In hindsight, it may have been naïve to hope that life would get easier in the Avengers’ tower once he and Bucky got together. Never has Steve been so wrong.
In the six months since he and Bucky officially started dating (“stop calling it a flirtationship Tony what the fuck even is that”) the Avengers have stopped an invasion of gigantic lizards, an errant frost giant in the wrong realm (“no Captain it is not my brother, he is in prison reconsidering his misguided actions”), and a defrosted plesiosaur wreaking havoc off the coast of Miami, among other things.
On a more positive note, Bucky has been incorporated into the group in every possible way. He attends the weekly meetings at SHIELD headquarters with the team, his metal arm is a great asset in the heat of battle – courtesy of Tony’s upgrades – and he has successfully moved in with Steve. Bucky has learned how to cook and can be out for long periods of time in public without having a mental breakdown. He takes Steve on romantic dates on a weekly basis and always makes sure to check in with the rest of the team, taking special delight in scaring the living daylights out of Tony whenever he can.
The regular sex with Steve is also pretty fucking fantastic.
Of course Tony, master partygoer extraordinaire and secretly an emotional sap, gets wind of Bucky’s birth date and goes all out for the occasion. Director Fury yells at Tony for hacking into SHIELD’s personal files but backs down when he lets the spy in on the party plans.
The thing is, neither Bucky nor Steve were particularly well off when they were growing up in Brooklyn. Money was scarce, and food was even scarcer. Parties and gifts and lavish decorations were simply too extravagant for anyone with half a brain and a mind to keep living long enough to fill their bowl. So they’d contented themselves with practical and thoughtful gifts, like a jar full of pomade for Bucky and a set of new pencils for Steve’s art. It’s the thought that counts.
So when they walk into the shared common room after a nice evening out at the little Italian place around the corner, with a nice bottle of red wine and some pasta, Bucky is more than a little shocked at the decorations covering every square inch of the room. When he turns to look at Steve for answers all he finds is the softest look on his boyfriend’s face, warm love and affection bleeding out from every pore.
“Happy birthday Bucky,” Steve says, a smile on his face.
Bucky has to take a moment to compose himself and hides his face in Steve’s neck, breathing in the warm, clean scent of soap and aftershave, and valiantly tries not to cry. So when he gets pulled gently into the arms of each of his teammates for a celebratory hug he beams at each of them and flushes.
Tony is the first to bound up to Bucky in order to present his gift.
“Alright you wintery schmuck,” he holds up the heavy, wooden box. “Here’s your birthday present!”
“But,” Bucky blanches incredulously. “But you already went through all this trouble for a party! I thought that was your present to me?”
Tony scoffs proudly, “Puh-lease, as if I would pass on the opportunity to go all out for one of the oldest American heroes in history.”
Bucky glares at him, uncomfortable with being called an American hero, and sets about opening his gift. It turns out to be an entirely new and upgraded prosthetic arm, the pinnacle of biomechanical achievements only brought about with the combined efforts of Bucky’s experience and Tony’s ingenuity working together.
“Woah,” Steve breathes, awe evident in his voice. “Bucky, that’s just, woah.”
Bucky roughly shoves the new arm at Steve and, ignoring the brief look of hurt on Tony’s face, casually disengages his current metal arm from the socket.
“Yo metal man, show me how to work this thing.”
Tony carelessly throws the empty box over his shoulder and grins before moving forward to show Bucky how to connect the relays and mechanical clasps. Bucky gasps as it attaches itself and Steve flutters his hands anxiously at the sound.
“What? What is it? Does it hurt you?”
“What? It’s what?” Tony demands impatiently.
“It’s so light!” Bucky squeals, delighted at the new sensations. “It feels like it’s not even there!”
Tony smirks triumphantly, “Betcha can’t guess what it’s made out of.”
Steve looks closer, “Is that… Vibranium?”
Bucky freezes, going completely still, and turns to Steve with wide eyes and a manic grin.
“You know what this means right?”
“You’re the star spangled man with an extra hand,” Bucky sings, mocking Steve’s old show tune.
Tony throws his head back in bright peals of laughter while Steve just shakes his head fondly.
Pepper arrives just in time to give Bucky with a set of dry-erase markers designed for the wear and tear of combat to decorate his new arm. Tony spends the entire time looking at her adoringly, never saying a word.
Next up is Bruce, who gives him an absolutely massive yoga ball and a set of soothing CDs to work out to. Bucky takes one look at the ball and turns to grin lecherously at Steve, who flushes crimson to the tips of his ears.
