Within hours of arriving in Wakanda, Bucky’s in cryo and Steve is examined by the medical team. Once they’re satisfied that he won’t drop dead as soon as he walks out of the medical unit, he goes back to Bucky’s cryo chamber and demands to know how everything works and how to interpret the readings on the monitors connected to the unit.
Once he’s certain that the cryo chamber is functioning normally, he gives the frosted glass over Bucky’s face a pat and then he’s escorted to his new rooms, where he falls into bed and sleeps for twelve hours straight.
After waking, he demolishes all the food that’s been set up on a table in his new—enormous—kitchen, and then he goes out onto the balcony to stare at the lush green jungle scenery surrounding the palace and thinks about everything that’s happened in the last few days.
He still can’t believe he just spent a few days with Bucky.
Bucky’s alive. Bucky’s free from Hydra’s abuse. Bucky’s safe.
While the conditions of their reunion hadn’t been ideal, Steve still can’t get over how relieved he feels that Bucky’s in such good shape. He’s healthy, taking care of himself and he seemed to be doing well.
Since their fight on the heli-carrier, Steve has had dozens of different nightmares:
Bucky’s programming and confusion making him to return to Hydra voluntarily, or Hydra activating a remote kill-switch programmed deep in Bucky’s brain which would make him drop dead wherever he is.
Bucky wandering around, suffering from brain damage and starving to death in some alleyway because he doesn’t know how to take care of himself.
Bucky doing what he did on the heli-carrier—turning his confusion into violence—and taking it out on innocent people.
None of the scenarios had involved Bucky being able to take care of himself properly and creating a new life for himself, living a quiet existence on the other side of the world and taking steps to fill the gaps in his memory.
That’s when he remembers Bucky’s journals. He remembers how proud he’d felt when he’d realized that Bucky had been working on reclaiming his memories and his old life, and that he was doing it in the same orderly, smart fashion Bucky Barnes has always done everything in his life.
That same pride brings a smile to Steve’s face now…until he realizes that Bucky will never get those journals back.
Steve remembers putting the journal he’d read in Bucky’s apartment on the table. Maybe it had survived the carnage that had taken place five minutes later, but he’s sure police and government forces searched the entire apartment and had probably taken the journal.
Bucky had confided to him during their flight to Siberia that he’d had five journals, and the most important ones had been in his backpack. He kept them there so they’d always be ready for him to grab if he had to get out of the apartment quickly.
And now those journals are in the custody of the US government, and there’s no chance that they’ll ever get them back without taking big risks. Steve would happily tear the entire US government apart to get those journals back, but he knows Bucky wouldn’t like it if Steve risks his life like that, even though the journals had meant a lot to him.
Bucky had told him he’d started writing down his memories soon after he’d rescued Steve from the river and had left the US. The memories had come back in random floods, always flashes of different images and sounds. Sometimes he knew the context, and other times the images were too random to make sense of them.
He’d started writing down the memory flashes, along with research he’d done at the Smithsonian museum and later, looking things up on the internet. Slowly, he’d been able to put things into order and he’d started to organize the journals and add context to memories which had previously made no sense.
Journaling hadn’t only allowed him to understand some of the random memories, but due to lingering after-effects of being in cryo and the electro-shock memory wipes, his long-term memory was still fragile and unreliable. Sometimes he’d remember something and then forget it, or he’d recall an old daydream and he wouldn’t be able to tell if it was reality or not. Writing everything down helped him remember things and kept things clear. After two years of work, Bucky had filled five journals and had been on his way to reconstructing his past.
And now, all that work is gone.
Just from the little that Steve had seen of their contents, he’d known that Bucky had spent a lot of time and effort on the notebooks. The cut-out picture of Steve—which he’d recognized as being from a brochure that’s available for visitors at the Smithsonian at the entrance to the Captain America exhibit—had been carefully cut out and all four sides had been taped down to keep it secure. Each journal page had a page number in the bottom corner, and Steve’s certain Bucky had created a table of contents in each journal to keep things organized. Really important pages that Bucky wanted to refer to quickly had colorful sticky tabs attached to them.
What had caught Steve’s attention was Bucky’s writing. Back in the day, Bucky had had very good penmanship, as had everybody around them. Producing proper cursive writing was literally smacked into them during their school days from the first day they picked up pencils.
