Bucky paces outside of the bathroom, hands curled into tight fists. He’s containing himself. Just barely. Especially when he hears Steve get sick again. It takes every ounce of self control he has not to break the door down and run in there. Just to give Steve the comfort of not facing this alone. Over an hour’s gone by now and Steve hasn’t even said a word. The phone’s been ringing non-stop. Of course it has. How could it not, now that was evidence that Steve Rogers has been a Hydra agent since childhood?
Steve Rogers -- a Nazi. A fucking Nazi. That’s what they woke up to today. The headlines splashed all across every newspaper. Proof that he’s been the greatest double agent the world’s ever seen. Indoctrinated by the Red Skull himself. A secret love affair between Johann Schmitt and Sarah Rogers.
The world is eating it up, too. Well, some of it. Fox News is having a field day, of course. After the way Steve’s pissed all over the image they had of him? Oh yeah. Good ol’ Captain America was not in support of ‘Making America Great Again’ after all. Not their version of great.
“I’m sorry,” Steve had said. “A wall? You know, my mother was an immigrant.”
“I’m sorry,” Steve had said. “But little black children are being shot in the street by police. There’s a huge problem here.”
“I’m sorry,” Steve had said. “There is no reason that women should be paid any less than men for doing the exact same job.”
“I’m sorry,” Steve had said. “You don’t care about the safety of children. You care about the oppression of Trans people.”
“I’m sorry,” Steve had said. “Marriage is about love. Not gender.”
Just last year, Steve came out as bisexual. Just last year, Steve spoke out for refugees. Just last Steve married Bucky. Just last year, Steve endorsed the hashtag BlackLivesMatter. Steve builds houses for homeless Vets and marches in gay pride parades and volunteers at women’s shelters and youth centers and children’s hospitals. He visits Churches and Temples and Mosques. Steve rescues cats from trees and stray dogs. He’s Steve fucking Rogers.
And today, Steve Rogers is a Nazi. Today, everything has come undone. The rug’s been pulled out from under them. Feels as though the world’s shattered around them. Pieces that Bucky doesn’t know how to put back together for Steve.
Sam was the first to call -- well, the first call Bucky actually took. Didn’t believe it for one second. Worst fucking Nazi in the world, he said. Bucky tried to laugh, but he couldn’t. Not with Steve locked up in the bathroom.
Tony was second. Said he was already tryin’a track down the original source.
Natasha and Sharon called together and offered to come over for crowd control. Assumed there was a circus forming outside their building. They weren’t wrong, but Bucky declined. For now.
T’Challa called just after them and offered them another stay in Wakanda. Told Bucky his borders were never closed to them. Right now, Bucky’s seriously considering it.
He can’t take it anymore. If he doesn’t get in there and talk to Steve, he might go Winter Soldier on someone. Rip them apart. And after working pretty fucking hard to prove he’s not that guy anymore and being acquitted and pardoned of all charged and working to make amends with Tony and becoming an official Avenger, he’d rather not go down that road at all. So Bucky, instead, knocks on the door.
“Steve?” Bucky says softly. He gets no answer. “Stevie?”
It’s not until he hears the broken sob that Bucky can no longer stand out there in the hallway and do nothing. He slams his shoulder into the door and breaks it open. Finds Steve sitting on the edge of the bathtub. Face tearstreaked. Nose running.
“Oh, Steve,” Bucky breathes as he darts over and wraps his arms around him. “It’s okay. It’s gonna be okay.”
Steve is trembling, but tense and stiff. Unwilling to receive Bucky’s comfort and support. As though he’s unworthy of it. So Bucky sits down across from him and gently touches the sides of his face.
“Baby, look at me. Please.” Steve just goes on crying. “Steve, please.” Oh, Bucky’s going to kill whoever did this. He’s going to rip them into pieces, so help him. “It’s going to be okay, I swear.”
“It’s not true,” he whispers. “It’s not. I swear.” Steve’s eyes flick up to him and his face crumples in even more pain. As though he’s absolutely terrified that Bucky might believe even one word of it. “It’s not. None of it.”
“Steve,” Bucky replies, aghast at Steve’s assumption. “I… I know. I don’t… not for one second did I… baby, of course you’re not…”
Words fail him. Bucky’s speechless. That Steve would think that he’d believe any of this is beyond him. His stomach turns. He might be sick next.
“Not my mom either,” he says just as softly. “She didn’t… she never. She had nothing to do with… with…”
“Stevie,” Bucky interrupts. Takes Steve’s hand and kisses it. “Sarah was the closest thing to an angel if I ever knew one.”
A few minutes tick by filled with Steve’s sniffles and painful sounding gasps. Bucky hasn’t heard him struggling so hard to breathe since before the serum. If he wasn’t Captain America, Bucky’d be really fucking worried right about now.
“How could they?” Steve whispers some time later. “How could they say that?”
“Just some assholes, Steve,” Bucky mutters. “Some fucking piece of--”
“I couldn’t… I could never do those things.” Steve rubs at his eyes. Not… not just getting rid of tears. Trying to get rid of other things. Bucky knows that attempt. Trying to pull away images that have seared into the memory for all time. “Those horrible things. Those… disgusting… the smells… the… the screams… the crying…”
Bucky’s blood runs cold as Steve’s voice fades away. It dawns on him what has Steve so horrified about this. He was there. They were there. They saw the inexplicable horrors that happened during World War II. What the Nazis were capable of doing. They saw villages burned down. They saw the camps. They saw bodies. Piles of them. Graves of them.
This isn’t just history for them. Not just words typed in a book. Not just images from a movie that won awards that people talked about and then went home to their lives. Not just a story. No, this was real life for them. Real for a now dwindling amount of people who were there. Who lived it. This is real. This happened. And now it’s happening all over for Steve. And he’s being accused of those horrors. Steve Rogers is being called the worst kind of monster the world has ever known. The monster of his own waking nightmares.
“Stevie, listen to me.” Bucky kneels in front of him. “Whoever did this wanted horrible things to happen from it. Wanted to make you move. We’ll fix this, okay? However you want to. We’ll take this to everyone. Prove it’s just a fuckin’ lie.”
Steve looks deep into his eyes. “It can’t ever happen again, Buck. We can’t ever let that happen again. I won’t let it.” His jaw tightens. “I won’t let it happen again.”
A tight, determined smile touches Bucky’s mouth. “There’s my Steve Rogers. What’dya wanna do?”
Taking in a deep breath, Steve wipes his arm across his face and stands. He’s had his moment to breakdown. So very rare, but sometimes he needs it. And now that he’s had it, god bless the poor bastards who stand in his way.
“I’m gonna find the sonuvabitch responsible for this,” Steve says. His shoulders are squared. His jaw is fixed. His eyes are hard. Captain America is ready. “And I’m gonna make them move.”