sam_storyteller: (Gen Fic)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2012-06-11 05:25 pm
Entry tags:

Avengers: Film Studies

Title: Film Studies, or, Four Films About Captain America and One By Him
Rating: PG-13 for discussions of sex and pornography
Fandom: Avengers
Summary: Steve Rogers is no stranger to the silver screen.
Warnings: Steve is less than sex-positive at times. Well, he’s from the forties.
Notes: Inspired by a) a conversation I had with Jean about how people should give Cap tons of shit for the movies he made during the “rise to fame” segment of Captain America, and b) the idea that Cap did PSAs, which I got from [personal profile] laughingacademy in comments to another fic.
BETA CREDIT JESUS: [livejournal.com profile] bluejeans07, [personal profile] 51stcenturyfox, [livejournal.com profile] neifile7, and [personal profile] girlpearl fixed all the things that were wrong with this. Or, well, most of them. Some things you just can't fix.

Also available at AO3.


0. Teaser

"So I have to ask," Tony said, swiping at his beard with a napkin, catching hummus off the edge of his mouth, "did they show you the Captain America movie yet?"

They'd been quiet while they ate, weary from battle (and, for some, absorbed in an exciting new foodstuff) but Steve should have known Tony would be the one to start them talking again.

"I made a couple," Steve ventured. "I saw most of them."

"No, the one they made post-Capsicle," Tony said.

"1949 or 2008?" Bruce asked.

Steve had experienced a lot of Stop, tell me that again? moments after waking up, but this might be the strangest.

"They made them after I crashed?" he asked, perplexed.

"Sure. Biopics, mostly," Tony replied. "The 1949 one is a classic."

"2008 was kind of a hack job," Bruce added.

"So were most of mine," Steve admitted.

"Yeah, but the biopic was exquisitely timed," Tony replied. Natasha snorted.

"Why?" Steve asked.

"Stark made his debut in 2008," Natasha said.

"Oh -- I thought you'd been famous a lot longer," Steve said hesitantly.

"I was. 2008 was when I built the first Iron Man suit," Tony replied. "Superhero interest hit a peak once there was one actually flying around again."

"I don't think I'd be happy watching a movie about my own life," Steve said. "That seems kinda self-involved."

"Well, you could complain about what they got wrong," Tony answered. "My old man used to gripe about them not listening to him."

"Was he in it?"

"Technical advisor on the '49 film. I'm glad he didn't live to see the 2008 one."

"They'll probably make another," Bruce said. "Now that you're back and everything. Hey, you could be in it, right? Do your own stunts."

"I..."

"Jesus," Clint said, out of nowhere. He'd been quiet up until now; everyone turned to look at him. "Leave the guy alone, why would he want to relive that bullshit? Captain America doesn't have a happy ending, assholes, everyone dies."

He shoved away from the table and walked off. The others exchanged glances, confused.

"I'll go talk to him," Natasha said quietly, rising to follow him out.

"What was that about?" Steve asked, frowning. "He barely knows me."

"Coulson," Bruce murmured. "He was a big Captain America fan."

They sat in silence for a while, picking at the last of their food.

"Coulson should be in it," Tony announced finally.

"Tactful," Bruce replied.

"No, I mean it. If they do, whatever, Captain America New Millennium. Least we can do for the guy is immortalize him. Who would you cast? Who's the standard Everyman character actor these days?"

"I believe I understand this," Thor said suddenly. "You are speaking of storytelling, yes? Theatrics?"

"Something like that," Tony answered, and thankfully the subject drifted into an attempt to explain cinema to Thor.

***

The Avengers went their separate ways after the battle with Loki: Thor to Asgard with his brother, Tony and Bruce to Stark Tower (presumably to have some kind of science party), Clint and Natasha back to the Helicarrier, and Steve to his little apartment in Brooklyn. He was honestly unsure why he was there, but then he spent most of his time being unsure why he was anywhere. The battle had been the first time he felt like he fit in since waking up, and he sensed there was probably something wrong with that.

He spent his time studying, mostly. He had a lot of history to catch up on, and the world moved a lot faster now than it used to.

The first time they reassembled after separating -- in some sense, after going to ground to avoid the publicity and the World Security Council -- was what Tony termed The Meeting Of Outrage. Because, as it turned out, Phil Coulson was alive, and the Avengers had opinions on this topic.

Honestly, it felt kind of good to be angry about something, and to be in the company of four other people who were angry about the same thing. But when the shouting and the explanations and the apologies were over, he was left standing on the deck of the Helicarrier, with Tony and Bruce and Natasha and Clint, and Coulson in a wheelchair, wondering what was going to happen.

"So you're coming to the Tower," Tony was saying, and Clint was nodding while Coulson looked weary. "I have medical staff I can steal from Stark Memorial, 24/7 health monitoring courtesy of JARVIS, and like ninety apartments you can choose from. You two want to live-in?" he asked Clint and Natasha. They glanced at each other, shrugged, and nodded. "Party time, then. Hey, Spangles, I've been meaning to ask, are you in?" he added, turning to Steve.

"In what?" Steve asked.

"It's like he does this on purpose," Tony said to Natasha. "In. Moving in. Stark Tower, new home of the Avengers. State-of-the-art gym and a sentient computer that can answer any question you ask."

"But I have an apartment," Steve said, confused.

"Only if you broaden the definition of 'apartment' unreasonably," Tony said. "Come with us, have a look around."

It didn't really make any difference, Steve thought. He'd only chosen Brooklyn because he'd grown up there.

"Sure," he said. "Lead the way."


