When people think about death, they immediately imagine a rather painful experience followed swiftly by a long, dark tunnel, which they will have to walk through to reach a warm, bright light. They imagine that the walk itself is a very long and hard, and that the only thing on their mind is just making it toward that beautiful glow at the other end of the tunnel. The glow that promises warmth, happiness, and peace forevermore.
Never do they imagine that instead of walking, they're lying down on something warm and soft, while the tunnel echoes the words of what sounds like an announcer for a baseball game.
"Curve ball, high and outside for ball one," said a voice that sounded like it came from a radio. "So the Dodgers are tied, 4-4. And the crowd well knows that with one swing of his bat, this fellow's capable of making it a brand-new game again."
Jamie groaned lightly, not wanting to open her eyes. She felt so comfortable. She had yet to find that bright light in the tunnel, but she was content to keep floating along in the darkness to find it. She didn't mind dying. Wherever death took her, Trent, her Mom and Dad, and surely Steve was waiting for her there, too. She had to keep her eyes shut and ignore the weird voice. So long as she did that, she'd be with all of them soon. She just had to disregard that strange, annoying voice.
"Just an absolutely gorgeous day here at Ebbet's Field," the weird radio voice went on. "The Phillies have managed to tie it up at 4-4. But the Dodgers have three men on."
Jamie groaned again. Louder. Whatever that voice was, it was preventing her from continuing to find the promised warmth of eternal rest. Perhaps it wouldn't be too bad to open her eyes just for a second. She was dead anyway, she'd just hit whatever annoying spirit was trying to haunt her, and then close her eyes again.
Two seconds. She'd be looking for the light again in two seconds.
Very slowly and with another groan, she groggily opened her eyes.
To her immense surprise, she was not in some dark enclosure of death, nor was she still sitting down beside Steve in the pilot's seat of the Valkyrie. She was in a small bedroom that she'd never seen before, and was lying down on a small ironwork bed, and was wearing a clean set of clothes with the logo of the SSR stamped across her little t-shirt, and a beige skirt. Steve was also in the room. He was in a bed directly beside hers, and was still fast asleep. He, too, was also wearing a fresh t-shirt with the SSR logo on it, and beige cargo pants. There was a white ceiling fan with three blades beating steadily against the ceiling, giving the room a cool atmosphere, but it was really unnecessary, because there was also a steady breeze blowing in from the window beside Steve's bed. Through the window, she could see some buildings in the distance, and hear cars driving and honking at one another, even if from where she was at she couldn't see the street down below.
The radio voice she'd heard whilst still fighting to stay asleep was on a small dresser on the other side of the room, along with what looked like her brother's silver pocket watch. The radio was tuned to the live coverage of a baseball game, and was still droning on.
"Pearson beaned Reiser in Philadelphia last month. Wouldn't the youngster like a hit here to return the favor?"
Jamie slowly looked around. She had no idea where she was. She'd never set foot inside a room like this before. To be completely honest, she wasn't even sure how she and Steve were even still alive after crashing the Valkyrie into that ice field in Greenland. By all retrospect's, they should both be dead. How did they survive?
That question could wait for now, though. The first thing she did was slowly rise to her feet, and walk across the room to see her brother's pocket watch. It was undamaged, thank God. Still shining nicely and its chain was untangled. She threw it on over her neck before crossing the room to Steve's bed. She may not know where they were, but he might. And even if he didn't, she needed her mentor to be fully awake and functional before she did anything further. Whether it was to answer any questions from their army associates or reporters, or possibly escaping from what could be a cleverly disguised room somewhere in a Hydra base, she needed Steve awake.
The last thought brought a chill to her spine as she lightly shook Steve's shoulder. She was really hoping they hadn't actually been captured. She'd already been kidnapped once, and held captive before the Red Skull shortly before they crashed the Valkyrie. She really didn't want to have to add a third kidnapping into her memory.
"Steve," she whispered, knowing all too well that there could be Hydra guards right outside the door to this tiny room. "Steve! Wake up!"
