Author: Mistflyer1102 PM
Only sixty years have passed since the conclusion of WWII, but it soon becomes clear that there are those who still wish to rewrite the world map. New yet familiar allies and foes return to the world stage in the newest battle for international stability.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 14 - Words: 71,143 - Reviews: 59 - Favs: 79 - Follows: 121 - Updated: 05-16-13 - Published: 02-27-12 - id: 7877435
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
Alfred F. Jones let himself slowly lean back in his seat as he silently reread President Roosevelt's words for the third time that night. "What happened after he finished?" he asked, looking up at the only other man in the apartment living room.
"Congress complied. The sovereign nations of Germany and Italy declared war on the United States only three days later, and so here we are a week later," said General Chester Phillips without looking up from the sheaf of papers in his hands.
Alfred looked back down at the written text before him. Even though he'd heard the radio broadcast the day after Pearl Harbor was destroyed, it had all felt surreal. Part of the reason it felt like a dream was probably because he'd been in extreme pain and grief in the days following Pearl Harbor as the people raged and mourned. Everything had slipped past him in a dreamy sort of haze in those first couple of days.
But he could sense the mobilizations. Perhaps that was part of the reason behind his still-progressing recovery.
"I should have been there. When Roosevelt was speaking," he finally said, slumping in his seat.
Phillips sighed. "Son, when I arrived here several days ago to keep an eye on you on the president's behalf, you were bed-ridden and half-coherent." He set the papers down and glanced over at Alfred. "Roosevelt would have had my head on a silver platter if I arranged for your transportation to Washington D.C. in the state you were in," he said, walking over to where Alfred was sitting. "I don't know if you remember this, but the doctors said you were asking for 'England' at one point. One of the doctors joked that you couldn't have the country, but the answer seemed to set you off the wrong way. It wasn't until you started asking for someone named Arthur that we assumed you were asking for a friend of yours.
Alfred internally cringed in silent horror. I hope Arthur never hears I said that. Yes, he'd been in great pain, but he hadn't realized that he'd been that out of it. "Did…did I say anything else?"
Phillips shrugged. "Like I said, the doctors told me all of this, so if you're that curious, you can ask them. I don't think you said anything incriminating that could hurt the war effort, but even if you did the doctors know to keep their mouths shut. Unless one of the doctors that attended to you was a spy. Which of course means that he won't keep his mouth shut. But hopefully we won't have to worry about that," he said before walking back to the coffee table he'd been using as an impromptu desk since Alfred had the real one.
Alfred made a mental note to find and then talk to the doctors that had attended to him.
"When do we start heading overseas?" he asked, his mind already busy with plans for the necessary preparations.
"Well, the boys will start heading overseas once they are trained. The Allies are getting pounded out there, so it's fair that we get going as soon as we can. Thank God that Sergeant Barnes had the foresight to start training with the recruits at the time in '36," Phillips said, a shadow crossing his face at the thought of the late drill instructor. Shaking his head as though to remove the memories, Phillips said, "You on the other hand will be spending time with me here in the States while you recover from your injuries. So in other words, there will be no battlefield antics until the army medical examiners give you the green light."
"What will we be doing in the meantime?" Alfred asked, biting back his frustration. General Phillips didn't know who Alfred really was. He didn't know that Alfred F. Jones was the personification of the United States of America, and would be back in top form in only a couple of days. As far as Phillips was concerned, Alfred was only another army officer in the army who had sustained physical injuries through an accident and would take weeks to recover from them.
Phillips grinned nastily as he held up a thick unmarked folder. "In the meantime, you and I will be working on a secret weapon that if successful, is going to win the war for us. Unfortunately, there a few details which still need to be hammered out before we go ahead with this crazy plan."
Alfred was interested now. "Details like what?"
"First off, we still need a guinea pig to test the project on…don't give me that look, it's not a gun or anything like that so we're not shooting anyone." Phillips looked annoyed at Alfred's shocked expression before he continued talking. "Second detail is that the officials in London want to be present for the test run, so they're sending a couple of their dignitaries over."
"Who are they sending?"
"Well, they're all in Washington D.C. right now finalizing the details of the alliance with President Roosevelt, and then they're coming up here for the demonstration. Sir Kirkland is the leader, if I understood the letter correctly." Phillips placed the papers down before studying another. "It's a small group of five though, so it won't be too crowded here."