When Steve had first come out of the ice, he’d been shocked by the messy, illegible writing that some of his co-workers at SHIELD produced. Nobody took pride in writing neatly and they seemed amused when Steve tried to point out that writing in cursive is much more efficient than printing letters. When he’d noticed that one of his team members preferred to write in block letters, he’d felt like he was staring at an alien from outer space. Why would anybody do something in a way that wastes so much extra effort and time?!
But whenever he’d tried to explain the benefits of cursive writing, it was always met by amused smiles and jokes about him being an old man, so eventually, Steve decided to stop offering his advice in that particular area. Once he’d realized that most things in the 21st century were typed on a computer anyway, he’d started to understand why proper writing was becoming a thing of the past. But typing on a computer felt as wrong to him as writing in cursive felt for his co-workers, so he’d decided that everybody should be allowed to stick with whatever method they were comfortable with. He learned how to do the things which had to be done on the computer, but when it came to his personal notes, he stuck to the writing method he’d used his entire life, despite some people’s complaints that they “couldn’t read it” or “all the loops look the same”. He’d always shoot back that he was risking his eye sight by being forced to read those people’s chicken scratch, so he was just returning the favor.
He knows at least one person who wouldn’t have trouble reading his writing, even if that person had trouble remembering how to produce his own writing.
The writing in the notebooks hadn’t resembled Bucky’s old writing at all. Bucky probably hadn’t written anything in decades, and his hand had most likely forgotten how to hold and move a pencil properly. The writing was entirely in cursive, which means Bucky’s hand had remembered the flowing nature of moving the pencil across the page, but many of the loops and lines didn’t resemble actual letters. Some pages were just covered in different sized loops, as if Bucky was trying to remember how to form specific letters. Some of the pencil marks were pressed deeply into the page, as if Bucky was trying to keep his hand from shaking, or probably he was suffering from hand cramps but was determined to finish the exercise. Bucky had probably remembered the exercises they’d had to do back in school: repeating specific letters page after page after page until the shape of the letter flowed effortlessly from their pencil tips.
When Steve had flipped through the journal, he’d noticed that the later entries had looked more legible. The writing still hadn’t resembled Bucky’s flowing and effortless penmanship from his youth, but it was clear Bucky had put a lot of effort into remembering how to write properly.
It fills Steve with anger when he thinks of those precious notebooks sitting in some government evidence lock-up. Some idiots are probably going to go through the notebooks and pick out anything suspicious that they can use to add to Bucky’s list of supposed crimes.
None of those fools will appreciate the enormous effort and care that Bucky had put into those notebooks.
Then he thinks about how sad Bucky will be when he comes out of cryo and has to accept that his journals are gone.
…re-creates the journals for him…?
He stares at some red and yellow birds swooping through the air and leans against the balcony railing, lost in thought.
That’s…not a stupid thought.
T’Challa had told him Bucky will be in cryo for months until they figure out how to safely remove the trigger words. Since Steve is currently an unemployed fugitive, he’s got a lot of time on his hands and he’ll have to fill those months with something.
And it just so happens that he knows every single thing about Bucky Barnes. He’s either directly witnessed all parts of Bucky’s life, or he’s been told about it from Bucky himself, Bucky’s family members or their friends. He can probably pick out the best-of-the-best memories from his collection and still manage to fill thirty journals.
A small nagging voice in his head points out that maybe Bucky enjoyed the journals because it’s something he was doing by himself. He was remembering things and he was the one putting those pieces back together.
But that’s fine. If Bucky wants to re-create the journals once he’s out of cryo, he can do that. He doesn’t even have to read the journals Steve makes. But if he wants a complete and easy source of Bucky Barnes information at his fingertips, then Steve can provide that for him.
In any case, it’ll give Steve something to do.
* * *
He spends a long time at a stationary store, choosing which notebooks to buy. First, he considers getting some colorful notebooks. There are so many with patterns and different colors, but they’re very different from the plain black notebooks they’d used when they were in school. Plus, Bucky had used black notebooks for his own journaling, so Steve decides to stick with tradition and buys a bundle of black covered notebooks, filled with nothing but lined paper.
He also buys sticky tabs and a package of pencils and erasers.
Time to start writing.
* * *
One notebook is all about the Barnes family. He lists Bucky’s parents’ names and his sisters’ names, the dates they were born, and then he draws pictures of each of them.
