounds adorable,” Bruce mutters. Bruce can’t help but notice how hard Natasha is scrubbing at her fruit. She must be having a bad day with her obsessive-compulsive disorder. Natasha admitted a year prior to Bruce and Stephen that she did in fact have a slight case of O.C.D., but she didn’t divulge how it had happened, or if she had seen anyone to help treat it.

“So, what’s new with you?” Natasha asks, pulling Bruce from his thoughts.

“Well, I’m actually in a bit of a bind. Invitationals is later this week. We only get two numbers, and I’d originally conceived a duet and a group number, but now, three kids want a solo,” Bruce explains.

“Well if it’s going to cause a rift, why not just go with your original idea? That’s why there’s an advisor, right?” Natasha suggests.

“See, that’s the thing,” Bruce responds, hesitantly. “My original plan was a duet between Steve and Bucky.” Natasha gives him a puzzled look.

“Look, I’m not trying to push an agenda here, or anything. It’s just that they are the strongest male vocalists, so I was thinking they could lead the Beatles’ ‘In My Life’. The only problem is I don’t want to make anybody uncomfortable. You know, how would the boys take it? And how would the audience take it? Personally, I hate that it even has to be a big issue. I mean I’m all for equality, and it’s not like they’re singing a romantic duet, but that’s society, I guess. It also doesn’t help that we live in Ohio, and not somewhere more liberal like New York.”

Natasha nods. “You make some valid points there, Brucey, I definitely agree. But you’re right, it’s not like the song is a romantic one, even though there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that in the first place, and at the end of the day, it’s just Invitationals, right? It’s not like you’re going to come in last place because of it. So, it wouldn’t hurt to bring it up to them. Worst comes to worst, you just end up letting someone take a solo.”

Bruce nods. “You’re right.” He’s grateful for her advice. He then gets an idea. “Let’s make a deal. You’re always helping me with my problems. How about we take a stab at one of yours?

Natasha looks confused. “Oh, no, I don’t…I wouldn’t call it a problem?”

“You’ve been scrubbing your fruit for twenty minutes,” Bruce tells her.

Natasha gives a bleak face. “Well, I mean, I have…You know I have a little trouble with messes, but it’s not like it’s a problem.”

“I’m sorry if I’m overstepping, but can I just ask? When did it start?”

Natasha struggles with how to proceed. “When I was a little girl, it was my dream to work on a farm.”

“Really?” Bruce questions.

"Yeah. I guess I was just always fond of the idea of getting to care for animals all day. When I was eight, we finally visited one. I was in love with it, you know, meeting all the different animals, getting to see them roam around. It was one of the best days of my life. But, then, on our way out, my older sister, Yelena, pushed me into a vat of cow manure.”

Bruce’s jaw drops. “What?”

Natasha nods. “And, so, ever since then, I’ve just had a little trouble forgetting t-the smell.”

Bruce sympathises with her. “Have you thought about…I don’t know, maybe seeing someone about it?”

Natasha shakes her head vehemently. “Oh, no. It’s completely manageable. You know, I just, I take lots of showers and you know, I don’t eat meat.”

Bruce stands up. “I want to try a little experiment.” He walks over to the miniature chalkboard in the corner, collecting some chalk dust from the ledge with the tip of his finger.

Natasha realizes what Bruce is doing. “Oh, no. No, I’m not really, um, comfortable w-with that.”

Bruce touches his finger to Natasha’s nose, leaving behind a smudge of dust. They stare into each other’s eyes. After a second, Bruce removes the dust with the back of his forearm.

“There. Ten seconds,” he states.

“New record,” Natasha answers.

Matt watches through the glass walls of Natasha’s office from the corner of the hallway, fuming.

“Okay, you guys, I had a little time to think about it, and I think we’re going to drop my original idea, and instead, turn this afternoon into a little friendly competition between Bucky, Nakia, and Sharon. The three of them are going to perform solos, and then the rest of you are going to vote for who deserves the spot at Invitationals,” Bruce shares.

Bucky and Nakia look satisfied with the decision. At least it’s fair. Sharon is glaring at Bruce.

“What was your original idea?” Peter asks out of curiosity.

Bruce swallows the lump in his throat. “Well, my original idea was for Steve and Bucky to lead us in a duet,” he shares. The snickering he receives in response is almost immediate.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Banner, but that just seems a tad homosexual,” Valkyrie sneers.

“And what’s wrong with that?” Gamora asks in Bucky’s defense. It’s the first time any of them see any ounce of anger come out of Gamora. Bucky smiles at her.

“Other than the fact that it’s completely unnatural?” Sharon replies. She then directs her gaze back to Bruce. “Mr. Banner, that’s ridiculous, you didn’t actually assume we’d be supportive of that, did you?”

Bruce doesn’t know how to respond. “Okay, Ms. Carter, you need to relax. In all honesty, I didn’t think it had to be a huge deal.”

“Why don’t we just vote instead of doing the whole solo battle thing?” Valkyrie pushes.

“Great idea, Valkyrie,” Sharon says. “All those in favor of a Steve and Bucky duet?”

Gamora, Peter, and Tony raise their hands. Bucky follows their lead, hesitantly. He just feels numb, embarrassed.

“All those in favor of a Steve and Sharon duet?” Sharon then asks.

Sharon, Valkyrie, Carol, Thor, and T’Challa raise their hands.

Bruce looks at Nakia and Steve, as they are the only two who don’t vote. “Apparently I no longer qualify, so I’m not voting,” Nakia says. Steve just shrugs at Bruce.

“Well, then, looks like the aye’s have it,” Sharon says.

Bruce is unsure. He has more than half the Glee Club willing to proceed this way, but he knows whatever happens, Bucky, Nakia, and potentially Steve, are going to be hurt.

“Fine,” Bruce says, caving. “We’ll do it this way. But only because Invitationals isn’t a proper competition. Moving forward, I call the shots, alright? This isn’t a democracy. This ‘popular vote mandating our set-list’ thing is not going to become a permanent solution, do you understand that, Sharon?”

Sharon flashes Bruce the fakest of smiles. She looks quite satisfied with herself.

Just as Bruce predicted: Bucky is crushed. Nakia is crushed. Steve is left feeling humiliated, for a number of reasons.

“Now, let’s move on to song selections.”

Maria stares at Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol intimidatingly for what seems like twenty minutes.

“Coach, not to be rude, but are you going to say something? Because I have Motocross practice in a half hour,” Carol says.

Maria takes off her glasses. “Mission report. What have you all been doing to try and sabotage the Glee Club?”

“We’re going after Bucky and Nakia. We figure if we can get them to quit, then there’s no Glee Club. Sure, there are other good singers in there, but none of them good enough to beat Throat Explosion,” Sharon says, with a wickedly satisfied grin across her face.

Maria nods her head in her own satisfaction. “And how are you going to get them to quit?” She questions.

“It’s obvious that the more popular kids join, the more uncomfortable Bucky’s going to feel. Carol and I persuaded Thor Odinson and T’Challa Udaku to join,” Valkyrie says.

“And I’m singing a duet with Steve at Invitationals. Bucky’s furious about it because it was originally supposed to be a duet between Steve and him, and now, he doesn’t get to sing lead at all,” Sharon says.

“Well that’s a little weird,” Maria says, cringing. She gets up and looks out the window through the curtain slits. “And Nakia?”

“She’s starting to feel ignored. We’re going to feed into that fear and see if we can’t convince that she’s way too talented to be a second thought,” Sharon speaks.

“Yeah, and like, it shouldn’t be too hard to feed her anything, since she loves to eat… Or at least she did last year,” Carol says. Sharon rolls her eyes.

“Very well. You girls carry on. I’m still trying to come up with my own idea, one that’ll really shake things up for Bruce and those doe-eyed trollops, but it hasn’t come to me yet,” Maria explains. “Fury says if you guys place at Sectionals, the Cheerios have to give even more money to the Glee Club. And that is not happening. Over my dead body. So, go out and do this, see if you can’t get it done before Invitationals.”

The three sixteen-year-old girls in front of her nod their heads in agreement.

Valkyrie sits on the couch, an episode of Pretty Little Liars playing on the T.V., though she’s no longer paying attention.

She’s thinking back to today’s second Glee Club practice. Surprisingly, she’s filled with remorse for how it all went down. She especially feels sorry for Bucky. Sure, she might be plotting the Glee Club’s demise and targeting Bucky to do it, but she still feels a little sorry.

She keeps replaying Sharon’s words in her head. “Other than the fact that it’s completely unnatural.”

The last time it was brought up, Sharon stated she wasn’t actually homophobic, it was just her favorite thing to torment Bucky about. Valkyrie had agreed. Most of their clique joke around about homosexuality all of the time.

But the more Sharon continues to use it as fuel, the more Valkyrie wonders whether or not she’s serious. Sharon could very well be homophobic and just lying about it.

Looking to wash away the ever-conflicting feelings, she thinks of Carol. It makes her feel better. But then, the rage appears, just as it always did when she thought about Carol for too long. She picks up her phone and dials Sam’s number.

“Hey, Babe. Come over. Now,” she speaks into the phone.

Steve’s doing his homework at the table. His father left moments ago. The two had a screaming match over the fact that the Shield High Avengers lost their most recent football game. However, none of what happened between him and his father is what’s on his mind at the moment.

What’s on his mind is how humiliated he felt earlier in Glee Club. Steve initially didn’t care about singing with Bucky. Mr. Banner said himself that there was nothing to be up in arms about, it was just a duet. “In My Life” by the Beatles is a classic.

But then, all of the Cheerios and the football guys voted against the duet, thanks to Sharon’s manipulation. Steve is not homophobic, despite the fact that he was raised to believe gay people were an abomination. He’d also used the word “fag” in the past to taunt kids. But now, he knows right from wrong, thanks to the internet. He’s not about bringing other people down for who they might be sexually attracted to, a huge contrast to his father.

Steve couldn’t believe Sharon actually had the nerve to pull a stunt like that. He’s surprised that Bruce didn’t just kick her out of Glee. Steve loves Sharon, he does, but he doesn’t agree with most of what she says or does.

Steve knows most of her personality is all a ruse. She’s just trying to survive high school, and unfortunately, she chose the vicious bitch role to help get her through it.

And now she’s pregnant… With his child…

Steve feels queasy, once again, for about the fiftieth time in a week and a half.

Sam is at Clint Barton’s house with most of the football team. All of the players are knocking back a few beers to drink away the pain of their most recent defeat. Jessica Jones, Jane Foster, and a couple of other Cheerios are present, including Sharon.

“God, I can’t believe the fag decided to quit. He really was our only fucking chance at winning the season, wasn’t he?” Rumlow asks, chugging his beer.

“I don’t get why we’re losing so hard. I want to blame it more on the players from the other schools. Maybe they’re taking steroids or some shit. I mean, we were all on the team last year, so what the fuck?” Clint says.

“Maybe you guys should man the fuck up and figure it out yourselves,” Jessica Jones says. “The Cheerios haven’t lost Nationals in six years.”

“Man, fuck you, Jessica,” Clint replies. “We’d be winning too if all we had to do was throw your tiny little asses into the air all day.”

Sam and Sharon make eye contact. Sam approaches her.

“Hey. Can we go somewhere and talk?” He asks.

Sharon bites her lip. “Fine.”

They move to Clint’s bedroom. “How’s it going?” Sam questions, taking a seat on his best friend’s bed. Sharon doesn’t move from her spot up against the bedroom door.

“I’m good. I don’t actually have to start worrying about being pregnant until I start showing, so I’ve got about another month or two, hopefully,” Sharon replies, referring to her eventual baby bump. She’s always had a smaller figure, so she was hopeful she wouldn’t grow too big.

“Come here,” Sam says, pointing to the empty spot beside him.

“No. You already managed to get me pregnant, I’m not letting you screw up my life any more than you already have.”

Sam takes a deep breath, ignoring the hurtful remark. “Fine. Then I’m coming to you.”

He walks up to her, the pair now inches away from one another. Sam makes a move to kiss her. “You need to stop. I said no, and you’re dating Valkyrie.”

Sam scoffs. “Oh, come on, Sharon. That shit with Valkyrie, it’s not serious. We’re basically just fucking,” he admits bluntly. “Besides, if you aren’t into me, why have you been replying to my texts the last little while, huh?” Sharon doesn’t reply. Sam nips at her ear. “And if you don’t want me, then why are you here, with me, and not with your boyfriend? I know you want me just as bad as I want you.”

Sharon lets herself melt into the feeling of Sam’s warm breath on her ear for just a minute. She surprises Sam when she pushes him off of her. “I love Steve. I do,” she says, opening the door and walking out.

Sam is left livid, mad enough to put a hole through the wall. He’s also left with a major case of blue balls. Then, his phone goes off.

“Hello?” He asks, answering.

“Hey, Babe. Come over. Now,” Valkyrie says into the phone. Sam grins.

“On my way,” he replies.

October 21, 2012.

Bruce hijacks Stephen’s Astronomy class to pull Bucky out to speak with him. Bruce takes him to the choir room office so that they have privacy.

“Are you okay, Bucky?” Bruce asks him.

“Yeah, Mr. Banner. Never better,” Bucky answers sarcastically.

Bruce’s face falls. Bucky is clearly upset, and with good reason. “I’m so sorry, Bucky. I didn’t mean to humiliate you in there yesterday. It’s just, you and Steve are the most talented kids in there, aside from Nakia. All I wanted to do was highlight two of our best voices at the competition,” Bruce explains. Bucky stares at him, waiting for Bruce to bring up the part where he fucked up, admit where he went wrong.

“I shouldn’t have let Sharon walk all over me like that, but in that moment, I was so scared that her and the Cheerios would quit. And then, we’d have to start right at the bottom again, with only six members. Anyways, it was wrong to have done that to you. I’m so very sorry.”


Bucky stands up, throwing his backpack over his shoulder. “It’s fine, Mr. Banner. You go ahead and cater to the popular kids, because you’re too afraid of only having a Glee Club consisting of kids who are actually kind and committed to the craft. It’s fine. I understand,” he says. “And by the way, at the risk of sounding like a douchebag, I am one of your best voices. I’m sorry that’s not enough for you.”

Nakia walks away from the cafeteria lunch line, looking for Gamora and Peter in the sea of people. The only things on her tray are an apple and a turkey sandwich.

She spots Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol walking toward her, so she walks away. “Hey, Nakia!” Sharon calls. Nakia turns around. “Come sit with us!”

Nakia looks at her, puzzled. “You want me to sit with you?”

“Of course,” Valkyrie responds.

“But, why? I can’t remember the last time the three of you ever spoke to me without using the words ‘you’ and ‘suck’,” Nakia says.

“Sweetheart, that’s all in the past, we’re on the same team, now,” Sharon says. “Come on.”

Nakia follows them to an empty table. There are now three empty seats at the table that Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol normally sit at, with the footballers and the Cheerios.

“So, how’s it going?” Sharon asks.

“I’m…Fine,” Nakia replies, still unsure of this entire interaction. “How are you?”

“My cat Goose ran away last night so I’m not doing so well,” Carol answers sadly. “Then again, I’m pretty sure she had rabies so maybe it’s for the best.”

“I myself am pretty annoyed,” Sharon shares, ignoring Carol’s comment. “I mean, can you believe Mr. Banner was going to give Steve and Bucky a duet?”

“I mean, Bucky is a great singer,” Nakia says.

“I guess, but I was really rooting for you to get a number,” Valkyrie says, “You are the most talented one in there. Nobody’s on the same level as Nakia Shauku.”

“Not even Bucky Barnes,” Sharon says.

Nakia grins to herself and nods. “I mean, I guess it is annoying. Bucky’s sung the most out of everyone so far.”

“Exactly,” Sharon replies. “It’s pathetic. It should be equal opportunity for everybody, but it’s not.”

“You know, if things don’t change soon, I might have to leave Glee Club. Bucky and Mr. Banner can survive on their own, “Valkyrie says. “I don’t want to keep wasting my talent.”

“And you shouldn’t either,” Sharon says to Nakia. The Cheerios exchange looks and get up out of their seats. “By the way, whatever you’re doing to keep that new body in check, it’s definitely working. Keep it up.”

Nakia smiles at this. Right after the Cheerios leave, Gamora and Peter join her.

They spend the lunch hour laughing, and discussing pop culture, like they always do. Once the bell rings, Nakia dumps her apple and her turkey sandwich in the trash.

“Wait, Nakia, wasn’t that your lunch? You didn’t eat any of it,” Peter notes.

“I… Ate before you guys got to the table. Don’t worry, Peter,” Nakia replies nervously, turning on her heel and heading for History.

T’Challa walks into his house, immediately greeting his little sister Shuri, who’s sitting on the couch, watching SpongeBob.

“There’s my favorite girl,” T’Challa says, smothering her in a hug.

Shuri laughs aloud. “Hello, brother.”

Shuri is eleven years old, currently in the sixth grade. Her English is impeccable, especially for being only eleven, and having just moved to Lima, Ohio from Wakanda four years prior. She’s always using words way too big for T’Challa to ever understand.

“She missed you,” Ramonda Udaku calls out in her native Wakandan dialect from the kitchen.

“I’m going to say hi to Mama,” T’Challa says to his sister.

“Okay,” Shuri responds.

T’Challa walks into the kitchen to find Ramonda reading from the many dictionaries in front of her. T’Challa and Shuri had been teaching both his mother and father, T’Chaka, how to speak English since a political war forced the family to seek refuge in America.

Ramonda and T’Chaka were both up there in age and found learning a whole new language to be quite difficult. They weren’t quite fluent yet, but had definitely improved since 2008.

“Where’s Papa?” T’Challa asks in Wakandan.

“At work. He’s going to work a double shift,” Ramonda replies, again in Wakandan. T’Chaka worked as a janitor at City Hall.

“What…Should I…Make for dinner?” Ramonda asks in English, reading from an African to English dictionary.

T’Challa smiles at her. It warms his heart. “Don’t worry about dinner, Mama. I’ll cook tonight,” T’Challa responds, this time in their native language.

Ramonda caresses T’Challa’s cheek.

T’Challa’s parents were quite famous in Wakanda, and the family, quite rich. They left all of that behind when they fled. Now, they struggled to make ends meet. He constantly offered to get a job to help his parents out, but they always assured him everything was fine. “Your only job is school, and football,” T’Chaka would say to his son.

T’Challa knows that getting a football scholarship is his only shot at making it to college. He longs for the day that he becomes a big-time football player, so that he can make sure his family is financially taken care of.

October 23, 2012.

“Hey!” Peter calls out from behind Gamora, snapping her out of her thoughts. The Glee Club kids are in the choir room, preparing for their first real performance.

She turns around and smiles at him. “Are you okay? You’re sweating,” Peter says. Gamora touches her forehead to feel sweat.

“It’s just, you know, nerves,” Gamora replies. “I’ll be fine once we get out there.”

“Oh, I know you will. You killed it at the assembly,” he answers. Then, he notices Gamora shaking. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

Gamora feels tears coming. She doesn’t want to cry. She’s already applied all of her eye makeup. But it comes anyways. She runs out of the choir room immediately. Peter wheels himself out and follows her.

She doesn’t go far. She’s down the hall, sliding down a wall. “Hey, you can talk to me, Gamora. Come on, we’ve been friends since the first day of school, longer than any of those other dweebs in the choir room,” Peter jokes. “What’s wrong?”

Now sitting on the floor, Gamora cries into her dress. “Thank god the dress is black,” she thinks to herself, as her makeup stains aren’t going to be as obvious. The girls are wearing black dresses with silver accents, and the boys are wearing silver vests with black pants and t-shirts.

“I have generalized anxiety disorder,” Gamora shares. “I’ve been on medication for six months now, but it doesn’t seem to be helping at all. I love performing, Peter, I do. Once I get up on a stage, it’s like every ounce of anxiety I’ve ever felt just washes away, and it feels great. But, it’s almost like because of that, my anxiety chooses to be at its all-time worst before I can even get out there.”

Peter places a hand on her shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Gamora. This entire time I figured you were just… Really shy.”

Gamora snorts. “I wish I was just really shy.”

“Thank you for sharing that with me. I know it must’ve taken a lot to do it,” Peter says. “You’re still my best friend, and I’m always going to be here for you, no matter what.”

Gamora finally lifts her head up from her dress. “Thank you, Peter. You’re mine, too.”

Peter beams. He hasn’t felt this close to anybody since before his accident. “Is there anything I can do to help right now?”

Gamora wipes away a couple of tears. “Can you just sit with me until we have to go back in there?”

“Of course,” he responds.

They sit in silence for a little until Gamora asks “On a scale of one being the worst to ten being the best, how smudged and messy is my makeup?”

Peter bites his cheek. “I’m sorry to report that it’s at about a three.”

