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comment_fic 890: Avengers

Title: To sail beyond the sunset
Fandom: Avengers movieverse
Disclaimer: not my characters; title from Tennyson
Warnings: AU after Avengers; AU before Cap2; mild language
Pairings: Bucky/Steve is my default but this could totally be gen, too
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 1450
Point of view: third
Prompt: Avengers, team, there's a "Meet the Avengers" day down at city hall. Shoot an arrow with Hawkeye, check out Iron Man's suit, get Captain America's signature! Basically the team dealing with kids/rabid fans. :)

After the events in New York, there is a lot of damage control. Hawkeye and Black Widow go off the grid in order to hunt down the various enemies of SHIELD that Loki had gotten together, Iron Man focused on rebuilding on a large scale, and the Hulk disappeared (and Dr. Banner with him, of course).

But Captain America went out to volunteer at a different site in New York every day. He didn't dress like Captain America, but nobody could forget that face.

It took time, but as the rest of the Avengers trickled back, things were looking up. And it was Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries, who had the idea of a Meet the Avengers Day.

He's been calling himself James, though it doesn't feel quite right. He's been calling himself James for three years, eight months, two weeks, and a day. Before that, he was simply the asset.

He doesn't like to remember the days Before James.

Like the rest of the world, he watched the alien attack on New York with wide eyes. "What in the fuck?" James muttered.

It was the red-haired woman he noticed first, and she seemed familiar. But the man dressed like a flag – James just watched, mind completely blank except for one thing: I know him. I know him. I know him.

The reporter shouted as shrapnel flew her way, and while James heard the entire sentence, he only listened to Captain America. It jarred something in his head, something he avoided thinking about because it was from Before James.

While the rest of the world watches the clean-up in New York, James programs the DVR to record anything that mentions Captain America and goes to the internet for research. Researching Captain America leads him to the Howling Commandos, which leads him to Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, Captain America's best friend.

"Well," he mutters, staring at the picture, "guess I know why I chose James."

Sergeant Barnes was lost mere days before Captain America went down with a plane that would've fucked the United States to hell and back. Captain America was believed dead until the alien invasion in New York, and how he's returned is something everyone has opinions on but no hard facts.

James watches the official footage and the shaky phone videos, and he knows. He knows Captain America, but that doesn't feel right. He reads, rereads, rereads again the official biographies, the historical record, the conspiracy theories, but it's when he sees a picture of Steve Rogers from before Captain America – something sparks in his mind and he blacks out for over an hour.

He's been James for three years and nine months, and the asset for 70-some years before that, when he remembers being Bucky Barnes for the first 26 years of his life.


He's living in a tiny little town in Connecticut. He has efficiently dealt with 18 attempts to reclaim him. His former masters believe him to be across the world. His neighbors believe him to be an honorably discharged marine with a prosthetic hand, his original lost in the line of duty. He mans the front desk of the apartment complex as a security guard and knows the position is one of pity.

His name is James. He has been alone since he ceased to be the asset, but he knows now that he was alone then, too.

(When he thinks about Before James, he knows that he had nearly escaped four times between Bucky and James. The programming was faulty – or the trigger was simply that strong. He does not know what triggered the breaks, only that he spent a long time sleeping after each.)

He's living in a tiny little town in Connecticut and he remembers Brooklyn. He remembers hunger, and long winters, and a fragile chest coughing up a lung, and I had him on the ropes, and I'm with you to the end of the line.

He remembers war, and pain, and I thought you were dead, and falling.

He remembers the asset, and he remembers when he chose to be the asset no more.

He remembers Captain America.

He remembers Steve Rogers.


Everyone in the world is watching New York, talking about aliens, making plans for when it happens again. Captain America (and the Avengers) are now worldwide heroes.

Captain America goes out every day to help clear rubble, and there is no one protecting him. He leaves his back wide open.

James leaves his apartment with nothing but a bag of weapons and locks the door behind him.