1. Biography

His first few days in Stark Tower were quiet. Tony and Bruce sequestered themselves in a lab, and Clint and Natasha set about applying some brand of secret spy healing to Coulson, so Steve decided not to interrupt for a while. He studied, worked out, watched television news and got to know JARVIS, who reminded him of all the science fiction adventure novels he'd read as a kid.

He waited a week before venturing downstairs, to the floor Clint and Natasha were sharing with Coulson. When he knocked, nobody answered.

"JARVIS, is everything okay?" he asked, looking up at the ceiling.

"Agent Romanoff is not on the floor," JARVIS answered. "Agent Barton is asleep. Agent Coulson has given me permission to unlock the door."

"Big of him," Steve said with a grin, listening for the pop of the door lock. He pushed it open and peered inside. The blinds were drawn and the room was dim, lit only by a giant television screen on one wall. There was a couch in front of it, and two slumped figures in a nest of blankets on the cushions.

"You'll excuse me if I don't get up," Coulson said from the couch. "JARVIS, lights."

The lights came up, and Steve could make out Clint, curled into a tight little ball against the arm of the couch, dead to the world.

"I thought he slept pretty lightly," he said, nodding at Clint.

"Only when he's not somewhere safe," Coulson replied. "Otherwise you couldn't wake him with a grenade. Please, have a seat."

"So this is the super secret spy medicine that Clint and Natasha were applying?" Steve asked, deliberately misinterpreting Coulson's wave at the chair nearby and dropping down on the other side of him from Clint. A box of M&Ms rattled in the blankets. "Movies and candy?"

"Seems to be working," Coulson replied. The screen was paused on a grainy color image of a Nazi.

"What are you watching?" Steve asked, curious.

There was a moment of silence.

"I'm going to excuse this with the fact that my mother used to play this for me when I was sick as a child," Coulson said. "It's a Captain America biopic."

"Oh! From 1949?" Steve asked. Coulson blinked at him. "They told me there was one. And one just a few years ago but nobody seems to like that one."

"That one got some things wrong, but it's not bad for an action film." Coulson turned back to the screen, settling in with a soft huff of pain. "If you'd like to stay, I can find something else."

"No, I..." Steve chewed his lip, thoughtful. "I thought it might be kind of egotistical, watching a movie about my own life, but I'm...curious, I guess. Want to see what they made of me."

"Well, spoiler, you die at the end," Coulson said carefully.

"I lived through it," Steve replied. "If I can't handle watching it on the television, we can change it."

Coulson nodded and pressed a button on the remote. The Nazi leapt to life, barking orders in an amusing German accent. Steve settled in, and accepted a handful of M&Ms when they were offered.

It really wasn't that hard to watch. Peggy was played by a pretty, poised young woman named Audrey Hepburn -- "This was her breakout role," Coulson told him -- but neither she nor the man playing Howard looked anything like the real people actually had. The guy playing Bucky wasn't a very good actor. Steve felt the unaccountable urge to laugh every time Captain America came on the screen; they'd cast a slim blond man in the part and he looked more like Steve pre-Serum than post.

He watched his on-screen counterpart rescue Bucky, flirt with Peggy far more deftly than he ever actually had, and fight a load of Nazis and HYDRA agents. There was a scene where he punched a man with a Hitler mustache, probably a nod to the old touring-show days, and an imaginary meeting between him and Patton that never really happened. Steve got so wrapped up in the action sequences that they were in the final climactic battle to take the last HYDRA base before he noticed Natasha had come in and joined them, quietly, sitting crosslegged on a nearby chair.

It ended with the Red Skull's plane soaring off into the sky, Captain America hidden aboard, and a black screen with text blocks.

LITTLE IS KNOWN
REGARDING WHAT
TOOK PLACE ABOARD
THE HYDRA PLANE
BOUND FOR THE
UNITED STATES.

ALL THAT IS KNOWN
IS THAT CAPTAIN
AMERICA GAINED
CONTROL OF THE
CRAFT AND BROUGHT
THE PLANE DOWN

SOMEWHERE OVER THE
NORTHERN ATLANTIC
OCEAN. WE SALUTE
CAPTAIN AMERICA AS
WE SALUTE ALL THE
BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN

WHO FOUGHT AND
DIED FOR THEIR
COUNTRY AND FOR
THE ENDURING IDEA
OF FREEDOM.

"Well," Steve said into the silence as the last words came up. "As epitaphs go that's a pretty good one."

Coulson didn't reply, on the pretext of fussing with Clint's blanket.

"What did happen?" Natasha asked bluntly. Steve shrugged.

"Short version is, I got into the cockpit. We fought -- Schmidt and me -- and the Tesseract was knocked out of its housing. He grabbed for it and just...disintegrated. The cube fell through the floor. I got to the controls, but they'd been damaged. I radioed in, but I had to get the plane down before it reached New York." He ducked his head. "Got to say goodbye to my girl. Got to die a hero. Pretty much everything a soldier could ask for back then. I don't remember the crash."

He swiped once at his eyes, then leaned back. "And then I woke up, which is more than most of the other men got to do."

"Better than not waking up," Coulson said quietly.

"Most days, I agree," Steve said. He looked up at the screen. "Hey, I heard they made a movie out of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea."

"I have the seminal Disney version of 1954 in the film archive," JARVIS said.

"Well, load it up," Clint mumbled sleepily. Steve sat back as the opening credits rolled over cheesy, dramatic horn music.


2. Nobody Is Innocent

As Steve understood things, Bruce and Tony had science in common (though they always said SCIENCE! with all caps and exclamation points, Steve could tell) and not much else.

SCIENCE! was apparently enough, though, because a house on fire was nothing to the way Bruce and Tony got along. In the first month Steve lived at the Tower, they co-published a paper in a prestigious science journal, blew up breakfast (fun morning), and attempted to invent a time machine while arguing loudly about something called the Paradox Theory.

