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Agent 13

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Author’s Note:

The MCU writers had several opportunities using the source material from the comics to introduce Marvel characters in so many good ways. And with a lot of the characters, they managed well enough. But the female characters, I think most would agree, have suffered tremendously from lack of interest from male writers in general, which I feel is no less true in the MCU. I personally find that the majority of problems that people have with the female characters of the MCU can really just be chalked up to lazy writing. The actresses themselves, and my personal opinion once again, I would say have done a spectacular job with the material they were given, and sometimes outdo even the writers in their portrayal. As a dedicated and diehard fan of Sharon Carter of the comics, I was so excited to see that she would be added to the cinematic universe. I was even more excited when I heard that Emily VanCamp of ‘Revenge’ would be playing her, for there was nobody else I would have personally chosen over her for that role. And then we all know what happened. The brilliant and blazing character of Sharon Carter who shines like a bright beacon in the Captain America comics, has overcome so much and still remained loyal and strong, was reduced to nothing more than 15 minutes of screen time, nothing more than a love interest that irritated the fans who only knew Steve’s relationship with Peggy in the cinematic universe, and the role of her character that should have been rightfully hers given to other female characters such as Black Widow and Peggy, positions that should have rightfully held by Sharon, most notably as the female lead in CA: Winter Soldier, a much larger role in Civil War, including the airport battle, and should have been living with Steve for the two years between Civil War and Infinity War, and then, should have been the one that Steve returned to after returning the stones. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of that, and now I’m hearing that they may just relegate her to the romantic role in Falcon and Winter Soldier. The truth is, I don’t trust the Marvel writers to do right by her. They haven’t so far.

This story is an attempt to present Sharon how I think she should have been introduced in the MCU. In the comics, Steve didn’t even know who she was for a significant part of time after first meeting her, knowing her only as Agent 13. Sharon was not given permission to tell him who she was, acting only as a liaison between him and S.H.I.E.L.D. because, in the comics, Steve didn’t actually work for S.H.I.E.L.D. at first. He only assisted in some of their missions. Their relationship grew over time, at a much slower pace, and usually was born out of working together professionally. Steve fell in love with her first, and for a long time, she brushed off his attempts at a romantic relationship, before finally realizing that she loved him too, and despite long periods of separation, including times when both were brainwashed into working for the enemy, or years thinking the other was dead, they emerged as a fairly strong couple. And presently, that’s how they remain in the comics, even with Peggy back in the storyline in Ta-Nahesi Coates’ “Captain of Nothing” series.

So here is my story, interwoven with the MCU, relying heavily on the comics as the original source material for details, and how I would have written the character of Sharon Carter for the movies if there had been no constraints on time, and if there had been assurances that the actors involved would have been available. I hope you enjoy.
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Chapter 1

Steve Rogers was curled up on the bed in the medical wing, the real medical wing, of the New York S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, staring at a screen in the wall that projected various images designed to look like views of the city skyline out of a window. Apparently it also projected these views at the correct time of day because it was nearing twilight and the image on the screen showed the city at dusk, the buildings turning into dark shapes against a sunset, their windows like twinkling stars. Some small rounded box-like device on a nearby table was playing Frank Sinatra’s “Moon River,” along with other soft music from the 1940s. He barely heard music or saw the images, he hardly recognized the skyline anymore anyway. He was still caught in his own head, trying to wrap his brain around everything that had happened that day. Trying to convince himself that it was actually true, that he wasn’t dreaming, that it was really 70 years later, and he was no longer in the 1940s, but the year 2012.

He couldn’t seem to focus on one particular topic. His mind kept jumping from one subject to the next. Finally, he decided to approach the situation the same way he would planning out a military strike. Deal with the facts first. His name was Steven Grant Rogers. He was born on July 4, 2018. Good, got that straight. His father died in World War I, he never knew him. He was raised by his mother through the 20s and 30s, during the great depression. Her name was Sarah. Sarah Rogers. She was a nurse. She got tuberculosis and died from it. That left him alone at the age of 19. He started working his way through what else he could confirm about himself. He was an art student before the war, he had worked at the corner grocery store, his best friend was James Buchanan Barnes, who everyone called Bucky. Bucky had joined the army at the outbreak of World War II, but Steve had been rejected for medical reasons. He tried many times to join, forging his name and papers. Eventually he was accepted into the army as part of a project. He volunteered for Dr. Erskine’s Project Rebirth experiment, the one that turned him into Captain America. His team, the Howling Commandos, he had rescued most of them from a Hydra Nazi imprisonment camp. He went through all the events of the war in his mind. Coming at last to fighting the Red Skull on the Valkyrie bomber. The cosmic cube had been lost. The Red Skull had fallen to his death. The bomber was loaded with enough fire power to level New York City. He couldn’t find a way to divert the bomber in time. He had to crash the plane on purpose.

