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08 May 2010 @ 12:58 am
(fic) This Woman's War 4/4  
Title: This Woman's War 4/4
Author(s): tsukinofaerii
Beta: cursor_mundi
Fandom: Marvel 1610: Ultimates
Pairings: Stephanie (Steve) Rogers/Gail Richards; pre-Tony Stark/Steve Rogers
Rating: R
Notes: Violence, Genderswap, non-explicit Femslash, pre-Het

Word Count: ~37,000

Summary: Stevie Rogers, the only known survivor of Operation Rebirth, has spent four years masquerading as Captain America, the hyper-masculine symbol of America. When she wakes up in a strange military hospital, surrounded by people who insist on the impossible, Stevie assumes what any right-thinking person would—that it's a secret Nazi base. All that's left is to break out and find her way back to the war. After all, she's got a promise to keep to the girl waiting on her back stateside.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Art | OST

Note: No artist claimed this one, so it's all the product of a single creator.

***

"You lie to Bruce, Jan! Bruce trusted you!" Another tank crashed across the pavement, rolling over a dozen corpses before being stopped by a building Tony thought might be a gym. "Lies!"

The Hulk's voice was muted automatically by the transmitters in his helmet. Otherwise it would have been so loud it blew the speakers. He worked on pulling himself out of the wall he'd been tossed into without upsetting it any more. The structure had been made unstable already. If he didn't take care, he'd bring the whole thing down.

"You fucking moron, I didn't know he was going to use the original Hulk formula!" Jan screamed, buzzing around Hulk's face to keep him distracted trying to catch her. "I told you to account for the gender differences! This so isn't my damned fault!"

"You lie!" One of the Hulk's great big hands grabbed for her. On Tony's visuals, Jan barely evaded by spinning backwards in mid-flight. Close-up showed an ugly purple bruise spreading across her cheek. "Hulk squish bug lady! Chew her up and swallow!"

Everything was going wrong. The team was too new. Tony hadn't designed anything to take on a creature like the Grumpy-Not-So-Green Giant. And Hank—the only person they had who could hit hard enough to make the Hulk notice—was in the same position Tony was in, except the building was ten stories and keeping him pinned.

He was too sober to be this screwed without a kiss.

"Happy, buddy, you there?" A piece of wall had caught the ankle of the armor. His eyes followed it up, estimating the support it was providing the leaning tower of future-disaster above him. Blasting it was not an option, damn it.

Jan screamed as it was her turn to be batted head over heels, and she didn't have anything but her small size to protect her. Hulk started lumbering towards the line of soldiers that he'd already decimated once, passing out of sight of Tony's sensors. By the smacking of his lips, Tony figured he was going for a snack.

Right here, Mr. Stark.

Thank God for Hogan. He always sounded so reassuringly in control, even when the world had already gone to hell. "Give me ten percent extra power in just the left leg. Slam it to the whole suit if the ceiling goes. Got it?"

Roger that, sir. Ready when you are.

Screams and gunfire were worse than the crackle of the Hulk's too-loud voice. "And tell the lady I left that I'm a little trapped here—I think her name is Manda, Mandy, Melissa... Something with an M, anyway. She should get one of the cars to take her home."

Slowly, slowly Tony used the extra power to inch his leg out from the press. Every time he moved, the bricks and rubble shifted alarmingly. The Iron Man had been scratched and dented like a cheap car at a monster truck rally.

"And Nick Fury owes me a paint job," he muttered between gritted teeth as he gave the trapped leg one last yank. Overhead, the ceiling dropped three inches, but didn't collapse. "Okay, Happy, power back to normal. Let's see if I can piss him off enough to keep him distracted while Hank digs free."

You've got a line on a miracle, boss?

Metal and rock ground together as he pushed to his feet, stressed servos screeching as he forced them to function. He'd never been able to design the armor in a way that made getting up from a prone position easy. That was going to have to be the next priority, after the new paint job. "Just a prayer, Happy. Just a prayer."

When the armor finished pulling itself upright, Tony climbed out of the hole he'd been in. Half of something blessedly unidentifiable was hanging from between Hulk's giant lips. His gauntlets hummed as the thought scramblers charged. Hulk was too stupid for there to be much to scramble, but it would buy them some time, either for Hank to wake up or for Fury's team to administer the antidote.

Assuming Fury's team wasn't somewhere in the pile of bodies.

"Hey, ugly!" Mad red eyes turned to look at him, a gnawed thigh bone between his teeth. The scramblers on Tony's wrists flashed blue as they finished charging. "No wonder Betty Ross can't stand you any more! Look at you, you look like a chunk of phlegm!"

With a roar, the Hulk abandoned his meal and threw himself at Tony. "Hulk gonna rip your head off and eat it!"

Tony hit the jets in his boots, barely scraping by as the Hulk rushed under him. His hands clamped down on each ear. "Eat this!" Neural scramblers screamed to life, louder than even the Hulk's roar of pain. The ground shook as the Hulk crashed to his knees, shaking his head and shoulders like an enraged bull.

No matter how hard he tried to hang on, the flailing sent Tony rolling over the pavement with a bone-jarring thud. Bits of lank hair and scalp were clutched between his fingers from trying to stay on. A curb slammed into his back, bringing the roll to a stop. At his knees, the joints whirled and sparked, grinding to a loud halt as he tried to push upright. The damage was too much. Power: 14.3% flashed in his visuals.

Fifty feet away, the Hulk was still shaking his head and trying to crawl up from his prone position.

Desperate, Tony opened all com lines. "I'm down and I'm not getting back up! For God's sake, get someone to distract him! Happy, get me backup power to that knee joint! Reroute it from the weapons systems!"

We're working on it! Nick's voice called. There's no one left to hold him—Jan and Hank are both down for the count! Get the hell out of there, Stark!

Thought, if it could be call that, was obviously coming back to the monster. His head swung in Tony's direction, teeth bared as he realized what had happened. Slowly, unsteadily, the Hulk pushed to his knees.

