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The Sun Hasn't Died


I had a mixed opinion of the Avengers. On one hand, they saved New York – and the world – from a fate that even I couldn’t comprehend. On the other hand, they left behind one hell of a mess. A mess that, in turn, fell to others to clean up.

Like myself.

Not all super-heroes wear flashy uniforms, or capes, or masks. Not all super-heroes possess super-human talents. Not all super-heroes come from other worlds, or fight to save humanity from threats that exist from beyond the edges of our reality.

I guess you could say I wore a “uniform” of sorts. It possessed cape-like qualities. I certainly wore a mask. I did possess super-human talents, though they were an organic part of my own evolution; I had not come into possession of them from extraordinary means outside of myself. And I did save humanity – or at least, the humanity within my sphere of influence. But, I saved humanity from themselves, not from threats of an extra-terrestrial or uber-human origin.

I did not help the Avengers in the Battle of New York, but I was at ground zero. I had started that fateful day in Manhattan at a conference and had been drawn into the chaos and destruction by the sheer virtue of happenstance and the presence of my clerical collar. While being evacuated from the office building high-rise where I and a hundred other men and women had been discussing an inter-faith approach to address homelessness, hunger and crime in our congregations, I was recognized by a fire fighter whose youngest child I had baptized. He ran through the smoke and screams to grab my arm and beg me to accompany him through the wreckage, to say the Last Rites as needed and to comfort the wounded.

I quickly got separated from my fire fighter friend, but the black clothes and white collar of a priest will wield a certain – and unexpected – respect in times of bloodshed and destruction. I had never been on a battlefield before, but I simply stepped forward into the footsteps of men and women of the cloth who had gone before me. I helped carry wounded out of harm’s way, I helped shepherd the living and the frightened to safety, I knelt at the sides of the dying and prayed with them or spoke words of comfort to them as they faced the unknown “Shadowlands”, I closed the eyes of the dead and helped move them to the torn-up sidewalks.

I was stopped frequently, but only ever briefly – for only as long as it took for wide-eyed EMS and NYPD to recognize the Celtic cross against my chest and what it meant. I was granted access almost to the very epicenter of the battle, where the Avengers themselves stood staunch against the alien invaders.

It was there, just a mere two blocks away from the very worst of the battle, that I first met Captain America. I was kneeling next to a fallen police officer, whose last words were merely a plea for someone to look after the fates of the two children she would leave behind. I was just pressing my fingertips to her eyelids, when I felt a malevolent presence behind me. I could see the shadow cast against the crushed vehicles to my left – it was a Chitauri foot soldier. I immediately looked up and glanced around the street in front of me, taking just a few precious moments to make sure that I was alone on the block.

I could hear the Avengers fighting just blocks away from me, but I was on the edges of a police barricade and I didn’t want anyone to see what I was preparing to do. All backs were turned and all attentions otherwise occupied, so I turned toward the Chitauri swiftly, still kneeling, my hand outstretched toward it. I gathered the power that constantly churned within my blood –

And a brilliant flash of red and silver swept in front of me; a shadow blocked the sun from my view, and a muscled expanse of blue-wrapped flesh now stood between me and the Chitauri.

An arm, bearing a huge, round shield swept downward toward the foot soldier and in sheer seconds – as long as it would have taken me to handle the threat myself – the alien’s carcass fell to the ground with a sickening thud.

I realized in that moment just how huge the First Avenger really was – he was a towering specimen of a man, impossibly broad of shoulder and wide of chest. My eyebrows rose and my eyes widened as he turned toward me. I hadn’t run across a man so imposing since Victor – although, granted, I had been much younger and even shorter when I had had the misfortune of falling beneath that particular shadow. Size, of course, was always relative to one’s own age.

But, now I was a full-grown woman and the Captain was truly imposing. Intimidating, almost, with his blue eyes ablaze with what I could easily recognize as righteous indignation. His chest was heaving with exertion and his whole body was taunt. Doubtless, the adrenaline of battle was creating an even greater aura of strength and physical magnitude than he already possessed. I couldn’t help but take a moment and marvel, ever so swiftly in the confines of my own mind, at what man had made.

