quigonejinn: (avengers - never change your mind)
quigonejinn ([personal profile] quigonejinn) wrote2012-05-14 10:55 am

Innermost and Underlying (2/2)


"You don't have a sniper yet," Bucky says to Steve.

The relief on Steve's face makes something inside Bucky --


Bucky has a memory of dancing with Stephanie in her studio apartment. It was after his mother had kicked him out, and the radio was on, soft enough that it mixed with the sounds of traffic. The sun was setting behind the buildings; they would have to turn the lights on in a bit, and they had taken their shoes off because the downstairs neighbor had already complained about the noise. Bucky was in socks, and Stephanie was in bare feet to save her stockings. He was trying to convince Stephanie to let him lead, and she was a combination of wanting to follow him and follow the music on her own.

"Listen," Bucky had said. They were facing each other, and his hand was in the small of her back. "I'm the guy. Count with me."

Stephanie looked up at him with an expression that lets him know that she is not exactly impressed.

"Which one of us has actually danced? I've been to the Stork Club, remember. Put your head on my chest," Bucky says. "I mean, don't do it on the dance floor with somebody who just asked you -- "

" -- I'm not stupid, you know."

"Really? You're not? My toes say otherwise." Bucky lets go of her fingers and brings his hand up to the back of her head, pulls her head forward, so that it'll lie on his chest. "Come on. But we can do it now. Just until you get the feeling."

She grumbles, but Bucky keeps his hand against the back of her head long enough to be sure that she'll keep it there; she cuts her hair for short for a girl, right around chin-length, unwaved, held back from her face with a plain black clip. It feels cool against Bucky's hand.

" -- two, three, four," he says, and Stephanie doesn't follow him out loud.

"Come on," he says. "Count with me. Keep your head on my chest."


"I'm the same person," Steve says. "It's just the outside that changed."


" -- and then she just walks out of the room, I swear to you, she just -- "

Dugan is telling a story about a girlfriend he had once, and Steve is sitting to Dugan's left, one arm stretched back and smiling quietly, listening, but not quite believing. When Dugan gets to the punchline, Steve laughs with everyone else, and when he opens his mouth to call for another round on him, everyone around the table goes quiet for a moment, waiting to see what he'll say. The faces turn towards him. Steve flags the girl who brings the beer.

Bucky watches from the bar in the other room, calls the bartender for another beer, watches girls smile at Steve, watches men smile at Steve, watches the table stop its conversation whenever Steve takes a movement that sounds like it might lead to Steve breathing a word. It goes beyond respect. It almost goes beyond hero worship. Bucky remembers being in the forest with Steve the week before; snow had started to dust the pine trees. The ground was hard with frost in the mornings, and they could all hear the sound of conventional German artillery on their left, first short of the Allied position, then too long. When would they get it right? And there were rumors of Hydra armor advancing on their right. Bucky saw the fear on the faces of the regular troops, even their commanding officers, and Steve called the leadership and the Howling Commandos over to the map he had spread out on the hood of a jeep.

With all due respect, Colonel Anderson, Steve explained, their worries were not either the German artillery or the Hydra armor, which Steve had been informed was advancing on their position and were to be expected two hours before sundown. They shouldn't think of them as separate matters to be dealt with at separate times. The artillery would be firing during and in support of any attack by Hydra armor; Hydra did not care to preserve their troops or machinery if it meant victory, so it was necessary both to be prepared for both of them, and to do what was possible to eliminate one or the other. Under cover of the mist in the forest, Steve would lead a small force that would, if his intelligence from Howard Stark was accurate, be enough to subdue German artillery and remove the threat that kept the Allied forces penned in this valley. In the meantime and during as much daylight as remained, the colonel would want to considering shifting his own artillery here and here, and to move at least a hundred men to this elevation in order to --

"Jesus, have you always been like this?"

"Like what?"

It's the night afterwards. They're standing outside the tent that passes for a field hospital; Steve led the Commandos in destroying the German artillery during the afternoon, and at sunset, Steve led everyone else in turning back the Hydra armor units . There are, almost miraculously, no Howling Commandos injured enough to be in the hospital, but Steve was making a general visit to check up on the men in there. He knew their names without having to look at the charts; he shook hands of those strong enough to shake hands. He sat by the beds of those who were not, and the lightbulb hanging outside the tent throws out a dim, yellow light. Bucky studies the lines of Steve's face, looking for traces of Stephanie's.

