Hi, and welcome to my first fanfic. I’m a little terrified right now, but it’s good terror, right? This story is also posted at AO3. But please, read along and enjoy how I imagine it went when Claire Beauchamp met Frank Randall.
We had just returned to London, Uncle Lamb and I, stepping off the train at Victoria Station and emerging into the bustle of the city. It was a far cry from the dig in South America, where we had been excavating Inca ruins and living, shall we say, rather rougher than would be expected for an Oxford-educated scholar and his gently-reared niece. I would miss the quiet of the wilds of Peru, but was excited to be back in the center of things.
I slung my satchel over my shoulder, following Uncle Lamb and his manservant Firouz up the busy street. The miasma of the city — smoke, automobile exhaust, rubbish and just a tinge of vomit — hit my nostrils and I sighed, contentedly. We had been in Peru nearly nine months while Uncle Lamb worked the dig at Ollantaytambo, studying the 15th century city’s military defences and excavating weapons to send to London for further study. While I had grown up following Uncle Lamb on his expeditions, I was looking forward to just a bit of stability.
“I need to go to my offices before we head to our lodging, Claire,” Uncle Lamb said, as we stopped at the street corner. Friouz, his dark hair gleaming in the sunlight, was hailing us a cab. “Would you like to go with Friouz straight to the flat?”
“No, I’ll come with you,” I said, shaking out my curls in the breeze. “I haven’t much to do at the flat by myself.”
Friouz loaded our baggage into the trunk of the cab and I slid into the backseat next to Uncle Lamb. “Why are you so keen to get to the college?” I asked, as the cab sped away toward, I assumed, the British Museum. “We’ve been away for months, surely another day won’t delay anything.”
“Oh, I’ve had a fascinating query from a junior professor that I wish to start on as soon as possible, about a point of French philosophy as it relates to Egyptian religious practice. Can you imagine?”
“Not even a little bit.” I smiled at him, charmed by his never-ending enthusiasm for his research. I was much more interested in getting out at night, myself, sans escort. The opportunities for cinema-going, dancing or cavorting with handsome men had been rather thin on the ground in Peru. I had spent more than nine months longing for a little fun.
Well, maybe not longing that hard, I thought, remembering some of the more steamy nights in the jungle, keeping not-so-cool with one of the more attractive graduate students working on the dig. Helmut was tall and sandy-haired, with brown eyes and a devastating smile, and a nigh-unquenchable thirst for the only girl in miles. We had a fair bit of fun sneaking about the ruins, and he had promised to write, but I wasn’t planning on holding my breath.
I did, however, put thoughts of Helmut and his callused hands aside, worried my face would reveal more than I intended. But Uncle Lamb had his nose in his research notebook. We never discussed my liaisons, and I honestly wasn’t sure how much he knew about my social life. He had given me a very scientific explanation of where babies come from at age 10, and we had never spoken of it again. My uncle was an oddly distracted man, but I was sure he couldn’t have been totally oblivious to my late-night comings and goings or flirtations during mealtimes. And he had been going on about the vestal virgins again …
But no matter. Helmut was still in Peru, and I was back in London. We would be in the city for at least six months — Uncle Lamb wanted time to finish his latest book about his research and ensure the relics he sent back to the museum were properly preserved, catalogued and archived. To my left, Hyde Park’s trees loomed tall and rows of neatly-manicured flowers bloomed; they were a far cry from the overgrown and unruly foliage of the jungle. Everything here, from the black cabs, to the city squares, to the newspaper cones of chips being sold on the street corners, to the Marble Arch we were zooming by, practically screamed their Englishness. It should’ve felt like a homecoming, I thought, although it really just felt like the next big adventure.
I had grown up on the road with Uncle Lamb, traveling from dig to dig, exotic jungle to historic ruin to blazing desert, since my parents’ deaths when I was five. I was coming up on 19 now, and hadn’t spent more than two years all together in England since. We came back for short stints, so Uncle Lamb could present his work to his esteemed colleagues, or to re-supply for our next expedition, but I was generally more comfortable living out of a rucksack and in a tent than in our flat in the city.
