Actions

Work Header

two sides

Chapter Text

Is it necessary to love the man you’re fighting beside? There was an ancient army--the Sacred Band--who thought so. A hundred and fifty pairs of lovers, who ruled Greece until Alexander and Macedonia swept them aside. 

They loved and they trusted, and they fought at each other’s side. 

If love can motivate a mother to untold feats of strength, spouses to death defying feats of bravery, what more can it do, to fight at the side of the man you love? 

Every child knows the names of three near-mythological warriors: Alexander the Great, Achilles, and Captain America. 

Warriors who rewrote the wars their people fought. 

Alexander the Great conquered the ancient world. That is what history remembers of him--that and his friendship with Hephaestion. While many historians claim this--much like Achilles and Patroclus--was a platonic friendship, historians of the day recount intimacies between Alexander and his general that cannot be explained by ‘friendship’. In a time when royalty was afforded every honor and respect, Alexander and Hephaestion exhibited no boundaries typical of their respective stations. Hephaestion was granted a place in Alexander’s tents and at his side, even as his royal wife was relegated to the baggage train, reserved for the wives of foot soldiers and whores. 

Similarly, Achilles coddled and protected Patroclus, favored him over all others, and wept upon his breast, when he longed for home. 

Achilles trusted Patroclus enough that the younger soldier was able to steal his armor and wear it in his deadly battle with Hector. 

Hephaestion’s death during the invasion of Asia changed Alexander. Some say the grief was a sign of a mentally unstable man--he gave his horse a funeral expensive enough to bankrupt a small nation, after all--and some say it was heartbreak, the grief of losing the man he loved. 

Achilles’ grief and rage following Patroclus death at the hands of Hector resulted in both his and Hector’s death, and ushered in the end days of the Trojan War. 

And there is Steve Rogers. A man inevitably linked with lifelong friend Bucky Barnes, Rogers was a turning point in the European front, and Barnes’ an invaluable ally. Contemporaries of the men often refer to their friendship as once in a lifetime, unshakable. Gabe Jones is quoted as saying ‘they fought like one man in two bodies--they knew, without ever talkin’ what the other would do and how to exploit and use it.’ Without doubt, Barnes, like Patroclus and Hephaestion, before him, influenced Rogers for both good and bad. 

Were they brothers in arms, friends who followed each other into hell as so many have said of Achilles and young Patroclus, of Alexander and Hephaestion. Or were they lovers--was the greatest warrior of our time a man who loved too deeply and followed his lover into an untimely death? 

(Excerpt from Born to Battle and Brotherhood and Love: Great Warriors and Their Great Love by Freida Paige, Hatchett, 1998

 

~*~ 

 

Stevie, 

I’m leaving. In four days, I’m gettin’ on that train and headed to basic training, and then--then I’ll be sent to the war. 

I still haven’t figured out how to tell you. 

I know you want to go. You're gonna be sore at me, for not tellin' you. For goin' without you. 

I want to say, I wish you were goin' with me. But that'd be a lie and we promised not to lie after that time my daddy busted my face up when we were little. And I don't mean to start now. 

I don't want you there. 

Every time you go down to enlist, I can't breath, because I am terrified, so scared they'll change their mind. Every time they send you packin', I can breathe a little again.

You don't belong there.War--it's ugly, Stevie. I talked to Joe Kinney, you know he got sent home on account of his busted leg--told him I got my papers. And I'm  not gonna tell you those stories. I'm not gonna fill your mind up with all that bad. 

You think I don't want you there because you can't do it. You're wrong. I don't want you there because you shouldn't

You are the bravest strongest man I know, and you deserve better than this life gave you. You deserve a big house with bright light in the windows and your pictures on every wall, a warm toasty fire and a dog on the rug. You deserve to be untouched by the war. You deserve to be healthy, as big and strong on the outside as I know you are inside--and I can't give you that. 

I can't protect you from the world--I've tried. The thing is--I'm not ever gonna stop trying. You're mine to protect and take care of, have been since I dragged you out of that alley fight. 

I'm always gonna protect you. I'm always gonna do everything I can to give you the best the world has. 

And maybe--maybe if I do that, one day you can have that big house with sunlight and art and a dog. 

Maybe, after the war--

Don't be mad, Stevie. Don't follow me. Stay home and draw, make the beautiful things only you can give the world. Don't stop drawing, Stevie. I bought--I know we need the money for food, but I'm leavin, and I wanted you to have this. You shouldn't have to use the butcher paper to draw. The lady at the store said it's the best for drawin' with pencils, like you do. It's so pretty, I was almost afraid to touch it. But I thought of you holdin it and drawin' your pictures of the city, and I wanted you to have it. 

I want you to have everything, Stevie. 

I'm gonna go. And I want you to be safe and happy and write me. I want you to know I'm comin' home to you and we're gonna set you up real nice in a big house that's warm and full of bright light and all the paper you could ever want. You'll be covered in paint all the time. 

I can't wait for this damn war to be over so we can get on with our lives. It's gonna be amazing. Just you wait and see--we're gonna be so happy. 

 

                Write me, punk

                  Bucky 

 

~*~ 

 

Captain America is known for his virtue and idealism, for his commitment to the American way. 

What we don't always remember is the man behind the shield. Steve Rogers was born to an Irish immigrant and a soldier dead in the First World War. He lived in Brooklyn with his best friend, in a neighborhood rife with working class men and women, one of the few neighborhoods in the city that was a safe haven for the homosexual community in the late thirties. He was a known trouble-maker and a registered member of the Socialist party. 

And until his now iconic rescue of the 107th from German forces, he was a figurehead, a pretty piece of propaganda for the war effort who had never-- would never --see action. 

That he did--that he saved the 107th at all--was directly against orders, accomplished by Rogers' abandoning the USO tour and going AWOL behind enemy lines--a fact later swept aside by Colonel Phillips and the Army. 

Giving Rogers a unit of his own seemed, at the time, the only way to appease a public who had been told to love Captain America and followed that order whole-heartedly. 

But even that concession was never in the plans, was Rogers forcing the hand of his superiors. The Howling Commandos and Rogers are not heavily documented--most of their missions hidden behind security evn seventy years later, but what is known is that they were indispensable on the European front, and that America fell even further in  love with their Captain from the few films Rogers authorized. 

What we do know is that the Howling Commandos were fiercely loyal to Captain America , but that no one was as loyal to Steve Rogers as Bucky Barnes. 

Bucky's death changed Rogers. 

That much is made clear in the many histories written on the Howling Commandos, but it is made even clearer, maybe, by his own actions. 

While his last mission is shrouded in secrecy and redacted files, what we do know is modern myth--Captain America fought a Nazi general poised to attack New York, and the entire Eastern seaboad. 

Captain America put the plane down in the Arctic and saved the country. 

It's a move immortalized as brave and selfless, the last great act of Captain America, the pinnacle of placing yourself before your country. It saved millions of lives and shattered what was left of Hitler's forces. 

That is what we know, what Captain America did. 

But what about Steve Rogers? 

What about the man who had watched his best friend die only weeks before, who couldn't stop him, who was left alone, drowning in grief and duty that he didn't want. A soldier through and through, how did his grief reconcile with his orders--and his knowledge that with the war almost over, the Commandos would be disbanded and sent to their retirement. And he would once more be relegated to propaganda and performance, far from the front line and without even the illusion of it waiting. 

When all of that sprawled before him--was his death a choice or a sacrifice? And if it was suicide--a noble end, to be sure, but still suicide--what does it say about us. About America, that we idolize it?

(The Sacrifice and the Suicide--Two Sides of a Man by Amelie Everheart) 

 

~*~ 

 

Bucky,

You won't get this til you're done with basic training, and by then you'll be on your way home for leave, won't you. 

You're a bastard, you know. Not tellin' me. Lettin' me read about it in that damn letter. I wouldn't have been mad--

No. You're right. I would have. I was. I was so mad, because you were doin' what I wanted. What I should be doin'. It's not right, me bein' safe and warm and you bein' shot at. 

It's more than that, though. I was mad because you left me. 

I know it's wrong, to be mad about that. I know you didn't want to. You never wanted to join the Army,  not even after Pearl Harbor. You were so busy tellin' me that I'd get myself killed, that I was better here than in the war to ever want to fight yourself. I know you didn't want that. I know you didn't want to go. You'd be happy workin the docks and dancing in the halls the rest of our lives, I think. I wish you could have that. I wish there wasn't a war to fight. 

I wish you didn't have to alone. 

We're better together, Buck. We've been better together our whole lives. I don't--I worry about you, out there by yourself. 

I know you won't be alone. But I'm  not watching your back, keeping you from bein' stupid--so that's alone enough. 

You talk about a big house and windows and art. I wonder if you know--I just want our drafty rooms and your horrible singing and even worse cooking. I don't want a big house if you ain't in it. We'll get you one of those girls you like so much--Dot liked your ugly mug--and we'll get a big house. I'll spoil your babies rotten and flirt with your wife and we'll go dancing like you like. 

Just come home, and we'll do it all. 

I'm  not gonna stop. I know you want me to. I can't, though. And maybe you know that. You know me better than I know myself, sometimes. I gotta do this, Buck. I'm gonna get over there. And I'll have your back, when I do.

Just wait for me. 

Please keep yourself safe, when you go over there. Don't worry about me. For once, I'm right as rain, and you’re the dumb mook gettin' into trouble. 

You're gonna get this and you'll come home and I was thinkin'. I know you love your dancin', but Stark is having a fair. Big gaudy thing with a flyin' car, can you even believe that? Before you go--let's see the future. I know you like that kinda thing, even if you do hide your books from me. 

I drew you our fire escape. Your gonna see the world, and maybe it is ugly like Joe said. Maybe our fire escape is the prettiest sight we'll ever see. Maybe it’s beautiful, though, Europe and the ocean and everything I can’t see. 

But don't forget it, ok? Don’t forget our fire escape. Don’t forget me. Come home. 

        Always, 

          Steve 

 

~*~ 

Is a man who you see in public, smiling and strong and steady? Or is he who appears in shadows, held in the arms of his lover, trembling and afraid? 

 - J. B. Grant, Winter's End

Chapter Text

The gallery lights are dimmed. The only light is directed at the small sketches. Each sketch is done in charcoal and pencil on yellowing, crumpled paper. There are portraits, and landscapes, both European and New York. 

