Title: The pen is mightier than the sword
Rating: PG 13
Paring: Bucky/Toro, other invaders and Avengers present.
Summary: For Prompt "In response to rumors about their sexuality that have surfaced again and that are being denied, again, by politicians and the military, Toro asks Bucky if he can out them both as homosexual historical figures so long as he doesn't out Bucky as being alive again "
Author's Notes: Massive thanks to mintriddel, who in addition to being a wonderful artist saved this fic. It had been sitting on my disk, because I couldn't find a way to make it end well. I sent it to Mintriddell, who sent it back with some helpful suggestions, that gave me the answer of how to finish it. It's not the fic I expected, but I think, I hope, it still works. So thanks Mint.
The people Roger talks with areV Battlion. ELizabeth is Elizabeth Barstow, a.k.a the Silver Scorpion She suffers from Alzheimer's disease, early stages the last time she appeared in comics, but that was some time ago. Darren is Topspin, grandson of the original Human Top, and Fred Davis is , of course the second Bucky. You don't have to know any of this to follow the story, it's just f.y.i.
“At least they didn’t get the photos of Steve in a dress,” Roger offered, looking up from the paper. “That would have been...embarrassing.”
“Especially for him and Iron Man.” At the expression on Roger’s face, Bucky shrugged. “What? Half the Avengers are convinced they’re sleeping together.”
“If that’s what they do when sleeping together, heaven help us when they break up.” Roger observed, drily. He turned back to look at Toro, who was still lying on the rug staring at Sex and Spandex: Homosexuality and Superheroes.
“Hey. You O.K.?”
Roger was frequently glad that his mentor’s apparent ability to ignore emotions hadn’t been passed on to the sidekick, as Bucky put his hand under Toro’s chin, forcing him to look up into Bucky’s blue eyes.
“You know it’s no big deal, right? These rumours have been around since the get go. Command issues a denial, and the hype dies down after a bit.”
Toro muttered something.
“What?” Bucky asked.
Toro sighed and looked up properly. “I said maybe I don’t want to command to deny it. Maybe it’s time to tell the truth.”
Oh dear, Roger thought. He recognised the signs of a “coming out” conversation, and more significantly, one where there was going to be conflict.
Toro had pulled himself up to his full height. “Why not? Everyone knows I came back, no one knows you did. Why should we keep denying it? What the army’s doing...it was wrong sixty years ago and its wrong now.”
“You know I agree with you.”
“Then why not?”
Bucky sighed, running his fingers through his hair, his metal hand, not his real one. “When one of our kind comes out, it’s...it’s a circus to be honest.”
Bucky’s real hand reached up, fingers gently carding through Toro’s hair.
“I don’t want to put you through that, Hot stuff.”
“Don’t want to?” Toro’s eyes glared. “It’s not like I’m telling anyone who doesn’t already know that you’re back, I’m just saying Yes in 1940 what ever, we were sleeping together.”
“Believe me, people won’t see the difference.”
“People. Or you?”
“Then what happened?” Fred Davis asked, leaning back in his chair. They were all gathered as was their custom at Horsemeadow’s home. They had originally started coming here for Elizabeth, but these days she could hardly remember her own name, let alone those of her former comrades. Despite that, the former members of the Penance Council still came and had tea in her rooms every Wednesday at three.
“I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and left.” Roger said, blowing softly on his tea. “It’s something they have to decide for themselves.”
“Could they not perhaps start smaller?” Darren suggested, taking a sip. “Tell people within the community or something.”
“Bit bloody pointless. Everyone from that period already knows, or guessed.” Roger glanced at Davis. “Even you figured it out, didn’t you?”
Fred nodded. “Figured it out after five weeks of him refusing to look at me. Then an argument between him and Jim confirmed it.”
“What about the new guys?” Darren asked. Jac shook her head, and Union Jack observed. “If the kiss Bucky gave Toro the second he saw him back from the dead didn’t clue everyone in, nothing will.”
“Junior makes a good point.” Roger observed.
“So why are they disagreeing about this?” Jac asked, shaking her head and ignoring her brother’s lover’s comment.
There was a silence, while Roger sipped his tea. Then he spoke.
“Maybe because Toro wishes to be open. His marriage to Anne is over, and he reassured me that she was always aware of the situation, and he just...he’s sick of hiding.” He sighed, taking another sip. “For Bucky the situation is a little more complicated.”
“Because he was in the military?”