"Did they put you in special Captain America school? Hero school?"

Steve lifts his eyebrows at Bucky. "I've always been like this."

"Horseshit. Back in Brooklyn, you were too stupid to run from a fight."

There is a long moment of silence, then Steve starts to laugh and rubs his hands over his eyes.

"You should come in with me next time," he says.

She says.


Bucky remembers the moment when he identified what he was feeling: Steve had the topographic map spread over the hood of the jeep, and Bucky looked to his left and his right and saw the same look of respect and attention on every face. He looked at the face of the colonel; he looked at the face of the other captains, with equal rank and years more field time than Steve. They had been in Europe for years. How long had Steve been commanding his rough dozen men?

It was real emotion, raw and ugly.

Bucky never tells either Steve or Stephanie that he's following the kid in Brooklyn who was too stupid to run from a fight. If the Steve who had once been Stephanie wanted to hear it, he keeps it to himself. He --


"Listen, Bucky, can you come to dinner with me tonight? We've got a table for four, and I -- "


-- looking for the lines of Stephanie's face in Steve --


"Come on," Bucky says. "Count with me. Keep your head on my chest."

The room is half-dark around them, and Bucky feels Stephanie take a breath.

"One, two, three four," they say, with the next measure, and Bucky feels her lips moving against his shirt front. He takes his hand away from her hair, catches her right hand in his left.

"Back, back, side," he says, and Stephanie takes another long, shaky breath and finally closes her eyes. She holds still; Bucky holds her at the hand and the small of the back, and then she starts to move again, and they dance, Bucky counting for both of them, until the program ends. It's dark enough that they can't even really see each other's faces, the very end of twilight. More by memory than sight, Bucky makes his way to the lamp by the couch, turns it on with a movement of the fingers, and sees that Stephanie is watching him from across the room, smiling a little to herself. This was the furthest they'd been apart from each other for forty-five minutes, and it's the second anniversary of Steve's mother dying. Her father has been dead for over a dozen years.

If Steve was once Stephanie and Bucky saves her from fewer beatings in the alley as a consequence, it doesn't mean she needed him any less.

It doesn't mean that Steve needs him --


"I'm the same person," Steve says.

Steve never asks whether Bucky is the same person.


Two miles into the march from the Hydra factory camp, far enough for it to be clear that they aren't being pursued, Steve calls for a halt: he wants to make sure that the wounded are being cared for, that men are taking turns on the three trucks they've taken from the factory encampment, that every man has a long drink of war, and that there are clear lines of communication in case they are attacked or meet Allied forces, and that it is very clear where they are going. Bucky had been walking next to him, and he leans against a pine tree and closes his eyes. He can hear excited men talking all around.

"You all right?"

Bucky opens his eyes, and Steve is standing in front of him; he is looking at Bucky with some amount of concern. Steve had paused in the middle of giving orders to a surviving lieutenant of the 107th and a British major, and they're looking at Bucky with concern, too.

"Did you have any water?" Steve asks.

"I'll go find some," Bucky says and staggers off. For twenty feet, at least, he can hear Steve talking, explaining what he wants, clear and precise, the calm, confident voice of someone who expects reasonable orders to be obeyed.


"I have all the same memories."

Howard takes them out one night: dinner at the Savoy, dancing later in a club to be named later, depending on what hasn't been been shut down or bombed. It's a celebration of making it back from the Hydra factory camp in more or less one piece. Steve makes arrangements for him and Bucky to go, and Bucky comes by Steve's sleeping quarters in London -- in recognition of rank and achievements and as a mark of honor, he has a room by himself. Small. Windowless, but pin neat. It's the first time they've been alone, door closed, nobody in earshot.

Steve is sitting on the edge of the small desk he uses for work, and Bucky is helping him -- her -- whatever it is get dressed for a full night on the town. After all, the closest thing that Steve actually had to real basic training was a week of, apparently, throwing herself on grenades if the rumor is anything to be believed.

"Do you need me to help you with your tie?"

"No, I think I've worked it out," Steve says, looking into a scrap of mirror and frowning. It's a little After a moment, he turns back around with a respectable four-in-hand.

"Pretty good," Bucky says. "Practicing?"

