Steve swats a hand, grumbling. “Bucky I am gonna…”
“Get up, punk, c’mon!”
“GOD DAMNIT WHAT!” Steve yells in frustration, flinging himself hastily off of the bed and swinging a hand towards anything within a three feet radius. He hopes just to clip Bucky, but only just. He doesn’t.
Bucky grins cheekily just outside of Steve’s reach, and affectionately holds Steve’s angry face.
It’s his birthday? Steve blinks up at Bucky who is way too chipper to be taken seriously at seven o’clock in the morning, blinks up at the clock to check it is indeed seven o’clock in the morning, and blinks at the calendar nailed rather poorly onto a shabbily painted wall.
“It’s my birthday.” He says more to himself than to the room at large.
Bucky ruffles Steve’s hair and sits on the bed with him. “You don’t sound too happy about that punk.”
“You think the army will cut me some slack if I signed up today?”
“Nope.” Bucky says flatly.
“Then I’m not happy.”
Bucky throws a shirt at Steve’s face. “Jeez, Steven. Come on. We’re gonna celebrate. You ain’t spending your birthday sulking around. Just be thankful you aren’t sick this year either.”
Steve halfheartedly pulls the shirt over his head, “Breakfast at the diner?”
Bucky grabs a comb from his drawers, “Toast, eggs and bacon.”
“Stroll along the park?”
“Borrowed Jimmy’s bicycle and Bart’s kites.”
“Fireworks-watching at the rooftop of the abandoned building by Port Street?”
Bucky looks at him pointedly, “Maybe I should change it up next year.”
Steve chuckles, “But you won’t.”
“That’s right,” Bucky throws on a jacket and heads for the door, “I have to talk to Mrs. Jenkins for just a second – “
Steve pokes his head out of the bathroom door, “We late on rent again?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll handle it okay?” Bucky says reassuringly, halfway through the door, “Just do me a favour?”
He chews his lower lip for a second and not another longer, Steve stares at him expectantly.
“Take a look under your bed”
With that, Bucky slips away out of the door and bounds down the stairs with the speed that could only be described as being military combat ready.
Steve graces Bucky about five minutes of reprieve – brushes his teeth, washes his face and faths around with his hair in an attempt to better how it looks – and then pads towards his bed, lifting the covers to peer under the frame. A package sits solely on the floor, wrapped in crisp, brown paper, twine curling around until it finishes off in a small, measly bow. Steve reaches for it and let’s himself settle back onto the mattress, the present nestled on his lap and between his hands.
Steve works delicately, he doesn’t want to rip the paper but he wants to see what it is. He feels an excitement he did not expect to feel and his fingers feel leather beneath them. It’s a beautiful leather-bound notebook. Small, but pristine in the way it’s made, the spine strong despite its size and the pages blank. Just by the corner of the cover is an engraved set of initials.
“S.R.” Steve laughs under his breath. He opens the notebook gingerly and spots Bucky’s handwriting on the first page.
Now you don’t have to doodle on diner napkins. I’m sorry I couldn’t get you some good pens too. On your next birthday, I promise.
When Bucky hears Steve descending down the stairs, he again thanks Mrs. Jenkins about the rent extension (Here’s half of it but it’s his birthday, I really wanted him to have something good) and bids her goodbye.
Bucky finds a leather corner peeking from Steve’s jacket pocket.
Steve smiles at him, like there’s nowhere we would rather be.
Months after, Bucky gets shipped out to the 107th. 32557. The number beginning with 32 meaning that he was drafted. Steve knew just shy before he went. He worked it out on his own. Guessed that Bucky didn’t tell him so that Steve wouldn’t have to go, knew that he probably wouldn’t survive if Steve went instead of Bucky.
When Steve steps up to Dr. Abraham Erskine who has file of his declined files at hand, he has his notebook in his pockets.
When he finally gets a stamp on his file that does not say declined, he packs his notebook between folded shirts and childhood pictures (his parents, Bucky).
When he dons the new body and subsequently dons the new costume, he leaves the notebook behind (there is no room unfortunately, nor are there any pockets in the tights).
When he finds out about Bucky’s infantry held in captivity, he steals a helmet from one of the girls (he also steals the notebook back after months of disregard).
When he presents his costume design to Howard Stark, he makes sure that there are pockets.
He had the notebook when he gets Bucky back – he has the notebook when he loses him yet again. He has the notebook tucked against his chest, the way he has Peggy’s compass laid out before him as he plunges the aircraft deep into the ice.
When he wakes up seventy years into the future, the first thing they give him is not the shield or the costume but the notebook. When he sits in silence, in a room he doesn’t know, he has the notebook laid out before him on the table. Memories of the past are the first thing that he clutches in this strange new world. He knows that he’s not at his home because of the notebook.
