At Howard University, keeping people from reacting to his grandfather’s identity had been relatively easy. Although it seemed practically everyone recognized the name, if sometimes very vaguely, not many people seemed that able to recognize him in photographs, at least if they didn’t involve him in uniform and/or standing next to Captain America. Also, sometimes they genuinely didn’t care. Had Steve Rogers himself been his grandfather, they might have cared more, but his cohorts were just names in a book to many of them.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy was a different matter. Every day Trip walked past a large picture of the Commandos, the famous one taken just shortly before the mission that had killed Bucky Barnes. He told himself not to spend too long staring at it. For the first half a year there, he was acutely aware that he was carrying around a secret link to not just some random historical figure, but to a man who loomed large in the history of the organization whose ground he walked on. And even with the different last name, some of the teachers had actually heard about his daughter marrying someone called Triplett, and he had them finding excuses to corner him and ask if he wouldn’t happen to be their son, would he?
He had to tell them, simply because he was afraid of the consequences of lying to them. But he urged them not to tell anyone so fervently he thought word eventually passed around. New teachers that came in stopped asking him, and none of them ever let it slip to his classmates.
Thankfully none of them treated him any differently either. The Spec-Ops Academy was a demanding place, where only the best, the brightest, and the toughest got in, and even they were pushed to their limit. There were times in his first year there he honestly thought he wasn’t going to survive. There was even one scary moment where he literally thought he wasn’t going to survive, hanging over the big pit on the rope course when the electronics had gone wrong, so half the ropes weren’t there anymore, and a bonfire was raging below.
Above, the supervisor was screaming for the emergency rescue system. But in the end he actually didn’t need it; he remembering what he’d been taught above ropes and using them to get where he wanted, and with the memory of the old zipline running through the back of his head, he got to safety all on his own.
That earned him admiration and everyone on campus telling him how amazing that had been for a week or two. But he was hardly the only one around do crazy amazing things, and the attention eventually faded.
He did end up telling all five people he roomed with, eventually. They were all pretty cool about it, and didn’t tell anyone else. His third year roommate, a surprisingly young man called Jerry, managed to find out within the first week, but he actually got it immediately, and even kept someone else from finding out once, or so he claimed.
Though either way, he was definitely the best friend Trip ended up making at the Academy; he was sorry that by the time they met Jerry was in his last year. It was also he who encouraged Trip to take the Spec-Ops’ medical classes, noting his interest in it, and saying that even if he didn’t become a full-blown medical man, he’d be an invaluable member of any team he joined with the knowledge and skills he’d gain from the training there. Sometimes Trip thought of those classes as a turning point for him. He found he took to them well, and reaching graduation never seemed impossible after that.
He met John Garrett during his own final months, when he paid a visit to the Academy and decided to drop in on one of his medical classes. Though it wasn’t entirely a chance meeting, Garrett knew both who his grandfather was and how well he had been doing, and walked out with him after the class was done, saying he’d just released one protégée “into the wild,” and was ready to take another. When he heard that Trip did not want an SO who took him just because of who his grandfather had been, he laughed and said, “I might take you just for saying that!”
He didn’t get in contract with Trip again for a while after that, until Trip had started to think he hadn’t stayed interested. But then a week before graduation, he knocked on the door to his dorm room, and said to him, “I’ve just been approved as your SO and you’re not allowed to refuse. Believe me, I have particular reasons for wanting you anyway. Come and let’s get the paperwork done.”
But he didn’t say what those reasons were. Instead, as they walked across campus to the Placement Office, he asked Trip questions that even at the time he thought were a little weird. He asked a lot about his grandfather, but that seemed, at least then, to just be general curiosity. Those questions led into stranger ones, though. He asked him how he had decided he wanted to join S.H.I.E.L.D., and after five years, what did he really think of them now? Did he ever think they were wrong sometimes? If he was ordered not to rescue someone who was drowning, what would he do?
“Rescue them,” said Trip right away to that last question, wondering if he was being tested, and if so, had he just passed or failed? Not that he’d take it back either way, of course, but still.
When they reached the placement office and the appointment was finalized, though, he assumed he must have passed.