His memory took him to that moment, his last transmission on the radio, talking to Peggy. Peggy Carter. Agent Carter of the SSR. Attaché to the United States military for the Project. Beautiful, powerful, and indulgent with him and his fumbling attempts at telling her what she meant to him. Steadfast and loyal, had helped him with Howard Stark when they stood a good chance of all of them been court-martialed. She had been on the radio. She had agreed to a date. They were going to dance. He told her he didn’t want to step on her toes. Then the plane hit the water. He lost consciousness. Darkness and closing, and Peggy’s voice calling his name.

“Steve? Steve...?”

And then the sound of her tears as the radio went silent, and the icy water rushing down. His vision had tunneled, going dark, realizing he had not died in the crash, but that the icy water was rushing in, covering his legs and would soon cover the rest of him. He was angry. Angry that he had not died in the crash. Angry that he now had to face a slow and agonizing death either through drowning or hypothermia. He just hoped it would be quicker than he was expecting. And everything had gone dark.

He had lost all sense of time. He had dreamed, dreamed of blizzards, of ice, a bone crushing cold. He had dreamed of the colors blue and white. Sometimes there has been light, almost as if he could open his eyes, but was never quite able to. Sometimes there was pain. The pain of being frozen, encased in ice, but then the world would go dark again. One time, he came to enough to realize he was still alive, but his entire body was encased in ice, except his face, allowing him to breathe. But then he dismissed the idea. He couldn’t still be alive, not unless it was only a few days after the crash. He must be in hell. He had done something to anger God, had denied his faith in some way, and now he was paying the price. Hell wasn’t fire, it wasn’t like a cold blur. It was cold. Bone crushing cold.

Then, came to voices. The flashlight beams. The shouts. Movement. Movement as he was lifted up, the hum of some kind of machinery that hoisted him free of his resting place. The sound of metal hitting ice, the rocking sensation as he was chiseled out of the block. Shouts in English, “This man is still alive!”

The darkness closed in on him, but sometimes it would retreat. There would be voices, sounds, and more light. There was pain, as feeling returned slowly to his limbs. Beeping sounds. Someone talking to him, but he couldn’t respond. More words. Words about brain waves and heart rate and respiratory rates. He tried to focus, but he had descended into the darkness once again.

The next time he had opened his eyes, it had been in a hospital room, or what looked like a hospital room. There was a radio playing a baseball game, and there was something strange about it. Familiar. There was something wrong with the room. Something about the window, how the light didn’t move as if the sun was outside of the window. The shadows didn’t move. The fan in the ceiling seemed wrong. And then the woman had come in, dressed as a nurse from the 1940s, or someone official, but something was different about her. Maybe it was the way she held herself. Different from the way most women, even Peggy, did. She only spoke a few sentences, but there was something wrong with those as well. Maybe it was a slight alteration in the accent. It was an American accent, but it wasn’t. It was not her native accent, but a very well-practiced approximation of a neutral American one. Her body movements were different. As if she normally moved like an athlete not a nurse. Something was very wrong. He confronted her, then realized he was listening to a baseball game he had already attended before. It was a trap. It was a trick. Men had come in, men who looked like Hydra. Dressed in dark and carrying weapons.

He had easily overcome them, run from the room, ignored her calls to stop, only to find himself in a large warehouse and the room was like a stage, meant to fool him when he woke up. He ran through a door and into a hallway, into a crowd of people wearing clothes that were noticeably different in style. Lights in the ceiling that weren’t bulbs, but seem to glow directly from the ceiling. What was this place!? Did these people mean him harm? Most of them looked utterly stunned to see him, and nobody moved for a weapon. Most had their mouths hanging open, as if they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Steve took that opportunity to run, run out onto the street, where vehicles unlike any he had ever seen were on the roadways. People were wearing clothes of a different kind of fashion, and he wondered what city he was in until he saw the Empire State building, and the Chrysler building.

