The camera was knocked around a little as the blurry man in the camera adjusted it's position. He stepped away a little as if to test that it would have the whole plush armchair in frame before sitting on it. He reached to the floor and grabbed a well-worn page and small scrapbook, before staring at the camera and seeming to watch it focus in a viewfinder before heaving a large sigh.
He was sure the Avengers would tease him for looking every minute his 100 years with his brown pants and teal cardigan, his hair wet and slicked back from his shower moments before, but he didn't know what else to do with himself.
"My name is Steve n Grant Rogers. I am 100 years old, a Brooklyn Native and second- generation Irish immigrant. I was raised Catholic, m y bes t friend growing up was Jewish and I've been told I like to pick fights with things a lot bigger than me. I refuse to be complicit. "
The video went viral. While he needed the word explained to him, he had known it was popular since he woke up that morning. He turned off his ringer, knowing Friday would let him know if he was actually needed. The phone had gone off constantly for 20 minutes before he turned it off. He'd drink his coffee in peace before he addressed the certain shit-storm his post had caused.
Any other day, he would have been frustrated at Tony barging in to the kitchen nook on his floor and yammering a mile a minute about the PR nightmare Capsicle of all people had caused and the grin that had been on Peppers face while reading on her tablet that morning, despite the work ahead of her. He grinned behind his coffee mug and let him talk, exchanging a look with his brunette best friend.
He took the time to slowly open the book and take out a small photograph of a skinny, barely there little boy in an ill fitting suit and a pretty young mother in a long dress crouched down beside him. " My Ma's name was Sarah Rogers. She was a nurse, a suff ragette and immigrated to the U.S.A in 1917 from Ireland. My Pa died in the tail end of the Great War. I caught a lot of shit as a kid for being an 'anchor baby' . " H e rolled his eyes and f old ed his fingers into quotation marks as he said it. " C ause Ma met Pa overseas during the War. It was as much bullshit then as it is now. My Ma died in '39 . I don't know if it was cancer or Tuberculosis that got her. I don't think it matters. I didn't know she had cancer until she was already gone, because she worked through it . She died because she was a nurse. She marched for the rights of Nationalized Women that she wouldn't have herself, and then she died trying to help sick people. She was special to me, but my Sainted Ma was o ne o f millions of immigrants that have made the US their home and try to make it better for the next generation. "
"Way to tell 'em, Tiger," Natasha reached into the stall and ruffled Steve's dripping hair. He tried to glare at her, but he couldn't. He'd read some of the retweets. Not all nice responses, but he'd known he'd get backlash posting the video to his Twitter. The amount of pride and love he'd received was worth it.
"It was just the truth."
"It was a nice change."
" I was sick as a kid, " he started, mentally snorting at himself while he pulled out another picture. This one was a hand drawn, charcoal sketch of the view out of a hospital window. It was far from as polished as his more recent work, but clearly depicted. "Had whooping cough as a baby. Asthma, scarlet and rheumatic fever, sinusitis, scoliosis, a heart murmur and I was pretty deaf. I got pneumonia every winter. My Ma left me with Winnifred Barnes sometimes, when I wasn't contagious, and gave up working when I was. I don't know how she kept us going through the depression, all on her own, but I know the government introduced Welfare, subsidies and rations to help . "
He didn't know why Clint cut him off in the hallway, staring him down like he didn't trust him. Just as Steve was thinking the worst, Clint took a step back, and spoke as his moved his hands in patterns and signals. "My name is Clint Barton. It's nice to meet you, Steven Grant Rogers."
His small, relieved laugh was overshadowed by the loud 'Ha!' Bucky let out from beside him. He jerked his shoulder in a friendly gesture before walking ahead of them. He'd meet Steve out front.
"What was..?" Steve cut off, gesturing to the other blondes' hands.
"I didn't know you from history books—didn't have much use for them in the circus; but SHIELD's information was all about Captain America. I think that was the most I'd learned about you since the Avengers formed. Nice to know even the great Super Soldier is like us under the uniform." He tapped his ears before copying Barnes and grabbing his shoulder as he passed.
"Nice to meet you too, Clint."
