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08 May 2010 @ 12:43 am
(fic) This Woman's War 2/4  
Title: This Woman's War 2/4
Author(s): tsukinofaerii
Beta: cursor_mundi
Fandom: Marvel 1610: Ultimates
Pairings: Stephanie (Steve) Rogers/Gail Richards; pre-Tony Stark/Steve Rogers
Rating: R
Notes: Violence, Genderswap, non-explicit Femslash, pre-Het

Word Count: ~37,000

Summary: Stevie Rogers, the only known survivor of Operation Rebirth, has spent four years masquerading as Captain America, the hyper-masculine symbol of America. When she wakes up in a strange military hospital, surrounded by people who insist on the impossible, Stevie assumes what any right-thinking person would—that it's a secret Nazi base. All that's left is to break out and find her way back to the war. After all, she's got a promise to keep to the girl waiting on her back stateside.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Art | OST

Note: No artist claimed this one, so it's all the product of a single creator.

***

"Wowee," Gail whistled as Stevie took off her helmet. She was sprawled over the bed in just a shift and her stockings. "Who's that lovely lady under all that padding? It can't be my Stephanie." The warm glow from the lights made her hair look more orange that auburn, and no amount of powder could hide her freckles. "She's shorter than that."

Stevie hadn't seen those freckles in eight months. She wanted to count every one of them, even the ones on Gail's shoulders and back. Especially the ones on Gail's shoulders and back. "What do you think?" She ran her fingers through her buzz cut. It still felt bizarre to have her hair chopped short. Every time she shook her head, she expected her usual braid to brush her shoulder blades. "Do I pass for a guy?"

"Not a chance. You could never be mistaken for a guy." Gail's toes hooked in Stevie's waistband. "Every man who meets you is going to be confused into thinking he's like James. You're too gorgeous." Carefully, she used her grip to tug Stevie closer to the bed.

Laughing, Stevie went with her, dropping her helmet when her knees touched the edge of the bed. Gail's knees slipped up to rest around Stevie's hips, balancing in the crease where her hipbone stopped and her costume began. "You think so? I've got enough padding on me to survive a fall off the empire state building, and the brass are still complaining that I look too much like a girl."

Gail propped herself up on an elbow, red hair falling down around her bare shoulders. It had grown since Stevie'd gone off to the medical center and was almost as long as Stevie's used to be. "Good luck to them keeping it a secret," she scoffed, rolling her eyes. "What are they going to do, hide you with the nurses and put you in a wig? You hate needles."

That had been bothering Stevie too, but she tried not to think about it. It wouldn't be her decision, whatever was decided. "We'll see."

"I guess we will." Strong thighs tugged at Stevie's hips playfully until she obediently fell forward, one arm landing on either side of Gail's ribs "Aren't you even going to give me a kiss? I've been waiting since you walked in the door, but you've just been playing with your shield." Gail's lower lip trembled in a pout.

"You're doing this just to get kisses," Stevie accused, staring down at her. She'd never seen Gail pout like that. It gave Stevie the strangest urge to bite her lip.

"Maybe a little more than kisses?" Gail tugged at her belt, slipping it from the buckle. Metal clinked as the thick leather was slowly pulled aside. "I have a thing for Army women, you know. Can't resist 'em. It's the uniform."

Stevie gave in to impulse and planted a kiss on Gail's still-pouty lip. "I'm the only Army woman there is," she murmured, most of her attention drawn away by Gail's breath on her cheek.

"Isn't that a coincidence?" Gail asked brightly, just before drawing Stevie down into a kiss.

When the kiss broke, Gail twisted her fingers in Stevie's freshly cut hair. "Promise you'll come back to me?" she whispered.

A lump rose in Stevie's throat. "I promise."


"Miss? Hey, miss?" Someone shook her shoulder.

Stevie jolted awake with shout, reaching for her gun. Her eyes darted around, taking in the familiar-foreign surroundings and the big black woman who'd woke her. Sunlight edged along the pavement, bright enough to make her eyes water. Not a fight, she reassured herself, breath coming hard. Not a fight. I'm safe. It's okay.

The woman—Nadine by her name tag—clutched her chest and laughed nervously. Sunlight danced off the sterling silver pendant that dangled around her neck from a thick chain around her neck. It was a hammer, shaped like one of the old war hammers Stevie remembered from history lessons. "I didn't mean to frighten you." Her hair was going iron grey and had been clipped short against her skull. She looked like someone who'd raised a lot of babies, and had moved on to spoiling a lot of grandbabies. Something about her smile made Stevie's tension ease away. "Are you okay, miss?" Nadine asked, dark eyes soft. She kept glancing down at the ragged hole in the knee of Stevie's pants, then at the unbandaged cut on her cheek, obviously trying not to comment. "You were sleeping pretty hard there. Annie thought you might be sick."

"I'm fine," Stevie promised, sagging back against the wall. "I just got here a little early and dozed off while I waited. Is the library open yet?"

"Opened an hour ago." The librarian knelt down to meet her eyes. She was wearing pants, Stevie realized with shock. Not that women didn't wear pants; she'd had a pair when she worked on the lines as a riveter. But librarians and teachers were supposed to be more respectable than that. "Are you sure you're okay? You look like you had a rough night, or maybe a week of them. That's a nasty cut. It's going to want stitches."

"You can say that again, lady." Smiling pulled at the mark on her cheek, but it wasn't too bad. Her knee throbbed worse, and it was such a low level of pain that she'd nearly blocked it out. "I'm fine. Really."

"Well, you know best." Nadine patted her shoulder and stood."You need anything, you let me know, alright? I work behind the circulation counter. I just might have a box of donuts that could use eating. And some coffee in the staff room."

Coffee. Stevie hadn't had real, decent coffee in weeks. Next to that, the faint, distressed grumblings of her stomach were nothing. The last place she'd been stationed for any length of time had served it too strong, half burnt and cold. Not even her tongue had been able to survive it, and she'd been able to eat Gail's meatloaf with only a little trouble. "Thank you, ma'am. I'll remember that. It's very kind."

Nadine beamed as if she'd delivered up a bouquet. "Aren't you just the polite one? I'm sure I'll be seeing you."

Stevie watched Nadine head off, resting her head back against the side of the building. At least the civilians were nice enough in the future. It didn't say anything about the state of the rest of the world, or how she'd get back, but it was good to know. Comforting, in a way. She was pretty sure no one under the Reich would have offered her food.