About two weeks in, Steve stopped worrying that Tony would set off the Hulk and started worrying that Bruce would goad Tony into blowing up something larger than breakfast. When he mentioned this to Natasha, she replied, "The true monster is revealed!" and Steve had to stop Tony from pinging her with a makeshift slingshot, because that was not going to end well for Tony.

Bruce's tastes in food and music were very different from Tony's, and apparently his taste in movies was as well.

"Hey, I keep meaning to ask you," he said to Steve, over the weekly communal Avengers dinner (Coulson insisted it was good for morale; Steve agreed as long as Tony wasn't cooking). "Do you remember making The Second Front?"

"Sure," Steve said, because he remembered it vividly; the last film he had made before going overseas, and different from the others. They'd brought in a big-time director, at least compared to the ones he'd had before. Grinning little Joe Mankiewicz, who'd worked in the newspapers before the war. "Any particular reason?"

"Nah, I just liked it," Bruce said, a little shyly.

"Kinda surprised anyone's heard of it. Those old reels were pretty rough," Steve said.

"That's the one everyone remembers. It's classic noir."

Steve remembered the filming, but he'd been performing in Europe by the time it came out. The script had always seemed more...contemplative than the others, fewer action scenes and a lot more lines that weren't some variant on "Forward, men, for the good old US of A!"

"Is it really any good?" he asked. "I never got to see it."

The others exchanged glances.

"Movie night!" Clint yelped, and bolted out of his chair.

"Are we seriously doing dinner and a movie?" Tony asked. "I feel like I'm dating all of you."

"You wish," Bruce said, grinning, and everyone began piling up their plates and silverware, while Steve was still processing the idea that anyone who wasn't born before the Depression would want to watch one of his movies.

They ended up in Tony's media room, with the biggest screen in the building and a bunch of really soft, really deep couches to sit on. Clint fetched Coulson and made enough popcorn to feed half the city, while Bruce tinkered with the computer to make the movie go (Steve was still mastering browsing the library without JARVIS helping) and Tony sat in the back, ostentatiously working on his StarkPad.

"Don't you like movies?" Steve asked.

"Noir is boring. I have no time for lingering shots and fog filters," Tony replied without looking up. "No offense, I'd be bored even if it wasn't you."

"Ignore him, he's a philistine," Pepper Potts said, walking in. "I got three texts from three separate Avengers, I was worried the world was ending. What are we watching?"

"The Second Front," Bruce announced.

"I love that movie! Oh Captain America, he's so dreamy," Pepper said, teasing Steve. Steve blushed and looked at his hands. She flopped down on the couch in front of the one Steve was sitting on. "Phil, come sit next to me, my boyfriend's a buzzkill."

"I am the buzz maker," Tony called, "and take it from me, there is no buzz here. This is a buzz-free zone."

"I know exactly which nerve to hit to render you incapable of speech for three hours," Natasha said.

"Thanks for trying to liven things up," Tony replied, and went back to his work.

Steve ended up in a corner of the couch next to Bruce, with Natasha on the other side; Pepper and Coulson were in front of them, and Clint distributed bowls of popcorn before settling in next to Coulson -- and uncomfortably close, in Steve's opinion. Wasn't Coulson bothered by the invasion of his space?

"And we are...on," Bruce said, pointing at the screen. Steve only blanched a little when his own face appeared, gigantic, staring right at him. He felt he could be forgiven for being startled.

He remembered this, though, Joe asking him to just look into the camera for a while; he thought it was some kind of light test. He watched himself blink, and the title come up over his face; after a moment it cut away to more normal opening credits.

He knew the story, he'd read the script; it had seemed at the time like a pretty straightforward idea. Captain America was in New York, pretending to be a mild-mannered, bespectacled 4-F by day, ferreting out spies at night -- the implication being that every citizen at home had the duty to report any suspicious activity they saw.

"I always liked the glasses," Pepper whispered. Steve probably wouldn't have heard it without enhanced hearing, but he heard a lot he probably shouldn't, that way.

"You aren't the only one," Coulson whispered back, which was confusing.

The hero, of course, fell for a beautiful, dark-haired dame who might or might not be a Nazi spy (she was) and Steve found himself somewhat awed at the way Joe had tied all the little scenes together. It was like watching a dance, the way he and...Darlene, the actress's name had been Darlene...circled each other.

"Do you ever kiss her?" Natasha asked, after what Steve thought was a pretty hot scene but admittedly one that didn't include any kissing.

"They said there was more tension this way," Steve said, unwilling to admit that his nerves over kissing a woman, even fake movie kissing, had made for some really awkward, unusable footage.

"She was practically taking her top off and I think you blushed," Clint said. "Oh my god wait," he added, as Captain America descended into a nightclub and encountered a businessman on his way out. "Is that Howard Stark?"

Tony burst out laughing. "Dad had a cameo! He never told me that."

"He's covered in girls," Pepper put in.

"The life of a Stark is a good life," Tony told them.

"Can I be adopted?" Clint asked.

"Can you do quad-dimensional theoretical nonlinear roots in your head?"

"No, I mostly shoot stuff."

"Sorry, Family Stark has an entrance exam," Tony said.

"I can," Bruce offered.

"Well, welcome to the family, Bruce Stark."

Coulson shushed them. "Shut up, this is a good part."

They lapsed into silence, but when Captain America pulled off his cowl and revealed to the woman that he was the shy spectacle-wearing teacher she'd been seducing, Steve glanced over at Tony. He'd put his StarkPad aside and was watching intently. Bruce caught him looking and rolled his eyes in fellow-feeling.

Then came the big climax of the movie, where the dame admitted that yes, she was a spy, but she really did love him and she'd come back to him after the war, and Captain America had to decide whether to turn her in or let her go. And (this was the kicker) he ended up letting her go.