Gamora’s face twists in misery. “I should go fix it, then.”

Bruce pokes his head out of the choir room door, spotting Gamora and Peter. “Guys, come on, we go on in ten, chop, chop, we’re doing final touches.”

“Alright, huddle up,” Bruce says to the kids. They’re all backstage. “Now, remember guys. All you need to worry about today is going out there and singing your hearts off. We’re not getting judged, so after today, we are officially ready for the road to Sectionals.”

Nakia, Peter, Gamora, Tony, Steve, Sharon, Valkyrie, Carol, T’Challa, and Thor all smile. Bucky’s face remains neutral, just as it’s been since that dreadful day in glee club and his conversation with Bruce.

“Now, come on, let me lead you in a show circle,” Bruce says, putting his hand into the center of their circle. “We used to do this back when I was in Glee Club. After three, give me an ‘amazing’. One, two, three,” Bruce counts.

“Amazing!” They all shout in unison, lifting their arms into the air.

“That was really embarrassing, please don’t ever tell anyone I actually participated in one of those,” Thor whispers to Valkyrie, making her laugh.

“Thirty seconds, guys,” a backstage tech guy says to them.

They get into position, along with the band, and Bruce wishes them well.

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Shield High School’s very own Aural Avengers,” Nick Fury announces into the microphone. The curtains rise.

There’s something I want to tell you
There’s something I think that you should know
It’s not that I shouldn’t really love you
Let’s take it slow

When we get to know each other
And we're both feeling much stronger
Then let's try to talk it over
Let's wait awhile longer

[Steve, Sharon, & Aural Avengers:]
Let's wait awhile
Before it's too late
Let's wait awhile
Before we go too far

Remember that special night?
When all of the stars were shining bright
We made our first endeavor
To stay together

We made our very first promise
To love, to share
And be real honest
But on that very first night
It wasn't quite right

[Steve, Sharon, & Aural Avengers]
Let's wait awhile
Before it's too late
Let's wait awhile
Our love will be great
Let's wait awhile
Before we go too far

I didn't really know not to let all my feelings show
To save some for later so our love will be greater

You said you would always love me
Remember I said the same thing too
You don't have to be frightened with my love
Because I'll never give up on you

[Steve, Sharon, & Aural Avengers]
Let’s wait a while
Before it’s too late
You know you can’t rush love

Let’s wait a while (Ooh, ooh)
Before it’s too late
Let’s wait awhile
Our love will be great

Let’s wait awhile
Before we go too far (Far, far, oh)
Let’s wait awhile (Let’s just take our time)
Before it’s too late

Let’s wait awhile (Love’s so good)
Sure, our love will be there
Let’s wait awhile (Slow it down)
Before we go too far

Bruce and the semi-filled auditorium cheer, as do Natasha and Stephen, who are seated directly in the front row. Then, the Glee Club transition into their next song.

Don’t give up, you’re going to see tomorrow
That you’ll be on your feet again
Sometimes the world’s going to knock you over
But you will see who are your friends

[Bucky, Gamora, Nakia, & Aural Avengers:]
Come on, stand, up again
Come on, stand
Stand, you’re gonna run again

Your faith and patience will be your soldiers
To guide you through your troubled times
Just put one foot in front of the other
The battles are inside your mind
You have the power to face your demons
No matter how they go at time
And rid yourself of your fear and weakness
So you can start to live your life

[Bucky, Gamora, Nakia, & Aural Avengers:]
Come on, stand, up again
Come on, stand
Stand, you’re gonna run again
Come on baby, stand, up again
Come on, stand
Stand, you’re gonna run again

Pick up your will and put on your face
If you need to, just take my hand
It’s time to demonstrate, don’t hesitate
Just get up and say, "Yes, I can"

[Bucky, Gamora, Nakia, & Aural Avengers:]
Stand, up again
Come on, stand
Stand, you’re gonna run again
Stand, up again
Come on, stand
Stand, you’re gonna run again
Stand, you’re gonna run again
(Come on)

Stand, you’re gonna run again

The Aural Avengers receive a standing ovation from the auditorium filled with proud relatives, students and faculty from other schools’ Glee Clubs, and local show choir fanatics. Apparently, that’s a real thing.

Sam is also watching, from the auditorium doors. He'd been on his way to his vehicle after a workout in the gym when he heard the noise.

Bruce watches from backstage, beyond proud. Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, Tony, Steve, Sharon, Valkyrie, Carol, T’Challa, and Thor all soak in the feeling. They bow to the audience and depart from the stage.

“That was amazing,” T’Challa says as they all make their way back into the choir room. “See, man, I told you joining Glee Club would be fun,” he says to Thor.

“You’re right, T’Challa. I shouldn’t ever have doubted it,” Thor answers.

The kids are all still basking in the rush that performing gave them. They’re all on cloud nine. Similar to how open the kids get with one another whilst performing, Bruce watches Valkyrie hugs Bucky, Nakia laughs over something with T’Challa, and Steve and Gamora jump up and down.

“Not that I had any doubts, but you guys did amazing up there. I’m beyond proud of you,” Bruce says. Natasha and Stephen walk into the choir room.

“I’ll second that,” Stephen says. “That was some kick-ass singing, excuse my language.” The kids all laugh.

“Yeah, you guys did all phenomenally,” Natasha shares.

Bruce promises that to reward their great work and celebrate, he’s ordering pizza next rehearsal.

Bruce walks over to Bucky. He notices tears in Bucky’s eyes.

“Bucky, are you okay?”

Bucky smiles. “Yeah. That was just a really amazing feeling.”

“Do you want to step out into the hall?” He asks.

Bucky nods, following his teacher to the hallway. Once they’re alone, Bucky opens up. “My entire life, all I’ve ever wanted to do was perform. Broadway, that’s my biggest dream. And last year, because of all of the bullies in this school, I almost walked away from my dream completely. But standing out there, singing to an audience full of people that were actually interested and moved by our performance… It’s all I want out of life. I haven’t been this happy in a long time,” Bucky shares.

Bruce almost tears up hearing him speak. “If there’s anyone in that choir room that’s going to make it big, Bucky, it’s you.”

Bucky smiles, wiping away a happy tear.

Sam walks out of Gideon and Sarah’s room, his younger brother and sister, completely spent. It’s always a hassle to get them both ready for bed, and an even bigger hassle to actually get them to sleep.

He takes a seat on the couch and turns on Family Guy, pulling his iPhone 4S out of his pocket. He scrolls through his recent text conversations to see if anybody’s down to sext. Valkyrie would be a sure thing. He assumes she thinks they’re in an exclusive relationship, but he’s not really in the mood for her.

He finds himself clicking on his conversation with Sharon and re-reading their old messages.



Sam: whatcha doing?

Sharon: in bed, watching a movie, you?

Sam: just busy thinking about you, like always

Sharon: oh sam, I bet you say that to all the girls. oh, wait, i know for a fact you do, you’re dating valkyrie, remember?

Sam: valkyrie’s not you.

Sharon: goodnight sam J



Sam: you’re really cute

Sharon: good afternoon to you too, sam

Sam: have i ever mentioned that you are out of this world beautiful? like an alien?

Sharon: i just laughed out loud in front of the girls.

Sharon: i’ll take that as a compliment i guess. gbye!



Sam: i’m so horny

Sharon: oh yeah?

Sam: you wanna sext? i won’t tell steve

Sharon: samuel wilson, text your girlfriend

Sam: i want you

Sharon: maybe I want you too

Sam: then call me

Sam then gets a Twitter notification. It’s a tweet from Sharon, including a photo of her, Valkyrie, Carol, T’Challa, Thor, and Steve at In-N-Out burger, with the caption “Celebrating with these losers @ValkyrieParrington @CarolD123 @CapRogers @TChallaUdaku @ThorOdinson!”

Sam surprisingly feels a little jealous. He decides to text Sharon, pretending to play none-the-wiser. “what’s up tonite?”

He watches some porn and gives himself a couple of generous tugs to relieve himself of the straining erection he’s got going on.

Sharon texts back. “celebrating our invitationals”.

“Glee Club is lame lol”, Sam texts back.

“lmao that’s because you don’t find joy in anything other than football, sex, and hard liquor,” Sharon replies.

Sam feels his cheeks flush at her message. It leaves him embarrassed. Who is Sharon to be judging him? She’s the one pretending to be America’s sweetheart when she’s cheating on Steve with him. Sam would actually be upset with her, if he wasn’t completely in love with her.

The front door flies open. Sam ditches the porn on his Safari tab completely. It’s his mother, Darlene. Sam can smell the alcohol on her.

“Hi, Baby,” Darlene says.

“You didn’t drive, did you, Ma?” Sam asks worriedly.

“Of course not. Marcy’s daughter brought me home,” she answers. “I’m going to go on right to bed.”

Sam decides to take her to her bed himself. He gets her under the covers and kisses her on the cheek.

“I love you, Mom. Goodnight.”

Sam’s had a pretty rough life thus far. His father, Brendon, mentally and physically abused Darlene on the regular…And even Sam from time to time.

Brendon was a total deadbeat. While Darlene was off at work all day, Brendon would be at the bar, hitting on women. Sam grew aware of his family issues pretty early on.

On his thirteenth birthday, Sam started hitting the weights, praying for the day his father laid a finger on him and his mother again.

It happened six months later. Thankfully, Sam was there, ready to defend his mother. He ran his two-year-old siblings to their room so that they wouldn’t witness anything, and then beat his father right back.

To avoid having to deal with the Lima Police Department, Brendon opted to pack a bag, and leave. Sam hasn’t seen him since that day, and he hopes to never see him again.

Sam acts all tough and has a rough exterior to mask all of the sadness he feels inside due to his broken home. But he does his best to stay positive and move on. Besides, he has Darlene, and his little siblings. What more could he need?

October 26, 2012.

A new week. Bucky, Nakia, Peter, Gamora, Tony, Steve, Sharon, Valkyrie, Carol, T’Challa, and Thor are all in the choir room, waiting for Bruce.

Valkyrie is leading Thor and T’Challa in her signature dance move, laughing as they fail to get it right; Peter and Steve are discussing the previous week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother; Gamora and Tony are laughing over a joke Carol cracks; and Bucky and Nakia are discussing songs they’d like to perform while in Glee Club.

Nakia can admit that she finds the fact that Bucky has sung the most out of everyone in the club slightly annoying. She even kind of finds Bucky himself to be annoying most of the time. But he’s a friend, and he understands Nakia’s dreams of stardom more than anyone. He shares the same ones. Nakia shakes her head to herself at ever even contemplating quitting the Glee Club. If she quit, she would miss out on really getting to know all of these dorks.

Bruce finally arrives ten minutes later, walking in with Sam Wilson to his right. “Guys, I’d like for you to welcome our newest member, Mr. Sam Wilson.”

Sharon, Valkyrie, Carol, T’Challa, Thor and Steve are all surprised, but clap, nonetheless. Sharon stares at Sam in bewilderment. Peter, Gamora, Tony, and Nakia silently groan to themselves at the Glee Club’s newest recruit.

“Dude, is this for real?” Thor pokes.

“Yes, it’s for real,” Sam replies semi-menacingly. “I actually sort of watched you all sing the other day and it looked like fun. So, even though it might hurt my reputation, I figured I’d give it a go.” What nobody knows is that Sam is only joining to get closer to Sharon.

“And we’re better off for it, Mr. Wilson, because you are our twelfth member, which means that now, we are one hundred percent, officially, guaranteed a spot at Sectionals.”

Most of them clap at this. It’s what they’ve been waiting for, one of the club’s most important milestones.

Bucky doesn’t clap. In fact, Bucky feels sick to his stomach. Sam Wilson is one of his bullies. Sam is Bucky’s worst bully. He just recently almost punched Bucky in the face, after accusing Bucky of peeping on him. He was able to move on from Steve joining, and he was over the fact that the Cheerios joined. But Sam Wilson? Sharing the choir room with him was something that Bucky wouldn’t ever do.

Bucky grabs his backpack off the floor and storms out of the choir room.

“Bucky?” Bruce calls, but is ignored.

The kids all watch him exit the room.

Chapter Text

November 1, 2012.

“Five, six, seven, eight. Step, turn, out, in, ball-change, step ball-change, step. You, you, you, you. And ba-ba-ba. turn…” Bruce recites, directing the kids in choreography. He notices they’re all lacking in energy. “Come on, guys, you’re sleep walking on me here. Let’s go, let’s go, Throat Explosion takes no prisoners.”

“Oh, come on, Mr. Banner, cut us a little slack, we don’t have to worry about going up against Throat Explosion for a while,” Tony says.

“Yeah, and we killed it at Invitationals,” Nakia adds.

“Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Sectionals is going to be a cakewalk. You can’t start slacking on me now,” Bruce replies.

Just then, Sharon places her hands to her stomach, and runs out of the room. Everybody watches in curiosity. “I think she just ate a bad breakfast sandwich, we stopped at Don’s on the way here this morning,” Steve shares with everyone.

Bruce then notices Carol is sitting on a chair with her phone in her hand. Thor and T’Challa had been shielding her from his view. “Carol, what’re you doing?” Bruce asks her, annoyed.

“Funny YouTube. Little kids falling off of chairs. Sorry Mr. B,” she responds, throwing her phone onto the seat beside hers and standing up to join in.

Bruce rolls his eyes. “Okay, you know what, just take five, guys.”

Steve approaches Bruce subtly. “Hey, Mr. Banner, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but with all the dancing around that Sharon’s doing, I’m kind of worried about the baby,” he says, hesitantly.

“No, no, I get it,” Bruce answers. “Why don’t I try to incorporate some kind of choreography that doesn’t have to… Include everybody? Something along those lines, so that nobody gets suspicious.”

Steve smiles. “Yeah, yeah, that works.”

Bucky’s in the hallway, watching the Glee Club laughing about through the choir room door’s window. Maria Hill watches him subtly from the corner of the hallway.

“Can I get you anything? Some water? An antacid tablet?” Maria asks Bucky, who’s sitting on a seat in her office.

“Why would I need an antacid tablet?” Bucky questions.

“I eat them like candy,” Maria replies. Bucky ignores her comment. It was typical weird Maria Hill behavior. “So, I noticed you quit Glee Club. I just wanted to reach out to you as a concerned educator. Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine.”

“Is it Mr. Banner? Did he do or say something to upset you? Because if that’s the case, I don’t mind going to Principal Fury with you to lodge a formal complaint.”

“What? No. Ms. Hill, with all due respect, it’s none of your business,” Bucky says.

“Okay, fine. You want to speak like an adult, let’s cut the shit and speak like adults,” Maria says, taking her glasses and tossing them across her desk. “Bucky, you are too damn talented to waste your talents on someone like Mr. Bruce Banner. You deserve better.”

“Well, Mr. Bruce Banner is all I’ve got. You made sure of that when Mr. Selvig was fired because of your unreasonable budget,” Bucky sneers.

“Well that’s particularly hurtful,” Maria says through grinded teeth. “But, he’s not all you’ve got. What if, let’s say, hypothetically, another Glee Club started up here at Shield. Would you one hundred percent turn your back on Banner and join?”

“Are you seriously trying to tell me that you would be interested in coaching a Glee Club?”

“I did say hypothetically, didn’t I?”

Bucky thinks about it. “I’m not sure.”

“Well, why don’t you think about it for a couple of days, and then get back to me,” Maria says. “Now, get the hell out of my office.”

Bruce makes his way toward Natasha and Stephen’s lunch table. His cheeks grow hot with rage as he notices Matt is eating with them. “Perfect,” Bruce thinks to himself.

He takes a seat, greeting everybody.

“How’s your day been?” Natasha asks him.

“Alright, I guess. My morning was a little whack. We’re still recuperating from Bucky quitting, and now I fear the kids have gotten complacent. They think that because they did so well at Invitationals, they’re just headed right for a clean sweep at Sectionals. I don’t want them to think it’s going to be that easy. I can’t have them get lazy on me now, you know? If we don’t win Sectionals, then we’re done,” Bruce says, pulling his sandwich out of its container.

“It’s singing. How hard can it be?” Matt deadpans.

Stephen and Natasha share a knowing look, then simultaneously look over to Bruce. As expected, they can absolutely see steam radiating off of their friend.

“Show choir competitions aren’t just singing, Matt,” Bruce replies, in his best fake voice, very much rattled. “They’re just as serious as football championships. Maybe even more.”

“More important than football? How so?” Matt asks, unconvinced.

“The team that places first at the Nationals wins ten-thousand dollars for their school,” Stephen shares, as Bruce is too bothered to do so. “When Bruce was a senior, his Glee Club won Nationals.”

Matt throws his hands up in surrender while getting out of his seat. “I stand corrected. I didn’t mean to offend you there, squirt,” he says to Bruce, playfully punching his arm. “By the way, don’t take Bucky quitting personal. I heard he quit Celibacy Club, and he actually quit football too, so clearly it’s just one of the kid’s many talents.”

Matt starts to walk away, but Bruce’s voice stops him in his tracks. “Bucky quit the football team for a completely legitimate reason, Matt. And if you were a good coach, then you would know what that was.” Bruce collects his lunch and exits the lunch room ahead of Matt.

Matt turns back to Stephen and Natasha. “Well, then,” he says, shocked at Bruce’s outburst.

It’s the end of the school day. The hallways are mostly empty. Steve spots Sharon at her locker. He’s confused, considering she should be at Cheerios practice.

“Hi, babe,” he says, approaching her and planting a kiss on her neck. “Shouldn’t you be in the gym right now?”

Sharon looks sad. “I’m pregnant. What’s your excuse? Shouldn’t you be at football practice?” she whispers.

Steve shrugs. “Honestly, I’ve been insanely tired the past two days, so I told Murdock I had a migraine. Besides, we’ve already lost another two games, so I’m pretty sure he stopped caring. Three more losses and the season is officially over.”

Sharon doesn’t reply. Instead, she stares at him blankly. “Sorry, I don’t mean to only talk about myself,” Steve says, running a hand through his hair. “Are you okay?”

Sharon closes her locker. “Well, I might not be showing yet, but I figure all the physical activity being in Cheerios entails is probably not good for a fetus, so I also told Coach Hill I had a migraine. She wasn’t too pleased.”

“Are you going to stay on the squad?” Steve asks.

“Steve, I am the squad,” she answers, annoyed. “I might just have to fake an injury or something.”

Steve ignores her anger. “Look, Sharon, I need to be honest with you about something,” he says. Sharon stares at him attentively. “I told Mr. Banner.”

Sharon’s eyes grow in size. “Are you an idiot?!” She shouts.

“No, I’m not an idiot. Look, I needed to tell someone, okay? I needed to talk about it. This is happening to both of us,” Steve responds.

Sharon clenches her jaw. “Steve, you’re not the one whose parents will burn her like a witch if they find out.”

“I just figured he might be able to help out, maybe drive us to the doctor if we need, or take us maternity shopping, all that junk. I don’t know why you’re freaking out on me like this,” Steve says.

“I’m freaking out on you because you are so extremely insensitive!” Sharon responds, storming off.

Steve shakes his head and groans in frustration.

November 3, 2012.

“Knock, knock,” Bruce says at the entrance of the staff room. There are only three other teachers in the room besides Natasha. They’re all minding their own business, consuming their morning coffee.

Natasha looks up from a pamphlet she’s reading. “Hi,” she says with a smile.

Bruce is happy to see her smile. He enters and takes a seat at the table with her. “Look, I wanted to apologize for yesterday. It wasn’t cool of me to have said that to Matt,” Bruce admits.

Natasha nods. “It’s okay, Brucey. He’s not too beat up over it.” Bruce smiles at her. “Just, if you can, apologize to him, too?”

Bruce internally rolls his eyes. “Of course.”

“So, are you okay?” Natasha questions.

“Yes, a lot better. I’m just still trying to find a way to help motivate the kids. The competition is in a little over a month, so I’ve got to keep our momentum going.”

“Well, why don’t you try to do something like… A sticker board?” Natasha suggests.

“Oh, dear god, please, please… Stop talking. I’m trying desperately to ignore the treacly sweet inanity of your asinine conversation, but now I’ve got bile in my mouth and I will hold my tongue no further,” Maria Hill says from the corner of the room, startling both Bruce and Natasha.

“Have you been here this entire time?” Natasha asks. She didn’t notice Maria the entire twenty minutes she’d been in the lounge.

“Maybe. Maybe I just got here. Maybe I never left, Romanoff,” Maria replies ominously. She holds up a binder. “You know what this is? It’s a list of my Cheerios. Every week I pick someone at random, and I kick them out.”

Bruce rolls his eyes at the mere idea. “Yeah, well, in Glee Club we do things a little bit differently.”