The cab stopped, and I saw the marble columns of the British Museum rise stoically into the London skyline. Uncle Lamb slid out of the cab, and I followed onto the curb. A small flock of pigeons descended on a small bit of dropped crumb on the sidewalk, squawking and squabbling, as Uncle Lamb leaned in the front window, paid the gruff cabbie, and said a final few words on instruction to Firouz. He then, with a look of great satisfaction, held out his elbow for me to take, and I waved goodbye to Firouz as the cab sped away as we grandly strolled up the iconic steps, into the temple of his beloved work.
His office was in the far-off academic wing of the museum; a small window looked over a picturesque courtyard with a gleaming white statue of Artemis. It was filled, almost from floor to ceiling, with books, papers and parchments. Uncle Lamb’s desk was tucked in a corner and similarly covered in academic detris — although, I knew there was some method to the madness that was only quite intelligible to Uncle Lamb. He always left strict instructions that his office and papers be left alone while he was out of the country.
I wandered around the office, picking things up and putting them down while Uncle Lamb sat at his desk and pulled out his traveling notebook once again, and then fumbled through some correspondence. While his office was filled with objectively fascinating antiquities, there was nothing I hadn’t seen before, and I could tell he was settling in for a long session of work.
“Uncle, do you think you’ll be long? I might visit the Reading Room.”
“I’ll only be a few hours or so. Then we’ll go to the pub and get supper.”
I glanced at a clock — it was just after three in the afternoon, and we had been traveling all morning. “Of course, I’ll come back later,” I said, knowing “a few hours” could be anywhere between two and ten, depending on how absorbed Uncle Lamb became in his work. But, the museum closed at a reasonable hour and I could insist upon dinner when I returned.
I had had a reader’s ticket from the Principal Librarian since I was a girl, under the sponsorship of Uncle Lamb, taking out books on botany, flora and fauna to look at the pictures. The dome of the Reading Room rose above me as the silence of the library fell. It was heavily populated for an afternoon with no classes in session; the room was filled with the harsh glow of summer sunshine. I took a left and started to wend my way around the stacks, through physics and engineering, stopping at periodicals. I wasn’t particularly fussed on Ladies Companion — full of recipes and advice on raising children as it was — but I glanced through Nash’s, hoping for a glimpse of the latest film stars or glamorous dresses. No such luck, though, as I dolefully noted how straight the hairstyles had become. I could never tame my curls into a sleek bob that would fit neatly under a cloche hat; and Uncle Lamb loathed hats on women anyway.
Abandoning the magazines, I meandered toward fiction, the next section in my circle around the room. Was there a new Agatha Christie, perhaps? I had only brought Dickens to Peru and was sorely in need of a change of pace. I was reaching for a maroon-covered volume with gold-gilt lettering that caught a ray of sunshine from the overhead windows, when I heard a soft footfall behind me.
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face,” a deep and rather dreamy voice said behind me. I turned to look over my shoulder. A rather handsome man, with dark hair, hazel eyes and a distinguished face, smiled.
“You know Donne but you’re choosing from the penny dreadful section?”
I was surprised by the jibe, although I supposed I shouldn’t have been. He was handsome and cut a dashing figure for an obvious academic. His practical brown suit was of quality, but rumpled as if he had been sitting at a desk for hours; his tie was just slightly undone; and there was a small ink stain on his white shirt next to the lapel of his jacket.
“Since you’re so fond of Donne, try this one,” I said, leaning in conspiratorially, “‘Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification.’”
“Who said anything about humiliation?” The man clearly thought he was charming me.
I raised my voice just above an acceptable level for a library, to make sure anyone in the next aisle would hear. “Agatha Christie hardly writes penny dreadfuls, so don’t insult my taste in literature in an attempt to make my acquaintance.” I smiled beatifically at him, and watching the assured, charismatic grin fall from his face.
“My apologies, miss …” Recovering quickly, he raised his eyebrows as if expecting me to fill in the blank.
