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regular joe

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Steve sits on the edge of his bed to lace up his tennis shoes. Inside his apartment it's quiet, and outside Brooklyn is much the same—the sun won't rise for another half hour yet, and the sidewalks are still largely empty of people hurrying for rattling subway cars and packed buses. It's the best time to head out for a run, because Steve can let himself go, stretch his legs and focus on the race of it, glorying all over again in the easy expansion of lungs that have long since forgotten their asthmatic stutter.

Today's a Monday which means that, barring any sudden catastrophes or alien invasions or the like, he should have time to swing out along the Belt Parkway Promenade and then stop off at his favourite bodega on the way back. Mrs Rodriguez fusses over him in a way that combines his mom's warmth with Miss Potts' steel, and she tells him stories about the Brooklyn he missed while he helps her out with unpacking some of the heavier boxes. Steve drops his apartment key and a couple of bills into the pocket of his jogging pants, trying to remember if he needs anything besides bread and milk and... oh, he's out of toothpaste.

If he picks up the pace along the waterfront, he should make it back in plenty of time to have a shower and polish his shoes before he heads into Manhattan. Tony's shown him time and again how to do his paperwork electronically, arguing that there's no need to commute in when he can do everything from the comfort of his own sofa (comfort, relative; Rogers, did you really get that thing at Goodwill? Of course you did), but Steve rarely uses his StarkPad. He's much more comfortable filling in requisition forms in hard copy; besides, doing paperwork on site makes it much easier to co-ordinate with his team on coming up with a uniform story—if you go through as many acid-tipped exploding arrows as Clint does, someone, somewhere starts to ask questions.

Maybe if he gets through everything by a reasonable hour, Steve thinks, locking the door behind him, he'll stop by Natasha's and see if she wants to get dinner with him. She never did fully tell him what she and Maria got up to during that mission to South Africa, and any mission that Natasha Romanoff describes as a "little jaunt" is guaranteed, on any regular day—

Steve stops suddenly, has to rest his forehead against his door. He doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, and his breathing goes ragged because this is a regular day for him. Somehow over the past few months, he's acquired a routine. He has plans. There are bookstores he drops in on a couple of times a month, coffee shops where they know how he takes his joe. He's even been considering what colour to repaint his living room next month. He has days ahead of him—days that won't replace the ones he's lost, but he still has a purpose, and a team waiting for him, and the promise that when he steps outside the ground will be solid beneath his feet. It's not everything but it's more than enough—the knowledge that the sun will keep rising.