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28 May 2014 @ 08:42 pm
FIC: Be Here  
Title: Be Here
Author: joonscribble
Fandom: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Rating: R for swearing
Spoilers: The ending of the film
Disclaimer: I don't own a single person who appears or is even mentioned in this apart from Dr. Ortiz.
Summary: Sam Wilson tries to help where he can.
Author's Note:
I was writing a different oneshot that was my contribution to the growing number of "Find and Help Bucky Barnes" fics. But I found myself getting distracted a lot by my own backstory I had going for Sam as he tried to help Steve help Bucky so this oneshot ended up happening as a kind of set up for the actual rehabilitation fic which hopefully I'll be able to finish sometime soon.

This is my first Captain America fic and indeed my first MCU-related fic so it's probably not an accident that I decided to focus in on a character who isn't as established in the film-verse yet. Hopefully the main players will make a larger appearance in the next one. I guess I need an icon now...


A week after Steve is let out of the hospital, Sam files to take some leave time from the VA. It’s surprisingly easy to simply write in “personal reasons” and get it approved by the necessary people. That isn’t the hard part. The hard part is telling his support group that he will be gone for awhile. No one looks particularly angry. Some seem curious about the sudden departure but others look resigned as if they knew it had always been coming, that Sam was just the next one to move on from them because that’s who they were now: the ones left behind. It makes Sam want to explain in painstaking detail why he needs to leave, who he’s trying to help. But he remembers just in time that a speech like that would only make himself feel better which is not the point. They have a right to be disappointed without feeling ashamed or guilty.

When the group lets out, a few of the members come up to him to personally say goodbye. Lisa, one of the original group members gives him a small smile that reaches her eyes and tells him not to be a stranger.

**

The file Natasha gave Steve is resting on Sam’s coffee table. Sitting on the couch, Steve’s been staring at it for a good ten minutes seemingly in a silent debate with himself, his eyes flicking up every once in awhile to note that Sam’s still standing over him. Taking the hint, Sam throws on his workout clothes and tells him he’s going for a run.

“Should be about an hour,” says Sam, lacing up his shoes. “You know. ‘Cause I’m slow.”

Steve gives him a grateful smile as Sam leaves him alone to read.

In Sam’s mind, finding Barnes and possibly having to drag him back by force if necessary was going to be the easier of the Herculean tasks in front of them. What to do after that was the bigger issue. The fact that Barnes hadn’t killed Steve and in fact had saved him from drowning was a positive sign, though one that Steve seemed to be resting a lot of faith on. He insisted that however deeply buried he was, Bucky was still in there somewhere, waiting. And after 70 years of not doing anything, Steve had to try.

It was safe to say that out of everyone currently alive, Steve Rogers knows Bucky Barnes the best. The one who cares about him the most if the history books had any truth to them. This meant Steve was probably the best and worst person to help Barnes.

**

Several months into his own therapy, Sam floated the idea to his therapist about maybe training to become a counselor, working with other veterans. A look flashed across Dr. Ortiz’s face that Sam could now identify as ambivalent. It was one of the words in regular rotation these days in their sessions.

“You’d make a good counselor, Sam,” she said.

“But?”

“But.”

Sam smiled. “But it’ll be complicated,” he answered for himself. Complicated. Another word that made a frequent appearance.

“When you imagine yourself working with other veterans, how do you feel?”

“Good,” he answered quickly.

“That’s a lazy description, you can do better,” she chided.

Six months ago her push to get him to label his feelings would have driven him insane for how useless and stupid it seemed. He had said so as much when he’d begun therapy, not being forced by anyone but after getting it into his head that if he just put in some hours, he’d be better and life would be simpler. But where Dr. Ortiz was an expert at making room for contradictions and ambivalence when it came to whatever was zipping around in his mind, she was surprisingly firm with Sam on what was expected of him.

“You signed up to do the work and this is the work,” she’d said. “Now that you know what it is, you have to decide if you’re going to do it or not. Those are your choices.”

He had chosen to stay and do the damn work.

Sam reconsidered her query about counseling veterans, trying to imagine talking to another soldier the way Dr. Ortiz talked to him. “I feel better about myself. I feel…stronger. Less restless, like I’m finally moving.” Ortiz nodded, the same ambivalent look on her face.

“But?” Sam asked.

“Like I said, you would make a good counselor,” she reiterated. “Working with people very close to ourselves can be hard. Shared experiences can be helpful but also create a false sense of understanding.”