The work is flawless. It is clear the artist cared deeply about his work--each piece is rendered with a care and skill that is unnerving in its intensity, in the ability to transport the observer from a high end gallery on the East Side to the trenches of World War 2. 

The portraits, sketches the subjects seem unaware of, are startlingly life like and instantly recognizable while remaining frighteningly alien--while seeing the Howling Commandos in still life is familiar to any child born after World War 2, no one has ever seen them like this. 

No one has ever seen them through the eyes of Captain America. 

A Captain’s View--a trite and silly name for a momentous showing--is the first public showing of Steve Rogers work since his death in 1945. While we have all heard about the Captain’s fondness for art and seen a few of his surviving works in the history books, it has long been accepted that Rogers true work and talent was lost when he went into the ice. 

The entire collection is stunning--from the sketch of Dum Dum Dugan laughing to Gabe Jones cradling a small boy with tears in his eyes to the arresting landscapes of the frontlines and the asture beauty of the Alps, each piece alone is brilliant and breathtaking. The technique Rogers employs is sparse on line work and detail, a style that demands the observer focus intently to see what he saw, and reward that intensity with a view of history we had long thought loss. 

The centerpiece of the collection--the crowning jewel--is the three portraits of James Buchanan Barnes. 

One pictures the Sergeant sitting by a small fire. There are shadows around him, his men, but the light is cast eerily and entirely on Barnes, revealing him in panes of firelight and hiding him in shadows, a contrast that begs for more. 

The second piece is a silhouette. Barnes is recognizable only by the long coat he wore in all promotional pictures of Captain America and the Commandos, and the rifle he holds with an ease that is almost disturbing. He is small and lonely, a single soldier in a massive landscape almost lost to the trees and snow. 

The final portrait depicts Barnes asleep. It is soft and intimate in a way that none of Rogers previous sketches are--the closest he comes is the portrait of Agent Carter, reading a letter alone at a table. Barnes here is not a soldier or a sentry standing sentinel. Here he is merely a man, a friend, bruised and bloody and young--heart breakingly young. It is now being claimed as the last image of Barnes before his death on an ill-fated mission in the Alps. 

To see the war and his Commandos in his own eyes is a priceless gift--but to see the man Rogers’ called friend and brother? There are those calling the finding of Rogers’ sketchbook a discovery not dissimilar to the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

And looking at the snapshots of history he sketched--they might be right. 

Tony Stark, Pepper Potts and The Stark Foundation provided the sketchbook, found in the late Captain’s possessions and held in trust by Howard Stark. All proceeds from the month long exhibit will be donated to the Stark Artist Grant, to encourage the arts in under-privileged youth of Brooklyn.

 

 

(A Captain's View: A Review of Steve Rogers by Elle Winchester) 

 

~*~ 

 

Stevie 

I can't believe you got tickets to the Expo. I know you think Stark and his tech is all a bunch of nonsense--but to see it, all real and almost within reach. I can't explain it quite right. 

It's like--

This war. I know we gotta fight it. They came and bombed out base, and the Nazis are doin' some awful things, and it's the right thing to do. I know how much you love the right thing. But it also feels so big. I'm just a boy from Brooklyn who works the docks. Before I got my papers, I hadn't ever gone further than my aunt's house in the country. I don't belong in this big war. I belong in our little apartment, fightin' with you about the last blanket and stealin' kisses from Kitty Bertran. 

And then I see the Expo. I see that flyin' car and all the things Stark is makin' and it--it almost makes sense. 

We all gotta have somethin' to fight for, right? And maybe I should be fightin' for what's good and right and to send the Nazis runnin' for the hills. 

I'm not though. I'm fightin' for the future. 

Not for the flyin' car Stark promised. But for our future. 

I keep tryin' to imagine it, without you. Ma said it don't do to get too caught up in a friend, because what if I meet a girl who hates you. I don't understand her though. How could I love anyone who didn't love you as much as I do? 

So that's what I'm fightin' for. I want you to know. I'm gonna go and I'm good at what I do. And I'm gonna come home and we're gonna have a good life. 

I didn't tell you--I wasn't exactly keepin' it from you, but I was trying not to bring the war into our last night out together. But I got pulled for special trainin'. Turns out I'm pretty good with a gun in my hand. I can't tell you exactly what I'll be doin'--I don't actually know, they don't tell us much--but I can tell you it's safer than you thought I'd be. 

And I'm makin' more. I know you'll be mad but--I'm sendin' my pay back to you. Ma and the girls are ok. My brothers are takin' care of them. They don't need me none. And you don't neither--but you've got me anyway. 

Hasn't that always been the way it works for us? We don't need each other, but we got each other anyway? I think we started like that and somewhere along the way--I started needin' you. 

I guess it ain't fair to tell you like this. 

But I do. I need you, Stevie. I need you safe and I  need to fight for our future, for the after that we're gonna build together, and I need to do this for you. I need to know you're taken care of and not dyin' of the cough while I'm out here shooting Krauts. 

Do this for me. Not cause you need it. Cause I do. 

I miss you, pal. Send me something pretty like our fire escape, will ya? 

 

 

Yours, 

Bucky 

 

~*~ 

 

There have been a million words and more written about Captain America since his death. There have been movies made about him and his short but storied career. There have been songs and art pieces and a brief, tragically awful musical. 

But in almost sixty years since the Captain's death, there has never been a book like From the Front. 

It's a simple, short book. The language is refreshingly simple, almost like sitting with a favorite uncle or grandfather, listening to stories--not completely inappropriate. The Howling Commandos felt, to so many after the end of the war, like a favorite uncle. 

Each chapter is from one of the men in the elite squad that fought with and for Captain America and while he is not the topic of the book--he's there. In every story, in every line. He's there. 

From the Front takes the reader exactly there--to the ice cold European front lines. It allows us to sit with the Commandos in a bombed out church in Italy, and drink with them in Paris, and invites us to tease the Captain about his fumbling new found relationship with Peggy Carter. 

It paints a picture of men who remain friends, sixty years later, and the love they felt for their Captain and Sergeant, a rare intimacy that is poginant for how inviting and simple it is. 

While the book as a whole--a memoir, though unlike any this author has seen--is a fascinating glimpse into war and brotherhood, it is perhaps the chapter A Bit Apart by Gabe Jones that is the most touching. While each of the Howlies writes about the war and each other and skirt their fallen leaders--Gabe Jones does not. A black man serving in a unit that went against every Army regulation of the day, Jones tells about growing up in Detroit and the harsh realities of boot camp. He talks about meeting Barnes for the first time, and the offer that Captain America made--Gabe Jones is the only one of the Howlies who initially turned that offer down, aware of Army regulations that forbid him from fighting in a white unit. 

Jones portrayal of Captain America and his righteous fury, of Rogers storming out to give the brass a good talking to, while Barnes shook his head and bought Jones a drink gives us a view of two men who understood each other, and the world around them, in a way that few did.

 

Barnes looked at the world and saw everything ugly. 

Rogers saw everything that could be right. By themselves, they were a little broken, a little bit too jaded, too hopeful--but that was the thing about Cap and the Sarge. They were never by themselves. 

Barnes took me down and bought me a drink and by the time I was tipsy and Falsworth was flirting with the barmaid, Rogers was back, with a giant, pleased smile and Barnes nodded at me. 

"Told you he'd sort it," he said, kinda simple, and that was that. I never served with another unit again.

 

While Jones--and indeed, all of the Howlies--offers a brilliant view of the war and a tiny snapshot of history we as a culture are desperate to know more about--it is perhaps this small piece of the book that is the most compelling, the most telling , and what will be discussed in years to come. 

Not the war or the missions or the lives saved--but the Cap and the Sarge, who knew each other and loved each other and made each other better. 

From the Front will be avaliable erywhere books are sold next week. 

 

 

(A review of From the Front: A Collection of Recollections from the Howling Commandos) 

 

~*~

Buck--

I did it. 

No--that's not true. I didn't. A doctor did. And I can't tell you much, they won't let me--I think maybe they won't send this at all--but I did it. 

I'm coming over there. 

 

~~~

 

Buck--

You ever think you want something and then you get it and you don't know what the hell to do with it? Remember Ms. Mac's cat? She'd chase those rats down the alley and you always laughed--they were as big as she was, and what the hell was she gonna do with it when she caught 'em? I saw her once--I forget where you were, but I was by myself. And she comes tearin' up the alley and snatches this rat right out of the gutter. It had to have been a baby, but she did. And for a minute, you could see--she was so damn proud of herself--she did it, she caught it. 

But then it was wiggling and scratching and she looked--confused? Maybe. Or scared. I think she was scared. Because she spent so long chasing this thing she knew she wanted that always seemed outta reach and now she got it and it was hurtin' her and she didn't know how to let it go or give it back. 

I think about that a lot, these days. 

 

~~~~

 

Buck--

You remember when you told me that one day the world would look at me and see what you do? 

I always thought you were lying--it could never happen. But then it did. And they stare at me, and I think--it's not the way you look at me. It's nothing like that at all. You look at me like I'm special, not because of what they made me, but because I was always special. You look at me like I'm the best thing you ever found in a dirty alley and you always have. 

The world--they look now, Buck, but they ain't seein' me, they're seein' the dancing monkey, the colors and the act and the--

They don't see what you do. 

And it made me wonder. 

If you saw me now, would you still see what you saw--would you still see that scared pissy kid from Brooklyn? 

 

~~~~

 

Buck--

I don't like mirrors. Never really did like em, but I really don't these days. 

It always feels like a stranger starin' back 

One of the girls kissed me, after the show last night. And I looked in the mirror, after--wanted to see if I looked like you did. 

I could always tell when you'd been kissed, Buck--you'd come home all red lipped and dazed, and give me this smile, guilt and hunger all wrapped up in one. 

I didn't look like that. I just looked confused. 

I think maybe I have been since you left me. I don't know how to be, without you. And I'm trying, but I'm turnin' into someone I don't know and don't much like. 

I wonder if you would. 

 

~~~~

 

Buck--

I miss you.

 

 

Steve. 

(Unsent and Unread letters of Steve Rogers) 

 

~*~ 

 

You're broken, is the thing. A hallowed out shell, all the soft warm bits that made you human scooped out and tossed away. 

You were cleaned out and made new and drenched in blood. 

How do you touch him, pure and holy, when you are made for sin? 

The truth is this: he is a devil dressed in white and your first temptation. 

