A Beer at Chet's

January 30, 2015: Watchin' the game, havin a Bud. True.

New York

The Big Apple



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Mood Music:

Chet's is the kind of place you go where everyone knows your name. And everyone here knows Steve's name. It's still early on a Friday night so there aren't a ton of patrons. The oddly shaped bar swings around in a rounded, waggling shape that from the top would look like the outline of a spilled drink. It juts out into the rest of the bar, a viewing area for sporting events with individual tables, set high, and facing a handful of gigantic televisions. Everything in here is dark, with enough lighting in spots to give patrons enough to see, but the walls and the carpeting are both very dark and the accent lighting bathes the room in dark blues and purples.

Steve is sitting alone at one of the bar stools, having an idle conversation with Angie, tonight's bartender, and he's got one of those Tombstone pizzas in front of him. This is about as crazy as life gets for the Star Spangled Avenger. But, from the looks of it, their conversation is serious.

Sam's at one of those points in his life where he needs to sit down, get a drink, and get his head back on straight. Mentally, he's been all over the map lately — well, geographically, too. Between scouting in Russia with Jericho, Christmas with mom, medical relief in Metropolis with Stark, and whatever just happened in Bed-Stuy with SHIELD, life has been throwing unexpected things at him faster than he can process them.

He walks in and glances around — old habit. He spots Steve and grins. If anyone on the planet can relate to his current situation, that would be the man. He makes his way across the bar, waving at a couple of familiar staffers, and slows as he approaches his friend.

"Hey there, Steve. Angie," he says, announcing his presence but keeping his distance in case he's interrupting. "How's it going?"

"Sam," Steve's eyes bright as he swivels a bit towards his friend and reaches out to give him a hand clasp. "Hey there," Angie says with a smile and a nod as she reaches for a coaster. "Got some pizza if you're hungry," Steve adds after. "We could get a pitcher."

Things have been pretty crazy for Steve too. Not the least of which is all of the terrorism going on. And, there's that bit about the Red Skull being brought back to life. All in a day's work in this town, of course.

"How you been? It's been too long."

"Absolutely!" Sam answers gratefully, returning the friendly handshake before taking a stool next to Steve. "A pitcher sounds great. You pick, I'll buy. Put some of Stark's cash to good use." He laughs, then leans forward, elbows on the bar. "Things have been good. Wild, but good. I'm sort of celebrating, in fact." He doesn't sound like he's certain of that last fact; he seems excited, but nervous, like someone who's just gotten the keys to their first car.

He doesn't dwell on it long, focusing on Steve with a grin. "But what about you? It has been a while. Haven't seen you since, what, Dubai?."

"If it's been that long, it's been too long. And Tony's money spends better than anyone else's I know," Steve says with a grin. "How about a watery domestic?"

Things have been better for Steve, but that's because they've been better for a lot of people. "Things have been difficult lately," he responds. "Working on putting everything back together. What's the cause for celebration?" That sounds like a much more fun topic, afterall.

"Oh, man, Tony would hate that," Sam agrees, his grin infectious. "Make it a watery light domestic," he adds, for Angie's benefit. "I'll still tip like it's the good stuff."

As she goes to the taps, Sam's manner shifts toward the somber. "Yeah, it's been rough. I was up in Metropolis, getting them medical equipment that could run on batteries and then helping out a little in the ER. I bet you've been neck deep in it yourself. As for the good news" — he pauses for a second, tapping one thumb against the bartop thoughtfully — "have you heard anything about the Junior Spaceman program they're getting started over at SHIELD? I may have just been pulled into it."

Angie smiles and nods and begins to pour Missouri's favorite light beer into a large pitcher for the pair. "I'll let you boys be," she says, sliding the pitcher in front of them and grabbing a pair of chilled glasses to boot.

"Yeah, I know a little bit of it. I think Hawkeye's heading it up. Wonder Woman's on the team. I'm thinking you and I will end up teammates on it, which is a good thing."

"Oh, that's great!" Sam says with enthusiasm, filling both pint glasses with practiced ease. "I wasn't sure — you know those guys and their compartmentalization." He shrugs, then passes Steve one glass and takes a sip from his own. "I think it was Barton's idea to bring me in, actually. Save a guy from one or two mounted guns and he starts to think you're a for-real superhero." He wears a wry, self-deprecating expression. "I haven't actually been upstairs yet, but I hear the view is amazing."

"I haven't either; you probably know more than me. I've just heard whispers, really." Steve takes the glass and begins to sip at it before going for a slice of the pizza. Sausage and mushroom, naturally. That's always how the Tombstones seem to roll in bars. "I think it's about time, really. I think the people need something or someone to hold on to. These threats are getting too big for individuals."