She stretched her legs out for a few minutes, giving Nadine time to get well ahead of her, then stood. The guns had shifted around while she'd slept, one poking her spine and the other her gullet. Straightening them out and making sure they were covered without removing the sweater ended up requiring her to pull her arms back inside and squirm it around. Awkward barely began to cover it, but the last thing she needed was to catch the eye of any authorities before she'd even completed basic reconnaissance. Going into a public building with a visible weapon was just asking for trouble.

The interior of the library was peacefully silent and dim. She paused inside the door, breathing in the familiar smell of books and wood polish. A lady behind her coughed ominously, glaring and gesturing for her to move out of the way. Stevie apologized quietly and ducked to the side, craning her neck.

Strange things caught her eye at every turn. Some sort of scanner rested in its own little line beside the main desk. It beeped every time someone passed a book over it, and the librarians used something hand-held that did the same. People in the back were perched beside rows and rows of what looked like nothing so much as small televisions. A gentleman in a suit walked past her, talking into something about the size of a deck of cards. When one of the librarians cleared her throat ominously, he grinned sheepishly and stepped back outside.

Cars didn't fly. No one seemed to have a jetpack. There definitely weren't any domes over the buildings. But still, it was undeniably the future. When she got home, she'd never trust another science fiction flick ever again.

If she got home.

The little televisions would probably be more trouble than they were worth to figure out, so she passed them by and went straight for the books. The Dewey Decimal System, at least, was reassuringly familiar. It only took her a little effort to find 973, American history. She pulled the books that seemed most relevant—one on the war, one on recent history, and one that looked like some sort of text book.

Then she went just up the row to biographies.

There weren't very many books about Captain America, and all of them were thin. That was a strange breed of relief. She'd never wanted to be famous, except maybe when she'd been a girl and had played at movie stars with Gail and Bucky. Joining the super soldier project, putting on the mask and carrying the shield—none of it had been so she'd leave her name in history books, other than in the margins where it was unavoidable.

In the end, she took just one book to flip through, even though she doubted it would be useful. A single glance at the collection of covers had told her what she'd expected: every single one of them had a man on the front, in her uniform. Her identity was obviously still a secret, enough that even sixty years later a General didn't know it.

That was somehow a lot less of a relief. There was no way she'd ever convince anyone that a woman was Captain America. But without help, the chances of getting back to her own time were slim to nil.

Stevie stared down at the books, weighing them as she sat them down on a table. Thousands of pages collected, and none of them would tell her exactly what she most wanted to know. Going back to the army seemed like a better idea with every minute. At least in a military setting, she'd be around people she could deal with and understood, even if she was seventy years out of date. There might even be old soldiers still alive that she'd served with. Maybe Bucky was still out there. Or Gail. Even though logic said that the chances of living to be ninety years old were small, she couldn't imagine either of them dead.

Sighing, she sat down to page through her own biography first, to see what she was up against.
Steven Grant Rogers, American hero and patriot, was born in 1915 to Sarah and Joseph Rogers. He grew up in a small town called Independence, Illinois, located along Highway 74, which is now the location of the Captain America Memorial Museum.

He was a thin child, beset by a rare childhood illness, and so often missed school that he was eventually withdrawn for health reasons at age eight. His father, a well-known doctor, cared for him as best he could, while his mother schooled him at home to ensure that he didn't fall behind. Best friends Jonathon Buchannan and Arnie Roth...
The opening was depressingly bad, and the rest of the book only got worse. Childhood Sweetheart was one of the chapters, but a quick glance showed that it was filled with the life of some woman named Jane Hurley. Gail wasn't mentioned, the pseudo-Bucky died tragically in their teenage years, and "Steven" joined the project at eighteen, moving the super solider program earlier in history by nearly an entire decade. The only facts that seemed even close to correct were the battle reports after she'd become Captain America, and her listing as KIA in '45—months before the surrender of Germany, the book said. As accurate as it wasn't, she wasn't sure if she should trust even that for a fact.

At least her parents had cashed in after sending her out on her own. The book was littered with interviews about how much they'd loved "Steven". It was good to know someone had gotten something out of rotten, filthy lies.

Carefully, Stevie set the book down, closed it, and pushed it to the far corner of the table, where she wouldn't be tempted to destroy a public library's property. She had brief, loving thoughts of suing for libel, but it was clear that the American government had done it deliberately. The book even had a picture of "Steven" and his family, some muscular, nameless man standing grinning with her parents and brother. Douglas still looked fifteen, so it was probably taken just after she'd vanished.

Clearly, her entire life had been cheerfully buried inside a wall and whitewashed until it was unrecognizable, even down to her home state and birthday. She wondered if she'd even be able to find her own birth records, or her volunteer paperwork for Project Rebirth. She knew her social security number by heart—had "Steven" been given that too, along with the rest of her life?

Stevie laid her forehead against the table and closed her eyes, concentrating on her breathing. She didn't even have the heart to open the other books. What did it matter, everything that happened after she'd blacked out? All she wanted was to go back, and God knew if that was even possible. There was nothing she could change or fix or apologize for. She'd known that there was no way the army would ever admit they'd let a woman do the work she had, but to erase everything else...

"Don't want any donuts, huh?" Nadine settled into a chair beside her, pulling one of the general history books over. Stevie watched out of the corner of her eye as she flipped through the pages idly. "Studying? You look about the right age for college."

"Nothing like that." Good manners said she should sit up, but Stevie was too tired to bother. The librarian didn't seem to mind, and she didn't particularly want to look around and see all the signs that she wasn't home. "Just looking a few things up. For personal reasons."

"That's as good a reason as any." The book pages thumped together softly as Nadine closed it. "I know I'm just an old lady sticking her nose in where it's not wanted, and there's a lot of 'personal reasons' that no one wants to talk about, but you look like you need a shoulder."

Stevie risked a direct glance, resting her cheek on the table to meet Nadine's eyes. Even though she'd spent all the last day in the hospital, and had slept harder than she'd meant to by the library, she felt exhausted down to her bones. It had been a long, long time since she'd been on speaking terms with her own mother, and Nadine looked like she had enough mothering in her for three of Stevie.

What could it hurt? It wasn't like she had to give any details, and getting friendly with the locals wasn't always a bad idea. "You ever feel like the whole world wants to pretend you never happened?"

"I can't say I have." A firm, soft hand landed hesitantly on her shoulder, squeezing gently. Stevie had to look away from the sympathy in her expression. "It sounds rough. Why don't we go to the back and get some coffee in you while you tell me about it? And then I think I've got some clothes in my car that'll fit you. My son's a big boy, and they'd be better than those things you've got on."

