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Living History: a Ten-Part Talk with Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes

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It starts with Twitter.

Some time after the Triskelion falls, Tony starts – or tells someone to start – an Avengers Twitter account. (He also starts an Avengers Instagram, an Avengers Facebook page, and an Avengers Tumblr. Steve is not sure how any of this is supposed to do anything, to which Tony replies, rather cryptically, “Cap, people are the future.”)

Steve isn’t supposed to touch the Twitter, which is fine because he has no idea what he’d say on it if he did. Just went for a runMultiple bullet wounds not pleasant? Who’d even be interested?

So there are people who run the Twitter and tweet things like Workout with #BlackWidow, pictures and all, and there are people who in turn read that and like it, and Steve’s nowhere in the process. He’s okay with that.

Then the PR team gets the idea of #AskAnAvenger week.

“We want people to feel like the Avengers are approachable,” says Janet. She’s a PR intern; she’s friendly, has one cat, and her hair looks more like an experimental art piece than something human.

“We’re not really approachable,” Steve says. “Well, maybe Tony. He likes talking about himself.”

“And that’s why Iron Man’s the most popular Avenger,” Janet says. “People like to know things about celebrities! It’s human psychology.”

“There are some things I’d rather people didn’t know about me,” Steve says honestly.

“Oh, you don’t have to answer everything,” Janet assures him. “We’ll do basic quality control, forward you the ones that are interesting. You can pick which ones you like and email us your answers, that’s all you have to do.”

“All right,” Steve says, because well, this isn’t too different from what he’d been doing in ‘42. People like touching their heroes.

——

Two weeks later, Bucky comes knocking on Steve’s door, and Steve sort of forgets about the whole Twitter thing.

——

Jill B. @jillabees
#AskCap What’s your favorite thing about the 21st century?

hint of coconut @somekindofmilk
if you had to pick, would you rather fight black widow or iron man? #askcap

mating call @cawcawbiteme
Have you and Thor figured out if his hammer is stronger than the shield? #AskCap

——

When Steve wakes up, Bucky gives him a wave with one hand and keeps scrolling through his phone with the other.

“’Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?’” Bucky reads, eyebrows raised. “Who is coming up with these questions?”

“Horse-sized duck,” Steve says sleepily. “I’ve fought bigger things. What are you reading?”

“#AskCap is trending on Twitter,” Bucky says. “Hey, this one wants to know how big your dick is. Can I tell them it’s the size of freedom?”

Steve bolts up and yanks the phone away from Bucky. “No one is talking about my dick on the internet,” he says, face hot. “God, what are these people thinking?”

“That you’re hot, apparently,” Bucky grins. “I think about half of the questions are variations on ‘Will you date me?’”

“Gotta tell ‘em I’m taken,” Steve says, just to see the look on Bucky’s face. “Oh, hey, here’s an interesting one. ‘Can you comment on the experience of serving in an integrated unit during WWII?’”

“Someone trying to get you to do their history homework, Rogers?”

Steve clicks through to J. Karper’s profile. “University student,” he says. “Look, they’ve read Gabe’s book.”

“Gabe wrote a book?” Bucky blinks. “Motherfucker. I should write a book.”

“Your book would be blank,” Steve informs him. “People would buy it to prop open their doors.”

“Fuck you, Rogers. Just for that, there’s gonna be a chapter on your dick.”

Steve laughs and laughs, and then Bucky kisses him, and they forget about Twitter for a while.

——

Avengers Assembled @officialavengers
.@somekindofmilk Iron Man. He’s easier to distract, and he’d sulk for hours afterwards. #AskCap

Avengers Assembled @officialavengers
.@bestlaidman Neither would be much of a challenge. Maybe an elephant-sized duck? #AskCap

Avengers Assembled @officialavengers
.@jaykarper Can’t answer that in 140 characters. Follow us, we’ll DM you! #AskCap

——

So Steve passes on his private email to the Twitter team, and then answers J. Karper’s questions the best he can. It’s a little odd to hear someone talk about his life like it’s a book – he forgets, sometimes, that WWII was seventy years ago, not three – but it’s also nice, to talk about Gabe and Jim to someone who’s interested. Most people just want to talk about him.

So they exchange about half a dozen emails, and then Steve wishes J. Karper best of luck on the thesis. He thinks that’s the end of it.

——

“I think that girl’s staring at you,” Bucky says.

“You jealous?” Steve says, and squints at the reflection in the window. “The one with the laptop?”

“That’s the one. Think she’s gonna come ask for an autograph?”

Before the Chitauri, nobody really asked him for anything. Afterwards, there was a period of two weeks when everyone wanted him. It was exhausting, but he tried his best. Now, New York’s sunk back into a state of complacency about him, mostly. Sometimes tourists will want a selfie with him, and sometimes little kids get excited, but he doesn’t really get ambushed in his building anymore, which is nice.

“Yep, she’s getting up,” Steve mutters, and fixes a smile on his face.

“You’re so full of it,” Bucky says, and nudges Steve’s knee under the table. “Maybe she wants my autograph.”

“Um, hi,” the girl says before Steve can kick him back. “I was just wondering – could I ask you a question?”