He wasn't as careful putting away the drawing-- not c ompared to how he handled the next little photo . He was half his current size with a handsome soldier slung over his shoulder, laughing at the hat slung low over Steve's brow. " I'm lucky Ma left me with Winnie Barnes, because I met my best friend. Bucky Barnes made friends as easy as he slicked back his hair. We grew up with a kid that wasn't our friend, exactly, but treated me a lot better than the re st of the kids in the neighbo rhood . Bucky was always excited to see him when we went out somewhere—he'd even introduced a couple girls to him. W e went out as a group sometimes . He died when we were 16 . " He paused for a long minute before staring back at the camera, almost angry. "He killed himself when we were 16 . " He paused again, this time more for affect than his own thoughts. "He killed himself because he was queer, and decided that he'd do it himself instead of letting someone find him in an alley. His death confused me. I'd started fights with kids twice my size for him a couple of times because he was a nice kid, quiet and helpful. Buck and I didn't understand what was wrong with him when s ome neighbo rs told us it was because he was sick. I realized at 18 , head over hee ls for my best friend, that I was sick too. "
"So you do know how the internet works."
"Really Sam?" Steve laughed, walking through the halls of the VA with him, carrying a couple boxes of paperwork to Sam's new office, Bucky a few paces behind ducking behind the boxes and popping his head on the other side to stop himself from over balancing.
"I'm just saying! #therealSGR #therealcaptainamerica? You actually sound your age!"
"Shove it," he said around another laugh, bumping his shoulder into Sam and knocking him slightly off balance. Bucky chuckled behind them too.
" I received the Serum at 24, some months after Bucky left for war. I didn 't know what to do with myself without him. I realized then more than ever the kind of e ffect Bucky had on my life. I was angry, a lot, as a kid, because I thought I would die before I ever had an effect on the world, and I was determined not to let that happen. I got in fights with people bigger than me, and let them know exactly what I thought of them. Needless to say, Bucky had saved my life a lot as a kid and then he got to go to war and protect me from the Germans and I just wouldn't have it. After 4 refusals, Dr. Erksine gave me a chance, and after boot camp, I got pumped full of chemicals and ra diation. I don't know how I lived. I do know one thing though: It cured me of every ailment and the e ffect on my body. My back is straight, my heart beats normally, I can breathe through my nose—I can breathe! Know what didn't change? I still loved Bucky B arnes . I love Peggy Carter too; I probably would have marrie d her had I made it home from the Valkyrie and been content . But I still love Bucky Barnes. " He sighed again and rolled his shoulders , as if thousands of pounds were lifted off them . " So when I wake up in 2015 and kids tell me that I don't represent people like them? That their parents want them to go to conversion thera py? It makes me angry. "
"It must have been scary, waking up and everything being different." He was sure Bruce wasn't trying to sneak up on him, but Steve startled a little anyway. He was sitting off to the side of Bucky and Tony, who were tuning up his arm, and responding to a couple of comments on his feed.
"Yeah," he agreed, skimming another.
'Maybe my parents would still love me if they had known when they were little. Thank you for being another person giving this generation a chance.'
He hid his face in his hands, sighing loudly. "Not as different as I thought though."
"But better. And you're helping make it better still. That's what you wanted, right?"
Steve smiled at a tweet that was just a jumble of letters with five pride coloured hearts and the same hashtags he'd used.
"I'm saying all of this because it's the truth. It's s omething that got written out of history and when people tell me what's happening in front of my eyes, isn't happening? I refuse . I've seen this happen before—minorities and poor people being blamed for everything wrong in the country? Nope. Hitler was wrong then and this asshole is wrong now. But I've lived through the good things too; the birth of Government Subsidies to people who couldn't look after themselves despite their best attempts, people earning civil rights they should have had all along? I love that ."
"I'm saying all of the this, because if it wasn't for the community around me, I wouldn't have made it to 24 to become Captain America. Every child after me deserves the same. "
"I was confused for a while because I didn't remember the man in the history books." Bucky finally commented as they got ready for bed that night. He was facing the window, scratching at this hip and rolling some tension out of his shoulder. "That Tom you described? I remember him. I'm glad you're giving the world the chance to remember him too." Steve smiled. He walked around the bed and wrapped his arms around Bucky, leaning on his flesh shoulder and kissing his cheek.