Wearing something that she hadn't stolen sounded nice. Better than nice. "Thank you."

"Well, then, come on." Like a true librarian, Nadine collected the books and stacked them on the return cart before Stevie could even stand. Her hand slid around Stevie's upper arm, squeezing warmly as she escorted her back behind the short stacks.

"Do you work out, girl? Body build?" She squeezed Stevie's arm again, higher up as she pulled her into a room marked Staff Only. "I know men who aren't near as muscular as you."

"Really?" Stevie squirmed awkwardly as she was pressed down into a chair and Nadine bustled around making coffee. She'd always liked the body the serum had given her. Because of it, she could do what needed to be done for America, but there was no denying that she wasn't really feminine anymore, not the way Gail had been, or like the girls who'd winked at her when she was in Allied-friendly towns. She didn't even have breasts, really—they were small enough that she could go without a bra without being too uncomfortable, but she'd been pretty small before the project too. "I guess I just am. I never thought about it."

Something in her voice must have been off, because the older woman paused pouring to look at her. "Hm, that so?" She turned to finish pouring the coffee. "Well, it's nice to see a pretty girl who takes care of herself. Does this old soul good."

"You're not old," Stevie protested immediately, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

Nadine just smiled and brought over two mugs, with a pot of sugar and another pot of some sort of white powdery stuff. A second later, she put down a box of donuts. Handle-first, she slid the big green mug towards Stevie and sat down.

"Why don't you have a bite, then tell me about yourself? What's your name?"

"I'm—" Captain America. She had to bite her tongue to keep from saying it. "I'm Stephanie." In the four years since she'd first taken the position, she'd only introduced herself with her Christian name a handful of times. The name felt strange on her tongue, too heavy. "Stephanie Rogers."

Saying both didn't help.

A nod and an odd, quirked little smile answered that, as if Nadine didn't really believe her. That was okay. Stevie didn't really believe herself.

"Alright, Stephanie Rogers. I'm Nadine Winters. Tell me what's on your mind."

Procrastinating, Stevie took a long sip of the coffee. It was nice and hot, and the donuts had enough powdered sugar on them that they looked like Christmas decorations more than food. Cautiously, she helped herself to a donut. It had been years since she'd had a donut. Just holding one felt more surreal than the green, glowing numbers on the machine that had had the coffee.

"I..." Tightness clogged her throat, forcing her to clear it. "I don't know where to start."

Nadine added sugar and the other—it acted like powdered milk—to her yellow mug. "A book I once read said something like, start at the beginning, then when you get to the end, stop."

The beginning. Stevie could do that. Taking a deep breath, she opened her mouth and started to speak.

Talking to Nadine, it turned out, was easy. Not talking to her was hard. Just sitting in the library's staff room with a hot, fresh cup of coffee and an understanding smile tried to drag things out of her that she hadn't thought of in years. She even caught herself wanting to explain about Gail and what had happened with her parents—we don't deal with your kind here, missy!—but she bit her tongue before putting her foot in it. That would get her tossed out for sure, and she couldn't think of anywhere to go.

Somehow, she managed to put together enough of a story to pass muster. It skirted enough of the truth, touching on her being out of place, with no where to go. The details stayed fuzzy, but they were good enough for government work. By the time Stevie had started on how she was hiding from her "friends", Nadine had quietly nudged a box of disposable handkerchiefs toward her, even though she really didn't need them.

She hated every lie that dropped from her lips. Nadine was such a swell lady, she didn't need to have Stevie fibbing to her.

"So that's the short of it," she finished quietly, hands wrapped around her mug and staring down at the crumbs of her donut. Having something solid in her stomach again grounded her in a way the coffee hadn't managed. She felt like she might even be able to stomach going back to Fort Hamilton and asking for help. "I need to get home, but I don't know how, and I don't even know if I can."

Nadine nodded and sipped her own coffee, watching her over the rim like she might start wailing. "I've seen a lot of girls like you," she said conversationally. "You don't have anything to call your own, and you're looking for something to do with yourself, right? Lost your path, trying to find it again."

After a moment of thought, Stevie nodded hesitantly. "Something like that," she agreed. It was a bit literal, but pretty much on the dime. "I just want to get home," she added, just in case Nadine was thinking of setting her up in a job. The last thing she wanted was to disappoint the lady.

"Alright, then here's what we're going to do. I'm going to bring you that bag of clothes that's in my trunk, and you see what'll fit you."

That seemed easy enough, so Stevie nodded again. The hospital worker's clothes didn't fit well at all. Anything that gave her more room to move would be a blessing. "Thank you. I—"

A soft, warm hand settled over Stevie's on the coffee cup. In spite of herself, she flinched away, years of training to keep her hands free making her pull them back to her. There was no way to disguise the move for what it was. She cursed the reaction. It was moves like that that would reveal her to enemy agents.

Nadine pulled her hands back to herself, leaving them carefully in plain view on the table. "I'm not done yet. While you're doing that, I've got a friend I want you to talk to. He just happens to be in town right now, and he's got a way of putting things in perspective."

Stevie lowered her eyes, jaw clenched tight. "A friend, ma'am?"

"A friend. He's not government, or police, and all I want you to do is talk to him." Without looking up, Stevie couldn't see the other woman's expression, but she expected to see pity. Her voice had turned soft, like someone speaking to a wild animal. "Maybe he can help you."

"No one can help me."

"Try? You can call it payment for the clothes."

What did she have to lose? She didn't have anything but time to spend, and she really did owe Nadine a debt. If just talking to someone would make her happy, it seemed small enough. It was probably a shrink, or someone's father. Five minutes, easy.

"Okay, I'll do it."

"Great." Coffee came close to sloshing as Nadine stood, bumping the table. "You just wait right here and have another donut. I'll be right back."
***

Jan crossed her legs and slouched forward, resting her cheek in her hand. Fury had gotten everyone and their grandmother out of bed the night before to catch the runaway whatever it was, and they were all feeling it. Her hair was a mess, and her skin felt stiff with exhaustion. Next to her, Hank was barely keeping his eyes open. The only person looking even close to awake was Stark, and he was already drunk. Or probably still drunk.

Fine team of misfits, they were. "So you want us to search the city thoroughly, but not get noticed? What kind of magicians do you take us for?"

"And he won't tell us what we're looking for either," Hank reminded her in a sleepy drawl. "Anything out of the ordinary covers pretty much all of New York."