A single bullet cracked into the pavement. Tony's visuals focused in on the target—it had hit directly between the Hulk's spread fingers.

"Hold it right there, Mister!"
***

Stevie held the gun steady as the monster turned to look at her. She'd seen the other soldiers' bullets bounce off his hide, but she could land a shot in the eyeball if she had to. Behind the monster, the robot jerked as if trying to get up. Something about its movements was frenzied, sickeningly human in its desperation.

In the time it had taken her to drive from Brooklyn to Fort Hamilton, the entire base had been torn down. The only soldiers left in the area were dead, or would have been better off that way. She'd passed the Giant-Man—the one that had attacked her, the bastard—and even he'd been abandoned while he pulled himself out of what looked like three buildings piled in one heap.

The thing was going down, and it was going to go down fast, one way or the other.

"You talking to Hulk, pretty lady?" It twisted its body to stare at her, looking over its shoulder.

God, the bastard was big—big and ugly. Floodlights didn't help, making the lumpy, misshapen skull look even more like something from a horror flick. Its skin was a sickly grey, a color the belonged more to a corpse than anything else. "Yeah, I'm talking to you. You want to dance, big boy? You can dance with me."

An evil, hungry smile crept over its face. As soon as it finished turning, she revised her thoughts—it was definitely a he, and he was happy to see her. Only people were that sick. "You wanna play with Hulk, pretty? Be Hulk's new girlfriend?"

She fired another shot, planting it square over the delicate tissue of Hulk's jugular. The bullet bounced, but a dark bruise blossomed. Moving one foot at a time over the slippery pavement, she stepped backwards, moving between the abandoned military vehicles.

"I'd rather kiss the robot, you wimp," she taunted. Another shot landed directly over the first, prompting the monster to snarl and swat at the place. "I like my men big and tough. You're too small for me, little man."

"Hulk's not small!" The creature lumbered at her, crawling over the remains of crumbled buildings like they were nothing. "Hulk show you! Hulk show you and Betty what you're missing!"

"Little, little man." Ignoring the obvious evidence otherwise, Stevie laughed loudly and gave the monster a once-over glance. "I bet you can't even do it, can you? I could tap dance naked and you'd be limp as a noodle. Poor little boy." A few more steps took her behind the open door of one of the bigger trucks that were designed to carry other vehicles. Its engine rumbled gently in the chill night air, washing a wave of heat over bare ankles. "I'd break a baby boy like you in half, you know. Better off without me. I wouldn't want to hurt you."

Howling incoherently, he charged straight for her, arms spread. Stevie threw herself at the cab of the truck. Curled up with her feet braced on the floorboard, she slammed it into gear and punched the gas. Rubber screeched and smoked before the truck took off. The Hulk was too close to get to top speed, but she aimed it for his hips and gave it everything it had anyway.

Hulk roared, moving too fast to stop his momentum and dodge. Just before impact, Stevie tucked and rolled, bailing out. Pavement scraped her arms and shoulders raw where she tumbled over and over, until she slowed enough to pull herself to her feet.

With a magnificent crash, the truck had slammed into the monster's shins. The bumper snapped snapped audibly as his legs caught under moving truck before sheer momentum dragged him over the hood and along the armor-plated sides. Together, truck and monster crashed into a six-foot pile of rubble.

"That won't hold him." The voice came from somewhere just above. Stevie jerked backwards looking upwards. A tiny woman, about the side of her pinkie, hovered midair. She didn't do it well, though—it was obvious she was in pain from the way she held her arm.

"What the hell are you?"

"It's a long story, honey." The pixie fluttered close enough for Stevie to see that her hair was dark. "We're not done here, here. He'll be out of that in no time."

"Son of a bitch." Stevie looked around for something, anything that might take out a monster that could get up from that sort of blow. Nothing presented itself. She hadn't expected it to. If anything had been obvious, the others would have used it. "What sort of damage can he take?"

"Like this? Anything. We can drop a bomb on the city and it won't stop him." The truck started moving, rocking back and forth. Bricks rolled to the side as the monster started to free itself. "And we want him alive. He's a good man. There's an antidote—"

They were all crazy. "If that thing can do this much damage, like hell I'm leaving him alive." She checked her gun for any obvious damage, and hoped she had enough bullets. "Get me that antidote and I'll try to use it, that's all I'll promise."

The pixie stared at her, then nodded and winged off skyward. Either she was escaping the carnage or she was going to do something useful, Stevie didn't care which. The truck rocked hard to the left, then tilted. Metal and glass screeched and tore as he finished ripping free and fell to the side. Muscles, looking even angrier than before, the Hulk emerged from the hole.

"You just made Hulk madder!" He picked up a piece of building the size of a small car and threw it at her. Stevie dodged, ducking behind a big transport. "Hulk gonna make you scream!"

"You couldn't make a cat scream!" she yelled back, rising out from her cover to fire off another shot, then ducking back low. This time the bullet pinged off his cheekbone, instead of the eyeball shot she'd intended. Hulk didn't even seem to notice enough to swat at it.

"You come out, pretty lady! Hulk show you real good time!" Half a jeep bounced overhead, missing her hiding place by three yards. Keeping low, Stevie ran for another piece of cover, ducking from vehicle to vehicle like a kid playing musical chairs. Hulk was throwing things in every direction, his aim as bad as a drunk man's, but the ballistics were less frequently in her direction.

She wasn't going to get to repeat the trick again. The grey bastard didn't rush her like he had before, watching warily from a distance as he hurled chunks of architecture in her direction. Stevie stayed down and closed her eyes and took a slow breath.

A few feet away, a motor whined. Metal scraped over the asphalt. She opened her eyes.

The robot was crawling over, using mainly its arms. The whine was its knee—sparks and soot were clearly visible along the metal seams. It could move the joint, but every time it bent more than twenty degrees, the metal screamed protest.