-J. B. Grant, Winter's End 


Chapter Text

We are, as a people, addicted to legends. 

To myths and stories of something bigger and grander than us. It’s why we tell stories, and why those stories feature heroes. 

Rarely--but sometimes--a person becomes  more than the small individual and becomes a cultural icon. A myth. A legend. Julius Caesar. Cleopatra. William Wallace. They became more than just names in their nation’s history--they were made into more than that. Made into myth. 

But myth isn't *truth, is it? William Wallace was just a man, after all, and not one who could spit lightning from his arse. Julius Caesar suffered defeat. Cleopatra, the famed beauty of Ancient Egypt and charmer of kings--was a plain woman rich beyond words who used her wealth to secure powerful allies. 

That is the truth. 

There is, always, a myth and a truth, and very rarely do the two coincide. 

The myth--the myth is a man built like a demi-god who stood for loyalty and goodness and American apple pie. Who could lift three girls on a motorcycle and punch Hitler in the eye and storm the beaches of Normandy without ever being hit by a bullet. 

The myth was larger than life, and down to earth and *touchable. 

Captain America was the best spun myth the United States government--and Senator Brandt--ever quite managed to spin, and the people of the United States fell for it. 

Who wouldn't? He was what every man wanted to be and told their son's to emmulate, what every woman (And some of those men) wanted to fuck, what they told their daughters to marry. He was wholesome and goodness and he was--a lie. 

Because Captain America was a myth. A lab rat given to an experimental drug and trotted out to manipulate a war-hungry, pax americana obsessed public. 

Captain America wasn't the perfect ideal that every red-blooded American should aspire to be, because Captain America was a lie, just as much as the Braveheart version of Wallace and the Nile siren version of Cleopatra are lies. 

The truth is--legends are lies built on people. 

The truth is--Steve Rogers was a good man--maybe even a great one--but we'll never know, because the legend has overtaken the man. Was he actually loyal and wholesome and good and willing to punch a Nazi in the face? Possibly. He volunteered for the Army and was turned down multiple times before Erksine plucked him up and shoved him into Project Rebirth. 

He was willing to disobey orders for a slim hope and willing to sacrifice himself for the good of millions, but between the extremes and the lies there is a man. 

I think we as a people would have liked him. I think, Steve Rogers is the kind of guy who would help you move your couch and have a political debate over pizza and beers--the little bit we can learn from his life before the war says he was an opinionated bastard who was too loyal for his own good. 

But we don't know. 

We only know--there was a man and a myth and a legend. And where one ends and the other begins has been lost to us since the Valkyrie hit the ice. 

I for one would like to know the man. 

 

(The Myth, Legend and Lies by Gwen Stacey) 

 

~*~ 

 

Stevie 

Ma says you ain't been around much. 

And I haven't gotten a letter from you in months. Startin' to worry about you, pal. I thought I said stay outta trouble while I was gone--shoulda known better. 

You remember when we went out dancin' with Betty and her sister--I forget her name, but she sure did hate you, why was that? You never told me--just pushed my questions off anytime I asked about it--and I left you alone to smoke for three minutes and you started a brawl. 

I know--you didn't start it, they were pickin' on Will and you can't abide a bully, I know the song and dance, I just--three minutes, Stevie. I won't ever understand how you manage to get yourself in trouble that fast. 

I worry, a lot, now that I'm here and not helping drag you outta all the trouble you find. 

This is where you tell me you can take care of yourself and I tell you that you can, but we take care of each other. 

Do you ever think--you're lucky? 

I know we had our bumps and bruises, shit we had to get past. There was my daddy beatin' on Ma and me. And there was never enough food or money and god knows you almost died enough to make me think we were cursed, not lucky. 

But then I think--I coulda missed that alley. I coulda walked home and never met you at all. I coulda lost you, a hundred times, you gettin' sick or beaten up in some damn alley--and I never did. 

I had you. I have you. You're still here, and I'm still here. 

I've got this war I'm fightin' and every time I come back from a mission and I'm  not dead, when I'm still alive to read your letters and look at our fire escape, when I'm still alive to write to you and miss you--I think I'm lucky. 

I think about the fact that of all the pals in Brooklyn--you're mine. 

And that makes me the luckiest man alive. 

This war--it's awful. It's ugly. I watched a friend bleed out the other day. I held his hand and he cried, and I watched. The medic couldn't do anything--I knew it, we all knew it. But he tried and Jones died and I sat there thinking, I'm lucky. 

He was standin' right next to me and got shot through the throat, Stevie, and I watched him die and all I could think was--I'm so goddamn lucky. 

You're safe, you're over there in our apartment and your safe and I'm still alive and you're mine. 

And whatever the hell else we got goin' against us, we're in this thing together, right? You and me. 

That's the luck that's gonna get me home and I'll be with you and that right there? That's all the luck I need.

Keep yourself outta trouble, punk. I'll be home soon. 

 

Yours, 

Bucky 

 

~*~ 

 

Every few years, a new Captain America movie will be made. 

There's the standard war story, that recounts the change from a Brooklyn boy who should have died young to the worlds first and only super soldier. The familiar recounting of his battles and the way he changed the course of the war. 

Some of the movies delve into specifics--there's A Journey to Hell which recounts in painstaking detail the plight of the 107th trapped behind enemy lines, the horrors of the POW camp, and Captain America's struggle to get to them and bring them home. 

More than Brothers tells the story of two friends against a backdrop of war, with enough homoeroticism to sink the Titanic, and the incidentals of the war itself are almost forgotten. 

Occasionally, one of the many Captain America movies will be tailor made for an Oscar, released in time for award season and begging for a nomination--notably only Ridley Scott's Golden has received such a nod. 

Brooklyn Boys is the story of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. It is the first of it's kind to end before the war, before Rogers' miraculous transformation during Project Rebirth. 

Ang Lin depicts a Brooklyn mired in the depression, and two boys who had nothing in the world going for them. 

Nothing but themselves. Watching them on screen, it is baffling how two ordinary boys--boys who fought bullies and stole food and went to Mass and watched each other with a kind of terrible possessiveness--how they became a staple of our cultural confidence. 

How did we learn to love Bucky Barnes, who began as nothing more than the oldest son of a drunk and a factory worker and ended his life a hero, and far too soon. 

How did the son of an immigrant and a soldier in the First World War become a guide point in American idealism, and something every little boy--and most of the little girls--look up to at some point in time. 

But as unlikely heroes as they are--there is something familiar to them as well. Rogers is moral and stubborn and brave, and Bucky exasperatedly devoted to his friend, willing to follow him into any fight if he can drag him back out. 

There has always been--will always be--speculation about Rogers and Barnes and the nature of their relationship, and Brooklyn Boys doesn't shy away from that, examines it with a frankness that is refreshing and sweet instead of exploitative. There's an awkward shyness to Rogers when he watches Barnes, and a petulant belligerence to the way Barnes touches Rogers--the one time the friends fight is when they are teenagers and Barnes is caught running around with neighborhood girls. 

There is a sweetness to Brooklyn Boys--a gritty honest sweetness that makes you ache for these two friends who were eaten up by a war so much bigger than them, that makes you long for a simpler time and a life-defining friendship of your own. 

Brooklyn Boys was written by Becca Fitzpatrick and directed by Ang Lin and is in theatres now. 

 

(Brooklyn Boys: Oscar bait or Refreshingly Honest) 

 

~*~ 

 

Bucky, 

I think I hate this. 

I'm not supposed to be like this--and even if I am, even if Erksine was right and I was the right man for this, shouldn't I be doin' more? I'm a joke, Buck. Just--

They dress me up and they put me in pictures and I'm supposed to be inspirin' the troops or the folks back home. Senator Brandt is happy enough with it--bond sales are higher than ever, and god knows that helps the war. 

But it's all a lie. 

I'm  not a soldier. I want to be. But I'm just--I'm just a kid in a funny costume. I don't belong out here tellin' people what to do. Maybe you were right the whole time--maybe I don't belong out here at all. 

I think a lot about what would have happened if he hadn't died. You'd have liked him, Bucky. He's the only person I've ever met besides you who looked at me and didn't see all the ways I couldn't do something. He saw everything I could be. 

He might not have seen what a troublemaker I am though--probably wouldn't be here if he had. 

I wanna go home, Buck. I know now--I'm not goin' to the front, not gonna ever fight with the 107th. And that's--I'm still swallowin' that, to be honest. I want to. I want to be there with you, keepin' you safe the way you always did for me. 

I want to do more than sing and dance and sell pretty lies. 

 

---

 

Bucky 

Do you ever wonder what would have happened if the war hadn't?

If we got to stay there, in our apartment in Red Hook--what kinda life we would have had? I think about it a lot. The girls like to talk about their sweethearts, about what happens After. 

Everyone talks about After and I just--it got me thinkin'. 

You said we'd get a big country house and I'd get a pretty little wife and I wonder if you even know--

I don't want that. 

I don't want a nice quiet life with a pretty wife and a dog and whatever else you've dreamt up for me. 

I just. 

I want you. 

I want our apartment, cold and drafty and you pressed against me to stay warm. 

I want our shitty kitchen and our fire escape and everything I took for granted. 

I want you. 

I got money now--Brandt pays real good for me to be his dancin' monkey. So if that's what you want--nice and big and outta the city--we'll get it for you. I'll get it for you. But don't think I want anything but you, Buck. I'm done wantin' anything that I didn't already have. 

If I could give it all back and just have you? I'd do it. 

 

---

Bucky, 

Brandt and the others are sending us to the front. They think we'll be good for moral--the girls will be, for sure. They're good girls. They like to feed me and take me out dancing, not that I ever do. But they all treat me like a little brother. 

Anyway--I'm coming over there. I know--I know I won't see you and even if I do, there's a world between what I do and what you do. 

But it makes me feel like--it's not enough. 

But it's closer than I've been in over a year, and if this is all I get til the war is over--I'll take it. 

 

Yours, 

Steve 

 

(Letters of Steve Rogers, Unread and Unsent) 

 

~*~ 

 

You look at him, when he’s not watching. He never notices, because he never thinks you’d look--it’s your secret, the one thing you won’t can’t will never share--and it gives you a freedom you soak up, greedy and hungry. 

You look at him when he thinks you watch the pretty girls in the bar, when he thinks you’re reading and drunk and once--when you were boys and he was thin and beautiful sprawled across his bed and your cock was hard and hot in your hand, you looked at him and came and you never ever wanted to look away. 