Clint goes and thinks outside of the box and presents Bucky with his very own kitten, a tiny little orange tabby that mewls adorably while purring up a storm. Bucky is hesitant to even touch it at first, his hands are made for battle and blood and killing, not for giving life and nurturing. But Clint and Steve reassure him that he’s safe and they’ll help him if he feels out of control, so he picks it up gingerly. Within minutes the kitten is safely ensconced in his arms and is sleeping soundly.
“What’re you gonna call him?”
“I just… wait what?” Clint blinks incredulously. “Are you serious?”
“Like one-hundred-percent-never-gonna-regret-it kind of serious?”
“Well alright then.”
Natasha glides in immediately afterwards with all the necessary items to care for a kitten. Things like a food bowl with the American flag on it, a bag of toys, catnip, food, and a soft bed for Freedom to sleep in. Finally, she hands Bucky a piece of paper with contact names and numbers on it for local vets and animal clinics.
“С Днем Рождения” she says, her smile soft in the low evening light.
“спасибо” Bucky replies quietly.
Sam is the one that Bucky expects a gag gift from, but is pleasantly surprised when the soldier presents him with his very own wooden box filled to the brim with bright balls of yarn in every colour and pattern imaginable. Sam claps him gently on the shoulder, scratches behind Freedom’s ear, and smiles reassuringly at Bucky.
Thor is a whole other ball game.
The Asgardian strides confidently into the party and, with a dramatic flourish, procures a set of gleaming, rainbow-coloured knives in a sturdy leather pouch.
“You are most welcome my friend!”
“Why are they so colourful?”
Thor smiles and carefully brings one out from the case, never touching the blade, “Because they are made from shards of the Bifrost. Once you touch the blades, you, and only you, will be able to use them in combat.”
Bucky blinks curiously, “How?”
“Once you touch them, no one else will be able to use their sharpness to harm another. Essentially, they only become sharp when you wield them.”
Bucky slowly extends a hand to Thor’s shoulder, and then firmly cups the god’s jaw.
He then head-butts Thor so hard he sees stars.
Thor grins brilliantly and booms out a triumphant battle cry, emboldened by his success with gift giving.
Steve is the last to give his gift to Bucky, shyly holding back and only coming forward once Bucky has put Freedom in the kitchen for a nap.
“So I wasn’t sure what to get you for your birthday because nothing seemed practical enough.”
Bucky raises an eyebrow questioningly.
“So I decided to get creative,” Steve says, unbuttoning his shirt.
“Woah, woah, woah!” Bucky smirks. “As much as I appreciate the impromptu strip show I think we should save the hanky panky for the bedroom and- ”
The words die in his mouth as Bucky takes in the smooth expanse of Steve’s chest, rippling with muscles, and his gaze zooming in on the ink above the super soldier’s heart.
Steve scratches his neck self-consciously, a delicate pink blush settling on his cheeks, “Well at least it’s long-lasting?”
Bucky’s eyes trace the immaculate lines of the stylized dog tags, one slightly overlaid on top of the other, immediately recognizing his name and identification number. But it’s the crisp lines of text in the second tag that catches his special attention.
с тобой до конца линии
With you until the end of the line.
Steve steps closer and leans in, bringing his hands up to rest warmly on Bucky’s hips, “I love you Buck.”
Steve would almost find it amusing at the way Bucky’s eyes widen comically at his admission if he weren’t so terrified of the response.
“Вы это серьезно?”
Steve blinks, thrown off by the sudden change in language, “What?”
Bucky brings his hands up to clasp the lapels of Steve’s shirt, looking mildly frustrated with a generous helping of unbelievable happiness shining through.
“Я спросил, если ты серьезно? О любви ко мне?”
At Steve’s look of blank incomprehension Bucky lets out a string of flowing Russian, getting wildly animated. One of the first things Bruce found out about Bucky’s emotional outbursts – a familiar middle ground for both of them – was how his mental wires can get crossed if he’s shocked or stressed. The Winter Soldier’s main programming was instilled in Russian, so in times of great emotional upheaval Bucky reverts to the frenetic waves of the language, the rough syllables and smooth words rolling off his tongue like water off of a cliff.
Of course, all Steve knows is that Bucky is feeling emotionally overwhelmed and frustrated, and that ultimately he is the cause of it.
“Bucky? Are you angry with me?” Steve murmurs, his voice a calm undertone.
Bucky’s eyes scrunch together in frustration, a bright smile tugging at his lips.
“Нет, вы панк. Я люблю тебя!”
The kiss that Bucky pulls Steve into is easily the most intense kiss of Steve’s life. All the unspoken love and trust, the hope and love, the lust and attraction, it all comes to the forefront of the kiss and rushes over Steve with a warm wave of endless affection. By the time Steve pulls away for a breath, Bucky is smiling and breathing into his space, a warm and constant presence.