"Come out! Come out and fight Hulk!"

Maybe the robot had self-preservation built in. It looked expensive enough to be worth it. Couldn't have been a very strong directive, if it hadn't fled the scene. Stevie ignored it, listening to the Hulk's movements. Every now and then, a flying piece of masonry made it clear that he hadn't wandered off. That was good. As long as he kept attacking her from a distance, she could think of something.

The robot settled against one of the transport's wheels with a loud scrape. "He's working up to come at you again." It's voice was staticy and metallic, but the inflections were too human.

Stevie glanced over, then ducked down as a van came too close to hitting them. "Tell me something I don't know," she hissed. "Does any part of you explode?"

"I have an anti-tank missile. It might annoy him a little." Its head tilted to the side. "Unless you have a plan?"

Goosebumps crawled up her back at the too-human gesture. Robots shouldn't move that like, she was sure of it. "I don't have enough information for a plan. This is just winging it."

"That's not a very reassuring thing for Superwoman to say."

Rolling her eyes, Stevie glanced down at the symbol on her chest, then back up. "You're a robot. What do you know about reassuring?" If she hadn't known better, she would have said its body language looked affronted. "Just fire the damned thing when I tell you to, got it?" The lob and bounce of ballistic buildings had paused for too long. Stevie couched on her knees, peering under the bed of the truck. No giant feet were in sight. "Shi—"

"Hulk see you, pretty lady!"

A shadow crossed in front of the floodlights. Battle-honed instinct had her rolling under the carriage of the transport. Metal crashed as the monster's weight cracked the front axel. The front of the transport smashed down, crumpling like a used hanky.

Stevie kept moving, coming out into the light on the other side and rolling directly to her feet. Too large teeth pulled back into a snarl as the Hulk turned to face her. Every step crunched more metal and glass as he used the transport like a catwalk. Elbow loose, grip firm, finger on the trigger. Stevie sighted down the barrel of her pistol, holding her ground.

Squeeze.

Dark blood squirted as the eyeball popped like a balloon. Hulk screamed, clutching his face, but it didn't kill him. Stevie cursed and fired again, aiming lower. Grey meat burst over his groin, and even in the stillness of battle, Stevie grinned to herself. Just like she'd thought—the tender skin there didn't have the same rock-hard toughness as the rest of him.

The gun clicked empty on her third pull. Her grin dropped away.

"Fire the missile!" she screamed, throwing the empty weapon aside and sprinting for cover. "Into the under-carriage while he's distracted!"

She hadn't been sure the robot would obey, but seconds after her order the whole transport exploded. Heat washed over the demolished square, red flames licking up like hellfire. Roaring, the Hulk launched through the air with the force of the explosion. He crashed into a pile of rubble, creating a crater. A few pieces of rubble collapsed inward, then everything was still.

There was no way that had taken him down. Warily, Stevie stepped toward the crater, eyes sharp for movement.

Something small clinked at her feet. Stevie jumped back. A large hypodermic needle rolled slightly on the uneven surface, its payload a disgusting shade of green.

"Here's the antidote." The pixie woman dropped down to eyelevel. Even though she was tiny, she was obviously panting from the effort of having carried the needle. "Just get it in and this'll be over before you know it."

"I've heard that one before." Never the less, she bent down and grabbed the little thing. It dropped into one of her pockets with too much weight for its small size. "You guys have any help on the way?"

The small woman shook her head. They were so close that Stevie could actually read the anger on her face. "We're all we've got. The nearest troops won't get here for an hour."

"By then, that thing will have leveled New York." Could anything in this time go right? She was starting to think the people in the future were lucky they made it to the future at all. "Keep aerial lookout." Someone that small wasn't good for much else in a fight like they were in.

Rubble rolled and clattered under her as she climbed the pile. It took using hands and feet to keep from sliding back down, and even then a few scrapes left her battered and less a meter along. She kept pushing upward, until the final slope gave way to the top.

Before she could even look into the crater, the whole thing exploded. Stevie flew head over tail through the air, landing on her shoulder blades and skidding. The back of her t-shirt shredded like paper, leaving her back a mess of ground meat.

Stevie groaned and pushed to her feet. Adrenalin was too high for her to feel the pain, but the slight tug of skin across her back wasn't a good sign.

A giant foot caught her in the gut. Ribs cracked as she sprawled backwards, back to the pavement. Another blow took them from cracked to outright broken. Blood dripped from Hulk's mangled penis as he stood over her, fists pulled back for a blow that would take off her head. His empty eye-socket was a mess of gore and meat. It managed to glare as malevolently as the other eye.

Her leg shot up, foot catching him right in what was left of his crotch. Ozone filled the air with its sharp, metallic stench. Rock screamed and vibrated as lightning struck. The flare of light outlined Hulk's rictus of pain in sharp shadows.

Stevie twisted to bring her leg up in a higher kick. It took two of them to dislocate his hip, and another snapped his knee at the joint. Hulk writhed, reaching for her with murder in his eyes. Another kick landed in his gullet, not even phasing him as his great hands wrapped around her throat. Air flow constricted, Stevie grabbed for the fingers, trying to break even one.

Out of nowhere, something slammed into Hulk's head. He dropped her, staggering backwards. Another blow crashed into his chest, tossing him back a meter. The third slammed across his ribs.

Thor held his hammer ready as he stood over the big grey form. "Stay down! You are defeated!"

Stevie forced herself to breathe as she climbed to her feet. Hulk was already trying to stand on his dislocated knee. Lightning crackled overhead, though Stevie could have sworn it was a clear sky.

"Stephanie!" Thor called to her. "Stand back! Mjolnir can handle this fiend!"

God save her from heroes. If an anti-tank missile couldn't stop Hulk, he thought his toy hammer would? "You think I'm letting some horror reject take out my city?" She rolled her shoulders. Cold night air brushed over her wounds, making her grimace. "Try and stay out of my way, buddy—I've got an idea."