He writes about how excited Bucky had been when his youngest sister, Becca, had been born. Bucky had been twelve years old and nobody had been excited that Mrs. Barnes was pregnant again. But once Becca was born and Bucky realized how much he loved cuddling her, playing with her, and how much she adored him back, he came around quickly.
Toys had been hard to come by and the Barnes family rarely had money or supplies to spare for entertainment, so Bucky had taken it upon himself to make Becca a doll. Bucky had sewn together scrap material, filled it with hay he’d pulled from their mattress and he’d helped old Mrs. O’Grady who lived in his building with her washing for a few weeks, and in exchange, she’d given him two nice black buttons, which he’d sewn onto the doll for eyes.
The doll was the ugliest thing Steve had ever seen, and Bucky was worried that the lack of hair would be off-putting for Becca, but she’d absolutely loved that doll. In typical two year-old fashion, Becca had named her ‘Dolly’. She’d carried Dolly everywhere for years, and once a month, Bucky would take the straw out and carefully wash and dry Dolly, before stuffing the hay back in. Twice a year when they changed the hay in their mattress, Dolly got new hay too.
Steve draws several pictures: Bucky rocking baby Becca when she was a tiny little thing and both of them smiling at each other, Bucky teaching her how to play stickball, and of course: a picture of Becca holding Dolly.
He details important events from each of Bucky’s sisters’ and his ma and pa’s lives: different jobs they’d had, how the girls had done at school, the trouble the girls had gotten into, and the stories Bucky’s pa used to tell about the ‘good old days’ (meaning, before the Great War) when he’d had a bit too much to drink and was in one of his talkative moods.
When they were in their early twenties, Bucky’s oldest sister, Laura, had found out the boy she’d been going steady with had been seeing another girl. It was devastating, since they’d been together for over a year and they’ll all thought they’d end up married. What made it worse was that the jerk had actually proposed to the other girl and they were planning on getting married in a few months. Steve can’t remember how Laura had found out, but she’d come bursting into his and Bucky’s apartment, tears still drying on her face and rage sparking in her eyes. She’d wanted revenge, and by the time Bucky had come home from work, Steve and Laura had already come up with a plan.
Bucky, Steve and a group of boys from Bucky’s work had found the scum and given him a beating he’d remember the rest of his life and then taken his clothes and left him to walk home naked. He’d feel just a little bit of the humiliation that Laura had felt, Bucky had told him. Then, Steve had drawn up posters, informing everybody that the jerk was a no-good lowlife, with his name and a detailed picture below. They’d plastered them all over town, shoving them under doors and sticking them on fences and windows. For a whole week, whenever somebody turned around in their neighborhood, that poster stared them in the face.
The last they’d heard, the scum had moved to Queens and they’d all felt very proud of themselves.
Steve draws a picture of Laura and then he recreates the poster he’d drawn featuring the scum. He’s amused to discover that his hand still remembers how to draw the poster. He’d copied it nearly a hundred times, so he thinks he could probably draw it with his eyes closed.
* * *
After a week of sitting in the cryo chamber and keeping a careful eye on the cryo unit and the monitors connected to it, Steve starts getting bored of that. He works on the journals and talks to Bucky about what he’s writing in the notebook, but he’s not accustomed to chatting with Bucky without having him talk back. It feels weird and it starts to remind Steve how lonely his existence is.
Bucky would be upset if he knew that Steve was wasting most of his days sitting and staring at his frozen self, so Steve asks T’Challa for suggestions on how to keep himself busy. He also wants to find a way to contribute to Wakandan society. It doesn’t feel right to be sitting here, day after day and use up resources without giving anything back. The Wakandans have done so much for him and Bucky already, and it’s really time Steve starts to repay that kindness.
T’Challa offers him the chance to join the military as a civilian consultant, but Steve’s had enough of the military for now, so that isn’t appealing. Instead, T’Challa sets him up as an assistant instructor at a self-defence and martial arts academy. It gets him out of the palace, forces him to exercise, nicely fills his days and allows him to interact with Wakandan society a bit more.
Steve spends a month observing and learning how the classes are structured and eventually, he’s allowed to start teaching his own classes. They’re beginner classes, but it’s a start.
* * *
Next, Steve covers his and Bucky’s adventures from the time they met and up through their teenage years.
They’d met during their first year at school when some boys had been making fun of Steve for his various physical shortcomings and his Irish heritage. Steve’s ma had always taught him that if people said nasty things about him, they’re wrong, and he shouldn’t be afraid to give them a good thumping to make his point.