The camera lingered on Steve, sitting with his shoulders slumped, eyes staring at nothing, and Tony blurted out "Captain America would never do that!" right before there was a gunshot from off-screen.

Steve, both in the film and in the couch watching it, didn't flinch.

Roll credits.

"What the hell did I just see?" Tony asked, as the lights came up. "Did I just see you send a woman to her death while she thought you were letting her go?"

"It's not me," Steve said.

"I thought you didn't like noir," Bruce said, turning to lean over the back of the couch and stare at Tony.

"I don't! That was terrible! That was manipulative," Tony said, still glaring at Steve.

"I didn't write it either! I just said the stuff they told me to say!"

"Guilt by association," Tony said. "You let that woman walk into an execution thinking she was going free."

"She was a Nazi," Steve said mildly. "Gestapo, invasion of Europe, occupation of Paris, Holocaust -- ringing any bells for you?"

"Let's have the political debate somewhere else," Pepper said, nodding at the other occupants of the couch. Steve noticed belatedly that Coulson was asleep, head resting on Clint's shoulder, Clint's arm around him.

"I'll take him down," Clint said, jostling Coulson lightly. "Come on, old man, you missed the best parts. Stab wound says it's bedtime."

They left Clint holding a half-coherent conversation with what sounded like a very grumpy Coulson, Tony still livid at being tricked into emotional investment, Pepper taunting him affectionately. Natasha looked contemplative.

"What did you think?" Steve asked, as they made their way to the elevators.

"Hit a little close to home," she said. "Making that call, I mean. The kill shot."

Steve cocked his head.

"Clint was sent to kill me once, you know," she continued.

"What?" Steve asked.

"Coulson sent him to kill me. To be fair, I was an enemy of the state at the time," she continued, pushing the elevator button, her voice clear and even, unemotional. "Clint thought I was worth redemption. Coulson was willing to take a chance on his judgement." She shrugged. "Difference is, I didn't beg to keep being evil, I suppose."

"I'm glad you're here," Steve said, not knowing what else to say. Natasha flashed him a smile.

"Me too," she replied.


3. A Message From Captain America

Steve was aware, in a peripheral sort of way, that the Avengers were now famous. It took exactly four hours and forty-two minutes after the battle over Manhattan ended for Avengers-mania to sweep New York.

Exactly. Tony and Bruce did the math.

He was also aware, because Pepper had mentioned it as a mild concern, that an archivist at the Smithsonian (the official repository of the Captain America collection, and wasn't that strange) had dug up and digitized Steve's old Public Service reels. Most of them weren't anywhere near as complicated as the films he'd done; a lot were just standard speeches about buying bonds, but he'd done some specifically for the military too.

Apparently, one of them had gone viral. Steve made JARVIS explain "gone viral" three times to him, horror mounting, before he realized which one it was. Then he began to laugh.

"What's so funny?" Tony asked, as Steve dissolved into quiet snorts of laughter in the media room. "You find a typo in the Bill of Rights or something?"

"I'm viral!" Steve said, pointing to the paused film up on the screen. On one side of the frame he was grinning and saluting; on the other side was the title:

VD AND YOU - A MESSAGE FROM CAPTAIN AMERICA.

"Oh man, Bruce was sure you wouldn't find out about that," Tony sighed, leaning in the doorway and crossing his arms. "We both figured you wouldn't vanity-Google yourself if you were even capable of vanity or Googling."

"JARVIS has Captain America media alerts," Steve informed him, putting on a serious face. "But if one of them had to be really popular, this one should be it. It's funny. And educational!"

He hit play, and the title changed to:

BATTLING...THE 'S'.

Steve watched, delightedly nostalgic, as Captain America fought the good fight against Syphilis, a small man in a funny rubber monster suit. (He didn't have Syphilis himself, of course; he was fighting on behalf of soldiers everywhere.) Eventually a doctor had to come in and give a speech about how to stay healthy and protect yourself against VD, and Steve mouthed along with the line as Captain America turned to the camera and announced, "It's your duty to stay healthy -- for America."

"In other words, don't fuck or Cap will be sad," Tony said.

"That's not it at all! It's just that if you do, you should use a condom," Steve insisted.

"Whoa, okay, middle of that conversation," Clint said, stopping in the hallway. "Was Captain America just giving you safe-sex tips, Tony?"

"Preaching to the converted," Tony said drily. "Don't fuck, Clint, or you'll disappoint America."

"I've been disappointing America for years, I'm not stopping now," Clint replied, continuing on his way.


4. The 'Revengers'

Steve might not be a spy on the same level as Clint and Natasha, and he wasn't a genius like Tony and Bruce, but he'd done his fair share of intelligence gathering in the war. He knew when something was up.

The others kept exchanging looks when they thought he wouldn't notice. They were talking about things in low voices, cryptic phrases like "The part with the green -- " "Yeah, I know!" and "Scandalous." "Good for publicity." "Tony, your idea of good..." and they'd stop talking if he came in the room. Tony and Pepper wouldn't make eye contact with him, and Bruce wouldn't make eye contact with anyone, and Natasha and Pepper kept laughing together whenever Steve and Clint were in the same room.

"Did I do something wrong?" Steve finally asked Coulson, because Coulson at least was acting normal. It was hard to imagine Coulson not acting normal. He was the very definition of normal (unless someone brought up the Captain America cards) and Steve had found it was easiest to ask him something if he had a question he suspected Tony and the others would find funny.

Coulson, who was carefully doing PT stretches with a resistance machine in the gym, sighed and let go of the pull-bar slowly.