The woman he first sees is all wrong, she’s not like the women drawn in the notebook. No woman of the forties would have her hair loose like that. Her tie is too wide, too long, a man’s tie not a woman’s. The bra, is wrong. Why does Steve notice that? A push up bra Steve later learned, and he just wants to scream EXCUSE ME MA’AM BUT THEY ARE NOT CONES, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? But he doesn’t. He knows it to be impolite. He knows that’s not what this situation calls.
He is the picture of composure as they tell him what’s happened, he’s confused and alone but he’s composed. They tell him about the aliens and their want to join the Avengers. He goes along blindly. He doesn’t have any other choices.
Seventy years ago Bucky dragged him to the Stark expo and showed Steve the wonders of technology. And now Steve is on a floating ship. He knows it’s a Helicarrier. He knows that he’s on his way to fight something he hasn’t experienced or known of before. But he can’t help but think, “Bucky would love this.”
When he first meets his team he doesn’t have any faith whatsoever, they aren’t the Howling Commandos, he can’t be a leader if he doesn’t even know what day it is. He doesn’t try to lead. He drags himself through meetings and fights and research, he keeps to himself and trusts that they’ll have his back regardless of his distance. The notebook is still in his pockets, but he doesn’t pull it out in front of the Avengers.
He categorizes the team in order to know them. All he knows are facts, statistics and pieces of conversation.
Bruce Banner: The Hulk. Could turn into a big green thing at will and very intelligent. The ‘could turn into a big green thing’ is a bit disturbing to him, to be honest.
Natasha Romanov: Black Widow. Could break his nose by flicking her hair and feisty. She reminds him of Peggy because of her strength and ability to make him able to respect women in many, many different ways.
Clint Barton: Hawkeye. Very good with a bow and arrow, easily brainwashed and a good guy.
Thor Odin-son: God of Thunder. Can fly, wield a very powerful hammer and controls lightning. He identifies with him the most because he isn’t from Earth but the difference between them is that Thor had been to Earth before and adjusted, while Steve had ten days.
Tony Stark: Ironman. He is a man in a suit of iron, intelligent and good with technology. Just like his father but more arrogant.
But Tony then nearly sacrifices himself, perfectly willing to die for all of them, and Steve’s opinion of him changes. Just a little.
They win this fight. Steve still feels weird in this time. But he always has he notebook, which he adds to with sketches of the Avengers. Maybe they can be his new family, not replacing Bucky and the Howling Commandos, that is impossible, but being there nonetheless.
After the battle of New York he takes his time to know more about his past, hopefully that if he knows about it all he could move on from it.
He borrows, more like steals, SHIELD files and busies himself with just knowing more.
A new team of Howling Commandos were stationed in Russia after the war and along with Peggy Carter they infiltrated the Red Room academy. (He wants to ask Natasha more about that, but he doesn’t know when the right time was). Afterwards, Dum Dum went back to Washington and became transfixed with a French Woman whom he had saw lounging around a pool on one of his outings with Robert Stark.
From the notes penned in his file Steve infers that it was a rather memorable encounter. One particular note is a section of conversation between Stark and Dum Dum:
S:"It's called a bikini."
D:"'Bikini'? You invent it?"
S: "No, the French."
Steve has a good chuckle at that. He is shocked that he actually laughs at these files.
Dum Dum and the French woman went on to have six children and then seventeen grandchildren.
Gabe had found a girl, Steve barely recollects from one of their missions, and stayed in Europe with her.
Morita went back to California and married a school sweet heart. They had one son named Steve. He had to stop reading for a while after that revelation.
Falsworth and Dernier’s files stated that they had joined different Intelligence teams and continued to help save the world in their own ways.
But they are all dead.
The only survivor is Peggy. Who barely remembered the date most days and that breaks his heart each time he sees her. The hour’s passes unknowingly as he soaks up any and all knowledge that SHIELD had had on his friends. Peggy had the most since she had worked for SHIELD in the first place.
She had married about ten years after his death. He seemed like a nice guy, from the words on the paper, but Steve still hated him. He clamped down on those feelings and forced himself to continue reading, learning about how Peggy had helped to found SHIELD, her husband's death seven years ago, her daughter who now worked as a doctor in Chicago, and her current living situation, at a nursing home in Washington DC. He would have to visit her more often, after all he was in DC too.
He moves on from there, reaching out for the files on the formation of SHIELD – Howard and Peggy had worked together to found the organization, and he is desperate for any information he could get. He is homesick. He considered the past as his home. He would have to work on that, it wasn’t his home anymore it was the past. This is his home now, the Avengers are his home now.