A bump of her shoulder against Hank's rewarded Jan with his cheek resting against it. Banner wasn't there—the Hulk was exactly the opposite of what Fury was asking for. That meant it was just the Pyms against the might of Nicolas Fury. "What he said. Own up, Fury, you've got to give us something to go on. Tell us what's happening, since you've obviously already told Stark."

To Jan's complete and utter surprise, Fury glanced at Stark, who shrugged. "Your call." He was wearing a suit that probably cost ten grand, but he wore it like it came from WalMart. His tie was A-W-O-L, collar unbuttoned, and the coat was tossed over the back of his chair. "To tell you the truth Nick, I think security clearance is a moot point. They'll find out eventually."

She'd never seen Fury's shoulders slump so obviously. It only lasted a second before they were straight again, and Jan wondered if she'd seen it at all. "Fine. Here's the way it is. At 0800 hours, I got a call from the Pentagon confirming that our find in the ice is, indeed, Captain America."

Hank perked up immediately. "That's great!" he crowed, straightening in his seat. "When do we meet him?"

"You don't."

Lines of confusion crossed Hank's forehead, but Jan just snorted in disgust. "You lost him, didn't you? The find of a century, and he got up and ran out the door. That's what all that shit was about last night."

"Not exactly." Fury paced back and forth, hands locked behind his back. Jan didn't bother to watch him after the first about-face. It just made her sleepier. "Yes, the Captain escaped last night, but that's just the start of things."

Stark kicked up his feet, propping them on the meeting table. "Stop being a drama queen, Nick. What our illustrious leader doesn't want to say is that the good Captain's civilian identity was finally released." He grinned like the words had sprinkles on top. "Our beloved hero of old is no other than Stephanie Anne Rogers, daughter of Joseph and Sarah, two of the most well-paid government shills since we were a bunch of colonists tossing tea into the harbor."

Hank blinked. Fury glared out into middle distance. Jan just goggled, trying to wrap her mind around it. Everyone had heard of that old conspiracy—it was right up there with Area 51 and the grassy knoll. She would have expected Area 51 to be more likely. "How the hell did that happen? How do you hide something like that for sixty years? Or in the middle of a world war?"

"The only people who knew were the president, the American generals of the time, the specialists who treated her and one private—James Barnes, her fiancé." Stark was enjoying himself too much, waving his hands in the air as he made his points and generally acting like a kid meeting Santa. "Apparently, the secret was so deeply buried that no one alive knew what the hell Nick was talking about when he told them that what he'd thought was Captain America was actually a woman. They had to dig out the old records from the Project Rebirth to compare fingerprints."

"It took finding some history geek in the archives and a lot of dumb luck." Nick rubbed his head, something he did when he thought the whole world was designed to piss him off. "We've wasted billions of dollars trying to recreate the serum, when the whole problem might have been locked up because of a damn y-chromosome. Banner's so pissed he's close to Hulking out. The Pentagon's looking like a bunch of woman-hating sons of bitches, and I hear the President's going to be sleeping on the sofa in the oval office for a while."

"And the press hasn't even heard yet." Really, someone needed to shut Stark up. By the look Fury was giving him, he was about one more breath from being tossed out. "There's no way this is staying under wraps for long. There are SHIELD agents all over New York looking for a six foot blond woman. One of them will talk to the wrong person."

"So, we've got a genetically enhanced super soldier fresh from World War Two out there who may or may not have a grudge against the United States government for erasing her existence, but who is probably flipping out every time she sees a cell phone," Jan summarized. "And we've got to find her before she does something like level a building with a daycare in it."

"Got it in one, Mrs. Pym."

She sighed and slumped back. "Great. Just what I wanted to do on a Monday morning."
***

Men's clothes were stranger than anything Stevie would have expected, even after the hospital. They fit, mostly, except where some of the shirts pulled across her breasts and shoulders, but they were just outright strange in some ways. The piles were neatly sorted into tops and bottoms, but beyond that she didn't know what to think of it all.

There were skulls, and fanciful designs, and things that looked like Chinese or Japanese writing, but didn't say anything she'd learned to read in training. T-shirts had writing across the front and back, or pictures, and all of it drew attention to a bust she hadn't really had visible in a long time. Some of the pants fit like they were made for three men, and some of the rest fit right but only came down to her shins and had all sorts of extra pockets. And even with the pants, some of them had dragons or paint or holes worn in fabric that was otherwise in good condition.

Stevie pressed one of the few acceptable pairs of blue jeans against her frame, eyeing them suspiciously. Her clothes had never included much in the way of denim. Before joining the army, she'd preferred skirts, and during the war she'd mostly worn her blue leathers. They weren't even decently blue jeans. They were black, with extra pockets on the thigh. The pockets would be handy for her stolen guns, at least, but the extra weight would pull them down on her hips. Hips which were her only saving grace, because they were easily three sizes too large at her waist.

In spite of all that, they'd at least be more comfortable than what she was already wearing, and they'd hide the stubble on her ankles where she hadn't had time to properly shave before her last mission. That was already frustrating enough without having it be public. Her hair, her clothes, her make-up—she'd even lost her regular cycles because of that medicine they gave her. It had been necessary to serve her country, but the sick twist in her chest every time she looked in the mirror and saw someone else just reminded her of what she'd given up. Shaving had been the one thing she'd allowed herself during the war. Doing without for however long it took was going to drive her around the bend before long, and that was unacceptable. It was just a little hair, of all things. She had bigger things to worry about.

Shaking off the guilt, Stevie turned to the other pile of clothing. For tops, her choices were a bit better. Some of them were just confusing—what in the world was this Metallica thing?—but there were enough simple options that she could actually choose. In the end, she decided on a simple blue shirt with a reassuringly familiar S icon on the chest. Even though it was one of the bigger shirts, it still wasn't large enough for comfort; the sleeves were too narrow, and it pulled tight across her shoulders, wrinkling the logo and making her unmistakably female. That was something she'd just have to live with

Superman, at least, seemed to have survived the decades.

She did what she could with the liquid soap and the sink in washing up, wetting her hair so that at least it would be a little cleaned. As short as it was, she could get away without washing it for a little while longer. Nostalgically, she thought of the hair she'd left on the barber room floor in 1941. It hadn't been very long, but without it she looked too mannish. No one would ever be able to pick her out as a woman at a distance.

The disposable towels were almost useless, but she managed to clean the important bits, and emerged from the ladies room feeling much closer to composed. Her knees, it turned out, weren't scraped too badly. The scabs were already peeling. She doubted they'd be there for more than a couple of days.

