He begs himself to move on from his stolen past, he has to move on. His notebook encourages to do so because he pens his list of what to do and find out about this new century. He fills the pages with words and possibilities, everything to do with the twenty first century. He doesn’t look to the front where physical reminders of the things he’s trying to move from. Bucky’s face is in the front.
Catch up on TV and films.
He remembers the Stark issued laptop that Tony himself had had to teach Steve how to operate. It is a rectangle of confusion to him on most days, but the one thing he knows how to work (the one thing Tony had said over and over again to him) is Netflix.
So the next thing he does is watch Star Trek.
The older style of the space franchise appeals to him in a way that is incredibly familiar. He may be a man from the forties living in the modern age but he understands the limitations of a time long ago. Plus the TV show itself shows advanced, sophistical and peaceful civilizations who had yet to move towards destroying themselves, and those who already had. All types of races with all types of goals were displayed and Steve understands that. It is truly reflective of what he thinks of as the human race.
Then he watches Star Wars. This is a little harder to understand fully but Steve makes himself sit through it. As time wore on he understands how George Lucas’ work can be and is considered a visual masterpiece. Besides that, it fully convinces Steve as to how the world had advanced and improved since his time in the ice.
Back to the Future.
Titanic is a whole other story defined by one moment – The Moment. The one where Jack is clinging to the board, and Rose is telling him she’ll never let go, and then he’s cold and stiff and she’s letting go. That Moment is when Steve’s knuckles are white. He doesn’t watch it after that. He doesn’t want to. He hid in the bathroom after that and he can’t quite breathe on his own. He remembers when Bucky fell and he can’t stop seeing it when he remembers it again. He never forgot it but he pushed it into ‘the don’t think of’ zone of his mind. He hasn’t thought of it in a while. He let Bucky go. His head said he did. His heart said he didn’t. Steve didn’t know what to believe. He wasn’t fine but he would be. He sat there in the bathroom with shaky gasps and pained animal sounds and he willed himself to be fine.
But he doesn’t see the film through to the credits and he doesn’t want to revisit it.
The one film he doesn’t like is Titanic.
He moves to Washington. He takes his freedom and pleads to the Avengers that he is closer to SHIELD there. SHIELD is all he knows, it is his life now. He promises to stay in touch but he needs his space and they reluctantly give it to him. They can always visit him if they want.
When he meets Sam Wilson and he tells Steve about the Trouble Man Soundtrack, he jots it down in the remaining pages of his notebook. It’s nearly as old as him now. The list ever growing. He’s going to be busy when he has the time to complete more of it.
The moment the finds Bucky again he doesn’t document it. He’s too busy to do it, that’s his excuse. The notebook is always there but he doesn’t draw Bucky’s new face. He decides to wait until Bucky remembers him.
The moment he plunges into the Potomac River is the moment the notebook finally dies – along with the final artistic reminder of his previous life, along with inked portraits of the man he let fall.
The notebook dies. Steve doesn’t. He expected to die but he doesn’t.
He still doesn’t know how he survived.
Bucky evades him. He’s in the wind again. SHIELD is a mess and so is Steve. He buys another notebook and starts the list again. He has an eidetic memory he discovers, meaning that he is able to remember every tactic, every face and every moment of his life. He will never forget the things he wants to forget. He isn’t sure if that’s a bad thing or not.
But back to the list.
Catch up on literature
Since moving to Washington Steve has lost some contact with the Avengers. He doesn’t see them every day and after the HYDRA scandal SHIELD has become somewhat based in New York with the Avengers taking lead roles. They expect Steve to take a lead role but Steve isn’t ready for it yet. They allow him his space and he is grateful for it.
However, Steve knows that he is stumped when asking what the modern literature is like. Back before the serum, art and books were his lifelines, after all most of his ailments meant that if he wanted to be healthy he had to be contained inside most of the time. He has to ask for help.
(902): What books should I read?
It takes a while to receive answers but Steve is alright with that; he knows that the team would be busy with research and meetings and assignments.
