Summary: Captain America wakes to a strange new world, greeted by an old friend.
Location: Somewhere in Alaska
Rating: R, for Fury's potty mouth
It has been a long, peaceful rest for Steve Rogers: over fifty years, a timespan to make Rip Van Winkle blush. Still, all naps must come to an end, and as such, Steve's half-century slumber comes to the an end.
Only, when he wakes up, he doesn't find himself in a block of ice, or anywhere near where his might remember last being. Instead, he wakes up in sterile room, with polished chrome walls on every side. No windows, a single locked down and a not-exactly-comfortable metallic bed in the center of the room. A low hum is heard in the room, coming from a single air conditioning vent in the ceiling.
At the very least, Steve has been given some basic decency, given a pair of doctors scrubs to wear, making the cold metal of the gurney he finds himself on more tolerable.
"BUCKY NOOOOO!" Steve's initial "jolt" awake isn't a peaceful one, he sits up suddenly, eyes flying open, and let's out a half-panicked, half-mournful yell, but the moment of panic passes quickly, replaced by another moment or two of bewilderment as the Living Legend of World War II fails to recognize his surroundings, "What...where?" He glances around the room furtively, his expression rapidly shifting to something more hardened and neutral. Mourn later, concentrate on the here and now. If this is a trap or a prison he's going to need to find a way out. Though he's not strapped down, so that's at least half a step in the direction of "things might be OK." Still, he slides off the side of the metallic bed, showing no signs of muscle atrophy or unsteadiness on his feet despite well over 60 years of being frozen in the North Atlantic.
On the other side of the door, a man watches from a secret camera inserted just beyond that AC vent. "Jes-sus Christ, and people say I aged well..." he mutters. "Zoom in." An AV tech nods and pulls in closer, highlighting the stern face of one Captain Steve Rogers. "Yep, that's definitely the genuine article. Better go greet our golden boy to the new century."
The man moves over to the door, pushing a few keystrokes into the pad next to the door. A moment later, it slides open, revealing a familiar face, though he certainly looks older: grey temples, wrinkles around his eyes...well, eye, seem he's had an accident of some sort since Steve last saw him. Of course, he's still chomping on a half-chewed cigar, despite strict No Smoking policies in the building.
"Steve," Nick Fury says, grinning broadly. "Glad to have you back, soldier. The world has missed you, and so have I." Pause. "And if you tell anyone I ever just said that, I'll pistolwhip you so fast that you'll be seeing Krauts dancing around your head. Speaking of which, how ya feeling? Any headaches?"
Steve doesn't visibly tense up when the door slides open, but an old warrior like Nick can definitely tell that he's ready to launch into action at less than a moment's notice. Nothing new for Steve though...Nick witnessed plenty of that firsthand during the war. He does blink a few times, frowning at Nick's appearance.
"Nick? What's going on here? Where am I?" He glances around, then looks to Nick once more, sizing him up. He moves right, sounds right, looks...mostly right. He pauses for a moment and then says something rather odd: "How's the weather in Monte Carlo this time of year?" It is, of course, a codephrase...something that Nick would know the proper response to (provided he remembered) and something that would reasonably be known only by Nick (or the other Howling Commandos, for that matter).
Nick squints his eye for a few seconds, raising through decades of code phrases and revised code phrases, trying to remember contextually, before finally finding, "Wouldn't you prefer the Alps?" He starts to stomp towards Steve a bit, his grin fading slightly at the question of where he is. "You're in a US base, Steve, in Alaska. That's one of the states now, by the way; so is Hawaii, we got a round 50 of 'em." After a short pause. "You might want to sit down for what I have to tell you." Waiting for Steve to make a decision of it to take his advice or not, he finally says. "Steve...you've been asleep for a long, long time. Things have changed. A lot of things, especially over the last ten years." And then, drop the big bomb. "The year is 2010." Another pause. "We won the war, by the way. Thanks to you."
Nick was expecting much worse, but he nods his head slightly. "I can imagine that would be confusing, we were shocked when we found you, perfectly preserved. We've been slowly thawing you out now for about six months; I only heard about it last week, and trust me, I'm a big fucking deal, I should know stuff like this." He frowns at the mention of Bucky, remaining silent for a long time. "We...never found any sign of him, dead or alive," is all he'll offer. He knows that a soldier never assumes a casuality until a body is found, but he also realizes just how unlikely Bucky surviving was; Steve surviving is a minor miracle, and Bucky was no super soldier.
Steve closes his eyes a few moments, shaking his head, "We both knew the risks, but..." There's likely little doubt that Steve will blame himself for Bucky's death. That's simply the way he is. But...better to push it aside for now. Steve shakes his head, still clearly bewildered, "This is like a bad dream." He pauses, "What is this place? What's that uniform you're wearing?"
"Walk with me," Nick says, making his way out of the small room. The next room over will most likely look like something out of Buck Rogers to Steve: giant computers with multiple video monitors, all displaying HD displays of operations around the world. A few people look up from the monitors to stare at Steve as he walks out of the room, including not a few young ladies, offering coy little smiles.
"I work for SHIELD now, a task force funded by the United Nations-which is doing better than that damn League ever did, by the way-that operates as a peace-keeping force at the end of a gun. We're right now at Base Haida, 500 feet below ground in Nome, Alaska. This base serves primarily as a monitoring and reconassiance home, though it has the usual armory, training facility and food court that your modern espionage outfit demands." He glances over his shoulder at Steve. "This base is top line classified, by the way, so if you talk to anyone else about this, I'll deny it up and down and make your day very unpleasant. Hate to end a friendship like that, Steve, but I love peace more than I like you, and if this base were compromised, it would put SHIELD in a rather rough spot."