"I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this," he said, standing and walking slowly to the gym bag in the corner. He dug out a small plastic doohickey, the kind Tony was always tossing around with Bruce -- some sort of information storage device -- and offered it to him. "Frankly, I think it's only fair."

"What is it?" Steve asked, accepting the little device.

"I confiscated it from Clint. The others think you shouldn't be exposed to it," Coulson said. "It's a film."

"Another one of mine?"

"Not precisely." Coulson rubbed at his face with a towel. "You should watch it somewhere private. Just plug it into the port on your computer, it'll auto-play."

Steve studied the doohickey. "This'll explain things?"

Coulson sighed again. "Hopefully," he said.

Steve nodded. "Thanks. Should I give it back to Clint when I'm done?"

"I think you'll need to make that call after you've seen it," Coulson said cryptically.

Steve waited, per orders, until dinner was over and he could settle in alone in his apartment to watch it. It took a few tries to get it plugged in, but once he did the screen blacked out and the movie began to play.

It was clearly a film about them, the Avengers, even if there were differences. Nobody had quite the same name, and the costumes were --

Well, Steve wasn't sure why anyone would voluntarily watch this, honestly. The costumes were all wrong and the acting was terrible and the dialogue nonsensical. Maybe they just thought it was funny?

But then why would they hide it from him? Did they think he'd disapprove or be upset? It was sort of annoying, that someone would make a film about them that was so --

He was in the middle of that thought when suddenly 'The Archer' up and kissed 'Brown Recluse', which was a little startling, and then the music kicked in and 'Brown Recluse' unzipped her costume (Natasha definitely did not have a zipper there) and --

Steve would deny the noise he made was a squeak. It was a manly exclamation of surprise. He couldn't really deny he dropped the computer briefly, but it just bounced on the coffee table and sat there, emitting tinny music and breathy moans. After a second he snatched it back up and tried not to look at it as he pulled the doohickey out of the computer. The screen glitched and then went black again.

He looked down at the device, shocked. They'd been passing around a blue movie, a pornographic film about Clint and Natasha. Keeping it from him must have been Tony's idea; he was always teasing him about being the Pure American Ideal and that kind of guff.

Well, that was Tony's opinion. Steve was just like anyone else, and he wasn't going to let Tony Stark tell him what he could or couldn't watch. He put the device back into the laptop's port, frowning with determination.

But he did turn the volume down low.

The movie certainly didn't hold anything back. Everyone's parts were all out there to see, though they kept their costumes nominally on, which sort of made sense, he supposed. You didn't watch a movie about costumed superheroes doing that kind of thing unless you, well, liked the costumes.

He watched with a mixture of concern and interest as The Archer and Brown Recluse did...a whole lot, changing positions every few minutes. The woman playing Natasha didn't look as if she was enjoying herself at times, but he didn't really think anyone would enjoy being bent quite like that. It all seemed sort of messy and noisy.

Still, there was also something compelling about it, and Steve shifted uncomfortably as The Archer...

On her face? Was that something people did? She seemed to like it...

The scene changed abruptly then, and Steve covered his eyes with one hand as 'Steel Man' came onscreen, in a cheap, obviously plastic version of Tony's armor that didn't even seem to be trying for accuracy.

It became a lot clearer when two women in knockoff SHIELD uniforms showed up and declared themselves his handlers, and then took off the pelvic plate on his armor. Steve was positive Tony's armor didn't do that, but if Tony had watched this he'd probably made a note to incorporate it in the next rebuild. Steve had to admit it was convenient, at least for what the SHIELD agents clearly had in mind.

This was undoubtedly wrong. Dirty, yes, but also taking advantage of his friends somehow, picturing them in this position. What were people thinking?

The actor playing Tony was a pretty good likeness, and he'd mastered Tony's sardonic grin. Steve shifted again on the couch, adjusting his pants. That was probably what people were thinking.

Steve swallowed and kept watching.

***

The next evening was Communal Dinner, and Steve was still feeling a mixture of guilt and shame. Decent people didn't watch films like that, at least not in his day (or maybe they did and nobody talked about it; it was so hard to know anymore). Not only had he watched it, all these people he trusted had too, and he wasn't sure what to do with that. Decent people didn't watch films like that about their friends, either.

And they definitely didn't get themselves off to films like that about their friends. Particularly during the scene where Captain Patriot and The Archer 'worked out' in the superhero locker room.

"Steve, you've been quiet," Pepper said, as Steve picked at his dinner. "Something on your mind?"

"No," he said, and immediately regretted the lie.

"Are you sure?" Bruce asked.

Well, they did ask, and he was tired of everyone going around like he was some kind of automaton with no sex drive, and anyway it would be good to clear the air.

"They made a sex movie about us!" Steve blurted. "And I know you all saw it and I did too and I don't know what to do about it."

Everyone froze for a second.

"I cannot believe you did that," Clint said, turning to Coulson. "I cannot believe you gave porn to Captain America."

"He asked," Coulson said, shrugging.

"You asked Coulson for porn?" Tony said, outraged. "When you live in the same building as me?"

"No! I just asked why everyone was acting weird and he gave me the -- the movie!" Steve said.

"Seemed fair. Besides, I thought he might learn something," Coulson continued.

"The part with the...Lady Hulk and Thorina was new," Steve admitted. "But I can't say I find green paint anything but off-putting."

"I can't have this conversation with a national icon," Clint said.

"I'm a person, you know!" Steve retorted.

"A person chosen to represent all people who yearn for freedom," Tony drawled. "I can totally have this conversation, fortunately. What did you think of the orgy at the end?"

"I missed it," Steve admitted. "I turned it off after the locker room part. But I -- "

"You watched yourself have sex!" Tony pointed at him. "The only reason to turn off porn is because you've already -- "

"I don't really think people should make sex films about us," Steve continued loudly, cutting Tony off. "Don't you think it was strange to watch?"