(867): Human Universe, Brian Cox
(606): Fifty Shades of Grey
(705): Harry Potter, J.K Rowling
(978): Twilight, Stephanie Meyer
For one stupid instance he trusts his team and goes to a bookstore and gets all of those books and all of the books in their corresponding series.
He saves Bruce’s suggestion for when he went further into researching science and out of all of his team he trusts Clint the best.
Again, in another stupid instance he decides not to read the blurbs and just be excited by the contents.
He isn’t someone who usually appreciates the fantastical, during the war you couldn’t trust the fantastical despite its notion to take your mind off of the horrific circumstances. Star Wars and Star Trek had took him into the scientific fantasy of things, on how scientific develops can benefit the future. But Harry Potter is totally left field to those, it was about magic and that couldn’t be proven by any scientific reasoning. If Steve didn’t know what the serum was capable of doing, he would’ve dismissed it straight away. But he gives it a chance and he loves it! He likes the philosophical subtext within it and he likes how it progresses through Harry’s life. He devours them, taking more time on the bigger books such as the Order of the Phoenix and he doesn’t want them to end yet. Like all fantasy is programmed to do, he is swept away from his apartment and whisked away to Hogwarts, ignoring everything around him in favour of reading and immersing himself into another world.
He feels like a piece of his childhood – robbed by illness and the war – is restored. He would have to thank J.K Rowling if he ever met her (he could get that arranged actually and all it would take was a quiet word to SHIELD and a trip to Britain). He feels sad when Dumbledore died, when Dobby died, when Fred died and when Snape died. Something about Snape reminds him of Bucky, and he can’t quite figure out why. Voldemort also appears eerily similar to the Red Skull and HYDRA as a whole. He is glad when he is defeated because in some way Steve knows that HYDRA could and would be defeated entirely one day.
Natasha’s suggestion of Twilight is one which makes Steve kind of angry. Again it is fantasy, which he doesn’t mind that much anymore, but sparkling vampires? That is just absurd. The love story made the relationship in Titanic seem like a mature, adult relationship. They weren’t shouting “JACK!” “ROSE!” all of the time but there seemed to be a lot of heavy, constipated stares. But that isn’t what made him angry, what makes him angry is the way Bella reacts to Edward like he is the only thing that keeps her going. This is particularly proven in New Moon in which Bella tries several times to nearly kill herself because of him. Bella is a woman! As a woman she has more strength than that. She doesn’t need a man to prove her own self-worth. The reflection of Bella as a whole makes women seem weak and dependent on men which they aren’t. Steve had saw enough of Peggy and of women in general to know that that is far from the truth. And don’t get him started on the vampire baby!
The last suggestion of Fifty Shades of Grey is made by Tony and Steve should’ve known better than to blindly read it without reading the blurb or picking up on the cover itself. He even ignored the side glance that the cashier gave him when he was buying it. Steve gets a way through and then when he notices where it is going – the bondage and stuff like that – he chucks it at the wall. From that point on he vows to himself never to blindly trust Tony like that ever again.
He gets rid of the Twilight and the Fifty Shades books as soon as possible.
But despite that the blog posts erupted with over dramatic stories:
Steamy Captain likes to read Fifty Shades!
Captain – is he a Gryffindor or a Slytherin?
Disgusted Captain: A source reveals that our hero is appalled by sparkling vampires.
Of course there are some aspects in those posts that are wrong. One of the most obvious ones is his Hogwarts house; Steve is a Hufflepuff thank you very much.
Eat more take out (try Thai food)
Through the war a lot of things were rationed constantly and since being thawed Steve hasn’t really had a chance to test his taste buds. Sure he had had pizza and shawarma and Chinese food with the team, but he had always gotten the same thing from the same stores. He hadn’t really branched out. So he makes it his mission to try all of the take out from D.C.
From the Desk of Kathleen Pattison
It is a common enough strategy: Make stars more human, more approachable, in order to increase their worth, improve their reputation or just sell a product. Let’s be honest here, her human, down-to-earth attitude is the reason we love Jennifer Lawrence talking about what she had for dinner more than Kim Kardashian trying to sell see through clothing.