"Colonel Phillips saw me with one and said it was a disgrace to the honor of the United States, so he showed me how to do it." Steve buttons his cuffs, glances over at Bucky. "I guess he's coming around on me."

"Must be," Bucky says, and Steve puts his dress jacket on, bends down to check his tie again in the mirror, then catches Bucky looking in the mirror and says, making eye contact in the mirror without turning around.

"Listen, Bucky," Steve says, surprisingly softly, almost hesitantly. "It's me. I haven't changed."

There is a long moment of silence; through the closed door, they hear someone wheel something large and heavy past in the hallway, and after it passes and Bucky still doesn't say anything, Steve turns around and takes the two steps over, so they're facing each other, close enough to reach out and put his hand on Bucky's shoulder. He doesn't, though.

"I remember all the things that you've done for me," Steve says. "I have all the same memories."

"I know," Bucky says. "You remember the time I tried to teach you to dance?"

"I remember. You almost tripped over the end table because it was so dark in the room," Steve smiles, and Bucky says, after that, easily enough: "It's why I'm going to be play second wingman to you and Agent Carter, isn't it?"

They meet Howard and Peggy at the elevator, and the whole ride to the surface, Bucky thinks about when Stephanie would have let him kiss her, if he'd wanted to.


Steve assumes the distance is because Bucky is still trying to sort out how he feels about his best friend looking like a man.

Steve assumes that Bucky picked up being a sniper unofficially, sometime after deploying to Europe. Is Bucky now frighteningly, staggeringly good? Does Bucky now, suddenly, effortlessly, break sharpshooting records of long standing? Steve assumes it's because Bucky is good at what he does. Bucky is smart enough to tell anybody who asks it's because Howard Stark is good at what he does.


There is a moment in Stephanie's apartment, where, if it were ever going to happen --


Bucky wakes from a nightmare of being back in the isolation chamber. Why would they call it an isolation chamber unless there were something in there that could spread, that could contaminate? Bucky wakes from a dream of being pinned to a table, convinced that he was back there, and then makes himself lie still and listen to the men who drew guard duty and are standing forty feet away; he hears the other men snoring in close reach, and slowly, the blinding panic leaves his body. He can move. He can breathe.

He listens to Steve breathing, slow and steady and righteous, three feet away. Steve is loyal, and he sleeps with them in his field. Bucky is his best friend. They know each other from Brooklyn, and Bucky used to save him from getting his ass kicked in alleys. Bucky can see, on their faces, two things: first, slight disbelief that Cap would ever need saving from getting his ass kicked. Second, nevertheless, them improving their assessment of him.

How long will that last? Does it last even if --

Bucky closes his eyes and tries to put a lid on his terror.

On a locate-and-destroy sixty miles inside German lines, Steve flicks open his compass to take a bearing. Peggy's face is on the inside cover, taped so that the needle will always point to her for north.


Peggy and Bucky ride the elevator down to the War Rooms together.

Bucky says, "Steve tells me he met you in camp, after Doctor Erskine showed up at his medical exam."

Peggy looks over at Bucky. "Yes, I handled most of the psychological assessment work. Steve says he met you when -- back in Brooklyn."

Bucky turns his head, takes in the red mouth, the smooth hair, the beautifully tailored uniform, the tidy heels.


"I'm the same person," Steve says. "It's just the outside that changed."

Bucky is pretty sure at that is in no way actually tr --


"Did the two of you have something?"

Howard looks over at Bucky; they're sitting at the best table in the house, watching Peggy take Steve around to introduce him to a few other tables. Generals. Members of Parliament, Cabinet secretaries, the right-hand man of the most powerful newspaper man in London. All important people, people who can help Steve keep the Howling Commandos and go on the kinds of missions that he thinks they need to be taking. Peggy and Steve are currently at a table of people roughly as tall and blond as Steve and one older man whose hair is mostly dark and has impressive moustaches.

"Who?" Howard had been watching a goodlooking brunette who is out dancing on the floor, giggling in a low-cut dress that gives every promise, at any moment, of being unable to contain her giggling and good looks.

"You and Peggy."

They both look over at Peggy introducing Steve to the Norweigan king in exile with his court, and Howard picks up his glass of champagne and shakes it to knock the last bubbles off the bottom. Steve shakes hands with a king and gets clapped on the back by him; he looks over at Peggy, smiling, and she puts her hand on the small of Steve's back.

