no spoonful of sugar - Avengers/Doctor Who
: kerrykhat, Avengers/Doctor Who, Steve Rogers/martha Jones - I fought the war (but the war won)
- Monster Hospital by Metric.Words
: It’s Steve-in-the-early-movie depressing. And there is alcohol, if that’s a thing for you.Disclaimer
: I don’t own any of the recognizable characters or settings, of either the Avengers nor Doctor Who. Nor do I own the title, although I don’t rightly know who does. It’s a song quote in any case.A/N
: I found this very easy to write, but I’m not actually sure it’s what you were looking for. Sorry.
+ no spoonful of sugar
It’s late and the bar is shady and grimy and reminds Steve of all the things he’s told are seventy years past.
These days, it’s as good a place as any for him to try and get drunk. And try, and try, and try. He’s coming to hate his metabolism for denying him even this. Bucky’s been dead for three weeks and seventy years, Peggy is waiting for him at the Stork Club and gone a decade. Dum Dum and the Howling Commandos are right behind him at Hydra’s base and buried in Arlington and everything he ever knew is gone.
He really, really, really wants to get drunk.
But he’s getting the impression that this isn’t really about what he wants. The last thing he wanted was stepping into that metal coffin to better serve his country. Since then, ‘want’ hasn’t really figured into it.
He sighs into his glass, hunches his shoulders a bit further. The hand that isn’t clutching the cheap scotch is wrapped around two sets of tags. His own and Bucky’s. They took his own after freeing him from the ice, replaced them with ones that didn’t look like they’d spent seventy years slowly corroding in the cold. Once the ruse blew up in his face, they gave them back, along with Bucky’s.
Colonel Phillips had them when Bucky… when he fell. They always turn … turned their tags in when they went behind enemy lines, masquerading as locals, hiding.
It was safer that way.
Bucky used to snort and say it made it easier to forget about them if they disappeared, but Steve is glad now, for Bucky’s tags. It’s the last thing he has of his best friend.
It’s the last thing he has of anyone or anything he knew.
“Rough day, soldier?” a soft, lilting voice asks at his elbow and he almost jumps out of his skin because the accent sounds like Peggy’s, swallowing ‘r’s and curling around vowels in a foreign, soothing way. Smooth. Sweet.
When he turns to look at her, though, there is no Peggy there, only a dark-skinned woman with a startlingly white, worn smile. She’s in jeans and a t-shirt, a dark leather jacket and he feels himself blushing, still not used to women’s attire in this day and age.
He’s twenty-four years old and he feels ancient.
“How did you?” he starts and then answers his own question by holding up the tags, metal beads running through his fingers, clinking softly against his glass.
The woman waves for the ‘tender and points at his drink. “I’ll have one of those and a refill for my mate, yeah?”
The man nods, slams down a fresh glass, fills it, refills Steve’s and then breezes away again.
The woman climbs on the barstool next to Steve’s and raises her glass a little, “Martha,” she introduces herself. “Martha Jones.”
Steve raises his own drink belatedly, mirrors her toast. “Steve,” he offers and withholds his last name out of habit and caution. “Thank you for the drink, Martha.”
She smiles. She has dimples. He imagines himself complimenting her, her smile. Imagines taking her dancing and then falters because he’s heard what passes for music today.
He can’t do it, even in his mind.
“You looked like you needed it. And I hate drinking alone.”
“Rough day?” he asks, echoing her own question.
She shrugs. “Bad year, actually. Really, amazingly bad year.”
He kind of wants to answer with ‘bad century’, but doesn’t.
Martha shakes herself out of her morose mood with a smile. “It got better though, yeah?”
Steve returns the smile on reflex. “Doesn’t mean it’s forgotten.”
She laughs, loud and sudden and unhappy. “But it does. Nobody seems to even remember. It’s like it never happened. All those deaths, all the…” she visibly bites her tongue, cutting herself off. “Like it was never real at all.”
He goes on for her anyway, “And everyone’s moving on around you, and you stay behind, feeling-“
“Lost,” she finishes, then looks sheepish. Her gaze wanders, falls on his dogtags. Both pairs of them.
“Who did you lose? I mean, if it’s not too… you know. I…” she looks away again, apologetic.
He holds the tags into the light, stares at them. As if he doesn’t know every scratch and notch by heart. “My best friend,” he tells her, seeing no point in not answering.
“I’m sorry,” she says, immediately, like she means it. It feels truer from her mouth than from that of the SHIELD agents the briefed him on his… circumstances. That’s what they called it. Circumstances.
Being a semi-immortal super soldier that got catapulted into a new century is a ‘circumstance’.
He smiles and it’s not a happy expression. “Thank you.” And then, in an effort to change the subject, “What brings you to New York? You don’t sound like you’re from around here.”
Wryly she asks, “What gave me away?” A head shake. “Real or not, I guess the whole mess did get me something good. I’m here to start a new job. Fast track, great payment. They want to utilize my experience
From the way she grimaces and tries to hide it, he can guess at what the ‘experience’ comprises of. Blood. War. Death. Loss. He squeezes Bucky’s tags and thinks of how strange the English language is. Circumstance. Experience.
It can dress up anything nice and make it look harmless. Make it clean and bloodless and good. His SHIELD babysitters gave him all kinds of modern histories to read. In one of them, he found out that there’s a thing called Word of the Year. Different countries and languages have different words. One of those words in 1999 was ‘collateral damage’.
A nice way of saying ‘innocent dead’.
Clean and neat, like no-one ever bled. Like it’s all just numbers.
“Like it never even happened,” he murmurs, to himself only. Not to Martha.
She hears anyway and takes a long sip of her drink.
She opens her mouth to say something and he’s afraid of what it will be, afraid she’ll pull out the platitudes now. She has that look on her face. He doesn’t want to lose the respect he has for her, so he quickly says, “Let me buy you another.”
She blinks, startled, then smiles.
With one hand she pulls out one of those slim little plastic cases that are supposed to be phones these days. She flicks her fingers across it and reads something, sighs.
“I have to go,” she tells him. She sounds sad. It makes him inexplicably happy. “I’m sorry. I… It’s the job. I had the interview this morning and now, apparently…”
He nods. “Of course,” he agrees, “Good luck.”
He doesn’t wait for her to nod or smile or say goodbye. He just turns back to the drink that won’t make him forget, runs beaded chains through his fingers and waits for her to leave.
Martha makes a little noise, something half amusement, half anger. She slaps a few bills on the countertop and then steps into his space.
“This job is the one good thing to come of the last year. The year that never was.” He can hear the smile in her voice, resigned but wry. Dry. Like she’s cried all her tears and moved on. He’s glad for her. He really is. “I hope you find your good thing, soldier Steve.”
She presses a quick kiss to his cheek and then turns and is out the door before he can react, leaving nothing behind except for a faint trace of her lipstick on his face and an empty glass.
Six months later, standing in the middle of the warzone that was once New York, five extraordinary people at his back and an army above their heads, Steve suddenly thinks of Martha Jones wishing him a good thing.
He doesn’t know if this is it, if this ragtag group of misfits will work out. He doesn’t know if being back at war can ever be a good thing.
But he thinks of her soft smile and the steel in her spine and he keeps moving.