We prefer our celebrities to be as human as the rest of us so that we can pretend that they might be glamorous and rich but that we can still identify them as one of us. Being seen as human makes them more likeable and charming. If you want to improve a celebrity’s status, let him or her remark how they like lounging around in their pajamas all day binge watching Netflix. A sudden increase in likeability is guaranteed in 99.9% of the cases.
One person where the sudden humanization does not work in his favour: Captain America.
This week he has been found around various pizzerias and Chinese restaurants eating nothing but take out. The last thing you picture when you imagine the Captain is to binge on fatty foods, I mean look at that body you’d expect him to eat nothing but greens. Within the first few days, his likeability sky rocketed as he candidly chatted with fans and commended restaurant owners on their food. His favourite place had to be 2 Amy’s and you couldn’t go wrong with a plain pizza – although plain was the last thing that it was indeed.
But after a while, after the Captain was seen visiting these places for days on end and on multiple occasions, fans became worried on the mental state of the Captain. Some enquired on whether he had depression and suggested going back to New York to help it calm down. Rogers calmly denied these accusations and claimed that he was ‘just sampling the food of D.C’.
However, the beard (which fans are divided on, is it cute or scruffy?) and the baggy clothes suggest otherwise.
Maybe he is trying to make up for lost time? He spent his early twenties fighting in World War II – is that why he has chosen to lax off of a healthy diet and instead eat pizza all day? Does that make him feel young and provide him with an experience he’s never had himself? Is this his comfort food which provides an antidote to the ‘I am perpetually different to humans and constantly saving the world’ persona?
This is so far from our normal perceptions of Rogers that you can wonder if it’s all a backfired publicity stunt. If it does last fans can only feel sorry for the Captains physique and his spiraling mental capabilities. They also worry if he will ever join the Avengers again and leave the lazy, laid back life he has now. But one thing is for sure: the slob of a Captain is a no go for the populace of Washington D.C.
Thai food is actually kind of nice, a bit spicy at times but a welcoming and interesting flavour. The news cycle doesn’t mention that though.
Learn more languages and catch up on science stuff.
He doesn’t have Jarvis here who could help with catching up on everything. He has to do everything on his own this time.
Languages are somewhat easier than the science. He had already knew French and a bit of German. He had learned French from before the war, using it to fill in his time and he had started to pick up German because of the war. Knowing both of those languages had been useful, if he knew German he could work out what the enemy was saying and if he knew French he could then find out that Dernier was just as bad at swearing as all of the others, but he liked to swear in other languages because he found it amusing.
But Erskine once told him that good became great and bad became worse. He was of course referring to how the serum reacts with the body. But he had never mentioned how the serum would react with the mind. Steve hadn’t even thought to test it, after all he had just been testing his physical attributes. His body was stronger and quicker thanks to the serum so did that mean that the mind was also improved?
Spanish isn’t that different to French anyway.
On his exploration Steve finds that there are loads of tools that can help him – Sam tells him about them and shows him how to get on them during an outing one day – such as Babbel, Duolingo and Memrise which aids him in vocabulary, phrases and pronunciation.
He feels rather proud of himself when he finishes learning German, picks up Spanish easily and starts on Russian. His brain is quicker and after learning two languages he picks up more as though he was a duck taking to water.
The only one that takes him a particular long time to learn is sign language. And he is only doing that for Clint who he knew was deaf. For that one he recruits the help of Clint who takes his time showing him the hand motions for letters and words. Clint also teaches Steve how to over pronounce his words so that people can lip read easily. Natasha finds them one day, Clint with his hearing aid out and Steve enraptured, talking with fast hands and smiles on their faces. She’s happy that Clint has another friend able to communicate with him in that way.
The internet is his friend when it comes to learning the science stuff:
1952: Salk produces the polio vaccine.
1953: The structure of DNA is discovered. (SHIELD is particularly fond of this discovery because it lead to many breakthroughs among their own projects and for new projects to be created).
1969: Apollo astronauts land on the moon.
1975: The personal computer industry is launched.
1980: Smallpox is declared to be eradicated.
1996: A meteorite from Mars suggests that there could be life from other planets.
But he also employs Sam who even if he is just sat down to the left of him say “on your left,” to get back at Steve.
