?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Unabashed Spoiler Hound & Fanfic writer

Reveling in the fickle nature of fangirlishness

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Elder Statesman Part 1/3
sophie_deangirl

Dedicated to laughtersmelody for her friendship. Our mutual delight in all things h/c and deathfic, from Supernatural to The Avengers, I'm ever grateful to her friendship.


Elder Statesman

Part 1:


When Fury had flung the bubblegum cards, smeared with Agent Coulson's blood onto the table in front of him, all Steve could feel was ashamed and in many ways completely out of step with the 21st Century that he had awakened into. He felt the responsibility of his death. Coulson had believed in the cause, had believed in him and Steve felt like he had failed him, had let him die.

As he gazed out into the sky from the observation deck, his thoughts strayed to all that had passed by as he had slept, to everything he had loved and lost: Bucky, Erskine and Peggy, all long dead. Suddenly, he had never felt more alone, more old and more like the science experiment he had been than the man he was, no different than Stark's inventions and just luckier than Banner's attempts at recreating Erkine's experiment.

Dr. Erskine had made him promise to stay a good man and though he wouldn't surrender his beliefs in all things right and good, he sometimes found himself cursing his survival.

Evil was evil whether it was Schmidt or Loki. The pursuit for power, of having dominion over the innocent would always drive evil and he would always hate bullies. The essence of who he was felt the same, but there were moments when he felt antiquated in his patriotism and in his own pursuit of defeating evil. These new "partners" of his seemed to not share his devotion to good for good's sake. There was cynicism, an obligation to save the world that felt forced not offered with conviction or with the kind of teamwork that he had felt with the POWs he had rescued seemingly centuries ago. They had been united in a cause. There was a harsh edge to each of these people, whether it was jockeying for dominance or from a need to avoid helping at all.

Except for Coulson.

He had believed as passionately as Steve had believed and he had died heroically in the way that Steve understood. Once again, he felt the sting of failure, that he had let him down, that he hadn't lived up to the hero worship that Coulson had bestowed upon him.

He felt someone walk up beside him. It was Natasha. He didn't know her other than what he had seen in battle. She was a strong and capable woman, a warrior. It was clear to him that she had suffered in her past and was channeling it quite effectively into her fighting skills. She had been trained well.

Despite his old fashioned upbringing, he respected women. Peggy had been a fearless, no nonsense soldier herself. In many ways she had been just as distrustful and had tried to prove her worth as Natasha did now, but she, too, had possessed her own skills, a crack shot being just one of them, but unlike Natasha, Peggy had been compassionate, had comforted him when he had lost Bucky, had given him courage when his wavered. His heart ached for that loss the most, their last words to each other had been coy and painfully playful, knowing that they would never have that date they were planning. It was a way to cope with the impending crash that he had believed he would not survive. The unexpressed true feelings and lost opportunity had left the potential for romance unfulfilled.

Natasha was wounded and vulnerable herself, but he sensed that she and Clint Barton had history, her faith in him as much based in affection as it was in obligation.

"Are you all right?" Steve asked.

"I'm fine, why would you think anything was wrong?" She asked with the ever present touch of defensiveness in her voice.

Steve smiled softly.

"I meant no offense, just asking."

She felt immediately guilty for her snap judgement. She liked the Captain. He was kind and sympathetic yet he was strong and powerful. She admired that his power came from treating every person with equal respect.

"I'm sorry, I..."

"It's okay,," he said as he turned back to stare at the horizon.

"Are you all right?"

"Agent Coulson was a good man."

Natasha took in a breath. She had been in her share of battles and wars, more as a surreptitious presence, possessing a stealth that being a trained spy and assassin had afforded. Losses were expected even commonplace. She had to admit that she had hardened herself, taking her emotions out of the human casualties. It was a necessity if she was going to continue exacting her own brand of death sentences towards threats.

"Yes, yes, he was. He was a courageous man as well," she said matter of fact.

Steve nodded.

"I let him down."

"He understood the risks," she pointed out.

"It doesn't make it any easier though, does it?"

"No, I guess it doesn't."

Steve saw defeat in her own eyes.

"I don't mean to pry, but you and Mr. Barton..." he trailed off in the hopes she would fill in the blanks.

"Are complicated," she finished then had a dreamy expression. "Let's just say he's also a good man."

"Understood," he said apologetically.

Natasha was normally a deeply distrustful woman. She had seen too many horrible things. Horrible things had been done to her so she didn’t offer her trust easily. There were very few people who could penetrate her wall of self-protection and for whom she had given her trust unquestioningly. Clint Barton had been one of them.