“Are you okay, F-” his address stopped short, as his eyes fell on the long strawberry-blond braid that graced the length of my black-cloaked back.

His eyes flickered from my braid, to the little square of white that stood out proudly against my throat. Then, his eyes flickered back to my hair. And then, ever so subtly, toward the front of my shirt, and then, ever so guiltily, toward my face.


Mother,” I said for him, finally sweeping to my feet and standing to face him like the grown and capable woman that I was. “Mother Eli.”

“Mother…?” his tongue tripped over the word and his eyes searched my face in complete confusion; I smiled a little sadly at him.

“Things have changed a bit,” I said softly; I couldn’t quite bear the look of sudden loss that spasmed across his masked face, so I glanced down toward my soot-covered hands and began wiping them self-consciously against my equally soot-covered thighs.

“Clearly,” his voice cracked a bit and he cleared his throat; I graciously pretended that it was the dust in the air that caused the waver in his voice.

I looked back up at him – even standing, he made me feel small and breakable – and offered him a slight smile.

“Thank you, Captain,” I made the sign of the cross between us and turned to go.

There was a battle raging; there was no time for words. But, I paused a moment before I completely turned away and glanced at the tall, strong hero who stood before me, so clearly a man out of time.

“Come down to Brooklyn some time, if it ever gets to be too much. St. Francis’ doors are always open.”

“Thanks…” he swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing noticeably as his blue eyes looked me up and down quizzically one last time.

He met my eyes and smiled a small smile of his own. His teeth stood out, white, against the smudged grime that covered his chin and cheeks. Even with the mask on, he looked boyish, if only for a second.

“Mother,” he nodded toward me, all business yet again.

Someone called his name – a woman’s voice, clear and clarion against the rage of the battle. The Captain gave me a quick salute – a gesture that surprised me – and turned to run toward the voice calling him, about a block southeast of us. I was left alone with two broken bodies – one human, one alien – and I whispered a prayer into the hot, ash-filled wind that was being tunneled down the street between the high-rises.

My eyes lingered on the fallen Chitauri and I had to wonder, not for the first time, if there was a God left to hear us.

I helped clean up the Avengers’ mess that day, and in the following days, and in the following nights. It was hard, at times, not to begrudge them, especially on the days when my tiny church’s soup kitchen was filled with the suddenly homeless and dispossessed. Or, when I had to start helping other parish priests with their pastoral care – counseling was part and parcel of being a leader in any faith, but there was a significant difference between the expectations laid upon a “pulpit minister” and the expectations laid upon a trained chaplain. Unlike many in New York’s faith communities, I had once been primarily a chaplain, trained in counseling and in secular psychology. I knew about grief and trauma. I held a doctoral degree in Thanatology – the study of death and dying.

There was a lot of death, dying, wounded, traumatized, and marginalized in the days following the Battle of New York. There was a lot of grief, a lot of questions, a lot of spiritual and existential crises. Several leaders of the faith community quit in the weeks following the battle; it was hard to answer questions about God – any god – in the aftermath of aliens and two god-like men straight out of Norse mythology. It was hard to believe anything and even harder to know what to believe in. Even Science had seemingly failed us.

At night, I worked as well, a cloaked crusader. During the day, I wore black and somber colors. At night, I wore white – the easier to be seen. White fedora, white coat, white trousers, white boots, all accented in red and green. I wore a red stole with two white crosses stitched on the bottom edges; to the discerning, those crosses were a warning of an ancient heritage. By day, I was innocuous, below the radar, untraceable, unremarkable. By night, I was a defender, an exorcist, a healer, a wizard, a mutant, a monster.

I did not so much fight the escalation of crime that followed the Battle of New York, as I protected the innocent from the deeds of evil men. I had taken an oath, upon the eve of my ordination, not to use my powers for harm. I could only defend and heal. This often made my work rather dangerous, as I had to rely on my physical strength to defeat the “bad guys”. My only weapons were a weathered book and a pair of brass knuckles. As a lone woman – and a short one at that – I could only reasonably expect to take two or three assailants successfully at a time. If accosted by more than that, I had to resort to subterfuge and quick thinking to remove myself and anyone else from a bad situation.