"What the ever loving fuck," James says flatly when his Google Alert on the Avengers announces Meet the Avengers Day. "Are you fucking serious?" he demands because, really? "Really, Steve?"

No one in the subway car gives him a glance as he growls down at his phone. Steve's already a target, does he have to go make himself a bigger one?

James scrolls through the rest of the alerts, shouldering his bag to allow a woman the seat next to him. It's been a year since the last attempt at reclaiming the asset, but some skills never rust: he is the only person trained for combat in the car, and one of three to have killed. The woman has just been fired from her job, and her spouse has been giving her a hard time.

If James were still Bucky, he'd try to make her feel better. As it is, he focuses on his phone and allows her to cry in peace.


Meet the Avengers Day is in two weeks. That gives James ample time to prepare.

Shoot an arrow with Hawkeye! shout the ads, the commercials, the billboards. Check out Iron Man's suit! Learn self-defense from Black Widow! Try to lift Thor's hammer! Get Captain America's signature!

A few posters on the SI forums are disappointed by the lack of the Hulk, but Pepper doesn't wants to risk it. Besides, Bruce refused when Tony tried to guilt-trip him into going. They'll all be suited up, and they'll be at the park all day. SHIELD and SI will both have eyes in the sky and security primed, but, honestly. With 5/6 of the Avengers there, who'd be stupid enough to try something?

"You just jinxed us," Tony informs Clint. Clint shrugs.


As the day gets closer, Steve starts to feel a little paranoid. He keeps turning around, knowing that someone's watching him, but while there's always a crowd and people staring at him, it's never the gaze he felt. He doesn't mention it because he knows there are cameras pointed at him 24/7 and maybe that's what he's feeling.

On Meet the Avengers Day, he's honestly a little excited. It's just like the USO tour, and while he hated it at the time, he's a bit nostalgic. Tony's in his element, of course, wowing the crowds and feeding off their awe. Natasha's smile is so good that even Steve can't tell if it's fake or not. Clint focuses mainly on the kids and pulls out all his trick shots. Thor regales a wide-eyed audience with tales of Asgardr, most of which involve his brother (not that anyone on Earth outside of SHIELD knows that Loki led the invasion).

And Steve just talks to people, listens to them, signs whatever they put in front of him, smiles for the cameras. The world is a much scarier place now that everyone knows there actually are aliens – and this is the Avengers' chance to show that they're not scary, and they will protect it. These people are exactly who Steve fought for against the Chitauri, against Red Skull, who he will always fight for.

One of SHIELD's agents brings him a hamburger and chili fries for lunch, and that's when he feels the eyes again. He tries to glance covertly around while simultaneously eating, chatting with a shy little girl, and signing her brother's Captain America poster, but there are literally thousands of people watching him, not to mention cameras for hundreds of networks all over the world.

After he thanks the little girl, her brother, and their grandmother for coming out, he rises to his feet and goes into the crowd to wander around, trying to pinpoint where the gaze feels the strongest. He still doesn't mention it to his team because he doesn't want to ruin the event.

He's in the middle of Central Park when he hears the voice behind him say, "You're still too dumb to run away from a fight, aren't you, Steve?"

It's impossible. He turns slowly, eyes closed, but the voice continues, "I told you we were going to the future."

He opens his eyes.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2014 03:10 pm (UTC)
Well, that's one way to meet again, and quite cute :) This could turn into slash deliciously, but yeah, it could stay gen, too. <3<3 Lovely.
May. 22nd, 2014 05:11 pm (UTC)

Thank you! I decided to go the least-angsty route and let Bucky discover himself on his own.
Jun. 1st, 2014 03:31 am (UTC)
This was a really great what-if fic. I really enjoyed the fact that Bucky reclaimed himself without outside intervention.
Jun. 3rd, 2014 01:15 am (UTC)

Thank you for reading!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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