Even though being almost clean was a luxury, there was still a nagging churn in her stomach that couldn't be blamed on the donuts, but she could handle that. Her priorities were to talk to Nadine's friend, decide what to do next and find out if she could get home or not.

There wasn't any time to lose control.

Nadine was waiting behind the circulation desk, talking to a tall blond man. Stevie wrinkled her nose at his hair—he must not have cut it in nearly a year, and she was positive he was wearing earrings. But his beard was neatly trimmed, at least, which counted for a lot. It wasn't until she stepped up beside him that she realized exactly how tall he was. She was used to being taller than even most men, and the man had at least four inches on her.

Feeling strangely tiny for the first time since she'd finished growing, Stevie straightened her shoulders and leaned against the far curve of the counter, waiting for them to finish speaking. The counter was smooth, polished wood, old and dark as if it had aged that way rather than just been stained. Her index finger followed the grain as it looped around in soothing waves.

Once upon a time, she'd had nice nails, and nice hands. Large, but pretty. Now her nails were broken and blunted, clean but ugly with wear. And her hands had calluses in odd places, obvious rough spots where the strap on her shield had rubbed and scars strewn across the knuckles where gloves sometimes weren't enough protection.

I miss having your hands around. You were always so good with them, and there's a lot of things in this house that could use a good, steady pair. Shelves, the garden shed, that rickety old furniture in the spare room. You take care of them for me, and I'll make sure to put them to good use when you come home. Take care of the rest of you too, of course, but mind those hands!

"Stephanie?"

Stevie's head jolted up. Damp blonde hair flopped onto her forehead, making her brush it back irritably. One of these days, she needed to get it buzzed again, before it started to be a give-away. "Yes, ma'am?" A worried frown tugged at Nadine's mouth. Had she missed several attempts to get her attention? "I'm sorry, I must have been woolgathering. What did you say?"

That seemed to be enough of an excuse. The frown vanished as Nadine reached across the dark wood counter to her arm. "I said, I'm sorry we kept you waiting, honey. You came up so quiet, we didn't even hear."

"It's fine," Stevie insisted, shaking her head. The man watched her with a strange, intense sort of expression. He'd come down the stretch of counter with Nadine, and lounged close enough that Stevie could count his earrings without trying. On her arms, the hair stood up, as if she were in a lightning storm. "I didn't want to interrupt."

An amused sigh showed what Nadine thought of that. "Well, you're not interrupting now. Stephanie, this is my friend, the one I wanted you to talk to."

The big man extended a hand. His lips curved in a warm, welcoming smile. It was the smile of a real bastard, or of a real nice guy. Trouble was, there'd be no telling which he was right away.

Cautiously, Stevie shook his hand, glancing upward. He had a good handshake—firm, steady, but not aggressive. "It's good to meet you, sir."

"It's a pleasure to meet you as well, Stephanie," he returned, teeth gleaming. While not impossibly thick, he definitely had an accent. "My name is Thor."

Her eyebrows rose in surprise. Vague, schoolgirl memory of stories that seemed filled with thunder and snow rose up in her mind. "Like the Norse god?"

Like the rest of him, his laugh was big and hearty. More than a couple nearby library workers glared in their direction, but neither Nadine nor Thor seemed to care. "Exactly like the Norse god," he grinned. "Why don't we step outside and have a talk? The sun's good for the spirit, and people don't get it enough these days."

That was something she could get behind. There was something assertive about Thor that made her want to trust him. He acted like a man used to being listened to, like some of the better officers she'd met in the field. Charisma poured off of him. Strangely, he reminded her a bit of her father.

Just the thought of that was enough to make her wary. "Just out front."

They left Nadine working behind the counter, doing something strange with a typewriter thing and one of the little televisions. There was no paper involved, but Stevie shrugged it off as something as she'd have to have explained to her. Maybe the paper was underneath the counter.

Sunshine was as good as promised. The last of the bad weather had cleared away, leaving a robin's egg blue sky with only a few puffy white clouds skittering across it. After moving away from the doors, Stevie turned her face upward and let the warmth soak into her bones. It felt like the first time she'd been really warm in ages.

"How'd she survive being stuck in an iceberg, then?"

Maybe it was. Had she really been trapped in ice? That seemed even less likely than traveling through time. Of course, a girl with a bad leg becoming a national hero was pretty rare too.

"So, Stephanie," Thor had his hands in his pockets, and seemed to be enjoying the sun as much as she was. Out in the bright light, he was even stranger than his hair and jewelry suggested, wearing leather and some sort of strange metal plates on his chest, "Nadine said she thinks you need to talk to me. I'm inclined to agree."

Frowning, Stevie stuck her hands in his own pockets, standing with her legs apart and hips sunk into her stance. It was a comfortable, easy position, and it made moving in a hurry a lot easier than a more ladylike position. "I don't need to talk to anyone. Nadine's a nice lady. She just wants to help."

"And you don't think you need it."

"Mister, I know I don't need it."

He hummed and nodded, the sound almost getting lost in the traffic that passed by. A breeze picked up, lifting a few locks of his hair. Jealousy sank through Stevie's stomach like a brick before she shoved it away.

Later. She'd deal with it later.

Thor stared off into the sky, rocking absently on his feet. "Yes, I can see that you don't think you need help. But I think you do, and I think you know that you do, if you would only open your mind to it."

Riddles, just what she didn't want. "Not a chance."

"Not even to understand what's happening to you?"

She twisted on her heels, knees flexing in preparation, but Thor didn't even turn to look at her. "What did you say?"

"I know when you come from, Stephanie Anne Rogers. Captain." The bastard's—and he was a bastard, she didn't doubt it—voice was still smooth and gentle, but she heard the stronger, commanding tones under it. "I know that you want to go back, to your war and your lover, and that you worry that you may not be able to."

"How do you know that?" She forced herself to keep her breathing even, though her heart was in her throat. Lightly, she took a step back, watching him for any slight indication that he might attack. "Nadine sure didn't tell you any of that." No one in New York could have known any of it.

"No, she didn't. You did." He tipped his head and tapped his temple, the damned, too-long hair catching another breeze. It was mocking her. "I'm more than I seem. We have that in common."

Whatever that meant in real terms, Stevie could translate it well enough. She took another step, turning her back to the wall. "Stay out of my head!"

Bastard didn't even bother pretending to agree. "I'm not here to impose myself, Stephanie. I'm here because when Nadine called, I could sense something historic happening."

Stevie snorted. "Historic. You could say that." Cars rolled by on the street. Some kids were walking down the road, chattering loudly and laughing. It seemed unreal that normal life would be going on while she had a talk with someone who could read her mind. "What do you want from me?"