"I'm afraid that what's happened to him will change him," she blurted out quietly. “I’ve seen hardened men destroyed by less.”

She bowed her head.

"That he will hate himself for the lives he took. He’s principled that way."

Steve listened and observed her tentativeness. It was not lost on him that she was entrusting him with information that she would normally never share with anyone other than maybe Clint Barton. He knew he had to honor and respect the responsibility she was placing in him. Clearly, she needed to share her fear with someone.

"I don't know Mr. Barton, but I can see that you think very highly of him otherwise you wouldn't be so worried."

Natasha demurred.

"We've been through a lot together."
Steve nodded again.

"If he's as good a man as you say he is then it will affect him and it should because as a man of principle, he has a conscience, something evil men like Loki could never understand or have," he said, a wistful expression then came over his face. "A man I respected once told me that a good man doesn't let power corrupt him. He made me promise to stay a good man no matter what happened to me...I remind myself of that promise whenever I worry about losing my own conscience, my moral compass."

He paused and looked at her with a small smile.

"Barton is lucky," Steve said with honesty. "He'll have you to remind him that he isn't evil and if he's half the man you believe him to be, he will come out of this a better man, a stronger man."

Natasha gazed at Steve and saw the truth in his words and her eyes filled with tears.

"Thank you," she said earnestly.

She had appreciated the kindness that Steve had given her and could see that he was weighing his own uncertainties and insecurities. Coulson's death had wounded his confidence. Any one could see that he was the example they all needed to emulate if they were going to win this battle over Loki. She wanted to help him, fight by his side when the battle for Earth truly began.

"What happened to Coulson wasn't your fault."

It was Steve's turn to demure.

"He believed in me, in what I stood for...and he died..."

"Fighting for it," she insisted. "Because you did in the past and still are fighting for what he believed in, what you both believed in. His loss is tragic, but it's our job not to make his sacrifice a waste."

Steve couldn't help but smile.

"Maybe Barton isn't the only one who's lucky. Maybe we all are."

Natasha blushed a little with the compliment. Not easily accomplished since very little could shock her, let alone embarrass her. She considered herself unrepentantly jaded.

He turned back to the horizon, the sun was slowly painting the sky a yellowish orange with red streaks as it began to set, as if to express how angry Earth was for becoming a pawn for its supremacy by arrogant species.

"I know I'm being selfish and should be grateful for the abilities Dr. Erskine gave me, but I've lost so much. I feel as old as my age, like I should have done more, done better. I feel...obsolete."

Natasha felt a kinship with Steve Rogers, even generations apart, raised under vastly different environments, she clearly saw the man who had overcome his own discrimination and wished to be more like him.

Natasha gazed at the horizon with him.

"I read your dossier. Dr. Erskine's notes were in it. Do you know what he said?"

Steve could only bow his head, the memories still as vivid as if he had just talked with Erskine.

"He called you a natural leader, that he had never seen anyone so willing to place himself in harm's way to save others and who could inspire loyalty."

Steve lifted his head back up at that point.

"I couldn't save him either," Steve said.

"You're missing the point, Captain. Right now, we're just a group of people with our own selfish agendas, we know what we have to do, but beyond self-preservation, we don't know why we should do it. You do, you've always known that. Dr. Erskine knew you could make people invest in more than themselves."

Steve turned and smiled at her.

"You're not alone, not anymore," she said simply. "None of us are. We probably need you more than you need us."

Steve felt her sincerity and appreciated it.

"I'm not so sure that I’ve earned that, but thanks for saying it."


AVAVAVAV

Loki had cornered the three of them. Clint and Natasha were behind Steve as he shielded them with his body. Loki scoffed.

“Ah, I have captured the weakest links of your band of Earth’s rescuers.”

Steve straightened his stance.

“You’re wrong about that, Loki,” he said.

“Oh, am I? Enlighten me then, Captain. Banner unleashes his beast at the slightest provocation. Stark has innovated a metallic armour that not only protects him but does his bidding as well. My brother, he is the only one among you truly equal to me, but he’s been cowed by the love of a woman and bothersome humility. You all have your weaknesses, but the three of you here are helpless without your weapons, as vulnerable as the rest of your mewling humanity. I think I’ve already proven that Barton is weak willed, easily succumbing to the influence of the tesseract, his female counterpart merely desires to wipe clean her bloody slate, burdened by her own conscience, one that was clearly derived by Barton’s goodwill. And you, Captain, you are nothing more than an aberration. You think your serum makes you invulnerable? Well, think again. I know more than you think."

Steve tried to keep his fear in check as he attempted to decipher the implications of Loki’s words.