Bucky gently takes Steve’s face and draws it down, their noses brushing together, “Я.люблю.тебя”, each word punctuated with a soft kiss.
Steve is totally unashamed of the goofy smile on his face.
Love really is the universal language.
“Hey Bucky! Where the hell are you?” Sam yells through Steve and Bucky’s floor of the tower. “We’re making ice cream sundaes in the kitchen if you want some!”
Sam hears a muffled splashing from the bathroom, “I’ll be down in a little while! Save some for me!”
Sam shakes his head fondly and wanders down to the kitchen where a full-scale food battle of epic proportions is being waged. Tony is drowning his ice cream in strawberry and chocolate syrup; Bruce is carefully cutting up pieces of banana for everyone, Clint and Natasha are dolling out scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream into colourful bowls, and Thor is laying out every known condiment from the entire kitchen. Freedom’s soft fur is seen briefly as he streaks underfoot to get away from the noise to perch on top of the fridge, imperiously surveying the team.
“Hey big guy? I don’t really think mustard and vanilla ice cream go well together.”
“No?” Thor frowns, “I thought you said to retrieve the condiments?”
Tony grins, “Well yeah, the fixings for sweet things! Mustard and ketchup are for hotdogs and burgers, but strawberry syrup and chocolate chips are for ice cream!”
“I mean you can try some mustard on your ice cream, knock yourself out. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Tony hasn’t even finished his sentence before Thor is enthusiastically dumping mustard into his bowl.
Sam grabs a bowl and has barely reached for the bananas before JARVIS is pinging through an alert.
“Sir, there has been a report of an attack on Captain Rogers in Midtown.”
“What? What happened?”
“A building caught fire and there were civilians trapped inside. The Captain went inside to retrieve them and sustained severe burns to his upper body when he blocked a falling section of wall. He is currently with a SHIELD medical team as we speak.”
“What?” Sam yells furiously. “That fucking moron went and did that? How the hell did he manage it? All he did was walk to the supermarket for more bananas!”
Bruce stops chopping to interject, “If the fire didn’t kill him, then Bucky will.”
Tony waves them all off, “Shut up you idiots! What’s his status right now?”
“Captain Rogers is currently heavily sedated while SHIELD personnel accelerates the cellular restructuring of his skin cells.”
Clint rolls his eyes exasperatedly, “speak English!”
“He is medicated for the pain and to help his damaged skin rebuild itself. The process is intensive and may take a few hours to fully begin. He has just been released from surgery and is waiting in a private room as per your orders sir.”
“Good!” Tony slurps up the rest of his ice cream. “Now, how do we tell the tin man about his boyfriend’s shenanigans?”
“What did that moron do now?”
Tony lets out a scream that the average six-year-old girl would be proud of when Bucky appears seemingly out of thin air behind him.
The car ride to the hospital is fun, to say the least.
Medicine sure has come a long way since the forties, Bucky muses, watching the gentle rise-and-fall of Steve’s chest on the narrow hospital bed.
After making sure Steve’s hospital bills were taken care of and that he was comfortable, Tony ushers the rest of the Avengers out of the front waiting room and into Steve’s private room.
If only to keep the property damage to a minimum.
As it turns out, Steve is fucking hilarious when he’s high as a kite.
“Eat your cracker Steve,” Bucky says, gently pushing the soda cracker into the super soldier’s unsteady hands.
“I need some medicine,” Steve drawls.
“They’re bringing you some right now buddy.”
“Oh my god,” Steve hiccups violently. “Ow! That’s an ouchie!”
Steve wriggles dramatically on the bed and turns to face Bucky, “Can I sit up now?”
“Um,” Bucky checks the chart hanging off the end of the bed. “Let me check and we’ll see if we can lift you up in a minute.”
Steve blinks slowly, “Did the doctor send you? Man you are eye-candy.”
Bucky giggles happily, ignoring the snickers coming from Tony behind him, “Eat your cracker.”
“Man you’re the prettiest nurse I’ve ever seen!” Steve grins dopily, his words slurring together. “Are you a model?”
“Nope,” says Bucky, listening to Clint choke on nothing. “But I’m gonna be right here with you pal. You just eat your cracker- ”
“Who are you?”
Bucky momentarily freezes, his insides turning to ice at the thought of Steve not knowing who he is, of not remembering what they share. His hands clench at his side and he breathes deeply, remembering to smile.
“What’s your name?”
“My name is James Buchanan Barnes, but you call me Bucky. I’m your boyfriend.”
Steve’s eyes widen comically, brief clarity shining through the haze of drugs, “You’re my boyfriend? Holy shit!”
Bucky snorts into his fist to hide his laughter at the sheer, unadulterated amazement coming from Steve. His heart swelling with affection at the pure love and wonder radiating from the super soldier.