 

J.B. Grant, Winter’s End

Chapter Text

The Woman Behind the SHIELD is not the first of its kind. But where the previous biographies about Peggy Carter have all focused on her in conjunction with Captain America, A. S. Kirby’s new biography, authorized by Agent Carter, focuses on her rise within the SSR and SHIELD. 

"We aren't shying away from or ignoring her connection to Rogers. He was the first love of her life. To this day, Peggy loves him--and talks about the way Rogers affected her, in the book. But there is more to Peggy than a star-crossed love story--more than that oft played radio call and tragic ending."

Indeed, Peggy Carter is remembered for--and often portrayed as--the beautiful woman who assisted Rogers, who he left behind after his death on the Valkyrie. 

But Rogers was part of Carter's life for a few short years--starting while he was in boot camp at Camp Lehigh. She served as his SSR liaison while he and the Howling Commandos stormed through Europe. And when Rogers died, she and Howard Stark led the search for him, while transforming the SSR into an intelligence organization that would shepard America through the Cold War. 

Peggy Carter is remembered as a tragic love story and Kirby's SHIELD challenges that, forces us to look at the woman who should never have risen to the heights she did. A woman who commanded respect in both the Army and the intelligence world when women were most often relegated to the kitchen and nursing. 

"Steve is dear to me. He always will be. But there's more to the story." 

There is a vaguely dissatisfied tone to SHIELD, almost angry. Having lived in the shadow of a man dead seventy years, that is almost expected. With that aside, SHIELD paints a picture of a powerful woman who affected this country with grace and skill and intelligence. Most of Agent Carter's career remains hidden behind security clearance, but what we are permitted to read tells me that we have done this woman a vast disservice, including her as a footnote to Captain America's story, instead of letting her live her own. 

SHIELD has raised some controversy because of that very view. Most notably J. Jameson of the Bugle says, "She's been happy to use her connections to Captain America to build her career, and now that it's over, she wants to be known as her own person and not Cap's war widow. It's disgraceful and Carter should be ashamed." 

Neither Kirby nor Agent Carter's representatives were willing to comment on the Bugle. "A lady," Carter, now in her early nineties, frail and beautiful, "does not deign to respond to bullies." She lets a smile curve her lips, and for a moment, she looks young and strong and about to take on the world. "That was always Steve's job." 

She did, take on the world. Maybe that's why we love her. Maybe that's why Captain America did. 

THE WOMAN BEHIND SHIELD by A.S. Kirby is available now. 

 

~*~ 

 

Stevie, 

We’re goin’ into a battle and it scares me. 

Everything we do is scary, but this feels real, feels--different. Dangerous. Gotta bad feelin' about it. 

And I can't tell my guys, because I'm the Sarge, I'm supposed to have my shit squared away. Confidant and sure and I'm not, I'm not, I'm scared. 

I want to go home. I want to be done with this war and the killing and the cold. 

When I come home, can we go away? Can we go somewhere warm and safe, just us? I'll work, I can find work, wherever we are--and you can draw and I'll take care of you. We'll come home, after. But for a little while--can we just-- 

Run away? 

I just want to run away. 

 

----

 

Stevie, 

It went bad. 

It went so fuckin' bad, baby, I don't--I don't. 

I don't know how to get outta this. 

I don't know how to come home. 

I'm so sorry, Stevie, I'm so fuckin' sorry and I just want to come home. 

 

----

 

Stevie, 

No emotions, just facts. 

You're never gonna read this, but just--just in case, here's the facts. 

They took us, in the battle. There was no way we were gonna win, and I think some of my men got away, but--they took us. 

They've got us workin', building weapons. And they take some of the men, to do experiments. 

I see the one doctor, little weasley guy, he keeps watchin' me and I know he's gonna take me. 

They're gonna take me and I'm gonna die here, in this German hellhole and I'll never see you again. 

I think that's what scares me the most. Not whatever happens behind his steel doors or the fact that no one comes back when they take 'em, or that the screams keep me up at night. 

It's not any of that. 

It's this. I'm going to die here, and I'll leave this world without ever seein' you again. I'll leave you alone in this world. 

I don't wanna leave you. 

 

--- 

 

Stevie, 

I love you. 

I've been scared of those words for so long. And now, puttin' em on paper--it's easy. Tellin' you this is easy because it's true. It's the truest thing I know--I love you. 

I've loved you since we were kids and you were almost dyin' every few months, and since we were men and you were so damn determined to do it on your own, and since we were livin' in that hole in Red Hook and your sketches were all over the damn place, and you made a face when I stepped out with Dot. 

I love you. 

And if I die in this place, I want you to know--I'll die loving you, the same way I lived. 

I only wish I could have told you, only wish I could have held you and kissed you once. 

I love you, punk, and that used to terrify me. Now it's the only thing keepin' me alive. 

 

---

Stevie, 

When they cut me. When they hurt me and shove their poison in my veins, and I think I'll die--I dream of you. 

 

Always yours, 

Bucky 

 

(Unsent and unread letters of James Barnes) 

 

~*~ 

 

The announcement by SHIELD that Steve Rogers--best known as Captain America--has been found alive and in good health, has shocked the nation in the wake of what is now being called The Battle of New York. With the Captain comes a host of “superheroes”--we are joined today by Carl Reed of TruthIsOutThere.com to discuss what the Avengers and Captain America mean for us as a nation. 

What do you think of Captain America's remergance? 

I think it comes at a very opportune time. Steve Rogers was a product of propaganda and the United States war machine, when they needed public goodwill and support. In the wake of the Battle of New York, the government finds themselves once again in that position. 

But you can't deny that Rogers--or the man they are purporting as Rogers--bears a striking resemblence to the Captain? 

He's blonde and beautiful and built like a house, but that's hardly a description that can be applied to only one man. That wasn't true during World War 2 and it's certainly not true now. Thor could be Captain America by those standards. 

Most people in America--in New York especially--seem to accept that Rogers is Captain America. Why do you doubt that? 

Because where was he? Captain America died in the Valkyrie seventy years ago. If he didn't--if Rogers is alive and truly the myth from World War 2 and not a stunningly well done imposter--where the hell has he been for the past seventy years? 

Could the story SHIELD is telling us be true? 

They're peddling fairytales. People don't come from outer space to fight our battles and they don't live in the ice, suspended in a seventy year Sleeping Beauty routine, no more than men like Tony Stark change their stripes. They're well crafted lies meant to distract the public from the truth. 

What truth is that? 

That we're in danger. The Battle of New York made that abundantly clear. And the government is in no way prepared to handle that threat. If they were, would they have needed a cadre of so-called superheroes to fight their battles for them?

There is a rumor that the government exercised a nuclear strike to resolve the invasion. That the Avengers, as they've been called, are the ones who stopped that. 

Where the hell did that even come from? We see Stark flying a missile toward New York, and then toward that hole in the sky--but where did it come from? How do we know it was real? How do we know it wasn't one of Stark's own bombs, and he isn't manipulating us with this false sacrifice. 

You understand that most people would consider your...stance...to be reaching. That public opinion is calling the Avengers heros, and demanding Captain America be reinstated with full honors in the military. 

And you should understand--people are idiots. They're sheep who see what they want. It's why the country fell in love with Captain America in the forties and it's why they believe this nonsense about superheroes now. It's all a lie and anyone stupid enough to believe it, deserves what happens when the other shoe drops. 

 

~*~ 

 

Bucky, 

I'm writing this and it's stupid because you aren't gonna read it. 

I'm on an airplane piloted by Howard Stark. Peggy's with me--I haven't told you about her, have I? She was at Camp Lehigh with me, one of the SSR officers workin' on Project Rebirth. 

I'm not supposed to talk about that, not supposed to tell you about it, but there's no point in lyin now. You'll see the truth soon enough. 

You will. I know Peg things this is a fool's errand, that there's no way for you to be alive, but you are. You have to be. I'd *know if you weren't, just like you always knew when I was in trouble. It'd sit in my cut, I think, deep down where I couldn't help but feel it with every breath I take. 

Anyway. 

Pegs. She's gorgeous, and fiercer than your sisters and my ma combined. She's smart as a whip and--I like her, Buck. I think, if things were different, Peg is the kinda girl I'd settle down with. In that big country house you keep tellin' me about. But things aren't, and I don't think settlin' down with a dame is in my future. 

Not sure I'd be happy. I'd try--but I'm not--

That's not the point. 

You're gonna be mad, but not surprised. 

I went AWOL. I'll be in trouble, if I get back. But that's a problem for another day, because I couldn't not come for you. He--Phillips--he said you were dead. And I know he's wrong, or maybe I'm just hopin' because I can't bear to live in a world without you, but I'm on a plane and Stark is flirtin' with Peggy and I'm gonna bring you home. 

You always fished me outta every fight we got into. Dragged me outta trouble and home and fixed me up, even when I wanted to feel the punch, when that was the only thing that made me feel alive. 

I felt alive, after, too, when you're hands were soft and cleaning my face. I never told you that. I don't--

I can't leave you. I know you'll be angry, know you'll hate me for riskin' myself like this. But I can't leave you. 

And. Well. You'll see, soon enough and I shouda told you before, I know I shoulda, but--I'm different now. 

I'm stronger. 

But I'm still Stevie. Still your pal. 

You can be mad all you want, and I'll take it, I won't even fight--ok, I'll still fight with you but that's what we do. 

But you can be mad. I wouldn't go back, wouldn't change this, what they did to me, even though some days I hate it. Because it means I'm strong enough to come for you. I'm strong enough to bring you home. 

Just stay strong for me, til I get there. 

Stark's callin' me now, I gotta go. 

See you soon, Bucky. 

 

Yours, 

Steve 

 

~*~

 

You love him. 

And you hate him. 

You love his smile, his brilliance, his reckless bravery, the way he throws himself at the world and lets it batter him to pieces. 

And you hate his smile, his brilliance, his reckless bravery, the way he throws himself at the world and lets it batter him to pieces. 

You curve yourself around him, a shield and a shelter, and hold him in the small secret places of yourself, hold him sacred and safe and when the world batters at him, you take every blow and are grateful for it, for his brilliant smile and untouched bravery. 