Steve groaned in his sleep at the force of her nudges to his shoulder, but still kept his eyes shut.
She didn't have time for him to be heavy sleeper. They could be in serious danger. She whacked his shoulder rather hard.
"Wake up!" she hissed.
Steve groaned again, but this time it was from her hitting him. His eyes slowly fluttered open, and he sleepily glared at his young protégé.
"Jamie, why did you—"
"Where are we, Steve?"
Immediately, his annoyance turned to concern from seeing her confused, scared expression, and he shook away his sleepiness and sat up on the edge of the bed. As he looked around the room they were in, his gaze also turned to pure confusion.
"Steve," Jamie whispered. "Steve, where are we?"
"I… I'm not sure," he said. "You're the one who woke me up, remember?"
"I just woke up seconds ago and saw we were in here. I don't know how we got here."
Steve looked like he wanted to say more, but the announcer on the radio caught his attention, and he turned to look at it.
"Pete leans in. Here's the pitch… Swung on! A line to the right. And it gets past Rizzo. Three runs will score… Reiser heads to third. Durocher's going to wave him in… Here comes the relay, but they won't get him!"
Steve's eyes widened. He knew this game. He'd attended it himself back in '41. Something was very wrong here.
Jamie saw his expression, but was puzzled. Unlike him, she'd never attended this Dodgers game. Trent and her Dad were the die-hard baseball fans in her family, not her and her Mom. Sure, her parents would sometime buy tickets for the whole family to occasionally see ball games in the summer, but oddly enough, her father and older brother had been Yankees fans, not Dodgers. She didn't know what it was about the radio that was troubling her mentor.
"Steve?" she asked quietly.
Steve opened his mouth to tell her what he knew, but at that moment, a rapt knock resounded from outside the bedroom door. Steve and Jamie both turned their attention to it as the door started to open, though Jamie instinctively moved a bit closer to Steve as it did. After her first kidnapping experience, she was a bit nervous about these current events.
It turned out she didn't really have anything to fear. Only one person entered the little bedroom. A rather pretty young woman with curly dark brown hair, and appeared to be in her early twenties. She smiled sweetly to the two super-soldiers.
"Good morning," she said rather kindly, shutting the door behind her. Steve and Jamie didn't say anything back, but she checked the watch on her wrist, and chuckled softly. "Or, should I say afternoon?"
Steve and Jamie stared at her for a moment before glancing at each other. Neither of them had ever met this woman before, and Jamie cowered even closer to Steve because of it.
Steve recognized his young apprentice's discomfort, and quickly took charge of the situation.
"Where are we?" he asked, somewhat hesitantly.
"You're both in a recovery room in New York City."
Jamie glanced over at Steve, still sitting down on the edge of his bed, and then looked back over at the woman. Even though she didn't know what he knew about the baseball game on the radio, she could still sense that something was off about this situation.
"W-where is everyone?" she asked. "Where's Agent Carter? Colonel Phillips? Howie? The Howling Commandos? Where are they?"
"They're on their way here," she answered pleasantly. "They should be along soon, I believe."
Jamie had a feeling that she was lying, but there really wasn't any way that she could prove it. The Valkyrie had been a fast plane. The army easily could have found them closer to American shores than the rest of the SSR still in Austria.
She looked back over at Steve, but Steve was not looking at her or at the unknown woman. His attention was fixed firmly on the radio.
"The Dodgers take the lead, 8-4. Oh, Dodgers! Everyone is on their feet! What a game we have here today, folks. What a game, indeed…"
As the announcer on the radio trailed off for a moment, Steve slowly took hold of Jamie's hand. Jamie was surprised by this subtle gesture, but Steve was not looking at her. He was now focusing back on the woman, his face arranged in a cold glare.
"Where are we really?" he asked.
The woman was puzzled, but did try to smile at him and Jamie nonetheless.
"I'm afraid I don't understand," she said.
"The game," he explained, ignoring the confused look Jamie was giving him. "It's from May 1941. I know, 'cause I was there."