Not giving Thor a chance to play idiot, she dashed towards the monster, ducking under Thor's raised hammer. It wasn't as fast as she usually could run, but it was enough speed to let her jump up on Hulk's shoulders. She swung around, clinging to his head. Both of her legs locked around his neck as she fumbled in her pocket for the syringe.

Hulk twisted and crow hopped, trying to throw her off. His face turned grey-pink as she strangled him in turn. Thor stood like an idiot with his hammer up, chest open for any shot the Hulk cared to take, obviously worried about hitting her.

"Go for the knees!" she screamed as her hand finally closed around the syringe. Amazingly, Thor listened to her, swinging the hammer low. Hulk jumped, but between her weight throwing him off and his dislocated knee he couldn't get enough height in time.

Mjolnir caught him across the ankles. Hulk went down like a chopped tree, falling backwards. His weight crashed onto Stevie as the impact shocked the air from her lungs. It barely phased the monster; he started trying to get up immediately, but at least he wasn't twisting around like a wild bull anymore.

Chest heaving uselessly for lungs that refused to work, Stevie yanked the needle out of her pocket and flipped off the cap. Hanging on tight, she jabbed the thing deep into his neck. Depressing the plunger took too long, every breath another one that might have him jerk and break the needle.

When it the plunger hit bottom, she took an unsteady breath. Whatever had been in the needle took only seconds to work. She hadn't taken her second breath before the giant form shrunk, turning back into a lanky man with only a couple of scratches on him. Even his penis was mostly whole again.

Motors hummed. She turned to see the robot clattering up behind her, obviously about to break down. The pixie woman rode on its shoulder, hanging on by a break in the metal. To her astonishment, it saluted.

"Captain America, ma'am."

The broadcast was loud, and the formality pointless coming from a robot, so she ignored it. Aching, tired, and angry enough to take on another monster or two with just her teeth, Stevie pushed to her feet. Thor tried to help with a hand on her arm, but she glared him down and did it herself. "Who the hell's supposed to be in charge of this lunatic?"

"That's SHIELD business. They should be here soon enough to contain him."

Stevie snorted at that. "Soon enough to contain him would have been yesterday."

The faceplate lifted up to reveal the exhausted, slime-covered face of the ass who'd been trying to cop a feel in the hospital. He shrugged. With a human face on the robot's body, it was much less disturbing. "We try."

"Try harder," Stevie glared. "Now, where's that damned general?" She was going to have a few words with him.
***

Images flickered over the television screen, larger than life and still so real that the ashes and grit seemed to roll of the tongue. Tall, blonde and built like the WWFs wet dream, the woman with the Superman logo on her shirt crouched over the naked figure that had been the Hulk. She was a propaganda piece come to life, battered and bleeding, obviously wounded, but she'd seen the fight through to the end. Strength showed in every careful movement, her determination in the set of her jaw and the look in her eyes.

"Captain America, ma'am."

"Those were the words of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark after the battle of Fort Hamilton. White House sources who wish to remain unidentified say that the mystery woman is indeed, Stephanie Anne Rogers, the true Captain America who served in World War Two—"

Tony grinned as Fury turned off the news and slumped down in his office chair. It had been playing footage of the fight all day, and every showing just seemed to piss the General off more. For himself, Tony was pleased with how well the camera had caught the footage. After the news crews had abandoned it, it could have easily been crushed or just knocked off-center. Most of the battle had been recorded from helicopters overhead, but the one on the ground had easily caught the best of the action.

He'd even managed to put his little greeting square in the camera's view. That was something to be proud of, and he'd already helped himself to an extra drink for breakfast in reward. Money couldn't have bought better imagery, from the t-shirt to the explosion, it had all played out like a dream. Betty Ross was having orgasms in her office over it, and reporters were ringing the phones off the hooks.

He'd like to see Fury try and lock her up in a lab now.

"What do you have to say for yourself, Stark?" Nick demanded, dropping the remote control to his desk.

"Ha, ha, go team?" When Nick's expression closed, Tony grinned and sipped his martini. It was going on three days since he'd last slept, and he was getting punch drunk on top of his usual. "Come on, Fury, you think you could have still kept her hidden away after that? Even if I hadn't confirmed it, the reporters would have been abuzz about her identity. It was only a matter of time."

"And what if she wanted out?"

The question brought Tony up short. "What?"

Nick looked as tired as Tony had ever seen him. "You heard me. What if she wanted out? She'd been on ice for sixty-five years. God knows how she got into Project fucking Rebirth to start with. We don't know a mother fucking thing about this woman—what if she doesn't want to be Captain America any more?"

"What do you mean, what if she doesn't want to be?" Warm yellow lighting made the room seem cozy, but Nick's expression took a hammer to that. Tony frowned, trying to read it, but for once Nicolas Fury was a closed ledger. "She is Captain America."

"She was. And now she's got her life back. Or she could've had it."

Leather creaked as Tony sank back in his chair. He stared at Nick Fury, seeing a whole new person. "That's what you were doing. You weren't trying to capture her. You wanted to help her."

"If you'd done half the reading you said you did, you'd have seen that I don't having anything to do with that human testing shit. Ask Banner about that. Or Pym." Nick looked away from him, his one good eye unfocused. "That woman's been through hell and back, and I ain't putting her through it again. Not if she didn't want it."

Guilt was a new and definitely unpleasant sensation, a squirming ball of slime in Tony's stomach. He knocked back the rest of his martini needing the hot slide of alcohol. "And I just tied your hands."

"Fucking right you did." A sweep of Nick's arm scattered a pile of folders across the desk, grabbing the top one and waving it like a banner. It was bright red, stamped with so many different security clearance codes that there wasn't room for all of them.

"You see this, Stark? This is what you just broke with your goddamned games." The folder almost smacked Tony in the face when Nick threw it at him. "I've got no choice but to sign her on—the big boys won't let this go now that it's gone public."