That’s how the Irish do things, she’d explained.
Well, getting into a fight was never Steve’s problem. Surviving the fight was the problem.
On this specific day, Bucky stepped in to help Steve, and while they both got the snot beaten out of them, they’d decided they liked each other’s company. While Steve’s ma cleaned them up, Bucky had turned to Steve. “You’re a swell fella, Steve. Do you wanna be friends?”
Steve remembers the question had taken him off guard. He’d never had a friend before. “I don’t know how.”
Bucky had scoffed. “It’s easy. Don’t worry, I’ll teach you. So you wanna be friends?”
Steve had shrugged. “I guess so.”
Bucky had grinned happily. “Oh, good! We’re now best friends, okay? Best friends for life.”
Steve had mouthed the words ‘best friends for life’ to himself, and when the meaning had sunken in, he’d grinned so hard that his jaw had ached. He’d felt so happy about it.
For the next several months, Bucky would drag Steve up to anybody who would give him the time of day and introduce Steve as “This is my best friend, Steve”, like that was Steve’s official title in life.
Steve remembers the joy which had filled him each time he heard those words. Bucky was the first friend he’d ever had, and being somebody’s best friend sounded like a very important job. He’d been so proud to carry that label.
That joy and pride had never faded.
He decides not to draw them beaten-up, but he draws young Steve and Bucky, wearing their school uniforms with Bucky’s arm around Steve’s shoulder and both of them with big grins on their faces.
Up until Becca was born—which was when Bucky dropped out of school to work full time—most of their adventures were connected to school. There are way too memories for Steve to write them all down, so he spends a few days making lists of memorable adventures and then choosing his favourite ones.
The ‘hair ribbon incident’ definitely makes his list and it’s one of the first ones to be written into the notebook.
While the whole incident had gone topsy-turvy while they’d been playing kick the can with Ned Tucker and some other boys from their neighborhood, the mess had actually started the day before, with the hair ribbon incident.
Ned never liked Steve because he thought he was a weak little runt who should accept Ned’s superiority purely because Ned was everything Steve wasn’t: tall, strong, healthy and Italian. Steve didn’t like Ned because he was a bully. Since Steve couldn’t do anything to change his physical shortcomings or his heritage, and Ned refused to change his behavior, they never got along.
When Steve was about ten years old, one of the girls in their class was showing everyone the new hair ribbon her mother bought her. Ned yanked it out of her hair and decided he wasn’t going to give it back, despite him having no use for hair ribbons.
Bucky was focusing on doing his math exercises, but Steve didn’t have time for math exercises. Ned was being bully and he was going to put a stop to it right away. He confronted Ned, Ned called Steve a rude name connected to him being small and Irish, Steve swung at him and that led to the usual chaos. The teacher started yelling, the girls started screaming, the boys started cheering and Bucky rushed to get in between them before Ned could throw Steve through the window.
Steve and Ned were both been sent to the principal, received a paddling and then sent back to their lesson. Ned was forced to give the hair ribbon back to the girl and apologize, which made Steve smirk with satisfaction.
On the way home from school, Bucky and Steve were ambushed by Ned and some of his stupid friends, but they managed to run into a nearby shop for safety. Ned and the other boys lingered for a while, until the shop keeper sensed the tension between the two groups and threw Ned’s group out.
But Ned was smart. He figured out that giving Steve a bloody nose wouldn’t really hurt him. He must have spent days thinking over what would really hurt Steve, and he’d finally come up with a plan. He put it into action a few days later when they were all playing kick the can together.
The game was very simple, but it required a lot of running. One person was ‘it’ and had to tag all the other players. If a player was tagged, that player would go sit in ‘jail’, which was the front stoop of the abandoned warehouse they were playing in front of. The person who was ‘it’ had to tag all the players and put them all into jail. But if any other player managed to get to the old paint can sitting in the middle of the road and give it a kick, everybody in jail would be freed.
It wasn’t one of Steve’s favourite games. He wasn’t a good runner and he always got tagged quickly. He’d spend a few minutes sitting in jail until Bucky kicked the can to let him out. Honestly, he didn’t mind sitting in jail for a little while. It let him catch his breath, stop coughing and gave his heart a chance to stop hurting and pounding so hard.
Then Ned decided Steve would be ‘it’.