He was in New York! But how? It didn’t look anything like the New York he remembered. The air smelled different. The noises and sounds were different. He ran more, panicked now. Where was he? What had happened while he was asleep? He knocked over people, and mumbled sorry, but kept running. He got to Times Square, but it was filled with screens, lights. And then he heard the rolling but authoritative voice.

“At ease, soldier,” the voice said.

Any other man might have continued to run, but the conditioning from the army to obey that order and in that tone of voice was strong. He turned to look, and saw that several dark vehicles of that strange sleek design had pulled up behind him, and a large Negro man without hair and a patch over one eye was standing in front of one of them. Steve had been in the military long enough to recognize authority when he saw it, but he was stunned. In his time, it was very rare for a Negro man to attain officer status, much less the sort of authority that this man obviously wielded. Of course, amongst the commandos, Gabriel Jones had been the only Negro, and extremely competent. Steve had, on more than one occasion, submitted Jones for advancement in rank, only to find that the applications mysteriously vanished, were never received, or were outright rejected. It had infuriated him, Jones was a capable soldier and deserved advanced status. But it just rarely happened, due to situations mostly out of Steve’s control. Whoever this man was, he had clearly overcome those limitations.

Steve took in the complement of followers behind the man. They were not dressed in uniform, but rather business attire. Or what looked like business attire, and Steve noticed there were some women among them. Women wearing what looked like feminine business suits. Similar to the uniform Peggy had worn, but still, different in some way. All of them had hands on weapons, but were standing behind the Negro man, clearly waiting for orders. Steve turned and faced him. Society norms aside, he recognized authority when he saw it, and knew to address the authority figure in this group.

Then the man tells him the impossible. He apologizes for “the show back there,” but then tells Steve that he had been asleep, for nearly 70 years. Steve is so stunned he could not respond. He looked around, expecting to find some evidence of a further lie, but then, realizes it must be the truth. It explains the futuristic design of the cars, the dress of the people, the buildings that were now there that were not there before, the screens in place of billboards. It is the year 2012, he learns later. The Negro man looks at him with sympathy out of his good eye, and asks him if he is going to be OK. Steve replies yes, but that he “had a date.”

He stands there for several minutes, and although some of the people in suits, agents he later learns, shift restlessly, nervously looking at the crowd that had gathered, the man with the eyepatch give him space to process for a moment or two. Then, with a subtle hand signal from him, the agents begin filing back into their cars. The eyepatch man, his name is Nick Fury, Steve later learns, beckons him to another car, and Steve really can’t think of a reason to disobey. He had already proven that he was capable of getting out of their buildings, so if he had to, escaping the car shouldn’t be that problematic. Only once he got inside of it did he realize he might’ve been wrong. The interior of the vehicle was nicer than any he had ever been in. The seats were soft, and appeared to be covered in leather, there was a radio, and some sort of ventilation system to control the climate inside. When the vehicle pulled into traffic and got up to speed, there was a clicking sound, which he saw were locks engaging. The glass seemed pretty thick too. However, nobody was making an aggressive move towards him, and when they pulled into the building he had fled, there didn’t seem to be any subterfuge or movement to restrain him. The agents filed out of their cars and into the stairwells and elevators, and Fury beckoned him to follow. He did so.

Fury lead him through winding hallways, glaring at agents who stopped to stare at Steve, one woman actually dropping her papers and some sort of device she was carrying.

“Move along, Agents, you all know what he looks like,” said Fury in a tone that might have been irritable, but was also slightly affectionate and paternalistic. Steve recognized it as similar to a tone used by old grizzled generals when addressing their troops. True leaders were always concerned about their people, treating them more as individuals to be coached rather than servants who must obey. Clearly, Fury thought about the welfare of the people who answered to him. So it was also obvious that quite a few were intimidated by him, and easily moved out of the way when he walked in the hallways. Steve walked behind him just to avoid any further problem.