Sam is also a fan of asking Steve random questions while he is in the middle of reading something. At first Steve finds it annoying because it distracting. When Steve got into something he really got into something so taking his mind off of it and onto something else was not a good thing. But he is fond that the man wants to know more about him and soon it became a normality. He finds that he can answer Sam’s questions, and maintain his research and his conversation at the same time.
Sam asks “What’s your favourite food?”
Steve replies that it is lasagna because his mother used to make it for him when he was sick, which was most of the time. However, he has a fondness for Italian food non-stop, finding pleasure for the modern pizza and hoping to learn the Italian language next.
“You said you used to be ill all the time, what did you actually have?” Sam’s curiosity is astounding, even when Steve has his own SHIELD file on the kitchen counter somewhere.
Steve lists them as nonchalantly as he can, “Asthma, chronic and frequent colds, scarlet fever, easy fatigability, heart trouble, high blood pressure and many more that I can’t even remember.”
“Man, why did you even go outside?!”
After that Sam and Steve decides that even though he has caught up on science – although he is nowhere near Tony and Bruce’s level of intelligence – they would troll the team with feigned ignorance. It will be hilarious. Steve even knows what trolling means now.
Just understand technology
He wants to understand technology. He doesn’t want to say “It seems to run on some sort of electricity,” ever again and he wants to actually answer with a competent reply. But he can’t do this on his own.
Steve goes back to New York for a few weeks because he knows that the other’s schedules were all blank; Sam helped him on that one. Speaking of Sam, bless his heart, he tried to teach Steve about technology but he just wasn’t having any of it. For some reason, his brain just couldn’t understand it. Or didn’t want to. So Steve thinks that the combined efforts of the team, who had dealt with Thor’s Asgardian demeanour around phones and microwaves before, can get him back on track.
When he is there, the team take turns trying to teach him about varying things. Deciding who was going to teach him first was a… complex situation. However, it is decided after something Steve says. “Tony,” Steve began, “Are there flying cars here in the future? Because Robert said that there would be flying cars in the future.” Despite the sad fact that there are no flying cars yet it is decided that Tony would go first. That doesn’t go so well.
Tony tries, he does. But everything that Steve is shown is met with indifference with a tint of confusion. He tries with the more advanced stuff and dives straight in it. But Steve isn’t interested. It takes a sit down in front of television (where Tony is briefly explaining when and how it was invented and how it works) that Steve shows some interest.
“Oh my god,” Steve says, “That’s incredible,” and Tony stares at him like ha is crazy for a full, silent minute
“Seriously!” he demands eventually, “Seriously, are you serious, you didn’t bat an eye at the Quinjet, you said the armor was just a big metal suit, I can’t get you to understand the cultural significance of YouTube and you still think there’s a guy answering questions on the other end of Google – I know you do Steve, I know you think that! But you are impressed after all of that, after all I have tried to teach you and you are impressed by a Blender.”
“It made a smoothie in under ten seconds,” Steve says because it had.
Tony doesn’t speak to him for two whole days. The future sure is strange.
But Steve thinks that his problem with technology is just that he is overwhelmed. From coming from the forties there had been so many advancements that he doesn’t know what to look at first. Everything is so different that he doesn’t know what to do with himself, nevertheless what to do with the technology itself. Plus, everyone who had taught him had tried to explain it to him in baby terms which made Steve want to switch off.
This is why he likes Natasha’s and Clint’s efforts.
They take him to an electronics store and they let him have at it.
“$10 says he breaks something within half an hour,” Clint whispers to Natasha as they survey Steve walk in awe around the store.
“Have some faith in him,” Natasha says in reply. Then Steve picks up an IPad and starts to investigate it. At first he is in wonder at how thin it is and how images plays across a screen so seamlessly.
“Why does this one button do different things in different circumstances? I mean I know it’s easier but can they not label things or have another button right next to it? Have people forgotten how to label things?”
“Here we go,” Clint says,
A few minutes go by and Steve spent it in silence, taking in that touching the screen one way did something else to touching the screen another way. Everything had three or four functions at once. But after a while, he got the hang of it.