“Oh, yeah, Bruce? How’s that working out for you? You have to remember something. We’re dealing with children. They need to be terrified. It’s like mother’s milk to them. Without it, their bones won’t grow properly. So, if you want good results with a kid, you find that competitive animal within and unleash it. Okay?” Maria says to Bruce.

She then turns to Natasha. “Nelly, that blouse is just ridiculous.”

Maria leaves the room, leaving Natasha annoyed and Bruce hopeful.

“I still can’t believe she’s allowed to teach at this school,” Natasha says.

“You know what? She may actually have a point.”

“Competition,” Bruce says to the kids. Behind him on the whiteboard are side-by-side photos of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and Prince and Michael Jackson.

“Mr. Banner, when did the Backstreet Boys compete with Prince?” Carol asks.

“And when did NSYNC compete with MJ?” Thor adds.

“You’re supposed to be looking at the photos side-by-side, not one on top of the other,” Bruce says. Carol and Thor both share a look and snicker.

“Back in the nineties, the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were the two boybands on everybody’s lips, each just as successful as the other. Though the two groups always denied any legitimate bad blood or feuding, they did inadvertently compete with each other for pop music dominance. And the same thing applies to Prince and Michael Jackson. The two were very similar in style and were often compared, causing another unintentional competition. The point of all of this is to show you guys that the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Prince, and Michael Jackson used competing with each other as a way to make themselves better, and push themselves out of their boxes,” Bruce explains.

“Well, I’m team Michael, and NSYNC. Their music was better, and there isn’t a single member of Backstreet Boys who’s an individual star,” Nakia shares.

“I’m team BSB, because at least they were all young and hot. Can’t say the same for most of the guys in NSYNC,” Valkyrie quips.

“Though I risk being taunted for admitting this, I’m a fan of both of those bands. They both have two of the greatest albums in boyband history,” Peter says.

“And that is the beauty of it all,” Bruce replies. “Both bands worked hard to ensure that exactly that would happen. Quality albums that would end up being timeless. And us, the fans, received two amazing albums in the process.”

“So, what does all of this have to do with us?” T’Challa asks.

“We are going to have a competition of our own,” Bruce says, walking to the whiteboard and writing “VS” in felt marker. “You guys are going to split up into two groups, and in a couple of days, you’re going to go head to head. And I have decided that the winning group is going to help me pick our song selections for Sectionals.”

The kids all look amped and energized. Bruce is so thankful to see it.

“How are you going to split us up?” Gamora questions.

“I thought I would leave it up to our Invitationals duet pair, Steve and Sharon,” Bruce says.

Steve and Sharon get up from their seats and move to stand beside Bruce. “Sharon, you can pick first.”

“Nakia,” Sharon says, earning surprised faces from everybody, but mostly Nakia. She gets up and moves to stand with Sharon. Bruce then looks to Steve for his choice.








Thor is the last one to be chosen. “This is absurd!” Thor jokes, pretending to be hurt.

“Thor, you can choose which group you want to join,” Bruce says. Thor starts to walk toward the girls, but then sneaks his way over to the boys.

“Great. Had I known you were just going to split up boys versus girls, I would’ve just done that to begin with, and we could’ve saved a lot of time.” The kids all laugh.

“Wait,” Nakia says. “Who’s judging? No offense, Mr. B, but your gender makes you biased.”

Bruce thinks about it. “We are going to have two very special celebrity judges.”

The kids are definitely intrigued now. “Okay, you guys will work on your numbers, and you’ll perform in a couple of days,” Bruce says. They all clap as the bell rings.

The girls all walk out as a group. “We’ve got this in the bag,” Valkyrie says to them all.

“You know we do,” Nakia responds.

Bruce approaches the boys, who are huddled together in the corner of the choir room. “Hey, I hope you boys are up to the challenge, the girls seem pretty pumped.”

“We plan on smacking them down like the hand of god,” Peter replies with a smile on his face as he and Tony exit the room. Then, Sam, T’Challa, and Thor walk out.

Bruce is left alone with Steve, who looks absolutely sleep-deprived. “Hey, buddy, you alright? You look extremely tired.”

Steve nods. “Yeah, I’m okay, just not getting much sleep lately,” Steve answers.

“Don’t forget, if you need anything, just let me know,” Bruce says.

Steve nods and then gets up to follow his pals.

Bucky is in the gymnasium, reading one of his favorite novels, “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, when Bruce approaches him.

“Hi, Bucky. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

Bucky closes his novel. “Hi, Mr. Banner.”

“How have you been?”

Bucky does his best to keep composed. “Okay. How are you?”

Bruce shrugs. “To be honest, not that good. Glee Club lost one of its best singers, and, even though I shouldn’t be saying this, it just so happened to be one of my favorite students.”

Bucky purses his lips, staring out into the gymnasium. “I’m not sure what you want me to say here.”

“Bucky, all of your big Broadway dreams, you confided all of that in me. The Glee Club was just setting sail. Can you at least give me a clue as to why you quit?”

Bucky exhales roughly. “Just be honest,” he thinks to himself.

“When Steve joined, I was upset. He was a bully, and bullies were never my cup of tea. Nevertheless, I got over it, because he hadn’t personally done a lot to me, and there’s actually a lot of talent there. When the Cheerios joined, I was even more upset. I have bad relationships with all three. Simply put, they hate me. But again, I got over it. Because that’s how much the Glee Club meant to me. But, then, Sam joined,” Bucky explains through a heavy throat. He can feel tears coming.

“And that was the last straw. Sam is one of the worst ones. Sharon, she’s evil, and so are Brock Rumlow and Clint Barton, but Sam is the devil incarnate. He’s the reason why I quit the football team,” Bucky says.

Realization dawns on Bruce. “Bucky, is Sam the one that tried to punch you?”

Bucky nods at the question. His teacher cringes in response. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine, Mr. Banner. I told you I didn’t want anyone to get involved. I realize now that had I asked you to reject students from joining solely based on the fact that I have beef with them is a tad unprofessional, and it makes you susceptible to complaints being lodged against you.”

“Bucky, is there anything at all that I can do to help? Can I set up a meeting between you both? Get him to apologize?” Bruce asks sincerely. “Anything to get you to come back to us?”

“Apologize for almost punching me? Or apologize for everything else he’s done? Because if it’s the latter, then we’d be stuck in there all afternoon,” Bucky says, standing up and collecting his bag. “I appreciate it, Mr. Banner, I do. But I don’t think that would help anyone. He’s made his decision. I’m gay, so I’m the enemy. And I’m sorry but I don’t think I can return to Glee Club. I hope everything works out for you all.” With that, Bucky leaves the gymnasium.

Bucky enters the cafeteria, sack lunch in hand. He’d sort of been avoiding everybody from the Glee Club the last couple of days, and doing so entailed bringing his own lunch that he could eat somewhere that was not the cafeteria.

Bucky turns his view to the sea of kids at their respective tables. He spots Nakia and Gamora together in the corner of the room. He smiles and decides to join them.

“Hi, guys. Do you mind if I sit with you?”

The girls look at him with shocked looks. “Really? You haven’t spoken to us in days. Not even in Spanish class,” Nakia says.

Bucky looks to the floor. “I know. You’re right. I’m sorry for that.” The girls just watch him. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have even asked,” he says, turning to walk away.

“Bucky! Wait,” Gamora calls. Bucky turns back around to them. She moves her backpack and opens up a seat for him, looking at him sympathetically.

Bucky smiles, taking the seat. “I really am sorry for avoiding you guys these last few days. I’ve just…Been dealing with stuff.”

“We kind of figured it had something to with Sam joining,” Nakia admits, leaving it up to Bucky whether or not he wants to confirm or deny.

“Yeah. Basically. It’s sort of a mix of things, actually,” Bucky replies. “But I don’t want to talk about Sam. How is Glee Club?”

“It’s going amazing,” Gamora answers with a giddy look on her face.

“We’re doing a girls versus boys week. Mr. Banner is letting the winning group choose the songs for Sectionals,” Nakia adds.

“Yeah, and the girls are doing ‘Lose My Breath’ by Destiny’s Child,” Gamora shares.

Bucky’s got a look on his face that’s a cross between sad and jealous. “Wow. That actually sounds really fun.”

“Bucky, can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Bucky replies.

“Are you going to come back to Glee Club?”

Bucky swallows a lump in his throat and replies with a hesitant shrug and half smile.

Before the girls can say anything else, the trio are interrupted by slushies to the face, provided by Jane Foster, Jessica Jones, and Darcy Lewis.

Bucky, Nakia, and Gamora sit there frozen, both figuratively and literally.

Peter rolls toward them with his lunch tray in hand. “Let’s get you guys to the bathroom.”

November 5, 2012.

“So, have I done something wrong?” Steve asks Mrs. Romanoff, who’s sitting right in front of him. She’s just been staring at him for about thirty seconds. The two are in her office.

“Oh, no. No, absolutely not, I’ve just… Taken a special interest in you,” Natasha replies, smiling. “Look, I know that sometimes life can come at you pretty fast, and you reach a point where you might just need some special guidance.”

Steve looks at her inquisitively. “…H-Has someone told you something about my personal life?”

Natasha freezes, thinking back to the day that Bruce pulled her aside and told her about Steve and Sharon’s pregnancy. “Nope,” she responds. She then stands up to peer over to her pamphlets. “But you know, Steve, there are very few students that ever get athletic scholarships.”

Steve’s surprised at the news. “Really?”

“Yeah, and I know this might come as even bigger shocker, but there are actually a lot of schools that give full rides to students who excel in music. Students like yourself.”

This gets Steve’s full attention. “Maybe if you were able to go to college you wouldn't, say, end up stuck in this town in a dead-end job living hand-to-mouth with a wife and a kid you never intended to have,” Natasha adds. Steve looks at her suspiciously. “That’s just something off the top of my head, though.”

Steve decides to ignore her comment. “So, are you saying that if I stuck with Glee Club that I could almost definitely get a scholarship?”

“It's definitely a possibility. You know, if you did well at Sectionals, and then Regionals, maybe you could generate some interest.”

Steve feels optimistic, but then reality sinks in. “But we lost Bucky, and he was like our best singer. You think we can do it without him? Do you think we can win Regionals?”

“You might not have Bucky anymore, but there are still so many talented people in that room, one of them being you,” Natasha says. “But if you're concerned about your future and those who may be a part of your future soon, maybe you should talk to Bucky, and see if you can’t get him to come back.”

Steve smiles and nods. “Okay. Thanks for the talk, Mrs. Romanoff.”

“Bucky!” Steve calls out. Bucky turns around instantly, as does every other student in the hallway that Bucky is passing through. Steve runs up to him.

“Hi, Steve,” Bucky says, nerves getting the best of him.

“How’s it going?”

“I’ve had better days,” Bucky says, huffing out a laugh. “How are you?”

“I’ve also had better days,” Steve jokes. “But, you know, I’ve got to be honest with you, Bucky, Glee Club is definitely not the same without you.”

Bucky’s shocked. “Really?”

“Yeah. We all miss having you in there,” Steve admits.

Bucky snickers. “No, you don’t. Sharon, Sam, Valkyrie, and Carol hate me, Thor and T’Challa don’t even know me, and I kind of get the vibe that Nakia sees me more as a frenemy. The only ones I actually believe might miss me are Gamora, Peter, and Tony.”

“Well, I miss you,” Steve says with a slight pout in his lips, running a hand through his hair. Bucky feels his knees turn to jelly.

“You do?”

“Yeah. I really do,” Steve replies. “So, listen, I was wondering if you might be free this evening to help me out with some vocal warm ups, and techniques and whatnot. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re doing boys versus girls this week and I’m leading the number with Peter. So far, I’ve just kind of been faking it till I make it, so really anything would help. Us guys really wanna take this.”

Bucky so wishes he was home so that he could scream into his pillow over the fact that Steve just asked him for help. It’s the second time in two weeks. “Yeah, I’m free.”

Steve smiles, and Bucky swears his blue eyes twinkle. “Great. See you in the auditorium around five, then?”

Bucky nods. “Yeah, sure, I’ll see you.”

Sharon decided earlier in the week that she didn’t want to keep participating in Cheerios practices’ because she didn’t want to harm her unborn baby. But… Sitting out, leaving the squad, they’re not easy choices to make. Cheerios is her whole life. Like she said to Steve, she is the squad. So, she decides one last practice won’t hurt.

The Cheerios are working on their routine for their Regionals competition, which is two weeks away. Their routine entails having Sharon be the center of the pyramid for their finishing pose. The football team is running through practice on the other end of the field.

Maria Hill watches the Cheerios run through the entire performance. Once the final pose comes, Maria notices Sharon’s knees quiver. Quivers so noticeable, it stands out like a sore thumb. Sharon was usually so sharp and precise with her movements. A quiver was unheard of with her.

“Okay, sloppy babies, hit the showers. I can’t keep having you guys stink up the football field, that wouldn’t be fair to the football players,” Maria says into her megaphone. The Cheerios disperse, making their ways toward the locker rooms.

“You feeling okay, Sharon?” Maria asks.

Sharon instantly realizes why Maria is asking. “Yeah, I’m just really tired from Glee Club,” she replies.

“Okay. Just so you know, Operation Bucky might already be crumbling on us. I saw him and your so-called boytoy speaking in the hallway, and it sounded like he was trying to get Bucky to rejoin the Glee Club,” Maria tells her.

Sharon’s eyebrows furrow and her lips purse instantly at the information. “Don’t worry, Coach. We’ll try our best to make sure that Bucky doesn’t come back.”

Maria dismisses her, and Sharon makes to leave. She then falls, tripping over her own duffel bag. Valkyrie and Carol run to her aid. Sam had been on his way back to the locker room. He also sees Sharon fall.

“Are you okay?” Carol asks.

“Sharon, you good?” Sam questions worriedly, running to her. Valkyrie looks at him questionably.

“Yes, relax, I’m fine,” Sharon replies, getting up on her own. But then, she’s hit with an amazing idea. “Ow!” She screams as she puts weight on her foot. “It’s my ankle, I think I broke it.”

Maria and other members of the Cheerios run to their captain. Maria takes a look at her ankle. “It doesn’t look broken, but let’s get you to the nurse to be sure.”

Sam looks anxious. Sharon manages to turn around and wink at him very subtly, so that he knows it’s all a ruse.

Sam is waiting for Sharon right outside the nurse’s office. She finally walks out with a band wrapped around it.

“There she is,” Sam says, immediately lighting up at her presence.

“Are you insane? If Valkyrie finds you here, waiting for me, she’s going to freak out.”

Sam scoffs. “Screw Valkyrie. You’re lucky I ran to your rescue, Steve skipped out on another practice. Are you okay? That fall looked painful, but then you winked at me, so…”

Sharon rolls her eyes. “I’m fine. The fall didn’t hurt at all. But I just bought myself four weeks on the sidelines with this fake injury. It’s probably enough time for me to figure out what I’m going to do about the baby.”

“I told you, babe. You don’t have to worry at all,” Sam says, approaching her slowly, seductively.

Sharon lets Sam kiss her neck for a second, but then she swats him away. “Sam, I told you. I’m still dating Steve. And I still love Steve. Steve, who is your best friend. You’re not going to make me cheat again.”

Sam grows angered. “You know what, Sharon? This game you’re playing, texting me, leading me on, and then rejecting me, it’s getting old. Besides, do you think either one of us is going to give a fuck about Steve in three years?”

Sharon looks remorseful.

“I joined Glee Club for you. That was my first step to proving that I’m not the Lima loser you think I am.”

Sharon bites her lip. “You’re not a Lima loser. I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

Sam smiles. “Look, you’re going to take these next four weeks to figure out what you’re going to do about the baby, right? Why don’t you also take these next four weeks to figure out what you’re going to do about this,” he says, gesturing toward them both.

Sharon shrugs. “I’ll see you tomorrow in Glee Club.”

“You girls better bring it,” Sam says, walking off.

Nakia is at the corner of the hallway, backpack on her shoulders, jaw on the floor. She whips out her phone from her pocket, and texts Gamora.

Steve and Bucky are on the auditorium stage. Bucky sits at the piano, tapping a high note.

“Try it.”

“Laaa,” Steve sings, mimicking the piano note.

“Good,” Bucky says.

“That was good,” Steve says, confidently.

Bucky laughs to himself. “Okay, one more up.”


“That was really good!” Bucky exclaims.

“Was that okay?” Steve asks with an unsure look on his face.

“Yeah, that’s like the holy grail for a baritenor, so it’s a good note. All right, I’ll start at the bottom, and then we’ll go up higher.”

“Can we take a break? Singing actually kind of makes me a little hungry,” Steve says.

“Yeah, absolutely. Luckily, I prepared for that,” Bucky answers, pointing to the picnic basket and blanket over on the other side of the stage.

“Oh, I was wondering what that was all about,” Steve admits.

“You want to sit and grab a bite?”

Steve smiles. “Yeah, yeah, let’s do it.”

The two take a seat on the pillows Bucky brought. “So, when did you learn to play piano?”

“I started taking lessons when I was five, and I did it up until I was ten.”

“Nice. What other hidden talents you got?” Steve teases.

Bucky stares at him with a playful look on his face. “Well, I mean, not to brag, but besides singing and dancing, I play the ukulele, and I write.”

Steve laughs. “Fuck outta here, man, damn all-star,” he says, joking. Bucky laughs.

“What about you? Anything other than being a football superstar?”

“This is pretty embarrassing, but I draw a little,” Steve shares.

Bucky’s surprised, in a good way. “Wow. That’s great,” Bucky answers. “You know, Steve, I was wondering why you asked me to help you with your singing. You kicked ass at Invitationals.”

“To be honest with you, I was holding back. I know I could’ve done better. This is my first chance to be, you know, good like you. I only want to be that level of good from here on out.”

Bucky snickers. “Do you really think I’m that good?” He pulls out two boxed slices of pizza he picked up from Mr. Pepp’s right by Shield High.

“Well, when I first joined, I thought you were kind of insane. You talk a lot more than you should, and to be honest with you, I looked under the bed and made sure that you weren’t hanging out under there,” Steve teases. Bucky’s only slightly taken aback at the honest revelation. “But then I heard you sing. I don’t know how to say this, but you sort of touched something in me. Right here,” he finishes, placing a hand over his chest.

Bucky is a puddle of goo, but he collects himself quickly enough so that Steve doesn’t feel uncomfortable. “Your heart is actually on the other side of your chest… But thank you,” he says.

Steve moves his hand to the other side of his chest. “Huh, that’s weird. It’s beating really hard,” he says, feeling a little flustered.

“Do you want a drink?” Bucky asks while passing Steve a slice of pizza.

Steve nods. “You know, Bucky, I got to tell ya, you’re really cool. I still think about all that cool stuff you said at the Celibacy Club meeting. I wish you hadn’t quit.”

Bucky passes him a can of iced tea. “Thanks. I don’t know, I guess I just figured it wasn’t for me.”

Steve nods. “I also wish you hadn’t quit the football team, and Glee.”

Bucky rolls his eyes. “Be honest, Steve, did you actually just ask me here so that you could pick on me? Is that it?”

Steve laughs. “Not at all. I’m just being honest.”

“Well, then, I appreciate it.”

“Hey, I don’t mean to pry, but is there any chance of you re-joining either of them?”

Bucky thinks about it. “Football, no. Glee club…Maybe.”

Steve nods at this. “Cheers,” he says, lifting his can of iced tea.

Bucky follows suit. “To new friends,” he says, clinking his can with Steve’s. They each take a sip.

“Oh, you got a little iced tea on your chin,” Steve says.

Bucky wipes his chin with his sleeve but misses.

“No, it’s right here,” Steve says, reaching out to wipe his thumb across Bucky’s chin, slowly.

Bucky notices Steve staring at his lips.

Is Bucky making it all up in his head?

No, he’s not, because Steve is one hundred percent lingering. He wonders why.

Why on earth is Steve lingering, staring so intently at his lips?

Steve, who is dating Sharon Carter; Steve, who is the quarterback of the football team; Steve, who’s entire circle includes devout homophobes. Steve, who has only ever shown signs of being heterosexual.

Bucky has never wanted to kiss him more than he does in this moment. He wonders if it’s at all possible that Steve is thinking the same thing.

“You know, you can kiss me if you want to,” Bucky says. He tenses, hoping that the offer doesn’t snap Steve out of whatever daze he’s in, and make him punch Bucky in the face.

Steve’s gaze moves from Bucky’s lips to his eyes. He swallows the lump in his throat, his cheeks pink. There are voices in his head telling him not to do it. He ignores them. “I think I want to.”

Bucky lays down onto the pillows as Steve moves over him. Their lips meet briefly, at first. They kiss once more, and then again, and again. They kiss for minutes, until Steve pulls away. He stands abruptly.

