Somewhere in the multiverse, there's gotta be that ONE AU...
This isn’t a back alley, Steve. It’s war.
I know it’s war. Bucky, come on, there are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them.
It’s a conversation that catches his attention. The young sergeant obviously doesn’t dream of glory or valor won in battle. He’s already aware, all too well, what kind of hell awaits him.
The other young man, tiny and deceptively-frail looking, who apparently has every excuse to stay safe, refuses that chance. What he says is telling. He wants to do his duty.
I don’t want to kill anyone.
I don’t like bullies.
I don’t care where they’re from.
So Dr. Abraham Erskine decides that there are two men who could be trusted with the Super Soldier Serum. Two men who could be trusted with this kind of power and this kind of responsibility.
Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes is recalled to Camp Lehigh, to lead a new platoon of other carefully chosen men for Project Rebirth. It’s a good choice - Barnes is a protector by nature and he keeps bullies like Hodges in check.
Colonel Phillips can’t understand why Dr. Erskine approved the selection of Steven Grant Rogers as a private in this man’s army. But tiny as he is, he goes through the training with no complaints, giving it everything he’s got despite the colonel’s personal fear that Rogers is just one breath away from a heart attack. Agent Carter reports that there is a fine tactical mind in there, being the first to bring down the camp’s flag by simply out-thinking the brutes of his platoon.
And of course, Sergeant Barnes’ reaction to Pvt. Rogers’ insane courage during what would now be infamously known as the Grenade Incident, would probably go down in the camp’s history.
(The unspoken commandment to not refer to Sergeant Bucky Barnes as the War Bride or Mrs. Rogers spread rather quickly amongst the rank and file. RLB also became code for deep love and devotion but also shorthand for “boneheaded things Certain People would do because it’s fucking true love and shaddup if you wouldn’t do it yourself.”)
Sergeant Barnes and Private Rogers are both given the super soldier serum and are both sent into the Vita Ray Chamber.
The changes in Sergeant Barnes are not as visible as the dramatic change wrought in Private Rogers but there is no doubt that despite HYDRA’s attempt to steal the serum and their successful assassination of Dr. Erskine, they had at least two super soldiers.
It is Pvt. Rogers who successfully captures the HYDRA assassin.
It is Sgt. Barnes who keeps him alive for interrogation.
With his more dramatic transformation to six foot odd, 240 pounds of muscle, Steve Rogers is made the more public face of Project Rebirth. The “Captain America” name takes on a life of its own with comics and movie serials that Barnes constantly teases Steve over.
It doesn’t take long until both of them are promoted. “Captain America” may be a nickname now but officially Rogers and Barnes are both bumped up to lieutenant.
It is Lieutenant Steven Grant Rogers who plans out and leads a two-man mission when they learn that the majority of Barnes’ regiment are being held at a HYDRA base too far behind enemy lines for Colonel Phillips to consider mounting a full-scale rescue.
"Fucking hell, they can shoot us for desertion later, we’re getting our guys out first," was Barnes’ comment.
It is Agent Carter and Howard Stark who aid and abet the two Brooklyn boys in their rescue.
When they return with at least 400 men, Captain America is no longer a nickname but becomes Steve Rogers’ new rank. With Barnes as his second in command and a hand-picked group of soldiers from the rescued POW’s that included an Irish-American, a Japanese- American, a black man, an English officer, a member of the French resistance, Agent Peggy Carter and one of Russia’s infamous Black Widows, the Howling Commandos would bring untold grief to HYDRA.
They would all walk into legend.
And they would all return, more than seventy years later, when the world needed the First Avengers once again.
- tbc -
Note: "RLB" is inspired from I love you like rlb by tolieawake.
Look, I need this AU because the boys deserve at least ONE UNIVERSE WHERE EVERYTHING WORKS OUT, OKAY? Okay.