2019-05-20 - Soldiers from another Era


Steve and Hiroto speak over sake in the Avengers mansion.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon May 20 04:32:47 2019
Location: Avengers Mansion - Foyer

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Theme Song



It's late. Late enough that most regular people are either in bed, or thinking about it. Of course, this is the City that Never Sleeps, and there are some people who live here who find sleep harder to find than others.

If you could call anyone who hangs around the Avengers Mansion "people," Hiroto would be one of them. Kintsugi, as he's also known, is half in the process of moving into the mansion. He still keeps an apartment in the city. But he's staying here tonight, which is why he's dressed in a yukata. It's silk, black and robe-like with a silver design of flowers threaded through it. On his feet are wooden sandals with black piping threaded between his towes. He stands staring into the fire lit in the fireplace, nursing something in a small white cup.

"…Requesting Captain Rogers," the AI says. "Will there be anything else?" "No," Hiroto says, sighing. He empties the contents of the little cup, refilling it from a small container, also white, that rests on the mantle. "Thank you."

The AI runs the message up to the small office kept by the First Avenger on the second floor. He's just finishing up flicking through a collection of translucent files on the vertical touchscreen of his computer system when it chimes in the framed corner of the screen. A touch of the screen, not hard enough to hurt the screen itself, and he frowns at it.

"Be right down," he tells the AI. It'll shoot the polite if clipped reply back down to Hiroto himself. With a dismissive wave of his hand (a rather great mimicry of Stark himself in the action), Steve dismisses the files to their home folders. He can be heard to descend the grand staircase and then make his way off to one side, to the room with the fireplace crackling.

Upon seeing Hiroto, the soldier smiles, his expression entirely professional. "Ah, you must be one of the new recruits. Captain Rogers, nice to meet you." He offers out a hand to shake. He wears a simple white dress-shirt and khaki slacks, loafers in brown. On the hand offered to shake, the right, he wears a golden ring etched with black Gaelic infinity weaving.


Captain Rogers arrived so quickly that Hiroto looks a little surprised. Perhaps he didn't realize he was in the building, still working. The glass is set down on the mantle immediately as Hiroto straightens, his posture stiff, shoulders back. He puts his right hand into Steve's offered one and shakes. It's a hearty handshake, strong and firm, but with a little of the same stiffness as his posture. The kind of stiffness that suggests he isn't so used to shaking hands. His eyes briefly brush over that distinctive ring.

"Hello, Captain Rogers. I am honored to work with you." Hiroto steps back and offers Steve a small, brief bow. "My name is Hiroto Shimizu, also known as Kintsugi. I'm sorry to disturb you at this hour." A worried look on his face, he glances past Rogers to the stairs he just came from. "I did not mean to interrupt your work."


After shaking his hand, Steve offers Hiroto an inclination of his head in return, respectful as well. Firelight glints off his hair and briefly on the ring as he looks up again.

"Nice to meet you. You didn't interrupt, it's fine. I'm up late as is. Probably should be thinking about heading home any time now." He pats at his pants pocket for his cellphone, but decides to check on it later for those inevitable texts about working late. "I appreciate the interruption. Oh, do you prefer Hiroto or Kintsugi?" the Captain asks, curious despite himself. There's something about the secondary name that rings a bell in the back of his mind. He'll figure out why soon enough, and just lets his subconscious follow that thread for now.


"You do not live here at the mansion, then?" Hiroto is polite. Very polite. But there is a note of surprise in his words, soft and respectful as they are. "As for my name, please call me whichever suits your purposes better. Hiroto is like a 'first name,' but Kintsugi is…a battlecry, I suppose. You could also call me Shimizu, if you prefer." He laughs a little and says, "How I wish sometimes, that I still had a military title, as you do. It can make things easier. Speaking of which, how do you prefer to be addressed?"


Steve's small smile grows a touch at the direct honesty of the man. It is a refreshing thing in a society increasingly filled with distraction and separation of screens. "You can call me Steve. We're all on a first name basis within the mansion, though that is by personal choice. Some of us may prefer it otherwise, but just ask. If you feel more comfortable, Captain or Captain Rogers is fine out in public. So, Hiroto for you. Done."