An alarmed look spread across the woman's face, but it was nothing compared to the look on Jamie's face. Her jaw dropped, and she began clutching Steve's hand tightly. She'd been right. They hadn't been rescued from the wreckage of the Valkyrie by other members of the United States Army. Some strange Hydra division must've found them. She wasn't quite sure why they threw them into a little bedroom and not some cell like they'd done the first time they managed to capture her, but that wasn't relevant. The relevancy of the situation was that someone had captured her and Steve. Maybe it was Hydra. Maybe it wasn't. Either way, they'd still captured them.
Steve got to his feet, and gently shoved Jamie behind him in order to defend her if he had to. She didn't care. She was terrified, cowering slightly against the back wall, but inching her way to the side toward the bedside table between their beds. There was a lamp on it. A handy weapon if need be.
"Now, I'm going to ask you again," said Steve slowly, but the hostility in his voice was unmistakable. "Where are we?"
"Captain Rogers, Lieutenant Harper—" the woman began.
She was cut off by Jamie lunging for the lamp. It's power cord snapped in half from the abrupt movement, but Jamie didn't care. She held it out in front of her with both hands.
"W-who are you?!" Jamie demanded. "D-did you kidnap us?! A-are you with Hydra?!"
The door burst open, and two men dressed all in black and armed with large guns burst in. Steve and Jamie didn't hesitate for even a moment. Jamie threw the bedside lamp hard at the head of one of the guards, and he fell to the ground as Steve proceeded to kick the other one right through the wall of the room, leaving behind a large, gaping hole.
Steve didn't give Jamie a chance to protest. He simply scooped Jamie off the floor and held her to his chest as he jumped out of the room. He assumed that they were in an upper level of some building. He'd be able to jump out of here with her in his arms and land on the paving below to escape. However, he and Jamie were shocked by what they saw when he jumped out of the hole. The room that they'd been in was nothing more than a small stage inside of an even bigger room made entirely out of steel, and the views they saw outside the windows had just been stage slides.
Steve slowly let Jamie down and they stared at one another. What the hell was going on?
The woman who'd tried to speak with them started rushing to the hole, and they quickly ran to the double set of doors to this room. They'd figure out who these people were later. For now, they had to get out of here right away.
"Captain Rogers! Lieutenant Harper! Wait!" the woman shouted.
Steve and Jamie ignored her and continued running. They didn't care what she had to say. Everything other than the pocket watch dangling from Jamie's neck had been a lie.
"Steve!" said a scared Jamie. "Steve, who are these people?!"
"No clue," he answered. "They might be Hydra, but I don't know!"
They burst through the doors, and found themselves dumbfounded yet again. The hallway they had just entered was very peculiar. There were sleek ceiling-high windows running across an entire wall, and everyone that happened to be walking through the hall at the time were wearing smart suits of black, even the women which was even stranger. Some wore knee-length black skirts, but what really startled Steve and Jamie was that were also women in black pants as well. That was shocking. Women were supposed to wear either skirts or dresses. Even Jamie was wearing a nice skirt at the moment. Pants were for men, and men alone.
Heads turned when they saw Steve and Jamie burst through the doors and standing frozen while they stared in bewilderment around them. Then the people in the hallway immediately dropped whatever they were holding or were in the middle of doing at the time and began to charge straight toward the two super-soldiers. Steve was the first to snap out of his shock, and grabbed Jamie's hand to drag her along behind him as he ran in the opposite direction of the men and women running after them.
"This way, Jamie!" he shouted to his apprentice.
Jamie nodded, and assisted her mentor in ramming a man who tried to block their path out of the way.
They ran through the hallways of this strange building for almost a minute until they found a set of doors leading outside. Steve and Jamie scrambled toward them. They just had to make it to those doors, and they'd be safe. Safe from whomever these people were. They shoved them open and ran out.