A series of glances were exchanged.

"No," Bruce said finally. "I thought it was hot. Except yeah, the green paint, not so much."

"I'm with horny," Tony jerked his thumb at Bruce, who flushed.

"I liked their Captain Patriot," Natasha said. "And clearly Clint did."

"What?" Clint asked. "Wait, what? That's not actually me."

"Which brings up an interesting question, though," Tony said. "Do you own a Captain America costume, Coulson?"

Coulson gave him a mild look. "I didn't, but I'm considering it."

Steve looked in confusion at Pepper, usually a reliable guide when he got lost in the conversation. She had her face in her hands, head shaking slightly.

"I never know whether it's going to be like a day care or a frat house around here," she said, letting her hands fall. She squinted at Steve, then leaned over and asked, quietly, "Do we need to have a talk about sexuality and pornography, Steve?"

Steve frowned. "Probably," he said sadly.

"Come on," she said, getting up and carrying her plates into the kitchen. Steve followed dutifully, glad the others were distracted with teasing Clint. He leaned against the counter, watching her.

"I'm guessing you're a little off-center over this?" she asked. He nodded. "Well, the fast rundown is that pornography is a big industry nowadays, and it's available in a lot of places. It takes its cues from pop culture sometimes, which is what happened here. Nobody is pretending that Captain Patriot or Brown Recluse or any of the others are actually you, nobody believes that. So yeah, maybe it's a little..." she wavered a hand in the air, "but as a culture we're trying -- at least some of us -- to move past the idea that sex is something we should feel shameful and guilty about."

He could feel her studying him. He'd been nodding along like a schoolboy getting a lesson, and he knew it, but he wasn't sure what else to do. He needed time to sort it all out.

"Do you have any...questions I could answer, maybe?" Pepper asked finally.

"Um, just..." he glanced at the dining room, but everyone was still talking in there. "What did Tony mean, razzing Coulson about a costume? I didn't understand."

"Oh, because of the scene with Captain Patriot and The Archer," she said.

He looked at her blankly.

"You know..." she gestured vaguely.

"Not really," he admitted. "I saw that part, of course, but..."

Pepper blinked. "You know they're together, right?"

"Who?"

"Coulson and Clint."

"Together?" Steve asked.

"Like in the movie, Steve," she said, as if he were being a little slow.

It occurred to him maybe he was. "Like...sweethearts? Clint and Coulson?"

Pepper patted his arm. "We thought you knew."

"But -- " Steve paused, because on the one hand they were always bickering about something, but on the other, it explained some things. He'd thought Clint was...was bothering Coulson, always invading his space and nosing around in his business, and Coulson just tolerated it because he was Coulson. But if they were...courting, then --

"Ohhhhh," he said. "Wow. No. Didn't know that."

"Are you okay with it?" Pepper asked. "I know things were different, back home," she added with a smile.

"I...guess?" he said. "It's a lot to think about."

"Tell you what," Pepper said, smile expanding into a grin, "I'll have Tony send you some research material. Now, let's go back in and not think about why Coulson would want a Captain America costume, okay?"

A week later, Steve came home to find another of the little devices sitting on his coffee table. There was a post-it note stuck to it that read "RESEARCH MATERIALS" in Tony's handwriting and a box of tissues next to it with a bottle of lotion on top and a post-it note that read "ADDITIONAL RESOURCES".

Steve sighed.

Then he plugged the device into the computer and settled in on his couch.


5. Home Cinema

The film footage was uploaded to a torrent website on a Wednesday, and by Friday it had gone ultra-viral.

It was about an hour long, shot on a handheld flip camera but obviously edited with some skill. The opening moments of the film showed a handsome blond man -- Captain America, in a t-shirt and with bed-head -- sitting at a table, eating oatmeal. Tony Stark's voice indicated he was behind the camera.

"Okay, no, so this is actually going to blow your mind," Stark said. Captain America rolled his eyes. "This."

"That little box? Is that a cigarette case?"

"Did being a Capsicle destroy your brain? This is a movie camera."

"It isn't," Cap answered, clearly disbelieving.

"Would I lie to you? Go ahead, I'm filming. Say something patriotic."

Cap took a sip of juice, sitting up straight in his chair.

"We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility -- "

"Holy shit, he actually did it," Stark whispered.

" -- provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America."

"The hell was that?"

"The preamble to the Constitution," Cap said, and flashed a dazzling smile. "I memorized it in school."

The camera shook as Tony Stark's face appeared, his arm outstretched as he held the camera on himself. "Captain America. For fucking real."

The rest of the film was mostly the same kind of thing -- people horsing around, making home movies, being ordinary. A bristle-haired man with amazing arms did juggling tricks; Tony Stark gave a tour of his latest lamborghini, while someone behind the camera asked sly, sarcastic questions. Stark and Captain America boxed each other, with predictable results. There was a redheaded woman who spoke Russian with the guy with the arms, and who also threw knives now and again. She and another redhead (Pepper Potts, easily identifiable) talked geopolitics with Stark while doing their nails. Stark got Iron Man Gold on his.

It didn't take most people long to figure out who any of them were, especially when Captain America took possession of the camera and clearly bonded with it. He seemed to take it everywhere, even filming the crowds who came out to meet them after they took down terrorists who built a giant robot and invaded Long Island with it (why Long Island? Nobody knew).

The messageboards agreed that it was a shame Captain America usually played cameraman, because when he wasn't, he often didn't wear shirts.

The man with the arms was Hawkeye, and the redhead was Black Widow; Tony Stark was self-evident, as was Captain America. Nobody knew who the sarcastic guy was, other than that his name was Bruce. There were Theories -- most of them suggested he was some kind of handler -- but whoever he was, he had his own following online too.