“Dang,” Steve groans triumphantly, pausing in his joy. “How long have we been together?”
Bucky grins maniacally, “Officially, six months. Unofficially, almost seventy years.”
Steve gasps, “Do we have kids?”
Sam and Bruce are in stitches, quietly smothering their laughter into the cheap hospital pillows provided in the closet.
“No buddy, neither of us has the equipment. But we do have a cat: his name is Freedom. And you’ll get some freedom if you just finish eating your cracker,” Bucky fondly pushes the remaining piece towards Steve’s plush mouth.
“I like cats,” Steve muses. “Have we kissed yet?”
Bucky blushes at the hopeful tone, “Yep, lots of times. Eat!”
“Oh but it’s hard baby, it’s hard,” Steve whines, chewing thoughtfully. “Do we call each other baby? We should do that.”
“We do,” Bucky says, smiling into his hand. “And I’ll be here to call you that forever.”
Bucky will never ever forget the look of pure joy radiating out from Steve’s very core, glowing from the inside out, “Oh man I hit the jackpot!” Steve crows.
Natasha snorts from her chair, “Stark, you’d better send that to me when we leave.”
“My friend, I plan on uploading this particular gem to YouTube as soon as we get home,” Tony wheezes.
Steve ignores them.
“You’ve got the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen!”
“I mean it! So white they sparkle! You should model or do commercials or somethin’” Steve slurs happily.
Steve narrows his eyes thoughtfully, “You should turn around so I can see all of you baby.”
Thor bursts out laughing at the salacious request and has to leave the room before the nurse comes in to push him out the window.
“Did I get you that necklace?” Steve asks seriously. “Cause I must’ve been really likin’ you.”
Bucky glances down at the necklace in question, a present from Steve for their one-month anniversary. A simple solid gold band on a chain with Steve and Bucky’s names inscribed in Russian on the inside.
“Yep, you’re head over heels for me babe,” Bucky croons.
“I know, I know,” Steve hums around the cracker. “You smell good.”
“I had a nice long bath and pampered myself with some nice soaps before I came here. So that’s why I’m all smooth and soft and I smell good,” Bucky brings his hand up to gently brush away the crumbs from Steve’s mouth.
Steve looks up imploringly, his cerulean eyes wide and trusting, “Stay with me?”
When he wakes up, Steve is mortified to discover that the video has gone viral on every social media platform in the world, with his very own Twitter hashtag of “#CaptainAnesthesia”. Tony ends up being stuck with post-battle clean up duty for a full month afterwards as punishment.
Bucky distracts Steve from his embarrassment by dropping a bag full of scented lotions and soaps into his lap and dragging his boyfriend to the bath for some much-needed alone time.
Steve stops whining so much.
After the Captain Anaesthesia incident, Bucky becomes much more aware of the social media platforms that the Avengers operate in and around. Even if his main objective is to avoid the spotlight and make people remember how dangerous he is.
Of course, absolutely no one believes what he says about his time as the Winter Soldier.
Steve and Bucky go grocery shopping one sunny Saturday afternoon to pick out fresh fruits and veggies, and to grab a bag of dry cat food and kitty litter on the way home. Bucky meanders outside while Steve pays to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy market life. Steve walks out not two minutes later to the sight of Bucky carrying a little old lady’s grocery bags to her car while trying to convince her that he’s a trained assassin.
“You have no idea how easily I could kill someone.”
“That’s nice dearie.”
“Seriously, even world leaders.”
“Slow down there son,” she coos.
Bucky immediately slows down to offer her his arm, “Yes ma’am.”
Steve just smiles indulgently when Bucky looks back at him to glare.
He’s so cute.
It only goes downhill from there for Bucky’s ego. No matter how hard he tries to convince people of his prowess as a killer, Bucky always ends up doing good and being polite, much to his chagrin. Helping a little boy get his balloon out of a tree on their daily run through Central Park, rescuing a crate of bedraggled puppies from a ditch near the river, pointing lost tourists in the right direction, it never ends.
It comes to a head when Steve drags Bucky to a Stark Industries sponsored tree-planting event – to promote a greener city – and Bucky is roped into watering the freshly planted trees.
“You’re not taking this seriously.”
“Sure I am.”
“I’m the Winter Soldier.”
“You should fear me.”
“Whatever you say babe,” Steve smiles serenely, ignoring the giggles from other volunteers in the immediate vicinity.
Bucky turns to glare icily at everyone, “I’m a menace to society.”
It kind of ruins his badass street cred when, not five minutes later, Bucky is giving shoulder rides to little kids who have gotten bored with the activities.
“How cute!” one of the leaders says, dirt smudged on her nose. “It’s so sweet that you and your boyfriend are here to help, you two look so happy together!”
