o. cigarette dream

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You know, cigarettes are bad for your health.
Well thank god I have you to patch me up, doc.

Someone ought to tell him that there's things in this world that people can't cure, lung cancer and battle wounds among them.

Her voice never sounds the same in his memories — unlike the sweet crackling of a record, its smooth lustrous tone is a little too perfect. Yes, that's how his mind recreates her, a little too perfect. Her cheeks are void of their trademark dimples,  her smile is too straight, hair far too tame.

Perhaps it's a testament to the fact they never knew each other well enough in the first place, or maybe the tears he's held back have blurred his vision, distorting her perfect imperfections.

Steve puffs out a cloud of the poisonous smoke, a cancerous dark plague stemmed from the very habit she always tormented. Deep down, he hates every aspect: the horrid smell that lingers on his breath and sticks to his clothes, the want to purge his lungs but being painfully unable to do so, even just the uneasy haze. Still, he always keeps a lighter in his left pocket for days — weeks, months — like these. Seldom do they collect dust.

"A little birdie once told me that smoking is bad for your health." Sam leans against the door frame, his voice a harsh contrast to the one playing in Steve's head.

"Birds fly away." He says it with finality, or at least he tries; the crack in his voice gives him away.

Sam lolled his head, "That's not fair."

"I know," Yet even aloud, he can't convince himself. He wants so desperately to crumble, because despite the serum's effect on his pain tolerance, it hurts. It's worse than a bullet, worse than dying the first time. But there's no villain or evil army to antagonize — there's only her, and she's an angel, his angel. No, not mine he reminds himself. She always gagged at that line, saying it undermined her independence. Perhaps it's these little things that drove her away, made her feel less than human — though, more likely, it's the gaping hole left in her chest, and, in turn, his.

Sam clicks his tongue in frustration, "Stop wallowing, you're Captain America for fucks sake."

Under different circumstances, Steve probably would've smiled, laughed even. Now, he doesn't even miss a beat. Instead, he pulls out the ring that was burning a hole in his pocket.

"What are you doing?" Sam asked.

A plea left his lips, "I can't keep it," he stares at the encrusted diamond on its face, brilliant yet taunting, "Take it. Please."

Sam has seen his friend — his ally, a super soldier — so broken. A part of him wants to loathe her, grab her by the hair insisting she fix him. The more rational part of him swells with sorrow. Despite Sam's loyalty, had the tables been turned, he'd probably let the grief consume himself like it did her. Yet Steve was complacent, a poor symptom of his pride. He brings his hand to Steve's, but instead of taking the ring from his grasp, he folds Steve's fingers over his palm, encasing it, "You've got to live with your mistakes."

Steve looks at him with confusion, "Mistakes?"

"If you can't answer that yourself, we're all doomed," A deep sigh leaves Sam's lips, "I'm on your side, I always will be, but you can't preach about lines you seemingly cross yourself."

He slips back inside, leaving Steve alone in the chilling air once again. As raindrops start to patter against the ground by his shoes, his mind brings him back to that day in the rain. Her hair was soaked, mascara running, tears rolling down her face -- and he stood there. Equally distraught but no where near as passionate. He should've kissed her, held her, given her the empathy he failed to convey. Sam was right, some mistakes he just has to live with, but despite being the mighty and noble Captain America, he couldn't stop wallowing.


{ a/n: fun fact i love taryn }

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