Fury led him to what was apparently the medical facility for the building, and handed him over to a doctor, one of the teams that had been treating him. Fury mentioned that he would be back, but he had some phone calls to make, and left. Steve found the doctor to be amicable, perhaps a little starstruck, but professional. He asked Steve how he was feeling, asked about any physical sensations, mental sensations, and gave him a thorough examination. He tells Steve that the doctors have been examining him since he was found, and told Steve some about the circumstances which had led the organization, S.H.I.E.L.D., to the resting place of the Valkyrie bomber. Howard Stark had, apparently, looked for him for years, turning the search project over to his son, Howard had a son(!), Tony who did not pay personal attention to it, but continued to fund the search for Captain America. When that search had located the bomber, S.H.I.E.L.D. had been called, and the team sent into retrieve him, which was when they discovered he was still alive.

Because he couldn’t think of a good reason not to cooperate, Steve sat there miserably letting the doctor go on with the information of how he had been found and treated, and brought back to life. Steve said little, not in the mood for conversation, so despondent about the apparent truth of the situation that he even neglected to ask questions about the future in which he found himself, society, technology, events, something Howard Stark would have done for days on end. The doctor pronounced him fit and not in any sort of immediate danger, but also recognized that Steve really had no quarters or place to stay and seemed stunned, so assigned him to a medical room anyway. That had been earlier today. He had been transferred to the medical room with the fake window and the box that played music from his time. There was also a flat pane of glass on the wall, which someone said was a television, though Steve couldn’t see how that could be. He had only seen one television before in his life, and it looked nothing like this. One of the nurses tried to show him how to use the remote control, but Steve wasn’t interested and quickly gave up. So now, he lay on his bed looking at the fake window, listening to music from his time, wondering vaguely if the small box, obviously some sort of radio, could also play radio shows from his time. He had never found out what had happened on the last episode of “Dick Tracy.” The nurse had shown him how to talk to the box, asking it to play a specific song or something, but Steve felt foolish talking to a box. Even when he tried to think of it as some sort of Walkie Talkie. He had never had to talk to or have a conversation with a machine before.

They had brought him something to eat, some sort of liquid food that the nurse called a “smoothie.” Steve had wrinkled his nose at the sight of it, but his growling stomach urged him to at least try it. It turned out to be delicious, and a good thing too, because the doctor said he would have to ease into solid food slowly. He had not eaten anything in 70 years, and what little fat had been left on him previously had been completely depleted keeping him alive during that time, even with a radically decreased metabolism.

He had told the doctor about how the army had discovered his ramped up metabolism, how he had been issued field rations meant for small teams, and saw the doctor make some sort of note on the glass tablet he carried around. Steve was given a second smoothie, one that tasted vaguely of peanut butter, and found that he felt much better after consuming it. Apparently, extra nutrients and calories had been added to them in some way. Now, Steve lay on the bed, with a little else to do, except listen to the music and try not to cry.

The ramifications of what he was facing were finally starting to sink in. If he and his friends had been in their 20s and 30s back in the 40s, and it was 70 years later, then most if not all of them were probably dead. Including Peggy. The Commandos. Everyone. Steve fought down a strangled cry. He was alone. Utterly alone. He knew no one, had no idea what the intentions were of the strange organization that called itself S.H.I.E.L.D. No idea where he belonged or where he could possibly live or fit in with this strange future world.

He just couldn’t believe that this was his life now. He had been in the middle of a world war, fighting Hydra, he had his friends, there was a potential future with a girl. All of these things gone. He had read a book once, just some pulp thing he had gotten from five and dime store, about a man who had ended up on an alien world amongst aliens in a strange civilization. He had learned to become one of them, but he still felt lost, forsaken and alone. Steve now knew exactly how that felt. He might be surrounded by human beings, but he felt as if he were on an alien world.

Eventually he sleeps. The next day he learns to operate the television, and he has to admit, it’s a pretty swanky device. There seemed to be endless amount of stations to tune in to, new stations with people talking endlessly about world events, which struck him as being rather buffoonish. It seemed most of the people on these various stations were idiots. He didn’t have to be well-versed in the events of the world to see that they were simply talking and speculating for the sake of hearing their own voices. There were shows, fictional shows that were like plays being enacted, visual versions of radio shows he figured. Some took place in real world locations. Some were completely fictional and fantastical, and those had effects so realistic he half wondered if one movie he was watching actually had a live dragon in it. He finds a station devoted to historical documentaries and leaves the TV on that. It begins to fill in the gaps between the time he went into the ice and into his present. He was astounded at some of the things that had happened. One focused on World War II. He had heard rumors about the concentration camps, but this documentary with photographic and video imagery made him so sick he threw up in the bathroom. How had he missed this? He could have easily given up on looking for Hydra to liberate those camps if he had known. The nurse finds him collapsed on the floor crying, and the doctor is summoned. Eventually they work out what is wrong with him, and give him sympathetic pats on the shoulder. They tell him that the war was won by thousands of good men, not just one super soldier, and it had been some of those good but normal men who had liberated those camps. Quite a few had survived them. But all Steve heard was 6 million men, women, and children have perished under horrific conditions in those camps and he had never known.