Inside the folder were copies of letters, pictures, legal documents—a whole life laid out and stamped Top Secret. Photos were stacked under other papers, most of them of Captain America being heroic, but the first picture caught his eye. Thin, smiling, long hair done up in curls—Stephanie Rogers looked up at him from the top photo, sandwiched between a much smaller woman and a dark-haired man.

And the letters were worse than the picture.

...I miss you so much...
....I wonder if the boys who don't make it back have anyone waiting for them...
...Bucky's doing okay, you should be getting a letter from him soon...
...glad you're not here, no one should ever see things like this...


Tony felt like a voyeur as he flipped through them, catching snatches of phrases and names, written in the sort of careful penmanship no one bothered with any more. He shut the folder, bile scorching the back of his throat. Thoughts raced around his head, groping for anything to lay the blame aside. "You don't know, Fury. Maybe she was a volunteer—maybe she'll want to work for you. It's not like she has anywhere else to go."

"I hope you're right, Stark." Fury rubbed his head. "I hope you're right."
***

Stevie felt like she was stepping back in time, or maybe back to her time, as she walked down the hallway to the office at the end. She ached all over—her back was as much a mess as she thought it would be, her cracked ribs had only had a few hours to heal and she was pretty sure she'd broken her ankle sometime while she was being tossed around like a dolly.

But she was patched up, showered and back in American colors—the wise-ass in the robot suit had given her a flag-print shirt to replace the one she'd ruined. The t-shirt had come complete with a bright red, lacy bra. It fit perfectly, which was more than a little suspicious. As grateful as she was for the support, it was still different than being flattened, and she could have done without the note. "A tribute to the great monuments of America" her ass.

At least she was in her colors again. Maybe it was a but cheesy, but they made her feel a little like her old self, as if she could close her eyes and open them back in 1945.

The illusion broke every time she took a step and her breasts moved or when a passing soldier saluted and said ma'am. She wasn't a ma'am—she was Captain America, but she didn't know how to correct them and so let it pass.

Before she reached the end of the hall, the last door swung open. A chastised Stark slunk out. If he'd been a dog, his tail would have been between his legs. When he looked at her, his blue eyes were clouded with emotion.

"Captain."

"Stark." She nodded at the door. "Is the General in? I need to talk to him."

He nodded, eyes rolling down her. "And he needs to talk to you." A touch of the sleaze she'd seen at the hospital touched his face, curving his mouth into a smile that would have been more attractive if he hadn't kept glancing down at her chest. "If this Captain America thing doesn't work, look me up. I've got a few positions you could fill."

Stevie fought the urge to cross her arms over her breasts. She pushed past him to the door, making sure to bump him to the side. "Say that again, Mister, and I'll teach you to sing soprano."

"I didn't—"

The office door slammed in his face.

"Tony giving you a hard time?" Fury was seated at his desk, straight and tall in his chair, looking exactly like the sort of man who'd make it to General. It would have been as normal a picture as she'd ever seen if folders hadn't been scattered across the desk like some paperwork apocalypse. "Don't take it personally. He's got a weakness for anything on legs or in a glass."

"If he makes a move on me again, I'll give him a weakness all right." Keeping her eye on Fury, Stevie eased herself into the visitor's chair. It was leather, and still warm—probably from Stark. "What am I doing here, sir?"

"Well, to start, pretending to be a hooker?" He grinned. "Good one. I bet that flew damned well back in the war."

"Like a bird." Chatting with him, it was hard to remember that he was the man who'd given his people the okay to use that dirty trick in the alley. "But you know that wasn't what I meant."

"No, it wasn't." Like a ghost, the grin vanished. Fury leaned forward, shoulders tense and eyes narrowed. "I'm going to offer you a job, Captain. Your government needs you again, and finding you was a stroke of luck I can't afford let pass."

Stevie met his eyes and leaned back in the chair, keeping her body language carefully relaxed. She'd known it was coming, had been thinking about it since the cleanup crews arrived. "What makes you think I want to work for the people who wrote me out of the history books?"

"What makes you think you get a choice, lady?" A red folder slid across the top of the others. Fury flipped it open, tapping the stack of papers. "Those're your records. I don't see any discharge papers in here. That means I still own your ass."

Eyes narrowed, she leaned forward to look down at the paper work. The sheer amount of it startled her—there were things in there that she didn't even know the government cared about. One of her report cards from school poked out, gone yellow and brittle with age. "Nice collection. But it's missing something important, General."

"And what's that?"

Smiling sweetly, Stevie batted her eyes like a starlet posing for the camera. "I have sex with women."

Fury's jaw dropped open.

"See, I know about that don't ask thing," she continued in a gentle tone, "and I think it's full of shit, but it means that you've got to let me go or you're breaking the law." Carefully, she lifted his hand off the folder, closed it, and pulled it in to her lap. "Now, here's what we're going to do. You're going to give me my discharge papers, dated back to 45. If you don't, I'll march straight to the nearest news paper office and sing my song like a robin in spring. One way or the other, I'll be out."

The desk rocked a Fury shot to his feet, slamming his hands down on the desk. "Son of a mother fucking bitch, you—"

"And then." Stevie raised her voice to speak over the cursing. "And then you're going to hire me on to do the same damn thing you just tried to railroad me into."

He goggled. He didn't really have a good face for it—the lines were too sharp. Slowly, he eased back into his seat. "What the hell kind of game are you playing at?"

"I still want to serve my country, General, but I'm going to do it on my own terms." Stevie ran her fingers over the red folder, tracing one of the clearance stamps. Anger was a slow burn, sliding up through her stomach and taking the edge off her wounds. Even her letters to Gail were in there. "I've been screwed over too many times since I signed up for Project Rebirth. People have lied to me, hidden information, even copied my personal correspondence." Picking up the folder, she slapped it down on the desk. Other papers fluttered and slid to the floor from the force of the blow.