Raising my own eyebrows, I decided not to give him the satisfaction. “Not at all,” I said, polite to the point of pointedly rude. I turned back to the shelves, dismissing and forgetting him in the same moment. Not quite finding what I was looking for — there was only Murder on the Orient Express, which I had read so many times on a trip to Egypt two years before I could recite it from memory — I walked a few paces, reflecting I had never delved into the world of Sherlock Holmes.
The librarian-on-duty — who had known me since I was small — shooed me out of the Reading Room two hours later, with few new novels and a book of poetry tucked under my arm, and I took the long route back to Uncle Lamb’s office, preparing to cajole him into abandoning his studies so we could eat. It being our first meal back on English soil, I reckoned it would be a relatively easy task — Uncle Lamb gloried in a good shepherd’s pie, which was not something served at camp in the jungles of Peru.
I could hear the sound of raucous academic debate coming from Uncle Lamb’s office when I turned down the corridor. It seemed Uncle Lamb had hit his stride on the finer points of tomb contents in ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, and I hovered just out of sight at the door waiting for a lull in conversation. As I expected, it was a few moments before I heard Uncle Lamb pause for breath, and I knocked softly and started to push open the door. “Uncle, are you ready for … . oh.”
Uncle Lamb was sitting at his desk, and the man he was speaking with — obviously the young scholar who wanted to talk French philosophy — turned around in his seat. It was him! The dashing man who objected to mystery novels was here, in my uncle’s office.
“Claire, do come in,” Uncle Lamb said jovially, standing to greet me. His guest stood as well. “Dr. Randall, allow me to introduce my niece, Claire Beauchamp. Claire, this is Dr. Franklin Randall; he’s a don in the University of London’s history department.”
Well, now he knew my name. “How do you do, Dr. Randall.” I stuck out my hand to shake, but he took it in his and raised it to his lips, kissing it gently on the back. His lips were warm, just just-so-slightly dry; it sent a small shiver up my arm that coiled deep in my belly.
“How do you do, Miss Beauchamp.” His voice was just as dreamy as it had been in the Reading Room, assured and educated, soft but with a hint of a rasp. I nodded my head in acknowledgement, and as he, seemingly reluctantly, let go my hand, I turned to my uncle.
“I’m so sorry to interrupt. I can come back later.”
“Oh, no, dear,” Uncle Lamb said, coming around his desk. “We were just discussing some burial practices, you know, the Egyptians’ beliefs in this area …”
I laughed. “Yes, I know. We’ve spent enough time excavating their tombs.”
“Well, yes, of course, dear. But you must be starved.” He turned to Dr. Randall as he plopped his hat on his head. “We’re going to get a bite of supper down at the pub, would you care to …”
“I’m sure Dr. Randall has other …” I started to object.
“I would be pleased to join you,” Dr. Randall perked up immediately. “I’m a bit peckish myself.”
not to be dramatic but the fact that people still have school and work on the day season two of strangers things is being released is honestly so rude and disrespectful ?? this is a national holiday, treat it like one
Okay, I want to talk about something. I think about this a lot; ever since Captain America: Civil War came out. And anytime someone says Bucky is a villain.
This particular scene hits me like a ton of bricks.
This part absolutely rips my heart to shreds. Bucky wanted to get away from everything. He was trying so hard to stay low and try to live in the dark; run away from his life with Hydra. A life he didn’t choose nor want; he was forced.
Bucky Barnes is not a villain. It hurts me when I look into his eyes in this scene, and I couldn’t imagine him being a villain. All he knew was fighting. Whether he was fighting against someone Hydra ordered the Winter Soldier to, or Tony when he was James Buchanan Barnes.
All he knows is fighting. All along, he was fighting against the Winter Soldier, fighting against his mind–doing anything he could to stop the Winter Soldier from taking over.
His eyes are screaming “Help me.”
“I’m sorry I fell off the train protecting you, help me.”
“I’m sorry I took the lives of innocent people, help me.”
“I’m sorry I almost killed my best friend, help me.”
“I’m sorry I’m coming in between you and your other best friend, help me.”
“I’m sorry I can’t understand why you think I’m worth it, help me.”
Can we talk about Steve here? The way he’s looking at the Tesseract. He must be thinking “how could something this small cause so much pain?” The war it started, the years it cost him… the friends he lost…