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chapter twelve: museum

Holland watched the cars go by on the road. She was standing outside of the museum, her hands shoved in her pockets and her face set still. She knew exactly what lied inside the museum, her entire past and more, but what she didn't know if she was ready to walk in the doors. Someone was bound to recognize her, at least one person was, but she wasn't concerned about that. Her news story hadn't broke headlines yet and for that she was more than thankful. The press would rip her story to pieces and she would no doubt be accused of being an undercover HYDRA agent just like they had Steve.

Holland exhaled slowly. She clenched her fists then released them. She looked around her and counted the objects around her, a technique she was learning from Dr. Cho to curb her anxiety. Dr. Cho had been recommended by Bruce personally to overlook Holland's recovery so not only did she provide the comfort of understanding her pain despite never experiencing it but also the medical reasoning that she needed to move through with her recovery and recuperation.

Holland sighed again and turned to the door, deciding to conquer her fear. She knew what lied inside; she knew what she would see. She pushed the door open, the feeling of just history drifting all around her. The man at the desk looked up at Holland and for a moment she thought that he recognized her. But he smiled at her and let her pass. There wasn't a charge at the museum, just a bag check and she didn't bring a bag.

She walked through the museum, seeing objects she didn't know what they were as well as technology she didn't think was possible. She found the escalator to one of the lower, main levels of the exhibits. Just in front of her lied the section about Steve or rather Captain America. His face adorned banners hanging from the ceiling. Holland walked to them, peering up at her best friend's face like she has never seen it before. She felt flashed of war come back to her, silent explosions on a video, the sight of healing scratches on stubbled skin, a man pronouncing 'I love you' like those were the only words he could say.

Holland grimaced at the pain the last memory caused, the spike of heat against her temples. Something was wrong with her, that much she knew. She could remember Bucky but every time she did her body fought it like it was taught not to. She wanted to remember Bucky. She loved him, she perhaps still did.

Venturing further into the exhibit was an experience unlike any other. There were quotes adorning the walls, ones Holland recognized and thought she had heard once. She passed the giant realistic painting of Steve saluting in his suit and resisted the urge to reach out and touch it. The next part of the exhibit showed Steve before and after the serum, his height and weight stats as well. An electronic screen beside the statistics showed how tall Steve truly was. Holland found herself smiling as she walked over. He seemed so small then and she couldn't describe how much she missed seeing him like that. That was the Steve that she was best friends with, the one she grew up with, the one she grew to love as a brother. The screen changed and then it showed Steve as he was now, tall and strong. Holland looked away, continuing through the exhibit.

"Best friend since childhood, Bucky Barnes and Steven Rogers were inseparable on both schoolyard and battlefield. Barnes is the only howling commando to give his life in service of his country." Holland hadn't been paying attention to what the overhead speakers were playing until now. She had reached a glass display etched with Bucky's handsome face on it followed by paragraphs of information. But Holland didn't care to read it. She simply looked at Bucky, memorizing his face and taking it in all over again. Her temple throbbed for a moment but she forced the pain away. A video played of Bucky and Steve laughing beside one another. Just under the video was her name, the credit of the video given to her as she was the one who took it with the video camera they took with them on their missions. She traced her finger over her name, feeling the way the surface dipped with each letter. "Holland Mitchell," it read. Her name seemed so empty without his following it.

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