Steve has always forced his life into a daily routine of work, gym, work, gym, occasionally sleep, eat when he remembered, more work, and more gym. He is viewed as the Captain, not as Steve so he would be as physically prepared for the role as he could get. He would push the boundaries of his post serum body and try to see what his limitations were.
Steve misses the old days. Sure, the war hadn't exactly been fun, but the Howling Commandos added a little flavour to the mix. He supposed that the Avengers could fill that section but Steve didn’t know them enough just as much as they didn’t know much about him. He missed Dum Dum turning to him at least once every mission brief and telling him, "Steve, you're a crazy sonuvabitch. Did that serum take out your sense of self-preservation?"
And then Bucky would shut him up with a light slap upside the head. "Steve's always been crazy, Dugan. The serum had nothing to do with it."
Here, mission briefs were completed with utmost professionalism. The Strike Team would never question him. Nor would they insult his lineage or call him an asshole or a punk the way Bucky did at least ten times before they even completed the objectives of the assignment. Steve knows that sometimes he does things wrong, he is human, but his comrades here would never recognise that and instead they would treat it as the correct way to do things.
In times of boredom he oddly finds himself thinking about the five stages of grief more and more frequently. He doesn’t understand how people seemed to model everyone’s grief in the exact same way, as though believing that everyone’s grief would be exactly the same. The truth is that every grief experienced is different to the next. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. He certainly doesn’t follow that pattern. Not one of those stages tell him how to deal with willingly sacrificing his life to save the world, only to wake up nearly seventy years in the future to a world that hadn't stopped, just because he had died.
None of those stages tell him how to deal with losing his entire life in the blink of an eye. His friends, they were his family. His parents had died years before he had become Captain America, and the Howling Commandos had been like brothers. Before them, it had been him and Bucky against the world. And after, the two had willingly made room for more. Their unit had functioned seamlessly during the war, because they were always able to predict what the others were going to do next, and knew instinctively where help was needed.
Those stages don't talk about losing your family so abruptly without any of them knowing that you're still alive. They don't talk about how it feels to read a report of their lives in cold, dispassionate words, black and white pages in a file stashed in a box and forgotten about until Steve brought them to the light once more. Knowing that if things had only played out differently, you could have been a part of those lives.
Those stages don’t talk about how it can shatter you. And then you have to go on living with all the broken pieces.
A dozen more punching bags lost to the nightmares of the past. All distractions. He neglected his list for a while and fell into his normality. Work, gym, work and gym.
Then Bucky comes back.
He hasn’t seen him since the HYDRA scandal and he doesn’t get time with Bucky straight away. Bucky surrendered to the remains of SHIELD and they took him into custody and watched him as the trial was scheduled. They don’t allow Steve to see him, stuck firmly in the belief that Steve is biased and that Bucky is unstable.
He doesn’t look at social media, doesn’t quite know how to if he is being honest, but he already knows what is being put out there about the trial.
The New York Times @nytimes
Winter Soldier set to stand trial for Washington D.C massacre and treason.
Excerpt from: ‘United States vs Winter Soldier’
“It’s a perfect day, there’s a cloudless sky above but a restless crowd below. They wait impatiently to get inside the courthouse. However, many of them will not make it inside for the trial of the Winter Soldier, the perpetrator of the massacre at Southeast Freeway and the Triskelion nearly two months ago that saw thirty two people dead and hundreds more injured. He is expected to face a plea of guilty.”
PROSECUTOR: The SHIELD file breech leaked millions of files out there, including those among HYDRA databases. One of these files was entitled: Asset to 32°46′59″ N, 96°48′24″ W. Those are the coordinates to Dallas Texas. The date of that document was November 1963 and a registered hit by this Asset – who we all know is what HYDRA called The Winter Soldier due to Exhibit #38, suggests that the defendant carried out the assassination of President Kennedy.
Fox News @FoxNews
After #JFK, Who Was Next?
NBC News @NBCNews
Breaking: evidence is found to suggest the Winter Soldier assassinated JFK.
