It’s an early morning in D.C. the first time Steve Rogers spots the young man on his usual route. He doesn’t exactly stick out but the hoodie is strange when the weather is so warm. Its enough that Steve watches as he draws closer and stares back at when the boy turns his head and smiles at Steve.
The smile is enough to slow Steve to a stop a few feet away. That smile makes a chill go up his spine and he doesn’t know why.
Before he can ask how the boy knows who he is Steve’s attention is drawn to another approaching jogger. They look like a proper jogger in shorts and wearing headphones.
When he looks back to the boy he finds him gone. Steve spins trying to catch any sign of him and can’t.
Steve thinks he sees the same young man skirting the edge of crowds. Sometimes on corners waiting for a bus or even inside the Triskelion among the slew of agents. Never close enough for Steve to be completely positive but more than reasonably sure.
So he is a little on edge.
The boy is finally close enough to catch at the Smithsonian of all places. Standing in front of the display for Bucky but not actively talking about it or even reading the information on display. He just stares at Bucky’s face, paying the other patrons no mind.
Steve is just barely stepping up beside him when he speaks.
“Sometimes to do the right thing we need to do the wrong thing. Because we don’t have a better alternative in a line of bad options.” The boy says with his eyes still fixed on Bucky. “So we make the best what we can do and shoulder it. So what do you do when you know you have to be the bad guy until you can expose the truth?”
“You can find some good friends to help you.” Steve answers because it seems like a cry for help.
The young man smiles and turns toward Steve after that. “I’m Tony Stark.”
“Tony Stark is a highly capable person of interest who has stolen vital SHIELD property. The kind of property we don’t put on on Craig’s list when the new model comes out.” Sitwell says to the assembled agents while gesturing to the photo on the monitors.
Steve knows that face. Knows that man.
Natasha is besides him and looks bored, paying the debriefing little attention which doesn’t pass by Steve’s notice. She either knows or wants to appear like she knows more than she does.
“We want him back. Preferably alive.”
“Preferably?” Steve finds himself asking. Because Tony in the photo looks barely twenty. In person he looks just as young.
“Stark’s life is considered an acceptable loss to recover what’s in his possession.”
Stark is in his apartment when he comes home that night, staring out one of the windows in the dark. He’s bundled up in layers again.
“Decide what you’re going to believe about me?”
“Can’t say I’ve got my mind made up just yet. But you don’t seem like the type of guy to come right to the people after you.” Steve admits when he turns the light on and wanders in further. “Going to tell me what’s going on?”
Tony gives him a nod. “You might appreciate this. Starts where humans meddle with something over their heads.”
“Because that never ends badly..” Steve mutters while going to get himself a glass of water.
“Do you remember the cosmic cube?”
Steve freezes reaching for a glass, relieved it isn’t in his hand already. He might have dropped it. “Yeah…hard to…forget that.” And every bit of trouble it had brought.
“Howard Stark found it in the ocean while he was looking for you. At that point SHIELD had been founded and he entrusted it to their care. SHIELD couldn’t leave well enough alone, and neither could Howard, so it was a recipe for disaster.”
And Steve can only stare to hear that news. He hadn’t known the cube had ever been recovered.
“I stole the cube.”
“Did you really?”
Tony shrugged. “Not in the sense they want you to think. Sort of…attached.”
After closing the cabinet Steve rubbed a hand over his face. The cube hadn’t been worth the fuss in the 40′s he wasn’t expecting to get any better with seventy more years under his belt.
“It’s keeping me alive.”
Pierce is standing perfectly still and regarding Tony Stark with a thin, impatient kind of smile. The kind you give someone who is testing your last nerve but remember you cannot lose you temper upon.
The strike team floods into the room, Natasha and Steve among the ranks.
“Take Stark into custody.” Pierce orders immediately.
Steve is caught by the way Tony is staring at the floor rather than any of the room’s new occupants. The way he breathes too quickly and staggers back a few steps until his back is pressed against the windows. Steve sees how Tony is struggling against the weight of recent news.
But he also sees the instant Tony understands they are there for him. One of his hands curls into a fist and the glass behind him splints with large cracks. His eyes practically glow where he stands. The cracks in the windows grow and the room feels like it has begun to vibrate.
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Tony Stark says over the loud cracking of the glass behind him. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; “ and Tony pauses here gaze solidly landing on Alexander Pierce who looks back unflinching, “but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Thomas Paine’s The Crisis, Steve knows Tony is quoting. One of his most well known quotes is the first sentence. Steve doesn’t know why Tony’s chosen to quote founding fathers when he should be fleeing SHIELD agents. Or perhaps surrendering.
“It is the Winter Soldier that carries through the tide of trials.” Tony goes on.
That is not a part of The Crisis. Stranger yet from the break in the script is the ripple of unease the words “Winter Soldier” bring. Even Natasha looks caught off guard. Rumlow freezes completely in place. Pierce looks to be moving from annoyed to angry.
Rumlow raises his automatic planning to fire but Tony’s eyes glow a bright blue that is inhuman. The barrel of the automatic crumples like paper and the magazine drops to the floor beside Tony a few of the bullets pinging loose across the floor.
“On him rests the world, and for him we should cry. Take up your arms my countrymen and draw up the line to irrevocably separate the summer sons from the winter men.”
The crash of the glass is loud but even more startling than that is the way Tony flings himself out in the open air. Gunfire close behind him.
Steve can only stand there stunned wondering what the speech meant. Why choose a piece of American history only to divert to monologue. Somehow Steve finds his eyes drift over to fall on Pierce who is looking more than a little ruffled at Stark’s escape. Because Stark had vanished after his daring leap.
The Winter Soldier seems as good a place as any to start.
Look, yarn! Oh boy, I finally finished this thing. And I’m so glad I did it the way I did. Those colours are just gorgeous. Looking at the yardage it’s no wonder it took me so long though: 484m / 100g. And this thing is chainplied. The first chainply I ever did. Upgraded the skill set here!