Steve is a little taken aback that she’s got a legal pad and a pen poised in hand. “Are you a journalist?” he asks, suspicious.

“Oh, god, no,” she says. “Sorry! Wow. Hi. I’m Ashley, I’m a student at NYU, and I’m doing my thesis on how HYDRA is an extension of Nazi philosophy, not a separate entity, and you’ve fought both, so I thought maybe I could ask–”

“Um,” Steve says. Bucky’s silently laughing into his coffee. “You know, I was mostly there to fight people, not talk politics.”

“Oh, yeah, of course,” Ashley says, and pulls up a chair. “The thing is, it’s a little complicated, because most units fought one or the other, and then the Red Skull wanted to bomb Berlin so the mainstream view was that they were opposing viewpoints for a while–”

“I’m pretty sure Schmidt just thought Hitler wasn’t ambitious enough,” Steve says dryly.

“That’s what I’m saying!” Ashley’s face lights up. “Do you remember what made you think that? Did he ever say anything to you? You’ve fought him, right?”

Steve looks at Bucky, at a bit of a loss. Bucky looks down at his arm, shrugs at Steve.

“Okay,” he says, and resigns himself to staying for a while. “Schmidt was obsessed with becoming superhuman–”

——

The next week, Steve nearly trips over someone wearing a “History Never Dies” T-shirt while going for his morning run, the official Avengers Tumblr gets about a hundred messages all asking for Steve’s email, and Bucky puts his foot down.

“You’re a person, not a book,” he says. They’re at a different Starbucks because their usual one had been full of tired-looking undergrads. “People have been doing fine before you came out of the ice, they can figure it out on their own.”

“We should do something,” Steve says. “C’mon, Buck. Don’t you think if we have a chance to make people understand what things were like, we should?”

Bucky’s face softens. “I just,” he says. “I don’t want you to be so busy talking about the past that you don’t get to live in the future, too.”

“You’re a sap,” Steve says.

“You’re the one who can’t turn down anybody,” Bucky says, and kisses him.

——

“Hmm,” Pepper says. “How do you feel about a Q & A session? I could talk to Columbia, arrange a talk series.”

“It’s not gonna be weird, is it?” Bucky says. “You know people keep asking if we were fucking in the forties?”

“It’s ‘cause everyone thinks you were hot,” Tony says. “You had the brooding thing going, and then the whole death thing. Very tragic. What? Am I the only one with a sense of romance here?”

“I really didn’t need to know that,” Bucky says. “How ‘bout you pretend you never said anything, and I’ll pretend that Howard–”

Pepper manages to lead Tony out the room, but not before Tony shouts, “Barnes, did you fuck my father?”

“I’ll get security to sign an NDA later,” Pepper says. “Don’t worry, we can circulate a list of topics you’d rather not touch on, if you’d like.”

“That’d be great,” Steve says. “Thank you, Pepper.”

“Oh, it’s no problem at all.” She smiles. “You know, when I was eight, Peggy Carter was my hero?”

——

An early model of military gender integration in World War II: the Strategic Scientific Reserve.

Butler, C. (Moderator) & Barnes, J. and Rogers, S. (Interviewees). (2016). Living History: Part 5 [Interview video and audio]. Retrieved from Stark Industries Living History website: http://starkindustries.com/avengers/capam/living_history/liv_his_5

The evolution of combat rations and their role in predicting military victory.

Butler, C. (Moderator) & Barnes, J. and Rogers, S. (Interviewees). (2016). Living History: Part 7 [Interview video and audio]. Retrieved from Stark Industries Living History website: http://starkindustries.com/avengers/capam/living_history/liv_his_7 

Performative masculinity in early 20th century America.

Butler, C. (Moderator) & Barnes, J. and Rogers, S. (Interviewees). (2016). Living History: Part 2 [Interview video and audio]. Retrieved from Stark Industries Living History website: http://starkindustries.com/avengers/capam/living_history/liv_his_2

The single inventor’s contribution to 21st century military technology.

Butler, C. (Moderator) & Barnes, J. and Rogers, S. (Interviewees). (2016). Living History: Part 3 [Interview video and audio]. Retrieved from Stark Industries Living History website: http://starkindustries.com/avengers/capam/living_history/liv_his_3

——

“So,” Bucky says. “The book.”

“The book,” Steve agrees. “You spend a lot of time talking about my dick.”

“Don’t let it get to your head,” Bucky says. “I hate the rest of you.”

“The rest of me is not going to make you breakfast,” Steve says. “And my dick can’t cook.”

“I know,” Bucky says mournfully. “Its second greatest defect. The first, of course,” he says, “is how small–”

Steve hits Bucky on the face with a pillow.

——

J. B. Barnes @jamesbbarnes
I wrote a book! Ask me anything. #BuckyBarnesBook

J. B. Barnes @jamesbbarnes
For all of you calling this a “love story”: Naw, I’m just in it for the sex. #BuckyBarnesBook

J. B. Barnes @jamesbbarnes
@jamesbbarnes Okay, maybe Steve’s not so bad. Still. Mostly sex.