Before Steve can reply Bucky is screaming across the lawn, “I HAVE KILLED SO MANY PEOPLE WITH THIS HAND!” But the effect is ruined when he pops the cybernetic arm right off and starts waving it around like a flag. Children laugh, mothers coo, and the press has a field day with the famous Captain America and his goober of a boyfriend.
Steve spends the evening soothing Bucky’s bruised ego with his mouth, alternating between praising Bucky’s deeds and sucking his brains out through his cock.
Bucky is a bit less ruffled after that.
Bucky wakes up the morning after the tree-planting incident in a much better mood with a healthy respect for the blissful ignorance of the American public.
It helps that he wakes up to Steve trailing soft kisses down his body.
“Steve,” Bucky rasps, his boyfriend’s lips blazing a trail of fire down his body.
Steve hums against the warm skin of Bucky’s tummy, his hands skimming over bony ridges of his hipbones and raised flesh of various scars.
Bucky can practically hear the grin that Steve is wearing.
“You gonna put your money where your mouth is or do I have to do all the work here?”
“Oh I don’t plan on leaving this bed until you’ve come at least twice and can’t walk straight for the rest of the week,” Steve says serenely.
Bucky moans obscenely at the words and cants his hips up eagerly.
Steve slowly drags his tongue down Bucky’s navel to trace along the V of his hips towards his groin, where his cock stands hard and flushed amongst the thatch of dark curls at the base. Mouthing along the length of the shaft, Steve places the flat of his tongue along Bucky’s cock, and drags a hot, wet stripe up the length of it. Using the tip of his tongue he torturously teases the head, flushed and dark purple and absolutely gorgeous, so that he can lave attention around the sensitive slit. Working the tip over and over until Bucky is writhing and clenching the sheets, his knuckles bone-white against the dark fabric. Closing his lips around the tip, Steve places his tongue flat along the head and sucks, only releasing with a wet pop after Bucky whines prettily above him.
“You alright there Buck?” Steve teases.
“Shut up you punk I am totally someone to be feared” Bucky growls breathlessly.
Steve just chuckles, and then swallows Bucky down to the root, his nose brushing the crisp hairs at the juncture of his groin. Steve’s eyes water, his throat flexing around the hard cock in his mouth, and he sucks. Bucky groans so loudly that he has to bite his hand to stifle the sounds, and the super soldier smirks proudly to himself around his mouthful. He slowly bobs his head up and down, retreating and then fully swallowing Bucky down again, the wet, sloppy sounds of suction echoing in their cavernous bedroom. Steve pulls off with a slurp, his lips trailing a thin string of precome from the tip of Bucky’s cock, his own cock aching and heavy between his legs.
Bucky mewls at the loss of Steve’s mouth, and thrusts his hips up enticingly. Steve grins wolfishly and dives back down, inhaling Bucky down to the root and really going to town on him. Bucky feels the white-hot heat spread deliciously through his body, tendrils of warmth threading through his limbs with every suck and every lick from Steve’s talented mouth. The heat crescendos in a burst of fire racing down his spine, his orgasm punching the breath right out of him while Steve swallows around his cock.
“Jesus H. Christ on a tricycle,” Bucky gasps, starfishing out ungracefully on the bed while Steve licks his lips enticingly.
“One orgasm down,” Steve crawls slowly up his boyfriend’s body, his muscles moving sinuously under the skin. “One more to go,” he kisses Bucky lightly. “And don’t forget, you won’t be walking straight after this sweetheart.”
Between the press conferences, the charity events, and the guest appearances on talk shows, Bucky is constantly amazed and confused with how the Avengers are seen in the public eye.
Tony has been in the media spotlight since childhood and plays his audiences like a finely tuned instrument wielded by a maestro. Pepper calls him a crazy publicity whore and Tony always puts up the token argument but never explicitly disagrees with her because he’s a walking set of contradictions. His charity events are always well publicized, his press conferences never dull, and his stints on late-night television are never without glitz and glamour. The biggest battle of Tony’s social life is fending off unwanted topics like his past with weapons manufacturing and his womanizing ways, focusing instead on the new Stark Industries business plans with clean energy and health care, as well as his committed relationship with Pepper. Everyone is enthusiastic about the newly responsible Tony but no one has forgotten who he used to be before Afghanistan, so Tony invests heavily into advocating for people suffering from PTSD and suicidal tendencies, speaking out loudly from his own personal experiences.
