Sam was pretty certain that news channels multiplied in the same way as fruit flies did; you’d think you’d sorted them out and then there were twenty instead of two.
All he wanted was to watch a movie or maybe a reality show, something that didn’t make him want to throw his collection of stuffed animals, all birds, at the television. That shouldn’t be that hard to find. Instead every other channel was a replay of the hearing where Natasha told the government off or dissections of her words and constant speculation. It was all too familiar. The same process happened whenever something went wrong in the service. Sam’d been through this before: investigations into when a man was lost, reviews of the Falcon technology, reviews with the VA to get money where it should be. They mattered just as this mattered, but he hated all the talk that went along with any trial and it seemed like each one seemed to get bigger.
But then that would make sense. Everything was bigger around Steve, he filled up space and made people pay attention to him.
Sam ran across the classic movie channel and they were showing one of the Captain America movies from ‘70s that tried to be a political thriller. Of course, it was at the scene where somehow Cap was in front of MacCarthy testifying. No, not McCarthy but someone meant to be like him. Cap was played by someone forgettable who tried to do what Nat had done with ease. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard to find footage of Steve, they could have seen how he didn’t talk that way. He got it done but that wasn’t as dramatic, yes, he had his speeches but those were for the men. Steve wasn’t like Stark who knew how to play the press and hearings.
The couch was comfortable and he yawned, but then he started hearing old commanders question him mix with the movie.
Staff Sergeant Wilson, please tell us what happened when Staff Sergeant Riley crashed. Did the RPG full destroy the XO Falcon or did other damage contribute to bringing it down?”
Sam could almost taste the way the gas burned in the air and how the dry air made his eyes tear up behind the goggles. he clenched his hand, feeling his nails bite into his palm, he couldn’t go back there, not again, not now. It was over, this was the cleaning up, to make it all neat and tidy for reports when the truth was burning gas and Riley spiraling into the rocky ground with no control. Do the breathing, in, out, hold, make it longer every time, in, out, hold, he’d get clear.
He woke up when ‘Star Spangled Man with a Plan’ played on the TV with the taste of dust in his mouth. It was an original recording of Steve, and Sam blinked at how young he looked. Not like the actual war footage that came after. Sam couldn’t remember even feeling like that, when he believed that if he followed orders and did something brave, he would earn a place to be anyone he wanted. The next clip showed Steve with the true Howling Commandos. That was a familiar look, war wearing him down as it kept on going. It didn’t take long to feel that way and then the war was always there, just on the edge of sight and hearing.
The door buzzed breaking that painful train of thought and he stood up, reaching for the gun he kept in his chair. He pressed the intercom. “Who’s there?”
“Natasha with Indian food from the place around the corner, they even put in extra naan since you’re so sweet.” She sounded happy though with her that only meant her voice, he’d have to see her eyes to know how she actually felt. By the time she’d come up the stairs, he’d opened the door to the wonderful smell of warm naan.
She handed him a bag and said, “Cap marathon still going on?”
“Yes, they’re showing some of the newsreels. Is that lassi?”
“Two flavors, salty and mango.” As she spoke, she pulled plates and it was a pleasure to watch how quick and comfortable she was. Putting everything out to the world had been dangerous but it seemed to have uncoiled part of her.
By the time they were back on the couch, the next movie had started up. One of the more artistic ones from the ‘90s that claimed it took most of their script from the memoirs of the Howling Commandos, Peggy Carter and various eyewitness reports. He always figured that they focused on the heartbreaking parts of the truth and left the dirty and funny ones behind. Somehow Natasha managed to end up with her legs under her and her meal perfectly balanced on her lap as she watched.
“Do you know they actually filmed this during the summer?” she said. “It was the only time they were allowed in the Alps. That’s why they’re all shivering far too hard.”
She knew movies, he hadn’t expect that and settled himself down as Peggy Carter comforted Steve after Bucky fell. “Yeah, but it works. I mean it’s not as good as the one they made in the fifties where they did the filming in the winter but they get it.”
“Maybe. Clint does that same glare, I think it’s a sniper thing," Nat said when there was a flashback of Bucky looking down at Steve.
“You mean the one where they narrow their eyebrows at you?”
“Yes, A...Barnes does it too. Steve doesn’t do it, but he’s not a sniper.”
“No, he’s not. He’s..he’s infantry.”
“I thought that was usually an insult from airmen,” He couldn’t decide if she was trying not to laugh at him or amused by his observation as his eyes were on the movie.
“I can learn and hell, he’s Captain America. He knows how to be a foot soldier and have it work.”
“Great praise, ooh, I love this bit. They had the right planes. They bought them from Russia because one of the oil oligarchs had one in his private collection. I tried to find out how he got it because he shouldn’t have had it, but there were favors. He didn’t keep it after the movie, I made sure of that. A donation was made and now it’s in the Air and Space museum.”
He thought he knew all the background on this film, one of his VA guys had been a consultant but didn’t know that. Later he’d ask, if the time was right about that slip with Barnes' name, now Movie Cap and the Commandos with Peggy Carter fought their way towards the airfield.
“I love this bit,” Sam said. “Someone gave them good training,”
“And powerful hair-spray. His curl hasn’t moved at all. Hers has good bounce, the hairstylist knew their stuff even though they gave Cap that weird curl.”
“He has it in some of the old photos.”
“Only in the early shows when they were trying to make him look like Dudley Do-Right.”
“You watched that show?” Sam wouldn’t have thought it would have made its way out to her.
“Clint made me watch it. He said it would explain a lot of how Canada worked. All it did was explain him.” She smiled then got quiet as the plane started to go down.
They’d done all the right sort of research for this one. He felt her presence by his side and breathed in the scent of korma as flames spilled out and Cap spiraled down. Dust, ice was all around the plane pulling down to his grave.The movie mercifully ended there and Nat ran her hand up and down his arm as the credits rolled with stirring music tinged with 21 gun salutes from too many funerals. Then she stood up with the dishes. He started to stand but she pressed him down and he stayed. He needed to get back to here and now.
The nice TCM guy was talking about the next film, something to do with Russia and he heard Nat making tea. By the time the movie was properly going, he was holding tea in his Tuskegee Airmen mug, an herbal mix he didn’t remember owning and he was back. Tomorrow Steve would get out of the hospital and for now there was a movie that was already bringing out great curses in Nat.
Not a bad way to recover from saving a small part of the world.