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31 March 2012 @ 04:55 pm
Meanwhile, In Earth-20021...  
So, there should be more mainstream superheroes of color. This is basically a snippet from "What If? the Avengers were less whitebread." Banner with ~fantasy casting~ to be included later. I just wanted to post this now before I forgot... again. In short, Tony is from a Chinese-Vietnamese immigrant family and Isaiah (Cap) is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, the first Super Soldier~.

Steve Rogers' body was found, but there was no magical ice that allowed him to be thawed. Basically, he was a dead corpse that SHIELD used to rebuild an unstable version of the Super Soldier Serum, which will only take in certain people. As of now, the only person to take it and remain healthy and whole is Isaiah.



“Bourbon for your thoughts?”

Isaiah turned around to see Tony Stark, surreal in his shirtsleeves with the glowing arc reactor peeking around a loosened tie. He held out a tumbler, shaking it appealingly, smiling his famous millionaire megawatt grin.

“I guess it couldn’t hurt. I hear I can’t get drunk anymore anyway,” he joked, returning the smile before the reality of his words hit him. Then he shrunk back, the smile sliding off his face.

It didn’t seem to phase Tony, who just moved up to the railing beside him. He took a sip of his drink, which definitely was not bourbon and smelled stronger, still smiling at the New York skyline. “That sucks, man.”

“Yeah. Well--I didn’t drink much in public beforehand, so I won’t miss it,” Tony cocked an eyebrow questioningly. “I was always a lightweight.”

“Ironic,” Tony agreed, and the conversation seemed to stutter out. Isaiah fidgeted, wanting to fill the gap, because who thought he’d ever be able to speak to Tony Stark? But Tony seemed oddly comfortable in the silence, biding his time before he spoke.

Isaiah decided to it would be better to enjoy the silent company than to freak out over the lack of conversation, so he relaxed back against the railing. He took a few more sips of the bourbon, rolling the taste around his mouth before realizing that he really didn’t like the taste of alcohol after all.

“So, why are you doing this?” Tony finally asked, and Isaiah almost spit his bourbon out in shock. He glanced over to see a wry grin on the other man’s face. “Don’t you dare spit that out. It was ridiculously expensive.”

“You can afford it,” he joked, uncertain.

“Touche,” Tony returned. “So, why Cap, Cap?”

Isaiah rolled the golden brown liquid around in its tumbler, avoiding the question as much as thinking about it. “I--I was already serving the country. This is just--”

“Nuh-uh. That’s not going to fly,” Tony interrupted, knocking his tumbler against Isaiah’s companionably. “You don’t owe this country anything other than two more years of service. You don’t owe SHIELD diddly. I know why I’m doing this, why Hank and Jan are doing this, and Bruce’s reason is pretty easy to guess, but why are you here Isaiah? Why you?”

“My grandfather...” he began.

“Is more of a reason to back out than to double down, I would think,” Tony interjected.

“You’d think wrong,” he snapped, and then stopped himself. “Sorry, I--”

“No, you were right to yell. People need to yell at me more if they ever want to get through to me,” Tony waved off. “Continue.”

But he had lost his train of thought. All of his conviction seemed to have ebbed away with his anger, and he felt unsure again. “It sounds stupid.”

“Can’t be more stupid than flying around in a man-shaped tin can, blowing up terrorists,” Tony shrugged. “Let me tell you, this is not what traditional Chinese parents want for their kids.” He smiled again, different from all the other times because it wasn’t coaxingly disingenuous and it wasn’t self-deprecating. It was just Tony, wanting to know more about his teammate. Isaiah figured he finally understood why Pepper, Rhodey, and Happy had stuck around for so long.

“I just--when the men came to talk to my granddad, they wanted him. With his DNA and the DNA taken from Steve Rogers’ body, they figured they could restart him. Like he wasn’t totally gone. Like they hadn’t already stolen decades from him. Anyone would say no, right?”

Tony nodded in agreement.

“... Not my granddad. Not even after the government screwed him and all his friends over. Not even after he was swept under the rug. He--he doesn’t believe in the ideal America most people believe in nowadays. Not the one where we’re all equal citizens under the law and there’s no prejudice. There’s no use believing in something that doesn’t exist. He used to--used to tell us that, back when he could string more words together.

“But he was always willing to fight. Even now, when he’s more than half gone, he fought me to get out of that armchair. Because it’s not about the government or the country or the people who hate you. It’s about the potential for what America can be, and I’m no Steve Rogers. I’m not that naive or that blind or that hopelessly idealistic, but--I got to believe that the country my family lives in, the country my grandfather would fight for, is worth something. It’s as much about convincing myself as it is about convincing all the bad guys out there who want to end us.”

There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment, and Isaiah could feel the words sinking into him. They were the truth, he felt, and maybe way more than Tony wanted to know.

But Tony didn’t laugh at him or wave off his words. He didn’t scoff or yell or report him to SHIELD so that they could come and take their costume back. Tony just took another sip of his drink before turning over to smile goofily at him. “So, I guess the military thing wasn’t...”

“A choice? Not really. There are only so many ways to get out of the ugly part of Harlem. This was--one of the better ones,” Isaiah explained, shrugging it off.

“But you’re a good officer,” Tony said, and it wasn’t a question.

“One of the best,” he agreed, letting a cocky smirk settle on his lips.

“And what’s your degree in?”

“Art history.”

“Well, guess even Captain America can’t be perfect.”

“You say that like iron doesn’t rust.”

“It’s just a name! The suit isn’t actually made of iron,” Tony disparaged, and for the first time since the whole horrible “treatment,” Isaiah found himself laughing.

That soft smile was back on Tony’s face, and suddenly he found he couldn’t laugh anymore, watching the way Tony was staring at him, analyzing him with a scientist’s eye. “You know, you’re a man out of time, Cap. All the manners of the 1940s, and you’re stuck here in 2010s.”

“Maybe,” he agreed, because he thought of it sometimes. Got swept away with how everyone seemed to look back nostalgically at the war, at the ‘good times.’ But he had plenty of evidence that they weren’t all that great back at home. “But can you imagine how much it would have sucked to be black and in the military during World War II?”

Tony damn near guffawed, except that men as rich as Tony Stark never guffawed. “Yeah. I guess everything has its time, huh?”

They stayed another half hour outside, staring at the lights that outlined New York’s skyline and listening to late night Manhattan traffic. Then Jan poked her head out, frowning at the overly serious atmosphere and dragged a harassed Hank out to liven things up. Bruce eventually climbed out to see what all of the noise was about, because it was NOT conducive to meditation, and they even thought about calling Thor, but Asgard didn’t exactly have an international calling code.

He was starting to see the point of being an Avenger rather than just a superhero.
 
 
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