Bruce has much less confidence in appearing in public, whether from his fear of hulking out or from the ruthlessness of the television industry, no one can say for sure. He speaks at great length about science and green energy and how the environment is paramount to human survival in the future. He contributes less to charity but spends most of his fame making people more aware of volunteer opportunities. He becomes affectionately known as the Jolly ‘Green’ Giant in media circles and is constantly sent letters and scientific articles from young scientists and children, his mailbox at the tower always crammed full of neatly written letters. Tony records Bruce’s famous interview with Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, the scientist unashamedly geeking out and getting adorably enthusiastic to be amongst some of his most cherished heroes.
Clint is a whole other media presence entirely. Not much is known about him beyond what people can decipher from his daring Vines and mildly psychotic Tweets. He rarely accepts invitations for interviews, but is the subject of much gossip and speculation in many of the fringe groups. His tweets are dissected and analyzed to the point where conspiracy theories are born from them, and his famous stunts with Parkour bring in a wealth of insanely talented gymnasts and thrill-seekers to his group of followers.
Natasha is a whole other brand of terrifying and rarely does anyone dare ask her for an interview. The only information people gather from her is the muffled laughter from Clint’s Vines when she films for him, and the occasional guest appearance in his Parkour stunts.
Thor is simply an honest man in a complicated and deceptive world. He is disarmingly sweet and genuine and pays a great deal of attention to the social justice causes that the media ignores in favour of who-is-wearing-what and who-is-sleeping-with-whom? He always tries his best to draw attention to Jane’s work no matter who is interviewing him. Jane gets an outpouring of support and encouragement from around the globe after one memorable moment on the Stephen Colbert report when, after being asked by a visiting Republican if he is baffled by the technology of earth, Thor simply frowns and asks why such simple technology would be a challenge for him? Said Republican blusters incoherently when Thor tells him that most of the current technology Midgard possesses is considered old hat on Asgard and that most of the Aesir start learning quantum mechanics and energy transference (“I believe your people call this magic!”) in the early stages of their education. Colbert ends the interview looking like Jesus himself just descended from the heavens to grace him with a puppy.
But the crowning achievement of Thor’s social life is when he eagerly accepts a slot on the Oprah Winfrey show for a discussion about sexual assault and rape culture and proceeds to demolish the toxic attitudes on Twitter and in the media.
“So, Thor. What do you think of these new discreet cans of pepper spray? Do you think it will help prevent rape?”
Thor frowns thoughtfully, “Well, Midgard’s laws on sexual misconduct and assault are grossly inconsistent and misguided compared to the ones we have on Asgard.”
Oprah leans closer, absolutely fascinated, “How so?”
“Because making fancy products that are meant to prevent rape does not stop the root cause, which is the rapist themself. On Asgard, the victim beats the sexual offender mercilessly with a hammer the size of their choosing. Violating another’s personal space and their bodily autonomy is the worst possible offence.”
“But isn’t that just a bit violent?”
Thor just shrugs ambivalently, “A violent punishment for a violent crime is no less than they deserve. I have no sympathy for such monsters.”
Thor’s fame goes through the roof and he becomes an outspoken feminist.
Bucky likes watching Steve interact with people the most. He’s polite, yet firm. Showing empathy while standing his ground. Steve is a major advocate for war veterans suffering from PTSD and collaborates a lot with Sam to draw attention to mental health services, for soldier and civilians. As it turns out, seventy years gives plenty of time for people to form preconceived notions of the American icon, no matter how inaccurate they are. Steve takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in proving people wrong about the ‘golden days of years gone by’, gleefully watching the scandalized faces of his hosts and the audiences realizing that their hero is not who they thought he was. Steve and Bucky get about 90% of their media shits and giggles just from trolling Fox News.
Really, they just make it so easy.
“You must really miss the good old days!” laughs the host, a pasty older man with lank white hair sitting in a terrible comb over.
Steve just chuckles placidly at him, “Nah, things aren’t so bad now. The food’s a lot better, I mean we used to boil everything.” The audience laughs easily, “and the internet! So helpful!”
“So you don’t miss the days when you grew up?” asks the host, his smile patronizing. “When everything was much more simple and uncomplicated?”
“What do you mean sir?”
“You know, the days when women were women and men were men!”
Bucky snickers from his spot on the couch as he watches Steve laugh for a ridiculously long time, the interviewer growing visibly uncomfortable.
“You mean the days when women shot guns and welded metal and amputated limbs on the battlefield? Do you mean all the work they did and never got the appreciation they deserved? Those days?”
The man rallies once more, clearly trying to salvage some of the interview, “Yes, well, those days. What about you? Do you have a special someone Cap?”
“I do actually, thanks for asking!”
“Anything you wanna say to her on the air?” he throws Steve a salacious wink.
“Him,” Steve corrects.
“I don’t have a girlfriend sir, but I do have a boyfriend.”
The host nearly has a coronary.