“Did I do something wrong?” Bucky asks. It was his first kiss. He was just following Steve’s lead.

“No… You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just….” Steve says, trailing off. “I’m not g-… I’ve got to go, Bucky. Please, don’t tell anybody about this, okay?”

Bucky’s left feeling slightly insecure. Even a little sad. He watches Steve run out. His mind is processing everything that had just happened. He really kissed Steve Rogers. Steve Rogers really kissed him back.

“Is there even the slightest possibility that Steve has feelings for me?” Bucky thinks to himself.

November 6, 2012.

Hit me!

[Aural Avengers Girls:]
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my breath
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my breath (Hah Hah)

I put it right there, made it easy for you to get to
Now you wanna act like ya don't know what to do
After having done everything that you asked me
Grabbed you, grind you, liked you, tried you
Moved so fast baby now I can't find you
I’m starting to believe that I’m way too much for you
All that talk but it seems like it can’t come through
All them lies like you could satisfy me
Now I see where believing you got me
Gave you the wheel, but you can't drive me

[Aural Avengers Girls:]
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my (Hah Hah)
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my breath (Hah Hah)

Two things I don't like when I tryin' to get my groove
Is a partner that meets me only half way and just can't prove
Take me out so deep when you know you can't swim
Need a lifeguard and I need protection
To put it on me deep in the right direction
You understand the facts that I'm tryin' to give to you
You movin' so slow like you just don't have a clue
Didn't mama teach you to give affection?
I know the difference of a man and an adolescent
It ain't you, boo, so get to steppin'!

[Aural Avengers Girls]:
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my (Hah Hah)
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my breath (Hah Hah)

If you can't make me say oooh
Like the beat of this drum
Why you ask for some and you really want none
If you can't make me say oooh
Like the beat of this groove
You don't have no business in this here's your papers
Baby you are dismissed

[Aural Avengers Girls]:
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my (Hah Hah)
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my breath (Hah Hah)
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my (Hah Hah)
Can you keep up?
Baby boy, make me lose my breath
Bring the noise, make me lose my breath
Hit me hard, make me lose my breath (Hah Hah)

Bruce, Natasha, Stephen and the boys all cheer at the performance the girls give, complete with precise choreography, no doubt put together by Carol, who’s been a trained dancer her whole life. Natasha and Stephen are the celebrity judges that Bruce had teased the kids with earlier in the week.

“Oh my god, ladies! That was amazing!” Bruce exclaims.

The girls are all matching, each wearing different pink tops and blue jeans. “Thank you, Mr. Banner,” Nakia responds.

“How about my girl Sharon though, dancing through that even with her screwed up ankle?”  Valkyrie asks.

“Yes, Sharon, you did great. I just hope you didn’t work yourself too hard,” Bruce says. There’s a deeper meaning behind Bruce’s statement, something intended only for Steve and Sharon to pick up on.

“I’m fine, Mr. Banner,” Sharon replies.

“Alright, now I wouldn’t want to follow that, but boys, you’re up.”

Steve, Tony, Sam, Thor, T’Challa, and Peter all take their place up on the stage. The boys are all wearing leather jackets and, like the girls, blue jeans. Once they’re ready, Peter signals the band.

This ain't a song for the broken-hearted
No silent prayer for the faith-departed
And I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd
You're gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud

[Aural Avengers Boys:]
It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive
It's my life

[Peter with the Aural Avengers boys:]
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just want to live while I'm alive
It's my life

[Steve with Peter:]
Yeah, this is for the ones who stood their ground
For Tommy and Gina, who never backed down
Tomorrow's getting harder, make no mistake
Luck ain't even lucky, got to make your own breaks

[Aural Avengers Boys:]
It's my life
And it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive
It's my life

[Peter with Aural Avengers Boys:]
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just want to live while I'm alive
'Cause it's my life

Better stand tall when they're calling you out
Don't bend, don't break, baby, don't back down

[Aural Avengers Boys:]
It's my life
And it's now or never
'Cause I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive
It’s my life

[Peter with Aural Avengers Boys:]
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just want to live while I'm alive
It's my life

And it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive
It's my life

[Aural Avengers Boys:]
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just want to live while I'm alive
'Cause it's my life

The girls erupt in a cheer frenzy. Natasha and Stephen, once again, join in.

“Oh my god, guys! That was amazing! Our celebrity judges have their work cut out for them,” Bruce says, looking over at Natasha and Stephen.

“I’m so incredibly torn,” Stephen admits.

“Can I just take a second to point out that you are all so incredibly talented? Great work, all of you,” Natasha says, looking over at Steve, who’s got the biggest smile on his face.

The kids all thank her. Bruce looks out into the distance of the auditorium and sees Bucky. He excuses himself and goes to speak with him. “Hi, Mr. Barnes.”

Bucky clutches onto his backpack straps. “So, a couple of days ago, Ms. Hill offered to create a whole new Glee Club just so that I would join and turn my back on you guys. And to be honest, I considered it. But, then, I realized that she was probably full of it. And I also realized that this,” Bucky gestures to all the Glee kids on the stage, “it’s all bigger than my stupid feelings. I could never turn my back on you guys. You’re my family.”

Bruce looks at Bucky warmheartedly. He moves to hug him, which Bucky accepts. “Bucky, your feelings, they’re anything but stupid. They’re incredibly valid. You shouldn’t have to be afraid to be your most authentic self, and I’m sorry there are some people in this very school, in this very club that have made you feel like that. There’s been a piece missing all week, and we’re so glad to have it back.”

Bucky pulls away. “But, Mr. Banner, if it’s possible, do you think…”

Bruce stops him. “I’m one step ahead of you,” he replies. “Hey, Sam, can I have a word?”


“So, what’s this about?” Sam asks, directed at Bruce. The three of them are in the choir room.

“Sam, Bucky would like to rejoin the Glee Club. But, as I’ve been informed, you two have quite a rocky history,” Bruce says.

Bucky looks at Sam. “I’m not doing this to snitch on all of the stuff you’ve done to me over the past year and few months. And I’m not doing this in the hopes that we become best friends either. I’m not even doing this to ask you to apologize. But I would like to come back and not have to worry about you tormenting me.”

Sam looks to the floor in silence for a few minutes. Now, on a regular day, Sam probably would’ve told Bucky and Mr. Banner to shove it where the sun don’t shine, or just straight up walked out of the room. But he’s truly trying to change, rehabilitate himself. At least a little.

“You won’t have to worry about that. Actually, you know what? I’m sorry. The fact that you didn’t feel like you could talk to me yourself without Mr. Banner present is a real splash of cold water to the face. I’m not going to stop picking on kids, being on the top of the food chain comes with a certain social order that I must follow,” Sam admits. “But there are some kids that I treat a little too roughly. And you’re one of them. So, I’m sorry.”

He offers Bucky a hand. “We’re on the same team now, so let’s move on,” he adds.

“We were on the same football team. Why couldn’t you have had this mentality two weeks ago?” Bucky asks.

“You caught me on a bad day. That doesn’t make it any better, I know, but, it’s the truth,” Sam says. “Are you going to shake my hand, or not, twinkle toes?”

Bucky rolls his eyes, but smiles, nonetheless. He takes Sam’s hand. Bruce is filled with immense happiness. He walks back to the auditorium with them both.

“Guys, great news. Bucky has rejoined the Aural Avengers, and we are now, once again, at our lucky number twelve,” Bruce says. They all cheer, Tony and T’Challa pulling Bucky on stage so that he can hug everyone, excluding Sharon and Valkyrie.

“Now, hopefully we don’t get any more defections, and we can just focus on Sectionals. But, to do that, we need to hear from our distinguished judges.”

Natasha and Stephen approach the stage. “We have decided that the winning team is…Everybody,” Natasha reveals.

None of the kids look pleased. “Oh, come on, kids. It was super hard narrowing it down. You all did fantastically,” Stephen says.

“And, the best part of all of this, you’re not in your lazy slump anymore,” Bruce adds. “So, each team will be choosing one song for us to sing at Sectionals.”

“You’ve got a month left to prepare, so make the most of it!” Natasha says.

The kids all cheer once again. It’s becoming one of Bruce’s favorite sounds.

November 8, 2012.

“So, let me get this straight. Nakia didn’t end up quitting, Sam joined the Glee Club, and then Bucky came back, bringing the total number of members to twelve, making you eligible to compete, and now, the Glee Club is hard at work on a new number, more confident than ever?” Maria asks Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol.

“Well…” Valkyrie begins, but Maria cuts her off.

“I don’t have a second to waste on excuses, Parrington,” she says. “Ladies, this is what we call a total disaster. I’m going to have to ask you to smell your armpits.”

The girls cringe, but obey their coach, nonetheless.

“That’s the smell of failure and it’s stinking up my office,” Maria says, pulling out her notebook and grabbing a pen. “I’m writing a memo here to remind me that I’m revoking your tanning privileges for the rest of the semester.”

“No, please,” Valkyrie begs, beginning to sob. She cries so hard she excuses herself from the office.

Maria looks at Carol. “Get the hell out of my office.”

Carol does as she’s told, leaving Maria and Sharon alone. “How’s your ankle?”

“Still hurts a lot. I’m going to have to sit out of practice for at least four weeks, doctor’s orders,” Sharon informs her.

Maria’s face twists in horror. “That means you’re going to have to sit out of Regionals, shit! Well, alright. You work on getting better.”

Sharon changes the subject. “What are you going to do about the Glee Club now?”

“Well, since you three did a terrible job with your super simple tasks, I’m going to have to enlist the help of someone competent,” Maria tells her.

Sharon stands to leave. She reaches the doorway, but then turns to Coach Hill. “Ms. Hill, I want to thank you.”

Maria’s confused. “What for?”

“For teaching me a valuable life lesson: when you really believe in yourself, you don’t have to bring other people down.”

Maria glares at the now empty doorway. She reaches for her office phone, contacting the school’s secretary, and asks to be transferred to the athletic department.

“Can we be frank?” Maria asks.

“Shoot,” Matt Murdock replies. He’s wearing what he always wore to school: a colored polo shirt and black shorts.

“A certain co-worker of ours is crushing pretty hard on that red-haired orangutan you call a girlfriend.”

Matt’s face falls slightly. “Are you talking about Banner?”

Maria nods. “So, you see it too, then?”

He shrugs. “I’ve had my suspicions.”

“Well, then I feel like I should tell you that I think the feeling is mutual.”

Matt glares at her. “What makes you say that?”

“My primary job at this school, that might constitute more as a pastime, and more of an invasion of privacy, is to lurk around the halls at different hours of the day. I see the way she looks at him when they speak, with such reverence and adoration. I’ve also caught her looking at old Shield High yearbooks, most notably, ones from the years that Banner attended.”

Matt fumes. “Why are you telling me this?”

Maria smiles. “Because I have a proposition for you.”

The Glee Club is running through some new choreography when Matt storms into the choir room.

“Mr. Murdock! You are definitely a hard man to find. I’ve been looking for you for days,” Bruce says to him.

“Don’t play games, Banner,” Matt replies angrily. “You know exactly where my office is.”

Bruce is taken aback. “I’m not playing games. I did check your office, multiple times. I just wanted to find you to apologize for my comment in the staff room.”

“Well, you keep that apology and give it to someone who gives a rat’s ass, because I sure don’t,” Matt answers. The kids’ jaws drop. Matt then turns his attention to Tony, Steve, T’Challa, Sam, and Thor.

“You realize while your teammates are out on the field in full gear, you’re all in here dancing? It’s the fourth time in two weeks.” The boys don’t reply. Nobody replies. Matt then turns to Steve.

“And you? You skipped out on two practices this week. You want to tell me about that? Because here I was. thinking it was because you were coming down with something, but Mrs. Cho said she saw you leave school around five forty-five yesterday, which means you were probably in here while practice was going on.”

Steve can’t even look him in the eyes. Bruce notices how shaken the boys are. “Okay, you know what, you don’t need to do this in front of everybody, Matt.”

“Actually, I do. Because I need witnesses. We’re adding a Thursday afternoon football practice,” he says.

The boys all perk up. “But, coach, we have Glee rehearsals Thursday afternoons,” T’Challa says.

Matt chuckles breathlessly. “I don’t care. We’ve only got two more shots at advancing, or we’re done for the season. That practice is now mandatory. So, if you guys aren’t there next Thursday, or if you’re even a split second late, then you’re off the team.”

Chapter Text

November 2, 2012.

“Y’all, perfect timing, lock the door!” Nakia says to Thor and Valkyrie. They were the last two to enter. Already in the choir room are Nakia, Gamora, Peter, Tony, Carol, and T’Challa.

“Quick, quick, we don’t have much time,” Gamora says, fiddling with her thumbs anxiously.

They all huddle closer together. “The other day, I overheard Sharon talking to Sam, and she mentioned being pregnant,” Nakia shares with them all.

Pure shock is splattered across their faces. “So, is that why she left the choir room to go and throw up like three times last week?” Peter asks.

Valkyrie’s immediately annoyed. “Wait, you said you heard them talk about it? Why would she tell Sam, before telling Carol and I? What exactly did she say?”

“I overheard them talking outside the nurse’s office the other day as I was leaving Math tutoring. I didn’t get to hear everything, but I definitely heard them mention ‘her baby’,” Nakia says.

Valkyrie crosses her arms angrily, and rightfully so. How would someone feel after hearing a rumor that their best friend was off telling their boyfriend some pretty private information.

“I can’t believe it. Steve and Sharon, having a baby together at sixteen years old,” T’Challa says.

All of their eyes shoot to the door once they hear the handle rattle. It’s Bruce, with Sharon, Steve, Sam, and Bucky behind him.

“Nobody say anything to the others! And definitely don’t tell anybody that I told you. Mum’s the word,” Nakia says.

The day after Nakia and Gamora spilled the beans to the entire Glee Club about Sharon’s pregnancy, the two created a Facebook message group chat so that they could further discuss everything.

Nakia Shauku: y’all…

Valkyrie Parrington: what is this?

Gamora Whoberi: a group chat where we can discuss sharon’s pregnancy!

Peter Quill: shit’s crazy!! :O

T’Challa Udaku: are we sure it’s one hundred percent legit? maybe sam was just kidding? You know he’s like that

Nakia Shauku: maybe but why would he do that? Besides, sharon didn’t deny it or anything

Carol Danvers: maybe we should just ask her?

Valkyrie Parrington: no! we’re not asking her. we can use this as like leverage or something

Nakia Shauku: for what?

Valkyrie Parrington: idk, it’s just an option, okay?

Tony Stark: are we the only people that know? Besides sam, and sharon, and obviously steve?

Valkyrie Parrington: I mean, if it is true, I doubt she’d tell her parents lmfao.

Thor Odinson: dos bucky no??

Gamora Whoberi: I don’t think so, he would’ve mentioned it by now. 

Nakia Shauku: no one tell him! If any of us were to go tell steve and sharon that we knew, it’d be bucky.

Valkyrie Parrington: true that.

Carol Danvers: what if coach hill finds out?

Valkyrie Parrington: then sharon’s entire life will be ruined.

November 11, 2012.

Steve walks into Shield High, still just as drained as he’d been the week before. Over the weekend, he caught up on the sleep he felt he was missing, but that didn’t really help. Sunday night, he realized he wasn’t drained due to lack of sleep, but rather because of all of the secret keeping. First, there was his father.

Steve has yet to tell Joseph about the baby. He’s too scared of what his reaction will be. His relationship with his father is already so severed, Steve’s almost certain a baby would only make things worse.

Then, there’s Sharon. Steve kind of sort of cheated on her. It’d been eating him alive. How could he have done that to her? She was pregnant with his child, and he’d gone and cheated on her. Steve was sure there was a special place in hell reserved especially for him.

And then, there was Bucky. Steve feels guilty about the way he’d used Bucky like that to get him to come back to Glee Club. The practice in the auditorium, the flirting… the kiss. That was why Steve had kissed him… Right? Yes, of course it was. He had only kissed Bucky to entice him into returning, and that was it… That was the only reason…A real dick move.

Steve’s thoughts are interrupted by the sound of a locker slamming shut. Or so he thinks. He looks to his left, and down the hall are Brock Rumlow, Clint Barton, and Aldrich Killian, shoving Tony Stark up against a locker.

“If all of you faggots chose Glee Club over football, then we don’t even have a full team. So, you better make the right fucking decision,” Rumlow says to Tony.

Steve immediately walks over to help deescalate the situation.

“Guys, what’s going on?” Steve asks. “Put him down.”

“Oh, perfect, mess with one fairy, and the whole squad shows up,” Aldrich quips.

Steve glares at him. He then turns to Rumlow and Barton and says, “Since when do you two hang out with Aldrich Killian?” Aldrich Killian was the captain of the hockey team, and there’s been an ongoing rivalry between the hockey team and the football team for years, long before Steve or Aldrich even began attending Shield High. For his two pals to all of a sudden be hanging out with “the enemy” is pretty fucked up.

“Since most of you all decided to simultaneously turn gay and join Glee Club,” Clint says.

“You know what? This goes for you, too, Rogers,” Rumlow says to him aggressively. “You, Stark, Wilson, Odinson, and Udaku chose Glee Club over football on Thursday, and you’ll live to regret it. You’re going to start every morning off with a slushy facial. That I can guarantee.”

Clint and Aldrich throw slushes into Steve and Tony’s faces.

“Goddamn it, Rumlow!” Steve screams. Rumlow, Clint, and Killian all laugh as they walk away.

Tony and Steve are in the boy’s bathroom washing out their hair and eyes. Tony’s got the essentials with him: travel sized shampoo, face wash, and hairbrush. He kept them in his locker at all times for whenever he got slushied.

“Jesus Christ, those things are fucking cold,” Steve says.

“You get used to them over time,” Tony replies.

Steve looks at him sympathetically through impaired vision. “I'm really sorry I ever did this to you.”

“It's okay,” Tony says dryly.

“No, it isn’t,” Steve states. “No one deserves this feeling. You know what the worst part is? It’s not even the burning in your eyes, or the way the slush drips all the way into your underwear. It’s the humiliation. I feel like could burst into tears at any moment.”

Tony just stares back, with no reply.

Because Steve’s hair is significantly longer than Tony’s, he’s having more trouble washing the icy red dye number 6 out of his scalp. Tony walks over to him. “You need a hand?”

“Sure. Thank you.”

Tony gets Steve to stick his head under the faucet, and then runs his fingers through Steve’s hair. “Tony, I’m so sorry,” Steve says.

“You already said that,” Tony says dryly.

“I know, but I have to say it again. Out of everybody I’ve hurt, I think I regret hurting you the most. I mean, I’d blame it on typical football stud behavior, but that wouldn’t apply here, because you are also on the team. We both know what it was…” Steve says, leaving Tony to decipher what he means.

“I just want you to know I’m not homophobic, alright? I know Bucky was afraid of Sam, and you might still be too, but you don’t have to worry about that with me, alright? I promise, if we ever get into beef, it’ll probably be about solos or some shit. Your sexuality is the last thing it’ll be about, okay?”

Tony’s touched. He appreciates Steve going out of his way to assure Tony he wasn’t like the others. Tony has a lot of trust issues, mostly due to his father. But he’s glad he can at least breathe a little more around Steve.

“Thanks, Rogers,” Tony says, semi-tearfully. “You’ve already made it up to me, though, with interfering today in the hallway. So, thanks for that. Let’s just start fresh, yeah?”

“Sounds great.”

“Alright, I hope you guys had a great weekend, hopefully you’re all rested up,” Bruce says to the kids as he walks into the choir room.

“Before I start us off on this week’s lesson, I just want to remind the football boys that they all have a big choice to make. Apparently, Coach Murdock’s mandatory Thursday practice isn’t a problem with Mr. Fury, which means that should they chose to attend Glee Club on Thursday, then they are off the football team. And if they chose football, then they’re going to be missing out on a number of Glee practices, and with Sectionals right around the corner, this concerns me. I mean, we’re already meeting just about every morning so that we don’t fall behind.”

The kids all frown. Bruce makes it a point to turn his attention directly to Steve, Tony, Sam, Thor, and T’Challa. “Look, guys. I don’t want to make this decision for you. And I also don’t want you guys to feel like you have to choose Glee Club over football. But we are absolutely going to miss having you guys in here if you do decide to leave, and you’d be missing out on so much greatness.”

The five boys all look amongst themselves, each just as torn as the last.

“Now, let’s move onto the lesson,” Bruce says walking to the whiteboard. He grabs a marker and writes Ballad.

“Does anyone know what a ballad is?” Bruce asks.

Carol raises her hand. Bruce points at her. “It’s a male duck,” she replies.

Bruce shakes his head. Gamora puts her hand up. “Isn’t a ballad a love song?” She asks sheepishly.