Steve's eyes do widen a touch at the various displays. He's seen television and video screens before, but not on this scale, and not in color! All the computer consoles of course look completely outlandish. "I'm not going to compromise national...international security, Nick. You know that." He's still glancing around at all the bells and whistles, he notes the presence of the ladies, though he's hardly of any mind to return any flirtations beyond perhaps a nod of greeting. "You've got women working here right alongside the men." Not a statement of bewilderment or questioning, though there's perhaps a touch of approval in his tone. "Integrated races, too." These are hopeful signs of progress, to Steve's mind.
"And a handful of mutants too," Nick adds, before wincing. "Um...we'll get to them in a sec." Nick ducks into a conference room to the farside of the control room he just walked through. "Lets see, what other major things need to be covered. You should probably read up on the last fifty years of world and US history. Prepare yourself to hate this prick named Nixon." Nick dims the lights in the room, and brings up a display that has a picture of Mitchell Hundred. "This is our current President. He's a bit on an asshole, but in all the right ways: sticks up for people over politics, doesn't budge on his principles. Marijuana smoker, but that's hardly a scandal anymore, and metahuman." Pause. "That is basically a blanket term for people with abilities beyond normal human ability. You were actually a debating point a few years back if you qualified. Anyway, Hundred can talk to machines. He doesn't anymore, or so he says, but about ten years ago he flew around under the guise of the Great Machine."
Nick carries on like that for a while, explaining key world figures to get Steve generally up to date. Major technological advancements are briefed, as well as the whole 'holy crap, there really are space aliens' subject before moving on to explaining the mutant controversy. It is a lot to take in, and in typical Nick fashion, he's covering it very briefly, giving a short, salty-languaged cliff noted version of current events.
"This is...an awful lot to take in." Steve notes, though by and large it all seems reasonably plausible to him. He saw a lot of high-tech and outlandish stuff with the Invaders. Far more so than the general public ever realized. "It's all...well, I'm not sure what it is. Amazing? Worrying? Both?" He pauses, "It seems like everything's come a long way, but..." He doesn't really finish the thought, frowning for several moments before speaking in a tone and with an expression that Nick's likely never seen from him before, "I...don't even know where to begin." Which is a more loaded statement than it seems on the surface...he's not just talking about the briefing...more like "what the heck is he going to do in a world that seems to have passed him by?"
Nick nods his head a bit. "And that's just the start," he says, sounding a bit exhausted himself. "The world is scared, Steve. Things are changing, very very fast, and you have through it all remained a symbol of the good-old-days, of something purely good. Did you know they make games about WWII now?" He grins a bit at that. "Last time America really felt like the good guy, and you're part of that. A big part. You've become an icon, even more than when you were alive." Nick remains quiet for a few moments, before moving over to the far side of the room. "As you may have guessed, I'm not just here as your friend. I was asked to greet you into the 21st century, and make you a propisition. So here's the pitch. You remember the Justice Society of America? Well Hundred and a few others have created a similar organization, the Justice League." Beat, beat. "He's very interested in you joining, as sort of a symbol of returning to old times. I agreed, that would be a good role for you. Your choice of course, and I know you're first instinct is probably to run and help the boy in the Middle East. All I ask is that you consider it. We can help you find a home, wherever you like, and when you've made a decision, just let me know and I'll pass it along to Hundred."
"I..." Steve pauses, shaking his head, and rises to his feet, "I don' know. This Middle East thing seems...complicated, to put it lightly." He does look torn on the matter though, "If what you say is true...about the War and how it's perceived now, and with all this Nixon business and whatnot..." He shakes his head, "It really isn't the old days anymore. The lines aren't as clear-cut, and while a man dressed in the colors of his nation leading the charge might have been of benefit during our war, I don't think it'd send the right message nowadays."
He mulls over a few moments, "But this Justice League..." He pauses, "Tell it to me straight Nick...do you think they're the right move? You seem to respect this new President, and right now you're the only person I know who's grounded in the here and now and can offer anything remotely approaching an objective opinion. Being an example for people...I can try to do that. But I don't want to be turned into a political tool. Much less a political tool in a world where it's probably going to take me another fifty years to figure out just what the politics -are-..."
Nick considers that for a few minutes before finally nodding his head. "The Justice League is legit, at least for now. I've met some of their members. One of the leaders, Superman? You'll like him. Total boy scout, which makes my skin crawl, but you two can hang out at milk bars or something." A slight ribbing was never above Nick as he tranfers the now stub of a cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. "Like it or not, Steve, you /are/ a symbol. Joining the League may calm people's anxiety, plus you get to do Good Works. I know you like that." He moves past Steve, patting him on the shoulder as he moves to leave the room. "Think it over, let me know. I'm sure you'll make the right decision. You always do."
"Sure Nick. Thanks." He pauses, silent a few moments, before glancing back towards the door, then to the empty room. He'll think about what Nick's told him...quite a bit actually, but for now, he places his face in his hands, the better to hide the tears that fall for a fallen brother. There aren't any anguished sobs or cries, but now, it seems, with nothing but silence and solitude around him, is the time to mourn.