Bucky stepped forward, shaking his head and saying Steve didn’t like being ‘it’, and Bucky would take his place. Ned got into Bucky’s face and told him that Bucky had already been ‘it’ that day and it was Steve’s turn. Steve had to take his turn, or he’d be out of the game.
“It’s okay, let me do it, Buck. I can do it.”
Steve tried his best. He chased after one boy, then another, but they easily outran him. He tried to run as fast as he could but he didn’t even manage to get close to them before his chest was hurting and he was having trouble breathing.
Bucky let himself be tagged easily, probably to make Steve feel a little more confident, but then all he could do was sit in jail and watch Steve.
It became clear very quickly that Ned had instructed his boys to make Steve as miserable as possible. They ran circles around him, stuck their tongues out, hopped around just out of his reach and called him all sorts of mean names.
Steve kept trying, but it got harder and harder to breathe. His lungs burned and his throat was so tight that he couldn’t draw in a full breath anymore. His chest was aching and his legs felt too weak to keep him upright.
He still kept trying, stumbling towards one boy after another, stretching out his hand and trying to grab them while they danced just out his reach. The weaker he got, the bolder they got, laughing and throwing handfuls of dirt at him.
When Steve’s legs finally collapsed on him and he crumbled into the dirt, desperately trying to pull the dusty air into his tightening lungs and feeling frustrated tears of shame clinging to his eye lids.
“Okay, that’s enough now! We’re done. You—get away from him! We’re done playing.”
“Hey! Bucky, you can’t just—”
“Don’t touch me, Henry! We’re leaving.”
Steve felt Bucky grab his arms and haul him to his feet. He was shaking, both from the lack of oxygen and the embarrassment. Bucky wrapped an arm around his waist and dragged him along until they’d rounded the corner.
As soon as they were out of the other boys’ sight, Bucky pulled Steve up on his back and stumbled home to the Rogers’ apartment where they knew Steve’s ma would help him.
Steve doesn’t draw Ned Tucker or any of the other stupid boys—they don’t deserve to be in the notebook—but he draws Bucky kicking the can and getting Steve out of jail, and then Bucky carrying Steve home.
Those are the only good parts of the memory.
* * *
He lists the different jobs that Bucky had worked over the years, drawing pictures of what Bucky had looked like at work.
When seventeen year old Bucky had been promoted from sawdust sweeper to ice-block hauler after he’d been working at the icehouse for three years, it had been a proud moment for everyone, especially Bucky. The promotion came with a little raise and more respect in their neighborhood. Bucky had never liked dropping out of school, so being respected for his work ethic went a long way to making him feel better about the whole situation.
* * *
Steve almost decides not to include any of the times when Steve had been sick, and Bucky was left to comfort and care for him—first, splitting the duties with Steve’s ma, and later doing it by himself. But these notebooks are supposed to help Bucky connect the disjointed memories in his head, and Steve knows a large number of those memories will be of Bucky sitting by Steve’s bedside, so they have to be in the notebook.
Again, Steve struggles to pick which memories to write down. There are a lot of memories involving Steve being sick and fighting for his life.
There was the asthma attack when they were young teenagers which had been so severe that none of his ma’s and Bucky’s usual remedies helped, and when Steve had started losing consciousness due to the lack of oxygen, they’d bundled him up in every blanket and available piece of clothing they had and Bucky had run through a blizzard to the hospital, carrying Steve in his arms while Steve’s ma stopped traffic when they had to cross the streets.
Steve doesn’t remember any of this, but the nurses told him later that Bucky had gotten hypothermia because he’d wrapped Steve in his own winter jacket and was only wearing his thin shirt and pants. But Bucky refused to leave Steve’s side, so Steve’s ma treated Bucky while he stayed in the room with Steve to monitor what the doctors and nurses were doing.
When Steve had regained consciousness, he’d discovered an enormous breathing apparatus strapped to his face and chest. They’d restrained his hands and feet so he wouldn’t damage it, so he’d woken up to find himself completely immobile, with something attached to his face and the only thing he could see was metal screws and leather straps above his head. He’d started to panic, until he’d heard Bucky’s voice and then he saw Bucky’s face appear above the metal and leather contraption.
“It’s okay, Stevie, stay calm. It’s all okay. I know you can’t move, but it’s to help you breathe. You gotta stay like that until they say you can move, alright? But I’m gonna stay right here, I promise.”