“No. Well, possibly.” Roger nodded, conceding the point. “But more as Bucky has a family. A sister and nieces, nephews and even a couple of great nieces and nephews. They...” He shook his head. “I don’t think he’s being in contact with them. Scared of hurting them, I suspect.” He sighed. “It’s harder when there’s family involved.”
Jac reached out, trying to take Roger’s hand, but the other man shoved him away.
“This is something they have to figure out on their own.” He said, drinking his tea.
He was not surprised to find Toro waiting for him on his return.
While Jim Hammond was an excellent man on many things, sex was not one of them. Were it not for his slightly ridiculous attraction to Jac, Roger would have doubted the other man knew the meaning of the word.
Captain America was equally unlikely to be helpful, as the civil war had shown, and Namor would, as he had always done, dismiss such things as beneath him.
“I don’t get it.” Toro said, launching in almost as soon as Roger had opened the door. “I don’t want to tell anyone anything they don’t already suspect, everyone really knows, so why is it such a big deal?”
“Preaching to the choir on that one, mate.” Roger muttered, lowering himself into a chair. “But I’m not saying I don’t understand Bucky’s point of view.”
Toro stood, leaning against the kitchen table, chewing on his lip. He looked no older than 19 doing that, and Roger felt like if he turned his head to left or the right, he would see them all as they had been.
“Did you and Brian ever talk about it?”
Slowly, Roger let out a sigh. A part of him wanted to take the easiest route and lie. Claim the subject had never come up, couldn’t have come up. But he knew it wasn’t entirely what Toro was asking.
“Yes.” He said softly. “I wanted us to be more open, at least as much as we could be. There were clubs, for people like us. Place where no one cared who you were dancing with, who you were kissing.” He sighed. “There was one local to Falsworth Manor. I wanted to go, especially after the peace.” He looked at his friends. “Five years of snatched moments and dank cellars make you really appreciate being able to take your time. Brian always refused.”
“Why?” Toro asked. His memories of the couple were of two individuals who seemed completely and utterly in sync with each other, knowing the others thoughts and moves a second before hand despite having never trained together. Part of that, he admitted, was that Brian had been a good fighter, and he had something like that with everyone, but it had never seemed as effortless, as smooth as with Roger. The few times he’d seen them together after the war, it had carried over from their professional to their personal. Or maybe it was the other way around.
Either way, Toro had never seen two people who seemed to fit together so well, who (as Gwenny had said when they were still talking), were so meant to be together.
“I had no one. My mother died when I was 18 and my father when I was child. There were no brothers and sisters to consider, no one who would care.” He paused. “For Brian…things were a bit different.”
“But Jac and Lord Falsworth knew…”
Roger snorted softly. “Knowing is one thing. Seeing your son up in court for homosexual offences is quite another. Brian loved his family. He refused to do anything that might hurt them. I…I understood that, even if I hated it.”
“But you never told?” Toro was cocking his head at him now. “Not even after Brian was dead. The book simply said that the rumours hadn’t been confirmed or denied.”
Roger groaned, openly. “At first, I said nothing because, in spite of all he did to me, I did like Lord Falsworth. He’d lost his son. He didn’t need to lose anything else and when he was gone…there was Jac.”
“Jac wouldn’t mind. You said she knew right from the first.”
He got up and wondered over to the French windows. The day had been bright, but the clouds had come with the evening, and the rain now streaked the glass.
“She says she wouldn’t.”
Toro frowned, his face reflected in the glass and Roger continued. “But when I look in her eyes. I see her pain. That while he never told her. That she had to find out for herself. They were VERY close, and yet he never told her that he preferred men to women until she walked in on us after a party.”
“How could you say that though? In our time?”
Dull, pansy blue eyes met electric blue ones. “Exactly. But it doesn’t change the pain.” He turned to look at the other man. “Bucky’s sister is still alive. He never told her he was Bucky, never told her anything really. She found out by a stranger turning up on her doorstep one Christmas eve. No matter how proud she is of her brother, there will always be a small part that is angry with him for not trusting her.” He held Toro’s gaze. “And now another stranger will tell her, on national television, another secret that her brother kept from her. That he had a lover. A male lover.” He shrugged. “Can you imagine how much that will hurt her?”
“Shouldn’t one of us go and talk to him?” Kate asked, nervously glancing at the door to the Avenger’s gym. From behind it, a rhythm of punching and kicks, directed at inanimate objects echoed.