J. B. Grant, Winter’s End. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

A Man Outside of Time - The Steve Rogers Story by Mia Carter 

Steve Rogers and Captain America are synonymous and what we know of him is that he died. What happens to a man who didn't--who lived, trapped in ice? What happens to the Captain America no longer needs? Where does Rogers and Captain America fit in a world that moved on while he slept, that he died to save, and no longer is the one he knows and recognizes. 

 

Steve Rogers--The New Moon Landing Hoax by A.J. Elmore 

There are conspiracies that even the most trusting of Americans and readers can't help but look at and say, yeah that's not true. 

The moon landing. 

The holucaust. 

September 11th. 

Steve Rogers 'revival' as Captain America. 

No one survives a plane crash like the Valkyrie. 

No one survives seventy years in the Artic. The so-called super soldier serum does not make the man immortal. 

 

The Man Time Forgot by Becca Collins 

Steve Rogers is called 'the man outside of time' but is he? He is displaced by tragic events, and while this century, this day and age is not his--Captain America is timeless. He exists outside time, someone that the country needed seventy years ago and fifty years ago and twenty years ago and today. He isn't forgotten, because we never stopped needing him. The almost obsessive fascination America as a culture has with Captain America and his Howling Commandos is proof that we never stopped needing him, never stopped remembering him. 

 

Welcome to the Century by K. Kashia 

Aliens are falling from the damn sky and the dead are throwing shields around Manhattan and a war profiteer is flying nukes into a wormhole so I think it's fair to say that hell is also freezing over and in the next little while, my bacon is gonna start flying circles above my head. 

Do you think we'll get a flying superhero soon? Not Ironman, but like--an actual super who can fly? That'd be dope. 

Anyway. Welcome to the Century, Cap. It's a fucking madhouse, but we've got kickass wifi and even better coffee. Could be worse. 

We've got Nazis too, if you wanna punch someone in the face. 

 

The Avenger Tower - Press Release by Stark Industries 

Following the battle of New York, Stark Tower will be renamed Avenger Tower and will be home to any Avenger who wishes to reside with us. SI will continue business as usual in the lower forty floors. The Avengers, including Tony Stark and his Ironman suit, will continue to cooperate with SHIELD and the Department of Defense. Arc reactor energy will be diverted from the Tower, to assist civilians without power in the aftermath of the battle. 

 

'It's a Lot' - Cap on 2012 by Ciciel Prince 

Captain America has been sequestered by SHIELD and hidden in the newly dubbed Avengers Tower since the Battle of New York. Although he's taken an active hand in cleanup and rebuilding in the aftermath of the devastating battle, no one has managed to get an interview with Cap. 

A waitress at a local deli, Delmars', asked what he thought of the new century. "It's a lot," Captain America said, laughing. 

Captain America spends a lot of time laughing but his eyes never smile.  

 

~*~ 

 

Stevie, 

 

I'm watchin' you. 

I'm alive, and I'm watchin' you and you aren't watchin' me back and I don't know what to do with that. 

You always watch me back. You think you're sneaky about it--you used to blush so pretty when I caught you at it, but you ran from me too, and I hated that so I quit lettin' you know I knew, but it never stopped. You watch me and I watch you, and that's that. 

Ma used to worry about it--she's not dumb, mine or yours. Ma used to watch you watchin' me and I know she worried about you. I didn't really blame her for that. You were so sick, Stevie, and I know she worried about what would happen to you, after she was gone. It's not easy for punks, and I think she knew how I felt. 

But you never looked at me like that. You looked at me--like a brother. 

That used to hurt me, more than it does now. I wanted so much from you, ya know? And it's not fair, never was fair, for me to look at you the way I do, but I never could stop. 

I couldn't stop starin' anymore than I could stop lovin' you. 

And, gods truth? I never wanted to do much of either. 

You watched back, and I felt like, maybe it was ok that you didn't love me, because you needed me anyway. You didn't look at me the way I looked at you--but you still looked at me more than anyone else we knew, even Ma. 

I think, bein' here, that's what I missed the most. You lookin' at me. It always felt so warm, like the sun shinning on me. 

I keep lookin' at you, and you aren't lookin' back. You look at the men we saved, the ones who watch you like a hero. You look at Phillips, like you like him, and Stark, like you can't quite understand him, and Carter. 

God, the way you look at Carter makes me want to spit nails. 

I want you to look at me like that. 

She watches you too, you know. She watches you and she doesn't even hide it, the way I do. She watches you and you can see how hungry she is, how much she wants you. 

I keep watchin' you, baby, and I want to see the boy I grew up with, I want to see my little Stevie. 

I don't recognize you, in this new body, so big and strong and beautiful. You look different--like the world can see now, what I always knew was there. And I'm glad, don't think I'm not, ok, cause I am. I'm glad your strong and healthy and I'm glad you're happy. 

And I hate them. I fuckin' hate them, Stevie, because they took my sweetheart and they changed him, and I don't know. 

I keep lookin' and I keep hopin' I'll see him in that big beautiful body of yours. 

 

---

Stevie, 

 

There you are. 

Asleep in my bed, all curled up tiny and ridiculous and beautiful. 

There you are. 

Christ, baby. I missed you. 

 

Yours, 

B- 

 

(Unsent and Unread Letters of Bucky Barnes) 

 

~*~ 

 

Today we're sitting down with four experts on Captain America to discuss what his recent rebirth means. Thank you for joining us. 

For the past seventy years, historians and biographers and filmmakers and novelists have spent thousands of hours and millions of words chronicling the life and military career of Captain Rogers. What does it mean, now that he's been pulled from the ice?  

EM: I don't think we know, yet. Rogers is the first of his kind--a historical figure doesn't usually get up and start walking around and pointing out the flaws in his exhibit at the Smithsonian. 

Do you think he will find flaws in what's been said about him?  

DH: I think he has to. There are too many conflicting opinions. 

EM: If you're talking about Barnes, just say it, Hughs. 

DH: I'm not ashamed to say it, Dr. Mills. For the past decade, more and more attention has been given to Rogers and his relationship with Sergeant Barnes. We no longer discuss his role as a war hero and tactician-- Brooklyn Boys is a prime example of that. Well now he's walking around. You think he won't have something to say about the left depicting him as gay? 

You think he will, Dr. Hughs?

SV: Studying Rogers and his life is part of the job. Sure, some of us will get it wrong. But just because you want the man to be straight doesn't mean he was. 

DH: There is no evidence saying that Rogers and Barnes were lovers. 

EM: Of course there wasn't--he was a propaganda piece from the 1940s! 

Do you think that matters?

EM: It has to matter. 

Why? 

SV: Because what we know--historians and the general public alike--is filtered through a lens of propaganda. We can try to pull back that curtain--and there's been small successes, but most of what we know about Rogers is after Project Rebirth, and we know that he was a propaganda piece for the Army. He wasn't supposed to serve on the front lines. We'll never know the truth about Rogers because Captain America was built on the lies the government sold the public. That's the real fascinating part of Captain America--separating the truth from the lies, seeing the man behind the uniform. 

Is that why there is so much speculation about the nature of his and Barnes' relationship?

DH: Are we really doing this? 

SV: Shut up, Hughs, god. You knew this would be asked. 

EM: We're obsessed with that because it humanized Captain America. It made him as real as the next war widow. And maybe it was only brotherhood--but that made him as real as the boy in the trenches whose best friend died. The American military made Steve Rogers into a god, into a legend. Barnes always kept him human. 

JA: He loved Barnes. How and why is irrelevant, because at the end of the day, he loved Barnes and Barnes loved him. And in the darkest days of the worst war our world has ever seen--that love inspired a loyalty that turned the tide of the war. Who the hell wouldn't be inspired by that?

( A Roundtable Discussion: What Captain America’s Resurrection Means)  

 

~*~ 

 

Bucky, 

I want you to stay. 

Phillips and the SSR is lettin me fight and I want you to stay. Tomorrow they're gonna tell you--you can go home. 

What does it say about me--what kinda man does it make me, that I want you to stay? 

 

--

Buck, 

I don't know what to say to you. 

You're here, and you're where you belong, right next to me, standin' together agaisnt the world. But you feel like your a million miles away, further than you were when I was left behind in Brooklyn. 

I miss you. 

 

---

Buck, 

Do you think we'll survive? 

And if we do--do you think men like us get to go home? 

Maybe I was wrong. 

No. 

No, that's not right. 

I was wrong. I didn't make you stay--couldn't ever make you do anythin' you didn't want. But you did. You stayed, and I know it was me you stayed for, and I was glad, at the time. Even facin' hell, I was glad. 

I needed you. I did then, I guess I still do. 

Guess I always will. 

I should have let you go. Should have made you go. 

I wish one of us was out of this hell hole. 

 

---

Buck, 

You ain't subtle, pal. You never have been. I wish you'd just fuckin' ask. 

 

---

Buck, 

I always thought the scaredest I would be was when you shipped out and I didn't. When you went to war and I couldn't follow. 

Then I was told you were dead and I didn't think I could be more scared than that. 

But watching you fall when that German ambushed us, not knowing for those few seconds if you were shot or he was--. 

Buck. 

I can't--I can't lose you. 

The rest of the world can burn, we can lose the whole goddamn war and if you were by my side, I wouldn't even care. 

I know what that says about me. How wrong it is. And I don't care. I don't care. 

I need you alive, need you whole and safe. 

I wish sometimes, that I didn't. That you weren't a piece of my soul walkin' in another body. It'd be easier, wouldn't it. 

I could marry Peg and you could marry Dot and we could get those big houses in the country you always talked about and maybe we'd be happy. 

But that's not for me. 

It's for you, and when you do--I'll smile. I'll be happy. I won't stand in your way, Buck, I swear to you I won't. 

But you're it for me. 

I've loved you since you pulled me outta that dumpster in Brooklyn, and I don't see myself stoppin' anytime soon. 

I won't ever tell you--I won't ruin what we've got or ask for what you can't give. 

But I love you. 

I love you. 

I'll always love you. 

 

-- 

Buck, 

Sometimes, I see you watchin' me in the firelight, and I know what you're doin' in your bedroll. And I wonder if I'm wrong. if you do want me, as much as I want you.

I wish I could draw you like that. 

I wish you knew how much I want to touch you and draw all those pretty noises from your mouth. 

I dream of that. When I dream, and they're good dreams and not the nightmares we live--I dream of you. 

 

Yours, 

Stevie 

 

(Unsent and Unread Letters of Steve Rogers) 

 

~*~ 

Loving him is selfish. 