“Sometimes, but they don’t always express love. Ballads are stories set to music, which is why they’re the perfect storm of self-expression. Stories and music are the way we express feelings that we can’t get out any other way,” Bruce explains. “Okay, now, sectionals are in a few weeks and there’s a new rule this year: our setlist has to include a ballad.”

“Looks like my weekly letter to the Ohio Show Choir Committee finally paid off!” Bucky exclaims positively. Everybody rolls their eyes. It’s too early in the day for Bucky’s perky behavior.

“So, here’s the assignment for the week: I’m going to pair you off, and I want you to pick a ballad to sing with your partner. Look them right in the eye, find the emotion you want to express, and make them feel it… Or, just sing with them, you’ll still ace the assignment regardless.”

Steve grabs hold of Sharon’s hand, and kisses her knuckles. “I pick Sharon.” Bucky rolls his eyes dramatically.

“No, no, no. Too easy. Your partners will be chosen by fate,” Bruce says.

The kids all give out a simultaneously “ooh!”

“Ooh, yeah,” Bruce mocks. “Hey, Thor, can I borrow your hat, Buddy?”

Thor tears his snapback off of his head and lets his long mane loose, tossing it to Bruce.

“I already wrote out all your names, and I’m going to put them in this hat. Whoever you choose is your partner.”

“I bet the duck’s in the hat,” Carol whispers to Valkyrie.

“Alright, who’s up first?”

Nobody else makes the first move to go up, so Nakia does it. She tosses her hand in and pulls out a slip. “T’Challa.”

T’Challa smiles politely at her. Nakia hasn’t ever really spoken to T’Challa before, and he’s never bullied her, so he hasn’t given her a reason to not be happy with the selection.

Once Nakia makes her way back to her seat, Peter wheels up to the hat.

“Gamora!” Gamora is pretty happy with the outcome.

Carol sashays her way to the hat. “Thor.”

Valkyrie goes. “Sam,” she calls out suggestively. Bruce mentally grimaces to himself.

Before anybody else can go, Bucky rushes to the hat. He’s secretly hoping he pulls out Steve’s name. He’s not even really sure why. Steve hadn’t even bothered to so much as look Bucky’s way since their kiss in the auditorium. Bucky should be furious at him, and yet he can’t find the will to be.

Bucky reaches in and reads it aloud. “Tony.” Bucky’s not upset about it. He could’ve literally ended up with Sam, or T’Challa, or Thor, and how motherfucking awkward would that have been? Tony looks at Bucky happily.

Bucky choosing Tony means that Sharon and Steve are paired up by default.

“Just like Mr. B said: fate,” Sharon declares, kissing Steve, leaving most of the room uncomfortable.

“Okay, okay, cool it, you two,” Bruce says, averting his gaze elsewhere. “So, you have today’s second rehearsal and the rest of this week to work on your ballads, and for those of you partnered up with football players, why don’t you try and see if you can’t convince them to stick around for another little while.”

The bell rings, signaling the end of practice. The kids all exit the room immediately.

“Hey!” Tony speaks out, forcing Bucky to halt.

“Howdy, Partner,” Bucky replies. Then he cringes. “I sincerely apologize, that was really embarrassing, wasn’t it?”

Tony laughs. “You’re fine,” he says. “Listen, think on duet ideas the rest of the day so that we can get that out of the way early, okay? If you get an idea that can’t wait, just text me. You have my number.”

“Okay, sure thing,” Bucky says, turning around and leaving. Bucky doesn’t see it, but Tony watches Bucky walk out with literal hearts in his eyes.

Maria Hill sits at her desk, the school now mostly empty. She decides to pull out her journal and vent about some things that have been on her mind for a while. It’s the first time she’s even able to pull out her journal in at least a week. She’s been incredibly busy perfecting the Cheerios’ routine for their Regionals.

“Dear journal, feeling listless again today. Sort of the same way I’ve been feeling the last week or so. It started when I tried to make a smoothie out of beef bones, breaking my favorite juicer. And then, one of our alumni refused to honor her word and provide us with transportation to Regionals. (I still remember your address, Rogue. I wouldn’t mind paying a visit to your house and slashing the tires on your mother’s Prius. Let’s see if you at least help pay her transportation.) And then, at Cheerios practice a couple of days ago, disaster. Sharon was in the center of the pyramid, and her beautiful knees gave out. They quivered. It was unmistakeable. It was like spotting the first spark on the Hindenburg. Those quivers will lose us Nationals. And without a National championship, I’ll lose my endorsements. And without those endorsements, I won’t be able to buy myself that pontoon boat I’ve been eyeing up.

“You feeling okay, Sharon?” I asked her. And this little trollop looks me in the eyes and says, “I’m just really tired from Glee Club.” I’ve spotted countless knee quivers throughout my career, and they’ve almost exclusively all turned out to be the same thing: pregnancy. If I find out my star is pregnant, I will lose my mind.

Ugh, Glee Club. Every time I try to destroy that clutch of scab-eating, mouth-breathers, it only comes back stronger, like some sexually-ambiguous superhero movie villain. Here I am, about to turn thirty-nine, and I’ve sacrificed everything, only to be shanghaied by those bi-curious, abominable inbreeds. Am I missing something here, journal? Is it me? Of course, it’s not me, it’s Bruce Banner. What is it about him, journal? Is it that doe-eyed smile? Is it that hideous, store-bought perm? You know, journal, I may just be able to use the very person that I’ve already enlisted to help destroy the glee club to take down Bruce’s private life as well: Matt Murdock. If I can’t destroy the club, I will just have to destroy the man.

T’Challa and Nakia are sitting outside on the bleachers. Mr. Banner let all of the duet partners roam off and work on their duets for the day’s second glee club rehearsal. There’s a certain awkwardness in the air, mostly just due to the fact that Nakia and T’Challa don’t really know one another, and now, here they are, forced to sing a ballad to one another.

“So, here’s a good ice breaker: who are you into? Like, artists-wise?” T’Challa asks, taking a sip of his water bottle.

Nakia pretends to think long and hard about it, but that’s one of her favorite questions, because her answer is always the same. “Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin will forever be my top four.”

T’Challa bites his cheek and nods. “Yeah, that sounds pretty spot on.”

Nakia laughs. “What about you, Mr. football player?”

“I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty much just Michael,” T’Challa replies. “To be very honest, I’m pretty much musically inclined. But, that’s only because I didn’t grow up here.”

The comment intrigues Nakia. “You didn’t?”

T’Challa smiles. “No. I was born in Wakanda. My family just moved here like four years ago. I went to Sony Junior High before coming here last year.”

Nakia’s shocked. She knows all about the tense political climate in Wakanda that forced thousands to flee years ago. “Did you move here because…”

T’Challa cuts her off. “Of the government and the new ruler? You betcha.”

Nakia frowns. “I’m sorry to hear that. I had no idea.”

T’Challa shrugs. “It’s all good. I loved it out there, but you know, my family is better off being here. At least now my father and I don’t have to worry about being forced to become soldiers, and my sister doesn’t have to worry about becoming a wife at such a young age.”

T’Challa notices that Nakia is still a little shaken at the news, so he takes it upon himself to change the subject. “What about you? What’s your story?”

“Well, my parents met at the Akron Movie Theatre here in Ohio when they were younger. And then, they had me, and then my little brother, and then my parents fell in love with the church. My dad’s a preacher, and me and my brother are in the choir.”

T’Challa watches her intently. “That’s great. I know most kids our age either don’t care about religion, or they’re indifferent toward it, but to be completely honest, I’m pretty into it. My mother turned to prayer during our immigration process, and it helped her.”

Nakia’s pleased to hear this. She normally doesn’t divulge her religious beliefs to people she just met, mostly out of fear for being taunted or judged (even though she does love her Jesus), but she’s glad she did with T’Challa.

“Now, what do you say we pick a song, yeah?” T’Challa asks.

“I already picked one,” Nakia shares.

T’Challa got a confused look on his face. “Oh, yeah?”

“Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s’ ‘Endless Love’.”

“Well, I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure it’s great,” T’Challa says, laughing nervously.

“Hi,” Steve calls out to Sharon. He’s leaning up against his vehicle, a navy Convertible that his father’s friend sold to him for way cheap, which is always parked right next to hers. Sharon drives a red Beetle.

Sharon smiles. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” she says.

Steve grins, running his hand through his hair, blushing. “What’s wrong, Baby?”

Sharon exhales roughly. “I’m starting to not fit into my uniform. I thought one of the perks of being a tiny little thing my entire life was that I wouldn’t completely explode during pregnancy.”

“Well, Sharon, you’re what, three months? Maybe a little more? You can just barely tell. You still look great.”

“Tell me what it looks like,” Sharon says, turning sideways to show off her side-profile. Sharon is still wearing her uniform, despite the “injury” that’s keeping her on the bench.

“It just looks like you ate a big meal. That’s it, seriously, Babe,” Steve tells her.

Sharon flashes those blue eyes her boyfriend’s way and kisses him. “Thank you for loving me.”


As Steve holds her in his arms, he’s hit once against with feelings of guilt. Guilt over lying to everybody, guilt over cheating. He does his best to push those thoughts aside, considering he hasn’t been able to hold Sharon like this for a while now.

Carol Danvers walks into her house, dancing to the music entering her brain waves through her earphones. Carol is almost always dancing. Even in her sleep.

She walks into the family room to greet her parents, Joe and Marie Danvers.

“Hello, Sweetie,” Marie says, scooping her daughter into her arms for a hug.

“Carol, great news, your brother is going to be graduating from university summa cum laude!” Joe shares.

“That’s great,” Carol replies dryly. “What exactly does that mean, again?”

Joe and Marie snicker to themselves. “With the highest praise,” Marie says.

“Gotcha,” Carol says. “Well, I have dance class pretty soon, I’m just here to change.”

“Okay, honey, see you later.”

Carol walks up to her room to find tears in her eyes once she looks in the mirror. It might be because every time her brother Jason is brought up, it reminds Carol that she’s a lot less… Intellectually advanced as Jason.

No. In fact, compared to Jason, Carol’s pretty fucking stupid. It’s not dyslexia, it’s not laziness, it’s just that school comes a lot slower to Carol. It always has. And her parents never waste an opportunity to remind her that she’s the complete opposite of her brother.

What she lacks in school, however, Carol more than makes up for in dancing. She’s been dancing since she was in utero - literally. She’s been enrolled in dance since she was a toddler, and she’s even won countless awards for it.

Carol’s known she’s wanted to be a professional dancer since she was in middle school. “You don’t need to know how to do calculus to dance,” Carol said to her parents when she’d informed them of her lifelong dream years later.

Joe and Marie are supportive of Carol’s wishes to become a dancer, in theory. Carol still wonders whether or not her parents doubt her abilities. Because of this, Carol constantly pushes herself to prove to everybody that come hell or high water, she is going to be a professional dancer. And then, maybe, just maybe, Joe and Marie will be proud of her like they are of Jason.

November 13, 2012.

The football team is back in the locker room, completely spent from their morning practice, preparing themselves for yet another long day of learning.

Most of the team has already left, leaving only Steve, Tony, Thor, Sam, T’Challa, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand.

“Hey, Rand, Cage, are you guys almost done?” Steve asks them.

“Yeah, I’m on my way out right now,” Luke replies.

“Same,” Danny says.

“Okay, awesome, just want to have a chat with these guys.”

The two leave, and Steve directs his attention to his four glee teammates. “What’re we going to do? About Glee?”

“Dude, I’m sorry, but I’m not trying to throw away my whole football career for some Glee Club shit,” Sam says.

“So, you’re really going to quit?” Steve asks.

“I mean, do I actually enjoy Glee Club? Surprisingly, yes, but what other choice do we have?”

“Seriously. I don’t know about you guys, but I need football so that I can get a scholarship,” T’Challa shares.

“Well, what if the five of us went and talked to Fury ourselves, see if we can’t get him to change Mr. Murdock’s mind?” Tony suggests.

“If you guys want to do that, you go hard, more power to you. But come Thursday afternoon, I’m going to be out of the Glee Club, and on that field,” Sam says, grabbing his backpack and leaving.

Thor and T’Challa shrug and exit the locker room as well.

Tony and Steve look at each other wretchedly. “I’m sorry, Tony. But, just like T’Challa, I need a scholarship, and considering the Glee Club can’t even bother to keep twelve members, I think my best bet is to go with football. My dad and me, we’re already struggling, and now with the baby on the way…”

Tony’s eyes widen. “The what?” Yeah, Tony knew, but it’s different hearing the words come out of Steve’s mouth.

Steve freezes in place. He shuts his eyes, instantly regretting the words he’d just spoke. He turns around, flashing Tony the most embarrassed of faces.

Tony avoids his gaze. “You don’t have to say anything, Steve. I can keep that between us… But, just for the record, I’m not the only one who knows.” Tony then runs out of the locker room, about to be late for his first class of the day. But, he also ran so that Steve couldn’t ask him who else knew.

Steve’s left to ponder over his words.

Danny Rand and Luke Cage are huddled in the corner across the room, behind a row of lockers. They were completely out of Steve, Tony, Sam, Thor, and T’Challa’s view.

“Dude, does that mean?” Danny asks.

“Yeah, Sharon’s pregnant,” Luke finishes.

“We gotta tell Rumlow everything.”

Bruce is at his desk in the choir room office, coming up with a potential list of ideas for new assignments to give the kids for the upcoming weeks. However, he finds it hard to be excited when he knows what’s on the horizon. The football boys, with the exception of Tony, are all probably going to quit Glee Club, and Bruce wouldn’t be surprised if the Cheerios followed their lead. Which means he’ll be back down to five kids, and Sectionals will yet again be nothing but a pipe dream.

Bruce places his head into his crossed arms on the desk in frustration.

“Knock, knock,” Natasha says at the door.

Bruce lifts his head to look her way. “Hey, you.”

“Are you alright, Brucey?” She asks.

Bruce looks to the floor. He doesn’t want to involve Natasha in any more of his and Matt’s beef. But then, he realizes that she might be able to help.

“No. I’m not alright. Do you have a minute?”

Natasha walks right in and sits down at an open chair. “What’s up, Buttercup?”

Bruce ignores the way the name makes his stomach flutter. “It’s Matt.”

Natasha looks frazzled. “What happened?”

“He walked into the choir room last week and told Steve, Tony, Sam, T’Challa, and Thor that if they’re late to, or don’t attend, this Thursday’s practice, then they’re one-hundred percent off of the football team. And he made Thursday afternoon a mandatory practice, and he got Fury to sign off on it.”

Natasha doesn’t know what to say. Bruce can see it on her face that she’s completely taken aback, maybe a little embarrassed over the whole situation. “Why would Matt do that?”

“I don’t know,” Bruce replies. “But I think I have my suspicions.”

“Which are?”

Bruce feels his face flush. He swallows the lump in his throat, and then says, “I think he thinks I…Might have feelings for you, or something like that.”

Natasha stares him dead in the eyes. “Do you?” She asks, sheepishly. Then, her demeanor shifts. She gets up from her seat and begins to trip over her words. “You know, oh gosh, I’m sorry, it’s just… I’ll talk to him.”

With that, Natasha exits the room, leaving Bruce to wallow in his thoughts.

“Thank you again for coming to see me so soon, and on such short notice, too,” Maria Hill says to Matt Murdock in that ever-fake tone she always speaks in.

“What is this about, Hill? I’m a busy man,” Matt answers.

“Ugh, I know! Busy losing every football game this season, busy recruiting for basketball, just so, so busy.”

Matt scowls at Maria for her comment. “Just tell me what you want.”

“Do you remember out little chat about how little Brucey Banner is currently in lust with your red-headed librarian?”

“She’s the guidance counselor,” Matt snaps.

“Librarian, guidance counselor, they’re all sex deprived animals,” Maria replies dryly. “Anyways, I was wondering if you might want to do something else to exact revenge on Bruce.”

“Like what?” Matt asks hesitantly. “It’s not like they’ve done anything.”

“As far as you know,” Maria says. “You need to call him out. You need to humiliate him, remind him who’s the big man on campus. Long story short, you need to make him see how wrong it is for him to be chasing after a taken woman.”

“Okay, but how would that benefit me?”

“It’ll make Natasha see that you are, in fact, very serious about your relationship, just in case she had any doubts, and it’ll make everybody see how much of a douche Bruce really is. It’s a win-win-win.”

“Can I just ask, what’s your deal? What exactly do you have against Bruce?”

Maria glares at him. “Well, that’s just none of your business, now is it, Frodo? Now, take your little elf face, and get the hell out of my office.”

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming

I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Ooh, every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

[Tony & Bucky:]
Don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
Cause I'd miss you, babe
And I don't want to miss a thing
Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you, babe
And I don't want to miss a thing

Lying close to you feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing

Then I kiss your eyes
And thank God we're together
And I just want to stay with you in this moment forever
Forever and ever

[Tony & Bucky:]
I don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
Cause I'd miss you, babe
And I don't want to miss a thing
Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you, babe
And I don't want to miss a thing

And I don't want to miss one smile
I don't want to miss one kiss

[Tony & Bucky:]
Well, I just want to be with you, right here with you
Just like this

I just want to hold you close
I feel your heart so close to mine

[Tony & Bucky:]
And just stay here in this moment
For all of the rest of time

Don't want to close my eyes
Don't want to fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, babe
And I don't want to miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you, babe
And I don't want to miss a thing

Bucky and Tony collect themselves after belting out Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”. The song leaves them both a little out of breath. It’s a powerful tune.

“I know this isn’t exactly a competition, but we’ve got this in the bag,” Tony jokes. Bucky laughs immediately.

“I’m pretty pleased with our song selection,” Bucky states. Tony doesn’t reply.

“So… Are we going to actually get the chance to perform it?” Bucky asks worriedly. “Or, are you choosing football over glee?”

“I’m choosing glee.”

Bucky exhales in relief. “Tony, you don’t know how happy I am to hear that.”

Tony smirks at him. “I wish I could say the same for the other boys, though. As far as I know, they’re all leaving. Which means we’re going to be down to eight, and that’s only if Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol choose to stay, which let’s be honest, they probably won’t.”

Bucky’s relief is once again replaced by fear. “How did things get this fucked up?”

Tony shrugs. “At least this is none of our faults. This is all on Coach Murdock,” he says. “Hey, why don’t you try talking to Steve? Ask if the boys will reconsider?”

Bucky looks up at him suspiciously. “Why me?”

“You’re friends with Steve, aren’t you?”

Bucky doesn’t know what to say. “Sort of. Not really, at the moment. I don’t know.”

“Okay, well if that happens to change in the next couple of days, maybe you’ll want to consider doing that.”

Sam and Valkyrie are in Valkyrie’s bedroom. The lights are off, the music’s on, the door is locked, and they’re currently having sex. Sam is clearly into it, confirmed by the intense grunts he’s emitting and the headboard slamming into the wall. Valkyrie wants to be just as interested, but she’s having a hard time pretending to be.

“Sam, we haven’t even chosen a duet yet,” Valkyrie whispers into Sam’s ears as he thrusts into her.

“Valkyrie, not right now, Jesus Christ,” Sam replies.

Valkyrie stops talking. She decides to lay there and let Sam finish. “The sooner he cums, the sooner we’re done here,” she thinks to herself.

But then, Sam shifts, and, for the first time in the entire twenty-six minutes they’ve been having sex, Valkyrie is filled to the brim with pleasure. “Oh, right there, don’t stop, please,” she says.

Sam smiles. “I won’t, baby. I’m going to make you feel so good, don’t you worry,” he answers. Valkyrie mentally cringes at this, because what was he doing the first twenty-six minutes?!

Sam shifts once more, causing Valkyrie to orgasm once again. Only unlike the first time, Valkyrie is now thinking about Carol. Carol’s smile, Carol’s body, Carol’s coconut-scented body mist. Valkyrie eventually goes as far as to picture Carol being the cause of the pleasurable senses she’s feeling.

She’s so deep in thought she doesn’t even hear Sam when he says, “Fuck, I’m going to cum.” All she knows is that one second Sam is moving, and the next, he’s not.

“Why’d you stop?!” Valkyrie shouts at him.

“I fucking came!” Sam shouts back, holding up the filled condom to show her.

Valkyrie grimaces. “Oh. Okay then.”

“Did you cum?” Sam asks.

“Meh,” she responds, shrugging. She’s purposefully trying to piss Sam off.

Before they’d begun having sex, Sam confessed he was going to be leaving Glee Club. Which means that if they were going to do their duet at all, they’d have to do it the next morning, leaving them only a limited amount of time to perfect everything.

“Whatever,” Sam says, pulling his jeans up. “I’m out.”