He switches to another history channel, but at first he thinks he has the wrong channel. There’s some strange man with a crazy hairstyle telling the camera that the Egyptian pyramids were built by aliens. This must be a fictional network. He switches the channel again. He lands on a network about food and watches a man with wild white hair visit different diners around America. He watches with interest, and then realizes he’s getting hungry again. A nurse brings him another smoothie. He likes smoothies, but he’s getting kind of sick of them. After watching the wild haired man eat a cheeseburger at a diner, he suddenly decides he wants a cheeseburger. Someone bring him one. It’s not bad. But he notices something else. The food tastes different, a quality he can’t quite put his finger on. For instance, there seems to be sugar in almost everything. Everything is sweet. Even the bread. The tomatoes are flat and flavorless, different than the ones he used to eat as a kid. Everything seems like it was not ripe when it was picked. Even the milk has a strange quality about it, not like the kind the milkman used to leave at his mother’s door.

He is allowed to go down to the gym for some light workout. The doctor fusses at him good-naturedly, telling him no sparring and nothing too strenuous, but he can have a go on the treadmills, with some of the bags, and perhaps some of the weights. Steve ignores his advice and works out until he was dripping with sweat and his heart rate gets up to 80 from its normal 60. Some of the other agents working out in the gym look like they are awestruck, although some may want to challenge him to a sparring match, but anyone who takes a tentative step in his direction quickly rethinks it and goes back to what he is doing. Steve learns to operate the shower in the bathroom of his medical room, discovering that there are some perks to this future world. For example, there’s always hot water, and the ventilation system keeps the room at a comfortable temperature, so he cranks it up to 78 to dispel any cold lingering in the corners.

After a few days, Nick Fury comes to him again, tells him that he is being issued quarters in the habitation level, so he no longer needs to stay in the medical wing. Steve had grown somewhat comforted by the small space in the medical wing, thinks of it as his, but he follows Fury without a word. In truth, the tiny apartment he is issued is not all that different from the medical room, except it has a real window. Still, unbelievably, this window can be blanked out too and the same projected images from his medical room could be broadcast on the window just as well. There is a bed that is larger than any he has ever slept in, though Fury amazingly apologizes for it being so small. When Steve lays on it, it is just a right amount of comfortable combination of firmness and softness, and the sheets feel absolutely divine, not at all like the stiff ones his mother used to scrub on a board. Or the scratchy army ones he used to sleep in. There is a flat screen TV on the wall with all the channels he had been watching, and a small kitchenette in the corner with a sink, something called a microwave oven, and a hot plate. Underneath the counter is something called a refrigerator, similar to the icebox that his mother used to have in their apartment, only it didn’t drip water into a pan or require a block of ice to stay cold. It used electricity of some sort. Apparently it was a tiny model compared to the kinds that were normally in houses, but it was stocked with energy drinks, food meant to be heated up in the microwave that had instructions on it, and a set of printed instructions on how to operate the microwave and the hot plate on the counter. There was a small coffee pot and mug, also with instructions on how to brew a single cup of coffee. Steve felt his head began to pound. There was so much to learn. He learns later that a low ranking agent had been living in this apartment, but had given it up willingly to room with another agent in order for him to have it. He later finds the man and thanks him. The young agent just shrugs.

There were some chairs and a table, so he sits with Fury at the table as the other man pushes a stack of files towards him, explaining that they were personal files on the people he had known, what S.H.I.E.L.D. knew about them and their current whereabouts and what had become of them. Steve feels a rush of gratitude, as well as trepidation looking at the stack of files, wondering what he will find out about his friends in those papers. Fury explains to him that S.H.I.E.L.D. was in the process of convincing the government that he was well and truly alive, explaining that, since he had never been formally discharged from the military, he was owed quite a bit of back pay. Steve found himself not caring much about that, until Fury explained to him what things cost in the 21st-century. Steve was flabbergasted when Fury told him with something like a loaf of bread cost. Fury explained that he would need his own apartment, and would need to start thinking about what he was going to do with himself now that he was, despite his chronological age, a young man in the 21st-century. Fury tells him that he’s welcome to stay here as long as he wants, but that he expects that soon Steve will become bored just hanging out in this apartment or in the gym downstairs. The doctors saw no reason to continue offering medical treatment, so he was basically free to do as he pleased within reason.

