ysabetwordsmith: (Fly Free)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This is the second freebie for the April 5, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] moongoddessgirl. It also fills the "Obstructive Bureaucrat" square in my 4-1-16 card for the Archetypal Characters Bingo card.


"Against His Own Shield"


The more Steve found out about
SHIELD, the less he liked it.

He found out that it had absorbed
the Strategic Scientific Reserve,
which he could remember as
the somewhat shady source
of Project: Rebirth.

Regrettably its scientific reputation
had fallen right into the latrine,
Steve discovered as he read
Dr. Foster's scathing critique.

He knew that there were problems --
he'd found the Phase II weapons
during the Chitauri incident, after all --
and it bothered him to see just
how deep the cracks went.

A lot of lies, a lot of murder.
Cloaks and daggers and
all that standard spy stuff.
Torture. Slavery.

It turned his stomach.

Everyone expected him to toe the line,
because he was Captain America,
but the thing was, everyone had
forgotten how many rules he'd
had to break to get there.

Steve liked rules, he really did,
but only if they were good rules,
fair rules. The Nazis had been
pretty big on rules too, only they
didn't care about the good part.

So he'd learned to be careful
about which rules he obeyed,
because not doing that led to
"just following orders."

Somehow it still surprised people
when he spoke out against
the things going wrong.

Honestly, it's like nobody even knew him.

You'd think they would have read
the books. There were enough of those.

Agent Coulson just smiled when
Steve stormed out of an office or
blew his stack over something
unearthed in the paperwork.

He
had read the books, all right.
Agent Coulson always did his homework.

It was Agent Veeble who finally
put the last straw on the camel's back.

Steve had been digging into
the history of the Winter Soldier,
and not taking "That's classified"
for an answer anymore.

So when Agent Veeble refused
to release the paper-only copies
of certain things that had happened
to the Winter Soldier in SHIELD custody,
it was Captain America who leaned
over the desk and said clearly,

"Son, if you don't open that file cabinet,
I will open it myself, and there won't
be much cabinet left when I'm done."

"You can't do that," Agent Veeble whimpered.
"This is SHIELD property. You don't
have the proper clearance."

Captain America unlimbered his shield
and bounced it against the metal floor
with a deep, resonant bong. "This is
my clearance," he said. "Or did you
forget where the name came from?"

The bitterness of the contradiction
struck him all over again, how badly
the agency had turned out despite
the hope that Peggy Carter and
Howard Stark poured into it.

This was not what he sacrificed himself for.

That was when Assistant Director Hill
came in and assessed the situation.
"What's going on in here?" she asked.

"Oh, thank God you're here, ma'am!"
exclaimed Agent Veeble. "He's trying
to get into the secure files about
the Winter Soldier. Make him stop."

"I'm not here to make him stop,"
said Assistant Director Hill. "I'm
here to make sure that he doesn't
drop you down one of the engines."
Her fingers tapped at the keyboard,
and then she unlocked the cabinet.
"Or deliver a speech that melts
what little brain you have."

"I wouldn't drop him down an engine,"
said Captain America. "Those things
are fragile and really hard to fix."

Assistant Director Hill did not laugh,
but one corner of her mouth twitched.
"Good luck with the files," she said.

Even a cursory glance was enough
to tell Captain America that SHIELD
was even more of a wreck than he'd
thought, and that it was going to take
a lot of time to go through the mess
and figure out how to clean it up.

So he hefted one drawer under
his left arm and another under
his right arm. He might as well
go back to Avengers Tower where
he could do the research in comfort ...
and more safety than here.

"What's with Captain America using
his spear against his own shield?"
Agent May asked in a dry tone.

"It's not 'my' SHIELD,"
Captain America said,
"but it will be."

* * *

Notes:

The idiom 自相矛盾 (zì xiāng máo dùn), which literally means to use one’s spear against one’s shield, evolved from this story.
-- Chinese Idioms

Maria Hill: What does S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for, Agent Ward?
Grant Ward: Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
Hill: And what does that mean to you?
Ward: It means someone really wanted our initials to spell out "shield."
-- Agents of SHIELD

The above conversation, while flippant, is in fact true based on another conversation in canon.