“Nope.” Logan didn’t even look up.
“But…” Teddy exchanged a glance with Billy. “That book was stupid! It accused me of cheating on Billy with Carolina, just because we’re both aliens and gay.”
“Got nothing to do with the book.”
Logan’s tone seemed to indicate that the discussion was over and that they had better clear out, unless they wanted to be stuck with Wolverine’s special combat training for a month. Quickly, they all made themselves scarce.
Wolverine reclaimed back, looking up at the top corner of the room.
“They’re right, you know.” He said, conversationally. “Someone should talk to him.”
Bucky didn’t look up, didn’t bother turning.
That got his attention.
“You’re angry, you want to hit stuff. Might as well hit something that’ll fight back.”
Bucky ran a hand over his forehead, sizing up his opponent. Most people would say you had to be crazy to spar with Logan, but there was no denying what he said.
He launching to a flying kick, which Logan blocked, sending him flying into a wall.
“You wanna tell me what’s got you so hep up?”
Bucky snorted, leaping into another attack. “Doubt you didn’t overhear Toro and me.”
“Did ask what the quarrel was about.” Logan said, blocking the attack. “Ask what got you so hep up.”
Bucky shrugged. “Don’t see why we should come out. Not a big deal.”
“Yeah.” Logan agreed. “Which is why you’ve spent six hours attacking the punching bag.” He delivered a blow to send Bucky on to the floor and walked away. “Figure out what’s bugging you, Kid. Make everyone’s lives easier.”
He walked out of the gym.
Bucky got to his feet, and resumed his attack on the punching bag.
“Oh. Hi Natasha.” Toro stood, shuffling his feet. In spite of Bucky’s assurances that if Natasha had not completely known, she had never completely being in ignorance, he still felt uncomfortable meeting her alone.
“Is Bucky here?”
Especially when she was wearing just a T shirt and a pair of panties.
Natasha shook her head. “No. Have you tried the Mansion?”
Baton must be in there, if she was hinting she didn’t want him to come in and wait. “No.” He sighed. “Look, I need a favour.”
“What?” He swallowed. He’d never liked the man and going to him for help felt humiliating.
“A location on Nick Fury.”
He watched the cogs turning in the woman’s’ head, before she moved and scribbled something down.
“You can talk to him from here in an hour.”
“Thanks.” He reached out to take the paper, and found a knife pressing just against his throat.
“Understand this. Hurt him, and I will kill you.”
She released him, shoving the scrap of paper into his hand. Massacring his throat, Toro muttered at the slammed door.
“That’s what I’m trying to avoid.”
He kept his eyes focused right ahead. He didn’t want to look at Steve, didn’t want to talk to him, because there was no way Steve would ever understand, and if he talked to Steve he had to admit this was real, and admit a lot of stuff he didn’t want to think about.
He heard a sigh, as he saw Steve sit down out of the corner. The shield lay there, and he turned his back, as Steve picked it up and began fiddling with it.
His real hand slipped, sending him spooling on the mat.
“I’m sorry.” Steve was looking at him, in his face serious and sober.
“Steve.” Bucky couldn’t help it, he was shaking his head. “In what world is, any to it, your fault?”
Steve shrugged. “I should have…” He waved a hand. “Being more supportive. To both of you.”
“You did what you could.” Bucky muttered, grabbing a towel. “More than most would have.”
Steve shrugged. “Maybe.”
He sounded uncertain. Bucky sighed.
“Look, Steve this isn’t your fault. It’s just…some stuff Toro and I need to work out.”
Steve shook his head. “I should have stopped the book. I knew what it said.”
“Nothing that hadn’t been said before.”
Steve shook his head. “Not like this.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You didn’t read it?”
Bucky’s education and literary tastes had always being variable, sometimes devouring novels like they were chocolate, other times refusing to read anything that wasn’t directly related to a mission.
Bucky flushed and in a rare moment, Steve could see the 16 year old kid back. Normally he treasured these moments, but today was not normal.
“Bit of it.”
“You didn’t like it?”
“Dam it, Steve; it was claiming to be O.K. about it, whilst knocking every out hero in the community.” Bucky kicked at a vaulting horse. “I don’t want that to be Toro.”
“Maybe he thinks he can stop it.”
Bucky snorted. “We were enough of a joke back then. Bout only thing that could be worse was if you and I were…” He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. They’d tear him apart.”
Steve sighed and decided to come back to his original point.