Steve had tried opening his mouth to talk—Bucky couldn’t miss an entire shift of work just because of Steve’s stupid lungs—but he discovered that there was a mask over his face and his jaw was locked open.
Steve felt Bucky’s hand squeeze his fingers, and this thumb rubbing his knuckles. “Don’t try to talk, okay? It’s fine. Your ma’s just finishing her shift and then she’ll come stay with you while I go to work. I switched with Henry so I’m doing the evening shift. Until then, I’m staying right here, okay?”
And he had. Just like he’d done a thousand times before and a thousand times since, Bucky stayed right by his side. If he had to pee, he used Steve’s bed pan and he flirted with the nurses until they brought him some food and water, but Bucky didn’t leave. Instead of focusing on his fear and his pain, Steve focused on Bucky’s hand touching his and Bucky’s voice as he chattered on and on; telling Steve stories, encouraging him to stay strong and singing Irish songs that his ma had taught them.
* * *
Then there was Steve’s stupid pernicious anaemia, which meant he had to choke down half a pound of raw liver a week if he didn’t want to die. Not only did Bucky and his ma resort to all sorts of shady actions to get him the raw liver, but Steve hated eating it, and his body reacted to this hate by fighting his attempts to eat it. Thankfully, when he was nine, an extraction became available which meant he only had to swallow a few drops of gross liquid, but before they invented the extract, raw liver was his only option.
His ma had tried turning the liver into juice, but when Steve gagged and spat it out or threw it back up, it would be wasted, unlike the chunks of liver, which could be caught, cleaned up and forced back into Steve’s mouth. It would take hours for Steve to choke down all of it. It was slimy and tasted disgusting and his body just didn’t want anything to do with it.
His ma would restrain him, sitting behind him and keeping one of her legs pinned across his, and one of her arms across his chest. Her other hand would feed him the liver, rub his chest and belly, and catch the pieces of liver which didn’t make it down. Bucky would sit across from him, holding Steve’s hands and taking turns with his ma encouraging Steve to get through the whole portion of liver.
All Steve remembers from that time is the taste of the slimy liver in his mouth, the tears streaming down his face and the constant murmuring of his ma and Bucky’s encouragement.
“It’ll be okay, pal, I promise. Just a few more piece, okay? And then we’ll go do something fun. You wanna throw rocks off the bridge? Or go down to the docks and see what ships are here? Yeah, that’ll be fun, huh? But first, you gotta eat some more of this, Stevie. Here’s a small piece, let’s try for that, okay? There you go! That’s good. Now chew, chew, chew! Alright, now swallow. Swallow. Come on, Stevie, you can do it. Yay! That was great! Now let’s do another piece, okay? We’re almost there. You’re being so brave right now, I’m so proud of you!”
* * *
Steve can’t get himself to draw pictures of any of this. Reliving it while writing it down was bad enough, but he refuses to spend extra time on those memories by drawing them.
He’d been leaving blank pages between entries so that Bucky can make his own notes, and for these specific memories, Steve leaves a few extra blank pages. If Bucky really wants Steve to draw some pictures of it, he will, but until then, he refuses to spend more time on those memories than necessary.
* * *
Although most of the Wakandan population living in the urban areas are bilingual, and nobody minds that Steve conducts his classes in English, he starts attending Wakandan language classes. He’s going to be living in Wakanda for the foreseeable future and he’s been given the gift of hospitality and protection by the Wakandans. He wants to do everything he can to repay that kindness and fit in with their culture.
Learning Wakandan is much harder than he thought it would be, so it’s another good activity to do.
He often brings the journals or his language-learning homework into the cryo unit and talks to Bucky while he works. He reads what he’s writing out-loud and debates what memory to record in the journal or what part of his homework he wants to do next. As the months go by, he can switch between speaking English and Wakandan to Bucky.
It’s thrilling when the medical staff stop finding his Wakandan-speaking abilities endearing, and instead, start speaking to him in Wakandan. He’d noticed that the palace staff tend to use English whenever he’s in a room with them—even if they’re not speaking directly to him—but eventually they stop switching completely.
He feels very proud of himself when he’s able to conduct his classes in Wakandan and even handle chit-chat with his students and co-workers without resorting to English. When he’s invited to one of his co-workers homes to celebrate her birthday, Steve impresses everyone when he’s able to speak to her non-English speaking grandmother in fluent Wakandan.