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Paladin

Title: Paladin
Author: jaune_chat
Fandoms: The Avengers (film), Captain America: The First Avenger
Characters Steve Rogers, Thor
Rating: PG
Word count: 1,643
Spoilers: For both The Avengers and Captain America
Content Advisory: none
Disclaimer: Not mine, just playing.
A/N: Written for avengerkink for the prompt: "Steve still firmly believes in one God. But it's not the god everyone thinks. When Steve had the super-soldier serum pumped into him, he had a vision of the goddess Columbia, who told him to be her paladin and protect America in her name.

Steve and Thor hash it out about comparative theology and have makeup sex to symbolically forge peace between their pantheons."

Alas, there is no sex. I'm not adverse the pairing, I just couldn't make them porn for this fic.

Summary: When Steve Rogers became Captain America, he had a vision of the goddess Columbia.

On Ao3 or below the cut


When Steve had climbed into the transformation chamber, he remembered praying. Please let it work, let me live. I want to be able to do this. When the serum had been injected, it had felt cold, frosty tendrils that curled through his muscles and penetrated into his bones. They they’d turned on the Vita Rays, and all the ice had suddenly turned to fire. His heart had pounded as the fire spread from crown to soles, from his guts and spine to his skin. He’d screamed as he felt his body changing, bursting the bonds of frailty, and had pleaded with the alarmed Dr. Erskine to not stop. He knew he could do this, even if it felt like his body was going to burn to ash at any second.

The light had become blinding, the fire overwhelming, and in the moment when everything had become too much to bear, She appeared.

Time had slowed, the light parted, and for an instant of eternity, Steve was suspended, hanging over a landscape where he could see from sea to shining sea.

She stood before him, smiling. His goddess, Columbia. He knew Her name in an instant. Had always known it. For ever after he would remember her eyes. He couldn’t have told anyone the color of her skin or the shape of her face, but those dark eyes and bright smile engraved themselves on his heart.

“Steven.” When She’d said his name, he saw himself reflected in Her gaze; not as the scrawny, sickly person he’d been all his life, but tall, strong, vital, able to meet any challenge.

“You will fight for Me, defend My people from injustice. Protect us from tyranny, guard our freedom, our lives, our happiness. You will be My Paladin.”

As She spoke, Steve could see everyone, every color and creed, those whose roots and families went deep, others who had barely touched Her soil, but each smiled on by Her grace. She accepted all, even if they could not accept each other, and therein lay Her strength and weakness. Steve knew he was meant to help Her, and though She’d laid a command on him, he couldn’t say anything but yes.

Columbia smiled and leaned down to kiss him. He looked down at himself and saw what he would become to defend Her honor, and felt the strength of his body match the strength of his spirit for the first time.

“Are you ready?” She asked him.

“Always.”

The chamber doors had opened, and the dream had vanished. The whole of it was impossible to articulate, to define how his entire life’s purpose had been sharpened. Columbia understood, and didn’t lay her words heavily on his spirit; he already knew what he needed to do. After all, She was America, and practicality was one of Her virtues.

She would not let Her chosen be dazed by Her beauty when he was needed in the first minute of his new life. One of Her people, only newly come to Her freedom, the creator of Her chosen, had been murdered for his refusal to serve the dark face of Germania. Steve knew what had to be done, both the practical and the spiritual, and could at least stop the murderer.

In those pulse-pounding moments of running and fighting, he knew he would be able to do anything She asked of him.

Steve heard Her soothing words in his dreams, a whisper of comfort when he was denied his rightful place after he’d first fought for Her. Her people were still wary of Her paladin, so they made him dance. He might have felt more than ridiculous, he might have felt humiliated, but Columbia’s purpose held him true.

Did America not love spectacle? Was She not built on dreams?

So he smiled winningly, played his role, and made himself an icon.

It was all too soon that he would take up the warrior’s path.

Columbia’s voice grew quieter as he took ahold of her mission with his own hands, determined to rescue his friend and fellows, Her encouragement not needed when others realized Her chosen’s skill. She was merely a stalwart presence in his mind, a constant companion.

Outwardly, Steve was still a good Catholic boy, but in his heart he knew it was Columbia that answered his prayers. He didn’t need to speak about Her to those who wouldn’t understand. She smiled at his longing for one of Britannia’s soldiers, and laid no demands on him. And he did care for Peggy, he truly did. It was just the laughing dark eyes he drew in his sketchbook were not her. Peggy was his outward love, his real-world companion.

