Not My Steve Rogers

By Lizabeth S. Tucker

Sam Wilson fiddled with Captain America's shield, now his shield, surprised by the weight. He stood halfway between Barnes and a much older Steve Rogers, expecting them to speak to each other. Instead Barnes had turned on his heel and stalked off.

Steve's face fell, his sad blue eyes watching Bucky walk away.

"Steve, he's probably just surprised by all this." Sam waved his hand encompassing the older man's body.

"He knew. I told him that I wasn't coming back. We talked the night before I left. Last night? Time travel is so confusing."

"He knew you planned to desert him? What the fuck, Steve?"

"Desert? I didn't…that isn't what…he knew I wasn't happy here. I wanted to go home. I wanted to stop fighting. I wanted to go back to my own time." Steve raked his hand through his pure white hair. "The press called me the Man Out of Time. They were right. I never belonged here."

"You weren't happy."

"No, I wasn't. Bucky was the one who loved reading about the future, who loved science fiction and would go to the Stark Expo."

"I get that you felt out of place. I do." Sam moved to sit beside Steve. "Fury was out of line not getting you help."

"We had mandated therapy sessions after tough missions."

Sam's snort made his opinion of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s therapists all too clear. "Hell, Steve, 80% of them turned out to be with Hydra. 60% didn't even have training in PTSD or Survivor's Guilt. I'd like to kick Fury's ass for that alone. Add to that level of incompetence the fact that you weren't open to talking about issues you might be having due to when you were from, a time period when mental health issues were considered shameful. Exactly no effort was made to help you deal with the ramifications of suddenly waking up after slowly freezing to death. Which means I'll be slugging that asshole Nick Fury if I ever meet him face-to-face again."

"I'd pay to see that," Steve said, chuckling.

"All that aside, you weren't the only Man Out of Time. Barnes spent how much time out of cryo? Two or three years? You went rogue to save him, Steve. You mourned his death twice. I know you had a group during the Snap years, trying to help people move on. But I had a chance to talk to some of the other staff, I know how little you bought into that yourself. PTSD, Survivor's Guilt, depression, loneliness, battle weariness. It wasn't right that you were the one to take back the stones. I knew something wasn't right with you, but everything happened so quickly. I put a lot of it down to losing both Natasha and Stark. I should've stopped you. That's on me."


"No. I'm glad you were happy. I am. But the Steve Rogers that I came to know as we searched for your BFF, the man who stood up against the Accords as they were written, the man who always tried to do what was right…that man wouldn't have done this. That man wouldn't have left without a word to the people who proudly called him a friend. That man wouldn't have turned his back on a planet that had a huge struggle ahead of them after a huge influx of people and animals needing food, shelter, and emotional help. That wasn't my Steve Rogers."

Sam got back to his feet, clutching the shield by the strap. "Thanks for this. I'll do my best to fulfill what the world needs from Captain America." With that, Sam Wilson walked away.