Thor is like a brother to Rogers. Iron Man has his respect. Hawkeye’s a royal pain, but mostly does his job, he’s earned the right to be so annoying. Wolverine, though… Wolverine…
Iron Man keeps talking. Rogers admires his passion, but moans on the inside. Stark has no idea when to stop sometimes.
“I’d like to speak,” Captain America interrupts.
“Steve?” says Iron Man.
“Something’s changed, gone wrong. We used to be the Avengers in name only, we saved lives. Now, somehow, we let the bad guys kill, destroy cities, hundreds if not thousands of families, then we avenge. The villains rack up death tolls of soldiers, security guards, bystanders, we don’t bat an eyelid. It’s almost like, unless it’s one of ours, we’ve become numb. We have to work harder! All of us! Stop these madmen before they kill. Find a way to be something more again, rather than a reaction!”
“Sounds dangerous,” Wolverine says.
“Make a hit list. Be control freaks.”
"Don’t McCarthyism me, Logan! I was there!”
“How is what I said McCarthyism?” Wolverine chuckles.
“Taking my point to extremes, then painting me the fool, when all I’m talking about is the middle ground.”
“Says you. Besides, you were on ice in the 50s.”
“Shut up, Logan,” Ms Marvel says.
“Up yours, Lady-Jock. First Amendment.”
“Logan…” says Iron Man.
Wolverine gives him the finger.
Rogers stares, Wolverine yawns.
Captain America thinks back to the war, the Russian front, mostly. The killing. Soldiers, who were really boys, crying like children, the civilians butchered while trying to hide, the limbs, the horrors. The scorched earth policy of their red allies. The death, disease, deserters, the rats.
The way there was not one thing glorious about it.
But the war forged him. Made him what he was, what he is and will always be. It’s the reason his only weapon was a shield, a defensive thing. To show the enemy America was not them, that we would protect the planet, that it wasn’t about fear.
A shield, and a flag. A man inside.
“You done making eyes at me, old man?” Wolverine says, cracking another beer.
“Are you ready to listen?” Rogers glares.
For decades Captain America was the most popular hero in the world, which was exactly why the mask was so important. So that it wasn’t about Steve Rogers. If he could stay unknown it would be about every man, every woman. Any teenager could picture themselves behind the mask, doing great deeds.
Rogers looks at Wolverine’s hands. Claws, he thinks. Offensive weapons that slice and kill. A man that kills with them. Born of scientists, like him, augmenting his natural assets, like him, but built without accountability. No rules. Now, Wolverine lives by no rules, fights without them. He kills too easily. Rogers killed in war, he’s seen slaughter, but nothing like Wolverine has in his shadow world.
And the people love it! he thinks. Ever since Logan joined the Avengers and became public, he’s become popular beyond words!
“What? We lovers now?” Wolverine grunts, picking his nose.
“Uh… Steve…?” says Iron Man.
“Awkward, much…” says Spider Woman.
Captain America continues to stare.
Rogers thinks of all the web sights, the facebook fan pages, the t-shirts Wolverine has.
Where did this generation go wrong? How safe are they, how comfortable, that movies about serial killers are so popular, and killers like Wolverine so cool? Rogers rolls notions around in his head.
When did our nation turn?
He tells himself it’s not about jealousy, to shake off doubts about being old. That’s why he lets Wolverine stay in the group. One, for mutant/human relations. Two, to show he’s not old, to have some modern world in the mix, something to better deal with modern times.
But Rodgers hates him. And all he stands for.
Claws and shields.
“Avengers,” Rogers says. “Some of you are my dearest friends, better yet, battle-forged friends… some… aren’t. But I’m not team leader to make friends. So I say to you all. I want you to get out of the bubble of mansions and towers! To care about lives again! Do your intel. See these things coming! To stop them before they take hold! TO SAVE LIVES! Lift your game, or you’re out of the team! On your own!”
The room is silent. Everybody watching Captain America.
“Sorry, Tony. Continue,” he says.
Wolverine farts, gives a smug little grin as Spider Woman and Hawkeye wince away from him, and downs his beer.
Captain America tries to listen to Iron Man, but is seething, if not lost, on the inside.