“O-oh, well, I don’t think anyone knew the great Captain America was gay!”
“Well I believe the correct term is actually bisexual, because I was interested in this wonderfully talented woman who worked in the SSR back during the war. But I also love my boyfriend, so it’s nice knowing there’s other people out there like me.”
Bucky squirms like an excitably puppy on the couch as Natasha and Clint turn to look at him with matching grins.
But it’s Bucky who pushes a newspaper clipping into Steve’s hands one day during breakfast, and angrily rants about the infinite stupidity of people for not vaccinating their kids in a world with a wealth of medical miracles. Steve tries to convince Bucky to do the interview with him but to no avail. Instead, Tony hooks them up with a slot on The Daily Show to talk about anti-vaxers. Even though Bucky refuses to take part in the interview, he eagerly researches and puts together a speech just for Steve.
“So, Steve, can I call you Steve?”
“Sure thing Jon,” Steve is all pleasant smiles and politeness.
“Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to show you a news clipping and I want to see what your first reaction is.”
A bolded newspaper heading flashes up onto the screen behind them – proclaiming Polio’s Return After Near Eradication Prompts a Global Health Warning – and Steve couldn’t help his reaction even if he tried.
“Oh for fuck’s sake- I thought we left that shit behind!?”
Stewart bursts out laughing, “What do you have to say to the anti-vaxers?”
“Anti-vaxers, they’re people who want to go back to the purity of the dark ages when rats ran amok and nearly half the population was demolished by the Black Plague. They also think that vaccinations cause autism.”
“What!?” Steve flails, absolutely outraged. “Okay that is just plain ridiculous! Ladies and gentlemen, can I interest you in a lesson about the Iron Lung? Because that shit isn’t anyone’s definition of fun. And no one likes walking with arm crutches because your muscles and lungs don’t work properly. And newsflash people: autism is neither contagious, nor a disease to be cured!”
“And yet, some people seriously advocate against getting their kids vaccinated because of pseudo-scientific reasons!”
“Well that’s a load of crap,” Steve huffs, suddenly grateful for Bucky’s research. “I can tell you from personal experience that my life before the serum and before all these wonderful medicines was not in any way easy. That whole myth about vaccines causing autism actually stems from this quack doctor who wanted to sell his own brand of vaccines rather than a government funded one, so he tried to discredit them by saying their medicine causes autism.”
Stewart snorts sarcastically, “and doctors are supposed to be such reliable people.”
“Supposedly,” Steve scrubs his hands against his face irritably. “His studies were bogus and his research was practically non-existent, and yet the damage he did was so incredibly extensive. Even if he’s not even allowed to practice anymore!”
Bucky ends up asking JARVIS to record the entire interview, if only to see how cute Steve is when he gets really worked up about something. He smiles to himself as he remembers the kind of truly righteous indignation Steve would work himself up to back when he was ninety pounds when wet and about as threatening as an angry kitten.
“What about other technologies? Any improvements?”
Steve perks up, “Twitter! I honestly thought I’d hate it but it’s such a great way to stay connected to people and to what’s going on in the world!”
“So are you pro-selfie?”
“Can we take a selfie then?”
“Only if you promise to tag me in it!”
The photo of Steve with his face mashed up against Stewart’s blinding smile ends up being his new Twitter display icon.
Which brings us to Bucky’s current dilemma.
He doesn’t know what to do or what causes to support until one day at an Avenger’s press conference, a reporter directs a question his way.
“Sergeant Barnes? Is the armour on your left arm a piece of Stark technology? Perhaps an offshoot of the Iron Man designs?”
Bucky blinks, “Um, no, sorry. It’s actually a prosthetic; I lost my left arm almost to the shoulder during the war. I mean, Tony did upgrade it from the one I had but yeah, it’s not armour per say.”
The reporter’s eyes widen, “Have you considered releasing the designs to the public to help with amputees?”
Bucky blinks again, clearly considering it, “I’ve never given it much thought, but now that you mention it, it seems like it could do some good.”
And so he asks Pepper what charity organizations or research groups would benefit most from his arm. She forwards a list to his email and sends him to Tony to talk shop about the designs and advocacy, and by the end of the month, several charities and children’s hospitals have received funding for prosthetics and designs for various limb replacements. Shortly thereafter, he starts getting mail.
Lots of mail. Fanmail to be precise.
Bucky’s mailbox is overflowing with letters from kids born without limbs, from injured war veterans adjusting to life after service, and from athletes with a wide range of physical challenges. He gets thank-you letters from grateful parents, suggestions from science students, and encouragement from children who look up to him.
Steve finds him sitting in their room almost two months after the conference to find Bucky, with Freedom curled up and purring in his lap, sitting amongst a pile of letters and trying to hold back tears.