The Strategic Scientific Reserve was a forerunner of SHIELD, the two agencies spanning Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier among others.

"Just following orders" has appeared both as an entertainment trope and as the Nuremberg defense in history.

Captain America is famous for his hard-hitting speeches. Here's one about how America is nothing but what people make of it, one on tolerance vs. discrimination, and one about standing up for what's right.

Agent May has a dry wit.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-08 04:53 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
OMG YES. Steve is so SWEET and so aware of what makes good rules--he comes off WONDERFULLY here. And Hill is gr9.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-08 02:12 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Picture shows a red-winged angel staring at a distant blue star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Steve. <3
I think he showed remarkable restraint with his opponent here.

Hill is being a good boss. Protect your employee, but get the work done.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-08 02:44 pm (UTC)
moongoddessgirl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] moongoddessgirl
This is great. I love it when people remember just how revolutionary Steve really is! I especially enjoy the image of using the shield again SHIELD which to me really speaks to how disconnected SHIELD has become from its roots.

loving this

Date: 2016-04-10 03:03 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
what a great entry into this awesome series. I love to see Steve coming into his own and making his own moral decisions on what is right and wrong
This whole series has been a wonderful ride i will continue to enjoy as long as you treat us with its presence. In earlier works you said you had the next installment of coming in from the cold Please understand I love anything in this series just curious if the next part of that Tuesday is coming soon. thank you again for a great work

I wish this were canon!

Date: 2016-04-16 05:28 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Every word. Every pause. Every empty pixel of thinking space around it.

It made me cry. I'm going to go deal with that while I try to find any BETTER alternative for May's "I wish it were canon" post...Nope. Nothing at all springs to mind even as a direction to SEARCH. May I?

Re: I wish this were canon!

Date: 2016-04-20 01:36 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"Secretly HYDRA in Every Last Department" do you mind if i start using this? Just among my friends, id never steal to publish. But that's so rich!

As to wishing this were all canon, I have long decided that I will reject canon and substitute this. I will becoming here to balm my Civil War feels. Much prefer this rundown of Civil War anyways.

~KishiKeahi

Ace-fan

Date: 2016-04-24 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I never really thought about the connection between Steve's shield and the renaming of the organisation. But honestly, it has Peggy written all over it. Duh!
I love Steve's stubbornness and determination to stick to what's right, never mind what the "rules" say. He's wonderful. And Maria Hill stepping in was cool too.
Also... AGENT MAY!!! I love May! I know she has nothing to do with the Avengers and probably won't be featured again, but... YAY! She was there!
Cap's little comment about how engines can be hard to repair was funny. I bet Agent Veeble didn't think so though... :D

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-08 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Unrelated, but 'obstructive bureaucrat' plus 'superheroes' just makes me think of some mole in the supervillain bureaucracy who does good purely by being as big a pain in the ass as possible when supervillains are trying to say, pay their union dues.

And the supervillains couldn't even get rid of them when they find out, because WHAT A VILLAINOUS WAY TO BE HEROIC!

*laugh*

Date: 2016-04-09 08:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
That would be awesome. Feel free to prompt for it some time.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-04-08 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhodielady-47.livejournal.com
"Everyone expected him to toe the line,
because he was Captain America,
but the things was, everyone had
forgotten how many rules he'd
had to break to get there."

Shouldn't it be:

but the thing was, everyone had

Very good poem!
:^)

Fixed!

Date: 2016-04-09 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked this.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-06-11 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Lovely. I especially liked the comment about Phil having read all the books. ^_^

~Anony-Mouse

So much better than:

Date: 2016-06-19 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The series and movies right now. Can't you guys write the series and movies and maybe novels I'd go to them and I'd buy them. (bunnigirl74)

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