Alfred remained silent for a moment, processing all of this. "So what kind of secret weapon is it that we need a test subject for?"
"You'll see. The project creator, Doctor Abraham Erskine, will arrive in Manhattan later tonight. Since he's the creator, he's got this set of qualifications in mind for the test subject candidates. All I'm here for is to make sure he gets what he wants." Phillips rolled his eyes in irritation. " Anyway, Erskine will be under the alias of 'Joseph Reinstein' when he arrives."
Alfred raised an eyebrow. "Why does he need an alias if the Nazis don't know about this little…project?"
"Doesn't hurt to be careful. The president doesn't want to take chances with this." Phillips pulled out a box from behind the coffee table. "But right now, you and I are walking to the recruitment station across the street to speak with the new recruits. We've got to show them that we haven't forgotten about them," he added before using a pocketknife to open the box and pull out the brown-papered package. He tossed it to Alfred, who caught it. "Your usual attire isn't going to cut it for today."
"What's wrong with what I usually wear?" Alfred asked, pulling aside the paper wrapping to find a formal dress uniform, one that was slightly different to the uniform he'd worn in the First World War.
"You mean other than the fact that it goes against regulations?"
Alfred replaced the wrapping and set the package back on the table next to Roosevelt's speech. "No. I'll wear what I want to wear," he said before pulling himself up. He gripped the table to steady himself before he left the small living room, careful to walk slowly to avoid jarring his healing injuries.
"I'm sure you will. Now stop being stubborn and put on the damn uniform," Phillips said without looking up.
For once, Alfred ignored him.
"You're going to fight me every step of the way, aren't you?" Phillips asked, sounding slightly grumpy when Alfred came slowly back into the room after changing into a white shirt and dark brown pants. "I honestly don't care how comfortable you're trying to be right now, you'll only be in that uniform for not even an hour."
"With all due respect General Phillips, if the president did in fact send you to keep an eye on me, then he should have told you that I have selective listening when it comes to matters like this. Trust me on this one," Alfred said, quirking a small smile as he picked up his familiar leather bomber jacket and slipped it on. "If you want more proof, ask Kirkland when he gets here. You two can compare notes," he added, reaching for Texas while carefully concealing a grimace right as the wound on his shoulder protested the movement.
Phillips's eye twitched, but he didn't say anything.
The general let Alfred set the pace as the two men left the apartment and walked down the hall to the stairs. It was a quiet walk down the staircase to the lobby's level in the apartment complex; it was just the two of them and Phillips didn't appear as the chatty type to Alfred. The lobby receptionist looked up briefly in acknowledgement of their presences before returning to her work; she did not say anything to either of them as they walked past.
"Now remember, just a few words of encouragement and no promises that we can't keep. These men know full well that this is going to be the fight of their lives and we're not going to be helping if they know we're sugar-coating the truth," Phillips said. "Oh, and one more thing. Not a single word about the secret project to anyone. That little secret stays between us," he added as he pulled up his jacket collar against the cold winter air while the two of them walked across the street.
"Now I'm really interested in this project," Alfred said, trying not to bristle at the reminder of how he should act around his own men; he knew full well how to work with the troops, seeing as he'd been leading them long before Phillips had ever been born.
"I told you. I'll tell you later." Phillips remained standing on the street until he felt that Alfred was far enough on the sidewalk to avoid getting wet with slush that cars kicked up from the street. Then he jogged to catch up with Alfred, who was waiting patiently by the door to the recruitment station. "Now, I don't usually do fanfare on these trips because I hope that the recruits are smart enough to recognize a rank insignia when they see one. Of course, it will be trickier with you because you blatantly ignored me…" Phillips's words disappeared into a mutter as he reached forward and pulled the door open.
Alfred bit back a small smirk of satisfaction. The general was learning already.
When the two of the entered the main waiting room, no one paid them much attention at first. There was a general soft murmur of voices against the muted tap of the nurses' shoes as they walked amongst the candidates and the recruits. Some men were calm while others were slightly fidgeting in their seats. Anxiety, calm, and even anticipation were prominent in the atmosphere while there was an undercurrent of fear and doubt; Alfred may not have been good at sensing his fellow nations' moods at world meetings, but he was attuned to his people enough to sense them.