It took them a couple seconds after running outside to realize that things were even stranger out here than they were inside. For starters, they had not been inside some sort of top-secret Hydra research facility, but in a building right on the sidewalk of a busy city. Or at least, they think it was a city. There were definitely people around and buildings and crowded sidewalks and cars honking, but everything looked completely different than what they should look like. People were wearing the strangest types of clothes, especially women, and they wandered casually down the sidewalks with umbrellas in hand due to the rain or their hands ladled with shopping bags. The buildings around them were insanely high, high enough to touch the clouds, and appeared to be made of steel of some kind as they flashed with jaunty electrical lights. The streets were not cobbled brick, but of some sort of other black material, and peculiar types of cars of various shapes, colors, and sizes zoomed along, repeatedly honking at Steve and Jamie because they were currently running through the middle of the road.
The shock of everything made Steve and Jamie forget all about the fact that they were currently being chased, and they came to an abrupt halt in the middle of a large square of the city. They stood there and circled around, ignoring the fact that the city pedestrians were staring at them, because their attention was fixed on the sights surrounding them. Never before had either of them seen such things, or even dreamed about them.
"Steve? Steve, what is this place?" Jamie whimpered, clinging slightly to his shirt. She was confused and scared.
Steve just shook his head but didn't answer the little girl. He had no answer, because he honest to God hadn't the slightest clue where in fuck they were.
A loud array of honking grabbed their attention, and they turned. Several large black cars with black-tinted windows were driving up to them, and out came more men in either suits or carrying weapons. This gathered the attention of the nearby pedestrians, and they tried to crowd around to look, but both sets of men in gentle but firm voices prevented them from coming to close. While Steve and Jamie did not even attempt to run away from this, as they were both too stunned by these currents events and confused as to where they were currently to move, Steve promptly shoved Jamie behind him when he saw the men.
"Stay behind me!" Steve ordered her.
Jamie frantically nodded, and clung desperately to his shirt from behind as she peeked around him. Steve could tell that she was completely terrified. This whole situation was probably making her think about her kidnapping back in January. He didn't know where the hell they were or the fuck these men are, but he'd protect Jamie. She may be his protégé, but she meant a lot more to him than just that. He wasn't quite sure how much, but he'd protect her with his life.
He raised his fists, ready to fight his way out, and took a step forward to strike the nearest man—
"At ease, soldiers!" came a voice from somewhere behind them. Steve and Jamie turned, though Steve made sure that Jamie was glued to his side before he did. There was a man climbing out of one of the vans. He had dark skin, and was wearing a very long black trench coat and a black eye-patch over one of his eyes. He seemed to be the one in charge here. He slowly walked up to the two super-soldiers.
"Who… who are you?" Jamie whimpered, but not daring to move even an inch away from Steve. Steve himself was on edge, and kept one of his arms firmly wrapped around her shoulders. If this man or any of those other men tried to separate them, he'd put up a hell of a fight.
The man seemed unperturbed by her worried tone. "Nick Fury," he answered. "Director of S.H.I.E.L.D."
He ignored her confused question and looked up at Steve. "Look, I'm sorry about that little show back there," he told Steve, "but we thought it best to break it to both of you slowly."
Steve and Jamie exchanged puzzled, confused looks at these words before looking back at Fury. What was he talking about?
"Break what?" Steve demanded.
Fury paused for a moment before answering.
"You two've been asleep, Cap, Libby," he said. "For almost seventy years."
Steve and Jamie both stared at him for several moments, not believing their ears. Then they looked at each other again. This… this was impossible. There was no way it could be true, but when they stopped and looked around them, how could it not? They were currently standing before a man neither of them had ever met before, and also in the middle of a street of a busy city they could never have dreamed could exist.
They were alone now. There was no more Agent Carter. No more Colonel Phillips. No more Howard. No more of the Howling Commandos. Everything that had existed of their old life was gone. Indeed, the only people they had left anymore were each other.
Fury seemed to be able to read their minds.
"You two gonna be okay?" he asked the young man and little girl standing before him.
"Yeah," said Steve, although his expression told all those watching otherwise. "Yeah, I just… I had a date…"
"I… I don't know," said Jamie slowly, kicking at the ground a bit as she spoke. "It's just… I thought I'd finally see my family again…"
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