"I only want to help."

"Help what?" Her voice started to roughen, but that was fine—she'd learned to use her voice. "I'm going back where I belong, somehow, and that's that. How do you think you can help with that?"

"By telling you that you can't." His eyes were bright blue, piercing, and she had to force herself not to look away. "You know you can't. It's time to acknowledge the truth to yourself, or you'll never move forward."

In spite of all her training about control, Stevie's hands clenched into fists. She shoved them into her pockets to hide it. "I don't have any forward to move to. This isn't my world—what's here for me?" Somehow, her voice stayed rock steady. "My family won't want me. My friends are probably all dead. My government made like I never happened, because I got born with a God damned pink blanket instead of a blue. So you tell me what I've got left!"

That's when he turned and grinned, full of teeth and good humor.

"That," he said, "is what I want to help you with."
***

Hamburgers, Stevie was pleased to find, hadn't much changed either. The prices sure had, but Thor hadn't seemed to think there was anything strange in paying ten dollars for a burger, fries, salad and a coke, and the diner he took her to wasn't swanky, so she put it down as inflation. Since he was buying her a meal, it was probably rude to tell him it cost too much, and she'd been rude enough to everyone.

Nadine had hugged her goodbye when she went back to explain that Thor was buying her lunch. Stevie hadn't been able to do more than stand in shock while the older woman had made her promise to take care of herself. A half an hour later, she still felt jumpy from the sudden embrace. Bucky'd never been a really cuddly type, and it had been almost a year since she'd seen Gail stateside. And there'd really been no one else, except maybe Gail's dad, and he'd liked to pull her braid more than hug.

Thinking about it just made it worse, so she concentrated on slathering her fries with ketchup. They were good, thick fries, with the skins still on, cooked just enough to turn them gold and crispy. Thor had recommended, and bought, some sort of chicken thing with rice and a weird pale green sauce that she could smell across the table, but Stevie knew what she liked, and she'd been on C-rations for too damn long. She'd almost forgotten what real food tasted like.

He first taste of real, honest to goodness grilled meat sat on her tongue like a miracle. Stevie closed her eyes in bliss, chewing slowly. Soldiers had made themselves sick bolting down too much too fast. She didn't have any plans to be that dumb. Besides, it made it last, and she knew she couldn't count on strangers' good graces for long.

Thor stirred his rice and watched her with an amused smile. "Is it to your liking?"

She nodded, swallowing. "You could run it over with a truck and it'd be to my liking," she promised. "Thank you for this again. You didn't have to." The burger sat on her plate, but she forced herself to take a bite of salad, and to chew that slowly too. It was big enough to be a whole meal on its own for a regular person, but since the serum, Stevie had been able to pack away food.

"I wanted to." Thor helped himself to some rice. For a moment, they were both silence at they concentrated on eating.

Diner patrons came and went, with a few of them glancing towards the back corner booth curiously. A man in a police uniform even paused to stare through the window, talking into one of the little ear-things that she'd seen in the hospital. Stevie supposed they made an interesting couple; Thor was the first man she'd ever met who was taller than her. It was a nice place, done in pale wood with some sort of fake marble flooring. Their waitress had been nice too, in her dark jeans and white blouse.

The sheer normalcy of it sank through her skin. Stevie leaned back into her booth seat, dragging a fry through the catsup. If she closed her eyes for a moment, she could think she was back in 1940. But the registers sounded wrong, and every now and then some strange music would sound in someone's pocket or purse.

For all its oddities, though, it helped. The future wasn't nearly as strange as books had made her think. Gail would have liked it.

The possibility that, somewhere in the world, she did like it was too slim to give her anything but a sinking feeling. What were the chances of someone living to see ninety?

"Stephanie?"

"Hm?" She blinked, then realized that she'd been holding a fry to her lips for long enough that it had gone cold. "Just thinking. The future's not what it's supposed to be. It's so..." Groping for a word, she flicked her fingers at the diner. "It's so ordinary. Where's the jetpacks? And the ray guns?"

Thor tapped the edge of his plate with his fork. Scowl lines appeared in his brow. "Held by the government, for the most part, and not even safe in those hands. And not only that. Bombs capable of leveling nations. Instruments whose only use is torture."

Ingrained patriotic fervor had Stevie opening her mouth to argue. "The United States government is the best in the world, Mister. If anyone can be trusted with the blasted ray guns, it's them." She put her hands on the table, already half out of her seat. "Go ahead, say it's not trustworthy, and you can say it again while you pick up your teeth."

"They lied about you."

Stevie stared at him. Vinyl squeaked as she slowly sank back into the booth. "That was different."

"How so?" Thor asked mildly. "A government that will lie to her people about one of her most decorated heroes will lie about anything."

She shook her head savagely and used a fry to point across the table. "I may be seventy years too late, but I refuse to believe that there aren't good men up there on Capitol Hill."

"Good, yes." Thor nodded amiably. "And bad. And afraid, power-hungry, saints and sinners. But the power rests with the wicked, and it threatens to bring the world to chaos." He sounded so calm and reasonable that it made her grit her teeth. "You have not heard of the torture in foreign harbors, or of the tests done on unwitting soldiers at Viet Nam, or the riots at Stonewall. Of the many harmful laws passed out of fear and ignorance, the so-called Patriot Act, or Don't Ask Don't Tell. This is not the government you agreed to serve."

Irrationally, Stevie only grew angrier. She'd sacrificed her whole life in the name of her country, and she'd be damned if some long-haired foreign freak was going to criticize it. Deep down, she knew he had a point—her whole military career had been filled with right bastards who only thought of soldiers as numbers, but that didn't give some un-American ass the right to say anything. "I took an oath, and that stands no matter who's in office. If you want to help me like you said, you're going about it the wrong way."

"I apologize." Big, calloused hands spread out on the table in a universal sign of unarmed. "What do you want? How can I help you?"

"I want to go back to 1945."

"Impossible."

"How do you know? You don't even—" She slammed down on her rage before it could get the better of her, counting to ten slowly. When that didn't work, she took it out on her burger. Even crunching through the lettuce didn't make her feel better.

While she was chewing, Thor sighed. "I do not know how you came to be here, that's true. But I know that it was neither esoteric nor technological. I would have felt such a disturbance on this plane, or my father would have."

Stevie seized the tangent like a lifeline. "Your father?"

"Odin."

Well, that said everything she needed to know. He was crazy. At least he was crazy and buying her lunch. "Must be nice to have a god on your side."