"Remember what I said," Phillips muttered before drifting off to the other side of the medical room, past the doctor who was approving or rejecting the applicants to where a drill sergeant was already speaking to two new recruits. As Alfred watched, the drill sergeant finally gestured for the two recruits to stand near their companions.
Instead of following Phillips, Alfred walked slowly down the middle of the room, blue eyes scanning the candidates. He felt a quiet pride for not only everyone in the room, but all those who had stepped forward when America needed them the most.
"Cohen, Isadore," the head physician said, and one of the candidates stood up and walked over. Alfred watched as words were exchanged and then Cohen walked over to the drill sergeant while the next recruit was called up for his examination results.
Then Alfred continued to walk over until he came up to the closest recruit, who had been watching the proceedings in silence. "Excuse me?" Alfred asked.
The kid jumped and looked up before snapping into a salute. Alfred felt a slight ache in his heart, one that wasn't new. The kid standing before him couldn't have been more than nineteen or twenty years old; his life was ahead of him and he already had Death's shadow hovering over his shoulder. "Y-yes sir?" the recruit said, his nerves visibly skyrocketing.
"What is your name?" Alfred asked quietly.
"Th…Thomas Beckett sir. But my friends call me 'Tom'," Tom said, stumbling over his words and turning a slight pink in embarrassment.
"Alfred Jones," Alfred said, extending his hand. Tom relaxed slightly before accepting the handshake.
Somewhere in the background, the physician intoned, "Shaw, Robert."
Alfred asked, "Where are you from, Tom?" Curious blue eyes met nervous brown.
"Brooklyn, sir. Near the Williamsburg Bridge." Tom hesitated, and then said, "My parents and twin sisters are going to Albany to live with my aunt and uncle. Pearl Harbor rattled them badly, sir."
Alfred internally grimaced at the unintentional reminder. In another lifetime, he might have told this man that there was nothing to worry about, that the Atlantic protected the East Coast from any European threats.
Pearl Harbor changed everything.
A soft cough from the physician behind him. "Rogers, Steven."
Alfred placed a hand on Tom's shoulder. He couldn't promise the man anything, but that didn't mean he couldn't say anything else. "Thank you, for coming here," he said quietly so that only Tom could hear.
Alfred drifted to Tom's neighbor, an Italian-American who had been discussing different opera singers with his neighbor. Both men had plans to visit Vienna once the war was over, and the neighbor was planning to bring his girlfriend along too. "It will be the three of us against the world!" he said eagerly before the Italian-American distracted him with the name of another singer.
Alfred glanced back at the end of the line, but only saw Shaw next to Beckett. He briefly wondered what happened to Rogers before turning his attention back to the next man. This recruit was the son of a baker, and apparently had plans to visit Paris before the war broke out two years ago.
He continued down the line, speaking with various recruits before he casually glanced up at Phillips, just to see what the older man was doing. To his slight surprise, the general was talking to a scrawny and unhealthy-looking young man, and the general had the look of a cat about to pounce on the canary. However, before Alfred could turn to casually walk over and satisfy his piqued curiosity, the young man nodded and allowed two MPs to escort him away to the back of the building while Phillips resumed his best poker face.
Now Alfred was curious.
"So, who was that?" he asked as he joined the general.
"No one. Go away," Phillips said curtly as he turned to the baffled drill sergeant.
"Whoa, hang on. I'm sorry for not listening to you this morning if that's why you're upset," Alfred said, adding in the sincerity into his tone; it worked on Arthur every time. Once Arthur thought that Alfred was sincerely apologetic, he usually caved and gave Alfred whatever information Alfred wanted.
Apparently Phillips didn't work that way. "Go away Jones, I'm in the middle of a conversation here."
"Uh-huh," Alfred said right as the drill sergeant turned to talk to one of his subordinates, evidently sensing the brewing storm and bailing as fast as he could. "C'mon Phillips, we're buddies now," he said, draping an arm around the general's shoulders, who stiffened. "I mean, it's not like your conversation is top secret or anything," he added, careful to add a very slight whine to his words.
"Who said it wasn't top secret?" Phillips asked through slightly clenched teeth as he pinched Alfred's sleeve between two fingers and removed the arm from his shoulders. "And we're not buddies, I have work to do and you have injuries to recover from. And do not touch me like that."