Loving him is the most selfish thing you’ve ever done and you don’t care. 

You would sooner rip the sun from the sky than stop--one task as impossible as the next. 

- J.B. Grant, Winter’s End 

Chapter Text

Aliens invaded New York. 

You'd think that's the weirdest sentence you'd read in this shitty post but no--no it's gets better. 

Aliens invaded New York and a fucking green rage monster, a dead man in a flag uniform claiming to be a World War 2 hero, a billionaire with some pretty shiny toys, a mythological figure and--ok, actually, I'm not sure what's so special about the last two. Guy with a bow, girl with a great rack and impeccable flipping onto flying shit skills, I guess. 

Anyway--they saved us. 

They did. 

And I mean, we can talk about the damage they did during the Battle of New York--three hundred million in damage was the last number I heard--but there's this simple fact--they saved us. 

Not our national defense. 

Not our Air Force or Army or whoever the fuck is flying that massive mirrored ship out over the Atlantic--and that's a whole 'nother post, don't think I'm gonna forget about that. 

But they did. 

Stark Industries say they're called the Avengers and in the weeks since the attack I've been watching the news. I see a lot of blame shifting. People saying the Avengers are to blame for the attack. Calls for Thor--Jesus are we really calling that dude Thor??--to produce Loki--see previous question. I hear a lot about the responsibilities Stark has to the people of the city and the damage done by the Hulk. 

But Star Spangled What Even is the one clearing the rubble. 

Hulk is the one digging out trapped survivors. 

Stark Industries is the one feeding volunteers and the medical bills of people hurt that day. 

They're the ones taking care of us. 

And they were that day. 

The government can blame the Avengers all they want. They can rant and they can rave and they can tell us that's whose to blame for an attack. 

But a goddamn hole in space opened up and spit aliens onto Manhattan, and I don't think we can actually blame anyone for that, except the idiots who opened the goddamn hole. 

But the aliens aren't the ones who fired a nuke at a city full of American citizens. 

The Avengers aren't the ones who did that. 

They're not making excuses about disaster relief. 

They're not demanding forms and financials, to get that aid or a goddamn MRE. 

That's our government. The same folks who are saying we need to tar and feather the six crazy bastards who saved us. 

And I'll be the first to say--they're crazy bastards. I don't understand them. I don't even know if I trust them. 

But I watched a hole in the sky spit an alien army onto my hometown and I watched a bunch of crazy bastards fight that army. I watched my own government point a nuke at my hometown and I watched Ironman fly that nuke into a hole in goddamn space. 

I don't give a shit what they say about blame. The Avengers fought for us. They're taking care of us. 

I say buy the crazy bastards a drink or two. They earned it. 

 

Heroes-among-us.tumblr.com 

 

~*~

 

Stevie, 

I hate myself for this.

For being so happy you're here. 

But I am. 

I am glad you're with me. 

All my life, I've wanted one thing--to keep you safe. The hardest part of going to war wasn't the fact that I might die. It was that you were left alone. I couldn't protect you. And now you're here, and I can see you in the sights of my rifle, and I can kill whoever wants to hurt you, and I am glad. I am happy. 

I'm not a good man, and I'm not very good at many things. 

But I've always been good at protecting you and killing things, and I'll be a worst man to live and welcome it, if it mean I can keep you safe. 

 

---

 

Stevie, 

I love you. 

I love you. 

I love you. 

Dear god, don't die. 

I love you. 

 

---

 

Stevie, 

What do you think makes a man good? Da always said I had a rotten core. I never minded too much--Da was a drunk and a bastard and I stopped puttin' stock in what he said when he split Becca's lip that first time. 

I know you're good. 

It spills outta you--the way you care about the underdog, the way you're always gonna take care of them and fight the bullies of the world, even when the world is doin' it's damndest to kill you. 

The way you wouldn't take no. 

God, baby, why wouldn't you take no? You could be safe, and whole. You're lying on that army cot and Gabe thinks you're gonna live but it's only because of that damn serum. You should be home and whole and your almost dying in this fucking war and it's all because you wouldn't let no be an answer. 

You got shot trying to save a German, Stevie. A medic, sure, and I know the rules of engagement, but my god, Stevie, who does that? 

A good man. 

That's what I keep comin' back to. A good man. You're a good man. 

I'm not. 

I won't tell you what happened to your medic--you'd be angry. But I am not a good man. I don't ever think I was one. 

Any goodness in me is a reflection of you, Stevie. Any piece of me worth anything is because you gave me that worth. 

And I don't mind. 

They talk about us--Captain America and his Howling Commandos. Captain America and Sergeant Barnes. I hear them talkin' when we got leave in Paris and in London. They talk about you like you're a hero, and the rest of us live in your shadow. 

I don't mind, is the thing. 

I never minded living in your shadow, or being the mirror that shows your reflection. It means I'm close to you. It means you need me, even just a little bit. And maybe it's wrong of me, to want you to need me--but I'm not a good man, Stevie. Just a man in love with you, and willing to take any piece of you I can have.

 

Yours, 

(Unsent and Unread Letters of Bucky Barnes) 

 

~*~

 

Steve Rogers is a modern marvel--one of the most written about figures in history is now walking and talking and apparently throwing aliens around New York. 

And in the months since the Battle of New York, there has been an endless parade of talking heads, discussing what his resurrection means, and just as many conspiracy theorists saying that the man living in Avengers Tower isn’t actually Captain America. 

What few people seem to be talking about is who Steve Rogers is, now. 

How does being buried in ice and forgotten change a man? How does his resurrection affect him and what we can expect from him? Who was he apart from the propaganda that the US Army surrounded him with--because the man clearly didn’t punch Hitler in the face. 

But his men say he was a hero. 

His actions in New York say the same. 

Who is this man who says he’s here to save us? And is he--a man living seventy years removed from everything he knows, who has lost his home, his time, his family and friends--is he capable of helping anyone?

The forties wasn’t spectacular for mental health services, and Steve Rogers--he smiles for the cameras and he’s silent and stoic and earnest as hell in PR conferences, a steady presence next to Iron Man’s flash and flamboyance. 

Or is the man who runs ten miles every day, who doesn’t make friends beyond the agents he works with and the Avengers he saves the world with--is he happy. 

In the aftermath of New York, Rogers vanished for six months. He was spotted--it became something of a national pastime, to track him as he rode his Harley across the country. Websites mapped him, speculated on his next destination, posted pictures of him in CarlsBad Caverns, and along the Grand Canyon and overlooking the Pacific and so many other places. 

I know what the world saw--a man living for the first time in seventy years. 

A man smiling and soaking up the beauty of the country he serves. 

Do you know what I see? 

I see a man haunted. A man who is tired and searching for something. There’s a disconnect in Rogers’--his smile doesn’t match the grief that fills his eyes. His laugh doesn’t match the growing panic there. 

I see a man drowning, a man who is looking for a world that no longer exists, and I wonder. 

If Rogers’ is going to save us--who is going to save him? 

 

The Man Behind the SHIELD: The Vulnerabilities of Steve Rogers by Hank Gomez 

 

~*~ 

 

Buck,

Do you think people like us get it right? 

I keep thinking--we shouldn’t be here. We shouldn’t be here, Bucky. You shouldn’t be. 

It’s war, and this is what I wanted--being here, with you, fighting for what’s right and good--it’s what I wanted. 

It’s not what I thought it would be. 

I don’t want this. I don’t want to be here. But I would stay, if I could take your place. 

You’re changing, sweetheart. I see you changing and I feel like I can’t do a damn thing to stop it, and I want to. 

There's something...dark...about you. You smile, and you laugh, and the Howlies believe it, think you're fine. But you aren't. You don't smile the same, and you don't touch me. 

I think I shouldn't notice that as much as I do. But its a constant ache, the place where your hand should be on my body and isn't. The pressure of your grip at my neck, squeezing and guiding and protective--it's missing. The arm around my shoulders, holding me close, like I'm *yours. The hand in my hair and the hand on my chest when you curled up next to me to sleep, like you had to feel my heartbeat and breath or you wouldn't believe I was still breathin'--they're all gone. 

And I miss them. I miss them like air, Buck. 

I thought it was me, that it was my big new body. Then I saw you watchin' Pegs, and I thought maybe it was her. Maybe you felt like you couldn't touch me when she was smilin' at me. But it's never been like that with us. You've always been willing to throw yourself around me, even when we're on those awful dates you dragged me on. 

It's not me. It's like--you're scared to touch me. 

And I see it, when you think no one is lookin'. The way your eyes go dead and your mouth goes sad. You wouldn't even pet that kitten Dum Dum found in the last little village we passed through. You laughed, said that you didn't want to get your bloody hands on something that little and good. 

Dum Dum laughed, when you said that. But you meant it. And I could see that you meant it. 

That scares me. 

I want you away from this war, Buck. I want you safe and I want you happy and if I could give you that--I would fight this war, any war, until the day I die. 

I would fight forever, to send you home from it. 

I love you, Bucky, and I wish like hell I could spare you this war. 

Yours, 

Steve

(Unsent and Unread Letters of Steve Rogers) 

 

~*~ 

 

Is there anything you would not do for him? 

You wonder. You spend sleepless nights wondering. 

You fought a war for him, once. Dressed yourself in black and blood and prayed to keep him safe. You failed, but you kept him from this--the endless torture, the men who broke you open, who shattered you into fragments that scare you. 

You run. 

You run from him because there is nothing you will not do for him. And protecting him means you will protect him, even from yourself. 

 

J.B. Grant, Winter’s End.

Chapter Text

Today we're sitting down, and this is really quite exciting, you guys, we have with us for his first interview since the Battle of New York, Captain Steve Rogers! Thanks for joining, Captain. 

 

SR: It's great to be here. 

Ellen: How’s it, being in the future? 

SR: Shocking, is probably the truth--we used to talk about the future, but I don't think anyone could imagine this. 

Ellen: You say we. Who is we? 

SR: Well, Bucky and me. The Howlies--but Bucky used to talk about it all the time. He spent most of every winter reading to me, when I was sick, and it was always these horrible little sci-fi novels. That last night, before he shipped out, he arranged a date with some girls in the neighborhood, and we went to the Stark Expo. He always loved lookin' at the future.

Ellen: What do you think he'd like most about the future? 

SR: Marriage equality. 

Ellen: Marria--James Barnes was gay ?

