|Si has already started to (deteriorate) wrote in rooms,|
@ 2015-04-24 11:51:00
|Entry tags:||!marvel comics, *narrative, steve rogers|
Aches and pains were as familiar to Steve Rogers as stars and stripes were to a flag. Split-splinter of bone, muscle gnarled under bruising skin, eye going blue to black, glass sharding into blood vessels, snagging and slicing through reinforced boot bottoms. And being Irish Catholic meant he always got back up. But this was different. In his bed, his head felt like a runny egg cracked up, skull popped by rapping spoon of the morning—it was morning, wasn't it?—and his brain was some bloat-yellow yolk slipping sideways out of his ear.—Aches and pains were one thing, but this new body (and he would always think of it as new) stitched itself up fast. The injury might linger a day or two, a week at most, but Steve couldn't remember the last he'd had a headache when he hadn't jumped from anything above three stories or higher the day before. And this was excruciating.
It came in a lance behind the eye, spearing through the temple, and shuddered up, into meat of brain and along rankled scalp. It felt like you might imagine it would feel for the ancient Egyptians to stave their bamboo utensil up your nostril and wrench your brain from its stem and socket and out, like it was nothing more than a wad of mucus—like it wasn't the seat of your personhood, like they weren't draining you of you, so to speak. (To make no mention here of the heart and the millennia-long philosophical debates over the soul.)—It felt like that, and Steve—who was Irish Catholic, right?—and thoroughly used to a good beating—could hardly bear it. Grit teeth, throb of tendons and veins standing out in neck, jaw, and forehead, and he was on his hands and knees on the cold slate floor by his bed, seeking the coolness like a balm for a burn. His breathing was ragged, shorn from him by squeeze of pain as the ache pulsed as a separate heartbeat.
His water glass had shattered, he discovered, fragments biting bloody into his bare palms, washed with lukewarm water from the night before, and Steve swore. It didn't hurt. The shock in his head drew all his nerves away as iron filings to a magnet, but he hadn't even heard the glass fall. He didn't remember having a glass.
"Sharon—" He heard himself groan through sieve of clenched teeth, but he was alone. No lights were on, but he could feel the shape of the room—larger, emptier, walls angling new—different from the apartment in Brooklyn.
Where there had been hardwood, there was tile. Where a window had once cut sight, there was wall, plasterboard, not brick. Steve didn't know where he was or why he was in pain, only that these things were.—And the last time he'd woken up, confused, he'd been in a carefully constructed chamber meant to test his reflexes and his mind (that had to be what it all was for, he'd decided at some point—the woman with the wrong bra (yes, he noticed), the Dodgers playing the same game)—and he'd missed 70 years.
No, no, no.
Steve staggered to his feet, the cleave in his head leaving him lurching, one shoulder hitting the wall near the door, dragging over the jamb, and blind, he found a sink. He knew—he could just sense, and the shape of the faucet beneath his bloodied fingers confirmed—he hadn't managed, in some cruel twist of time, to end up earlier—but what if he… was later? What if this was all happening again?
"Sharon?" He tried again, raw throat, no breath, just before an errant thought wedged sideways into his temple. Peggy. "Peggy?" Bucky? "Buck?"
No one answered. His brain told him no one was there. He was alone.
But he remembered Peg and Buck both with the ease of recent recollection—he knew he'd seen them in a blind of white light through the blaze of pain, sharpening it—worse, worse, worse—until it pierced through, the knowledge, the stain of memory, of skin—and Steve found himself on the floor again. By now, water was running over the lip of the sink and an icy sweat had broken out beneath the mop of his blond hair, bleeding it dark, and tears scoured bunting blue. But, the pain, the stars and stripes, went with a snap like spring in New York or an influenza fever, and Steve's lungs filled with air, rusty balloons reinflated as if he'd been shelved like some toy in a shop.
He got up off the tiles. In the low, low light, he saw the silhouette of an unfamiliar room, but on the table—on the table he saw a tablet emblazoned with the Stark Industries logo, thin screen, all air and minimalism, and it lit up with Tony's favorite blue-limning light. 2015, it said in a sunburst of piped, geometric font. 47°. April 24, 2015.
It hadn't been 70 years.
Four months and nine days. He only hoped another war hadn't been fought with him asleep. He hoped everyone was okay.