“Hey, this translates into French!” He babbles and starts speaking to the IPad in French even though he knew the other two probably couldn’t understand him at all.
“Is he actually getting it?” Clint says astonished,
“I told you so,” Natasha replies and they both watch as Steve grows overjoyed at his success. He is still far away from understanding everything, but he can work some things.
Despite that, he still broke something. But to be fair, he sweeps past a stand too fast and all of the phones flew off like they are trying to break free.
He is getting there.
Steve knows that getting drunk is going to be no small feat. His high metabolism and quick healing abilities mean that it would take a lot of alcohol to get a buzz, never mind to stay drunk for a period of time. He also knows that it would take a lot of money but he wants to experience it, so the Avengers bank account would have to be sacrificed a bit.
To complete this task he goes down to his local liquor store and approaches the cashier with a question:
“Can you name the top three drinks you sell with the most alcoholic content?”
He gets strange looks for that one. But it is a good thing that he is the only customer in the shop. The cashier rattles off names and percentages and Steve doesn’t really care about that. He just wants to get drunk for a night. In order to do that he orders five bottles of the three he mentions. Five bottles of Devil Springs Vodka (80% alcohol by volume) five bottles of Bacardi 151 rum (75.5%) and five bottles Sierra Silver Tequila (75%). Yeah that should do the trick. Hopefully.
The price tag for those fifteen bottles is hefty. Steve doesn’t even want to think about it.
To begin his night he loads up some black and white films and starts drinking. He doesn’t like the taste of any of them at first, but the more he drinks the more the taste seems to settle within him, the more the burn becomes pleasant instead of uncomfortable.
He is feeling warm and floaty and through nearly a third of his haul by the time the sound of the door flying off of its hinges draws him out of his trance. He looks up, startled, and then frowns at the sight of Tony Stark standing in his doorway.
Behind the tech genius, Barton, Romanoff, and Banner peered over Stark's shoulders with apparent concern. This is the whole Avengers team, minus Thor who is undoubtedly still in Asgard.
“Everything… still alright?” He has to slow his words to make the slight slur less noticeable, “I only saw you last week.”
“You’re drunk,” Tony frowns and pushes his way into the apartment, “I know that the bank account is to cater to all of our needs but I wouldn’t expect you to blow nearly $600 on booze. That’s not like you.” The others trail after him, taking in the sight of the bottles on the coffee table, Steve in sweatpants and nothing else, and the laptop perched on his lap.
“I’m trying something new,” he says contritely, setting his bottle down and standing up. "Can I get you something to drink?"
When he doesn’t hear a response, he turns in confusion, to find them all staring at him with varying degrees of shock. "What's wrong?"
“You’re drunk.” That is Banner, who knows better than to state the obvious.
“Very astute of you. Now I would like to get back to getting even more drunk than I am… you can join me or leave me.”
“I’m happy to see this,” Natasha nudges Clint and they sit down to witness the wonder that is Drunk Steve. Steve scratches at his growing beard and picks up his bottle again. Stark and Banner – Bruce – remains by the door. Hesitant to cross the threshold as casually as the other two, their eyes are more content on studying his apartment.
"I can see that you’ve been busy," Stark looks over at the spread of files over by the kitchen and floor. All of them are marked with SHIELD's logo. "Light reading?" He may have had the files for nearly a month but they are all still in the same positions they were when he had finished them.
Thanks to the alcohol Steve doesn’t flinch, especially after seeing the way Tony seemed to focus on the one file that is open. Howard Stark's face stares up from the black and white picture, mocking or comforting, depending on how you look at it.
Steve immediately starts tidying up, the alcohol not yet fully getting rid of his flighty tendencies, closing that folder first and setting the mess in an organized pile over on the kitchen island. Once that is done, he straightens and looks at the two still standing there awkwardly. "Just trying to catch up," he says by way of explanation, hoping no one questions him. He didn't have the mental fortitude to deal with an inquisition right now. They don’t question him.
At the very least, it looks like Bruce wants to say something, and Tony appears to be visibly biting his tongue, but fortunately, they manage to contain themselves. Bruce goes over to sit by the kitchen, unable to hold his curiosity about the files.