I was usually successful, even when the odds were not in my favor. I had gathered quit the reputation for myself – a suitable “street cred”, if you will. It only took a few weeks after my arrival to Brooklyn, for the word to get around. “Don’t mess with Priest,” was the word on the street. “Don’t get in a fight with him.”

To the world, I was a “him”. With my hair tucked up under my fedora and my chest bound down, my disguise was suitably gender-neutral enough that most folks just assumed that I was male. And my moniker helped – as Captain America proved, the sight of a clerical collar, without observation of any contrary physical factors, often lead the casual observer to assume “male”. So, at night, male I was – or, in my own mind, at least gender-neural.

And regardless of my gender, the thugs learned quickly. The “White Priest” wasn’t one to challenge.

But, every so often, I got in over my head. After moving to New York from Denver, I didn’t encounter a lot of resistance after the first six or so months of my vigilante work. But after the Battle of New York, people got desperate and the gangs began to thrive. I had more trouble on my hands than ever before – fear will turn even the most law-abiding citizen to the most irrational choices. People began to fear going out alone after dark together, too. The number of my victims increased – but so did my number of aggressors.

I also started to notice something going wrong on my Brooklyn streets – something very, very wrong. More than desperation began to creep along my alleyways and wrecked-out buildings; something more than fear began to shine within the eyes of the gangsters, drug dealers, addicts, and crooks. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but my intuition told me that some unknown evil was beginning to prowl the streets of New York City.

I came face to face with this new evil the night that Priest first met Captain America. I was prowling along Colonial Court, near the Bay, when I heard the screams of a man in distress. Without a second thought, I ran straight for the sound, toward a dark and narrow alleyway that I knew dead-ended in a small, square courtyard sandwiched between the backsides of four old warehouses. I should have known better, than to approach a dead-end like that on foot, instead of climbing one of the warehouses and assessing the situation briefly from the rooftop. But, there had been too man screams of distress lately and my compassion got the better half of my reason.

There was a ring of thugs surrounding the screaming man, blocking him from my view. I had seen this scenario before and once again, assumption over-rode my common sense. It didn’t even register that not a single man held a weapon in his hand; not one baseball bat or set of chains rested against any of the shoulders in front of me. There was no sound of beating or torture – just endless, haunting, tormented screaming.

I laid into the wall of five or six bodies, punching and kicking as I went. A group this size was a little big for me to be taking on my own, but I had the element of surprise. Two of them even ran off in fear before I could get to them; I assumed, foolishly of course, that they ran away from me.

When four bodies writhed on the ground at my feet, I finally turned my attention toward the victim. It was in that awful, breath-stealing moment when demonic red eyes pierced into mine, that I realized I had grossly underestimated the situation.

The man in front of me was still more or less human, but his eyes glowed a hellish red. He had no pupils, no irises anymore – just a solid blank slate of red across the width of his eyes. His lips were curled back in a snarl and his teeth were normal, but some sort of black substance oozed evilly from between his gums. It leaked from his nose as well, and his ears, dribbling down to stain the starched white front of what had once been a nice button-up shirt. I had never seen anything like him before and I recoiled in a mixture of outrage and disgust.

As I stepped back, I felt a pair of strong arms clasp my biceps – one of the men I thought I had successfully felled had gotten back on his feet. I immediately moved to stomp my heel into the top of his left shoe, but as I shifted my focus to his immediate threat, the not-human in front of me moved forward with deadly intent. As if in slow motion, I saw his arm reach back behind him and I belatedly realized that his hands were skeletal caricatures of human flesh, tipped in razor-sharp claws. Those claws swiftly hurled through the air between us toward my throat, as I heard the assailant behind me merely grunt in pain as I stomped on his foot and moved not even a muscle.

Blue and white flashed in front of me for the second time in as many months and the hand that had been reaching toward me with deadly intent suddenly dropped to the ground, severed from the arm to which it had been attached. The creature in front of me howled in indignation and shied away from the solid thunk of boots as they hit the ground to our right. A spinning shield – the weapon that had separated hand from arm – whipped around the small courtyard and back toward its master, the towering, star-spangled hero that had already rescued me once before.