The soldier then wanders past Hiroto and farther into the room, nearer to the fire and its warmth. "Been a while since we've had one going in here," he says, tilting his head towards the hearth. "It's nice." A beat and then he's frowning thoughtfully at Hiroto. "Kintsugi. I'll be honest with you: it sounds familiar. I remember a lot of faces, but not yours. Figure I might've heard it before."


Hiroto chuckles a little. "Steve, then. Thank you. Americans are so casual. Even now, I sometimes forget." It doesn't sound like he minds, though. He may even find it refreshing, even if he doesn't say so aloud. His dark eyes track Steve's movements, and then he picks up the small, white ceramic container from the mantle. "Would you care for some sake, Steve? It is Tama no Hikiri, a special drink from Kyoto."

But then, Steve is trying to place him. Still holding the tokkuri, he grow more grave. "I have been around awhile," he says softly, "but I have tried to stay out of the spotlight. SHIELD recruited me in Tokyo before I came here."


"Mmm. Don't blame you for wanting to keep out of the public eye. It's a harsh spotlight." Steve does let a long-wearied note creep into his thought as he stands before the fireplace, watching the coals glimmer through their heated hues. "And sure, thank you, Hiroto. I'll try some of the sake." He does not try to butcher the name of the specific kind of sake, however, and simply waits to see how it is delivered to him.

"You don't have to tell me anything about yourself that you don't want to," the Captain is then sure to add. "Privacy can be a hard thing to come by."


Hiroto continues to look grave as Steve muses on the 'harsh spotlight.' He nods — empathetic-seeming, even if it may not be something he's experienced. But he smiles again when Steve says he'll take some sake. Hiroto moves the tokkuri and the ochoko, the small cups, to a table. Using both hands, he delicately pours the empty ochoko full of pure, clear liquid, and then offers it to Steve, again with both hands and a small bow of his head. "Please, enjoy it."

Presuming that Steve takes the little cup, Hiroto then says, "I appreciate that, Steve-san. But we are fighting together. Anything you wish to know about me, I feel it is my duty to share. I admit, it is hard to simply…open up." He glances down, chuckling once, then studies Steve with a serious gaze. "I admit, I have wanted to meet you for many reasons. You and 'Bucky' as well." He seems vaguely uncomfortable, again, using such a casual name. "We were all soldiers in the same era, you see."


It is with marked care that the Captain takes the ochoko cup from Hiroto, given his strength, and he mirrors the mannered drop of his chin. "Thank you," he replies quietly. A testing sip of the sake proves it to be flavorful, sweet, something he would want to drink slowly rather than bolting like a shot of whiskey.

Steve's face seems to take on a knowing cast at Hiroto's words — at least, until the mention of Bucky. Then his true-blue regard sharpens. "Soldiers from the same era, huh? I'm going to bet you mean literally." His gaze travels over Hiroto from head to toe and back, professional and measuring. "Nobody drops a line like that, especially with that wording, and means something otherwise. This's something I'm going to ask after," he says, a note of apology in his tone. "I can always dig into your files at SHIELD, but I'd prefer to hear it from you."


Steve may not know any better, but this is very good sake. And it's cool, unlike the way sake is so often served in Japanese restaurants in America. Cool and refreshing. "I do mean it literally, or I would have not mentioned it," Hiroto says. He sounds apologetic, too. "Forgive me. Perhaps it was too bold to say. I have been practicing 'speaking my mind,' and I do not always get it right." In fact, he seems to be blushing a little. He empties the little cup of sake, maybe for courage. Then he refills it — and Steve's, too, if it ever empties.

"I was born in 1912," he says softly, staring into Steve's eyes. "You can see from my appearance that I do not look my age. When I learned of you and Bucky, I felt…" Hiroto glances away, over to the crackling fire "…a kinship, I suppose. But perhaps that was presumptuous of me."


The Captain is transparent in his surprise. His eyebrows dance nearly into his hairline. He continues holding the sake before his chest, cupping the china mug as he might a baby bird.

A little sigh. "You're doing fine, as far as speaking your mind. It's great, believe me. Too many folks talk between the lines. Forgive me for being blunt if it took you off-guard. There aren't many of us around." 'Us' being those of youthful appearance and old soul. "I can…see where kinship might come up. A solidarity of sorts, I guess. I mean, you're not wrong," Steve says. His attention returns again to Hiroto strictly. "You must've been in the war then. That's how you heard of me 'nd Buck?"


