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Get Out the Way

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Steve may be nearing his centennial, but he isn’t stupid. In the three years since he’s been unfrozen, he’s become used to all kinds of advances in technology – he is proficient at using his cell phone, perhaps even more so than some people who had grown up alongside the devices. He’s young, he’s smart, and he adapts quickly.

He knows how to change a ringtone.

He doesn’t know what Tony did to his phone so that the ringtone can’t be changed at all.

He wakes up half an hour earlier than he typically would, to the blaring noise of his new ringtone. Everything on his phone – texts, alarms, calls – has the same obnoxious song. Any time he tries to change it, the other options turn gray and unavailable. When he finally manages to work around that and select a different tone, the phone defaults back as soon as he gets another new alert.

It has to be Tony. Clint is the one who mentioned the song, on their last team outing, when Steve used his height and mass to force his way through a crowd, but he wouldn’t go this far even if he could. Tony laughed the hardest. This is totally within his capabilities. (Tony also probably didn’t care that the only reason he muscled his way through was because his hearing had picked up on a woman’s scared voice telling someone to get away from me on the other side of the bar. Steve got her harasser kicked out and bought her a new drink, and none of his teammates let him hear the end of it all night.)

Jane is the only other person awake when Steve comes out of his rooms in the tower that morning. (Probably, she is still awake from the night before, rather than up early like Steve.) His first thought is of relief. Jane might be able to help him – she is just as intelligent as Tony, and less inclined to play pranks – but he must say something wrong, because she seems to think he is making fun of her, and leaves him sitting alone in the kitchen. She takes her mug with her, dumping the last of the coffee from the pot on the counter into it before she goes. Steve sighs but isn’t surprised. He’s always been terrible at talking to women.

He decides to at least make a replacement pot, and discovers they are somehow out of everything. The Avengers keep at least one emergency replacement bag of grounds in the kitchen at all times, but it’s grocery day after a hectic week and even the back-up of the back-up is gone. He asks JARVIS about adding more to their usual weekly delivery order and turns his attention back to his ringtone.

He finally gives up and brings the demon phone with him for his morning run.

The delay means his usual route is a lot more crowded. It will always be fascinating, to Steve, what half an hour does to New York City traffic, both pedestrian and vehicle. After fifteen minutes of trying to weave around people, Steve gets sick of varying his pace and ducks into a nearby café. He orders a second drink after the first one ends up on the floor (the woman who knocks into him is overly apologetic and uses up a stack of napkins trying to dry Steve’s shirt even though very little of the drink actually hits him) and starts walking back to the tower. (There was far too much cinnamon in the new drink, but at least it was warm. It would do.)

Today was awful. At least at home he could be miserable with his sketchbook and some records.

Steve stares down at his phone mournfully as he sips his drink. Maybe he could just replace it? It seems wasteful, and he likes the way this phone fits in his hand, but even Tony wouldn’t go so far as to ruin a second device.

He jerks to a stop when a thin white cane smacked across the front of his chest. Steve drops his drink. Again.

The owner of the cane tilts his head at Steve. “You might want to let the cars go, first.”

Steve looks up. He’s reached a crosswalk without realizing, and the Walk sign is lit up with an orange hand. He could see the headlines now – Captain America Walks and Texts Straight into Oncoming Traffic, Nation Mourns.

“Um,” he says eloquently. “Thanks.”

“Can I have my cane back, now? If we’re crossing when the light changes, I’m going to need it,” the man says. Steve realizes that he is clutching the cane with the hand that was holding his drink. It was just instinct, he decides, grabbing it when it first hit him.

“Right, sorry,” he stammers, feeling a blush creep across his face. “You’ll, I mean. Right. Sorry.”

The stranger smiles at him from behind his dark glasses. The light changes and they both start to cross the street.

“I…thank you. You kind of saved me, there.”

“My pleasure,” he replies. “Although if you want to make it up to me, you can get me a coffee. Replace the one you were holding, while you’re at it.”

“Yeah,” says Steve. “That’d be great.”

He feels another blush spread across his cheeks. Maybe today isn’t so bad, after all.

They stop on the curb on the other side of the street, and the man holds out his hand in greeting. “Matt Murdock,” he says.

“I’m Steve,” he starts, but he gets cut off by his cell phone going off.


“Um,” he says, as Matt cocks an eyebrow.


“I, um.” Today was still awful, after all. Horrible, bad, awful.


“I should take this. I promise this isn’t my usual ringtone.”


“My friends think they’re funny.” He hits the accept call button. “Hello?”

When he turns around, Matt is gone. But Steve finds a business card in his pocket that wasn’t there before.

Nelson and Murdock, Attorneys at Law, it says. It identifies the tiny digits printed near the bottom as Matt’s cell phone number.

Okay, Steve thinks. It wasn’t a complete waste of a morning, after all.