Sensing the general's dark mood, Alfred wisely backed off. "Does your conversation have anything to do with that thing we discussed this morning?" he asked.
The sour look on Phillips's face was enough of an answer. "Right, don't talk about it. Sorry." Alfred gave him a sheepish grin.
Phillips pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why don't you go do me a favor and grab two coffees from the café next door?" he asked, pulling out and pressing some money into Alfred's hand. "You can order whatever you want."
"What do you want?"
Phillips sighed. "Surprise me."
Alfred nodded, offering the general a cheeky grin. He knew when someone was trying to get rid of him. So he'd do as Phillips suggested and surprise him. Before he could go though, Phillips added, "Take it easy Jones." The smile on the man's face was so quick that Alfred thought he missed it. Then, as though to throw Alfred for another loop, Phillips saluted before going back to the drill sergeant, who still looked nervous.
Just a few more days. Then I can go overseas.
A blast of sharp and cold December air to the face startled Alfred, who pulled his jacket tighter around himself. A light snowfall had started while Alfred was indoors, coating cars and the streets in a thin white blanket. All around him, bundled New Yorkers were hurrying along to their destinations, the air thick with fear and apprehension. Alfred pinched the bridge of his nose to ward off the oncoming headache while nearly knocking his glasses off; the general mood of the nation was torn between determination and trepidation. Something was different about this war. Alfred could sense it; the people could sense it. It wasn't the war itself or its participants, it was something else, something beyond the obvious.
The question was, what about the war this time was different?
Alfred was embarrassed to admit that he would not have realized that someone crashed into him if he hadn't heard the yelp of pain behind him. Startled, he turned around to find a young man was scrambling back to his feet, the streak of clean pavement behind young man betraying the fact that the man had slipped into him.
"Sorry…sorry…there was ice," the man said as he tried to scramble to his feet, only to succeed to slip on another hidden patch of ice. "Sorry sir, I didn't mean…"
"Hey, it's all right." Alfred extended a hand, and the man hesitated before accepting it. The stranger couldn't have been older than his early teens; he came up to Alfred's chest. It wasn't until that Alfred got a good look at him that he realized that it was the scrawny kid in the recruiting station that the MPs escorted away. "Say, you were inside, weren't you?"
The young man froze, but then slowly relaxed when he realized that Alfred wasn't mocking him. "Thought I would give it another chance sir, especially since we're going to war for real," he admitted, shrugging slightly. "But I remember you too. You came in with General Phillips."
"Yes I did, but I don't work for him or anything." Alfred offered his hand out. "Alfred F. Jones."
The man grinned and then took it. "Steve Rogers, sir."
"Hey, we're friends now. Friends aren't formal with each other," Alfred said, quirking a small smile.
Steve grinned despite himself. "I guess you're right si-, I mean, Alfred."
"C'mon, let's get out of the cold," Alfred suggested, nodding toward the coffee shop that Phillips had sent him to. Steve fell in step beside him, albeit with slight difficulty, and Alfred slowed down to match Steve's natural pace. "Do you want to see a doctor about your head? You know, when you fell?"
Steve shook his head. "I've received worse than a head bump over the years."
Alfred raised an eyebrow. "How old are you?" he asked as he pulled the door open and held it to let Steve in first.
"Twenty-one, but I've been on my own since I was sixteen," Steve replied as Alfred followed him into the warm coffee shop. This was one of Alfred's favorite places in Manhattan, and the barista was a redhead who was used to Alfred's frequent visits; he could see her already preparing his usual order.
"Alfred…if you don't mind me asking, but had you served in the army before?" Steve asked as they approached the stools at the counter.
"Yes. Still do…just resting from an injury I sustained recently." Alfred felt an unforgiving twinge in his shoulder, reminding him that he was exerting himself more than he probably should be at the moment. He glanced at Steve as they sat down and asked, "I take it that was your first time in the recruiting station?"
Steve shrugged, looking faintly embarrassed. "That actually was my twelfth time." His small frame was now more visible in the café lighting; his thick coat seemed to hang off of him rather than actually fit. It was no secret as to why he kept receiving rejections despite his repeated attempts. His blond hair was still matted from the melting snow, and he seemed to be repressing slight shivers.