Glaring, she met Fury's eye. "I've given up my life for this country, and I was written out of the book for it like some kind of dirty secret. I'll be damned if I'm going to be G.I. again. I do this as myself, as a woman, or you can watch me walk."

For a minute, she thought Fury was going to attack her. His hands clenched the arms of his chair so hard that the leather burst. Then he relaxed, the tension flowing out of his frame like water from a faucet.

"You got yourself a deal." He held out his hand. "Welcome to the team, Captain America."
***

If there were one thing Stevie Rogers felt grateful for, it was that she wasn't a guy. She and Gail could hold hands in public, and no one thought anything about it, but Bucky had to be a lot more careful with his beaus. They couldn't walk too close, couldn't hold hands, couldn't even look too affectionate. She didn't know how she'd be able to get through the day without being able to hold Gail's hand.

Much better to be a girl, even a girl with a gimp leg.

"I see what you're thinking," Gail murmured as Bucky and his newest friend appeared around a corner, leaning up until her lips almost brushed Stevie's ear. She'd done herself up a treat, with lipstick and her mother's pearl earrings, and she'd curled the ends of her red hair just the way Stevie liked it. A big grey overcoat hid her clothes, but Stevie thought they were bound to look as nice as the rest of her. Next to her, Stevie felt like a mess. It was a shame they couldn't go anywhere else but an old diner. "You stop feeling sorry for them, Stephanie Rogers. They wouldn't thank you for it."

"I wasn't feeling sorry for anyone!" Stevie protested, wrapping her hand in Gail's warmer one. It was snowing in New York, with a freeze scenting the evening air. Cold always got to her, being too tall and skinny to have much protection against it even with layers and layers of clothes on. Her bad leg was already aching for the coming weather. "I was just being grateful for you."

The look Gail gave her said louder than anything that if they weren't in a public street, she'd have gotten to experience up close exactly how Gail felt in return. Instead, she just squeezed Stevie's hand. "I'm grateful for you too, you know," she whispered, so low it was almost lost in the sound of the cars going past. "Every day of my life."


Fin
 
 
 
Muccamukk: Smilemuccamukk on May 8th, 2010 09:01 am (UTC)
I liked this alot. You wove together the past and current storyline beautifully.

Stevie is fantastic. I like how she regrets her femininity, but not to the point there she's giving up the fight. She's a person unto herself, but you can really see 1610 Steve in her too. I felt so sad for her and Gail.

Great action scenes. Very compelling

I look forward to anything else in this universe that you're willing to write.
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on May 9th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
I admit, I'd worried about keeping Steve visible in Stevie, so I'm glad the character is still there. :D

♥ Thank you!
Alejandradieewigenacht on May 8th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
I loved this! Stevie is AMAZING.
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on May 9th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
♥ Thank you!
jazzypomjazzypom on May 8th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
Dawww
How come this story isn't getting much love. How come??

I love how authentic 1940s the voices feel. "Worked a treat" and "Thank you kindly ma'am." I love your Stevie and Gail and how they love each other. Poor Stevie!

Your Ults Tony is a thing of dreams and scamp after my own heart. Your Ults Nick Fury is pretty decent, and yeah, I can understand why he'd do that, and yay Ults Jan for using her science brain. Yay for Thor.

Well done, dudette. Very well done.

You have some typos though, which is fair enough, considering.

It should be pixie, not pixy, and a giant foot caught her in the gut not a giant fit.
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on May 9th, 2010 03:02 am (UTC)
Re: Dawww
XD Well, I haven't posted it anywhere other than my journal and the AU BB?

^^;; Thank you so much. :D Fury's origin story affected his characterization a lot. >> Dear Nick Fury: why so much inconsistent characterization?

(fixes pixy) In my own defense, if anyone can be described as a "giant fit", it's Hulk. :D
Gehayi: shinykaylee (aladriana)gehayi on May 9th, 2010 10:58 am (UTC)
I love this. This is brilliant.

I probably shouldn't say this, but this makes more sense to me than the official origin story about Captain America. And you really made me feel for Stevie, so terribly alone in a world that had changed so much. (Also, can I smack Tony Stark and Nick Fury for meaning so well in their plans for Captain America's future...and yet never thinking to ask Stevie what kind of life SHE wanted? Very much IC for them both, but I still want to smack them. Or have Pepper Potts smack them.)

The reunion scene with Stevie, Gail and Bucky was just heartbreaking. Poor Stevie. Poor all of them.

Also, I admire Stevie's ingenuity in making Don't Ask, Don't Tell work for her. Good for her!

Excellent, excellent job.
tsukinofaerii: Pandatsukinofaerii on May 9th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Smack away. They both need it dearly, and no one in-universe will do it, except perhaps Nick's ex-wife.

I admit, writing the reunion made me cry. >.> I'm a wimp. (hands wave helplessly)

♥ Thank you so much for the lovely review! :D
archinellaarchinella on May 10th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed reading your story: all the characters were believable and well written, and if Stevie Rogers had been flesh-and-blood, she would have been my role-model. I felt for her, and for Gail, and even though I wished they could have had their happy ending (something I never felt that passionately about when Steve Rogers was a man), I understood what Gail was telling Stevie. It broke my heart, but in a good way. I could go on, but everything I have to say can be summed up as: it's not often that genderswapped fics portray their characters so elegantly and so realistically.