"Yes, but it's over now," Howard says, has some champagne, and goes back to watching the brunette and her outclassed dance partner.


Bucky goes on a mission with Steve and the rest of the unit in the west of France. A Hydra research facility, and Bucky spends six hours lying still with leaves scattered over his back. He breathes slowly, steadily; through his scope, he watches the guards at the front. He studies the way they move, the way they hold their guns, the contraptions fitted over their heads. He decides to use the high-powered bullets that Howard has developed and wants Bucky to test out, and after making that decision, Bucky pulls a little soft bread out of his bag and eats it, slowly, making it last.

Four hours in, two hours from sundown, Steve comes with a pair of binoculars to see if anything has changed from the intelligence.

"How are you doing?" Steve says, lying down next to Bucky. They're on a ridge, behind a stand of trees.

"That jacket doesn't fit you." Bucky replies. Steve has Jones's jacket draped over him to hide the blue of the carbon fiber, and Steve laughs a little, but doesn't take his eyes from the guards.

"I'll let the tailor know."

There isn't a lot of room in the hollow, and Steve lies elbow-to-elbow, hip-to-hip with Bucky.

Does it count if --


Does it count if what you miss is being needed? Does it count if what you miss is being the most important person in someone's life?

Does it count if what you're terrified of is being found out?


They walk back to his room after the dinner and dancing: Howard took Peggy out for a spin on the floor, but decides to stay with the giggling girl from the dance floor, and Steve offers Peggy his arm, and they go through the streets because the night is dark and cold and wet.


"I'm the same person," Steve says. "It's just the outside that changed."

Bucky is pretty sure this is in not true for either of them.


Bucky remembers --


Bucky remembers --


Bucky remembers --

They wade into the research facility; on a signal, Bucky kills every guard at the entrance, and Steve leads a group that crashes a cargo truck through the gate. Afterwards, Bucky joins a unit composed of Morita and Falsworth, securing the perimeter while the explosive guys rig the main generator.

Bucky finds a man hiding in a closet -- not a guard, not a soldier. A scientist, by the look of him. He starts to talk in German, then switches to English when he realizes Bucky doesn't appear to understand.

" -- you shouldn't be here. You can't be here. I know you from Lienz, I tried to get them to stop, when they were programming yo-- "

Without thinking, Bucky swings his rifle up against the man's head; the man has a second of horror before the high-powered rifle out of Howard's lab shoots a bullet that buries itself deep into the wall behind where the man's skull used to be.

Bucky comes back into the corridor. "What was in there?" Morita says. There is blood spray down the entirety of Bucky's torso.

"Some bodies," Bucky says, and fifteen minutes later, he is back in a room with Steve, waiting for pickup.

Bucky remembers more of the torture chamber than he will admit to anyone. He is not proud of having lied to the Colonel and the Army intelligence, but what would they have done if he had told them?


Bucky wakes from a nightmare of being back in the isolation chambers The nightmare feels as real as anything on Earth, and on waking, Bucky lies awake, listening to men snoring, to Steve breathing. Steve is loyal, and he sleeps with them in his field. Bucky is his best friend. They know each other from Brooklyn, and Bucky used to save him from getting his ass kicked in alleys. Bucky can see, on their faces, two things: first, slight disbelief that Cap would ever need saving from getting his ass kicked. Second, nevertheless, them improving their assessment of him. How long will that last? How long can Steve prot --


"Are you all right?" Steve says, in the ride in the ride back from the Hydra research facility. Steve, being Steve, has taken the shitty seat next to the opening at the back, where cold wind and rain blow through. Bucky sits next to Steve, and Steve leans over to yell in Bucky's ear over the sound of the engine.

Bucky can feel Morita's eyes on him.


For the rest of his life, Bucky remembers walking back from the Savoy and dancing that night, twenty feet behind Steve and Peggy, watching the shadows in the corners of the buildings and seeing the mist roll in from the river like a living thing, swallowing up trees and benches and lamp posts. Howard left with the brunette that he separated from her dance partner, and neither the ice nor the Red Room can take the visual memory from Bucky: the moon was hidden behind clouds, and trees looked like skeletons. Searchlights swept the sky. He saw Peggy point out the aerial bombardment balloons over Tower Bridge, heard Steve making Peggy laugh, saw Steve give Peggy his coat when it began to rain.