Hiroto seems a little relieved, though only so much shows on his face. His eyes, though…they're a different story. They tend to reveal the things he might want to hide. "Mm. Yes. I was in the war." He adds, after a pause, "I fought for a long time. For Japan, our war started sooner…" Hiroto purses his lips, continuing, his gaze falling steadily upon Steve again. "You were known to us then, certainly. Some feared you as another new American 'weapon,' though our leaders never condoned such fears. Japanese soldiers weren't supposed to fear, of course." A smile comes to his face again, though it isn't jolly. "We were lucky, I suppose, you concentrated so on the other theater."


As he listens, Steve's own eyes grow cool and somewhat shuttered. It isn't news to him, to hear himself portrayed as 'weapon' rather than 'human', but it does sting at old personal scars — lab gerbil indeed.

"I went where I was needed," he demures after another sip of his cool sake. "And where I felt I was needed. More'n enough to do where I was. Had my hands full all of the time, it seemed…" He eyes the fire for a handful of beats. "Can't say that I miss it. Do you?" The question is mild and by his glance, he's honestly interested in hearing what Hiroto has to say in matters of old habits dying hard.


Hiroto's brow furrows as he listens, nodding. One goes where one is needed. He gets that. But the question seems to catch him off guard, briefly, and he busies himself with his sake again. "Sometimes," he admits, looking once more to the fire. "But it was terrible, too." His gaze returns to Steve, dark and sad. "War is terrible. I know I don't need to tell you that."


The slow shake of the Captain's head is understanding. "Don't have to tell me twice," he replies solemnly. Another sip of the sake and he looks down at the clear drink, frowning at the ghost of his firelit reflection within it. Nothing to be divined in its depths right now. "Conflict is enough. Can't escape it anyways. Seems a fact of life these days, what with the apparent rise of incidents since the Registration Act was shot down. I mean, correlation doesn't equal causation, but…" He sighs, slowly.

"The more help, the better. It's good to have members in the ranks in case hands are full." His first serving of sake is nearly gone now after this sip. "Appreciate you stepping over from SHIELD."


"Mm. Certainly, you are right. There is always conflict, somewhere…" If he will allow it, Hiroto will refill Steve's cup. He refills his own as well, then smiles a little at Steve's expression of appreciation. "I am still a warrior, I suppose. I feel I operate best when I am in active service to something meaningful. While SHIELD offers such opportunities, the Avengers…" He shakes his head, musing on it. "…you — ''we'' — it's something I understand." The other soldier sighs, then laughs a little. "I may not always miss the army, but I did miss camaraderie. Fighting together, for something that matters."


Steve does allow for his cup to be refilled and he murmurs quiet gratitude for it. The sake won't intoxicate him in the least, but it's a novel taste and those are a rare pleasure after nearly one-hundred years of life.

"The Avengers're here to make sure that folks can continue enjoying what we fought for," he agrees. "A good life in safety and security." While he's taking his next sip of his drink, he hears his cellphone go off again in his pocket. A soft, slightly embarrassed laugh, and he finally pulls it out. A frown down at the screen is followed by a knowing flick of eyebrows.

"'m sorry, Hiroto, but I'm late for dinner now." He sets aside the cup of sake and gives the other man an apologetic look. "Make yourself comfortable around the mansion. The AI's helpful, but if you need to reach me again, you can contact me by phone or leave a message with the AI. I'll get it, one way or another." He offers his hand out for Hiroto to shake again if he's so inclined. "We'll talk again."


Briefly, something solemn and conflicted passes over Hiroto's face. He seems to be musing on Steve's words, rather deeply, when the phone goes off. His manner becomes more social again, a little more relaxed. He bows his head towards Steve, just once, and takes the offered hand, shaking with the same vigor as before.

"Thank you again for answering my call, Steve-san. I look forward to further conversations. Perhaps sometime, I can meet Bucky as well." He smiles again, open and genuine, if a little melancholy. "I hope you enjoy your supper." With another small bow, he returns to his place at the mantle, staring into the fire once more.

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