They send enthusiastic replies out to everyone they got mail from.
After Bucky finds a cause to fight for, a fight without blood and death and pain, he finally starts to live in the present and move on.
He works on improving his arm and sends out upgrades to those in need whenever possible. It takes some coaxing from Steve, but eventually he goes to charity events and meets with the people who have benefitted from his technology, and it does wonders for his self-worth. People thank him for the gifts he’s given, he gets hugs from kids sporting brightly coloured metal limbs, he poses for group photos of proud amputees with gleaming prosthetics, and he begins to see his arm as a tool for good rather than a weapon for pain. Although it still sucks when he’s stopped at security under metal detectors, it tends to traumatize the guards when he casually pops his arm out to scan through the conveyer.
Not everybody is comfortable with his arm, though not in a bad way.
“I swear, she never ever tells me when she’s going on these secret missions!” whines Clint, his face pressed into the couch cushions.
Bucky idly turns the page of his magazine from his end of the couch, “well if she told you then they wouldn’t be secret now would they?”
“But she just left! No note, no return date, no info, nada!”
Bucky just looks at him, takes off his metal arm, and reaches over with his natural hand to put the prosthetic gently on Clint’s shoulder without scooting over from his end of the sofa, “Hey friend, I know this is hard for you, but she’ll be back. She always is.”
“She didn’t even leave a note with Phil and I just- WHY IS YOUR DETACHED ARM TOUCHING ME?”
Bucky just cackles as watches Clint flail out of his grip to fall on the floor.
“That was payback for when Nat and I tried to get you and Steve into the movies with a seniors discount, isn’t it.”
Bucky smiles angelically and flips the page.
After Natasha gets back from her secret mission, and after Clint stops sulking in his room, the team piles into the rec room to introduce Steve and Bucky to America’s Funniest Home Videos. Clint, Bruce, and Tony laugh their asses off at the pranks while Natasha and Thor rate the stupidity of painful stunts, and Bucky chuckles at the dumb animal tricks.
Steve barely even bats an eyelash.
“Cap! Is there nothing you find funny?” Tony blusters.
Steve winces, “But most of these are just mean pranks and stupid people, so it’s not really that funny?”
Tony looks at him like Steve just called his mother a scum sucking road whore.
“First of all how dare you- “
“Mama help me- OW!” a child on screen wails as she falls face first into a mud puddle.
Steve snickers at the adorably disgruntled toddler and everyone turns to look at him, shocked. Then a montage of children falling down is played and by the end of it, Steve is in stitches with tears streaming down his face and everyone knows that the famous paragon of American virtue, Captain America himself, laughs at small children falling down.
It only gets worse when Bucky says he already knows.
“You dummies think this mook is a national icon? Ask him about where he learned to dirty-talk in French.”
Tony looks delighted, “Bucky yes!”
Bucky grins maniacally and proceeds with the story, “Remember that time in France? Just after we took back that town next to the grape fields? Oh man, those were the days. The locals were real grateful for us liberating them, see, and so we got a lot of special treatment from everyone. So we went to this fancy brothel near the river- “ Clint catcalls them, “and this punk here decided to be a bouncer for the evening.”
Natasha snorts, “I think I know where this is going.”
“Yep. He didn’t want to go up with any of the girls, but he didn’t want to leave the Howling Commandos unattended, even though none of us were being unruly like kids during Sunday mass,” he looks pointedly at Steve, delighted at the delicate flush creeping over his boyfriend’s cheeks. “Everyone thinks he learned all his French from Gabe but no! He learned how to say some phenomenally filthy things in French from those ladies.”
Beside Steve, Tony howls with laughter.
“Come on Steve! Say something filthy in French!”
“Bucky I swear to god- “
“…Je veux lécher ton foutre.”
Natasha snorts soda out of her nose in shock while everyone else blinks incomprehensively. After that, Steve starts affectionately calling Bucky mon petit chou whenever he cuddles close to him, much to Bucky’s chagrin.
It’s only later when Bucky is in the kitchen cutting up some vegetables for dinner, with the fancy rainbow knives given to him by Thor, that he’s struck by the sudden realization that he is happy. Not just content, not simply a passive feeling of mild satisfaction with having survived another day, no. He is happy. He’s happy about Steve, and what they share together. He’s happy to be a giver of love and care to an animal that depends on him and loves him for exactly who he is. He’s happy about the friends he’s made and the adventures he’s partaken in. He’s happy to have a positive mission and that he can help others. But most of all, he’s ecstatic to live, and not just survive day by day.
So when Steve comes up from behind to wrap his arms around Bucky’s waist, nuzzling his face into the soft hairs at the base of his neck, Bucky knows that that really is enough.