Steve nods and thanks the man, who leaves. He then reads the files about his friends. Dum Dum Dugan. Deceased. Morita. Deceased. James Barnes. Deceased. Dernier. Deceased. Howard Stark. Deceased, along with his wife Maria. One son, Anthony Edward Stark. Tony Stark. Current CEO of Stark industries. Margaret Peggy Carter. Currently alive.

Steve reads all of their files three times, and Peggy’s five. Peggy is alive, but elderly. She shows signs of dementia and memory loss, and was currently being cared for in a nursing home in Virginia, near her family home where she had lived with her husband and two children.

Husband and two children.

Steve pushes the files away and goes to lay down on the bed, allowing the sobs and tears to flow out of him. Unlike the medical wing, likely no one will hear in this place. Loneliness slams around his chest and heart. Peggy. Beautiful Peggy. Of course she would have married and had a family. She should have. He was oddly both heartbroken and relieved to read that in her file. Heartbroken because, of course, that man had not been him. He had begun to dream about what a life with Peggy would have looked like, a house with children and a dog. Summer vacations. Barbecues. Fourth of July picnics under a sky full of fireworks. Christmases. But then he had crashed into some ice, and that was all obliterated along with the rest of his life.

He was heartbroken to have lost Peggy, but still oddly relieved that she had not spent her entire life mourning him, pining for him, and had somehow recovered and built a life for herself. He learns through the files and from careful questioning of Nick Fury and some other agents he meets that Peggy and Howard Stark had been two of the co-founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. They had founded the organization to deal with otherworldly threats the kind of which the Tesseract had presented itself. Threats from outside of the planet, threats from super powered individuals like the Red Skull. Peggy had been one of the most decorated officers in the intelligence community, well respected even after she retired. Her name still echoed through not just the halls of S.H.I.E.L.D., but other intelligence agencies like the CIA and the NSA. More than one senior agent in S.H.I.E.L.D. spoke fondly of her as a mentor, a role model to aim towards, and her picture occasionally showed up in hallways full of pictures of decorated agents. She had married a man who had been a director of a California field office, also a noteworthy agent in his own respect, Daniel Sousa, and had born him two children. Edwin and Lillian. Both were apparently grown with their own children, so Peggy had grandchildren, but there was little mention of them, their names or their ages. Only that they lived in Virginia. They had not followed Peggy into the intelligence world. Steve found himself being glad for that. It wasn’t an easy life to live.

Anytime he feels the pain of having lost Peggy, he tells himself that he should be happy that she lead such a good life. That she could have her career and her family, live into her 90s, and still be so beloved of so many people. He was proud to have known her. Although the files on his friends said they are deceased, he learns equally pleasant things about them as well. Nearly all of the Commandos had eventually married and fathered children. Some of their descendants worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. Apparently Gabe Jones, had a grandson Antoine Triplett, who was an up-and-coming young field agent. Morita had a granddaughter who worked as a technician in the tactical control room.

Then Steve notices a page in Peggy’s file, or where there should be a page, but there was evidence that the page had been ripped out. He wants to ask Fury about it, but he rarely sees the man now. His contact is a young agent named Phil Coulson, who showed him how to make microwave dinners from ingredients found at the grocery store on the corner, and seems to be a walking encyclopedia of Captain America lore and knowledge, including his friends, who introduces him to Antoine Triplett who shake his hand and asked to be called Trip, but seems to have little to say about the torn page when Steve asked him.

“There was probably some classified information in that file that you’re not authorized to see Cap,” says Coulson. “Peggy… Director Carter… went on to do a great many things that will never be known, because so much of it is classified. Even printing out those records took some authorization, we like to keep things digital.”

Steve wants to argue, claiming that he had authorization when he and Peggy worked together that was never revoked, but could see that the young agent, while starstruck with him, was definitely not going to break confidential protocol, and even then might simply not have the answers himself. Coulson didn’t strike him as being is all that high ranking.