When they came to the guarded elevator entrance to the War Rooms, the lights caught on Steve face, looking at Peggy with an expression that made Bucky's --


Why is Steve in love with Peggy? The more relevant question is why shouldn't he be? She is beautiful and smart; she has a smile that makes Steve catch his breath. She knows exactly what Steve is. She liked Steve when Steve was Stephanie; she would have taken Stephanie, but she doesn't mind Steve.

Bucky remembers looking for the lines of Stephanie's face in Steve's. He doesn't find much at that moment, but when the lights at the guarded elevator entrance to the War Rooms catch Steve looking at Peg--

The ice takes the before and after from Bucky. It exists, in his mind, as an isolated scene. Why is he there? What came before? What came after?

The Red Room takes the labels from everything that he does remember: Steve. Peggy. London. The Savoy. After the Red Room is done, all he has left is the memory of the feeling that flooded him: one part drunkenness, one part jealousy. Two parts fear. Three parts pure, absolute loneliness.


"Remember when I made you ride the cyclone at Coney Island?"

Steve doesn't turn around, but there is a little bit of amusement in his voice.

"Yeah, and I threw up."

"This isn't payback, is it?"

They are standing on the edge of a mountain in winter, waiting for the Hydra train to pass underneath. A zipline runs over their shoulders. Steve looks at Bucky, and Bucky looks back at Steve, then closes his eyes and opens them again before he can go back to the chamber with Schmidt talking to him, low and steady.

Steve is talking to the radio guys; Bucky's throat hurts.

The heart does feel different, but Bucky doesn't think it's love or family or any kind of wanting that he will acknowledge.

Bucky goes onto the zipline second behind Steve.


Bucky remembers being interrogated, after his return, by Army intelligence. There were two men, neatly, anonymously dressed. One man asked questions; the other took notes.

"Do you know if they used injections?"

"I don't remember."

"The medical report indicates there is scabbing consistent with multiple repeated injection sites."

"Does it? I don't remember."

"Do you know if they used electroshock?"

"I don't remember."


Steve remembers hearing the wolf-whistles when the girls trotted onto the stage, and Peggy came by afterwards, when it was just Steve sitting behind stage, scratching in a notebook. Rain had been pouring down every side of the tarp that covered the stage and backstage.

"Bond sales take a 10% jump in every state I visit."

"Is that Senator Brandt I hear?"

"At least he'll let me do this. Phillips would have me locked up in a lab."

Peggy thinks about asking whether those are Steve's only two options, but she studies the face outlined against the sky and doesn't. What choices are there for women in 1943? Even women who, thanks to science, look nothing like men?

"I always wanted to be strong enough to fight and protect people," Steve says, softly. "I thought it would be worth -- anything, to have a chance to do everything I could. I finally got a chance at it, and now, I'm in tights."

An ambulance pulls up. Peggy read the personnel file on Stephanie; Peggy saw the transcripts of the neighbors interviewed, the hospital records. Mr. Collins from 3C moved away, but the building supervisor remembered being in his apartment, arguing with Collins about whose responsibility it was to fix the plumbing, and the skinny girl who came in and screamed and banged on the door until they went to stop her best friend's father from beating him to death. The building supervisor remembers dragging the man out of the apartment, still fighting, the boy still shouting through his mess of a face that he was going to kill his father and trying to stand, and the girl throwing her arms around boy, holding him and crying and getting his blood smeared over her face, too.

"If she hadn't gotten us," the building supervisor said. "I think he would have beaten Bucky to death."

When the ambulance starts to unload, Peggy does not watch the stretcher or the orderlies. She never had to tell Steve about every door being shut in her face, and after a moment, Peggy tells Steve about the 107th at Mezzano.

"Because you're a chorus girl," Phillips says to Steve.

Howard Stark jumps at the chance to take his new prototype out for a spin and for Peggy to owe him a favor. Steve comes back with Bucky and three hundred ninety four other men.

Bucky asks himself, afterwards, whether Steve would have done it if Bucky had definitely been dead. The answer, Bucky decides, is certainly.


Bucky asks Morita what he knows about Agent Peggy Carter.

"Aside from the fact that she's the Captain's girl?" Morita says. He hasn't quite been friendly to since hearing shots, seeing Bucky come out covered in blood, catching the Captain's best friend in a obvious, blatant lie.

Bucky knows Morita doesn't trust him, knows that Falsworth has recently developed a tendency to go quiet and reserved when Bucky comes into a room and Steve is not there.