“Wait, Sam!” Valkyrie calls. “I’m sorry. Yes, you did make me cum. You always do.”

Sam blushes, taking a seat beside her on the bed. “That’s what I like to hear,” he says, kissing her. “Now, before I leave, why don’t we try to work on this duet shit?”

“I already have an idea. ‘Just the Way You Are’ by Bruno Mars. How does that sound?”

“Sounds good,” Sam replies. “I’m going to go get a glass of water.”

“Okay. I just have to call Sharon real quick, and then I’ll print out the sheet music,” Valkyrie says.

Sam leaves the room, and Valkyrie takes the opportunity to step out onto the balcony that connects to her room.

She immediately dials her best friend, someone that might even be just one tier higher than Carol. “Hello?”

“Thor. I really need to talk to you. Do you have a second?”

“Uh, well,” Thor stammers, “I’m just with Carol right now…” Valkyrie feels her heart skip a beat at the mention of Carol’s name. “But I can talk. We’re just practicing our duet.”

“Thor, listen to me. I need to talk to you about Carol, so can you like, go to your parents’ bathroom, or something? Anywhere with privacy!”

“Absolutely,” Thor responds. Valkyrie hears him excuse himself out of the room they’re both in. She then hears him walk around. “Okay, I’m in the kitchen. My mom was in her bathroom. What’s up?”

“Thor, I think...” Valkyrie begins, but the words don’t come. “I think I might…”


“I’ve been having… Feelings, lately.”

“Feelings, okay, feelings how?”

Then, Thor puts two and two together. Valkyrie told him the conversation was about Carol, and now here she is, telling him she’s been having “feelings”. He’s not completely shocked.

He’s had his suspicions for a while. Thor has known Valkyrie since they were little, and he has never once seen her get close to somebody like she has gotten with Carol. He knows he needs to tread lightly, as Valkyrie is an extremely sensitive person. She just hides it very well.

“Well, Valkyrie, having feelings you’re not completely sure of is a completely normal thing. Especially for kids our age, you know. We’re just beginning to become our own people, and we’re only just figuring ourselves out,” Thor tells her, satisfied with his own answer.

Valkyrie doesn’t respond yet. She just breathes quite heavily into the phone. Thor knows better than to interrupt her. She’s clearly contemplating a lot of things.

“You know what? Forget it,” Valkyrie says.

“Are you sure, Val?”

“Yeah, ignore me, forget I called, okay? Sam’s waiting for me, I should get back. Sorry to have bugged you.”

“What was that about?” Carol asks Thor upon his return to his room.

“Valkyrie just had a math question,” Thor tells her. “Okay, so, where were we?”

The two pick up the sheet music once again and pick up where they left off.

Be a little bit wiser baby, put it on, put it on
'Cause tonight is the night when two become one

Thor squints at the paper. Carol notices this. “Do you wear glasses?”

Thor blushes. “No, it’s just…A really small font, you know?” He says, laughing it off.

[Carol & Thor:]
I need some love like I never needed love before
(Wanna make love to ya baby)
I had a little love, now I'm back for more
(Wanna make love to ya baby)

I need some love like I never needed love before
(Wanna make love to ya baby)
I had a little love, now I'm back for more
(Wanna make love to ya baby)
Set your spirit free, it's the only way to be

It's the only way to be
It's the only way to be

“Dang, Thor. You’ve got a voice on you, kid,” Carol says, earning another blush from the football player. “It’s a real shame you’re quitting Glee Club.”

“Can I tell you a secret?” Thor asks.

“Of course,” Carol says, placing a hand over his.

“I don’t want to quit. I actually really love it. But, between this and football, Glee Club is the one keeping me from my studies more, and I can tell my parents aren’t too pleased about that.”

Carol nods in understanding. “I get that. I’m sorry.”

Thor shrugs. “Not your fault.”

“So, then are we performing this tomorrow morning? Thursday morning?” Carol asks, getting up from the floor and heading toward her backpack, signaling her intent to leave.

“Thursday morning, definitely.”

“Alright, well, I should go,” she says, putting her backpack on. “Goodnight, Thor.”

“Drive safely, Carol.”

Carol heads to the main floor, running into Thor’s mother, Frigga, on her way out.

“Thanks again for the snacks, Mrs. Velez,” Carol says politely.

“Oh, of course, Dear. Don’t be a stranger,” Frigga responds, closing and locking the door behind her.

She then summons her husband, Heimdall Velez, to the kitchen. “Carol is gone.”

“Thor! Please come downstairs,” Heimdall shouts.

Loki, Thor’s younger brother, comes racing down the stairs, mouth full of toothpaste. “Did you both call me?” He asks incoherently.

Frigga snickers. “No, Sweetheart, we called your brother down. Could you fetch him for us?”

Loki nods, runs upstairs, and down comes Thor moments later.

Frigga was eighteen when she had Thor, and only twenty when she had Loki. The boys had different fathers, both of whom fled before they had to commence parental duties.

Frigga met Heimdall at the local bowling alley when the boys were ten and eight. Heimdall instantly connected with the entire family, and he and Frigga married a year later. He was good to them all, especially the boys, and Thor was thankful for it.

“Is everything alright?” Thor asks.

“Take a seat, son,” Heimdall says.

Thor does as he’s told. Frigga riffles through her purse to a printed out copy of an email she received earlier that day. She reads it aloud:

“Dear. Mr. and Mrs. Velez: I regret to inform you both that your son, Thor Odinson, is currently sitting at a grade of 57 in English 201. Thor had difficulties in English 101 last year as well, however, these are two very different classes. Unfortunately, the material in English 201 is only going to get more difficult from here on out, and I’m very concerned. If you’re interested, I would like to set up some sort of a meeting between us so that we can discuss a proper course of action. Sincerely, Mrs. Jennifer Walters.”

“Can you tell us what’s been going on, Thor?” Heimdall asks. “What’s got you so… Distracted? Is it really the Glee Club, or is there something else going on?”

Thor feels rotten, ashamed. He wants to cry, but he doesn’t even know why. “I don’t think anything has me ‘distracted’,” he says.

“Then why the low grade, honey? Mrs. Walters is not the first to reach out to me, in fact, Ms. Cho called me at work last week, and told me you’ve been having trouble in math,” Frigga informs him. “The school year has just begun.”

“I’m having problems because I don’t understand most of the material I’m learning, and the things I do understand take me a lot longer to do than everyone else,” Thor wants to tell his parents. But he doesn’t.

“I don’t know, I guess I just… Haven’t been giving my hundred and ten percent. I promise, I’ll work harder,” Thor says.

Frigga and Heimdall nod slowly. “I’m glad to hear that, Son. I would hate to have to ask you quit sports, or the Glee Club,” Frigga answers. Thor subtly wipes away a tear that escapes.

“You can go back to your room, if you want,” Heimdall tells him.

Thor runs to his room and buries his face into his pillow. He feels completely humiliated. Thor doesn’t know exactly why he’s embarrassed to tell his mother and father that he’s having comprehension issues, and that he’s been having comprehension issues since at least eighth grade. He just feels like his parents will think less highly of him.

Thor doesn’t want to have to face them in such a vulnerable manner.

Sharon is in bed, watching an episode of One Tree Hill, and running her hand over her stomach. Over her unborn child. She’s been a ball of anxiety ever since she took the pregnancy test. For the first time in days, she smiles, while thinking about the baby, and the prospect of being a mother.

She lets herself forget all about that when she looks over to her desk and sees a pile of homework that she has yet to complete. Being a mother is something Sharon is looking forward to, but not at sixteen years old. Not when she’s got homework, and Cheerios, and a science project due next week.

There’s a knock at her door. “Come in,” Sharon says, pulling her shirt down and sitting upright.

It’s her mother. “Hi, honey,” Amanda says as she walks in. “What’re you up to?”

“Just watching some One Tree Hill.”

“And how’s your ankle? You sure you don’t want to get that checked out by a real doctor?” Amanda asks.

Sharon’s pulse quickens. “No, not at all, it’s okay, Mom. In fact, it already feels so much better!”

Amanda sighs. “Well, alright then. I just don’t want you to miss out on too much Cheerios practice. Just make sure to change your bandages at least, alright, kitten? It’s starting to smell a little.”

Sharon laughs. “Okay, will do.”

Amanda gets up and heads to the door. She turns around to make one last comment. “Don’t forget, the chastity ball is in two weeks. Your father’s so excited.”

“Looking forward to it,” Sharon says.

Once her mother is out of the room, Sharon looks over to her dress in the closet. It’s bright blue, with silver jewels on the front. She then looks to her stomach, and snickers at the irony of it all. Sharon attending to the chastity ball while pregnant. She then starts to feel a little guilty, until the sound of a text interrupts her thoughts.

Sharon opens her phone. The text is from Sam 

“How u doing?”

“I feel like shit. Too much lying lately,” Sharon texts back. She’s then reminded that the football boys have two days left until they have to decide what they’re going to do. Sharon hasn’t even talked about the entire ordeal with Steve, let alone chosen a duet song.

“choose glee over football. don’t leave me L,” Sharon adds.

Sharon tunes back in to her episode for a couple of seconds. Sam then replies:

“don’t make me choose between you and football baby”.

Sharon smiles. “oh, come on. football season’s almost over. glee, spending time with me, it’s all year long.”

A minute later, Sharon sees the chat bubbles that implies that Sam is typing up a reply. It disappears soon after, leaving Sharon discouraged.

November 14, 2012.

Steve, Tony, Sam, T’Challa, and Thor are making their way to the locker room for practice, when Rumlow, Barton, Killian, Reed Richards, and Ben Grimm stop them.

“Hey!” Rumlow shouts. The boys turn around to look at them.

Rumlow, Barton, Killian, Richards, and Grimm are all holding slushes.

“What’re you all doing with those slushes?” Sam asks.

“They’re a message,” Barton replies.

“We heard through the grape vine that you fags are going to leave the football team, despite the fact that I told Steve to let you guys know that that just doesn’t work for us,” Rumlow says. They all slowly walk toward Steve, Tony, Sam, T’Challa, and Thor.

“We also told Rogers what would happen if you guys chose Glee Club over football,” Killian says.

“Fuck you, Killian. You’re not even on the team, so what the fuck are you getting out of this?” Steve asks.

“Good old-fashioned payback,” Killian responds.

The bullies toss the slushes directly into each of the Glee boys’ faces. “You will all be enduring a slushy to the face every goddamn morning if you make the wrong choice. Can you live with that?”

“You can’t do this!” Sam screams, eyes stuck shut due to the sticky-nature of the slush.

“Actually, we can. And we will, if we have to,” Rumlow says.

“Do you guys really want to be known for going from the ones tossing the slushies, to receiving them?” Ben Grimm asks them. They all turn to walk away. Killian stops.

“Oh, and Rogers, good luck playing family with the queen of the chastity ball,” he says.

Steve forces his eyes to snap open, even through the sticky juices, as he wonders what Aldrich could’ve meant by such a comment.

November 15, 2012.

Bucky’s in Natasha’s office for another appointment. Bucky had registered with Ms. Romanoff to schedule regular appointments after their first one had proved successful. She’s one of the only educators at Shield High that Bucky actually likes. “How are you feeling today, Bucky?” Natasha asks politely.

Bucky takes a pause before answering. He decides to ignore her question and get right to the point. “Ms. Romanoff, do you remember me talking about that guy… That I wanted to connect with?”

Natasha thinks about it while slathering her hands in sanitizing lotion. “Yes, and I told you that you should connect over common interests, right?”

Bucky nods. “That’s the one, yeah. Well, me and this guy, our friendship has kind of increased over the past few weeks… But last week, we kissed.”

“Well, that’s great, Bucky,” Natasha says optimistically, “Right?”

“No. It’s not. I like him, a lot, but I have no idea what the kiss means. On the one hand, he kissed me, but then he told me he wasn’t gay, and sort of made me feel like crap after. The real kicker is that he’s also currently in a relationship, with a girl who’d kick my ass if she were to find out. And to top it all off, he hasn’t spoken to me since.”

Natasha fiddles with her fingers as she thinks on what to say. “Well, with all of that in mind, it sounds like this guy might currently be battling some inner demons, and if that is the case, then you might want to give him so space in order to do so.”

Bucky scoffs under his breath. “I’m sure Sharon would love that.”

Natasha’s eyes widen. “Sharon… Carter?” Bucky nods in reply. “Bucky, this boy you’ve been talking to me about… Is it Steve Rogers?”

“Yeah,” Bucky replies. “Why?”

Natasha doesn’t even get a chance to think twice before the words, “Steve cheated on his pregnant girlfriend?” leave her mouth.

Bucky’s jaw drops. “What do you mean ‘pregnant girlfriend’?”

Natasha slaps her hands over her mouth. She starts shaking. “Bucky, I…”

“Ms. Romanoff, is Sharon pregnant?!”

Natasha doesn’t reply. She can’t.

Bucky stands, grabs his backpack, and storms out.

“Bucky, wait!” Natasha shouts, but her plea is unsuccessful.

Steve’s spending his lunch hour outside near the football guys’ parking spots, eating and shooting the shit with T’Challa, Thor, James Rhodes, Warren Worthington, Scott Summers, and Logan Howlett.

Bucky stiffens when he notices that Steve isn’t alone, but he ultimately decides to go through with his plan regardless. He marches right up to them.

“Steve, can I talk to you for a minute?”

Steve tenses, staring at Bucky in confusion. All of the guys just stare at Bucky in confusion. “It’s just a Glee question, it’ll take two seconds.”

Bucky notices James, Warren, Scott, and Logan’s faces twist up in cringe at the mention of Glee Club. With their reactions, you would think Bucky said a dirty word.

Steve nods, following behind Bucky as he walks a few feet away from the football guys’ spot.

“What’s up?”

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were avoiding me,” Bucky says semi-playfully.

“I’m not avoiding you, Bucky,” Steve says. “What reason would I have to avoid you?’”

“Ms. Romanoff told me everything. Care to comment?”

Steve’s stunned. He doesn’t know what to say. He’s sure Bucky’s going to hate him, regardless of however Steve attempts to reason with him. “Bucky, I…”

“How could you like… Not mention that?” Bucky questions.

“Well, I’m not sure why Ms. Romanoff would tell you anything that I say to her in confidence, but…” Steve begins. He takes a breath. “Look, Bucky, she told me that if the Glee Club places at Nationals, that I would have a chance at a scholarship, an even better chance than I would with football. But I knew that placing at Nationals wouldn’t be possible without you. So, I kind of used you, so that you’d consider coming back to Glee Club. I really didn’t mean to; I just didn’t know what else to do. I genuinely like you, Bucky. You’re a really good friend, and I’m so, so sorry,” he explains.

Bucky’s noticeably outraged, more so than before. “So, you’re telling me that you pretended to be my friend, used me, and then kissed me, all so that I would come back to the Glee Club, so that you could get a scholarship?”

Steve opens his mouth to respond but instead ends up looking to the ground in shame.

Bucky wants to leave before the tears he feels coming start to fall, but he wants Steve to feel just as ridiculous as he does before doing so. “Wow, Steve. That’s great. For the record, that’s not what Ms. Romanoff told me. But, congrats on Sharon’s pregnancy, I hope that all works out real well for you.”

Steve’s jaw drops straight away, leaving Bucky only slightly satisfied. But mostly, he just feels really fucking crummy.

Bucky storms straight to the auditorium. Luckily, the band members are present, practicing a new song on their instruments. Bucky is grateful for it.

“Icy, in E-Flat,” Bucky demands, wiping at his tears. “Please.”

The band members would’ve normally denied the rather aggressive request, but they notice how upset Bucky is. So, they drop the sheet music they’re going over, and proceed.

Never loved nobody harder
Never, ever felt stronger
Thought that we would last forever
Gave me something to believe in
Thought that you were all I needed
Look at me, I'm still breathin'

I used to cry over you, baby
I've wasted all this time

Now I got a ice cold heart
VVS' is the only kinda ice I want
Kinda funny how the money can replace the love
So numb, I don't feel it inside me
So dumb, I believed you really liked me
'Cause of you, now my heart is so icy

Now I'm on a higher level
I ain't ever gonna settle
Plenty offers on the table
Baby, I don't even hate ya
Really, you did me a favor
Turned my heart into a glacier, yeah

I used to cry over you, baby
I've wasted all this time

Now I got a ice cold heart
VVS' is the only kinda ice I want
Kinda funny how the money can replace the love
So numb, I don't feel it inside me
So dumb, I believed you really liked me
'Cause of you, now my heart is so icy

Yeah, so icy, ah
Icy, yeah

Now I got a ice cold heart
VVS' is the only kinda ice I want
Kinda funny how the money can replace the love
So numb, I don't feel it inside me
So dumb, I believed you really liked me
'Cause of you now my heart is so icy

Bucky wipes at his eyes once again and turns to the band. “Thank you,” he says, walking out.

Look into my eyes
You will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart
Search your soul
And when you find me there
You'll search no more

[Peter & Gamora:]
Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for
You know it's true
Everything I do
I do it for you

Look into your heart
You will find
There's nothin' there to hide
Take me as I am
Take my life
I would give it all
I would sacrifice

[Peter & Gamora:]
Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for
I can't help it, there's nothin' I want more
You know it's true
Everything I do
I do it for you

There's no love
Like your love
And no other
Could give more love
There's nowhere
Unless you're there
All the time
All the way, yeah

Look into your heart, baby

[Peter & Gamora:]
Oh you can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for

I can't help it, there's nothin' I want more
Yeah, I would fight for you
I lie for you
Walk the wire for you
Yeah, I'd die for you

You know it's true
Everything I do
I do it for you

Everything I do, darling
And we'll see it through
Oh we'll see it through
Oh yeah

Look into your heart
Look at your soul
You can't tell me it ain't worth dying for
Oh yeah

I'll be there, yeah
I'll walk the wire for you
I will die for you

Mr. Banner, Bucky, Nakia, Sharon, Valkyrie, and Carol all erupt into applause.

“Guys, that is what I’m talking about!” Bruce exclaims encouragingly. “I’m so proud of you both! And Gamora, you looked so comfortable up there!”

Gamora bites her lip, blushing. “Well, it’s easier when I’m up here singing with my best friend.”

“Well, that’s awesome, good for you both, and you definitely conveyed the meaning of that ballad beautifully. We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with at Sectionals,” Bruce says.

“If we even go to Sectionals,” Valkyrie wisecracks.

“It’s true, we just suffered some big losses, but it’s not the end of rehearsal yet! They might surprise us, or at the very least, Tony might,” Bruce says.

“Mr. Banner, it’s four fifty-eight. Just admit it, they’re not coming,” Sharon says.

Bruce scratches at his chin, at a loss for words. He looks at the kids’ faces, and none of them look happy in the slightest.

Bruce doesn’t want to discourage the rest of the kids he does have, but he also doesn’t have any inspiring words on hand right now either.

Then, they all hear faint footsteps coming closer.

“Sorry, guys, that took a lot longer than we were expecting,” Tony says as he, Sam, T’Challa, and Thor walk into the choir room.

It is the very first time that the majority of the Glee Club, including Bruce, is seeing the football guys without their letterman jackets. They’re just wearing their regular clothes, like regular guys.

Valkyrie runs to hug Sam, Carol runs to hug T’Challa, and Sharon, who initially started running toward Sam, makes her way to hug Thor. Bruce laughs in surprise. “What’re you guys doing here?!”

“Well, by no means was it an easy decision, but we all thought about it, and decided that Glee Club was the better choice,” Tony shares.

“It wasn’t easy at all. In fact, up until today, I was going to choose football. But, deep down, I knew this was the better choice,” Sam says, finishing his sentence looking at Sharon.

“Yeah, and that’s why we were late, we were returning our jackets to Coach Murdock,” Thor says.

“So, even though we might be starting each day with a slushy to the face, it’s worth it,” Tony adds.

“Definitely,” T’Challa says, smiling at Nakia.

“Well, boys, we couldn’t be happier. Thank you,” Bruce says. The boys all move to group hug their coach. Bruce accepts it, laughing.

The boys then take their seats. Sam makes it a point to choose the seat between Valkyrie and Sharon.

“Is Steve coming too?” Gamora asks positively.

Before any of them answer, they all hear footsteps heading toward the choir room.

“Let’s hope that’s him, y’all,” Peter whispers, crossing his fingers.

It’s Maria Hill.

Everybody’s faces drop. “Awe, why the long faces, everybody?”

“How can we help you, Maria?” Bruce asks.

“I’m here to sing you all a little tune,” Maria says, snickering. “If you couldn’t tell, that was a joke. I’m here for her,” she adds, pointing toward Sharon.

Sharon freezes. “Hi, Sharon, how are you today?” Maria asks.

“G-good,” Sharon replies.