"That much is definitely true," Sam agrees. He forgoes the pizza for the moment, but lets his eyes drift over to an ESPN replays show on one of the big-screens. He's not actually paying attention — for one thing, he saw this particular game when it was on — but that's just what happens when your attention drifts in a sports bar. "Weird to think of them looking to me like that, though."

He snaps out of his reverie suddenly, either feeling embarrassed for getting philosophical, or for acting like he's the only one at this particular bar who has been in the situation he describes. "I'm probably not supposed to talk about it, but I know they're going to need a way to get up there, which means I could end up doing some piloting. If you want a tour, just say the word."

"You know, I'd really like that," Steve admits. "I really need to touch base with Hawkeye first to be sure it's alright. I suppose I'm doing a lot of assuming and with SHIELD on lockdown, I should probably not risk making the higher ups mad."

Steve looks up to the big screen and notices it's not baseball, so everything takes a back seat. Not too long before pitchers and catchers report. "Flying is one thing; heading to space is another. Have you had much chance to get among the stars?"

"None at all," Sam answers with a chuckle, giving Steve a look. For a mere mortal like himself, it is kind of an odd question. "The wings don't work, for one thing. I'm really excited about it, though. I mean, how could I not be? It's freaking space!"

He flashes a quick grin, takes another sip of his beer, and then continues, "I will say that not making people at SHIELD mad is kind of a lost cause. I don't know about the higher ups, but to hear a lot of them talk about it, you'd think this project meant they were going to come to work tomorrow to find the Trisk chained shut."

He sets his drink down on the bar with a loud tap and shakes his head. "Honestly, I'm starting to wonder whether they're really worried about being redundant, or whether they're just mad that this new thing isn't going to play by their sneaky-hush-hush rules."

"Well, I meant it more about you piloting something other than your wings, but point taken," Steve says to Sam, but his eyes are up on SportsCenter. They never leave it even as he takes another gulp of beer—which has no effect on him, of course. "The Justice League Avengers project is lucky to have you, Sam. Don't let anyone even hint anything different."

"As far as things being testy over at the Triskelion, I had the luxury of seeing Fury in the flesh. I can't remember him being that angry."

Swig of beer.

"And he's an angry guy."

To the last comment, Steve's eyebrows come together in confusion as he clearly didn't follow. "What do you mean?"

Idly, Sam slides his glass on the bartop, then shrugs and sighs. "I don't know. I'm probably being unfair. I understand operational security — I can keep quiet about what needs to stay quiet."
He shrugs, then cracks a smile and admits, "I guess it just seems like, with people like you and Wondy, what's to keep quiet about? Bright costumes, big punches, saving the day — no secrets necessary! That's part of why it always appealed to me. When I do stuff like that, for the military, for SHIELD — it's all secret, and it's got to be." He tenses his arms, trying to find a way to put what he's thinking into words. "I mean, it's just nice to see the heroes come out of the shadows for once."

He gives another shrug, relaxing his posture, then continues, "But to some people, it's all about, 'what if the superheroes aren't secretive enough?' 'What if they don't follow orders?' But then, also, 'what if they start acting like SHIELD and put us all out of a job?' And I'm sitting there thinking, of course they won't do any of that stuff. That's the whole point."

He doesn't even address the question of whether he belongs in the JL:A. That's something he'll just have to prove to himself by his actions. No amount of reassurance will get him there.

"I think what makes it difficult, Sam, is that in SHIELD you have decades and decades of institutional control. A certain way of doing things. Superheroes sort of threw that on its head, you know? They upped the ante, and it makes sense that SHIELD would go even further into its cocoon. To meet their aims they feel they need to be discrete." Steve shrugs, "I'm not saying I disagree with you. I can understand how they feel, though. And now that the building itself has been attacked, it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better."

Sam answers Steve with a quiet nod, then grins and reaches over to clap him on the shoulder. "You would have to be all fair about it," he ribs. He's always liked to tease Steve about his pure and virtuous public image. "You're right, though. It'll take time, but there are some great people in that organization. Maybe they'll just have to see this thing in action to understand how it will work." He takes another sip of his beer, then raises his eyebrows and admits, "Hell, I'm looking forward to seeing it in action myself. And if you don't arm-wrestle Wonder Woman at some point, I'm going to be seriously disappointed."

Steve throws back his beer, opening his mouth wide enough to take it in one gulp. "Sam, why in the hell would I want to arm wrestle Wonder Woman?" Steve looks to his friend with a raised eyebrow and a sobering look.

"She'd probably win."

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