The creature, it turned out, was faster than even the agile Captain America. As soon as it realized that it was comically outmanned, it hissed like a viper and dropped to all fours. Before either I, my captor, or my savior could react, the thing scuttled past me into the dark alleyway behind us with a speed that was, needless to say, inhuman.

“Damn,” I hissed, as I threw my head back to connect with my assailant’s nose.

There was a shout of pain and then I couldn’t see the Captain in my periphery. There was another grunt of pain behind me, which coincided with the sound of a fist connecting to flesh and bone. The man who had been pinning me to his sweaty body (and who smelled unpleasantly of rotting fish) let go of me abruptly and I spun around on my heels to see him face-down on the ground behind me. Captain America towered over him, stern and deeply concerned. I could tell by the downward curl of his lips that he was less than impressed with had happened.

Still, he spared a few moments to be concerned about my well-being.

“You okay…Father?”

I had to force myself not to smile at the brief hesitation in his question. Clearly, the memory of having run across me, unmasked and “normal” in the Battle of New York was still fresh in his mind. His eyes flickered down toward my chest and he seemed to breathe a heavier sigh, as if of relief, when he saw nothing to prove his address incorrect, as before.

It was a little sobering to remind myself that the truth of my identity lay underneath a few mere layers of cloth. The straight lines of my thigh-length white business coat hid the curves of my hips and my compression shirt – a normal accessory of transgendered men, to flatten their chests as they prepared themselves psychologically and hormonally for surgery – was all that hid the truth of my gender. My hair was safely pinned underneath the skin-tight hood that I used as a mask (not dissimilar in construction or appearance to the Captain’s own mask) and my wide-brimmed fedora, along with the darkness, hid any sign of unusual bulges that might have otherwise hinted at my hidden hair.

I reminded myself, as I gazed across the fallen body between us, into the Captain’s piercing blue eyes that the obstruction of my identity was for the best. It was what super-heroes did – unless, of course, you were Tony Starke, or high-profile like Captain America.

So, I accepted his title of “Father” – it was not the first time I had been called such in the course of my vigilante work. It would not be the last.

“Yes,” I rasped.

My voice was made unrecognizable by a voice changing device I wore around my throat; it was cutting-edge technology, built upon existing models that could be easily bought for civilian use. It was a perk of working for my particular organization – I had access to quite a number of nifty toys. I had requested the voice changer after settling upon my disguise; I needed something to make my voice deeper and slower, otherwise I would blow my cover just by opening my mouth. I tried not to talk much, though, while I was night-lighting as Priest; the voice changer made my throat feel funny and I often lost my voice the next day, if I spoke too much during the night.

“What was that thing?” Captain America jerked his bare chin toward the darkness behind us, where the human-creature-thing had disappeared.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, as I picked my way over the motionless form of my attacker. “Never seen anything like it,” I added softly, as if to myself.

“Hm,” the Captain looked over his muscular shoulder and frowned into the night.

I knew what he was thinking. We would both be telling our superiors of this encounter. I had a feeling, though, that my bosses would be much more interested in what had transpired, than S.H.I.E.L.D.

“Well,” he pushed breath through his teeth, as if aggravated, as he turned back toward me; his eyes considered me in the washed-out light from the moon above.

I knew he was assessing my level as a threat and my potential as an ally. I had done the same to him, although well before this nocturnal meeting.

“Be safe out here, Father,” the star-spangled man turned to leave and then seemed to think of something. “Who you work for?” his eyes searched mine, his gaze guarded; I saw him considering the crosses on my stole and I couldn’t hide a wry smile.

“For an organization much older and much stronger than S.H.I.E.L.D,” I answered softly. “But, no worries,” I added, when I saw the alarm flicker swiftly across his face. “We tend to stay out of the way, as long as we’re not bothered. I won’t say we work for the same side,” I paused – I couldn’t speak quickly with the voice changer. “But I am not your enemy.”