“I know we’ve all got our own story,” said Sam.

Ortiz nodded again. “It can also be difficult working with people very close to those we’ve lost.”

Sighing, Sam leaned back in his chair. There’s nothing but a few minutes of sullen silence while he looked around Ortiz’s office, his eyes falling on a framed photo he’s seen a thousand times before. It was of her standing next to her son in his uniform, both wearing matching proud happy smiles. “You do it,” he noted, gesturing to the picture.

Ortiz smiled, her eyes remaining on him rather than swiveling around to glance at the picture on her desk. “I never said you couldn’t do it, Sam. It’ll be difficult but you can do it.”

**

An hour later, Sam’s jogged the monument enough times to start feeling a nice burn working up in his legs. He figures he could give Steve a few more minutes and swings by a nearby café to pick up a couple of sandwiches. When he gets home, Steve’s still sitting where he left him. The coffee table, however, is now in two pieces like a hammer or perhaps a super soldier’s fist was driven through it. Sam places the bag of food on the kitchen counter before walking over to where Steve’s sitting, tense and coiled.

“Captain America’s got something against IKEA?” asks Sam lightly, looking at the broken furniture.

“Sorry,” replies Steve, sounding tired and a little ashamed. “I’ll replace it.”

“It’s IKEA. Their stuff’s junk,” Sam waves off. “If it wasn’t your fist it would have been all my issues of Vogue magazine making it buckle.” The joke itself is lost on Steve but like most things he seems to get the intention behind the humor and relaxes until he seems to actually shrink before Sam’s eyes into the couch.

Pages from Barnes’ file are now half on the floor along with Natasha’s translations. Sam spots the small photo of Barnes in uniform as he was before. It’s clearly the same face but Sam wonders if he would have ever recognized it in the Winter Soldier whose face looked like someone had power sanded away all traces of what made him human, only leaving behind something sharp and brutal. Sam gathers up the scattered pages, his eyes scanning across a few paragraphs as he does so. After reading a little, he’s surprised more of his furniture isn’t in splinters.

He holds out the pile of pages, the photo of Barnes on top toward Steve. “Still the same game plan?” he inquires.

“Nothing’s changed,” says Steve. “I’m going to find him.”

“And after?”

Steve takes the pages from him, shoving them all back into the file with grim determination. “I’ll figure it out as I go along.”

“Aren’t you always the one with a plan?”

“Captain America always has a plan. I’m a guy looking for his best friend.”

**

The first week of his volunteer work at the VA with a couple of counseling classes under his belt, Sam realized the whole idea was a mistake. Half the time he was there he was unsure of what to say to anyone, the other half he spent feeling incredibly angry and scared. Every time Sam saw a patient, it felt like they were asking him for something, something vital, in a language Sam couldn’t understand. Most of them were withdrawn, giving short answers of not being able to sleep, eat or find a job. Not that they really cared because life after what they saw looked pretty damn bleak. Their words were sullen, closed off. But their eyes, their bodies were asking for something, pleading for Sam to help them. When he tried, they got angry, some left and never came back. Each time they retreated, it felt like Sam was back up in the skies as fire bursts all around him, never touching him but obliterating everyone else out of existence while he just had to watch. When he’s not at the VA he was at home trying to sleep, cursing the fact that his nightmares were back in full force.

He raged about it during his sessions with Dr. Ortiz, always knowing he sounded cruel and unfair when he confessed how much he wanted to shake his patients and shout at them to either tell him with words what they needed or to leave him alone.

“It’s for you to help them find the words to ask for what they need,” Dr. Ortiz said.

“I don’t know how. How am I supposed to do that? I can’t mind read.”

“You’re not listening to them,” she stated, not unkindly.

Biting back a growl of frustration, Sam rocked forward in his seat, looping his laced hands over the back of his neck. “This has been a fucking waste of everyone’s time. I’m screwing them up worse than if they were alone.”

There was a beat of silence before Dr. Ortiz spoke again, “When you first told me your idea of working with veterans, you said thinking about it made you feel like you were finally moving. Do you remember that?”

“Sure,” Sam replied automatically, not caring if he had really said that or not. Catching the lie, Ortiz pushed forward.

“Sentence completion, Sam,” she instructed. And despite practically being curled up in his seat, staring at her carpet, the soldier part of his mind kicked into gear at the familiar command. “Yesterday was.”