I have one question though. I've never read the Ultimates, but are the characters so skeevy and broken? People are fucked up in normal Marvel canon, but in everything Ultimates-centered that I've read, it's like all these heroes that I love are dysfunctional and blackened versions of themselves, without much hope or happiness in them. Please don't take this the wrong way; I love your story, it's just the burning curiosity can't be resisted.
tsukinofaerii: Steve & Tony kissingtsukinofaerii on May 11th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
Look! A teal deer!
♥ Thank you so much! That's amazingly high praise. I'm honored. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

You ask the $64 billion question. I don't think they're skeevy and broken, so much as they're taken back to their prototype and then refreshed in a grittier, "modern" way. For example, Tony is still a genius billionaire industrialist playboy—&mddsh;and an alcoholic, and struggling with serious depression and dying. All of which are used in 616 canon, but not very realistically, due to the era that canon emerged from. Hank is unstable, thanks to size-changing not reacting well with meds for his bi-polar disorder. Jan is really rather sweet, but she's also an abused wife (616 Hank truly never will live that one down) and then on the rebound, neither of which are exactly sterling places for her character. There is no Don Blake, so Thor is essentially an amalgam of the two (and much, much love, I cannot stress Thor's awesomeness enough; he is a hippy thunder god and it is beautiful).

Of course, you have good sides as well, and the stories do often parallel. Tony is generous, Steve has good intentions... Even Hank seemed like a genuinely nice guy before his meds started going whacked. Ultimate Tony just went through his own Armor Wars, and looks to be heading into a Drinking Arc. Steve is very much a man of his time who's lost absolutely everything, and still has not come to grips with that. He also has Gail in his history, who's closest 616 counterpart is Peggy Carter, which... IMO, the tie in to Sharon is kind of creepy there, even aside from the initial stalking.

1610 is good if you don't mind a harder look at the superhero genre and these particular characters. There's definitely issues, and it's not the most woman-friendly thing ever. (Jan's double PhD, as far as I can tell, gets a single comment and then we never see her use her science brain again nor is she called "Doctor", there was a recent issue with rape as a motivation for a female character, etc.) It's not a deconstruction by any means, but it doesn't precisely pull punches. I recommend reading Ultimates when you have Marvel Adventures on hand to ease the "omg D: D: D:". Nothing like an Ebil Snake Cult to sooth the battered soul.

lol This turned into a treatise! Sorry!
Re: Look! A teal deer! - archinella on May 11th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Look! A teal deer! - tsukinofaerii on May 11th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Look! A teal deer! - archinella on May 11th, 2010 02:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Look! A teal deer! - tsukinofaerii on May 11th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Look! A teal deer! - (Anonymous) on May 11th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Look! A teal deer! - archinella on May 11th, 2010 02:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grey Bard: Valentinesgrey_bard on May 13th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
This is *genius*. I love it.
tsukinofaerii: Awwwtsukinofaerii on May 13th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
♥ Thank you!
lilacsigil: Faizalilacsigil on May 14th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
I adored this fic. Stevie is so real, and her patriotism and honour come through so strongly - not as cheesy slogans but as a true heart and a brave soul. The Stevie-Gail-Bucky triangle and its outcome is just beautiful (and realistic, too), and Stevie's language and perceptions were perfect. The other thing I really liked was that General Fury wanted to protect her - not as a woman, but as a soldier who had done her duty and more - and wanted her to serve on her own terms. I suspect he knows more than a little about being singled out.

Also, it was good to see a bit of glory-hound Bruce and smart Jan; not to mention Stevie's awesome fighting style!
tsukinofaerii: Coffeetsukinofaerii on May 14th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
♥ Thank you!

Fury's head is an interesting place right now. His actions pretty much come directly from his origin story (spoilers highlight to read) He was forced into Project Rebirth, so his initial gut reaction was that Stevie probably was too, since he knew as well as anyone that the US Gov wouldn't want anyone other than a WASP male as their Symbol. He'd assumed that they must have had some sort of hold on Stevie that kept her in line, and... Well. Fury's an ass, but he can relate to that. So he reacted appropriately, based on his assumptions and experiences, and that did not go so well for him. /unnecessary babble

Jan needs to use her science brain more. Trufax.
my moral standing is lying down: steve/tonypenumbren on June 3rd, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
I just flew through this entire story in one sitting, and I am madly in love with it. Characters are just dead on, right down to Stevie's love for her country but demanding to do things her own way. I loved every single bit of it, but I had to share the two lines that made me stop and laugh out loud:
* The "damn it, Janet" bit: even if it was unintentional, I completely heard that in my head set to music. (RHPS for the win. XD)
* He was too sober to be this screwed without a kiss.
Tony, Tony, Tony. Some things never change.

I would dearly love to see more of this universe.
tsukinofaerii: Steve & Tony kissingtsukinofaerii on June 3rd, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
"Only assholes write on church doors!" (Which is to say, yes, that was deliberate, and wow, if you've never gone to a live RHPS showing I may have just confused you to seven bits.)

Thanks for reading! I'm thinking of maybe doing more in this 'verse (I want to get to the Stevie/Tony >_>), but it's waaaay back-burner. I've got a few other irons in the fire first.
(no subject) - penumbren on June 3rd, 2010 01:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on June 3rd, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
O hai dere!

This is great, and very believable. Couple of things: Stevie wouldn't necessarily have thought of a Japanese-nationality doctor as being a Japanese citizen; if she was in the European theater she might have run into the 442nd who were fighting in Europe:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/442nd_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States)

Also, she should totally have Fury give her her discharge papers dated for the current date, because that gives her 65 years of back pay!! Which should be a nice chunk.

I hope you're planning more of this? I'd love to see her knock Tony on his ass!
tsukinofaerii: Missing: Presumed Nekkidtsukinofaerii on June 3rd, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! There were a couple of background assumptions working on her on that particular scene. For one, she was was groggy and disoriented, and battling anesthesia probably. Also, she'd gone down under enemy fire and knew very well that she hadn't been with any Asian-Americans at the time. For the most part, things like the 442nd were in the minority on the Allied side, and we did have those internment camps. I don't imagine that Steve of any sort did much fighting with Asian American troops. One regiment out of the whole US Army was not a large number. To me, with all of that and her particular background, it made sense that Stevie would make the assumption of "enemy". Sorry that the suspension of disbelief broke for you.