"It is occasionally useful," he agreed. "So, other than to return to your own time, what do you want?"

Stevie looked down at the table top. It was like the floor, gently marbled with wonderful realism. If she didn't know what real marble felt like, she never would have known. "Ask the sixty-four thousand dollar question, why don't you?"

Pretty soon, she was going to get sick of seeing people pity her. "I didn't mean for it to be a hardship."

"I know. It's a good question though." What did she want? If she couldn't back home, what was left? No ID, no home, no income. She wasn't going to live on the shoulders of strangers, she had too much pride for that. If she'd been able to work back when her leg was busted up, she could find work as she was. And she could always go back to the military and let them do what they wanted. The worst they could do would be to turn her into a lab rat, and she'd already done that once.

But before that, there were a few loose ends to tie up. Then she could decide. "Gail and Bucky." She looked up to meet Thor's eyes. "My gi—my friends. I need to know what happened to them. If—how they died, if they had kids. That sort of thing."

"They may take some time to find," Thor started to say, but Stevie shook her head.

"You people don't have telephone directories in the future? If Bucky and Gail are alive, they'll be in New York." They'd loved New York. Half of their plans had been to find a nice little cottage in the suburbs. It would have taken a rain of fire to get either of them to move. "Trust me. And if they're not..."

If they weren't, then there was no reason not to march right back to Fort Hamilton and tell that General Fury fellow to do his worst.

"A reasonable enough request." Thor set aside his plate and stood. "I'll go make a phone call or two, to see if they can be found on the internet." When Stevie just stared at him blankly, he grinned and rubbed the back of his head. "It's complicated, and I'm not very good with it. Perhaps someone can explain it to us both."

Learning new things about the modern world seemed like a good idea. She'd have to start sometime. "Thanks."

While Thor wandered back towards the bank of phones near the bathrooms, Stevie focused on cleaning her plate. Crowds were getting thicker out the window, with people coming and going so fast that sometimes she couldn't pick out any one person for more than a second. People watching was familiar, and comforting in its way. Even in seventy years, New York hadn't changed that much. Sure, the hemlines were too high and the cars looked like they were made of glass, but it would always be home.

A scream cut through the glass like butter.

"My baby! He took my baby!"

Stevie hopped over the table and was running out the glass doors to the diner before the other patrons even started to stand. Outside, people were shoving each other around, trying to see what was going on. No one seemed to have made any move to help. In the middle of the sidewalk, a tiny woman with Asian features had collapsed to her knees. Beside her, a pink stroller sat, ominously empty.

"Ma'am, which way—"

The stricken mother pointed down the street. Tears poured down her cheeks, smearing her makeup. Short black hair clung to her damp skin. "That man in the red jacket! He has my baby!"

Turning her head, Stevie caught sight of a flash of candy apple red in the distance. She pushed aside a man in a black suit and bolted after the baby-snatcher. Behind her, she thought she heard Thor shout her name, but she didn't even think to pause. The early afternoon throng made running in a straight line almost impossible on the sidewalk. She elbowed and shoved, stretching her legs, but in less than a block it became obvious that something needed to change. The faint glimpses of red were getting harder to see.

Growling in frustration, she darted out into traffic, ignoring the blinking don't walk sign. A bright yellow taxi squealed to a stop inches away from her. The next car wasn't lucky enough to stop in time. She leaped upward, coming down on the hood with a crunch of dull blue metal and using it as a springboard to the overhanging roof.

From above, she could easily spot the culprit two blocks ahead with something tiny and white bundled in his arms. Without the mass of civilians to get in her way, she was able to stretch out her legs and move, leaping gaps in the overhangs as needed. It felt good to use her muscles, to stretch and breathe and feel her heart pound, even though they ached with disuse.

People screamed as she passed, some of them shouting for her attention. At least one authoritative voice yelled for her to come down. Stevie ignored it all. In only a couple of minutes, she managed to close the distance between them. The jacket, which she'd thought was a bomber, was actually a trench.

As soon as she drew abreast of the villain, she leapt down to the sidewalk in front of him. Civilians scattered on all sides. He skidded to a stop, clutching the little bundle to his chest. He was surprisingly scrawny, with a mop of short brown hair.

Stevie stood carefully in the middle of the sidewalk. "Hand over the baby."

The bastard took one look at her and ran, darting down a service alley. Cursing loudly, Stevie shoved a teenage gawker out of her way and chased. Her sneakers crunched over spilled trash. The alley was long, but not so long that she didn't see that it dead ended ahead.

Apparently, the baby thief hadn't realized it in time. He ran right up to the brick wall and put his back to it, like the cornered rat he was. Stevie slowed to a stop and kept a careful distance, but stayed where she could catch him if he tried to dodge past her. The baby was worryingly still. She would have expected even the calmest little one to be screaming after a run like that. Even its little hands were limp, not curling or trying to hold anything. Every now and then, it moved, but always slowly. What if he'd hurt it?

"Put down the baby," she said, holding her hands up. The walls were covered in graffiti, but they weren't slimy and they were made of solid brownstone. There were at least three large objects she could use for weapons if she needed to. "I don't want to hurt you. I just want the child."

The man nodded, pressing back against the wall and pulled the tiny bundle away from his chest. "Okay— okay, you win. You can have it." Before she could stop him, he threw the little one in the air.

Stevie reacted instantly, diving for one of the big dumpsters and using it as a step-off to leave. She caught it as well as she could, cradling it against her chest and curling around it. Landing like that threw her to her knees. Another blow struck her from behind, the sharp pinch of a hypodermic needle sliding into her side.

She slammed an elbow backwards, and was rewarded with a crunch as a nose broke. Another elbow missed the ribs she was aiming for, but caught her attacker a good one in the gut. While he was winded, she staggered to her feet. Whatever had been in the needle either hadn't been enough, or hadn't been strong enough. Her head swam, but it wasn't any worse than she'd gotten with a bad cold as a kid. Drugs hadn't done her any good since '41.

"You evil God damned son of a—"

A slight, gentle whir of noise came from the bundle against her chest. Stevie glanced down. Two bright blue painted eyes stared up at her from the folds of the baby blanket.

A doll.

She looked up, eyes narrowed.

The guy had pulled out one of the ear pieces she'd been seeing people use like a miniature radio. "She's not going down!" he shouted, backing up against the wall again. This time, there was real fear in his posture, and his voice shook. Blood poured down his face from the broken nose, staining his shirt. "Tell Fury that she's— What do you mean, stronger? That was for horses! I said— damn it, Janet!"

