Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty

Synopsis: The world now knows that Steve Rogers is the man behind Captain America's Mask, but who is Steve Rogers? A Super Soldier? A Super Patriot? The perfect hero? Or just an ordinary man living in extraordinary times? The world knows Captain America, but Cap confides in one person the true story of how he became the sentinel of liberty that we know today.

Category: Marvel

Genre: Drama/Action/Adventure

Rating: PG13 for dealing with issues such as sex, war, violence, death, grief, and worst of all politics

Author's Notes: I have tried to keep the story as close to the Canon as I can, but since even the Canon writers can't do that I have freelanced a bit. Not any more than John Byrne or Kurt Busiek would, though. Some of the recent gobblygook and junky RETCONs from the Mark Waid run has been disregarded. This is my first Fanfic so R&R would be appreciated.

Prologue:

For years afterward those that saw it would still tell the story. It would change with time, of course, as all stories do. Sometimes truth can depend greatly upon your point of view. These were only the details, though, and if you strip away those details then you find that the spirit of the story remains there, unchanged. The onlookers that had surrounded the building had spent hours looking on in worry. The police had failed to gain entrance to the convention center. Both a conventional raid and a SWAT assault team had been thwarted, and it was a miracle that none of the hostages had been harmed. These were not mere terrorists holding these hostages after all, but rather powerful superhumans who were secure in their power and in their abilities. The most arrogant of criminals. The Force of Nature, as they called themselves saw this as much as a protest as a hostage situation. For hours they had held these politicians against their will, forcing them to listen to their version of events. The security forces and secret service agents had been no use against the Force and their paramilitary support group. Dead and wounded agents littered the ground. The Democratic National Convention had ground to a halt amidst the assault, and now the nation looked on. They looked on and would never forget what they saw.

"For four years every bit of progress we had made toward saving this planet for the next generation has been rolled back by a callous administration, and you gutless participants... you so-called opposition party... HAVE DONE NOTHING!" Aquifer screamed into the microphone.

Once upon a time he had been a two bit super crook known as the Water Wizard. Then he had his soul roasted by the hellfire from a demon that called itself Zarathos... or Ghost Rider. He had never been the same , and had thrown his life into the environmental cause as if it could help wash away all the wrong he had ever done in his life. The delegates and their political masters alike cringed before him, and that selfish part of him that made him a criminal in the first place reveled in it. He was not thinking of what he was saying as the diatribe continued. All that he could think of was the images of Prince William Sound, of Three Mile Island and Love Canal. The words came by themselves, but it was the images that stuck with him. The image of a ruined world incapable of sustaining life littered with the skeletons of those that had only worried about how to make their next million dollars. Behind him, Firefly, Earthmaster, and Cyclone looked on with their arms crossed. They cared in the same way that he did, but were not as able to make their point with words. All of them were people of action, but it was the former Water Wizard that most shined in the spotlight.

It didn't matter anyway, because there was one thing that they had not considered.

When the wall of the convention center burst in, they had at first thought that it was another pathetic attempt by the police to rescue the delegates. The last attempt, with tear gas, had been especially amusing when Cyclone had used his wind power to sent it back out into the rubbernecking crowd. They were mistaken, and they knew it immediately when they saw the silhouettes of the figures that were walking through the smoke. No... not walking. Even those that were actually traveling forward by the locomotion of their own two feet could not be considered to be walking as much as they were striding. Some of them were flying, but all of their profiles were unmistakable. A gleaming figure of red and gold. A huge, broad shouldered warrior with a winged helm. A man that was easily 12 feet tall, and seeming to grow more by the instant. A flying woman with gossamer wings. Between them all, striding before them all, was the one figure that first cleared the cloud of dust and came clearly into view. He was not the tallest of them... being a merely six foot two. He was not the mightiest of them, but he was the most imposing nonetheless. When the bright illumination of the convention center's stadium lighting hit the shield he carried, he almost seemed to glow with red white and blue brilliance. The assembled Force, and even their paramilitaries, could not help but take a step back at the sight of the figure.

"Captain America!" Aquifer gasped into the microphone.

"The Avengers!" Cyclone screamed in an urgent, uniquely French squeal.

"Right on both counts!" The commanding voice boomed from the chest of the red white, and blue gladiator.

"What are you doing here!" Aquifer screamed in dismay "Can't you see what we are doing? Can't you see we are saving the world?"

Captain America looked at the dead men, looked back to the "activists" on stage, and didn't deem that worthy of a response.

"Give yourself up peacefully, and I promise you that you won't be harmed." He said with more compassion than these people deserved as the forms of his team mates fanned out to surround the stage "Otherwise, I can't make you any promises."

"Surrender?" Water Wizard sputtered. "We should be asking for your surrender! You are outnumbered, outgunned, and outmatched."

"We're always outnumbered." Cap said confidently, slowly advancing "I'm not going to waste another minute negotiating with you, because this is not a negotiation."