Flying Solo @Carter
WS killed JKF. What the fuck. WTF #WSTrial
Steve feels sick. Not because of what HYDRA had made Bucky do but what the people were going to think Bucky did on his own accord.
Excerpt from ‘Peggy Carter: On Captain America and Winter Soldier Trial.’
"When I asked her about Barnes she spoke how The Winter Soldier remained a ghost in their files, an elusive character that kept cropping up. But when asked how he was in 1944 she shared a different picture. “We had – “ she laughs, “Common interests. We both knew that Steve had to be protected at all costs and he meant so much to both of us. So Barne’s kept an eye on him in the field and I did all I could in London. By the end of it all, I believe we were not as close as friends – but Allies.” She had nothing but good things to say about Captain Rogers’s best friend, recalling memories of sharing his attention and remembering how Steve would talk about him even when with her… when asked about the trial her tone changed. “They are going to use him as a scapegoat for all their problems. They’ll rally the public opinion on believing he was nothing more than a killer. It shouldn’t have become a public trial; but that’s the only way they’ll convict him as guilty. America is very good at making itself uncountable.”
Roger That @flightrisk
The question is not whether WS committed these crime but whether Sergeant Barnes did. Think people.
Shine that light @inconsolable
WS is the enemy! He meant to kill my baby, that poor boy.
DOCTOR: His face was very heavily beaten — he had one black eye, his lips were split in two different places, his left cheekbone was shattered, and his nose had evidently bled excessively. He also suffered from two of his ribs being broken. Another was cracked. Two of his fingers on his left hand were fractured in several places. He was also shot.
JUDGE: Please elaborate, was he shot the once or multiple times.
DOCTOR: Two. Once in the flank, the other in his back just missing his spine. But of course with Captain Rogers’s extreme healing capabilities he healed remarkably fast and checked himself out the following noon.
JUDGE: In your medical opinion, would an average man, without Captain Rogers' remarkable reparative capacities, have survived the extensive wounds you just described?
DOCTOR: I very much doubt it. The bullets alone should have sufficed. If they hadn't, the blood loss should have killed him.
JUDGE: Do you believe that these wounds were accidental or made with intent of mortality?
DOCTOR: If they were accidental the only wounds Captain Rogers’ would have sustained would be maybe one bullet wound or a couple of bruises. It was evident that the wounds inflicted were overkill and, under the presumption that Captain America was the enemy, meant to kill.
Steve feels sicker.
POLL: Should Sgt. Barnes be acquitted?
The jury had been deliberating for nearly seven hours. Steve couldn’t breathe. The Avengers were with him trying to provide comfort in any way they knew how but he didn’t feel them. If Bucky was punished for this he didn’t know what he would do.
JUDGE: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a unanimous decision?
FOREMAN: We have, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Please step forward Foreman.
FOREMAN: On the charge of high treason against the government of the United States, we find the defendant Not Guilty.
FOREMAN: On the charge of terrorism against the people of the United States, we find the defendant Not Guilty. On the charges of sixty-three different counts of murder, we find the defendant —
FOREMAN: Not Guilty.
Steve can finally breathe.
The Associated Press @AP
BREAKING: Sgt. James Buchanan Barnes cleared of all charges
commando #8 @mrright
HE’S FREE. NOT GUILTY BITCHES!
Excerpt from ‘James Barnes: Free Man’
“When Mr. Barnes exits the courthouse, he looks much better than he did during his testimony, which was marked with horrifying descriptions of torture that left everyone shaken. He has a smile on his face and his eyes land immediately on Steven Rogers, his childhood best friend and a leading witness for the defense. Mr. Rogers clasps Mr. Barnes hand – the left one, the one deemed to be a weapon by the court. They both hug and when they both pull back – after some time – there are blatant tears in both of their eyes.”
Both of them can finally breathe.
They have each other and together they can heal from their grief, heal from their trauma and – this was something Steve is excited about – complete the list together.