He’d meant it, on Schmidt’s plane, when he told her that he wanted that dance. But there had been another task taking his attention. Seeing bombs with the names of his country’s cities, Her cities, gave him the strength to choose. He put the plane down, knowing he would not die on Her soil, and clung to Peggy’s voice until the cold waters rushed in to take his life.

She appeared to him again when darkness took him, shining in all Her glory, thanking him for his sacrifice.

“You have done so much good. You have made Me so proud,” She said, and embraced him. With Her he was warm again, far from the ice that had covered him, filled him, killed him. “Yet you have so much in you to give. If I asked you, would you stay? Would you fight for Me again?”

“Always,” he said without hesitation.

“We need allies in our world. Will you not only fight, but forge new bonds for Me?”

“I will.”

“Beloved, sleep.”

It was her compassionate eyes that held him through seven decades of ice and a reemergence into a new world.

Outwardly, even to himself, he was Steve Rogers, Captain America, devoted soldier, patriot, and defender of America. But when Columbia chose to speak, he listened. After surviving the ice, he was eager to know why She’d kept him alive all this time. It was during the Tesseract incident, when they’d rather disastrously met Thor, that he heard Her again. He’d gotten between Thor and Stark, lifting his shield to absorb the devastating hammer blow.

It hadn’t just been an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object that had sent them all flying. Columbia had shouted “No!” Thor was not his enemy, foreign as he was to Her soil. He was to be Her ally.

After they’d all staggered back to their feet, a little amazed at the circle of downed trees around them, Steve had felt a little foolish for not seeing what She’d wanted. But it could wait, at least a little. The immanent destruction of the earth, starting with New York, had been a priority for everyone.

But after they’d taken down Loki, closed the portal, and saved everyone, Steve knew there was something he had to do before Thor left for Asgard.

“You are god-touched.”

Steve turned around quickly, and found a somber Thor emerging from Loki’s holding room.

“Yes,” Steve said, shouldering his shield, somehow still hearing the sound of Mjölnir striking. “How did you…?”

“It is given to me to see such things, a legacy of my father’s blood. You are the first I have seen so touched in Midgard in many ages, though it was not time to speak of it until now.” Thor moved closer, regarding Steve keenly. “How? And which god claims you?”

“Columbia, the goddess of America,” Steve said, speaking Her name out loud for the first time, and felt his heart swell with pride.

“Ah, when you took your magic potion,” Thor said, nodding. “Fury spoke to me of your suffering to become strong. Such a trial has known to draw the attention of the gods. You speak for Her?”

“She speaks to me. She wanted me to find allies. She said we would need them.” He felt steadier than he had since he'd woken up, speaking with an alien god about his goddess, and somehow that wasn’t strange at all.

Thor raised his hammer, and Steve unslung his shield, holding it out. Thor rested the impossible artifact against the star-spangled shield, and Steve could see electricity begin to crawl over its surface. He shuddered at the sensation; it felt like it was crawling over his own skin.

“I see Her, through you,” Thor said, his eyes widening as he stared right into Steve’s steady gaze. “She is beautiful, Captain.”

“I have to protect Her people. I promised Her I would.”

“And all those other of Midgard?”

“Everyone is welcome here. It’s the great thing about America.”

“Then you would raise your shield to protect all?”

Steve smiled. “Aside from right after I stepped out of the chamber, and today, I’ve never fought on American soil.”

Thor’s return smile was small. “Aside from bouts with my friends, the only time I fought on Asgard was to stop Loki. Aye, I understand you, Captain. And I understand Her.”

There was a sudden rush of electricity into the shield, and Steve gasped as he felt it running all the way through him, a fire in his veins. A sudden grounding weight on his shoulder, Thor’s hand, called him back to reality.

“Heimdall sees all, but now he can find you easily. I will always know where you are, that I may honor my word and answer the call to arms against those that would threaten this world.” Thor removed his hand and swept it at the window, at the beautiful but broken remains of Manhattan outside the window. “And your land.”

Steve felt Her then, standing in his mind, and felt Her smile.

Well done, She whispered.

“Thank you,” he said, for both of them.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lonespark
Jul. 10th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
Damn. Well done.
This Pagan had cheers and sniffles. She calls us to honor and greatness.
Thank you.
jaune_chat
Jul. 10th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
I remember reading about Columbia, Britannia, and Germania in school and found them really quite interesting. I'm really glad you liked the story!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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