goodwill sweatshirt

Ok but please consider: Gabriel Reyes having the biggest fucking crush on Captain America as a kid.

Young Gabriel Reyes, watching whatever Avengers cartoon reboot happens to be on at the time and getting super pumped, like any kid would. Captain America is his favorite because he fights for justice and peace and always does the right thing, and Gabriel wants to be just like him when he grows up.

He asks his mom for Captain America everything: Cap toys, Cap action figures, Cap t-shirts. Anything that has Captain America on it, Gabriel wants. He pouts when his mom tells him they can’t afford all those things right now (”Money’s going to be a little tight while I’m still in school, ok mijo?”), but she finds him a pair of Captain America pajamas and a sweatshirt at the Goodwill. Gabriel wears the sweatshirt every day, and sleeps in the pajamas every night.

He won’t shut up about Cap and how great he is at school, to the point where the other kids start to tease him. “If you love Captain America, why don’t you marry him?” someone snickers one day, but it backfires when Gabriel’s eyes light up with joy and he practically squeals, “I could do that! I know because our neighbor Sergio married his husband Juan last year!” He spends the rest of the day telling anyone who will listen that when he grows up, he’s going to marry Captain America.

(He also announces this to his mama at the dinner table that night, and she kind of blinks at him for moment before she laughs and tells him that’s fine, but Captain America might not want to marry someone who doesn’t clean their room. Gabriel’s bedroom is spotless within the hour.)

For his birthday that year, Gabriel’s whole extended family pitches in and has him drowning in all the Captain America merch he could ever want: the toys, the clothes, the action figures, a lunch box, bedsheets, a bike helmet, and even a tsum tsum his cousin Maria got the last time she went to Disneyland, which Gabriel refuses to let go of the whole night. Finally, his mama brings out a set of old movies she wants him to watch, and Gabriel blinks at the cover of a movie that reads ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, because he’s only ever seen Captain America in cartoons before, never real life.

He asks his mama where she got the movies, and she smiles as she tells him, “This is the Captain America I loved when I was a kid. I’m so excited to share him with you, mijo.”

They watch all the movies, staying up late into the night even after the rest of the family has gone home, Gabriel with his eyes glued to the tv the whole time as he watches Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers transform from scrawny bullied kid to dashing golden hero to troubled and reluctant soldier. This Captain America puts butterflies in Gabriel’s stomach in a way he doesn’t quite understand, and he tries to hide the way he blushes whenever Steve Rogers does something particularly heroic from his mama.

They fall asleep on the couch together, but not before his mama asks Gabriel why he likes Steve Rogers so much. After thinking about it for a few minutes, he tells her Captain America makes him feel like someone’s watching out for people like them. That it makes the gunshots he hears only a few blocks away not so terrifying, and he’s not so worried that the government will send Abuela away even though she doesn’t have her papers, or Papa will come back without warning and hurt Mama like he did last time, before the police took him away.

Captain America gives Gabriel Reyes butterflies in his stomach, but Captain America also makes Gabriel Reyes feel safe.