SR: I don't think Bucky woulda labeled himself anything. And if he went with fellas, I never knew it. But we lived in Red Hook, down the street from a gay bar. Half our friends were queer. When Bucky got hired on at the docks, it was to replace a friend who got beaten for kissing his boyfriend. It always burnt Buck up real bad, that they couldn't love each other. 

Ellen: And you? How do you feel about marriage equality?

SR: I think Bucky'd be right. It's the best thing about this century. Even better than the food. 

Ellen: I bet the food in Stark's Tower is pretty fantastic. 

SR: It's a far cry from the rations we had on the front, yeah. 

Ellen: You haven't been around much, since the Battle of New York. Can you tell us a little about where you have been? 

SR: Everywhere. Bucky and I always said, when we got back from the war, we'd tour the country. He only ever got to his Aunt's country house in Connecticut and I'd never left New York, before the USO tour. Which was nice--the girls showed me the whole country. But it was different, you know, than seeing it with someone you care about. 

Ellen: So you--

SR: I kept a couple promises. I got the house we talked about--a brownstone in New York that Tony tells me is completely ridiculous. I finally got that dance I'd been waitin' on for seventy years. And I went every damn place Bucky ever said he wanted to go. It's not--it's not the way I wanted it to be. But it's what I've got, and Bucky'd want me to live.

SR: The hardest part of waking up, seventy years in the future, with the food and the technology and the internet, and everything else--the hardest part, Ellen, is that I woke up in a world where I could marry the girl I fell in love with or the fella I'd loved for as long as I knew what love was--and neither one is here with me. 

 

Transcript of Captain America’s Interview on Ellen.

 

~*~ 

 

Stevie, 

I can hear you talkin' to the Howlies. Three doors and a hall away, and I can hear you like you're right next to me. 

I think--they did somethin' to me. I can't deny that. 

I think if I were anywhere else, I'd mind more. But here, now, with you--it means I can keep up with you, keep you safe. 

The others aren't strong enough to keep up with you, but I can. 

Do you remember when we met? When you were getting the piss beaten outta ya by Joe Donhue and I dragged him offa you? 

I wonder if you knew what that would mean. 

Sometimes I think, if I'd a known then, what you would mean to me--I never woulda done it. It's a terrifying thing, loving you, Steve Rogers. 

But then. 

But then I think about what my life would be like, how empty it would be, without you. Without winters spent at your bedside, reading you through your colds, and curled up like puppies to keep warm. Without summers at the beach and on the docks and eggin' you on at Coney Island. I think about nights dancing without you watchin' and you here, without my gun to keep you safe, and all the little bits in between, the afternoons I stumbled in and you were waiting and the nights we'd go to my Ma's for dinner and the holidays when we didn't have nothing but each other--and I think it's worth it. 

All the fear and all the pain and all the worry--it's all worth it. Because I have you. 

You fill up my life, and you don't even mean to--you just do it by breathing , just like the sun fills up the darkness by existing. I think about what it would be like, to not have you in my life, and it's a long dark empty. 

As terrifying as loving you is, the idea of living without you turns my bones to water. I couldn't do it. I would never want to. 

You're comin' down the hall now. I can hear the men callin' their goodnights and your footsteps. They never changed--even when you were a tiny ball of rage, you had the footsteps of the biggest man I'd ever met. 

Tomorrow we're gonna go on up into the Alps. I know Carter is worried about it, the mission and you, but I'm not. 

We're together, and I think we've always been charmed, when we're together. As long as I'm by your side, nothing bad can happen. As long as I've got your back--nothing will hurt you. 

Always,

Bucky 

 

(Unsent and Unread letters of Bucky Barnes) 

 

~*~ 

 

The Hero We Need - Sibhon Ackers 

In a shocking move that has yet to be addressed by SHIELD or his Avengers Initiative PR, Captain America came out as bisexual on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Rogers did so with little fanfare or explanation, while talking about the difficulties of the modern time he's found himself in. 

In a world where superheros come in every size and shape, the one touted as the American ideal, a 'relic' from our past is breaking barriers by embracing his sexuality and becoming the hero young LGBTQ people are desperate to look up to--

 

A National Embarrassment by G. Beck 

Steve Rogers owes everything he is--including the fact that he is alive today--to the United States government and the Army. 

They took a sick young man and made him into a super soldier. And how does he repay them? 

By spitting into the face of good Christian values, by defiling his uniform and position and making a mockery of it so that he can what--be *gay? What about what he owes the people of this great nation--

 

A Disturbance in DC - Breaking News from CNN 

There has been a disturbance in Washington, DC today. A car accident shut down part of the Beltway, with one fatality that is still being investigated. Immediately following the car accident, there were multiple explosions and gunshots in the vicinity. Although details are still being verified, there have been reports that Steve Rogers has been spotted on scene, fighting what appears to be a black-clad assailant. 

Also on scene is Captain America's co-Avenger, Black Widow, who appears to have been injured in th---

 

Cap a Traitor by JJ Jameson 

You heard it hear first, folks! SHIELD has branded Captain America a traitor, for undisclosed crimes. Might have something to do with that firefight on the Beltway yesterday? DC is crawling with SWAT and SHIELD tac teams, all in search of the National Icon. And I say---good fucking riddance. We need better than an man who refuses to follow the chain of command, a man who will put innocents at risk by fighting in public, a man who is more committed to the dead memory of someone he loved than the morale of the nation--

 

BREAKING NEWS: SHIELD in Ruins

SHIELD has fallen. After a week of firefights and explosions and secrets from the notoriously closed-mouthed government agency--SHIELD refuses, even now, to disclose what they are for --a inside informant leaked the agency's data records onto the internet. 

While that was momentarily overshadowed--quite literally--by the helicarriers that they launched and that were brought down on the the Potomac within short order, the information in the leak will be critical to understanding just what the hell happened in Washington this week--and why. 

Already the SHIELD data dump is being---

 

Rebuilding Trust by Sharon Carter 

SHIELD has always been that. A shield between America and her allies. Something that worked in the shadows, that did what the CIA and FBI couldn't or wouldn't. We were good at it. 

We were lied to. 

And maybe we were always doomed to failure, because if you exist in shadows, you take on their qualities. But I think, what we started as, and what I was fighting for, still exists. 

Rebuilding that--I don't know if we should. I don't know if we can. 

 

(A compilation of articles on and around the Fall of SHIELD.) 

 

~*~ 

 

Buck, 

You're sleeping. 

You came and crawled into my bed, said you couldn't sleep in your own bed, but I think it's a lie. I think you know I worry about missions and that tomorrow is going to be hard. I think you and I both get a little antsy, when it's cold and the wind is blowing in the dark and you aren't right there, curled around me in my little narrow bed. 

You're sleeping and all the worry and war has faded from your face, and you are so beautiful, my love. 

I want to keep us here, in this moment, forever. 

 

---

It's not real. 

It's not real, it's a nightmare, it's not real. 

Oh god, please let it not be real. 

 

---

Carter and Phillips won't let me go back for the--for Bucky. 

They say we have to push on that, the intel from Zola will only be good for so long, that we have to act now or it's all for nothing. 

I know they're right--but I hate them a little bit too. 

I hate them for stopping me, and I hate them for being alive, and I hate Bucky, for falling. 

And myself. 

I hate myself the most. For being here, without him. 

 

---

Carter is worried about me. 

So is Phillips but he'll never let on or say anything. Not so long as I follow orders, and I'm good at that. Carter though--she found me in the bar, after they scrapped Zola for all his information. They're pleased, I can tell. It's good intel, will 'turn the tide of the war.'

But what the hell does that mean? That's what they said we were doin' this whole time, taking the Hydra bases. That's what we did when we helped liberate Paris and when we stormed the concentration camps. We keep turning the tide, and it doesn't mean a damn thing. 

Carter says it was worth it. That what Zola has--that it could end the war. 

We could go home. 

But there's nothing that's worth your life, Bucky. 

I'd fight a war for the rest of my damn life, if it meant you lived. 

 

---

I keep thinkin' about that night, and how peaceful you looked. How I wanted to kiss you, wanted to strip you bare and love you, the way I always want. 

I should have told you, sweetheart. I should have told you every damn day. 

I'm so sorry I didn't tell you. 

I love you. 

I love you. 

 

---

Bucky, 

This plane is gonna go down. I made sure of that. And I'm--

I'm gonna go too. 

Don't be mad, darling. I always did get myself into trouble, when you weren't around. 

It's better this way. Carter is frantic, she's crying--but this is the first time since that god awful train I felt right. 

I'll go down with the bombs and the war will end, and we won't go home. But maybe we never were gonna go home. Maybe there's no goin' back for fellas like us. 

Either way, darling, I'm coming. Whatever comes after this--we'll go together. 

Always, 

Stevie. 

 

(Unsent and Unread letters of Steve Rogers) 

 

~*~ 

 

You think the hardest thing you have ever done is not to love him--that’s easy, as easy as breathing, as natural as your heart beating in your chest. 

The hardest thing you have ever done, is letting him love you. 

J.B. Grant, Winter’s End



Chapter Text

 

This is what we know: 

Very little. 

It has been six months since SHIELD fell in a hail of fire and falling aircraft, when the rubble was burnt to scorched earth by the Black Widow on Capitol Hill, and in those six months very little has been learned. 

There is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned in the data dump orchestrated by Natasha Romonv, but very little of it points to the future. 

And the question that demands to be answered is: where is Steve Rogers? 

Romanov and Sam Wilson, both compatriots of Captain America and the Battle of Triskelion, have been seen both in DC and in New York City. Some even claim the two are closer than team mates or friends. 

But no one has seen Captain America and as the month stretch on--the questions become more pressing. 

What Little We Know by Dani Sanchez 

-- 

It used to be Elvis sightings. That's what my mom said--that after his death, people claimed to see him for months and years after. She said they did it again when Tupac died. 

Spotting the elusive Bucky Barnes--better known as Winter Soldier or the Ghost--is the new national pastime. 

Truth of the matter is that Barnes is as elusive as Elvis and Tupac and just as mythical as Bigfoot or a unicorn. 

The Winter Soldier isn't at your gym, Karen, because he's locked away in a windowless room--and he should be. 

Where Is Barnes, posted on redditt 

--

Today marks nine months since the fall of SHIELD. If you travel through DC, you can still see rebuilding efforts, and crews cleaning the wreckage out of the Potomac. SI Safety and Reclamation Managers say that the cleaning the task will be ongoing for another twelve months. 