Tony meanwhile drops unceremoniously onto the couch, and then let’s out a muffled yelp, standing up quickly. "Damn it, Cap, that can't be good for your back. Seriously, don't they pay you enough to be able to afford decent furniture?"
Steve rolls his eyes, leaning against the back of the couch as he folds his arms across his chest, giving the – younger? Older? Technically, he was older, but if you took out the seventy years in the ice, Tony is actually older than him – giving the other man a disappointed look that Tony would never admit to actually working. "It's my apartment, I can furnish it however I like." In total honesty Steve picked it because the charity helped soldiers and because every other couch he had seen was too soft for his liking. This one reminds him of the conditions of the war; everything hard but somewhat durable. Tony’s remark reminds Steve of Howard who complained frequently on how things didn’t appeal to his sense of luxury. But Bucky would just shoot the millionaire a sour look, and Stark would shut up. The rest of them had been more used to using whatever was there, especially those who had come from America – Dum Dum, Gabe, Morita, himself, and Bucky – as the Depression had hit all of them pretty hard.
Steve focuses again on drinking and watching his film, ignoring the group and allowing them to amuse themselves. He doesn’t quite like the way Natasha is looking at him with a beady, gleeful eye like he is a prize to be won or a rare specimen. To help he gulps down the rest of his bottle and starts on the next.
Halfway through his haul he turns affectionate:
“Natasha… I honestly couldn’t ask for a better friend. I know we don’t always see eye to eye but who doesn’t? I love you, you have a good heart. In the right place most of the time.”
“Clint, you always make me laugh even when I’m kinda shitting my pants because you came in from the air vents. I love you, man, keep doing whatever you’re doing.”
“Bruce… you are so, so, so smart. And nice. I want to be as smart and nice as you one day. I always trust your judgement, you should trust yourself like I trust you.”
“Tony, you’re… sitting in my favourite spot… fucking move it.”
Stark makes an offensive noise at that but moves nevertheless, otherwise he’d receive a punch from the Captain.
“Did he actually swear though? What the hell?" Clint remarks on Steve’s rather potty mouth.
Natasha is quick to answer, “He was in a war and soldiers do have dirty mouths.”
They let it slide. Even if Tony has to have a talking to in order to let the drunken remark go.
On the last bottle of vodka he is a mess:
“What kind of a name is stove?” He asks blearily from his upside down position on the couch.
“Your name is not stove, it’s Steve.” Bruce is the one to answer him, reading over the files because now he didn’t have to deal with the whine that emitted from Steve every time he even glanced at them.
“Am I an appliance?” He asks again, getting up to swing himself around like a ballerina. One thing about a drunken Steve is that once he is incapacitated he likes to dance, although his clumsy limbs aren’t really up for it.
“No you are a man, your name is Steve.” Tony answers this time.
But all that did is get Steve to turn to him and ask whether or not he liked to iron clothes because his name is Iron Man. It is going to be a long night.
After the last bottle Steve gets hungry:
He whines for about an hour, then orders ten pizzas and demolishes over half of them on his own. Damn, he is possessive over his pizzas. While eating the pizzas he brings up senseless conversations. “How you do think they thawed me out? Because I just have images of a bunch of SHIELD agents kneeling over me with hairdryers. That would have took forever.” The team indulges him, all the while smiling at the carefree persona that drunk Steve gives off. After that he is still hungry and goes to raid his fridge. That doesn’t quite work because as he shuts it angrily (because there is no food that he wants in there) he promptly brains himself on the door.
The team had to pick up the passed out hero and put him to bed.
In an unfortunate development Steve is awake. He groans at the sunlight and snuggles up further into his blankets. He feels gross and all he wants to do is hibernate for the next week. He certainly doesn’t want to drink ever again.
His mouth feels like an ashtray as he checks his Stark issued phone.
(705): You hum the national anthem in your sleep.
(978): How you feeling this morning, Cap?
(1-978): The sun and the Captain aren’t on speaking terms right now.
(1-902): Why are you referring to yourself in the third person?
(1-978): I’m so hungover I don’t even want to be myself anymore.
Who thought about the decision of drinking fifteen bottles of alcohol anyway?