Loki extended his scepter and Steve stood back, pressing Clint and Natasha more tightly behind him.

“You proclaim to be their leader so of all of them, you pose the greatest threat to my domination so you shall be the first.”

“First what?” Steve said defiantly.

“First to be robbed of your arrogance.”

Loki then pressed something on his scepter. A dart flew out and piercedSteve's chest, dispensing something before dislodging.

“What did you do?” Clint asked angrily, trying to get past, but feeling Steve’s resistance.

“You shall witness the power I shall wield over humanity. Your serum created you, Captain. It can also undo you,” Loki taunted before he leapt and escaped.

Clint and Natasha huddled around Steve, unable to take chase. Loki was right about one thing, they didn’t possess the kind of superhuman abilities the others did, just human skill. Even Steve was just a man if imbued with superhuman tolerances.

“Are you all right?” Natasha asked.

Steve, at first, didn’t feel anything untoward, but then sudden, radiating pain assaulted him. He tried to fight it, tried to move against it, but all he could feel was the pain pulling him down to his knees, the urge to scream overwhelming yet he managed just panting groans.

Oddly, the pain felt familiar, his body reacting as if it recognized what was attacking him.

“We’ve got to get you help,” she said.

Steve could only nod and groan.


AVAVAVAV


Steve was laid down onto a bed in the sick bay, groaning and struggling against pain that had no source and yet it seemed everywhere inside of him. Fury and the others watched helplessly as the doctors tried ministering to Steve’s pain, but nothing they tried eased the discomfort.

Natasha came over and took Steve’s hand only to feel it being squeezed then released, not from rejection, but from necessity. Steve knew he would hurt her, crush her hand.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I wish there was something I could do. If it weren’t for my stupidity letting Loki corner me, both you and Clint wouldn’t have had to rescue me.”

Steve shook his head.

“N...no, not your fault...It was a trap...”

“Yes, to get you both.”

“N...no, no...just me,” Steve gasped through pain. “Loki wanted me...all along...”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do...the injection...meant for me...”

“It was meant for anyone who got in his way -”

“No, no, you don’t understand...I get...why this...this felt familiar...”

“Now, you’re just delirious. Pain is pain -”

“Not this kind...was like when the...doc...gave me the serum...to transform me...Pain is the same...” Steve struggled to breath, every word he uttered felt like it was suffocating him. “Different though...that pain stopped...this isn’t...What Loki said...I think I’m changing back...”

“What?” She said shocked by the revelation.

The others rallied around Steve at that moment.

“What are you talking about, Rogers?” Fury asked.

“Loki...said this would...undo me...I understand now...this is...the serum...that made me...only...this is changing me back...I feel it...” Steve bucked with pain and Thor offered him his hand to grasp.

He battled anger and regret that his brother had caused this to happen to a man he was learning to respect far more than he had expected.

“What? I don’t -” Fury started.

“Let me explain, you see, Loki’s given Steve the same serum that changed him, but he’s done something with it. Reverse engineered it somehow. It’s changing him back to his original self,” Stark piped in, understanding.

Steve nodded his head.

“Well, we have to stop it,” Clint said, his own anger building over being at Loki's mercy yet again only without being under the tesseract's influence. This felt worse. This time, he had been disarmed and let someone he knew and respected get hurt.

“How? It’s not like the formula is written down somewhere. It died with Dr. Erskine,” Stark enlightened.

“There must be something we can do,,” Natasha said, her voice breaking imperceptibly, betraying her carefully walled emotion.

Steve shifted his gaze towards Tony.

“My blood...samples were taken after I changed...they were to be analyzed...when doc was killed...never got around to it...”

“That was almost 70 years ago. Who knows where the hell they are now? And they're probably degraded,” Fury said.

“Has anyone ever told you that you are just a bundle of negativity?” Stark snarked.

“Dr. Erskine...told me...before experiment...where he would hide them...only told me...didn’t trust anyone else...just in case something like this...happened.”

Steve arched again with pain.

“Told me...injecting my blood with serum in it...would save me if anything happened...I think...he knew this was possible...”

“So where are they?” Fury asked.

“Map...my locker...at gym...”

“Does security mean anything to you?” Fury scolded. “You should have given it to me.”

Steve tried to smile through the spasms.

“Didn’t trust you...not then...forgot about it when things got...out of hand,” Steve then groaned.

“Seriously? Did it ever occur to you that maybe someone might find it there?” Stark said.

“Not the only genius in town, Stark...coded...it...decoding key..." Steve stutterered, a wistful expression crossed his face. "Peggy."