But even as DC puts itself back together, the nation and the Supreme Court has managed to agree on one thing:

Today they acquitted James Buchanan Barnes of all crimes committed while held by Hydra. The defense was paid for Stark Industries and the legal team was led by Tony Stark's personal lawyer, something that weighed heavily in Barnes favor as the murder of Howard and Maria Stark was an indisputable fact trotted out by the prosecution. 

In attendance at the trial were Sam Wilson, Natasha Romonv and Tony Stark. 

Nine months after the fall of SHIELD, and both Captain Rogers and Sergeant Barnes remain unaccounted for. 

The Missing by P. Leeds, The Daily Bugle 

--

This is the truth about Steve Rogers: Nothing we know matters. 

Rogers is a modern day myth, a story we told our children about everything that is good and right and perfect about this country--and he is someone that lived within so many of our lifetimes. 

A man who gave himself up for a program that none could replicate, and who died too young, leaving his legacy to other hands to shape into something larger than life. 

And then he woke up. 

And the legacy--it doesn't fit. 

It can't fit, because it was never Steve Rogers, it was the caricature of the uniform and the myth. 

And now, Barnes is walking and talking and everything we know about Roger is irrelevant because this is something that was not part of his marketing and myth--Steve Rogers would die for Bucky Barnes. 

Nothing else written matters. All of it--you can throw it away and start again, because that's the truth that will trump every promotional poster and video. 

Steve Rogers would die for Bucky Barnes. 

Now that both are alive--I wonder what kind of men they will be. 

The Legacy of Steve Rogers by James Mortia 

 

~*~

 

Steve

 

--

 

Steve 

 

--

 

My name is---

Steve?

 

---

 

I saw someone. He reminded me of you. 

Who was he? 

Who are you? 

Who am I? 

 

---

 

Steve 

 

---

Sometimes, when I was out of cryo too long, I would dream.

I'd wake up and scribble on paper, scratch it onto my leg, so the name ran bloody. I never knew what it meant. I only knew that when I dreamt, I remembered that name, and I scratched it into my skin, so they couldn't take it from me. 

But it healed. 

And they punished me. 

Weapons aren't supposed to dream. 

 

---

 

I remember more, now. Enough to think I don't belong near you. I'm dangerous and I am soaked in blood. I don't want that to touch you. 

I wish I knew who you were. 

I saw you exhibit at the museum, and I hoped that would make me remember. But I don't. 

I remember I dreamt of you, when they took everything else. 

That has to mean you mean something, doesn't it? 

 

---

 

Sometimes, when I wake from nightmares, I can still feel your blood on my hands and I throw up and I hate myself and I don't know  why

Why do you matter so much? 

Who are you and why do I hate the sight of blood on your skin and tears in your eyes? 

Why can I hear you say my name, and why does that make me hurt, like the handlers are digging around in my guts with a knife, but not, because I know you'll never hurt me, not like they did, not if you could help it. 

You'd take a bullet to keep me from hurtin' and I don't know why I know that or who you are but I think--

I think maybe I'd take one for you too.

 

~*~ 

 

Go home. 

I can't do this if I'm worried you're gonna find me every other damn city. 

Go home you goddamn stupid punk. 

 

~*~ 

 

I heard the Christmas bells. 

There was this one year, when your ma was sick and you couldn't go see her, because you were gonna get it too. And the apartment was too cold and ours was too loud, so you and me, we'd go to the church down the way and sit in the back and listen to the Christmas bells. You fell asleep on me so many times that winter, and Father O'Malley never said nothin' just smiled and left a little bit of the communion wine out for us, like he knew you needed it. 

I remember listenin' to the bells and your breathin' and the scent of candles and the firs and thinkin that I was happier than I'd ever been, right there. 

I don't know if that's real or just my messed up head--but I hope it's true. 

I hope that's what we were to each other. 

 

---

 

Sometimes, I think I loved you. 

Sometimes, I think I always loved you. 

Sometimes--sometimes I think I still love you. 

I think I always will. 

 

(Unsent and Unread letters of Bucky Barnes)

 

~*~ 

 

Buck--

Sam says you'll come home, when you're ready. He might be right. Sam's a smart man. 

But this is what I know about you.

You won't. When you remember--you will, you'll remember me, I could see it in your eyes that day--you'll run. You'll be so convinced you can't come back from what they did to you, that you'll run and you won't give us a chance. 

I wish I could tell you I need you. Because even when we were kids, you wouldn't run if you thought I needed you. 

I need you so fucking much, Buck. More than I ever did before. I can't--I don't wanna do this on my own anymore. 

 

----

Buck

We never said it. 

Back in the war, I mean. It wasn't something either of us ever said. 

You had all those dames at home and even a few durin' the war and I had Peggy, for all the good I did there. 

And I was afraid. I was so scared I'd lose you so I swallowed it all down, the things I felt, the words I wanted to press into your skin and tattoo against your soul. 

We didn't say it, and maybe you never would have, but here's the truth I won't fucking hide anymore, Bucky Barnes. 

I love you. 

I love you and I ain't ever gonna stop lovin' you and I don't care about Hydra and SHIELD and all the rest. 

I love you. 

 

---

Bucky 

You were the first one who said I loved it. 

The shield and the uniform and bein' Captain America. 

I didn't realize, really, how much I loved it, until you said that. Until you showed me that I did. 

I do, you know. I love it. 

But I'm watchin' the trial unfold and I watch Sam flyin' with the Avengers and all I want is to stop. 

To put it down and go home to our little apartment in Brooklyn, go home to you. 

So I'm tellin you here, now, in this place that you might never read but I hope that you do. 

I'll stop. 

The moment you walk through that door and come home to me--I'm gonna stop. I don't wanna fight anymore, Buck. I just wanna be yours. 

 

--

Bucky 

I saw you. 

Sitting outside the cafe down the street. I didn't go up to you, cuz you looked like you'd run if I tried. 

But I saw you. 

And I noticed some dirty dishes on the counter this morning, a few apples missin'. You always were a mess. I don't mind. 

I hope, when you come back, you stay. 

You can stay, Buck. 

You can come home. 

Please come back to me, sweetheart. 

I won't push. You'll come to me when you're ready. And if you never want this--you don't need to love me to come home, Bucky. I've loved you my entire life, and of all the things and people I have loved, I have loved your first and always. I don't need you to love me, for you to come home. 

Get some sandwiches outta the fridge before you go--you look a little thin. 

Come home soon, sweetheart. 

 

Yours, 

S- 

(The Unsent Letters of Steve Rogers) 

 

~*~

 

Spotted in Brooklyn this week! Steve Rogers and recently acquitted POW, Bucky Barnes have returned to Brooklyn. The pair were spotted at a cafe and later going in and out of several apartment complexes. Rogers, dressed in jeans and a white shirt with a black jacket, was in good spirits and solicitous to his friend. Barnes seemed withdrawn but was spotted smiling at Rogers on two occasions and arguing good naturedly once. 

This is the first time since Barnes' acquittal that the pair have been seen in public. It would appear that after seventy years, the long road has finally led our favorite Brooklyn Boys back home. 

 

Steve and Bucky Return to Brooklyn, Page Six

 

-- 

The Avengers fought a small army of robots in Central Park this morning. While there is, unfortunately, nothing unusual about either the Avengers, a small army of robots, or Central Park, there was a noticeable absence this time around. 

Ironman seemed to lead the team in Captain America's stead and while all handled the absence well--Falcon seemed in better form than we've seen from the new Avenger since his first outing with the team--it does beg the question. 

If Steve Rogers has returned to New York--and all signs and spottings and a recent rental application seems to point to just that--why was he not with the team in Central Park? Some have speculated that since SHIELD's fall and the return of Bucky Barnes, Cap's attention has been divided and indeed, elsewhere and this latest mission seems to be substantiating that rumor. 

The question is--what do we do without him? And how long before Steve Rogers returns? 

Where is the Man with the Plan, The Daily Bugle 

---

 

Effective immediately, Steve Rogers will be in semi-retirement. Rogers will hang up his suit and has elected to pass the shield to Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon. 

"I've been fighting since World War II and while being Captain America has been one of the few great joys in my life, it's time for me to turn my attention to peace and to make way for younger, better men and women than me to keep the world safe. Sam is the best man for that job."

Rogers will serve in a tactical position with the Avengers and will be held in reserve at the discretion of the WSC and Avengers team. 

The citizens of New York, the United States, and the world owe Captain Rogers a debt that can never be truly paid and we at SI wish him the very best in the next chapter of his story 

 

Official Statement from SI and the desk of Pepper Potts

 

--

Does anyone find it strange to look at footage of the Avengers fighting and see the shield flying around? I mean--Falcon is a badass, and I love him--but it's disconcerting to see it come flying out of the sky instead of the other way around.

I think it'll take us all a while to get used to that. I hope wherever the hell Steve Rogers is, he's happy. The man deserves that. 

Op Ed piece in the Brooklyn Heights

--

Spotted at the Line of Heroes Gala--Steve Rogers in a custom designed suit, escorting Bucky Barnes. Both Rogers and Barnes stopped for photographers, though Barnes seemed anxious and Rogers cut their time on the red carpet short. Throughout the evening, Barnes relaxed with friends--all Avengers present made a point to talk with them both--while Rogers remained attentive and close to longtime friend. 

The pair danced together after Rogers gave a speech thanking attendees for their time and donations. 

The Line of Heroes is a charity Rogers and Ms. Pepper Potts co-founded to bring disabled veterans the best medical and mental health care. 

Rogers and Barnes were in good spirits when leaving, and we managed to catch a photo of the pair, when Barnes caught Rogers' hand in his own, and pulled him in close, it dislodged a long silver chain. It would appear that Rogers, despite his retirement, still wears his dog tags, and what appears to be a man's wedding ring. 

Barnes seemed especially pleased by the sight of that. One can only speculate what the tokens mean for these two, and who they belong to. 

In either case, we wish Barnes and Rogers a happy retirement and all the joy in the world. 

Heroes Gala: Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, The New York Times 

~*~ 

 

There's a moment. 

You think, it won't come. It can't. Not for people like you. 

But there's a moment and it's worth it, it's worth waiting for. 

A moment when you step through his door and his eyes smile and his lips are soft under yours and the war is over. 

There's a moment, when you're home. 

 

J.B. Grant, Winter’s End