He wants to meet Tony Stark, Howard son, but that proves to be more difficult. Apparently Tony is something of a party animal and womanizer, and while he has been told about Steve’s resurrection, he is frequently busy in different parts of the world and when he is in New York, is rarely there long enough to stop for a visit. He sends a card to Steve, a digital one, that Steve never quite learns how to function. But Tony’s administrative assistant, a woman named Virginia Ponce, who introduces herself as Pepper, stops by briefly to say hello.

She is a pretty young redheaded thing who Bucky would definitely have pursued back in the day, but Steve can see when she speaks about Tony that she is enamored of her boss and trying hard not to show it and likely only had eyes for him. She is a consummate professional, but Steve can see that, despite Tony’s shortcomings, that she loves the man. She tells him that Tony would like to meet him when the schedules allow, and instead, hands him one of those glass panels that everyone calls a tablet. He appreciates that she takes time to show him how to use it. Feeling that Steve needed to catch up with modern times, Tony had apparently put forth some effort with his advanced computer systems and custom designed this tablet especially for him. It contained notable songs that were popular in the decades that followed Steve’s disappearance, popular movies, specific episodes of certain television shows that were particularly groundbreaking, books, and a variety of other things, such as something called video games. It all felt fit on this one little device, and Steve had to admit he was impressed. Just the books alone were valuable to him, for an entire library existed on this device, and he found that they could be read out loud by the device as well. He even managed to install a drawing application on it, though he much preferred pencil and paper. Pepper bid him goodbye with a quick friendly hug, and he doesn’t see her again for a long time, nor Tony.

He is in the small apartment for three months before Fury suggest that he take a vacation. Apparently, S.H.I.E.L.D. has some sort of safe house cabin in upstate New York that was built by a Doctor who had some sort of problem that required him to isolate himself for a while until he could get control of whatever his problem is. He had built the cabin himself, and it was very remote and very strong. Steve agrees, and they bring him up there in one of their aircraft they call a Quinjet. The cabin is a one room affair with nobody else around, although there is communication equipment, and Steve is able to talk to the counselors regularly. He stays there for three weeks, just absorbing the information on the tablet that Pepper gave him, catching himself up to the modern world, reading and watching videos. He discovers the internet, specifically YouTube, that seems to have instructional videos on everything from how to set the timer on your coffee pot to how to drive a modern car. The Quinjet and Coulson come to pick him up and bring him back. He sits in the cockpit and carefully watches the pilot. By the time they land, he is reasonably confident he could fly the aircraft himself he had to.

Fury tells him that they found him a place to live. It is a small studio apartment near the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, so he can continue to work out in the gym, though he finds the apartment slightly more cramped than the one at the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility if that was possible, still it is his. Apparently some behind-the-scenes negotiation had resulted in getting him set up as a functional citizen of the United States again, complete with a re-issued birth certificate, Social Security number, something called a state ID, and a bank account with his back pay loaded into it. The amount is staggering. Coulson set him up with something called a cellular phone, which seems to be a smaller version of the tablet, shows him how to use it and programs his own phone number into it as well as Fury’s. It’s understood that he is never to give out Fury’s phone number, though Steve suspects it’s not the only one the mysterious man with the eyepatch has.

Steve walks through the city, trying to re-familiarize himself with landmarks he recognizes in addition to some he does not. The gangs quickly learn to leave him alone, apparently the crime aspect has not changed much since he lived in Brooklyn. He visits Brooklyn and discovers that he doesn’t recognize it at all. Even the park he used to hang out in now has a giant office building sitting on top of it. He goes on tours meant for tourists and learns how the city has changed in the last century. Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. seem content to leave him alone and let him adjust to being in the 21st-century, though they offer the services of a counselor, who he visits twice and then refuses to go any further. Despite being told that seeking professional help for a mental problem is no longer a shameful thing in this day and age, he remembers it being fraught with stigma during his time and feels as if he should be able to handle what is happening to him. During the day, it is not so bad. It’s actually fairly easy to maintain control of himself, there is so much to do and see. So much to catch up on and learn. But it is the nights that are worst. The nights when he puts on the music from his time. Listens to the voices of Frank Sinatra and Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald. Hears the big band music that used to play in the dance halls. And he lies on his bed in the darkness, the tears gently running down his face.