Stevie dropped the doll and kicked it out of the way, taking a step forward. "I hope you've got a good doctor, buddy, because you're going to need him."

"Shit!" He crowded even farther back against the wall. His trench coat began to stretch, and then rip apart at the seams. A foot at a time, he got bigger, and bigger, until he was nearly five times her height and naked as a jaybird.

People could grow into monsters. Just when she'd been starting to think the future was normal.

"Give up and come with me," he said, voice echoing off the building walls. He'd gotten so big that it was like listening to a tank, if a tank could speak. "I don't want to hurt you."

"Don't want to hurt me?" Stevie snorted, cracking her knuckles. This was going to be fun. "That's your last mistake of the day, pal."

An over-sized hand came down from above, trying to pin her. Stevie stepped out of the way easily, leaping onto the brownstone. It was rough enough to have traction, which allowed her to push off and leap higher, aiming for the other alley wall before gravity could take hold. The giant man kept trying to grab her, but his size was his own enemy. Every move was telegraphed like a sign post, and he couldn't even begin to move quick enough to catch her.

At the start of her last leap, she changed angles. One of her feet landed on his chin. The other leg swiveled upward to land a solid kick on his broken nose. He screamed and tried to swat her, but she'd already slid down, using his shoulders as a landing platform. The only thing he managed to hit was himself.

Her next blow was a punch, straight to his prominent adam's apple. Somehow, his trachea didn't break, but he fell to his knees anyway, clutching his throat. Before she could lose her footing, she latched onto his ear and swung, using his downward momentum to swing his head and smash it into the side of the building. The crack jarred her off her perch. As she slid down, her feet dug into the skin, slowing her fall and leaving bright red burn tracks. Stomach hair slowed her too, until she came to a stop just at the giant's crotch, dangling by handfuls of pubic hair.

Using her God given advantage as a woman, Stevie dropped, grabbing a handful of loose skin from his un-erect penis. Swinging herself underneath, she slammed both feet right into his nutsack with her full body-weight and pushed off, arching backwards into a smooth somersault.

He howled, finally falling completely back as she completed a three-point landing. The shrinking process only took seconds. When it was over, a normal sized, entirely naked man laid curled into a fetal ball in the middle of the alley.

Warily, Stevie picked up a discarded beer bottle and hurled it at him. It hit his shoulder without even provoking a flinch. She kicked the baby doll towards him too, getting a little pleasure when it smacked him in the broken nose.

A collection of on-lookers had gathered around the mouth of the alley. A few of them cheered as she exited. Stevie gave them a non-committal smile and pushed her way through. There still wasn't a sign of any police. That bothered her—there should have been cops all over.

"Miss!" An older lady grabbed her elbow, peering up at her worriedly through a pair of glasses on a string. "Miss, are you okay? Giant-Man didn't hurt you?"

"I'm fine, ma'am," she promised, freeing her arm with a pat. "You know how men are. They always think size matters."

Part 3
 
 
 
Alejandradieewigenacht on May 8th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
I'm loving this, seriously.
There are just so many things I'm in love with that it's impossible to count.

Thor! In a library! Just like that! I don't know why but I loved it.

Now, Jan's and Hank's plan to get Stevie was cruel, let me tell you.
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on May 9th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
:D I'm glad you like it! Thor in the Library was one of my favorites. He doesn't seem like the library type, but he was a nursing student, and is pretty smart. So it seems like a place he'd know. :D

It was. D: Stevie will be angry about that for a while. >>
gail19gail19 on June 25th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Very interesting.

I know there is no way there could be a warning, but oh boy diet coke hurts when you snort it out your nose.
tsukinofaerii: Coffeetsukinofaerii on June 25th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
♥ XD I apologize for your abused sinuses! What part made you snort, may I ask?
gail19gail19 on June 25th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
Seriously? The last line would be funny anyway, but coming at this point in the story from this character? Hysterical - really, really.
The Slain Godvaltyr on July 12th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
D'aww forever at Gail flirting with her and loving Army women. :D

Steve thinking about getting back. :(

DDD: for being written out of history. Did I tell you about the damnatio memoriaae? The damnation of memory, to be removed frrm history - considered one of the severest punishments of Ancient Rome. (And considering Rome - that's saying something.)

Nadine is so nice <3 I have a soft spot for librarians. And she's wearing a Thor's Hammer, huh? :D

Oh LOL at Fury. Search New York for something out of the ordinary. XD

"He grinned like the words had sprinkles on top." This is a lovely lovely phrase, I can see Tony's grin.

O Lord, what is Stevie wearing? <<<3 SUPERMAN SHIRT

"of stories that seemed filled thunder and snow rose up in her mind. "

Think there's a word missing?

I love her wariness of Thor - that he seems so nice he must be either really nice or a total villain. OMG hair jealousy. I like her noting inflation, and taking it in stride. The talk about power and the Government is good - really ties in with Thor's canon attitudes, and the slightly different perspective girl-Steve will have.

Really, it was quite a good plan they came up with; they just underestimated the Serum abilities. Just like canon. :D one million lulz at the fight.
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on July 12th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
D'aww forever at Gail flirting with her and loving Army women. :D

(clutches Gail) She is still angry at me for not letting her be a superhero too. ._.;; But she and Stevie are adorable; I wish canon had given us more of that. (shakes fist at canon)

DDD: for being written out of history. Did I tell you about the damnatio memoriaae? The damnation of memory, to be removed frrm history - considered one of the severest punishments of Ancient Rome. (And considering Rome - that's saying something.)

No, you didn't! I was actually going on ancient Egypt and my personal paranoia. (Being forgotten entirely... EESH, nightmares.)

Nadine is so nice <3 I have a soft spot for librarians. And she's wearing a Thor's Hammer, huh? :D

I adore Nadine, and I hope to write her into Girl Steve 2.

She is wearing his hammer! I have a backstory about that hammer, too. She attends regular meetings of Thor's following, and they have a barter system going amongst themselves so that they don't support corrupt corporations more than absolutely necessary (a difficulty, in today's market, but they do what they can). One of them is a silversmith, and one of his regular exchanges is a hammer pendant. Nadine bargained with fresh veggies and some knitted sweaters for her. Thor is a little embarrassed by it, but he doesn't want to hurt their feelings.

Oh LOL at Fury. Search New York for something out of the ordinary. XD

The only way it could be harder were if they were in California.

Really, it was quite a good plan they came up with; they just underestimated the Serum abilities. Just like canon. :D one million lulz at the fight.

Cups are going to start becoming popular among villains pretty soon. :D