Tony respected Steve the more he worked with him. He wasn't the antiquated cartoon hero he had accused him of being. He even wished that he had his unshakeable faith and belief. After all the people who had been killed by his weapons, he felt all he could hope for was cynicism. Steve Rogers wasn't afraid to push back and Tony was discovering that a bit of his patriotism was rubbing off.

“Well, I say we get this show on the road or we’ll lose our fearless leader,” Tony joked, but there was a hint of sincerity in it.

Thor placed his strong hand on his friend's shoulder.

"I'm sorry that my brother did this to you. I will right this heinous wrong and ensure that he pays for what he's done," Thor said, humbled by the evil his brother had wrought on a good and, in his eyes, a noble man.

"You're not...your brother's keeper," Steve said with a nod.

Thor felt moved by Steve's implicit forgiveness and could only nod back in acknowledgement.

All the men gave Steve their wordless promises that they would rally their efforts and skills toward finding the serum and exacting the appropriate punishment towards Loki. Steve felt the comradeship through his pain and it gave him a will to survive.

Natasha wanted to stay. She didn't want to leave Steve alone. He, of all of them, didn't deserve to be alone.

"You don't...have to...be here..." Steve said.

"I know. You shouldn't be alone."

Steve smiled as he shook with pain.

"I appreciate that..."

"When it's time to face Loki in battle, I will happily fight by your side."

Steve nodded.

"You...remind me of her...you know," He said with a trembling smile.

"Will you tell me about her?" She said shyly worried that maybe she had asked too much.

Steve clenched his eyes closed and stiffened.

"I'm sorry. I overstepped -"

When he opened his eyes again, he smiled.

"She was strong-willed...like you...she was a crack shot...she had a mind of her own..."

"You loved her," Natasha said with a smile.

"We didn't have time to...really find out..." Steve grunted. "I can't speak for her...but for me...yeh, I loved her."

"I'm sure she loved you too," Natasha said with certainty.

Steve smiled weakly again before it was wiped off his face from another wave of pain. He groaned and panted through it. Natasha could only put a hand on his chest in the hopes it provided some measure of comfort.

Once the pain eased again, he sank back onto the bed, still panting through residual spasms wracking his body. He saw the concern on Natasha's face and was grateful for her sympathy and company. He had seen her compassion towards Clint and some thing more.

"Y...you love him, don't you?" He gasped, aiming the same declaration back at her.

Natasha was startled by the question. She wasn't expecting it.

"I don't know. I don't know if I'm capable of loving anyone."

Steve was sucking air into his lungs just to keep breathing through the pain, but he struggled to curl a grin at the corners of his lips.

"Even a...90 lb. weakling like me...can see that you love him..."

His mirth was more strained choking than he had wanted, but he hoped she intuited the sincerity he wanted to convey to her.

She smiled back, shy and a bit embarrassed by the compliment.

Steve's expression fell as he licked his lips and breathed in whimpers.

"Don't...waste another...moment...tell him...you love him...with this war...you may not...have..." Steve clenched his eyes closed. "Guys, we're idiots...we think we'll have time...then it's too late...I can see...that he loves you too."

Natasha found her eyes filling with tears, so moved by Steve's offer of advice and gathered that he was speaking from experience.

"Take it...from an old man...who waited too long...the only thing...that matters in this life is love...it's what Loki will never understand...what he can't take away from us...it makes us better...than him. It's what makes all humans heroes."

Steve held her hand gently in his.

"This..." He emphasized as he lifted weakly their joined hands. "This...is what makes us invincible against any evil...tell Clint...Natasha. It will make...the fight worth everything to him...worth surviving...for you both..."

He let go and didn't have any more strength left other than to apply it to the pain.

Natasha found herself bringing to bear all of her training as an assassin to regulate her breathing, to calm herself, so she wouldn't breakdown in tears, but hearing him speak of love and survival was slowly cracking her carefully crafted walls. She had been able to hold herself when Clint had been taken. She was able to cloak her concern in order to keep focused on the mission to rescue him and perhaps that was what had kept her in check, but seeing the torment that Steve was enduring and how he was able to still advise her on how to express her feelings, something she was never good at, brought an affection to the surface, affection born from respect. His actions at that moment were a kind of heroism that had nothing to do with battle, war or hand-to-hand conflict and she ached to defend that heroism. She tried to channel her sentimentality into a rage against the demi god who had done this to him. She was better at anger and rage. She knew how to express those emotions. She trembled with the need to unleash them on the person who deserved it.

TBC


  • 1
I'm repeating myself, but thank you so much again for the dedication! *hugs* I so love the Clint and Natasha moments, and I love your portrayal of Steve. He really is an good, old-fashioned hero. :)

  • 1