“See that everybody? Sharon is good,” Maria speaks, tone a mix of sarcasm and condescendence. “In fact, Sharon is so good, that she forgot to wear her ankle wrap today.”

Everybody’s eyes snap to Sharon’s ankle. Low and behold, there’s no bandage.

“But that was all a heaping pile of bullshit, wasn’t it, Sharon?” Maria asks.

Bruce notices Sharon start shaking. “Okay, Ms. Hill…” Bruce begins.

“No, Bruce, let me finish,” Maria says, cutting him off. “Sharon, I know all about your pregnancy. It is no longer a secret, it is now public knowledge. And I know for a fact it’s true, considering I found out from a very reliable source. Now everybody knows, including me.” Maria turns around and makes her way back to the door. “Oh, and you’re off the Cheerios.”

Sharon, Bruce, Bucky, Nakia, Gamora, Peter, Tony, Valkyrie, Carol, Sam, T’Challa, and Thor are all left stunned, shaken, frozen.

Out on the football field, the players all applaud Steve, who’s in full uniform.

“You made the right choice, Rogers,” Rumlow says, smiling.

“You did, Steve. I’m proud of you, son,” Coach Murdock says.

Steve smiles back at all of them. Does he feel guilty? Obviously. But this was the best choice.

“Okay, gentlemen, enough with the chit-chat. Let’s do this!” Steve shouts. 

Chapter Text

November 18, 2012.

“Okay, guys, we’ve got a lot to get through this morning,” Bruce says, walking into the choir room. “But, before anything else, Valkyrie and Carol have approached me and asked if they can have the floor.”

Valkyrie and Carol pick up their seats and place them down in front of their fellow Glee Clubbers.

“Carol and I would like to take a quick minute to sing a song to our girl, Sharon,” Valkyrie shares.

“And you guys can all join in if you want,” Carol says.

“Just don’t steal our thunder,” Valkyrie sneers.

You're not alone
Together we stand
I'll be by your side
You know I'll take your hand

When it gets cold
And it feels like the end
There's no place to go
You know I won't give in

[Valkyrie & Carol:]
No, I won't give in

[Valkyrie, Carol, & Aural Avengers:]
Keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through
We'll make it through

Just stay strong
'Cause you know I'm here for you
I'm here for you

There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through
We'll make it through

So far away
I wish you were here
Before it's too late
This could all disappear

Before the doors close
And it comes to an end
With you by my side, I will fight and defend
I'll fight and defend
Yeah, yeah

[Valkyrie, Carol, & Aural Avengers:]
Keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through
We'll make it through

Just stay strong
'Cause you know I'm here for you
I'm here for you

There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth

So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through
We'll make it through

[Peter, Gamora, & Nakia:]
Hear me when I say, when I say I believe
Nothing's gonna change
Nothing's gonna change destiny
Whatever's meant to be will work out perfectly
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

[Bruce & Aural Avengers:]
Keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through
We'll make it through

Just stay strong
'Cause you know I'm here for you
I'm here for you

There's nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There's no other way when it comes to the truth

So keep holding on
'Cause you know we'll make it through
We'll make it through

Sharon is an absolute blubbering mess by the song’s end. “Wow, sorry, what the fuck, I don’t know why I’m crying,” she says, laughing, and rubbing at her eyes. “Val, Carol, everybody, thank you.”

Carol and Valkyrie run to hug their best friend.

“That was beautiful, girls. Sharon sure is lucky to have such great friends like you,” Bruce says. “Okay, now, I received a letter this morning with our competition for Sectionals.” The kids all gasp, each just as eager as the last to find out.

Bruce throws on his reading glasses and opens and reads the letter. “Okay, so it looks like it’s just you and two other groups, so that’s good.”

“But who are the other teams, Mr. B? Come on!” Thor exclaims.

Bruce laughs. “The Illuminati School for the Deaf in Dayton, and someplace called the A-Force Academy.”

Nakia snickers. “A-Force? That’s a halfway house for girls just getting out of juvie.”

“This is great!” Peter says. “I mean, not to undermine the disabilities or the issues the other teams are living with, but this is good news for us. It’s going to be a cakewalk.” Peter offers up his hand to Carol for a high five. She high fives Valkyrie instead.

“Hey, you guys are still going to have to give it your all. I’ve encountered many a stealthy Glee Club back in my day. Everybody would count them out, and then the day of competition, they would deliver the most jaw dropping vocals and setlist,” Bruce shares.

“Don’t worry, Mr. Banner. We’ll be ready,” Bucky says, smiling.

Bruce smiles back. “Okay, now onto other business,” he says, moving for the whiteboard. He takes a marker and writes “Mash-ups”.

“Mash-ups,” Bruce says to the kids. He doesn’t say anything else, so the kids all stare at him confused.

“What’s a mash-up, Mr. B?” Sam asks nonchalantly.

“Glad you asked, Sam,” Bruce jokes. “A mash-up is when you take two songs and mash them together to make an even richer explosion of musical expression. Plus, there's an important lesson to be learned with mash-ups. Sometimes things are so different, they don't feel like they go together. But the big difference between them is what makes them great.”

“Like chocolate and bacon?” Gamora asks.

“Or Glee Club and football,” Thor jokes.

“Exactly, Thor,” Bruce says. “We only briefly dabbled with mash-ups during my time in Glee Club, but it’s 2012, and music has definitely changed since then. I was actually thinking you guys could tackle a mash-up at Sectionals, it might give us that creative edge. So, your assignment for the week is simple. Find two songs, mash ‘em together, and impress us all.”

The kids are absolutely intrigued at the idea. They all talk amongst themselves, throwing ideas around until the bell rings.

“Have a nice day, guys!” Bruce says. “Hey, Sharon, can you hang back a second?”

“Sure,” Sharon replies. She’s still wearing her Cheerios uniform, and her high pony, despite the fact that Coach Hill made it very clear that she was no longer a Cheerio last week.

“How’re you holding up? Everything that happened last week, I’m sure it was extremely hard.”

Sharon shrugs. “I’m alright, all things considered. For a minute, I actually thought you were the one who might’ve told Coach Hill. I know Steve told you everything a couple of weeks ago.”

Bruce’s expression changes instantly. “Sharon, I can assure you, it definitely wasn’t me. Steve admitted everything to me in secrecy. I wasn’t going to blab at all.”

Sharon nods. “No, I know. Once I remembered that your jaw dropped the moment Coach Hill revealed everything, I realized it wouldn’t have made sense if you had been the one. Steve just told me the other day that quite a few people already knew, so, you know, who knows. Now it’s just a matter of finding out who it was and beating the shit out of them.”

“Sharon…” Bruce says, shaking his head.

“That was just a joke. Don’t worry,” Sharon reassures.

“Well, if you need anything, anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’ll be happy to help.”

“Thanks, Mr. Banner,” Sharon says. “You’re a really good guy.”

Sharon goes to exit the choir room, but then turns back around to look at her teacher. “Actually, there is one thing Steve and I might need your help with.”

Tony, Nakia, Gamora, and Peter are all huddled up at Tony’s locker.

“Did you guys catch the X-Factor last night?” Nakia asks them all.

“For real, Britney is such a whack judge. She always acts so uninterested,” Peter says, snorting.

“I really liked Fifth Harmony’s performance,” Gamora says.

“Agreed, they’re definitely my top pick to win the season,” Nakia answers.

Steve walks up to them all, slushy in hand.

All four of them stare at him in disbelief.

“My first task to prove my allegiance to the football team is to slushy one of you,” he spits out, suddenly seeming very small to all of them.

“Are you serious?” Nakia questions.

Steve averts his gaze, not wanting to make eye contact out of shame and guilt. This is not the regular, intimidating Steve Rogers standing before them. It’s a completely different person. “They said if I didn’t go through with it, then they were going to slushy every single one of you.”

Tony closes his locker, then turns to Steve. “Do it then.”

“I really don't want to, honestly,” Steve admits. “I know how sensitive your skin is, after that day we both got slushied.”

“But if you don’t do it, then they’re just going to keep pressuring you until you do,” Tony notes.

“Steve, you are not going to slushy on our man Tony,” Nakia replies furiously.

Before he can reply, Bucky walks up behind Nakia from out of the abyss of students. “Why wouldn’t he? He’s made his choice. He doesn’t care about us losers anymore.”

Steve frowns, finally snapping his gaze back to them all. “No, that’s not true, not at all. I just… Don’t want the guys to kick my ass, or, or keep making this all a big fucking deal.”

“Well, we can’t have that, can we?” Tony asks, grabbing the slush out of Steve’s hand.

“What are you doing?” Steve asks, bewildered.

“It’s called taking one for the team,” Tony replies, tossing the slush into his own face. Steve, Bucky, Nakia, Peter, and Gamora all stare at him, shocked.

“Now get out of here, Steve. And take some time to think whether or not any of your friends on the football team would have done that for you,” Tony says, walking off. Nakia, Peter, and Gamora glare at Steve, before rushing after Tony to help clean him up.

Then, it’s just Steve and Bucky.

“Can we talk?” Steve asks.

“There’s nothing to say, Steve. I hope you’re happy with the choices you’ve made,” Bucky says, following his friends.

Steve watches as he walks away.

Matt Murdock’s on a bit of a shitty luck streak. Sure, the football team won their third game of the season, which means they’re not completely out of the running yet, which is a good thing, but he seems to be losing players left and right.

It all started last June, when most of his star players graduated, thus leaving him with a team full of mostly rookies. Rookies with serious potential, yes, but still, rookies. Then, most of his best players left to join Banner at the Freak Show. And, most recently, Danny Rand broke his leg doing a keg stand at Brock Rumlow’s party. Though he wouldn’t actually admit it, Matt was glad they were nearing the end of the season, if only so that he could maintain some sanity.

Football’s not the only bad thing going on in Matt’s life at the moment. He had previously suspected that Bruce had a thing for Natasha, but he never actually worried about it, because he’d known his relationship with Natasha was strong enough to endure just about anything. But now, Matt’s worried.

He sees everything so much more clearly. Natasha absolutely flirts with Bruce, she’s always going the extra mile to help him out however she can, and she’s just always with him. Every single time Matt spots her in the halls, she’s with him. Natasha doesn’t even go out of her way to ask Matt to meet her in the staff room to eat lunch with her anymore, but she can invite Bruce into her office to eat lunch? It’s infuriating.

Matt has no idea what to do. He doesn’t want to come off as extremely jealous, even though he is, and yet, he doesn’t want to make a big spectacle in front of other teachers in the lounge like Maria suggested either. He doesn’t want his fellow educators thinking any less of him.

Still, it’s either lose his dignity, or lose Natasha for good.

Matt exits the locker room and makes his way for room 229, Maria Hill’s office.

He swings the door open aggressively, causing Maria to spill her protein shake all over the floor. “One thing’s for dead certain, Murdock,” she says, walking up to him and getting in his face, “and that’s that I am not going to be cleaning this up.”

“I apologize,” Matt says sincerely. “But I had a favor to ask.”

“Oh, I don’t do favors,” Maria replies.

“Fine, then I have a question to ask.”

“You have five seconds, Matthew.”

“Do you still think I should confront Bruce?”

Maria smiles wickedly at him.

“I’m freaking out,” Sharon says to Steve, as she lays on the bed in the ultrasound room of Dr. Xavier’s practice. Dr. Charles Xavier is the best Obstetrician/Gynecologist in the city. Also, pretty fucking ironically, he’s friends with Steve’s father.

“Everything’s going to be fine,” Steve assures her, kissing her knuckles. He’s just as nervous as her, if not more.

“Try to relax,” Nurse Raven Darkhölme says to the kids. “At your age, there’s very little chance of anything being wrong.”

“Awesome!” Steve exclaims happily. Sharon rolls her eyes at him.

“Okay, this is going to be a little cool to the touch,” Nurse Raven says as she places the lubed-up ultrasound wand onto Sharon’s stomach.

“Can you just… Be careful with my uniform? Please?” Sharon asks.

“Alright,” Raven replies. “So, speaking of your ages, have you two given any thought to what you’re going to do after the baby’s born?”

Steve keeps a fake smile intact. “Whatever Sharon wants is fine.”

“Okay. Well, if it makes a difference, it’s a girl.”

Steve and Sharon stare at the screen, both in tears.

Steve exits the room, meeting back up with Bruce in the lobby of the practice.

“Hey,” Steve says.

“Hi,” Bruce replies, putting down the magazine that’d kept him occupied.

“So, the baby’s fine. No mutations or anything. Not even any cool ones,” Steve shares. Bruce laughs at the joke.

“Thank you for taking us today, by the way. We were both way too nervous to drive.”

“No problem, Steve. Like I told Sharon, I’m happy to help,” Bruce says, playfully punching Steve’s arm. Steve smiles, but it fades instantly. Bruce realizes something is definitely eating at his student. “Are you doing okay?”

“Um, no, actually,” Steve responds. “How am I supposed to take care of a real person? I can just barely take care of myself.”

Bruce stares at him inquisitively. “I thought Sharon wanted to give the baby up for adoption?”

“For now, but we both know that’s not my call,” Steve says. “I’ve got to be honest, this sucks. I get all of the stress, all the worry, but none of the control.”

Sharon and Raven exit the room. Steve stands up. “It’s cool, Mr. B. You wouldn’t understand.”

“She’s all good to go,” Raven says to Steve and Bruce. “And good to see you again, Steven!”

“You too, Ms. Darkhölme,” Steve answers politely.

Bruce, Sharon, and Steve all make to leave the office, but Steve turns around and walks up to Raven at the desk. “Ms. Darkhölme, could you like… Not tell Dr. Xavier you saw me here today?”

“Of course,” Raven replies. “Your secret is safe with me.”

“So, ‘Rumor Has It’, and ‘Someone Like You’?” Nakia asks into the phone. She’s on her bed, in her pajamas, speaking to Bucky.

He called her about a potential mash-up idea he had, and to ask if she’d do it as a duet with him.

“Yeah. If you check out the chord progressions to everything, they’re very similar. And, you know, they go pretty well together, lyrically,” Bucky says.

“Okay, Barnes. I’ve got to admit, you keep surprising me. I used to think you were just some guy who could sing, but you’ve got creativity in that skinny little body of yours.”

“Um, thanks? I guess” Bucky says, laughing.

“So, Bucky, can I ask you something? Just for shits and giggles?”


“If you had a crush on a guy that… Was kind of similar to you, but was also worlds apart from you, what would you do?” Nakia asks.

Bucky’s puzzled. “Well, depends. Why do you ask?”

“Just… Curiosity,” Nakia answers.

“Well, hilariously enough, I’ve kind of been dealing with… Stuff similar to what you’re asking,” Bucky says before thinking. He immediately regrets opening his mouth. Nakia has a big mouth, as does, he’s learned, Gamora. Yes, Gamora, the one that barely talks. Nakia is probably going to spill whatever Bucky tells her.

“Oh, yeah? With who?” Nakia asks, intrigued.

“You know what, never mind, ignore it,” Bucky says.

Nakia gaps loudly into the phone. “Oh my god, you’re in love with Steve.”

Bucky just about tosses his phone out of the window to his bedroom. “What? That’s crazy, why would you think that?”

“Barnes, I just heard your voice tremble during that entire sentence, so don’t you dare even try to front,” Nakia says, laughing. “Look, if it’s something you’d rather keep… hidden, that’s fine, I won’t tell anyone.”

Bucky’s face drops. “Not even Gamora?”

Nakia crosses her index and middle finger. “Yeah, not even to Gamora.”

Bucky takes a second to think about it. “Okay. Then fine. I kind of have a thing for Steve. But, not so much lately. I’m still pretty pissed at him.”

“Understandable, we all are,” Nakia says. “So, spill. When did it start? What is it about him that you love?”

“Like, Nakia, I didn’t even say the word ‘love’,” Bucky says. He then yawns. “You know, it’s getting late, and I’m pretty tired.”

“Well, then brew yourself a cup of coffee, because you’re not going anywhere,” Nakia laughs.

November 19, 2012.

Bruce, Natasha, and Stephen are in the staff room, picking at their lunches as they make conversation. Bruce has a turkey sub, Natasha has hummus and vegetables, and Stephen has a tuna melt. Okay, so Bruce and Stephen are friends with Wong, the owner of the Subway four blocks away, and they may or may not get Subway delivered to them on occasion… So, what?

“I’m just beyond embarrassed… I wouldn’t even know what to say to him,” Natasha says to her friends. She’s speaking about the situation that she’d mishandled days prior, where she’d spilled the beans about Sharon’s pregnancy to Bucky.

“Just a simple apology would work fine, Nat. It was an accident, and Steve knows that now. He’s a good guy. Now, Sharon, she’s a whole different story, but regardless, Steve isn’t angry anymore,” Bruce says.

Natasha attempts to smile, but it doesn’t fully come through. She takes her job as the school’s Guidance Counselor very seriously, and she’d never screwed up this bad before.

“Okay. I’ll go talk to him during football practice today,” Natasha says.

“Speaking of football, I have a confession to make,” Stephen says, sipping on his diet Coke. Natasha and Bruce stare at him, waiting. “I am a high school football junkie.”

“Yeah, we know, Stephen,” Bruce deadpans.

“Yeah, you were at every game this season, even though you had no reason to be,” Natasha says, laughing. “You should be dating Matt instead of me, I hate having to attend games.”

“As long as he makes his famous honey dill-flavored steak for me every night, sold,” Stephen jokes. Natasha laughs again. Matt’s honey dill-flavored steak is quite delicious. He makes it for any occasion that the staff gets together.

Matt and Maria enter the room from the opposite direction. Matt’s insanely nervous, he’s sweating right through his polo. Thank god he decided to switch it up today, opting to wear a black polo with white pants instead of his regular colored polo and black shorts.

“Are you sure about this?” Matt asks.

“I’ve never been more sure about anything, ever. Go over there, and fight for your woman, unless you’re absolutely ready to lose her to the likes of Bruce Banner.”

“No. I’m not,” Matt replies. He turns, heading right toward Bruce, Natasha, and Stephen’s table.

“Hi, honey,” Natasha says upon seeing her boyfriend.

Matt gestures for her to stop talking and looks directly at Bruce.

Bruce looks up. “Hi, Matt.”

“Shut up, Banner,” Matt responds. This causes all the other teachers to avert their gaze over for a spoonful of drama. “You’re pathetic.”

“Excuse me?” Bruce asks.

“Yeah, I said it. You’re pathetic. Who do you think you are, going after a taken woman? Do you not know the meaning of the word ‘loyalty’? Because I’m starting to think you don’t. Natasha is my girlfriend, and I love her more than anybody on the planet, and you trying to sway her into breaking up with me is real fucking shady.”

Bruce’s mouth is agape.

“Matt, I…” Natasha begins, but Matt stops her, again.

“Care to comment, Banner?”

Bruce is speechless. He doesn’t know what so say. He doesn’t even know what’s going on at the moment. He excuses himself from the table, and heads toward the exit.

“Yeah, leave, like a coward. At least now everybody knows the kind of man you really are,” Matt says.

Bruce halts. He turns to take one last look, and then leaves.

Matt directs his attention to Natasha. “Baby, I’m so sorry if I’ve not been the best boyfriend as of late. But I love you so much, it hurts, and I don’t ever want you to think otherwise.”

Natasha doesn’t reply.

“Okay, I’m going to go now,” Matt says, leaving the room.

“What just happened?” Stephen asks, as the dust in the room attempts to settle.

Maria stands at the back of the room, radiating satisfaction from every pore in her body.

Baby, I'm so into you
You got that somethin, what can I do
Baby, you spin me around
The earth is movin, but I can't feel the ground

Oh, that kinda lovin'
Turns a girl to a slave
Oh, that kinda lovin'
Sends a girl right to her grave

You know I'm crazy
crazy, crazy for you baby
crazy, crazy, crazy for you baby

Tell me, you're so into me
That I’m the only one you will see
Tell me, I'm not in the blue
That I’m not wastin, my feelings on you

Every time I look at you
My heart is jumpin, what can I do?
You drive me crazy
I just can’t sleep
Crazy, I'm in too deep

You know I'm crazy
But it feels alright
Baby, thinkin of you keeps me up all night
You know I'm crazy, crazy, crazy for you baby
crazy, crazy, crazy for you baby

The Glee Club applaud, albeit hesitant. Most of them noticed the way Sharon kept looking at Sam during her number, especially Valkyrie, who’s now glaring Sharon’s way.

“Well done, Sharon,” Bruce says.

“That was for Steve,” Sharon says upon noticing people’s faces. “Hopefully, he comes back to Glee Club soon enough that I can sing it to him.”

The bell rings, and they all head out of the choir room. Sharon can hear the way Valkyrie says, “Can you believe that bitch?” to Carol.