"Do you know if they asked you any questions?"

"I don't remember."

"Can you explain how you were able to walk thirty-five miles after being tortured for two weeks?"

"I used my feet."

The Howling Commandos aren't the only people that Bucky worries about.


"Remember when I made you ride the cyclone at Coney Island?"

"Yeah, and I threw up."

They took the subway out to the New West End Terminal and spent the day wandering up and down Surf Avenue. Bucky ate the lion's share of hot dogs; Stephanie played the lion's share of the boardwalk games. On the train, the compartment doors are centrally controlled. Neither Bucky nor Steve realize that, and they slam shut, and for the first time, in a long time, Steve is afraid.


"Doctor Erskine said that serum wouldn't just affect my muscles, it would affect my cells and create a protective system of regeneration. Apparently, that means I can't get drunk. Did you know that?"

Broken glass crunches under Peggy's feet. There are no lights working.


Steve hits the armored Hydra fighter at the weak point in the armor, crushes his windpipe with the edge of the shield, and uses the Hydra man's arm-cannon to blow a hole through the door on his back to the window. Bucky has run out of ammunition; Bucky has his back to the wall, and the look on Bucky's face when Steve tosses him the gun --

Steve also remembers the exchange that followed. "I had him on the ropes," Bucky says.

"I know you did."


"It wasn't your fault."

"Did you read the report?"

"Then you know that's not true."

"You did everything you could. Did you believe in your friend? Did you respect him? Then stop blaming yourself. Allow Barnes the dignity of his choice. He damn well must have thought you were worth it."


On the train, the compartment doors are centrally controlled. Neither Bucky nor Steve realize that, and they slam shut, and for the first time in a long time, Steve is afraid. He sees the expression on Bucky's face before Steve gets the door open again and tosses him the gun. He gets knocked to the floor, and when he hears shots, he sees Bucky with the shield, firing and advancing on the Hydra armored unit.

Bucky is knocked out of the train car by the shot from the Hydra unit's cannon, and falls into the ravine, screaming.


Stephanie becomes Steve. Agent Carter becomes Peggy. Bucky becomes --


"Do you know if they asked you any questions?"

"I don't remember."

"Can you explain how you were able to walk thirty-five miles after being tortured for two weeks?"

"I used my feet."

Steve is not stupid; Steve knows that before Bucky dies, Bucky was not the most popular member of the Howling Commandos. Buck was not improving unit morale. Morita is openly unfriendly, and Steve heard Falsworth and Bucky have a cold, bitter exchange about treatment of prisoners. He knows Bucky and Dugan almost get into a fight one night; it doesn't quite come to physical gestures, but only because Steve chooses that moment to walk into the room.

After Bucky dies --


After Bucky dies, nobody is stupid enough to say a word to Steve about Bucky.


Bucky has a memory of dancing with Stephanie in her apartment. He remembers the moment when he bent down and turned the lamp on: the light was yellow, and he remembers, vividly, the moment of looking up from the lamp and over across the room and seeing her face. She was smiling at him, and she came to stand by him and ask if he was all right. Being lit from below softened her features, emphasized her smile; she was barefoot, wearing a blue and white dress, and he had been the center of her world. She extended a hand toward him --

If it had ever been about to happen, that would have been the moment, Bucky knows.

It doesn't. Stephanie becomes Steve. Agent Carter becomes Peggy. Bucky becomes --


Steve thinks about Bucky teaching him to dance when the plane is heading downwards. The moment becomes suddenly, vividly real to him. Steve leans forward and uses the weight of his body on the control wheel to point the noise of the plane downwards into the ice sheet: there is a moment between doing that and speaking to Peggy again, and he thinks about the apartment, the outline of Bucky's face in the half-light, the hand at the small of his back, the hand in his hair, and his bare feet on the floor to save stockings. The smell of Bucky's body against his, the warmth, the way he had looked at him for just a moment afterwards.

If it had ever been about to happen --

"Peggy," Steve says, knowing his voice is a little rough.


"This is my choice," Stephanie says to Peggy, and puts the compass with the newspaper clipping on the instrument panel. The kiss from the car burns on Stephanie's mouth; she had looked back and very specifically fixed the way that Peggy had looked in the car, hair blowing loose, mouth still painted red. Is there any of the lipstick on Stephanie's mouth now?