“The book had only one photo of you. That one with the Resistance girl.”
“Blackbird.” Bucky’s eyes narrowed. “I’m going to kill Nick.”
“I think her granddaughter might be a better target.” Steve sighed. “Bucky, Toro’s lived with not being able to be with you for 20 years, and now people are mocking the few good memories he has of you .The book gave more credence to the idea you and I were sleeping together than you two. You can’t blame him for wanting to punch them in the mouth. “
This was it.
He checked the piece of paper with Fury’s scrawl on it again.
This was the house of Rebecca Protoctor, Nee Barnes. All he had to do was walk up and ring the bell.
Fury had briefed him on what had happened with Steve and Mrs Protoctor, so she had to be fairly used to the idea of people coming back from the dead. And telling Steve to wash up for dinner!
He tried to remember if that sounded like the girl Bucky described, and realised he had no idea. He only knew that Bucky even had a sister thanks to Roger.
Bucky had been too well trained to have or say anything that would give a clue to who he really was under the mask.
He would go, knock on the door, and introduce himself as an old friend of Bucky. Alright, she hadn’t known anything about his life, but Roger had kept an eye on her, and he knew the other man well enough to that if she had asked he would have told him everything.
Or everything he felt he had a right to say.
He shuffled his feet. He had to make a decision soon, or have some old lady call him in as a suspicious prowler. If she hadn’t already.
He sighed, and reached for the door handle.
“I’m truly sorry for your loss,” The blond man standing in the middle of the hall kept shuffling his feet. He held his right arm stiffly, as though it caused him pain. “I know the pain of losing your family.”
She thought he did too, these were not idle words.
“Your family was in Germany?” She asked curiously. There was a pause before the man replied, “In a manner of speaking.” His accent was British, as were his mannerisms and patterns of speech. Perhaps his family had perished in the blitz.
It was oblivious to speak of them caused him much pain, so she let it drop.
“You told the headmistress that you knew my brother.”
He nodded. “I had the honour to work with him more than once. He was....” He shook his head. “Incredible.”
“And you’re going to tell me I should be proud of him. That it was a glorious death. I should be Proud that he died fighting for me!” she was surprised by the bitterness that shot though her, into her voice. The blond man’s face creased, slightly.
“I’d never say that.” He said, firmly. “I’ve seen enough death to know it’s never glorious.”
“I’m sorry.” She bit down on her lip to keep the tears from falling. It was happening a lot lately.
The blond looked at her with understanding. “I’ll get to it then.” He reached down and pulled out an envelope. “While I was working with your brother, I encourage him, encouraged all of them really, to write a letter for someone back home in case...”
“In case they didn’t make it back.” She bit down on her lip. A soldier’s daughter understood this. “I know. Command already sent me it.”
“Not this one.” The blond man looked uncomfortable. “Miss Barnes, I will be blunt. Your brother was involved with secret operations that made a false letter home a necessity. This...” He held out the envelope “is the real one.”
She reached out and took it from him.
“If you want time to consult a handwriting expert, I completely understand.”
She didn’t. The envelope smelled like Bucky. Like army soap, aniseed, and something that she could only define as trouble. No one could fake that.
The letter the army had given her had felt wrong, too formal, too serious for Bucky. At the time, she’d assumed he was still mad at her.
Now, as her trembling fingers torn open the letter, she wasn’t so sure.
Her eyes whipped up as she moved down the letter, her heart in her mouth.
“I haven’t read it.” He said, gently. “I just took it when it was written and put it somewhere safe. I swore I’d deliver it when...”
“When it was confirmed he was dead.”
“No.” The blond man was shaking his head. “When we gave up looking.” He sighed. “Yesterday, the one person who I thought would never give up, admitted defeat.” He shrugged. “So I brought it here.”
Tears are welling up, but she makes no real effort to stop them. This is real, this is truth. This is Bucky in all his Technicolor glory and she can’t help wishing he’d told her before it was too late.
“Thank you.” She whispered.
His hand barely touches the knocker, before the door flies open.
In the doorway, illuminated by the light stood a woman, her white hair fanning out around her face. Blue eyes shockingly like Bucky’s piece into him.
Behind on the sofa, he can see Bucky, shuffling his feet and looking like Cap has just told him off for putting green dye in the Howling Commandoes shampoo.
Rebecca Barnes-Proctor apparently has seen enough.
“Took you long enough.” She said, holding the door open.