"Forces of Nature! ATTACK!" Aquifer screamed to his compatriots, but they barely had time to react before the Avengers were on top of them.

Cyclone attempted to use his wind powers, only to find them usurped by the hulking form before him, a glowing hammer that gave him more power over weather than Cyclone could possibly imagine. Thor slapped him like you or I would slap the wrist of a disobedient four year old trying to stick his finger in a light socket, but still rendered him unconscious. Iron Man hovered in front of Firefly, unimpressed with the blazing sheet of flame that was rushing round him like it wasn't even there. One repulsor blast put her down. Hank Pym, in Yellowjacket garb but grown to Giant Man size, picked up the former Plant man in the palm of his hand and punched him through the stage while the Wasp blasted the still gabbing Water Wizard with a bio electric sting that could have dropped a charging rhinoceros. The so called Force of nature didn't stand a chance, but it wasn't this deliberate and flawless assault by Earth's Mightiest heroes that captured the nation's imagination that night.

It was the image of the paramilitary troops of the Force throwing down their weapons and walking toward Captain America with their hands up. He had not needed to make a speech. He hadn't needed to throw a punch. All he had needed to do was look at them without the slightest hint of fear, and they knew that being outnumbered meant nothing to this man. The image would grace the covers of Time and Newsweek the next week, Captain America and his shining shield impassively accepting the surrender of the terrorists that had nearly brought a nation to its knees. As usual, there would be bickering about the amount of force used. For the hard liners there would never be enough. To the hard liners Dirty Harry Callahan was a wuss. To the ACLU crowd, the amount of force the Avengers used was beyond excessive. None of that mattered, however, because not one of those Avengers would ever read those articles. They had been doing this for years, and were the very best there was. There wasn't a soul in the world who could say differently and expect anyone to agree with them. The Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes, were in a class by themselves.

So was the man that led them.


There are two sides to every story, however.

What the nation did not know, and what they would never know, was that the perfectly executed plan had gone wrong. They would never know that Captain America was not supposed to stand there before the paramilitaries. He was supposed to take them down, but he had not. They had seen his rigid form just standing there and mistook it for an ultimate nonchalant confidence. Ninety percent of communication is nonverbal, and his body language had definitely said "you mess with me and you're messing with the best." His stare had frozen them in their tracks, and failed to make them realize that the exact same thing had happened to him. Yet is was not because of them that he had frozen, it was what he saw behind them. There were a hundred faces visible on that convention floor, but he had locked in on one of them and his heart had skipped a beat. Then two beats. Then he had wondered if it was ever going to start again. Brown, curly hair. Soft green eyes. Unmistakable features. There was no doubt in his mind when he had locked eyes with her.

Bernie Rosenthal.

He had played it off well, not only to the cameras but to his own team mates. It would not do to worry them, after all. He sensed that they were dissatisfied with his explanation of what had happened, but if there was one thing that he had learned in his long years it was that you couldn't argue with results. The mission had been accomplished, and with less bloodshed than if he had dived into the fray and started kicking in teeth. In the end that was all that mattered. At least, that was all that mattered to Captain America. As the Captain walked into his austere little room in Avengers mansion, though, there was a nagging voice in the back of his head that questioned what would have happened if his inaction had given the men the opportunity to gun down the hostages, including the beautiful face that his eyes were locked onto. What would have happened, what would he have done, if Bernie died in front of his eyes. This voice was a voice he knew well, because it was his voice. It was the voice of reason. It was the voice of Steve Rogers. He pulled of his mask to reveal Steve Roger's features as he walked into the bathroom, trying not to look in the mirror as he did it. HE took off his read gloves and threw them on the ground before he turned on the faucet and relentlessly splashed cold water on his face.

"Get a hold of yourself, Rogers." he said between splashes.

Slowly he raised his eyes to look at the expression that looked back at him from the mirror. He had found it harder and harder to look himself in the eyes lately, which was just another of a hundred things that he talked about with no one.

"Who are you?" He asked his reflection softly.

The people who had seen him that night could have no idea that the supremely confident Avenger they had seen could ever ask himself that question. There was no way that they could know. For just as there are two sides to every story... there are also two sides to every man. Even a man like Steve Rogers. Even a man like Captain America. For when Steve Rogers looked in the mirror these days he never saw the invincible super soldier that he had become. He never saw the Sentinel of Liberty that was admired the world over. He didn't see the Living Legend of World War Two, or the leader of the Avengers. All he saw was a skinny, scarecrow of a boy with fear in his eyes and dirt on his face. He did not splash the cold water on his face to wash away his cold sweat, although it did that job as well. He splashed it on to try and get rid of that dirt.

No matter how much he tried, it never came off.

Next: A Boy named Steve

How much do you know about Captain America's childhood? How much do you REALLY want to know? Read on next week true believer!