Stephanie wishes she'd held hands with Peggy in the car on the way to the experiment.

I must have thought you were worth it.


In the car, on the way to the test, they don't need to talk about how Peggy has had every door shut in her face. Once there, Peggy doesn't come down into the experimental room to order Erskine to end the process, even though she can hear Stephanie screaming inside the chamber. They don't have an argument by the side of the Jeep while Steve is loading his shield and backpack into it; Peggy looks at Steve, and Steve looks back at her. Peggy puts her hand on Steve's arm, rests it there for a moment, then says she has a better way and gets Howard.

In the car, on the way to the trial, Peggy reaches over and presses her hand to Stephanie's.

In the car, on the way to the plane, Peggy and Stephanie kiss.


The picture Peggy keeps for decades is Stephanie, standing at the Stark Expo, wearing a dress with an old-fashioned gray hat and two black feathers. She has a small pearl necklace on, but no earrings, and she holds her coat in her arms.


Bucky becomes --


"I had a date," Steve says, standing in Times Square, and forty-two weeks into being an Avenger, fifteen years after Peggy dies and almost seventy-one years after Steve went into the ice, he has his first run-in with the Winter Soldier.

This was actually the first Captain America fic I started, and [personal profile] destronomics was there for the screaming, hysterical caps-lock meltdown when OH GOD OH GOD STEVE/BUCKY STEVE BUCKY JESUS CHRIST STEVE/BUCKY I SHIP IT FUCK ME I SHIP IT WHERE HAVE THOSE DEAD EYES BEEN ALL MY LIFE and the OH GOD WHAT OH MY GOD WINTER SOLDER WINTER SOLDIER I CAN'T OH GOD WINTER SOLDIER THIS IS CANON? OH GOD Poor [personal profile] destronomics was, as usual, the sounding board and suggester and thinker and awesome behind all of the awesome behind this. She has a way of reading shitty stuff that I write, pointing out the best part of it, and then getting me all excited to expand upon that one awesome bit. She is brilliant, and all of the silliness is my own.

Gender issues: in no way is this story supposed to be me trying to write a gender transition by somebody who is trans or to get inside of a trans character -- which sounds really stupid and ignorant and THE STORIES OF TRANS PEOPLE DO NOT MATTER TO ME, but isn't said with any intention of offending or suggesting that the stories of trans people are any less interesting or relevant than ones about cis people.

What I'm trying to say is that, in my head, the story is basically that Stephanie is not super-attached to either her female body (because it has all these medical issues) or her identity as a girl (because society is shallow, and her mother, who was invested in Stephanie's gender identity being female, is dead), not that she thinks of herself as being a man in a woman's body. When given the choice between (i) sitting the war out and (ii) possibly getting a dude-body that will let her get what she wants/what she feels she needs to do for her country, she takes what's behind door number 2, with the nice side benefit of hey, her interest in girls now looks socially acceptable to everybody around her in 1943.

So yeah. Erskine has that line that gets picked up in the title, and what he means is that for Stephanie, her innermost and underlying trait is her desire to do her duty and help her country. He isn't saying that she wanted to actually be a guy. And this story is totally not me saying anything like THIS IS HOW PEOPLE WHO MENTALLY THINK OF THEMSELVES AS ONE GENDER BUT LOOK LIKE/HAVE BEEN MADE TO LOOK LIKE ANOTHER ON THE OUTSIDE SECRETLY FEEL, and I hope that was clear. The story where Stephanie is trans and the Super Soldier Serum is her chance to transition is a totally separate one -- a really goddamn interesting story, but not this one.

Also, the part of me that remembers writing 23894 fics about the Age of Sail is just screaming about all the historical inaccuracies/anachronisms that are in here.

In short, I apologize for everything.
prosodi: (Default)

[personal profile] prosodi 2012-05-14 07:09 pm (UTC)(link)
This part? Right here?

Stephanie becomes Steve. Agent Carter becomes Peggy. Bucky becomes --

That muffled whimpering noise was the sound of my heart simultaneously pounding and turning to ash. God, you know how good this is right? HOW ARE YOU SO GOOD.
prosodi: (Default)

[personal profile] prosodi 2012-05-15 10:48 am (UTC)(link)
I. But. I don't. All the things that just popped into my head-- SKDGLHGSKHJgklfdhd. WHY.