There was a cookout; there was a debate between Bruce and Stark regarding whether James Kirk or Han Solo would win in a car race ("Why a car race?" Captain America asked from behind the camera, and Bruce replied, "Why not?") and what kinds of cars they would drive, which led to Stark calling up a holographic image of a muscle car and custom-souping it on the spot. There was an extended, hilarious scene where Black Widow tried to explain the Terminator films to Captain America. One scene near the end showed the Avengers dressing for a party, Pepper Potts tying Captain America's tie for him, Hawkeye in the background doing flips to test his range of movement in his monkey suit.

The final scene had Stark behind the camera again. It showed Captain America standing in a kitchen, cracking eggs into a bowl and singing, clearly oblivious to the camera at first.

Bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand
And the more I think on you, the more I think long
If I had you now as I had once before
All the lords in old England would not purchase Portmore


His voice was clear and pure, and the song was mournfully slow.

All the birds in the forest, they bitterly weep
Saying, "Where will we shelter?" and "Where will we sleep?"
For the oak and the ash they are all cutten down
And the walls of bonny Portmore are down to the ground


He noticed Stark on the final note and stopped singing abruptly. "Tony!"

"No, keep going," Stark said from behind the camera.

"That's the end of the song," Captain America announced. "It's just something my mother used to sing," he added, leaning on the counter.

"So sing something else. What's in the forties jukebox in your brain?"

Captain America hopped up onto the counter, sitting there with his legs dangling down like a boy. He grinned, then opened his mouth to sing again.

Outside the barracks, by the lantern light
I always stand and wait for you at night
We will create a world for two
I'll wait for you
The whole night through
For you, Lili Marlene


Stark, recognizing the song, laughed; Captain America smiled around the words.

Bugler, tonight don't play the call to arms;
I want another evening with her charms
Then we will say goodbye and part
I'll always keep you
In my heart
With me, Lili Marlene


Applause could be heard as Hawkeye and Bruce walked in, hooting their approval. Captain America blushed from the attention.

"I saw Marlene Dietrich perform that when I was in the war," he said. Hawkeye poked at the bowl he was mixing eggs in, curious. "Always thought it was strange."

"What's that?" Bruce asked.

"Well, it was a German song, but the boys loved it. Not in German, of course. But men on both sides of the war knew exactly what it was talking about." Captain America shrugged. "Some things are universal. Tony, come on," he added, reaching for the camera, and the screen went black.

***

Tony sat back, looking satisfied as he studied the download stats on the video. "Well, SHIELD said we should show our human side. Consider it shown."

"I already have requests for juggling demos on YouTube," Clint said. "I'm trying to decide whether knives or fire would get me in more trouble."

"Kittens," Natasha suggested.

"Fire," Coulson said, not looking up from the paperwork he was processing.

"Fire it is," Clint replied. "I'm gonna need five sticks, a yard of muslin, and some dangerous chemicals."

"Also a good lawyer, and a new boyfriend," Coulson put in.

"Spoil my fun."

"I think we've proved at least one thing here," Tony announced. "Aside from the power of DIY publicity."

"What's that?" Steve asked.

"If this whole hero business doesn't work out for you, there's always Hollywood," Tony informed him.

END

Endnotes: Bonny Portmore is a haunting, beautiful song, and the album it's off, Rogues Gallery, is well woth the money. Lili Marlene is a fascinating transcultural chart-topper, and you can see Marlene Dietrich singing it here.

Some aspects of the porn film are taken from Avengers XXX: A Porn Parody. Oh yes, I watched it, and it’s quite a kick in the pants (Iron Man is the only one who gets no sex, ironically). The Clint/Natasha is sweet; I could have done without all the green body paint in the She-Hulk/Thor bit myself.
kaitou: (Default)

[personal profile] kaitou 2012-06-11 11:10 pm (UTC)(link)
There's nothing like going to go re-read a fav fic and finding...there's new fic!! I loved every bit of it. Smiled the whole way through, start to finish.
giglet: (Default)

[personal profile] giglet 2012-06-11 11:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Awesome!

But when is Captain America going to do the PSA for safer sex? And who is going to tell him about AIDS and its political history?
nuri: Alphonse Mucha print (Default)

[personal profile] nuri 2012-06-11 11:18 pm (UTC)(link)
I am vaguely concerned about your Steve Rogers meets sexuality obsession. But not enough to really worry, because it is awesome.

[personal profile] lalejandra 2012-06-11 11:23 pm (UTC)(link)
This is super charming and adorable!
polarisnorth: a silhouetted figure sitting on the moon, watching the earthrise (Default)

[personal profile] polarisnorth 2012-06-11 11:39 pm (UTC)(link)
I can't actually quote everything I love about this? But I love it A LOT. The home video at the end is my favorite, but I love them sitting around watching the noir one and everyone's reactions to it, and Clint and Coulson snuggling (n'awwwwwww, please feel free to write more of them, I love them so much). And including a Captain America PSA is the GREATEST THING. I remember seeing commentary about people wanting that, I am pleased that you have written it!

There should totes be a coda where they watch some of the unauthorized Tony or Howard biopics.
amberfox: picture from the Order of Hermes tradition book for Mage: The Awakening, subgroup House Shaea (Default)

[personal profile] amberfox 2012-06-12 12:06 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, please!

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imperfect_tense: (Default)

[personal profile] imperfect_tense 2012-06-11 11:39 pm (UTC)(link)
I cannot lie, I squee'd happily as I read this. Wonderful job!
just_ann_now: (Miscellaneous: Dancing Boys)

[personal profile] just_ann_now 2012-06-11 11:46 pm (UTC)(link)
*falls over laughing*
Omigosh, this is absolutely adorable. I was going to quote favorite bits, but there are so many!