Sam, halted in the door frame, turns to wink at Sharon.

Bucky’s on his way home when he stops at the football field and decides to watch the players finish up practice. Bucky missed the bus, so he had to walk home.

He takes a seat on the bleachers. A couple of players on the field shoot daggers in Bucky’s direction, but he just brushes them off.

“Hey,” Bucky hears a voice call out from behind him. It’s Steve.

“Hi,” Bucky replies.

“What’re you doing here?”

“Sorry, I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to sit and watch,” Bucky says dramatically.

“Geez, Bucky, you know I didn’t mean it like that,” Steve responds.

“I don’t know,” Bucky says. “Why I’m here. Just… Felt the urge.”

“Bucky, it’s okay to admit that you’re here because you miss me,” Steve jokes.

Bucky glares at him.

“Too soon, okay, I get it.”

Bucky stands. “Can I ask you something? Why did you choose football over Glee? I thought you said Ms. Romanoff told you you’d have a better chance at a scholarship if you stuck with Glee?”

“She did. She said I’d have a better chance with Glee than I would with football. But, at the end of the day, I decided to pick the one that wouldn’t ruin my reputation and take a chance on the fact that I’m a great football player.”

“Jesus, Steve, so you really just walked away from something that made you happy because you actually give a fuck what people think about you?” Bucky asks aggressively.

“You wouldn’t understand, Bucky. You’re not me,” Steve replies.

“You’re right, Steve. I’m not you. If I was you, I would’ve walked away from this the first second I joined the Glee Club, and finally admitted that I was only on the football team for the social perks.”

“You know what, Bucky…”

“Steve, I’m not going to stand here and fight with you. You’ve made your choices, and that’s fine. I’m just mad that I actually let myself believe I actually had a shot… At a friendship with you,” Bucky says shakily.


“It’s fine. And I meant what I said. I really do hope everything works out for you. Because even though you’re a jerk, you do deserve the best.”

Bucky walks off to head home as Steve watches. Why is he feeling the urge to run after Bucky and kiss him again? “What the fuck,” Steve whispers to himself, forcing himself to block the idea out, considering it’d be very gay of him, and Steve isn’t gay.

November 20, 2012.

Steve is in the middle of a science test in Mr. Banner’s science room. Sharon and Carol are at the table directly behind him.

Steve’s having trouble remembering the answer to how many protons and neutrons are in this question’s specific balance, and whatever. He distracts himself by coming up with baby names.

He’s always liked the name Sarah for a girl, after his mom. But he decides to think more outside the box, because he’s always admired the way celebrities come up with the most ridiculous names for their kids. He comes up with a list of fairly unique names:


Out of the entire bunch he comes up with, he likes Drizzle the most. He rips off a piece of his test, writes down the names, and pretends to yawn, so that he’s able to slap the paper onto Sharon’s table behind him.

“What is this?” Sharon whispers sneakily.

“Check it out. I came up with a name that I think would be good for the baby,” Steve replies.

Bruce notices the two exchanging words. “Eyes on your own test, Steve,” Bruce says. Steve straightens in his seat and looks at his paper.

He then looks up and notices that Jane Foster has approached Mr. Banner for help with a question, so he turns back around.

“Anyways, I read that Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple, and I think that’s so cool, because you know how much I love apples, right? So, I figured we should name our kid something more original, more outside the box. I just came up with the best baby name of all time.”

Sharon stares at him, unimpressed. She opens the paper and reads the name. “Drizzle?” She asks.

“Yeah, Drizzle! Like, you know how awesome it is when it’s just drizzling outside, but it’s not really raining, so it smells like rain, but you don’t need an umbrella to go outside?”

“Are you a moron?” Sharon asks, now glaring at Steve.

“What?” Steve asks, frowning.

“We’re not naming our baby Drizzle; We’re not naming our baby anything! Finish your test, Steve.”

Steve turns around, sad. From behind him, he hears Carol take Sharon’s test from her.

“Would you give me my test back?” Sharon asks, roughly snatching it out of Carol’s grip.

“I just don’t understand anything,” Carol says.

“That’s not my problem,” Sharon replies.

“You are so insensitive! Bringing up baby names to me when you know I don’t want to keep it. I can’t keep it,” Sharon all but screams, as she walks to her next class. Steve is following behind.

“I know, but I don’t get what you expect me to do about it!”

“Not have an opinion?” Sharon says.

“Hey, this is happening to me, too!” Steve shouts.

“No, it’s not!” Sharon screams back. “Steve, I already told you, my parents will murder me if they find out. Like full on chop me up like Ted Bundy.”

Steve doesn’t reply. “Oh, also, just by the way, here’s how much a sonogram costs,” she says, handing Steve a paper from her backpack.

“Six-hundred and eighty-five dollars?!” Steve asks in bewilderment.

“And this is just the beginning. There’s going to be more doctor’s visits, vitamins, new clothes for when I explode.”

“What are we going to do?” Steve asks.

“You mean what are you going to do?”

“I started looking for a job. I mean, no one’s hiring. I almost got in at Olive Garden. But they said I was too tall to be a busboy.”

Sharon scoffs. “Somewhere in that pea brain of yours is a man. Access him and tell him to prove to me that I chose the right guy to have a baby with.”

Steve shakes his head. “You know what? Sometimes I wish you were more like Bucky.”

Sharon stops walking. She turns around slowly. “Oh, really?”

“Yeah, really. Bucky actually cares about my feelings; he sticks up for me, instead of tearing me down.”

Sharon scoffs. “Okay, then, you know what, Steve? Go be with Bucky! You have my permission!”

“So, why’re we here?” Valkyrie asks Maria. Valkyrie and Carol are seated in front of Maria, who has yet to say anything.

“Well, Valkyrie, you and Carol are here because I’ve decided to make you both co-captains of the Cheerios!”

Valkyrie’s jaw drops. “Wait, are you serious?!”

“Of course. I only want the best for my stars, especially when my stars feed me information to help destroy the Glee Club,” Maria says, holding her protein shake up in a cheers motion toward Carol.

Valkyrie looks over to Carol suspiciously. “What information did you share with Coach Hill?”

“Carol’s the one that told me about Sharon’s pregnancy,” Maria responds.

Valkyrie’s eyes bulge out of her head, slightly. “It was you?”

“I really didn’t mean to, but she asked, and I’m a terrible liar,” Carol says, frowning.

“Awe. Don’t feel bad, Carol. It was going to come out eventually,” Maria says.

“Coach Hill, I’m confused, why do you think revealing Sharon’s pregnancy to the whole school will affect the Glee Club?”

Maria stares at Valkyrie blankly. “I mean I’m sure it caused fights between you all, didn’t it?”

“No, we all already knew,” Valkyrie says.

“Well, Bucky didn’t know, but apparently Ms. Romanoff is the one that told him, so,” Carol shares.

“Well, whether it helped destroy the Glee Club or not, I’m not going to lie, it was still satisfying to do,” Maria says. “I’m still shaken by this news, ladies. Sharon was my all-star. She was ahead of all of you, talent-wise, and she reminded me of a young version of myself.”

“Don’t worry about Sharon anymore, Coach Hill. Carol and I are going to do such a good job at being co-captains, that in three weeks’ time, you won’t even be able to remember her last name,” Valkyrie says sassily.

“Outstanding,” Maria answers.

November 21, 2012.

[Gamora & Carol:]
Start me up
Start me up

Tommy used to work on the docks
Union's been on strike, he's down on his luck.
It's tough, oh so tough

[Gamora & Carol:]
We gotta hold on ready or not
You live the for the fight when that's all that you've got

[Tony, Peter, Gamora, & Carol:]
Start me up
We're half way there
Oh, livin' on a prayer
Start me up
We'll make it i swear
Oh, livin' on a prayer

[Tony with Carol & Gamora:]
If you start me up (uh)
Kick on the starter give it all you got, you got, you got
I can't compete with riders in the other heat, yeah yeah
I'll make a grown man cry,
I'll make a grown man give it a shot

[Tony, Peter, Gamora, & Carol:]
Start me up
We're half way there
Oh, livin' on a prayer
Start me up
We'll make it i swear
Oh, livin' on a prayer
Livin' on a prayer
[Gamora & Carol:]
Oh, we gotta hold on, ready or not
You live for the fight when that's all that you've got

[Tony, Peter, Gamora, & Carol:]
Start me up
We're half way there
Oh, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it i swear,
Oh livin' on a prayer
Start me up
If you start me up i'll never stop (i'll never stop)
Livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it i swear
Oh, livin on a prayer
Oh, we're half way there
Oh, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it i swear,
Oh livin' on a prayer (we're almost there)
Livin' on a prayer
You gotta start me up

“Oh my god, you guys! That was killer!” Bruce exclaims. “You all did so great, and that arrangement was insane! What inspired that?”

“Well, I love the Rolling Stones,” Tony says.

“And I love Bon Jovi,” Peter adds.

“And we wanted to turn it into a quartet when Peter suggested we recruit Gamora and Carol to help sing, and dance.”

“Yes, those were some amazing moves, ladies! Well, well done all of you!”

Bruce ushers the kids back to their seats. He hears a knock at the door. Natasha.

“Guys, talk amongst yourselves for a little, I’ll be right back,” Bruce says, exiting the choir room.

This is the first time he’s seen, or heard from, Natasha since that debacle with Matt in the staff room a while ago.

“Hi,” Natasha says.

“Hey,” Bruce answers.

The hallway is completely empty. Bruce is thankful.

“Are you okay?”

Bruce shrugs. “You mean since your boyfriend attacked me in the teachers’ lounge? I guess I could be a lot worse,” he says.

Natasha frowns. “Bruce, I want you to know I had no idea he was going to do that, and I’m so, so sorry.”

Bruce half-smiles. “It’s okay, Nat. It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Can I ask you something?” She asks.

“Anything. You know that,” Bruce says.

“Was there any… Truth to what Matt accused you of?”

Bruce is frazzled. Is he really ready to admit to Natasha that he’s had a thing for her for years? That he loves the way her burgundy-colored hair bounces when she’s walking with purpose. That he loves how kind, and sincere she is. That he loves how she can never eat less, or more than twelve grapes or carrots at a time, otherwise she’ll feel incomplete. That he loves her laugh. That he loves how she acts with the students at Shield High.

This could all very well be a carefully orchestrated trap set by Matt.

“Maybe. A little,” Bruce finally replies after leaving her waiting for several minutes. “But, Natasha, it was never my intention to try and steal you, or anything like that. I knew you had a boyfriend, and I always respected that.”

Natasha smiles. “And I thank you for that, Bruce. Truly,” she says. “And I hope you don’t hate me for doing this, but I think we’re going to have spend some time apart. At least until Matt calms down, okay?”

Bruce stares at her distraught. “Nat…”

He sees the tears fill her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Bruce.”

Within sixty seconds, he’s left alone.

“Thanks for meeting me,” Sharon says to Sam, who’s just walked into the girl’s locker room.

“What was so important that we needed to meet after school, and in here of all places?” Sam asks.

Sharon laughs under her breath. “It’s the only place I knew would be absolutely empty. Today’s the only day of the week with no girls’ sports practices.”

Sam takes a seat beside her on the bench. He places a hand on her thigh. “How’s my girl?”

Sharon rolls her eyes. “Damn it, Wilson, keep it in your pants,” she says. “This is important.”

“Okay, what?!” He asks.

Sharon hands him a physical copy of the sonogram.

Sam stares at it, completely unresponsive.

He finally opens his mouth minutes later. “Is this…”


“That’s our girl?” Sam asks, grabbing hold of Sharon’s hand.


“She looks perfect.”

“She does.”

Sam leans over and kisses Sharon, hard and passionately.

She pulls away after a couple of seconds. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, you told me not to, I just…”

“It’s okay,” Sharon replies. “I understand. It felt… Right. And, I liked it.”

They kiss some more, completely unaware that on the other side of the room, Carol, who’d returned to the locker room to retrieve her gym shoes to take with her to dance class, is crouched down by her locker, mouth completely agape.

“Hello?” Valkyrie speaks into her phone, sounding extremely annoyed. Moments prior, she’d had a screaming match with her parents over the entire glee club ordeal. They were usually always on Valkyrie’s side, but, in a surprising turn of events, they genuinely felt bad that their daughter was helping to destruct a harmless club, that she was a part of.

“Hi. It’s me. Are you free right now?” Carol asks.

“Yeah, definitely,” Valkyrie replies enthusiastically. “What’d you have in mind?”

“Well, I’m outside your house right now. I need to tell you something… Now.”

“Okay, I’m coming.”

Valkyrie hangs up and is walking to the vehicle within seconds.

She hops in, greeting her best friend with a hug.

“Okay, what’s up?”

“Do you remember when Nakia told us she heard Sharon talking to Sam about the baby?” Carol asks hesitantly. Honestly, she’s really scared of how Valkyrie is going to react.

“Yeah, and we were all like what the fuck, because what would Sharon be doing telling Sam about any of it in the first place?”

“Well, she had a reason to be telling him.”

“And what would that reason be?”

“He’s the father,” Carol spits out.

Valkyrie’s entire demeanor changes. “What do you mean he’s the father?”

“I overheard them today in the girl’s locker room… She showed him the sonogram, and they called it ‘their child’.”

Valkyrie’s fuming, exhaling extremely roughly out of her nose.

Carol looks like she’s about to burst into tears at a moment’s notice, for her best friend. “Val?”

“I can’t fucking believe this shit,” Valkyrie says. “She has everything. Captain of the Cheerios, the most popular girl in the school, fantastic grades, her family is loaded, she has Steve, she has us, and you’re telling me that’s not enough? She also had to have the guy I’m dating? The guy I’ve been crushing on since seventh grade? This is fucking ridiculous!”

“Valkyrie, I’m so sorry,” Carol says, placing a hand over hers.

“Carol, trust and believe me when I say that this bitch is getting her shit rocked tomorrow in Glee Club.”

November 23, 2012.

She, she ain't real,
She ain't gon be able to love you like I will
She is a stranger,
You and I have history,
Or don't you remember?

Sure, she's got it all,
But, baby, is that really what you want?
Bless your soul, you've got your head in the clouds
You made a fool out of you
And, boy, she's bringing you down
She made your heart melt
But you're cold to the core,
Now rumour has it she ain't got your love anymore

[Bucky & Nakia:]
Rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it
(Rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it)
Don't forget me, I beg I remember you said

I heard that you're settled down
That you found a girl and you're married now.
I heard that your dreams came true.
Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you.

[Bucky & Nakia:]
Rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it
(Rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it)
Don't forget me, I beg I remember you said

Bless your soul, you've got your head in the clouds,
You made a fool out of me,
And, boy, you're bringing me down,
You made my heart melt, yet I'm cold to the core,
But rumour has it I'm the one you're leaving her for

[Bucky & Nakia:]
Rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it
(Rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it, rumour has it)
Don't forget me, I beg I remember you said
Hey hey, rumour has it
Don't forget me, I beg I remember you said
Never mind I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you
To, don't forget me I beg
I remember you said
Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead
Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead

Bruce, Peter, Gamora, Tony, Sharon, Carol, Sam, Thor, and T’Challa all stand up to give their two fellow Glee Clubbers’ their much-deserved applause.

“I have absolutely no words. Bucky, Gamora, that was simply amazing! You all took to this whole mash-up assignment way too well, and I for one am so damn impressed!” Bruce says.

“I’ll say,” Valkyrie says, walking into auditorium. She’s in full on bitch mode, and Carol notices.

“Valkyrie, rehearsal started twenty minutes ago, where have you been?”

“In Coach Hill’s office. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Banner, there’s a call for you at the secretary’s desk.”

Bruce is taken aback. “Why wouldn’t they just call my cell?” He asks, but heads for the secretary, nonetheless.

“Who was on the phone for him?” Peter asks none the wiser.

“There wasn’t a phone call for him. I just needed him to leave so that I could do what I needed to do,” Valkyrie says, turning her attention to Sam. “Whatever was going on between you and me? It’s fucking over.”

She then walks directly up to Sharon. “And you? You’re fucking dead to me.”

“I’m sorry, what did I do?” Sharon asks.

“More like what haven’t you done, you dumb slut!” Valkyrie shouts. “Sam is the father of your baby! Don’t you dare try to weasel your way out of this one, tubbers.”

Everybody’s mouths drop to the floor. Sam and Sharon freeze. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. So, now that it’s out there, you are now both dead to me, and you can stop pretending that you’re the little victim in all of this, like you always fucking do.”

Everybody is so focused on the fight ensuing that not a single person notices Steve making his way down the aisles of the auditorium.

“Is that true?” Steve asks, face drained completely of color.

“Steve…” Sharon says, standing up.

Steve instantly dives for Sam. Everybody else is unresponsive. Steve punches him square in the face. The two go at it for minutes, punching, kicking, scratching, and spitting at one another until Bruce finally returns.

“Hey! Hey, what the hell is going on in here?” Bruce asks, running to break the boys up. It proves to be too much of a struggle, so Thor and T’Challa hold Sam back, as Bruce holds Steve.

“Tell the truth!” Steve screams aggressively, holding back tears.

“We don’t know what Valkyrie’s talking about!” Sam replies.

“Don’t play dumb, you’re too fucking dumb to play dumb!” Steve shouts back.

“Steve!” Bruce yells.

“No, I need to hear them both say it, I need them to admit that they’re fucking lying to me!”

Sharon’s crying. Steve finds whatever will he has inside of him to calm down enough to turn to Sharon and ask, “Is it true? Just tell me. It’s just a lie, right?”

Sharon doesn’t reply. She can’t, because her eyes are heavy with tears.

“Yes. Sam is the father,” she finally admits to the room.

Steve’s reaction looks like somebody’s just gone and stabbed him in the chest.

“So, all that stuff about that night?”

“You were stupid enough to buy it,” Sam says.

Steve is instantly filled with rage once again, and goes to charge at Sam, but is unsuccessful, as Bruce is still holding him back.

“I am so sorry,” Sharon lets out.

“No. No, screw this. I can’t believe I was actually going to come back. That’s the funny thing, I was only in here because I was actually going to return to Glee Club. Because I missed it. And I missed all of you. But, fuck this,” Steve says. “I’m done with you!” He screams to Sharon. “I’m done with all of you!”

Steve kicks over a couple of instruments and leaves.

Everybody is left with an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs.

Sharon’s in the hallway, packing up her bag with homework, eyes still insanely heavy from having been crying for the last twenty minutes. Maria Hill approaches her.

“I don’t know if it wasn’t obvious the first time, but I dismissed you from the Cheerios. I can’t have a pregnant girl on my squad. You’re a disgrace. So, uniform on my desk, by tomorrow morning. It’ll give you the opportunity to stop pretending you actually still fit in it,” Maria says, walking off.

Sharon doesn’t have time to dwell on Maria’s words, as Jane Foster and Jessica Jones bathe her in two grape-flavored slushies seconds later.

Everybody in the hallway erupts into laughter.

“Ladies, it’s come to me,” Maria says to Carol and Valkyrie. “My grand act of Glee Club sabotage.”

“Took you long enough,” Valkyrie mutters under her breath.

“What is it?” Carol asks.

“I’ve got connections over at the A-Force Academy, and the Illuminati School for the Deaf. And my connections have confided in me that their Glee Club advisors have admitted that winning Sectionals would mean so much to their communities. Which will absolutely take away any semblance of guilt I might feel when I give both of said advisors the Aural Avengers’ setlist for the competition,” Maria explains. “It’s perfect.”

Valkyrie looks to the floor, actually feeling shame.

“I don’t get it,” Carol says, looking confused.

“We’re going to give Coach Hill our song selections, and she’s going to give them to our competition.”

“And I will pull some strings to make sure that you perform last, so that it will look like you stole the songs from them, thus ensuring the Aural Avengers lose Sectionals.”

“It’s perfect, Coach Hill. We’ll get you our setlist as soon as we can,” Valkyrie says.

“That’s my girls!” Maria exclaims positively.

Sharon finally returns home after an apocalypse of a day at school. She’s ready to fall into her mother and father’s arms and let them soothe her back to comfort, like they always do.

Harrison and Amanda are standing in the doorway when Sharon walks in.

After the day she’s had, Sharon bursts into tears upon seeing her parents. She can’t help. She just wants them to make it all okay again.

“Mommy, Daddy!” She says, walking up to hug them.

“Sharon,” Amanda whispers. Sharon notices tears in her eyes.

Harrison holds up a letter. Judging by the logo on the top, and the hefty total at the bottom, it looks like a doctor’s bill… For one of Sharon’s most recent appointments.

The four other times she knew she’d get a bill, Sharon had beat her parents to the mail box and always collected them herself.

Clearly, she was a little too late today.

“What the fuck is this?” Harrison asks his little girl.