He nodded at this, seemingly satisfied with the answer. I, on the other hand, felt suddenly unsettled; I knew that he’d be telling Fury about our meeting and I was not keen on the idea. There was no way of conveying that to him, though, without arousing suspicion. I stifled a sigh and admitted to myself that I had had a good long streak of anonymity, but S.H.I.E.L.D was bound to catch up with me sooner or later.

At least, this way, I’d be ready for Fury. Again.

“I’ll go get the police for you, Father,” the Captain inclined his head toward me and turned away from good; I was surprised by how well he was able to melt into the shadows. “I’ll be around; just shout if you ever need some backup.”

“Peace be with you, Captain,” I made the sign of the cross and watched him fade away into the dark alleyway in front of me.

I lingered for about five minutes or so; just long enough to hear the police sirens begin to wail in the distance. Then I followed the Captain’s example and slipped into the darkness – although, admittedly, it was harder to blend in, dressed in white as I was.

My head was full of thoughts, but they were mostly wordless worries about the strangeness that I had seen that night. There was a thought or two of Fury in there, too. But, mostly, I thought of the Captain’s smile. And, I smiled a bit myself, in the dark New York night.

I didn’t need to be psychic to know that he’d soon find his way to St. Francis. And I purposefully didn’t think any deeper about the fact that I was looking forward to meeting him on ordinary terms, without super hero acts and masks between us.


I've been inspired by The Avengers for some time now and I finally decided to give into the plot bunny muses and work on a Captain America fanfic. I hope you all enjoy. :)

A few things about said Captain America fanfic, however... I've had the idea for "The Sun Hasn't Died" for quite some time and it does contain some crossover-type elements. Some elements are from X-Men (movie-verse, more or less) and The Secret World (MMO). In fact, I borrow rather freely from The Secret World, but I wouldn't call it a crossover, exactly, because I only borrow general ideas and then add my own twist. It's not an X-Men crossover in my opinion, either, because the only mention of the X-Men universe is in flashbacks with the main character. There are plot themes from X-Men and you'll see mention of some familiar names from that 'verse...but the only characters who actually make an appearance are the Avengers (and all associated characters). Hence, my choice
not to put this in the crossover cateory.

I was also inspired to write this fanfic, as I've been inspired by an original female superhero character for quite some time. Eli (pronounced "Ellie") was quite persistent, I assure you. I finally gave in to her demands.

Some of you (okay, maybe a lot of you) may find Eli to be an unusual character. I did that on purpose (besides the fact that she positively insisted on being a priest both in and out of the mask). For those who may not know, YES, there are female priests - future chapters will reveal Eli to be an Episcopalian; the Episcopal Church does ordain women as priests, who are often called "Mother". I've read a lot of Captain America fanfic, where he's paired with other soldiers, or S.H.I.E.L.D agents, or bookstore owners, or other civilian women of various job titles that might reasonably prove an attraction to him. I decided that Eli might actually attract his attention, based on what he says in The Avengers about there being "only one God." Clearly, Cap is a man of faith and I wanted to explore him from that angle; faith (any and
all faith) will be explored to great depth in this fanfic. You could say, it'll be the primary "theme" of "The Sun Hasn't Died"; however, I would like to assure you, dear Reader, that this is not a "Christian" story. It is, in fact, quite a pluralistic story and explores themes of faith and belief from very open points of view.

On a final note, yes, this is a romantic story, with spiritual/existential themes. And yes, it is rated R for future chapters and yes, that rating might go up, depending on how explicit I feel like making things when I get to those parts of the story. If it makes you squeamish to think of a woman of the cloth getting hot and heavy with the First Avenger...well, then don't read. As Eli will say herself at some point, she is herself quite "human" (as are all priests/leaders of faith) and this is a
human story, about human feelings, beliefs, hopes, dreams, and faults. Eli is what she is, to provoke thought and challenge assumptions. Please be challenged...and I hope you're entertained in the process!


Ah!!!! I love this! It is so different from anything that I have read. Please please please keep writing. Eli is such a diverse character, I mean she's somewhat timid yet when she puts on the mask she fierce. Very believable character. Cant wait to read more!

caitlinjones012 caitlinjones012