"Oh…wait. Your twelfth time?" Alfred asked as the barista came over and placed his coffee in front of him.
"Yeah…just a small regular coffee…no sugar and a little cream," Steve said, momentarily distracted by the barista. Once she left with his order, he added, "I thought that since the United States responded to Germany's and Italy's declarations of war, we'd be in need of more soldiers…and that the recruiters wouldn't be picky this time around." He hesitated, and then added, "There are men laying down their lives over there, and I've got no right to do any less than them. All I need is a chance."
Alfred, for once, found himself at a loss for words. Then, after mentally gathering his bearings again, he asked quietly, "You're going to try again soon, aren't you?"
Steve hesitated, as though thinking quickly. "I'm just trying to do my part here, Alfred," he finally said, carefully choosing his words. He didn't quite meet Alfred's eye.
Alfred nodded quietly, choosing to let the matter drop. There were things still left unsaid between the two of them, such as the manner of Steve's next attempt or more importantly, what he and General Phillips had talked about earlier. Alfred knew better than to pry; people had a tendency to clam up and become defensive when the interrogator accidentally probed too close to a sensitive matter.
He figured he could wait until Phillips said something.
"Hey Jones," the barista said, catching his attention. She passed Steve's drink to him and said, "Was anyone expecting you again?"
Oh shit. "Yeah...why?"
The barista rolled her eyes. How many times did Jones walk into her coffee shop while on a mission or errand only to forget the original purpose of his visit? "That cranky man over there is giving me the evil eye. Took me a few minutes to realize he was glaring at you."
Both Steve and Alfred turned to see a grumpy Phillips standing outside the café, holding up a thick coat that had white stars on the shoulders; he must have gone back to the apartment to grab thicker clothing. Snow was already creating another thin blanket on his jacket as he mouthed, 'Don't make me come in there after you, I promise it won't be pretty.'
All in all, to say that Phillips was an unhappy man would be an understatement.
"Hey listen," Alfred said, taking a napkin from a nearby dispenser before pulling out a dying pen from his pocket. "Stay in touch, all right?" he said, scribbling his address…or at least trying to. The napkin ripped, but the barista sighed before handing him a new pen and napkin.
"Of course. If it all works out, maybe we can spend time together when you go on leave," Steve suggested as he accepted the napkin.
"Sure! I bet we can find two girls too, make it a double date or something. I know, dancing!"
Steve laughed slightly at Alfred's enthusiasm. "I don't know about the dancing part, it's hard to find a girl who isn't worried about stepping on her partner."
"I'll figure something out, don't worry," Alfred said, standing up. He glanced at the barista with a slightly pleading expression, and he grinned when she nodded in acknowledgement. "Hey, don't worry about paying, my treat," he said while sliding the money over the counter, where it disappeared into the barista's apron pocket.
"All right, thank you."
Both men jumped at Phillips's muffled yell. "Stay in touch," Alfred whispered before he turned and left for the café door.
The conversation he'd had with Steve was worth the lecture he received about not taking better care of himself and grabbing his coat from the apartment before going anywhere else, and then forgetting to bring Phillips his dose of caffeine. However, it wasn't until Alfred was back in his apartment and sitting down on the couch to listen to Phillips's secret plans that he realized something. The injuries from Pearl Harbor still hurt, but after seeing the recruits and talking to Steve, Alfred was beginning to cautiously hope again. There was slightly less pain now as compared to earlier in the day.
He failed his people once.
He vowed never to fail them again.
A/N: I'm sure that Marvel fans are well aware of how notorious Marvel can be with its continuity. For the purposes of this story, I'm going on the assumption that Captain America didn't come around until after Pearl Harbor (it's really not something to get fixated on, it's what I personally consider a minor detail for purposes of timekeeping. Same thing goes for the ficlet series that accompanies this). This story, as well as its spinoffs, will be combining comics and cinematic elements. Anyway, the Avengers and all related media belong to Marvel. Hetalia Axis Powers and all related material belong to Hidekaz Himaruya. Finally, the opening sentence belongs to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, since it was taken directly from his Infamy Speech, given on Dec. 7th, 1941.
As a heads-up, the story will be heading into the twenty-first century in the next chapter.