"Can I be adopted?" Clint asked.

"Can you do quad-dimensional theoretical nonlinear roots in your head?"

"No, I mostly shoot stuff."

"Sorry, Family Stark has an entrance exam," Tony said.


and also:

"Whoa, okay, middle of that conversation," Clint said, stopping in the hallway. "Was Captain America just giving you safe-sex tips, Tony?"

"Preaching to the converted," Tony said drily. "Don't fuck, Clint, or you'll disappoint America."

"I've been disappointing America for years, I'm not stopping now," Clint replied, continuing on his way.


and by all means let's not forget:

"I already have requests for juggling demos on YouTube," Clint said. "I'm trying to decide whether knives or fire would get me in more trouble."

"Kittens," Natasha suggested.

"Fire," Coulson said, not looking up from the paperwork he was processing.

"Fire it is," Clint replied. "I'm gonna need five sticks, a yard of muslin, and some dangerous chemicals."

"Also a good lawyer, and a new boyfriend," Coulson put in.


You have made my evening!

piplover: (Default)

[personal profile] piplover 2012-06-11 11:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Sam, only you could post an awesome and amazing fic that includes porn, without actually including any porn. Very nicely done, sir!

[personal profile] meri 2012-06-12 12:18 am (UTC)(link)
I've wanted something like this since the Captain America movie came out. It's made me so happy.

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[personal profile] silentstep 2012-06-12 12:21 am (UTC)(link)
So this made my day in a really wonderful way, and-- man, I was so glad to see this and it made me so happy. I love your Steve, he's intelligent and interesting and he just feels so real.

eeeeeeee.

[identity profile] phamalama.livejournal.com 2012-06-12 12:21 am (UTC)(link)
The last part was of course, my favorite! I think the friends!Avengers is a wonderful sort of companionship~ I hope you'll eventually try to add in different Avengers too in later fics!
jessikast: (Default)

[personal profile] jessikast 2012-06-12 12:44 am (UTC)(link)
What a lovely fic - I think the framing device of the movies is awesome, and I really enjoyed the Steve-discovers-his-own-pop-culture-legacy.

(Anonymous) 2012-06-12 12:49 am (UTC)(link)
Hi, I'm twistedsheets10, and if you hear any strange noises just a while back, that was me, rolling on the floor, laughing like a hyena.

Oh my God, everything is perfect and STEVE! Steve, you precious, glorious human, you are adorable!

I love their banter! The banter is great! ♥

(also, I made a little squee Pepper is here. People always seem to leave her out at times. :|)
twistedsheets10: (Default)

[personal profile] twistedsheets10 2012-06-12 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
*sigh*

I was so excited I forgot to sign in.
green_grrl: (Default)

[personal profile] green_grrl 2012-06-12 01:11 am (UTC)(link)
Okay, here is where I completely lost it:

"You asked Coulson for porn?" Tony said, outraged. "When you live in the same building as me?"

SO TONY!!! Every bit is delightful. *smishes them all*
subluxate: Sophia Bush leaning against a piano (Default)

[personal profile] subluxate 2012-06-12 10:28 am (UTC)(link)
That was my very favorite line.

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samjohnsson: It's just another mask (Default)

[personal profile] samjohnsson 2012-06-12 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
I am, as always, impressed with how you tied all these scenes together into a coherent whole!

(Anonymous) 2012-06-12 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
Hah, Clint as "the guy with the arms" KILLED ME. This was amazing!
aughoti: (Default)

[personal profile] aughoti 2012-06-12 01:47 am (UTC)(link)
That was adorable and yet... kind of made me think, too. Pop culture from both sides of the lens, and across sixty years... You captured the team dynamics wonderfully (especially Tony's voice -- an entrance exam for Family Stark!) and it just worked as a whole.

Thank you!
orca_girl: (Thor-smile)

[personal profile] orca_girl 2012-06-12 01:50 am (UTC)(link)
There are many, many wonderful things in here, too many to mention, so I will only say that when I got to "Brown Recluse", I laughed out loud. (Before that it was mostly muttering "oh Steve, oh, honey" at the screen, because omg so adorable.)
cookiemom6067: (Default)

[personal profile] cookiemom6067 2012-06-12 01:51 am (UTC)(link)
love this!!!!!! You write a terrific Steve, particularly, but really, the whole cast of characters is very well rendered.
Edited 2012-06-12 01:53 (UTC)
elaiel: monty the cat (Default)

[personal profile] elaiel 2012-06-12 01:54 am (UTC)(link)
I adored this. :D
goss: (Default)

[personal profile] goss 2012-06-12 02:09 am (UTC)(link)
This was great! :D
saturn92103: (Default)

[personal profile] saturn92103 2012-06-12 02:27 am (UTC)(link)
Just wonderful!

-Saturn
contrarywise: The Headington Shark at dusk (Shark)

[personal profile] contrarywise 2012-06-12 02:29 am (UTC)(link)
There's actually a pretty good reason for someone evil to build a giant robot to terrorize Long Island: Brookhaven National Laboratory. I remember early in the last decade there was a big kerfuffle about the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider possibly generating an Earth-destroying black hole, and one local newspaper ran a picture of a map of Long Island with a big black target hovering over BNL in response.
marbleglove: (Default)

[personal profile] marbleglove 2012-06-12 02:54 am (UTC)(link)
Hah! This is awesome. And now I really want to watch each of these movies.
neveralarch: (Default)

[personal profile] neveralarch 2012-06-12 02:55 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, this is awesome. I always like your Steve - he has such a great sense of humor about what's happening around him.

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