LOL I thought about that, but Stevie would not consider it fair to charge the USA for time she spent frozen. It's okay. She'll gouge Fury on her paycheck as a consultant. :D

I've got a few other things to do first, but I'm hoping to return back to this. Stevie's got some mileage in her yet.
★risen: ts | give me attentionstrzyga on June 3rd, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
oh i really, really hope you plan to write more in this verse. *3* this is fantastic! i love how offended tony is for stevie's sake, and that fury was trying to help her, and just-- hnnnnngh, this was so, so awesome. there are no words.
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on June 6th, 2010 04:05 am (UTC)
Sorry for the wait in reply. Yep, I'm hoping to write more about Stevie. I kind of adore this 'verse. Just a little. ♥ Thanks for reading!
memory lossheresie_irisee on June 3rd, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
Okay, first of - Girl!Steve! *squeeeee* there is so not enough girl!steve. She is awesome.

Reading this felt a bit weird, because I'm really not used to Ultimates characterisation (seriously, I go into superhero comics because I was tired of reading depressing stuff all the time), but it made me... intrigued. I like the idea of a girl!steve better than plain-old-male-steve for this kind of 'we are gritty and realistic' universe, though. So that means you'll have to convince me? *hopeful smile*

I really loved Stevie. She's very different from how I usually picture a female Cap (I usually just go all 'screw history, she can be a feminist icon'), but I got really attached to her by the end, and you can really feel the Steve in her. Her relationship with Gail (and Bucky) was so touching... when she said 'I love you', my heart broke a little.
The patriotism isn't something I can relate to (dude, I'm French. We don't do patriotic, the closest we get is misplaced national pride), but it's kind of cool in its own way.
The way she regrets her femininity struck very true, I think. I really dislike the idea that to be tough, you have to be mannish. Femininity/masculinity and toughness are totally independent factors, damnit!

Also, her interaction with Tony is gold. I don't know which is better - calling him a robot or getting pissed at the womanizer for making a pass *snicker*

And OMG the fight scenes. The one against the Hulk - that was so awesome, i don't even. A real pleasure to read <3

Aaand I want to marry Thor.

Yeah, I'll stop rambling now, but one last thing: do you mind if I (belatedly) do art for this? I'd like to try my hand at Stevie :D
memory lossheresie_irisee on June 5th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
(erm, I couldn't sleep last night and your fic kept hitting me over the head, so I did this (from 4 o'clock to noon, approximatively). This is mainly insomnia!pic, so it's not exactly accurate (clothes are probably too tight, for one) but I still hope you like it/don't mind it ^^"
(no subject) - tsukinofaerii on June 6th, 2010 04:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - heresie_irisee on June 6th, 2010 07:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
MostePotentePotionsmostepotente on June 3rd, 2010 05:44 am (UTC)
Okay, so I just finished reading this all in one sitting and omg I love this fic to little pieces. The thought you put behind the psychology and the reactions of all the characters to "Stephanie/Stevie" Rogers is evident and sound. The romantic triangle between Bucky/Stephanie/Gail is so sweet and sad and well handled. The scene where Gail explains that while she still loves Stephanie but she's moved on and Stephanie has to too chokes me up.

Oh and Tony, with his misplaced protective instinct and totally screwing up Nick's plans. Boys, it's called communication. Look it up. Learn it. Live it. Just kidding, you guys would be totally boring otherwise. Tony slipping in that last double entendre at Stevie unintentionally and righteously getting raked over the coals for it omg ftw.

I love love love how Stephanie is so conflicted about her femininty -- what she's missing if she fully embraces either end of the spectrum. What she's already lost to (menstrual cycle, identity) . And are you hinting in the chemistry talk that the Super Soldier Serum has something to do with the increased pain tolerance of women about to give birth (or something more coherently phrased, forgive me)? Because oh my god yes.

This is was no small challenge to turn Cap into a girl and you have definitely 100% succeeded in my mind.
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on June 6th, 2010 04:57 am (UTC)
Sorry for taking so long to reply!

LOL Not communicating is how they keep the inter-personal conflict going. Otherwise, they might actually get things done! Horror! Then how would we arrange amusing misunderstandings?

*g* That too. I was also aiming for maternal aggression with all of that, and the whole Mama Bear thing in general. Maternal hormones are wonderful, terrifying things, aren't they?

♥ Thank you! I'm glad it worked so well for you. I didn't want to just add an x-chromosome, since that would have missed a whole lot of points, but there's only so much character that can be changed through altered life experience before she's an OC. :D Thanks for reading!
Various Things: Don't askfred_god_of on June 8th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
this is excellent, Stevie is a great interpratation of Steve as a woman, I hope there is more about her!
tsukinofaeriitsukinofaerii on June 16th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for the late reply. (I usually don't fail this much at timeliness. D: ) Thank you for the comment. ♥ I'm hoping to get to do a sequel, definitely.
gail19gail19 on June 25th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
Its horrible to think that just a few days ago I didn't know that AUBB existed. Thank goodness now I do. And thank all the powers that be that it isn't all American Idol and Bandom based.

I'm not a fan of flashbacks, but in this case I think it was the best format and they were very well handled. The character of Stevie, back and forth, stayed remarkable consistent. The ideology, viewpoints, and language were all really well done. You allowed for the differences relavant to a 1940s gay woman, and then went for it.

The Marvel reality is stark and brutal. The action bits nicely done. I' looking forward to more.
tsukinofaerii: Coffeetsukinofaerii on June 25th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
The AU BB was a ton of fun, and some great fics came out of it. :D

The flashbacks I was a bit :\ over, but in the end, it was really the only way to juggle both stories. (hands) Neither would really work on their own.

Thank you very much for the kind reviews! ♥
amore_di_libriamore_di_libri on July 6th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
It is absolutely ridiculous how much I want this to be canon. I want this AU to have its own series in the Marvel Universe. I want Stevie Rogers to show us just how sexist and idiotic we still are as a country but also just how great we can be when we hold to our ideals.

tsukinofaerii: Pandatsukinofaerii on July 6th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
♥ Thank you! That's a high complement!