“A goddamn awful day.”

“Today is.”

“Still an awful day.”

“When I sleep.”

Sam stared at the reds of the paisley carpet, focusing in on one swirl, letting his brain be lulled by the easy cadence of Ortiz’s voice.

“I have nightmares,” he answered.

“I am moving away from.”

“Failing.”

“I am moving toward.”

“A second chance.”

“I am helping.”

“Riley.”

“My work is.”

Sam lifted his head up. “Really bad,” he answered. Grimacing, he pushed himself back in his seat and let out a breath. “Guess that settles that.”

“Do you want to help Riley by helping other soldiers?” asked Ortiz.

“I know I can’t. Nothing’s going to undo what happened to him.”

“Yes,” agreed Ortiz. “But never mind if it’s possible. Is that what you want? When you sit with your patients?”

“Yeah, maybe,” Sam replied. “I also want to tell him he’s a dumbass for getting killed. We’d done a hundred jumps like the one that night. We could’ve done it with our eyes closed and he goes and gets blown away during something like that?” Sam shook his head, his hands fisting. “The fuck was wrong with him? The fuck was…is wrong with me?”

They sat in silence for a few moments, shame weighing Sam down as he stared back down at the paisley swirl of the carpet.

“Sam,” said Ortiz, softly. She waited until he looked up. “Everything you want to say to Riley, what you wish you could do for Riley despite him being gone, that’s for you and me to work on. In here.”

“I can’t sit and not think about him when I’m at the VA.”

“If you want to help the soldiers at the VA, you need to be there with them. Riley can be with you there. But you can’t be with him in the skies waiting for that RPG. Not if you’re going to listen to your patients and be able to hear what they need from you. That’s the work, Sam. Now that you know what it is, you have to decide if you want to do it or not.”

**

While Sam packs to head out the next morning with Steve, he thinks about how difficult it was to make the decision to leave the VA and yet it was really no choice at all. Dr. Ortiz may wonder with him if he’s doing it because this may be a chance for at least someone to get back the person they thought they’d lost. And that’s probably part of it.

But Sam also knows what it feels like to want something so much that you lose sight of it being an impossible goal. And how much it hurts when you realize it can’t happen and how easy it then becomes to let yourself lose everything else. When Steve says he wants to find Bucky and help him, Sam can see the hope in his eyes that he will get his friend back. All of him. And while Sam hopes so too, he wants to be there just to make sure that even if Steve can’t get all of Barnes back, he won’t lose what’s left of him.

THE END
 
 
 
ericadawn16ericadawn16 on May 29th, 2014 02:17 am (UTC)
I hope you do more. I liked it.

In my main story, I actually have him studying to become a Psychologist.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 30th, 2014 02:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
aelfgyfu_mead: Falconaelfgyfu_mead on May 29th, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC)
One small correction: "let’s" ("the group let's out") should be "lets."

I like Sam's perspective here. In most fics I've read, he's both the funny one who lightens the mood and the one who tells Steve the truth he doesn't want to hear. Both are true to the character we've seen, but you've got an extra dimension here: Sam's own uncertainty and sometimes needing to hear hard truths, what he's had to work through himself.

And he's still funny: “Should be about an hour,” says Sam, lacing up his shoes. “You know. ‘Cause I’m slow.”
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 30th, 2014 02:13 pm (UTC)
One small correction: "let’s" ("the group let's out") should be "lets."

Edited! Thanks!

Sam's own uncertainty and sometimes needing to hear hard truths, what he's had to work through himself.

Yeah, when Sam's talking to the other vets and Steve about their problems, he's either funny or supportive or both like a good counselor should be. But when he does talk a little bit about his own stuff, he looks like someone who is still working through it.

I feel like there's a line going out the door of people from this movie who need to work through things.
aelfgyfu_mead: Natashaaelfgyfu_mead on May 30th, 2014 02:28 pm (UTC)
I feel like there's a line going out the door of people from this movie who need to work through things.
Yes! Can you imagine counseling the Avengers and their friends? That's a full-time job right there! Think Tony would give you a place in his tower?
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 30th, 2014 02:31 pm (UTC)
Think Tony would give you a place in his tower?

It would probably have to be at Stark Tower. If anything so that I can have JARVIS as backup to alert someone in case a session goes south.

I had this conversation with awanderingbard that I would be willing to give Loki therapy if only there was a way to insure he wouldn't try to kill me the second he got upset about something.